Winners and losers from the 2022 NHL Draft

2022 NHL Draft Winners And Losers
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The 2022 NHL draft is in the books, with 225 players being selected over a 24-hour period on Thursday and Friday. Time will tell which teams made the most of their selections and got them right, but the draft picks are only a part of the story that surrounds the draft event. As trades get made and the offseason really starts to get rolling.

With that in mind, it is time to look at who had the best two days at the draft with our 2022 draft winners and losers.

Winner: Slovakia hockey

Slovakia only had six players drafted, but they made the most of their selections with three first-round picks.

That includes the top two picks in the draft (the first time that has ever happened for Slovakia) with forward Juraj Slafkovský going No. 1 overall to the Montreal Canadiens, and defenseman Šimon Nemec going No. 2 overall to the New Jersey Devils.

The Canadiens also selected forward Filip Mešár, also from Slovakia, with the No. 26 overall pick in the first round. Before the 2022 draft the highest selected Slovakian-born player was when the Minnesota Wild selected Marian Gaborik No. 3 overall back in the 2000 draft.

Loser: Chicago Blackhawks

They better get used to being in the loss column because there is a lot of that ahead in the coming years.

This was not a great weekend for Chicago. They traded a 24-year-old star winger — who is also one of the best goal scorers in the league — in Alex DeBrincat to the Ottawa Senators for underwhelming return of three draft picks, only one of which was in the first round (the No. 7 overall pick this season).

They followed that up later on Thursday by trading 21-year-old Kirby Dach, a player they selected No. 3 overall just three years ago, to the Montreal Canadiens in a trade that brought them the No. 13 overall pick (originally belonging to the New York Islanders).

Chicago managed to add a third first-round pick (No. 25 overall), as well as goalie Petr Mrazek, in a trade with Toronto for the No. 38 overall pick. In the end, they moved up 12 spots in return for taking on two years of a bad contract that Toronto no longer wanted. Is that enough of a payment for taking on that contract? Certainly debatable.

[Related: Chicago Blackhawks trade Alex DeBrincat to Ottawa Senators]

The Blackhawks entered the day with no first round picks because they traded their own pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for Seth Jones a year ago. That trade also resulted in a swap of 2021 first-round picks that saw Columbus end up with Cole Sillinger (the higher pick) who already showed a ton of promise as an 18-year-old in the NHL.

So it was nice for Chicago to end up with three picks in the top-25 after entering draft day with none. It seems fine on the surface. More picks! Until you realize all of the moving parts required to get there because it is the culmination of a series of failures by the previous and current front offices.

They traded the No. 8 overall pick (Adam Boqvist) from 2018 and what turned out to be the No. 6 overall pick this year for Seth Jones when they knew the team was going to stink, and then signed him to a massive contract they might already be regretting. They then had to trade an in-his-prime All-Star level goal scorer (at least partly because they did not think they could pay him with Jones’ contract still on the books) just to get to the No. 7 overall pick.

Add in they gave up a recent top-3 pick (Dach) that is still only 21 years old and has hardly played, just to get a 13th overall pick, in what is thought to be a thin draft and that is a tremendous waste of premium draft assets over the years. Just brutal.

So, yeah, congratulations on getting the three first-round picks. Historically your odds are that one of them will be an above average regular NHL player for several year and maybe — maybe — one of them will be a star. If you get lucky.

As the final kick in the teeth, Duncan Keith‘s retirement will add a salary cap recapture penalty to Chicago’s salary cap over the next two years. That might not mean anything to a rebuilding team that is going to be lousy each year, but it still adds empty money to the cap.

Stan Bowman started them on this path with last year’s brutal offseason (after years of questionable/bad decisions), and Kyle Davidson finished it with the underwhelming DeBrincat trade.

Winner: Seattle Kraken

They didn’t have to do anything except sit right where they are at No. 4 and watch Shane Wright fall right into their laps. Would Wright have fallen if he had not have so much of his recent development wiped out due to COVID? Probably not. He and Matty Beniers could be a dominant 1-2 punch for years. That is a nice foundation.

