The Los Angeles Kings may own the Stanley Cup, but they most certainly were not the top dogs over the course of this past weekend's 2014 NHL draft.
One would think an organization that just won the top prize has what it takes to walk the tightrope between contention now and into the future, but the Kings are clearly only set with eyes on the present, as major financial hiccups in the form of bad contracts loom in the distance.
The good news is that not every franchise took after the champs on Friday in the first round, or on Saturday's epic pace that saw six rounds fly by in the neighborhood of four hours.
Let's take a look at a report card for each franchise, then break down the best and worst classes.
|Anaheim Ducks||Nicholas Ritchie (10), Marcus Pettersson (38), Brandon Montour (55), Matthew Berkovitz (123), Ondrej Kase (205)||B-|
|Arizona Coyotes||Brendan Perlini (12), Ryan MacInnis (43), Christian Dvorak (58), Anton Karlsson (87), Michael Bunting (117), Dysin Mayo (133), David Westlund (163), Jared Fiegl (191), Edgars Kulda (193)||B+|
|Boston Bruins||David Pastrnak (25), Ryan Donato (56), Danton Heinen (116), Anders Bjork (146), Emil Johansson (206)||C|
|Buffalo Sabres||Sam Reinhart (2), Brendan Lemieux (31), Eric Cornel (44), Vaclav Karabacek (49), Jonas Johansson (61), Brycen Martin (74), Maxwell Willman (121), Christopher Brown (151), Victor Olofsson (181)||A+|
|Calgary Flames||Samuel Bennett (4), Mason McDonald (34), Hunter Smith (54), Brandon Hickey (64), Adam Ollas Mattsson (175), Austin Carroll (184||B|
|Carolina Hurricanes||Haydn Fleury (7), Alex Nedeljkovic (37), Warren Foegele (67), Josh Wesley (96), Lucas Wallmark (97), Clark Bishop (127), Kyle Jenkins (187)||A-|
|Chicago Blackhawks||Nick Schmaltz (20), Matheson Iacopelli (83), Beau Starrett (88), Frederik Olofsson (98), Luc Snuggerud (141), Andreas Soderberg (148), Dylan Sikura (178), Ivan Nalimov (179), Jack Ramsey (208)||B+|
|Colorado Avalanche||Conner Bleackley (23), Kyle Wood (84), Nicholas Magyar (93), Alexis Pepin (114), Anton Lindholm (144), Maximilian Pajpach (174), Julien Nantel (204)||D|
|Columbus Blue Jackets||Sonny Milano (16), Ryan Collins (47), Elvis Merzlikins (76), Blake Siebenaler (77), Julien Pelletier (107), Tyler Bird (137), Olivier Leblanc (197)||B-|
|Dallas Stars||Julius Honka (14), Brett Pollock (45), Alexander Peters (75), Michael Prapavessis (105), Brent Moran (115), Miro Karjalainen (135), Aaron Haydon (154), John Nyberg (165), Patrick Sanvido (195)||B|
|Detroit Red Wings||Dylan Larkin (15), Dominic Turgeon (63), Christoffer Ehn (106), Chase Perry (136), Julius Vahatalo (166), Axel Holmstrom (196), Alexander Kadeykin (201)||C|
|Edmonton Oilers||Leon Draisatil (3), William Lagesson (91), Zachary Nagelvoort (111), Liam Coughlin (130), Tyler Vesel (153), Keven Bouchard (183)||B-|
|Florida Panthers||Aaron Ekblad (1), Jayce Hawryluk (32), Juho Lammikko (65), Joe Wegwerth (92), Miguel Fidler (143), Hugo Fagerblom (182)||A|
|Los Angeles Kings||Adrian Kempe (29), Roland McKeown (50), Alex Lintuniemi (60), Michael Amadio (90), Steven Johnson (120), Alec Dillon (150), Jake Marchment (157), Matthew Mistele (180), Spencer Watson (209), Jacob Middleton (210)||C|
|Minnesota Wild||Alex Tuch (18), Louis Belpedio (80), Kaapo Kahkonen (109), Tanner Faith (139), Pontus Sjalin (160), Chase Lang (167), Reid Duke (169), Pavel Jenys (199)||C|
|Montreal Canadiens||Nikita Scherbak (26), Brett Lernout (73), Nikolas Koberstein (125), Daniel Audette (147), Hayden Hawkey (177), Jake Evans (207)||C+|
|Nashville Predators||Kevin Fiala (11), Vladislav Kamenev (42), Jack Dougherty (51), Justin Kirkland (62), Viktor Arvidsson (112), Joonas Lyytinen (132), Aaron Irving (162)||B-|
|New Jersey Devils||John Quenneville (30), Joshua Jacobs (41), Connor Chatham (71), Ryan Rehill (131), Joey Dudek (152), Brandon Baddock (161)||C+|
|New York Islanders||Michael Dal Colle (5), Joshua Ho-Sang (28), Ilya Sorokin (78), Linus Soderstrom (95), Devon Toews (108), Kyle Schempp (155), Lukas Sutter (200)||B+|
|New York Rangers||Brandon Halverson (59), Keegan Iverson (85), Ryan Mantha (104), Igor Shesterkin (118), Richard Nejezchleb (122), Daniel Walcott (140), Tyler Nanne (142)||D|
|Ottawa Senators||Andreas Englund (40), Miles Gendron (70), Shane Eiserman (100), Kelly Summers (189), Francis Perron (190)||C-|
|Philadelphia Flyers||Travis Sanheim (17), Nicolas Aube-Kubel (48), Mark Friedman (86), Oskar Lindblom (138), Radel Fazleev (168), Jesper Pettersson (198)||B|
|Pittsburgh Penguins||Kasperi Kapanen (22), Sam Lafferty (113), Anthony Angello (145), Jaden Lindo (173), Jeff Taylor (203)||C|
|St. Louis Blues||Robert Fabbri (21), Ivan Barbashev (33), Maxim Letunov (52), Jake Walman (82), Ville Husso (94), Austin Poganski (110), Jaedon Descheneau (124), Chandler Yakimowicz (172), Samuel Blais (176), Dwyer Tschantz (202)||B|
