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 Jones. Jones 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.
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.