The 2011 NHL Draft was a night that saw several players rise and a handful of players fall.
Skaters such as Dougie Hamilton and Sean Couturier were believed to have top five potiential, but would their availability match the needs of the teams who possessed these picks?
In an environment such as this where all the GMs in the league come together in one room, a lot of things could happen. The Philadelphia Flyers already made noise the day before the draft by trading away two players many viewed as franchise guys to make space for a goaltender, and to get younger.
And rumors beyond that for all other teams were swirling.
Toronto Maple Leafs brain trust Brian Burke was believed to be interested in trading up in the draft if particular players fell down the rankings, while the rebuilding Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Avalanche needed to balance the interest in their slew of picks with the site for the future of the squads.
Overall it was a fun night for some teams, including the home team Minnesota Wild, that saw Gary Bettman approach the podium with the only words outside of "It's an honor to present the Cup to.." that will garner him cheers.
Those words being, of course, "we have a trade to announce."
In a rapid reaction, here are the 10 biggest surprises and risks surrounding the first round of the 2011 NHL Draft.
The rumor had been floating around for quite some time—the Jeff Carter to the Columbus Blue Jackets idea had a genesis that was hard to track and quickly put Flyers GM Paul Holmgren on the defensive. He stated on numerous occasions that he flat out wasn't going to trade Carter.
Now Carter is a Columbus Blue Jacket. After being rumored so long it was mildly surprising to see the deal finally materialize in the same capacity as it had been rumored. What took so long?
The drive behind the deal is obvious for both sides. The Flyers cleared the cap space to lock up what they hope is their franchise goaltender in Ilya Bryzgalov, and the Blue Jackets finally landed a center for Rick Nash.
While Carter isn't the setup first guy that some may have had pegged for the number one position in Columbus, people sometimes forget that a wing can be a set up guy. Enter Antoine Vermette.
He should get a long look on the right side of Carter, and Nash—which sounds like a super classy Country Western themed restaurant if you ask me—and if the line clicks Columbus immediately has something they have never had before: a legit first line that is a scoring threat on every shift.
It's official. After years of battling, Winnipeg finally have their Jets back.
Early on Friday reports surfaced that the Winnipeg had finally settled on a name, and have decided to go with the Jets due to the desire of local fans to see the name return. According to the guys on Versus, Jets chants rained down from the rafters at the Xcel Energy Center from a contingent of Winnipeg fans that had made the trip to the arena to cheer for their team.
It was the perfect time for the Jets to announce their return—at the podium before they selected the player who would represent the new direction and philosophy for the team. Kudos to Winnipeg fans for never quitting on getting the team back. Enjoy the season.
I won't lie. I got chills when Gary Bettman welcomed Winnipeg back into the fold.
Ryan Smyth never wanted to leave Edmonton in the first place. And after a stint in Los Angeles Captain Canada is coming home to the Oilers.
While he may not be the same player that he was when he left, the sentiment is obvious. Adding Smyth to a team that is now abundant in youthful talent and energy makes a lot of sense.
He is a player that leads both by example and with his attitude, and will give Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent Hopkins and the rest of the Oilers a player to emmulate as they grow as hockey players.
Injuries have hampered Smyth in recent seasons, but this isn't necessarily a move to put more goals on the board. It's a move to put the heart back into the Oilers. I think this move is a big win for Edmonton and their fans.
Gilbert Brule heads the other way in the trade, which isn't too high of an asking price for the proven veteran leadership that Smyth brings to the table.
(Update: This trade is not a done deal as of June 25th. TSN is reporting that concerns over Brule's health are too great at this point. The CBA doesn't allow teams to buy out injured players—the Kings were planning to buy out Brule, but as it stands right now wouldn't be allowed to.)
Mark Scheifele wasn't slated as a player who could jump ahead of guys like Sean Couturier and Joel Armia heading into the draft. But the newly anointed Winnipeg Jets had different ideas, and used their No. 7 pick to bring Scheifele into the fold.
Winnipeg made a statement by selecting the character player here instead of a more offensivley talented guy.
He has a solid stature, and makes his plays by holding onto the puck, waiting for defenders to commit before making his choices with the puck. Scheifele is a passer by nature and has plenty of potential because of his vision and hockey IQ.
That being said, the Jets leave a lot of talent and near sure-fire players on the board and could have already made their first blunder.
The Boston Bruins just won the Phil Kessel trade with the selection of Dougie Hamilton.