|San Jose Sharks||Nikolay Goldobin (27), Julius Bergman (46), Noah Rod (53), Alex Schoenborn (72), Dylan Sadowy (81), Alexis Vanier (102), Rourke Chartier (149), Kevin Labanc (171)||A|
|Tampa Bay Lightning||Anthony Deangelo (19), Dominik Masin (35), Johnathan MacLeod (57), Brayden Point (79), Ben Thomas (119), Cristiano Digiacinto (170), Cameron Darcy (185)||B|
|Toronto Maple Leafs||William Nylander (8), Rinat Valiev (68), John Piccinich (103), Dakota Joshua (128), Nolan Vesey (158), Pierre Engvall (188)||B+|
|Vancouver Canucks||Jake Virtanen (6), Jared McCann (24), Thatcher Demko (36), Nikita Tryamkin (66), Gustav Forsling (126), Kyle Pettit (156), Mackenze Stewart (186)||A|
|Washington Capitals||Jakub Vrana (13), Vitek Vanecek (39), Nathan Walker (89), Shane Gersich (134), Steven Spinner (159), Kevin Elgestal (194)||A|
|Winnipeg Jets||Nikolaj Ehlers (9), Jack Glover (69), Chase De Leo (99), Nelson Nogier (101), Clinston Franklin (129), Pavel Kraskovsky (164), Matt Ustaski (192)||B|
|Results via NHL.com|
Best Class: Buffalo Sabres
Look, nobody is saying the Buffalo Sabres are surefire postseason contenders next year, but the rebuilding process in a small market is going quite well, all things considered.
The Sabres have a ton of cap space to work with and now have one of the deeper talent pools after the addition of the 2014 class, headlined by former Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart.
Reinhart appeared in 60 games last season and scored 36 goals, 69 assists and 105 points, with 23 points in the postseason for good measure. The best pure passer in the class comes equipped with an elite mind for the sport and an ability to dictate the tempo of a game that is unmatched for a rookie.
Even better, Reinhart is a safer pick than the above makes him seem thanks to his lineage, as noted by James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail:
But Reinhart was far from the only prospect who made Buffalo's class the best of all.
No. 31 overall pick Brendan Lemieux, son of former pro Claude, oozes offensive potential and can play either the wing or center. He might just develop into a nice pairing with Reinhart, while even more offense was found with Eric Cornel and Vaclav Karabacek in the second round.
Not content to just play it safe, the Sabres also gambled on a former top prospect by the name of Brycen Martin in the third round, and it's one that may pay dividends down the line. He scored 37 total points with the SC Broncos of the WHL a year ago and gives Buffalo even more offensive versatility down the road.
All things considered, Tim Graham of The Buffalo News put it best:
Buffalo easily has the best developmental talent in the NHL at the moment, which bodes well for the future of a franchise that has not won 40 or more games in each of the last three seasons.
Worst Class: New York Rangers
Let's call a spade a spade—the New York Rangers are reeling.
The cap is a tad lower than anticipated, and the team's run this past season makes it even more difficult for management to keep the same roster intact. Fine, as the draft presents an opportunity to reload, both slightly for the present and well into the future.
Except the Rangers didn't have a first-round pick and elected to use two of their first-four picks in the process on netminders. That's a major issue for a franchise that has 32-year-old superstar Henrik Lundqvist on the roster, who is under contract through the 2020-21 season, per Spotrac.
In terms of actual merit, Brandon Halverson is a sound prospect drafted right around where his stock suggested. He's great in front of the net and rough around the edges, as shown by his performance in the 2012-13 OHL playoffs with 1.46 goals against and a .953 save percentage in four shifts.
Halverson certainly did not seem to mind the situation he enters:
Two picks later and another trip to the podium saw the Rangers grab another goalie, this time Igor Shesterkin. ESPN's Corey Pronman and Frank Provenzano provided a deeper dive on the Russian prospect's outlook (subscription required):
Shesterkin is a fun goaltender to watch because of his high-end athletic abilities and all of the tough stops he can make. He has quick feet, allowing him to make dynamic lateral moves. His reactions are also a plus, and he has the ability to make some of the more difficult stops with his glove. His reads are solid, with good flashes here and there, but he can still work on some of the finer details, and he can stand to bulk up his 6-foot, 183-pound frame in order to fill up more of the net.
Again—good developmental pick, but a strange one given the state of the franchise.
Other talent such as Keegan Iverson and Ryan Mantha are intriguing, but as Pronman and Provenzano suggest, the Rangers reached on most of their picks and took a strange stance for a team that intends to continue competing for titles in the coming years.
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