2015 NHL Draft Results: Biggest Winners and Losers of Round 1
The Boston Bruins actually lost Bobby Orr as a free agent to the Chicago Blackhawks on July 1, 1976. So, there can never be a darker day than that in B's history, even though Orr's tenure with Chicago after signing a five-year, $3 million contract was essentially a disaster.
Bruins fans also had to see Ray Bourque win a Stanley Cup in the final game of his 22-year career in 2001. That came with the Colorado Avalanche, and not the team he played his first 20 years for in Boston.
Make no mistake, though: Friday, Day 1 of the two-day NHL draft in Sunrise, Florida, was a day of no sunshine for Bruins loyalists.
For the reasons why, click through the following slideshow. It lists the winners and losers from this year's NHL draft, and Boston is No. 1 in the latter category. History may prove the Bruins winners based on their moves, but the early consensus seems to be, good luck with that.
Twitter was virtually set aflame by angry Bruins fans over the trades of Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic and the drafting of two players who draft experts considered "off the board" selections.
Click on for more on that and the other winners and losers.
Loser: Boston Bruins
One day after losing center Carl Soderberg for a sixth-round pick in a "We can't afford this player anymore because of all the other dead salary weight we have hanging around our necks" deal with Colorado, the Bruins announced the trade of 22-year-old, highly regarded defenseman Dougie Hamilton to the Calgary Flames.
That sent the hockey world, essentially, into a tizzy. Even Bruins play-by-play TV man Jack Edwards couldn't help taking to Twitter after Hamilton was traded for the 15th, 45th and 52nd picks.
Then, they announced the trade of Milan Lucic to the Los Angeles Kings for a backup goalie, Martin Jones, prospect defenseman Colin Miller and the No. 13 pick in the first round. That caused Edwards to continue tweeting.
The Bruins actually got some good marks for the Lucic trade. Until they made their three picks at 13, 14 and 15. They selected defenseman Jakub Zboril, left wing Jake DeBrusk and right wing Zachary Senyshyn. Zboril ranked No. 14 on TSN analyst Bob McKenzie's predraft list, but DeBrusk and Senyshyn were considered "off the board," and that didn't impress the experts much.
"There's better players available than him," NBC Sports analyst Craig Button said on air after the Bruins selected Senyshyn.
McKenzie had DeBrusk ranked as the 28th pick in his predraft rankings, and he went twice as fast. Do the Bruins and GM Don Sweeney know better than the experts? Time will tell, but nobody seems too convinced. In a live poll on NBC shortly after Boston's moves, only 22 percent of those chiming in approved of Sweeney's moves.
The irony is that former Bruins general manager and current Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli tried hard to get Hamilton, offering a better package than Calgary did, according to Comcast SportsNet New England's Joe Haggerty.
"So you'd rather have two second-rounders than a higher first?" Boston radio personality Michael Felger said on Felger and Massarotti. "Second-rounders? Just so, what, you don't want to have him (Hamilton) in the conference? Or, did you not do your due diligence and let the entire league know there was an auction? That bugs the crap out of me. That was the big mistake they made on Joe Thornton all those years ago. That's the big mistake they made on (Tyler) Seguin, for that matter. They didn't hold a true auction and take the highest bid."
As Steely Dan sang, "When Black Friday comes..."
Winner: Colorado Avalanche
Ryan O'Reilly started out as a humble, "Just happy to be here" kind of guy with the Avalanche when he was drafted 33rd overall in 2009 and made the Avs straight out of training camp as an 18-year-old. Just six years later, however, he entered his third contract fight with team management, one year after nearly going to arbitration before settling on a two-year, $12 million deal.
With one year left on that deal and slated to become an unrestricted free agent after that, O'Reilly's days in Colorado finally became numbered. And yet, Avs general manager Joe Sakic got quite a nice haul for him, although he had to throw in decent winger Jamie McGinn as well. The Avs got young defenseman Nikita Zadorov, forwards Mikhail Grigorenko and J.T. Compher and the No. 31 pick in the draft, as they confirmed on Twitter.
"The big thing is, we're looking for back-end help, and Zadorov was the huge piece," Sakic told NBC's Kathryn Tappen.
Privately, Avs people were thrilled to finally be rid of the drama that surrounded O'Reilly. The team never wanted to give him more than $3.5 million a year when his original contract was up, but then came former Calgary GM Jay Feaster with a two-year, $10 million offer sheet in 2013 that included a $6.5 million salary in year two. That set O'Reilly's base salary at way more than they wanted to ever match, but the Avs did give in right before a team-elected arbitration case was to be heard last year, giving him two more years at a $6 million cap hit.
With O'Reilly slated to become an unrestricted free agent after this season and his agent Pat Morris not wanting anything less than his current cap hit, the Avs quickly decided to move him. To get four young prospects for him and McGinn was about as good as could be expected.
On Thursday, the Avs also signed former Bruin Carl Soderberg to a five-year deal, as the team announced. Colorado got younger and arguably better, and they also created more cap space for July 1, with nearly $17 million to spend. The Avs also managed to hold on to the No. 10 pick and came away with big Finnish center Mikko Rantanen.
Things are looking up again in the Mile High City.
Loser: Toronto Maple Leafs
As Globe and Mail reporter James Mirtle put it:
It’s a heated, organization-wide debate that will finally be put to rest Friday night: Who should the Toronto Maple Leafs take with the fourth pick in the 2015 NHL draft—the franchise’s highest pick in 26 years, one they feel must absolutely turn out to be a superstar?
The pivotal decision has divided the front office for months, ever since Edmonton won the draft lottery and the Leafs learned that only three teams would be picking ahead of them. Some in Leafs management like pint-sized London Knights forward Mitch Marner. Others are fans of big Boston College defenceman Noah Hanifin.
