2017 NHL Entry Draft

Getty

Poll: Nico Hischier vs. Nolan Patrick

Leave a comment

This post is a part of Devils day at PHT…

To some extent, the New Jersey Devils probably don’t care that much if Nolan Patrick ends up being slightly more effective, overall, than Nico Hischier.

As Taylor Hall can attest, the Devils lucked into the top pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, so GM Ray Shero was probably delighted that he would be able to pick between the two prospects. Rather than choosing Patrick or finding a trade, he made Hischier the first Swiss-born number one pick in NHL history.

Sports are about competition and comparisons, so it should be fun to measure the two forwards’ accomplishments and development as time goes along.

We might as well take hockey fans’ temperature now, though. Before we do, a quick “tale of the tape” – and an apology to the other prospects in the 2017 NHL Draft. For the sake of simplicity, we’ll be keeping this poll to Hischier vs. Patrick. Feel free to make a case for Miro Heiskanen (pictured, chosen third by Dallas) or any number of other candidates in the comments, though.

Hischier (draft profile): Scored 86 points in 57 games for the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads in 2016-17. Broadly speaking, Hischier seems to rate as the most creative player and has already impressed the Devils with his skating ability.

Apparently his favorite movie is “Happy Gilmore.”

Patrick (draft profile): The Winnipeg native was on the radar a bit longer than Hischier, in part because he managed 102 points in 71 games in the WHL in 2015-16. Last season hurt his stock quite a bit; while he was able to score well over a point-per-game (46 in 33), injuries limited him in 2016-17. Those issues might have limited more than people even realized, as it turns out he needed two hernia surgeries instead of one.

Generally speaking, Patrick is praised for his two-way play, which could help him be a quick fit for Philly. Both forwards are listed as centers.

Oh yeah, and Reid Duke gave him the nickname “Doctor Pat.”

***

OK, so with all of that information, let’s get after it: did the Devils make the right call or should they have selected Patrick at No. 1 instead?

Lehtera: Trade from Blues to Flyers will be ‘good for me’

Getty
6 Comments

Let’s be honest. Jori Lehtera felt like a bit of an afterthought in the trade that sent Brayden Schenn to the St. Louis Blues and some significant picks to the Philadelphia Flyers.

Just consider the PHT headline: “Flyers send Schenn to Blues, take on Lehtera’s contract.”

That’s certainly a fair way to look at it, as the Flyers received the 27th pick of the 2017 NHL Draft and a conditional first-rounder in the deal. Would they have gotten such a haul for Schenn if they didn’t absord Lehtera’s $4.7 million cap hit, which expires after 2018-19?

Again, it’s easy to lose track of the human factor, as Lehtera was moved from the only NHL team he’s ever suited up for. While he told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Jeremy Rutherford that the news brought out both good and bad emotions, the 29-year-old believes that he’ll benefit on the ice.

“I have no idea why (the Blues traded me), but I think it’s better for me that I got traded, so I don’t really care why,” Lehtera said. “That’s the business part of hockey. It’s always tough to leave when you know all of the guys and the city. But hockey-wise, it’s going to be good for me. I didn’t play well at the end, but I think a new start will be really good for me.”

It’s been an interesting few years for Lehtera.

His numbers have dropped from his nifty rookie season (14 goals, 44 points) to 2015-16 (34 points) and finally last season (22 points).

Context matters, naturally, as centering a line of Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko inflated his numbers, especially earlier on.

Still, that couldn’t have been a promising trend for both the player and the team.

The challenge will be to really make a mark with Philly. With Claude Giroux, Valtteri Filppula, Sean Couturier, and possibly even Nolan Patrick in the way, Lehtera would have plenty of competition down the middle. It wouldn’t be shocking if he was asked to move to the wing on occasion.

Lehtera certainly has plenty to prove, but he also gets a chance to make a positive first impression. If he can make an impact, then he’ll make Flyers GM Ron Hextall look that much brighter in the process.

Flyers sign other high 2017 draft picks Frost, Ratcliffe

Getty
2 Comments

Nolan Patrick was the headliner of the Philadelphia Flyers’ 2017 NHL Draft class as the second overall pick, but he’s not the only important part of GM Ron Hextall’s continuing rebuild.