[Related: 2022 NHL First Round Draft Tracker]

Loser: Your mock draft

Speaking of Wright, haybe you thought there was a chance that Montreal would take Slafkovský first over him, but I bet you did not have Wright falling all the way down to Seattle at fourth overall. Maybe I missed one, but I did not see anybody’s mocks having that happen.

2022 NHL Draft Winners And Losers
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Winner: Ottawa Senators

They got one of the league’s best goal scorers in DeBrincat without having to give up any key players or prospects from their system.

It also happened, probably, because Matt Murray used his no-trade clause to veto a trade that would have seen Ottawa and Buffalo swap first-round picks, pushing Ottawa down the draft board. Does Chicago still send DeBrincat to the Senators if Ottawa’s pick is 16th instead of seventh? With DeBrincat this is a really strong group of young forwards.

[Related: 2022 NHL Draft Tracker Rounds 2-7]

Loser: Philadelphia Flyers

What is the plan here? That is the feeling after every move this team makes, including the latest move this weekend. They gave up three draft picks to acquire Tony DeAngelo, an all-offense, no-defense player that has already worn out his welcome in four different organizations that might have been available as a UFA in a couple of weeks.

Winner: Alexander Romanov

This was the other part of the Kirby Dach sequence. Montreal got the Islanders’ first-round pick in exchange for Romanov. And while I am not a huge fan of this trade off for the Islanders (especially after the way they gave away Devon Toews two years ago) I do like it for Romanov. He gets a fresh start in a situation where he might do well and might have a chance to be in the playoffs.

2022 NHL Draft Winners And Losers
(Claus Andersen, Getty images)

Loser: Toronto and Edmonton’s goalie quest

The Maple Leafs and Oilers are two teams in need of a goalie, and the goalie market dried up FAST.

Marc-Andre Fleury stayed in Minnesota. Alexandar Georgiev was traded to Colorado. Ville Husso was traded to Detroit and re-signed there. Vitek Vanecek was traded to New Jersey. That leaves the free agent options as Darcy Kuemper or Jack Campbell, or a trade. Not ideal.

Winner: The Canucks drafting Elias Pettersson again

No, not that Elias Petterson. Not the one they already have. A different Elias Petterson. This is a winner just because it is funny.

Winner: Oilers collecting salary cap space

By dumping Zach Kassian‘s contract and seeing Duncan Keith retire the Oilers opened up some significant salary cap space, which is pretty important for a team that needs to build a winner around Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl. Is it enough to land Darcy Kuemper? It certainly helps. They better land Kuemper because, as noted above, the goalie market is now very thin. Edmonton also gets a win for not making what could be a gigantic mistake by trading Jesse Puljujarvi. At least not yet.

Winner: Columbus’ defense

If you are paying attention to them the Columbus Blue Jackets have a strong outlook. Patrik Laine looks rejuvinated there. Zach Werenski is a top-pairing defenseman. And the Seth Jones trade might set them up for years with Cole Sillinger, Adam Boqvist, and Jake Bean (acquired for a second-round pick they got in the Jones trade) already to show for it. That bounty grew on Thursday when they picked David Jiříček with the No. 6 overall pick they acquired in the Jones trade. There is a belief Jiříček might have the highest potential of any defender in the draft. They followed that up at No. 12 overall by taking Denton Mateychuk who is enormous offensive potential from the blue line. Nothing is a guarantee, but there is a lot of promise there.

 

Panthers offer Sarah Nurse deal to lead girls hockey program

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FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — The Florida Panthers are trying to sign a high-scoring forward who has an Olympic gold medal and two world championships, with hopes of getting the deal done in the coming days.

If it happens, she won’t be playing for the Panthers.

