NHL Draft 2011: Winners and Losers from the 2011 NHL Draft in Minnesota
For most teams, the 2011 NHL draft was a chance to add some key pieces to the foundation of their franchise's future. Other teams took this weekend's draft as an opportunity to stockpile talented players to round out an already solid system.
There's a reason certain teams find themselves drafting in the top 10 year after year, while other clubs make a habit of having a pick in the bottom third of the first round, and it all starts with drafting.
That being said, some of the NHL's bottom feeders took a step in the right direction at the 2011 NHL draft, but the weekend did not lack some teams that did not hit the nail on the head.
Here's five winners and losers from the weekend's festivities.
New York Islanders: Winners
The Islanders have been in rebuilding mode for a handful of seasons and now appear to be on the verge of contending for a playoff spot this upcoming season. Garth Snow has drafted well and compiled a talented pool of young players and he continued to add to it this weekend.
Ryan Strome, Scott Mayfield and Robbie Russo were among the best selections the team made this weekend. Strome gives them another elite offensive weapons up front to potentially pair with John Tavares at some point.
Meanwhile, Scott Mayfield and Robbie Russo were necessary additions to a blue line that could use a bit of depth and physicality. Both prospects will have to bulk up a bit to fully satisfy Snow and the Islanders, but it’s in the hands of the developmental team in New York now.
Ottawa Senators: Winners
It was an active weekend for the team in Canada’s capital city, and on the whole, it was a successful trip to Minnesota for the Senators.
In addition to grabbing Mika Zibanejad with the sixth overall pick, the Senators were able to add two more talented forwards in the first round in Stefan Noesen and Matt Puempel. Both picks are risky, and I question Noesen’s upside, but the Sens needed to add depth up front.
In addition to the three first rounders, Ottawa picked up versatile center Shane Prince with the final pick in the second round, 61st overall.
Bryan Murray and the Ottawa Senators went a long way towards getting back to the playoffs this weekend.
St. Louis Blues: Winners
For the St. Louis Blues, the success of their draft started back at the NHL Trading Deadline, when the club dealt its first-round pick and Erik Johnson to the Colorado Avalanche in order to acquire Chris Stewart and a second-round pick, among other assets.
With two second-round picks to work with, the Blues brought in Ty Rattie and Joel Edmundson. Rattie was considered by most, including myself, to be worthy of selection in the first round. He is a ferocious fore-checker and has solid skill, which presents some upside.
Meanwhile, Joel Edmundson is one of the sleepers of the draft at defense. He has plenty of room to fill out his 6’5’’, 190-pound frame and has the mean streak teams covet on the blue line.
Florida Panthers: Winners
Adding the overpriced contract of Brian Campbell to the roster was the lone downfall to an otherwise well executed draft weekend for the Florida Panthers.
Florida kicked off their draft by bringing in Jonathan Huberdeau, who is no stranger to winning hockey games. The Panthers were then able to grab high energy forward Rocco Grimaldi and poised defenseman Rasmus Bengtsson in the second round.
If nothing else, the Panthers have acquired players who play the game the right way and bring a winning attitude to the locker room.
Chicago Blackhawks: Winners
In addition to their sound drafting in the 2011 NHL draft, the Chicago Blackhawks managed to unload to outrageous contract of Brian Campbell this weekend, marking the trip to Minneapolis as a major success for the 2010 Stanley Cup Champions.
As far as their draft picks are concerned, Mark McNeill may have been the steal of the first round at eighteen, and Phill Danault fits Chicago's system perfectly. Then, the Blackhawks were able to add Brandon Saad in the second round.
Washington Capitals: Losers
Without a pick in the first three rounds, it's no surprise that the Washington Capitals did not have the greatest weekend.
None of their draft picks have the looks of a potential impact player down the line, and the team gave up picks for players that didn't fit well with the team in the second half of the year.
Better luck next year, Caps.
Carolina Hurricanes: Losers
Taking a chance on Ryan Murphy with the 12th pick is an understandable risk, but to follow that up by selecting Victor Rask, one of the riskiest prospects in this class, early in the second round is playing with fire.
Carolina's draft class has boom or bust potential, but I'm not a huge fan of their chances.
Phoenix Coyotes: Losers
Connor Murphy is a promising prospect with solid longterm potential, but drafting him in the first round may be a regrettable move by the Coyotes' brass.
Especially considering some of the talented forward prospects that were still available for a team that lacks punch up front.
Also, they selected Alexander Ruutu a couple of rounds too soon.
Vancouver Canucks: Losers
The Canucks made some solid picks early on in the draft but failed to address the blue line, which has to be a major concern going forward.
Vancouver waited until the fifth round to select a rearguard, leaving the cupboard vacant at the position that eventually cost them a Stanley Cup Championship.
The Nucks better be ready to get their checkbooks out on July 1st.
San Jose Sharks: Losers
Trading away the future of your franchise for the sake of patching a single hole on your roster is a move that often results in short and long term failure for the team.
The Sharks acquired Brent Burns from the Minnesota Wild on Friday but had to overpay to do so, losing Devin Setoguchi and Charlie Coyle among other assets.
In addition, other than Matt Nieto, San Jose failed to pick up too many promising prospects this weekend.