Winners and losers of the 2015 NHL Draft

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Hindsight is 20/20, but what about when something is so close it’s directly in your blind spot?

The 2015 NHL Draft is over, and with the long-awaited wave of prospects behind us, it will be years before we can truly judge what just happened. It would be foolish to hand out grades on the same day the draft ended. Who would do that, right?

Well, uh … about that.

Here’s a stab at some of the winners and losers from this busy, busy weekend in the NHL. Feel free to add your own suggestions and counterarguments in the comments (preferably kindly).

Winners

Oilers: They will smile upon this weekend for Connor McDavid alone, but GM Peter Chiarelli also made some interesting trades to improve the team with the likes of Cam Talbot and Griffin Reinhart.

Sabres: In the same “No, duh” spirit as the Oilers grabbing McDavid, the Sabres probably would have come up winners if they merely grabbed Jack Eichel and went into cruise control with picks.

Instead, GM Tim Murray was as busy as his selection announcement for Eichel was brief. Robin Lehner is, at minimum, someone Murray believes in. Ryan O’Reilly is a legit find, setting up Buffalo to have a scary 1-2 punch down the middle with Eichel.

Flames: OK, this has more to do with what happened before the draft than what happened during it … but landing Dougie Hamilton for a package of picks could end up being one of those moves we remember for ages.

That said, getting Oliver Kylington about a round after many believed he would be drafted (60th overall) isn’t chopped liver, either.

Islanders: Over the years, GM Garth Snow has steadily earned a reputation as one of the NHL’s sneaky-shrewdest executives. The 2015 NHL Draft will only strengthen those arguments.

Flyers: Are we prepared for a brave new world in which the Philadelphia Flyers are sober-minded and clever like this? Forgive reheating a joke from last night, but:

Losers

Bruins: Yes, the Bruins’ salary cap is slimmer, and they definitely nailed the draft from a “quantity” standpoint.

Still, they moved mountains to get picks 13-15, but the grades for their picks generally range from “not very sexy” to “huge reach.” Time will ultimately be new GM Don Sweeney’s judge, but right now, he’s probably not the most popular fellow among B’s fans.

Penguins: Actually, consider this grade more of an “Incomplete” than an “F.” Sometimes no splashy moves are better than reckless ones … still, Pittsburgh fans might be a little antsy.

Canucks: That’s a disappointing haul for Eddie Lack, but GM Jim Benning’s biggest mistake might have been forgetting to get an intern to tell him when the camera was on him:

Talk about a caption contest waiting to happen.

***

Again, the Bruins could very well end up laughing at all of us after making bold moves in the middle of the first round. Chances are, there are gems buried in later rounds that will drastically change how we view 2015.

Still, winners and losers lists are fun, so enjoy yourselves in the comments.

Just be nice.

Linden defends Lack trade, thinks Canucks will have ‘real good goaltending next year’

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SUNRISE — For a team that wants its “young kids to learn how to play in a winning environment,” the Vancouver Canucks are taking a bit of a gamble when it comes to their goaltending.

After trading Eddie Lack to Carolina, the Canucks intend to go with a tandem of Ryan Miller and Jacob Markstrom. The former is a 34-year-old who had a modest .911 save percentage last season; the latter is a 25-year-old who’s been great in the AHL but owns an .896 save percentage in 50 NHL appearances.

But team president Trevor Linden is confident that Markstrom, an AHL all-star this past season, is ready to take the next step.

“I think if you look at the history of, whether it be Corey Crawford or Ben Bishop, or these types of players and how they perform at the American Hockey League level, and look at stats and numbers, you can put Jacob in that category,” said Linden. “He’s had an excellent year. He needs to continue to develop at the National Hockey League level, and we’re going to give him that opportunity.”

Linden acknowledged that the decision to trade Lack, a fan favorite who also had a .921 save percentage last season, was going to be an “unpopular” one.