Sarah Nurse, the Canadian forward who had a highlight-reel goal against the New York Rangers’ Igor Shesterkin during the NHL’s All-Star Skills Competition, has the chance to run the Panthers’ new program designed to get more girls playing hockey.

Florida president Matthew Caldwell offered the job to Nurse publicly – very publicly, at a lectern, with a microphone, before a crowd of onlookers. And he was serious.

“I’m going to embarrass you, but we’re going to offer you a job today,” Caldwell told Nurse, who was seated in the crowd. “We want you to be the face of our girls program at the War Memorial. So, are you in? On the spot? We don’t deal with agents, OK. I’m a tough negotiator.”

The idea to hire Nurse was first floated to Caldwell by Melissa Fitzgerald. She’s the general manager for the War Memorial, which is the two-rink facility being refurbished by the team and will become its practice headquarters.

“We’ve been talking about it for a few weeks,” Caldwell told The Associated Press. “Our youth hockey team kind of brought it up as a joke to me, but I said, `Let’s think big. We’re building this huge facility. Let’s put our money where our mouth is.”‘

The only part Caldwell was less than serious about with Nurse was how the Panthers don’t deal with agents. He spoke with Nurse’s representative, Thomas Houlton, after the event.

Houlton did not immediately respond to a request for comment. He and Caldwell spoke for about 15 minutes after the event, which was attended by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, Panthers stars Aleksander Barkov and Matthew Tkachuk, and dozens of kids who got to play ball hockey afterward.

Nurse played for Canada’s world-champion teams in 2021 and 2022, along with Canada’s Olympic gold winners at the Beijing Games last year.

She was one of five women’s players from USA Hockey and Team Canada – the two most dominant women’s national teams in the world – who were part of the skills events. She wore custom skates highlighting Black History month and the Black Girl Hockey Club, a nonprofit focused on getting more Black girls and women into the sport.

She used a move made famous by Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg when he helped Sweden win gold at the 1994 Olympics against Shesterkin, a Vezina Trophy-winning goalie.

U.S. star Hilary Knight didn’t think Nurse’s goal should have surprised anyone, saying, “she’s a top scorer.”

Ovechkin, and Ovi Jr., take the ice at All-Star skills night

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SUNRISE, Fla. — When you’ve got the second-most goals in NHL history, you’re evidently permitted to bring a guest onto the ice for the All-Star Skills competition.

That’s why there were two No. 8 Washington jerseys out there.

Capitals star Alex Ovechkin took the ice with his Metropolitan Division teammates – and his oldest child, 4-year-old Sergei.

Sergei, named for Ovechkin’s late brother, was wearing an Ovi Jr. jersey. The kid has built a bit of a following in recent weeks, after scoring a goal at a Caps practice in December and playing a role in helping the Washington crowd celebrate his dad’s 800th goal.

It was Ovi Jr.’s first chance at being part of an All-Star weekend. His father hasn’t participated at All-Star since 2018, either because of COVID-19 or injuries. The last time his dad played in an All-Star event, Sergei hadn’t been born.

Alex Ovechkin has 812 goals. He only trails Wayne Gretzky’s 894 in NHL history.

And later in the night, Ovi Jr. got to center a line alongside his dad and Pittsburgh great Sidney Crosby. They each got an assist on a goal that Sergei scored – beating Roberto Luongo, the Florida great who came out of retirement for All-Star weekend.

Said Ovechkin after his son scored: “I think he’s really enjoying it.”

WELCOME HOME, LU

Luongo got to be part of one more All-Star competition.

In a building where a banner bearing his No. 1 jersey hangs – he’s the only former Panthers player to have that distinction – Luongo was a celebrity goaltender during the Breakaway Challenge during the Skills Competition on Friday night.

He stopped his lone shot in the breakaway, off the stick of Toronto’s Mitch Marner. On one hand, Marner is the Maple Leafs’ leading scorer this season. On the other hand, he was also wearing a white suit, sunglasses and a light blue T-shirt to keep with a “Miami Vice” theme.

