Winners and Losers from 2021 NHL Draft weekend

NHL Draft winners and losers

The 2021 NHL Draft is in the books and it was a hectic couple of days around the NHL. Not only for all of the prospects selected by their new teams, but also for all of the roster movement that took place around the league.

Let us take a look at some of the winners and losers from the weekend.


Cale Makar‘s new contract extension. Makar signed a six-year, $54 million extension with the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday. This is a huge win for Makar because 1) it is a great contract for him, and 2) when it expires he will still be in his mid-20s, in the prime of his career, and in line for another huge payday.

Seth JonesJones got his wish and got out of Columbus while also signing a new eight-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks. He also gets an opportunity to play on the same team as his brother, Caleb, who had previously been acquired from the Edmonton Oilers in the Duncan Keith trade. More on this in a bit.

Arizona Coyotes. Oh wow was this a weekend. Yes, they traded Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland. Yes they took on a lot of bad contracts from the Vancouver Canucks. But they also got a ton of draft picks, including a first-round pick (No. 9 overall) that they did not have. They also got Shayne Gostisbehere for free. It is a rapid way to kickstart a rebuild and they accumulated a ton of assets that can be used to build something. Plus, they got out from under Ekman-Larsson’s contract which was starting to turn into a liability. The short-term deals they took back from Vancouver might be bad now, but when the Coyotes are ready to hopefully contend again none of them will be on the books any longer. Smart asset management here this weekend.

St. Louis Blues. The Vladimir Tarasenko situation is still hanging out there, but getting Pavel Buchnevich for Samuel Blais was an awesome pickup.

Columbus Blue Jackets. Did they win the Cam Atkinson for Jakub Voracek trade? Maybe not. Maybe it is lateral? But they had a really promising draft and picked up a ton of assets for a defenseman (Jones) that did not want to be there and was not going to re-sign after this season.

Sam Reinhart. He gets out of the Buffalo Sabres latest rebuild and gets to go to an up-and-coming team in Florida with a new contract on the way. Good for him. Good for the Panthers.

The University of Michigan. Owen Power, Matty Beniers, and Kent Johnson gave the Wolverines three of the top-five picks in the draft, including each of the first two (Power and Beniers).



Montreal Canadiens. There is no way to sugarcoat it. Selecting Logan Mailloux in the First Round was a loathsome, egregious decision that deserves every ounce of scorn and criticism it is getting right now. No accountability. An awful decision and a serious black eye for the NHL.

Philadelphia Flyers. They paid some serious assets to get rid of Gostisbehere to clear salary cap space, so they could give up even more assets to acquire Rasmus Ristolainen. To recap the weekend the Flyers traded Gostisbehere, Robert Hagg, Jakub Voracek, and four draft picks (including the No. 14 pick this year and their second-round pick this year) to acquire Ristolainen and Atkinson. Woof.

New York Rangers. They paid a steep price for Barclay Goodrow against the salary cap, downgraded the roster by trading Bucnhevich for Blais, and did not really make the big offseason splash Rangers fans were hoping for.

Chicago Blackhawks. I get the motivation behind the Jones trade. They need a ton of help on defense and Jones is still a highly regarded name in the NHL. Jones is a bit of a polarizing player right now, though, because there is a massive disconnect on what he is as a player from the stats crowd and the eye test crowd. Analytically, his play has not been good the past two years, and the Blackhawks just paid him a ton of money to lead their defense for the foreseeable future. That is a risky move.

Vancouver Canucks. Garland is a great pickup, and yes they did dump some bad contracts. But they also took on a potentially worse contract in Ekman-Larsson and gave up a top-10 draft pick. They continue to operate like a Stanley Cup contender when they are probably not even a Stanley Cup Playoff team.


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    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

    mark stone surgery
    Stephen R. Sylvanie/USA TODAY Sports

    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.

    Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

    brunette dui
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart, authorities said.

    Brunette, 49, was pulled over just blocks from the ocean in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500 bond.

    The Devils said in a statement that the team was aware of Brunette’s arrest and gathering additional information.

