2011 NHL Entry Draft: 10 Winners From the First Round in Minnesota
The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is in full swing and the first round was full of excitement. Many teams took chances that will surely help them in the long run.
In this slideshow, I will be taking a look at 10 teams that are winners after Day 1 of the draft in Minnesota. Whether it be a drafted player, traded player or just a good story, many teams came out with smiles on their faces.
If Day 2 is as exciting as the first day was, we are in for a real treat. Enjoy the read and be sure to tune in to the draft on the NHL Network tomorrow. There's sure to be a ton of action.
Thanks for reading.
The Oilers are probably the most obvious winner of Day 1 at the draft in Minnesota. Most scouts agreed that the Oil would take Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in the first overall spot and they did not disappoint. Though for a player deemed to have the best vision since Gretzky, he has some growing to do.
Not only were the Oilers given the first overall pick, they drafted at 19th and 31st. It was an all-around good day for fans of the Edmonton Oilers.
To cap off a great day in which fans of the Oil were imagining Nugent-Hopkins between Hall and Eberle, a trade to bring back Ryan Smyth is all but complete.
According to TSN, the Oilers are sending Gilbert Brule and a draft pick to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for "Captain Canada." (UPDATE: TSN reporting trade is on hold)
What a great day for the Edmonton Oilers!
New Jersey Devils
It's not often that the New Jersey Devils have a pick in the top five of the NHL Entry Draft. This was a historic day for the Devils; one that has been compared to their drafting of Scott Niedermayer (Adam Larsson's got a lot to live up to).
When you think that the Devils were able to grab Larsson in the No. 4 spot when he was rumored to be going first overall, this has got to be considered a steal for the team that calls the Prudential Center home.
Larsson could very well be ready for life in the NHL next season as he has been playing in the Swedish Elite League and playing against men, all while putting up top D-man minutes.
Devils fans are ecstatic with Larsson, and I'm sure that he will love moving the puck to players like Ilya Kovalchuk and Zach Parise. This looks to be a great fit!
Yesterday, everyone was wondering what the Flyers would do after trading Jeff Carter to Columbus and Mike Richards to the Los Angeles Kings. They seemed to answer those calls today by drafting Sean Couturier.
To start the season, Sean was regarded as the No. 1 prospect heading into the draft. While his stock fell throughout the season, there is no denying this guy's talent. When the Flyers' brass was asked whether or not they felt that Couturier would still be available, they all said no.
Personally, I was shocked when Ottawa passed up on the powerful centerman. Though, Ottawa's loss is Philly's gain.
Fans of the team in Orange will love watching this guy play in the coming years, and I know that they can't wait for him to don their jersey on a full-time basis.
What a great day for the city of Winnipeg! Though they went off the board by drafting Mark Scheifele, they got a great player with a lot of potential.
That's not why I consider the Winnipeg Jets to be a winner. They are a winner today simply because they were able to draft a player.
It's such a great story, and the fans of Winnipeg really do deserve this team. People say the city isn't big enough, well, they answered those critics by selling out 13,000 season tickets in a day.
The culture around this team is great and you really got the sense that the entire league wants to see the Jets succeed. The cheers that rained down from the Xcel Energy Center were really something great to witness.
Congratulations to True North Sports and Entertainment. You deserve this!
The Phil Kessel deal is finally complete. While it's too early to make any real comparison between Phil Kessel and the three players that were traded for him, I would consider Boston the winner.
Already, young Tyler Seguin has a Stanley Cup ring. Also, Dougie Hamilton is one of the stud defenders from this draft class. Those two guys alone are worth more than Phil Kessel.
When Pete Chiarelli was interviewed after drafting Hamilton, you could tell that he was thrilled with the player he was able to draft.
He danced around questions regarding who won the trade between him and Brian Burke. Though, you could see what he was thinking.
Congratulations to the Boston Bruins on making a great deal.
Columbus Blue Jackets
So while this event didn't occur on Day 1 of the draft, it does qualify for this slideshow as it was such a dramatic trade. Jeff Carter is now a member of the resurgent Columbus Blue Jackets. I firmly believe that this move could help propel them into the playoffs.
Since Rick Nash was drafted by the Jackets, he has been searching for a No. 1 center to feed him the puck and create offensive chances. Jeff Carter is going to be that player. He is a shoo-in for 70 points and he will surely make Nash better.
These two guys could become a force in the Western Conference, and I do believe they will bring the Blue Jackets back to the playoffs for the second time in franchise history.
Los Angeles Kings
How could I possibly leave my Los Angeles Kings out of this slideshow? They finally put the final piece into the puzzle by adding Mike Richards to the mix. Offense will no longer rest solely upon the shoulders of Anze Kopitar.
Adding Richards was the move that so many fans of the Kings were dying for Dean Lombardi to make for years and years. Finally, their prayers were answered with Richards putting on a Kings jersey.
In one of his post-trade interviews, you could sense that Richards was really excited about the opportunity that was going to be given to him in Los Angeles.
He and Drew Doughty are familiar with each other from the Olympic Games and we can all hope that they will be able to re-create some of that golden magic.
I look forward to seeing Richards in a Kings uniform this coming season!
The Ottawa Senators have got to be considered a winner based on the fact that they managed to have three picks in the first round. It's not often that we see that from a team.
General Manager Bryan Murray was able to add all the players that he wanted to at the draft in Minnesota on Day 1 and is looking forward to the second day.
While the Senators are in re-build mode, they are definitely looking upwards at the future. Players seem to be excited about playing in Canada's capital.
Drafting with picks that included their own, Detroit's and Nashville's, the Senators made a turn for the better that is going to really excite the fans of Ottawa.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Wait! The Toronto Maple Leafs are being called a winner? That seems utterly impossible considering their state of affairs. Well, I suppose they had to be called a winner at some point.
Finally, the future is looking brighter for the Leafs. They have some great building blocks in place, and I wouldn't be shocked to see the blue and white team in the playoffs come spring of 2012.
Why are the Leafs being called a winner today? Well, simply put, they turned Tomas Kaberle into much more than he was worth.
The Leafs traded Kaberle to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Joe Colborne, a first-round draft pick this year and a second-round draft pick next year because the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. They then flipped the conditional second-rounder to the Colorado Avalanche.
This essentially means that the Leafs acquired Colborne, Liles and a first-rounder for the enigmatic Kaberle. That's a pretty good deal for Brian Burke.
I wasn't going to complete this list without including the host team, the Minnesota Wild. They put on a great show for all of the fans and teams that attended the draft this weekend. Many General Managers from around the league noted the city's hospitality and kindness.
Not only did the city put on a great show for everyone involved, they stole Devin Setoguchi from the San Jose Sharks.
In a deal that sent Brent Burns to San Jose for Charlie Coyle, Devin Setoguchi and a first-round draft pick, the Wild completely changed their team. Finally, it looks as though they may be able to score goals.
What a great day for the Wild. It looks like the future is bright and that the culture change may be on the horizon with some great draft picks and this wonderful trade.
Also, I'd like to make a note of the kindness shown by fans of the Wild when Derek Boogaard's brother was brought on stage by the New York Rangers.
Derek was the gentle giant in the league, off the ice, and he was truly one of the great guys in the game. He will be dearly missed.