Even with back-to-back first-round dismissals in their first two playoff runs at the Consol Energy Center, the Pittsburgh Penguins did not take long to stir up some zest in their new home arena in June.
In the midst of hosting the 2012 NHL entry draft, Pittsburgh did virtually everything right for its future over the weekend, but particularly on Friday night.
They started by dealing pricey pivot Jordan Staal to the Carolina Hurricanes.
By shedding some of their surplus offense, they cleared out $4 million worth of cap space, bringing their total to $14,666,667. And they brought in two established prospects in Brian Dumoulin and Brandon Sutter as well as Friday’s eighth overall pick.
All of that alone makes the Penguins one of the topmost winners of the 2012 draft. The Boston Bruins, Dallas Stars, Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals are just a few others who made multiple moves that ought to work in their short- and/or long-term favor.
But for the sake of narrowing things down, the following slides will highlight three teams to be dubbed winners and and two losers of the weekend, as well as a few individual players whose selection surprised.
If the Islanders are to recapture their relevance before this calendar decade is up, they are going to need to a revamped blue line brigade to complement John Tavares and their multitude of under-25 scorers.
They addressed that need for the short-term and long-term future on Friday and Saturday, respectively. In the first round, the Isles shrewdly dipped into the deep pool of defensemen to claim Griffin Reinhart with the fourth overall pick and also traded for veteran Anaheim rearguard Lubomir Visnovsky.
It would have been nice if they went for a goalie while they were at it, but overall, the positives clouded the pimples this weekend.
Another defensively-challenged team, the Jackets one-upped the Isles in that they nabbed their share of defensive as well as goaltending prospects over the weekend. They were the first to collect a defenseman with Ryan Murray going second overall and then reached overseas for a couple of promising Scandinavian stoppers.
Columbus rounded out the variety pack with the fourth pick of the fourth round, nabbing the rights to Josh Anderson from the powerhouse London Knights.
A later-round pick to watch for down the road is Ryan Rupert, who went in the sixth round at 157th overall.
Despite his 5'8" stature, Rupert is a decent contributor on the embarrassingly deep London Knights team, but saturates the scoresheet even further with his team-leading 120 penalty minutes.
Considering the model he follows, his late-round selection by the Leafs makes sense when the boss is Brian Burke.
Burke polished off his business trip to Pittsburgh by shoring up his strike force for the here and now. In exchange for Luke Schenn, he imported towering Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk, who will have a chance to blossom and play a bigger role in Toronto after coming from the most explosive offense in the NHL.
Trading Jonas Gustavsson to Winnipeg wasn’t a bad idea, either, as it clears the crease for presumptive goalies of the future James Reimer and/or Ben Scrivens.
While the Islanders loaded up on defensemen and neglected to add a goalie, at least they were addressing another urgent need. The Blackhawks, however, could have used a stopper with potential to step onto the scene by at least 2013-14 and another to initially offer insurance in the farm system.
They had a chance Friday night to be the very first team to select a stopper with the 18th overall pick, but opted instead for winger Teuvo Teravainen. By the time they were on the clock again Saturday morning with the 48th overall choice, the likes of Andrei Vasilevski, Malcolm Subban, Oscar Dansk and Anthony Stolarz were all gone.
Upon picking defenseman Dillon Fournier, they effectively let Joonas Korpisalo, Daniel Altschuller, Jon Gillies and Chris Driedger get away. Exactly one pick after the Hawks took yet another skater, the rival Detroit Red Wings scooped up Saginaw Spirit stopper Jake Paterson.
Ultimately, 24 goalies were selected over the weekend, including two by Chicago in Brandon Whitney and Matt Tomkins. But they were both seventh-rounders, after 21 other stoppers were allowed to go to other teams.
Perhaps first-round choice Jordan Schmaltz will make like T.J. Oshie and embolden the Blues after a couple of years at the University of North Dakota. But don’t expect him to step up in the near future and don’t expect a substantial impact for a little while further.
St. Louis’ Saturday selections were much less spectacular, highlighted primarily by long-run college commitments and major-junior penalty-laden pluggers.
Somebody is going to have to defy logic and turn heads down the road to justify the Blues’ 2012 draft. But on that note, let’s look at a few players who turned heads based on when they were picked this weekend.
Ranked behind six other forwards on the International Scouting Service’s top 50 list, Galchenyuk went third overall behind one forward (Nail Yakupov) and one defenseman (Murray) to the Montreal Canadiens.
The Habs could have addressed their need for an offensive prospect with the likes of Filip Forsberg, Mikhail Grigorenko or Brendan Gaunce. The latter two ought to have been especially enticing for their size and physicality.
Instead, Montreal went with the winger who has flown under Yakupov’s shadow in Sarnia.
Sinitsyn was mentioned, though unranked, in the Central Scouting Service’s list of North American skaters. Along with fellow blueliner Evan McEneny, he was filed under “limited viewing” and thus officially rated behind 210 fellow North Americans and theoretically ranked behind 120 European skaters and 46 goalies from around the globe.
That left barely an ice chip of hope for the UMass-Lowell Riverhawk to see his name reach the selection board. But the Dallas Stars made the unlikely event a reality, taking him with the second pick (183rd overall) of the seventh and final round.