Round 1 of the 2014 NHL draft pretty much went as expected, as there were few reaches or surprise selections, which hasn't often been the case in years past.
But for what Day 1 lacked with regards to off-the-board selections, there was no shortage of drama due to the pair of blockbusters that went down in Philadelphia.
Looking ahead to the second and final day of the draft, it wouldn't be all that surprising to see a deal of the same magnitude as the swaps including Ryan Kesler and James Neal. In a relatively weak pool of upcoming free agents, the trade market may be the best route to acquiring a star-caliber talent.
With what should be a very chaotic day for general managers across the league on tap, here's a look at the updated selection list, complete with a breakdown of Round 1's best and worst picks.
|Round 2 Draft Order|
|33||St. Louis Blues (from Edmonton)|
|35||Tampa Bay Lightning (from New York Islanders)|
|38||Anaheim Ducks (from Toronto)|
|39||Buffalo Sabres (from Winnipeg via Minnesota)|
|41||New Jersey Devils|
|46||Nashville Predators (from Detroit)|
|47||Columbus Blue Jackets|
|49||Buffalo Sabres (from Minnesota)|
|50||Vancouver Canucks (from Tampa Bay)|
|51||San Jose Sharks|
|52||St. Louis Blues|
|53||San Jose Sharks (from Pittsburgh)|
|54||Calgary Flames (from Colorado)|
|57||Tampa Bay Lightning (from Montreal via NY Islanders)|
|58||Arizona Coyotes (from Chicago)|
|59||New York Rangers|
|60||Los Angeles Kings (from Los Angeles via Buffalo)|
To see a complete order for Day 2, head to NHL.com.
Best Round 1 Selections
Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres
The No. 2 overall selection was bound to provide the Sabres with a blue-chipper and potential franchise cornerstone, and that's exactly what they got in Sam Reinhart.
Reinhart, the son of former NHL All-Star and Stanley Cup champ Paul Reinhart, plays a gritty, workmanlike two-way game that will fit perfectly with Ted Nolan's style of play. While not the most offensively gifted center, his defensive awareness will make him useful in all situations.
Buffalo still has a way to go before the postseason becomes a realistic goal, but now that the team has stockpiled an impressive collection of young talent, the future's suddenly looking a bit brighter.
It would've been easy to take Sam Bennett or Leon Draisaitl, as both have more offensive upside than Kootenay's star pivot, but Reinhart's competitive edge and complete game give him the look of the kind of quality No. 2 center every contending team needs.
Haydn Fleury, Carolina Hurricanes
As the second-best rearguard in the field behind only No. 1 overall selection Aaron Ekblad, Haydn Fleury figured to be a hot commodity, and Ron Francis did well to get the Red Deer Rebels standout at No. 7.
With what was Francis' first pick as the team's new general manager, he managed to get a puck-moving defenseman with the mobility and size to develop into a versatile top-four presence.
Did Fleury go a bit higher than some might have projected? Yes, but as CSN Washington's Chuck Gormley reported, other general managers (such as Brian MacLellan of the Capitals) were jockeying for a chance to get the 6'2" blueliner:
MacLellan said he tried packaging the Capitals’ first two picks in the draft [13th overall and 44th overall] to move up to take defenseman Haydn Fleury. But when Carolina selected Fleury at No. 7 overall, MacLellan turned to Plan B, which was to take center Jakub Vrana at No. 13.
Ultimately, Carolina has added a valuable piece to a defensive core that already features a young gem in Justin Faulk, and given that the team already has top-flight skill up front in the Staal brothers, Jeff Skinner and Alexander Semin, this pick makes sense.
Joshua Ho-Sang, New York Islanders
Late in Round 1, the Islanders packaged two later picks to Tampa Bay in order to select Joshua Ho-Sang at No. 28.
There will be mixed reaction to Garth Snow's decision to take Ho-Sang, because as reported by Yahoo! Sports, the dynamic Windsor Spitfire is coming off a season that saw him earn a lengthy suspension that certainly hurt his stock.
But from a hockey perspective, Ho-Sang has as much natural offensive talent as virtually any prospect available, and if he's able to adapt his game to incorporate his teammates more regularly, he'll put up points on Long Island.
He racked up 32 goals and 85 points in 67 games, and assuming he adds weight over the summer, a 100-point OHL campaign should be expected out of Ho-Sang in 2014-15.
It may have appeared to be a risky decision, but after getting Michael Dal Colle at No. 5, Snow could afford to take a measured gamble 22 spots later.
Worst Round 1 Selections
Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers
Allow me to clarify: I believe German-prodigy Leon Draisaitl has arguably more upside than any player available, but Edmonton could've done more to address bigger needs with the No. 3 pick in hand.
Before the Oilers took Darnell Nurse in 2013, Edmonton had burned three straight No. 1 overall picks on Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov (in addition to 2008 first-rounder Jordan Eberle), so there's already talent up front.
And, given that the Oilers finished 30th out of the league's 30 teams in goals against in 2013-14, shouldn't solidifying the blue line or acquiring an upgrade in net have been Craig MacTavish's primary objective?
Instead, the Oilers took a sublimely talented young center in Draisaitl, and while he's got all the tools to form a dangerous tandem down the middle with Nugent-Hopkins, Edmonton didn't attempt to bolster what has been a porous defense.
This won't be a postseason team until Edmonton can actually prevent opposing clubs from scoring—no matter how many slick offensive toys are in place.
Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks
After moving Kesler, new general manager Jim Benning had a pair of first-rounders to work with, but taking Jake Virtanen may have been a mistake at No. 6.
As of now, the Canucks are a team with an aging core consisting of the Sedin twins, Kevin Bieksa and Alex Burrows, so it should have been a priority to get a player that could step in and play immediately.
That's not the case with Virtanen, as the British Columbia native is coming off of shoulder surgery and won't resume play until the fall.
This is not to say that the Calgary Hitmen sniper isn't worthy of the pick. The 45 goals he put up in the WHL in 2013-14 demonstrate the power forward's offensive chops, but as a report by The Canadian Press via CBC.ca put it, "Virtanen seems like a long-term project."
If the Canucks are intent on orchestrating a complete rebuild, this was a solid choice—as was the No. 24 selection of Jared McCann. But until the Sedin brothers are shipped out, one has to think there are still some short-term aspirations for this team.
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