Leafs director of player personnel Mark Hunter seemingly won out. Hunter selected Marner of the OHL's London Knights with the fourth pick. At 5'11", 160 pounds, Marner has critics of being too small to be such a high pick.
Hanifin was immediately snapped up by Carolina at No. 5. The selection of Marner just doesn't seem to fit Toronto's immediate needs. Don't they already have enough undersized skill forwards (hello, Phil Kessel)?
The fact that Kessel was still a Maple Leaf after the first day of the draft was a disappointment to many Leafs fans. Leafs fans always want a big splash. They seemed to just get a ripple on Friday.
Winner: Carolina Hurricanes
In other years, Noah Hanifin would have been a No. 1 pick. That the Hurricanes selected him at No. 5 overall on Friday will prove to be a nice gift from the Hockey Overlords.
Hanifin, 18, was the captain of the gold medal-winning USA under-17 team at the 2014 World Hockey Challenge. At 6'2", 203 pounds, Hanifin already has good size and, by all accounts, a great hockey IQ. He'll probably play another year at Boston College, but we'll see. He's going to be a great player in the NHL whenever he wants. At least, that's what the experts think.
“I keep telling everyone that Noah can do everything that (Blackhawks star) Duncan Keith can do,” Don Granato, who coached Hanifin with the U.S. national development team, told the Boston Herald's Steve Conroy. “He’s got all the skill and he’s a great competitor. And like Duncan Keith, he can’t not play with energy. He’ll play 30 minutes a game and afterwards he’ll look like he hadn’t even played.”
Hanifin told NBC Sports' Kathryn Tappen that he hoped Boston would trade up to take him, but it never happened. That's another reason why Boston was the No. 1 loser on Friday.
Loser: St. Louis Blues
John Shannon of Sportsnet reported that Blues general manager Doug Armstrong wanted to trade into the first round. The Blues had no first-round pick in this draft, one considered by many to be the best since 2003. They traded their first-rounder this year to Buffalo last year in a trade for goalie Ryan Miller, who proved a failure as a rental.
There were noises about dealing T.J. Oshie for a first-rounder, but the Blues probably priced themselves out of a trade by overpaying him on his current contract ($4.5 million in 2015-16). Armstrong was reduced to defeatist words, as he told NHL.com Blues writer Lou Korac: "Moving into the first round was going to be difficult based on what our purpose is for next season."
The Blues continue to be perpetual playoff disappointments, so holding pat with the roster for the "purpose ... for next season" doesn't sound right.
Winner: Buffalo Sabres
Wait, didn't we just say the Avalanche got the better of the deal they made with Buffalo for Ryan O'Reilly? Hold the phone.
This will be one of those deals that could benefit both teams. O'Reilly is a very good player, and aside from Nikita Zadorov, was there anyone really in that trade who has bona fide star potential? O'Reilly already has proved he can be something of a star in this league, and Jamie McGinn is a decent power forward when healthy.
The Sabres did more than just the O'Reilly deal though. GM Tim Murray was able to keep the No. 2 pick and tab Boston University center Jack Eichel as expected. He acquired goalie Robin Lehner, 23, who won a Calder Cup with Ottawa's AHL team, Binghamton, in 2011. That led Murray to give this great quote to reporters—before the O'Reilly deal:
If you had of told me that the last day we had the three [picks] before the (Evander) Kane trade that on this day we were getting Eichel, Kane and Lehner, I would have said, 'You're on mushrooms.' I would have said, 'There's no way that's going to happen; we're going to end up with one great prospect and two other good prospects and we'll see how it goes.' That would have been my answer. I think we're way beyond that, so I'm excited.
The challenge for Murray will be to sign O'Reilly long-term before he is a UFA next year. That could be a big challenge for a team that has been in the gutter the last few years. But after Murray's moves of this past week, better days await in Buffalo.
Loser: Daryl Katz's Welcome to Connor McDavid
What in the world was this video with Connor McDavid all about? Could this have been any more awkward? How did Daryl Katz and his orange tan hijack the NBC Sports proceedings for a nearly minute-long homage to himself, the Oilers and the ongoing construction of the Rogers Place?
We all know the Oilers didn't deserve the No. 1 pick again this year. If they win a Cup anyway with McDavid, they will be known for being skilled at nothing more than winning the bounce of ping-pong balls. Despite three No. 1 picks in the last five years, the Oilers have remained a gutter team, no thanks to Katz's bungled moves as an owner.
McDavid looked rightly embarrassed in the video, in which Katz was clearly reading off cue cards. If McDavid breaks a leg tomorrow, he'll forever remember being known as a pawn by an owner looking for more face time.
Winner: Calgary Flames
You didn't think we'd forget them, did you?
Heisting Dougie Hamilton out of Boston for just the 15th, 45th and 52nd picks might go down as one of the great trades of all time by second-year GM Brad Treliving. Might remains a key word, as it's important not to make Hamilton out to be another Bobby Orr here.
But he's a 22-year-old, 6'5", right-shot defenseman who put up 42 points (10 goals) in 72 games this past season in just his third year. Yeah, he probably isn't worth the money just yet that he's reportedly asking for (at least $6 million a year, as TSN's Darren Dreger said on TSN 1050 Radio, via theScore), but he probably will be worth it very soon.
ESPN.com's Pierre LeBrun reported that Edmonton and Arizona, and possibly other teams, made a better offer for Hamilton, but somehow Treliving was able to convince Bruins GM Don Sweeney to take his package of three picks, none of them before No. 15. That was quite a feat.
Calgary now has a loaded blue line with Hamilton joining Mark Giordano, Dennis Wideman, T.J. Brodie and Ladislav Smid. And, again, the Flames didn't have to give up a roster player.
To quote the great Charlie Sheen: Winning.