It's clear that fans are wonderfully optimistic before any NHL draft. Seven rounds, hundreds of prospects, how could their team possibly go wrong?
Then again, the optimism may be even more feverish after the draft, when every team's bundle of picks is just a collection of names, each one representing untold possibilities and potential.
The 2014 NHL draft was dripping with talented players who will be ready to take the ice and alter teams' fortunes in the years to come. Every team had a unique set of needs to fill. Some were looking for the next great goalie, others a speedy winger and a few franchises might have been stockpiling assets for a potential blockbuster trade.
It stands to reason that each team can be judged on whether or not they fulfilled their needs. Let's take a look at the grades for every franchise's overall draft haul.
|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||A+|
|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)||B|
|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)||A-|
|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)||B-|
|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)||A|
|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)||C+|
|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|
NHL.com, grades by Nate Loop
Best First-round Picks
Robert Fabbri, C, St. Louis Blues
The Blues struck gold with Canadian center Robert Fabbri as the No. 21 overall choice.
Fabbri is a potential first-line center with wonderful playmaking ability and a nose for the goal.
He posted 45 goals and 42 assists in 58 regular season games in the Ontario Hockey League this past season. Fabbri showed his competitive streak in the postseason, leading the Guelph Storm to the OHL championship and picking up the MVP award along the way.
The Hockey News' Matt Larkin noted the Blues brass were likely unable to contain their enthusiasm over the pick:
Blues have to be giggling with glee turning picks 21 and 33 into Fabbri and Barbashev.— Matt Larkin (@THNMattLarkin) June 28, 2014
While ESPN's Corey Pronman suggested the move must surely appease the Blues fanbase:
Fabbri is the young, talented center Blues fans have been (literally) yelling for to get in their system.— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) June 28, 2014
Fabbri has a slightly smaller frame than most at 5'10" and 170 pounds, but the 18-year-old should have plenty of time to bulk up. He has already proven to be an aggressive player up top, and if he can increase his physicality, Fabbri should have no problem rising up the ranks of the Blues' system.
Sam Bennett, C, Calgary Flames
Sam Bennett might have a weak upper body, but he was one of the strongest picks of the night, going No. 4 overall to the Calgary Flames.
Bennett will want to make hockey observers forget about his failed pull-up attempt at the NHL combine, which is the hockey equivalent of Kevin Durant's inability to do a single 185-pound bench-press rep at a pre-draft camp in 2007.
The 18-year-old center will obviously need to get stronger to compete at the highest level of hockey. It is a brutal game and his body must be able to withstand the nightly beatings. Then again, it might not be a problem if the elusive, nimble skater can maneuver around potential hits.
The Globe and Mail's Eric Duhatschek believes the Flames are set at center thanks to this pick:
No surprise. Sam Bennett goes 4th overall to Cgy. With Sean Monahan in place, in time, they'll be set at centre - for 1st time in awhile— Eric Duhatschek (@eduhatschek) June 27, 2014
Bennett had a cracker of a year with the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League. He racked up 36 goals and 91 points in the regular season.
Was Bennett the right choice for the Calgary Flames at No. 4?
The Flames had plenty of strong options with the No. 4 pick, but general manager Brad Treliving thought Bennett's intangibles stood out amongst the other prospects.
"They’re all good players, but Sam’s a guy we had our eye on from Day 1,” Treliving said, via Randy Sportak of the Calgary Sun. “He has a special combination of skill, speed. I’ve talked about this since Day 1, the character, the intangible pieces, this guy oozes character, plays with an edge. We’re real happy tonight.”
If Bennett can capitalize on his myriad offensive talents, he could be a perennial All-Star for the Flames in due time.
William Nylander, C/RW, Toronto Maple Leafs
Yes, it's another potential center as a top pick, but the first-round forwards were absolute gems this year. The Maple Leafs deserve credit for snatching up Nylander with the No. 8 overall choice.
Nylander—the son of former NHL player Michael Nylander—is known for his magical ability to create goals and chances out of nothing. He is a human highlight reel that needs to polish up a few areas of his game to truly soar in the NHL.
Like Bennett, Nylander will have to add bulk to his slight frame to make it in the NHL. He's another young prospect at 18 years old and can wait a season or two to mature before transferring from Swedish to North American hockey rinks.
In addition to the strength issue, there is often an adjustment period for players coming over from Europe. Nylander should be able to handle the changes if given the proper amount of time to acclimate.
Which of these forwards will have the best NHL career?
Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis is convinced Nylander's key skills are already developed enough for the top ranks.
He has NHL speed, NHL hands, an NHL shot right now," Nonis said, as per TSN's Jonas Siegel. "It's whether or not the rest of his game can catch up."
The Maple Leafs took him early, but Nylander has more upside than any other blue-chip prospect in the draft.