The Flyers ended up with the 27th and 35th picks of this past draft, and they signed both players to rookie contracts on Thursday. Entry-level deals went to Morgan Frost (number 27) and Isaac Ratcliffe (35th overall).

Both forwards have enjoyed solid work in the OHL, and both will see their development tied to how some Flyers’ trades will be judged.

In the case of Frost, he joins Jori Lehtera (and cost certainty) as the biggest takeaways of the Brayden Schenn trade.

Ratcliffe, meanwhile, was deemed valuable enough for Hextall to trade up. Philly sent the 44th, 75th, and 108th pick of 2017 to Arizona to get the 35th choice, which ended up being Ratcliffe.

Their numbers were fairly similar in the OHL last season, but Ratcliffe brings one thing that really makes him stand out: size. The Flyers list his height as an imposing 6’6,” with a weight of 200 lbs.

Patrick got his deal earlier this summer, but now the Flyers have their highest picks locked up. It should be interesting to see if/when they make a big impact as Philadelphia tries to climb out of a period of relative struggles.

Sabres avoid arbitration with Beaulieu: Two years, $4.8M

Getty
3 Comments

Nathan Beaulieu doesn’t figure to be the most important member of the Buffalo Sabres’ defense. Even so, Beaulieu feels somewhat symbolic of the transition to an attacking, mobile group – at least ideally – under new head coach Phil Housley.

MORE on Housley’s vision for the Sabres here.

The Sabres needed to agree to a contract for the RFA first, though, and they did that on Monday, signing Beaulieu to a two-year, $4.8 million deal. That’s worth $2.4 million per season.

In the process, they avoid a salary arbitration hearing that was scheduled for Aug. 4.

The Sabres acquired Beaulieu, 24, from the Montreal Canadiens for a third-round pick. Beaulieu himself was the 17th selection of the 2011 NHL Draft, but perhaps he took too long to show his potential to Habs brass.

That said, Beaulieu generated career-highs across the board in 2016-17 including in games played (74), points (28), and average ice time (19:29, two minutes more than his previous peak). There have been ups and downs for Beaulieu along the way; even so, at the moment he stands as another polarizing personnel decision by Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin.

Meanwhile, Beaulieu gets a clean slate with the Sabres, who also have revamped their defense by adding Marco Scandella and Matt Tennyson to the mix (while letting Dmitry Kulikov and Cody Franson leave via free agency).

Beaulieu stood as the final lingering arbitration hearing for Buffalo, but they still need to deal with RFA Zemgus Girgensons.

Report: Hobey Baker winner Butcher won’t sign with Avs, will test free agency

Getty
14 Comments

It looks like the NCAA’s Hobey Baker Award winner won’t sign with the NHL team that has his rights … again.

Last year, Jimmy Vesey rejected the Nashville Predators’ offers in a very public way, ultimately signing with the New York Rangers. Defenseman Will Butcher will test free agency on Aug. 15 instead of agreeing to an entry-level contract with the Colorado Avalanche, as his agent confirmed to BSN Denver’s Adrian Dater.

“We informed the Avalanche of that decision,” Butcher’s agent, Brian Bartlett, told BSN Denver. “We appreciate what Colorado has done, and we’re not ruling out the Avalanche as a potential destination. But we just feel there will be other opportunities that should be explored too, and therefore we’re going (to the 15th).”

Those who’ve followed Butcher’s situation probably aren’t too surprised by the news.

It became clear as early as 2016 that the Avalanche weren’t interested in signing Butcher, a high-scoring defenseman they selected in the fifth round of a disastrous 2014 draft class.

This disinterest came even as Butcher generated 32 points in 39 games for the University of Denver in 2015-16, and he topped that last season, generating 37 points in 43 contests to take home the Hobey Baker. Butcher also enjoyed team success in 2016-17, helping Denver win a national championship.

At 22, he’d sign a cheap entry-level deal, only getting more expensive bonuses if Butcher excels, which would be worth it for just about any suitor. He’s likely to draw plenty of interest, whether he takes the Avalanche’s offers seriously or not.

Pension Plan Puppets provides an argument for why the Toronto Maple Leafs should be interested, while Second City Hockey went in-depth on the pluses for the defense-challenged Chicago Blackhawks, just to name two possible destinations that could make sense for Butcher.