The Stanley Cup trophy is safely in the hands of the Los Angeles Kings, who proved they had the chops to cement their status as a team of destiny after a wild postseason ride.
Yahoo Sports' Nick Cotsonika noted just how grueling the Kings' path to Stanley Cup glory truly was.
There's no doubt it was worth the wait.
The Kings' victory over the New York Rangers finalizes the order for the 2014 NHL draft, save for a few free-agency and trade-related picks that are yet to be sorted out. Still, the majority of the order is no longer left to chance, and each franchise can prepare their ultimate draft strategy.
Here is the order for the first two rounds of the 2014 NHL draft.
|2014 NHL Draft Order - Rounds 1 & 2|
|5||New York Islanders|
|8||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|15||Detroit Red Wings|
|16||Columbus Blue Jackets|
|19||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|20||San Jose Sharks|
|21||St. Louis Blues|
|28||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|29||Los Angeles Kings|
|30||New Jersey Devils|
|33||Los Angeles Kings|
|35||New York Islanders|
|38||Toronto Maple Leafs|
|41||New Jersey Devils|
|46||Detroit Red Wings|
|47||Columbus Blue Jackets|
|48||New York Islanders|
|50||Tampa Bay Lightning|
|51||San Jose Sharks|
|52||St. Louis Blues|
|59||New York Rangers|
|60||Columbus Blue Jackets|
The full seven-round draft order can be found here.
Predictions for Top Prospects in Draft
Aaron Ekblad, Defenseman
Aaron Ekblad is one of the most highly regarded defensive prospects in quite some time. He has a rare blend of size, speed and deft puck-handling for an 18-year-old player.
At 6'4" and 217 pounds, the physically imposing Ekblad is ready for the daunting NHL season. He won't have any trouble acclimating to the size and quickness of his NHL opponents.
He doesn't get starstruck easily, as NHL.com editor Adam Kimelman notes.
Ekblad's easygoing nature may be due to years of surpassing the expectations of others; according to Kyle Woodlief of USA Today, Ekblad was granted "exceptional status" at age 15 and allowed to join to the Ontario Hockey League.
He certainly backed up his exceptional status with his performances on the ice; Ekblad has racked up 116 total points in 175 OHL games, as per EliteProspects.com.
It appears Ekblad won't be afraid to throw his weight around the league, nor will he suffer from a lack of confidence. Ekblad will also bring leadership skills to the NHL; he's captain of the Barrie Colts in the Ontario Hockey League.
The Panthers need scoring, but in a draft bereft of top-shelf defensive talent, they'll take Ekblad and secure the future of their blue-line corps.
Prediction: No. 1 to Florida Panthers
Sam Reinhart, Center
Sam Reinhart will be leading the line for the NHL and Canada for years to come if he can capitalize on his burgeoning talent.
He is the son of former NHL All-Star Paul Reinhart, and his older brothers Max and Griffin Reinhart are former NHL draft picks as well.
The speedy forward has been a fixture on the Canadian youth national teams over the past several years. He tallied four points in seven games for the Canadian Under-20 team at the IIHF World Junior Championships in 2014.
He's a regular in the scorer's column for the Kootenay Ice of the Western Hockey League as well, racking up 36 goals and 69 assists in just 60 games during the 2013-14 season, as per EliteProspects.com.
The Calgary Flames can continue to groom young centers with Sam Reinhart, and eventually improve their stagnant play on offense.
Prediction: No. 4 to Calgary Flames
Haydn Fleury, Defenseman
Haydn Fleury—no relation to NHL legend Theo Fleury—is a mobile defenseman who should have a good, long career in the NHL.
The 17-year-old Fleury currently plays for the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League in Canada. He is very quick for a blueliner of his size and should have no problem chasing down the fleet forwards he will face in the NHL.
Fleury is also notable for his intriguing connection to a current NHL star. As Kelly Friesen of Yahoo Sports reports, St. Louis Blues winger Brenden Morrow was once Fleury's babysitter. Fleury acknowledged the interesting tidbit, but wouldn't go as far as to say he patterns his game after Morrow, considering their vastly different positions. He did have one name in mind, though.
Via the aforementioned article from Friesen: “I try to play like Jay Bouwmeester. I like how he is good in all areas of the game and can be counted on for big minutes. He logs a lot of ice time and handles them well.”
Fleury isn't quite the defensive talent that Ekblad is, but it will be a shock if he falls out of the top 10 in the draft considering defensemen are at a premium this year.
Prediction: No. 9 to Winnipeg Jets
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