    According to the arrest report, a deputy was in the process of giving Brunette’s illegally parked golf cart a ticket around midnight when Brunette walked out of a nearby bar and told the deputy he was about to leave. The deputy said Brunette seemed unsteady on his feet and slurred his speech, and when he was joined by his wife, the deputy said he overheard the wife tell Brunette not to drive while the deputy was there.

    The deputy remained in the area and reported watching the couple drive away about 17 minutes later, according to the report. The deputy said he watched the golf cart run two stop signs before pulling Brunette over on a residential street about a mile away from his home. According to the report, Brunette had difficulty following instructions during a field sobriety test before eventually quitting and asking for an attorney. He also declined to take a breathe test to measure his blood-alcohol level, officials said.

    Online jail and court records didn’t list an attorney for Brunette.

    Brunette is in his first season as associate coach of the Devils. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers last season after taking over when Joel Quenneville resigned for his connection to a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal.

    The Panthers fired Brunette after they lost in the second round of the playoffs last spring despite him leading them to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season.

    The Sudbury, Ontario, native played 1,159 NHL games for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago from 1995-2012. He was a Wild assistant in 2015-16 and worked on Florida’s staff from 2019-2022.

    Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster

    Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
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    DALLAS — General manager Jim Nill sensed things were coming together for the Dallas Stars even before the season started with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster mixed with proven veterans, up-and-coming young players, and even a teenaged center.

    At the NHL’s All-Star break, after 51 games together, these Stars are leading the Western Conference.

    “Every year you start, you put a team together, and there’s always going to be question marks,” said Nill, in his 10th season as the Stars GM. “You have ideas how you think you’re going to come together, but there’s always the unknown. . This year has been one of those years where right from the start, you could just see everything was kind of jelling.”

    The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have their trio of 2017 draft picks that just keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertson, goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski, at 38 and already re-signed for next season, is on the high-scoring top line with Robertson and point-a-game winger Roope Hintz. Wyatt Johnston, their first-round pick in 2021 and half Pavelski’s age, has 13 goals.

    There is also the resurgence of six-time All-Star forward Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Benn, who already has more goals (19) than he did playing all 82 games last season.

    The Stars have a plus-40 goal differential, which is second-best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than a half-goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season. They are also allowing fewer goals, and have improved on power plays and penalty kills.

    “Where we sit at this break, I think guys are happy with that,” Seguin said, before being asked the keys to the Stars leading the West and on pace for a 100-point season with their new coach.

    “Our style, our team speed, our puck speed, being predictable. All the clichés, knowing where the puck’s going. Really how we play the five-man unit,” he said. “Our pace this year, it’s been a lot quicker. There’s been some solid depth scoring this year while we’ve got one of the best lines in hockey.”

    The Stars went into the break on their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3-2 overtime losses at home.

    “Those aren’t real losses,” said DeBoer, who twice has gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. “I’m happy where we’re at. I like how we’re playing.”

    Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry in the playoffs about 3-on-3 hockey, which has been the only real stain on their season so far. Only one team has more than its 10 losses after regulation.

    “We’ve played a lot of good hockey. We’ve made a lot of good strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have another level we have to get to when we get back, but there are a lot of good things that have happened. They’ve worked to have us where we are right now in the standings. Good spot to be in.”

    The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, like the last four before their week-long hiatus.

    Robertson’s 33 goals rank sixth in the NHL, and the 23-year-old has the same number of assists while averaging 1.29 points a game even after he missed most of training camp before signing a four-year, $31 million contract. Pavelski has 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) while playing every game, and Hintz 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in only 43 games.

    Oettinger, who is 21-7 in regulation, has a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average since signing his three-year, $12 million contract. That deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, capped by 64 in the series finale that went to overtime.

    Nill said Robertson’s production has improved even with the league adjusting to the high-scoring forward, and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goalies. But they are just part of what has been a tremendous team effort.

    “They kind of had that mojo right from the start, and it was kind of this team’s got the right mix,” Nill said. “It’s come together well, and it’s shown in the standings. It’s been good to watch.”

    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

    Ilya Mikheyev
    Bob Frid/USA TODAY Sports

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.