“People may say that a third-round pick — albeit 66th, which is a high third — wasn’t enough, but that’s what the market was. That’s what teams, 29 of them, were willing to do,” said Linden.

“We feel we’re going to have real good goaltending next year, with Ryan and Jacob. [Markstrom’s] a player that’s young and needs some time, and we’re going to give him that.”

The Canucks made another trade today, sending Harvard defenseman Patrick McNally (drafted 115th overall in 2011) to the Sharks for a 2015 seventh-round pick.

With the 66th pick they got for Lack, they drafted 17-year-old Acadie-Bathurst defenseman Guillaume Brisebois.

After acquiring Lack, ‘Canes flip Khudobin to Ducks — more moves coming?

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The Carolina Hurricanes are playing the goalie market — and now, it appears the Ducks are as well.

Shortly after acquiring Eddie Lack from Vancouver, the ‘Canes orchestrated a yet-to-be-completed deal that moved Anton Khudobin to Anaheim. That’s led many to speculate that, with Khudobin and Frederik Andersen and John Gibson on the payroll, Ducks GM Bob Murray will soon make another move to clear up his three-headed goalie situation.

Update: Per reports, d-man James Wisniewski is headed to Carolina to complete the deal.

Khudobin, 29, is heading into the last of a two-year, $4.5 million deal with a $2.25M average annual cap hit. He scored that contract after a stellar first season in Carolina, then regressed last year — he finished ’14-15 with a 8-17-6 record, 2.72 GAA and .900 save percentage.

With this move, it appears the complex goalie market has become even more dynamic. Rangers backup Cam Talbot is still available for trade, and it’s possible someone could get in the mix for Gibson, regarded as one of the brightest young goaltending prospects in the NHL.

Welcome to Day 2 of the NHL Draft

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SUNRISE — After yesterday’s fireworks, most set off by the Boston Bruins, people have reconvened in the hope for more at Day 2 of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.

Vancouver and Carolina got an early start Saturday, as the Canucks sent popular goalie Eddie Lack to the ‘Canes in exchange for a pair of picks; it figures to be the first of several trades on the day as names like Phil Kessel, Kevin Bieksa, Anton Khudobin and Matt Beleskey continue to generate traction on the draft floor.

PHT will have all the latest from the BB&T Center, so be sure to check back often. Here’s some relevant linkage from last night:

PHT’s 2015 NHL Draft Tracker

The Next One? Oilers take McDavid first overall

Trade: Oilers send picks 16 and 33 to Islanders for Griffin Reinhart

Trade: Buffalo keeps dealing, acquires O’Reilly from Colorado

Carolina gets Lack from Vancouver for third, seventh-round picks

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The Carolina Hurricanes have acquired goaltender Eddie Lack from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for 66th overall pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and a 2016 seventh-round pick, according to Sportsnet.

Update: Hurricanes GM Ron Francis has confirmed the trade, per Raleigh News & Observer’s Chip Alexander.

The 27-year-old netminder has a 2.43 GAA and .917 save percentage in 82 career games. He comes with an affordable $1.15 million cap hit for the 2015-16 campaign, although he is eligible to test the unrestricted free agent market after that.

This move signals that Vancouver plans to open the season with 25-year-old Jacob Markstrom as its backup goaltender. Markstrom has a poor track record over his 50 NHL games, but he had a dominant 1.88 GAA and .934 save percentage in 32 contests with AHL Utica last season. He further raised his stock by posting a 2.11 GAA and .925 save percentage in 23 playoff games to lead Utica all the way to the Calder Cup Final.

Ryan Miller, who has two seasons remaining on his contract with a $6 million annual cap hit, will once again go into the season as Vancouver’s number one netminder.

Carolina now has three goaltenders inked to one-way contracts, including Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin, so it is likely that the Hurricanes will make another move. It’s also worth noting that none of the three goaltenders are under their control beyond the upcoming season.

Related: Benning knows he ‘could get criticized’ for trading fan favorite Eddie Lack