Luongo, who was regaled by “Luuuuu” chants from the Florida fans all night, was up to the challenge. Marner tried to beat him to the glove side, but Luongo got enough of it to make the save – then flopped forward to cover up the rebound, the smile clearly seen through his mask.

“You got too close,” Luongo told Marner.

Later, Luongo told ESPN during the telecast of the event that “this is my house. This is my home right here. The crease is my home.”

Luongo’s pads paid tribute to his career – the design depicted his time both as a member of the Panthers and the Vancouver Canucks. They were a gift from CCM for his making the Hockey Hall of Fame.

“I’d never put the pads on since I retired,” Luongo said. “First time I put them on was this week. Felt pretty good.”

He also took part, and scored a goal, in a Florida alumni game on Wednesday night. But if there’s more alumni games, Luongo suggested he might jump back into the net.

“It back some good memories tonight to be in the blue paint, hearing the chants,” Luongo said. “Maybe one day we’ll hear them again.”

REMEMBERING JIMMY

Sergei Ovechkin – who knocked a shot into an open net during a stoppage of the skills events – wasn’t the only child who got a great view of the night.

Philadelphia forward Kevin Hayes has his 3-year-old nephew Beau with him for All-Star weekend. Beau’s father was Jimmy Hayes, Kevin Hayes’ brother.

Jimmy Hayes was 31 when he died in 2021 with fentanyl and cocaine in his system. He played for four NHL teams, including Florida.

Kevin Hayes is part of an All-Star weekend for the first time.

ANTHEM POISE

“The Star-Spangled Banner” was performed by the South Florida Gay Men’s Chorus, and group crushed it – never minding that the crowd, representing several different fan bases, was going to shout some term specific to their team at various points in the lyrics.

Florida fans shout along with “red” and “Knight,” one a nod to one of the team’s primary colors, the other for goaltender Spencer Knight. There also were some shouts from other fan bases; some St. Louis fans, for example, could be heard singing “home of the Blues” instead of “home of the brave” to close the song.

And “O Canada” performer Hannah Walpole had some shouting as she sang as well, particularly when she reached the “true North” portion of those lyrics – something typically heard at Winnipeg games.

SLAP SHOTS

Cale Makar, the reigning Conn Smythe Trophy winner from the Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche, was the first participant in the Fastest Skater event – the opening competition of the night. He fell coming around the second turn. … Tampa Bay’s Pat Maroon, one of the broadcasters on the event, reported that he was “freezing” by working at ice level. “I’m used to the gear,” said Maroon, who was in a blazer and open shirt Friday night. … A big hit for those used to the regular colors of FLA Live Arena – and basically all other hockey arenas – was the ocean-water-shade of blue used for the blue lines and the creases. The faceoff dots at the circles on either end of the ice aren’t the standard solid red this weekend, but depict an image of the sun instead.

Capitals sign Dylan Strome to five-year, $25 million extension

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FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla. – The Washington Capitals signed forward Dylan Strome to a five-year extension worth $25 million.

The team announced the contract during NHL All-Star Weekend, which is taking place in South Florida – the place Strome was drafted third in 2015.

Strome will count $5 million against the salary cap through the 2027-28 season. He was set to be a restricted free agent this summer.

“Dylan is an intelligent and skilled center and has been a great addition to our organization,” general manager Brian MacLellan said. “We are pleased to sign him to a long-term contract. We feel his skill set is a great fit for our team as he enters the prime years of his career at an important position.”

Strome is getting a raise from the $3.5 million deal he signed with the Capitals after the Chicago Blackhawks opted not to tender him a qualifying offer and made him a free agent. Strome has 11 goals and 25 assists in 36 games this season and ranks third on Washington’s roster with 14 power-play points.

The Mississauga, Ontario, native who played his junior hockey alongside Connor McDavid with the Erie Otters has 206 points in 325 regular-season NHL games with the Arizona Coyotes, Blackhawks and Capitals.

Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

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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.