Between Zdeno Chara and now Hamilton, they have a wingspan that can cover almost an entire blueline. The Bruins weren't lacking in the nastiness department, but just got a whole lot bigger and a bit tougher with this selection.
He is a good skater for his size, and while he may have the size and offensive upside for the NHL, his defense still needs work. Hamilton is a player who can buckle under pressure from forecheckers, and will need to work on his decision making to be an impact player in the NHL.
Still, the Bruins have a high percentage of knocking this pick out of the park as few people predicted that this player would slip as far as he did.
The Wild decided against picking the offensively dynamic Ryan Murphy, instead going with steady Jonis Brodin.
In a League where solid defenders on the backend are a bit more plentiful than electric skaters on the blueline, Minnesota decided to go with the more steady hand by drafting a defender who has played against NHL type players, and left Murphy and his fireworks sitting.
The Colorado Avalanche also selected a more defensive defensemen by selecting Duncan Siemens. The Siemens pick doesn't surprise anyone, as the plan has unfolded perfectly for the Avs. The surprise here is that Murphy was left to sit for so long, especially with the premium that is put on offense from the blueline in the NHL these days.
Arguably the biggest question emerging in the draft early was where would this kid go? But just like Cam Fowler before him, Murphy is a great puck mover that could have a few teams kicking themselves for passing.
The 'Canes got themselves a smooth skating gamer in Murphy.
Some people may consider this a pretty large jump for the behemoth of a hockey player. Standing at 6'7'' and tipping the ice at 240 pounds (already) some viewers may be convinced that this is a purely raw player that is being selected only because of his size.
But don't be one of them.
While he is currently more of a Hal Gill player—a guy who has carved out a pretty decent career for himself in his own right—he projects to be more of a Tyler Myers type player. A big presence on the blueline that can make an impact with both his intimidating stature and his play.
Oleksiak is very good on his skates for such a tremendously sized skater, and is among the more athletic players available. He'll be a great Star, and the detractors should be proven wrong pretty quickly. This kid is the real deal in his own zone.
Seeing this trade happen in real time, as the guys on Versus pointed out, was pretty neat.
Gary Bettman announced the trade live in front of the hometown crowd who cheered the adding of a top-six forward in Devin Setoguchi. The trade breaks down like this.
The San Jose Sharks have trade forwards Devin Setoguchi, Charlie Coyle, and a first-round draft pick (28th overall) to the Minnesota Wild for defenceman Brent Burns and a second-round pick in 2012.
The Wild appear to be the immediate winner of this trade, as Setoguchi is a tried and true NHL forward, while Charlie Coyle is a former first round pick, and they also landed the 28th pick overall in the 2011 draft.
So all told, three first round picks for Brent Burns and a second rounder.
San Jose must have seen something that they really like in the offensive defensemen because that is some serious compensation. Short term the deal could very well be a wash.
The Sharks needed to change things up a bit after falling short once again in the playoffs, but I find it strange that they decided to move a guy who usually is a threat in the playoffs instead of another player. They now have two proven puck moving defenders in Danny Boyle and Burns, and the power play should be one of the best in the League with this pick.
But long term, Charlie Coyle brings a lot of attitude to the rink, and No. 28 Zack Phillips is a very dangerous player.
This was a pick I viewed as a shoo in, and one of the few this late in the first round. The names and players are all interchangeable, but all Ty Rattie does is score goals. Sidney Crosby needs a winger who does that. Why the Pens decided to go elsewhere is kind of a mystery to me.
For the last several years the top billing for the franchise has been to address a need for a scoring winger, and here, late in the first round, one is available and they pass on him. The scouts for the Penguins organization obviously have seen these players more than I have, but to me this one seemed like a slam dunk.
While they continued to add defensive capabilities, the team failed to address their need for a pure goal scoring winger when one was available.
This deal was reported just as first round coverage was going off air by TSN.
Brian Cambell is heading to Florida in exchange for Rostislav Olesz according to the report.
The move would complete a night where Chicago got younger, faster, and less expensive. Stan Bowman has done a masterful job managing this roster through the last two years and has stockpiled young prospects and players to fill the ranks in Chicago for years to come.
Cambell is an excellent puck moving blueliner, and odds are the 'Hawks wouldn't take the Cup two seasons ago without him. But his huge contract has been a detriment since then. The Panthers need to get to the League floor in cap spending.
The deal helps both teams in several ways, and can't really be viewed as a clear cut win-loss scenario for the squads. The Blackhawks now have space to do whatever they need to do in free agency, and the Panthers add a respectable, big name player to a roster that is void of any such thing.