The 2014 NHL draft in Philadelphia was one of the wildest shows for hockey fans this offseason, but the focus has now shifted to how each team fared in the draft and the grades the deserve for their efforts.
It would be unfair to judge the prospects now since it will take years to see how each pick pans out in the NHL. Instead, the way organizations filled voids or built for the long-term decided each team's grade.
|2014 NHL Draft First-Round Results and Grades|
|Florida Panthers||D Aaron Ekblad (1)||A|
|Buffalo Sabres||C Sam Reinhart (2)||A|
|Edmonton Oilers||C Leon Draisaitl (3)||B|
|Calgary Flames||C Sam Bennett (4)||A|
|New York Islanders||LW Michael Dal Colle (5)||B|
|Vancouver Canucks||RW Jake Virtanen (6), C Jared McCann (24)||A|
|Carolina Hurricanes||D Haydn Fleury (7)||B|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||C William Nylander (8)||B|
|Winnipeg Jets||LW Nikolaj Ehlers (9)||A|
|Anaheim Ducks||LW Nicholas Ritchie (10)||B|
|Nashville Predators||LW Kevin Fiala (11)||C|
|Arizona Coyotes||LW Brendan Perlini (12)||A|
|Washington Capitals||W Jakub Vrana (13)||B|
|Dallas Stars||D Julius Honka (14)||B|
|Detroit Red Wings||C Dylan Larkin (15)||A|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||LW Sonny Milano (16)||A|
|Philadelphia Flyers||D Travis Sanheim (17)||B|
|Minnesota Wild||RW Alex Tuch (18)||B|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||D Anthony Deangelo (19)||B|
|Chicago Blackhawks||C Nick Schmaltz (20)||B|
|St. Louis Blues||C Robert Fabbri (21)||C|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||RW Kasperi Kapanen (22)||B|
|Colorado Avalanche||C Conner Bleackley (23)||C|
|Boston Bruins||RW David Pastrnak (25)||B|
|Montreal Canadiens||RW Nikita Scherbak (26)||B|
|San Jose Sharks||RW Nikolay Goldobin (27)||A|
|New York Islanders||C Joshua Ho-Sang (28)||B|
|Los Angeles Kings||LW Adrian Kempe (29)||B|
|New Jersey Devils||C John Quenneville (30)||C|
|Source: NHL.com. Grades vis Donald Wood.|
Here are the complete grades and results from the first round of the 2014 NHL draft and a focus on the most underrated selection.
Most Underrated Pick: Travis Sanheim, D, Philadelphia Flyers
There were several picks in the first round that went unheralded by fans and experts alike, but the best selection to get no love is the Philadelphia Flyers acquisition of defenseman Travis Sanheim at No. 17.
There was a clear defensive drop off after Aaron Ekblad was taken first overall, but Philadelphia still managed to fill its need at the position with one of the brightest long-term prospects in the entire draft.
Sanheim may not be ready to start in the NHL from Day 1 like Ekblad, but at 6’3”, 181 pounds and 18 years of age, there is still so much room for physical and mental growth.
When asked about the raucous atmosphere in Philadelphia for the 2014 draft, Sanheim told Sean McCullen of NHL.com about his feelings leading up to the selection and his immediate reaction:
Being in the building today, the fans were crazy and you can see the passion. So I know it's a hockey city, and I'm lucky to be here. Leading up to the Philadelphia pick, when the fans started going nuts and you could feel the passion in the building and I was starting to shake, I wasn't sure I was going to be able to stand if they picked me. It's a great feeling.
Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News shared his view on Sanheim via Twitter:
According to Tim Panaccio of CSNPhilly, there is lineage between Sanheim and new general manager Ron Hextall:
In his first season as the general manager of the Flyers, Hextall understands that the pressure is on him to deliver results in everything he does, starting with the draft. While many fans didn’t know much about Sanheim initially, the choice shows the forward-thinking nature of Hextall and the organization.
The talented defender only spent one season in the WHL with the Calgary Hitmen, but showcased his room to grow by evolving and improving throughout the season. His ability to take direction and implement instructions is exactly what coaches at the next level are looking for.
Sanheim racked up five goals and 24 assists in 67 games during the 2013-14 campaign. As talented as he can be offensively, it is his ability to defend the best players he faces and shut them down that makes him a valuable two-way asset who will be a sufficient long-term replacement for older players like Kimmo Timonen.
Add in the fact that he was one of the biggest stars showcased at this year’s under-18 world championships (amassing six points in seven games), and the investment in a prospect like Sanheim fills a team need for years to come.
Hextall passed his first test with Philadelphia.