The NHL draft is in the books, which means it's time for everyone's favorite exercise in prognostication: draft grades!
So how do you determine whether a team drafted well before these players reach the ice for their respective teams? It's a combination of determining how much perceived talent the teams added, whether they addressed areas of need and whether they maximized the value of their draft selections.
A team might need a defenseman, for instance, but if it reached to take a player it might have been able to add later, was that really the best use of resources? Or could the team have further optimized its resources?
Below's analysis generally won't factor in players added via draft trades. Instead, we'll focus solely on the draft selections when determining grades.
Anaheim Ducks: B
Arizona Coyotes: C
Boston Bruins: C-
Buffalo Sabres: B-
Calgary Flames: A-
Carolina Hurricanes: B+
Chicago Blackhawks: C+
Colorado Avalanche: C+
Columbus Blue Jackets: C-
Dallas Stars: B+
Detroit Red Wings: B+
Edmonton Oilers: B
Florida Panthers: A-
Los Angeles Kings: A
Minnesota Wild: A
Montreal Canadiens: B
Nashville Predators: B
New Jersey Devils: B
New York Islanders: C
New York Rangers: A
Ottawa Senators: B-
Philadelphia Flyers: B
Pittsburgh Penguins: C
San Jose Sharks: B-
St Louis Blues: C
Tampa Bay Lightning: B-
Toronto Maple Leafs: B
Vancouver Canucks: B
Vegas Golden Knights: B
Washington Capitals: B
Winnipeg Jets: A-
Notable Draft Classes and Picks
The New York Rangers are a fascinating team to analyze. On one hand, getting the best player in the draft and a future superstar like Alexis Lafreniere deserves an A+ grade on its own. Home run pick.
On the other hand, it was the obvious selection. And trading up for defenseman Braden Schneider at No. 19 is going to divide opinion.
Still, Lafreniere. They got Lafreniere. He's going to be really, really good. The Rangers can leave this draft feeling happy with the outcome.
The Minnesota Wild are going to be happy with their draft as well. Marco Rossi falling to No. 9 gave them an absolute steal. Marat Khusnutdinov at No. 37 and Ryan O'Rourke at No. 39 both offered solid value in the second round. Minnesota came away with an excellent haul.
Less solid was Ottawa. The Senators had three first-round picks, and while Tim Stuetzle was the no-brainer pick, Jake Sanderson at No. 5 felt like a reach. Yes, Ottawa wanted to address the defense, but there were better overall players available like Rossi or Cole Perfetti.
Again, Sanderson wasn't a bad pick. There's an argument to be made that either he or Jamie Drysdale is the top blueliner in this draft. But the Senators had the chance to add two dynamic forwards and passed it up. It will be a pick scrutinized in the coming years.
Hailey Salvian @hailey_salvian
Try this again. With the No. 5 overall pick, the #Sens select:Jake Sanderson from the USNTDP. Try not to panic about this pick. He's a shut down guy. An elite skater with fantastic gap control. He’s also with UND, and could spend time paired with JBD, that isn't insignificant.
Ditto the selection of Ridly Greig at No. 28, which again felt like a slight reach. There's no doubt that the Senators got three talented players early in this draft and should be excited. It's just fair to question wheter they perhaps could have further maximized the talent and upside they got with two of those picks. Let that debate commence.
The New Jersey Devils were another fascinating team, making three selections in the opening round. Alexander Holtz fell about where expected at No. 7, while Dawson Mercer at No. 18 was nice value.
But Shakir Mukhamadullin at No. 20—a player who looked far more likely to be a second- or third-round pick—was a bit more of a head-scratcher. There's little doubt he has talent, but he's enough of a developmental project that taking him so early feels like a pretty big reach.
Maybe there were other teams just as interested and the Devils didn't want to risk trading back, especially since they didn't end up with a second-round pick. But of all the selections that will have had folks raising their eyebrows, this was high on the list.
The other, of course, was the Columbus Blue Jackets taking Yegor Chinakhov at No. 21 overall, a player who wasn't on the first-round radar for most draft pundits. Suffice to say, the selection garnered a mixed reaction:
Maybe he ends up being a star and the Blue Jackets look brilliant. Imagine how ingenious they would have looked if they drafted him later and used their first-round pick on another good player. Again, value matters. Optimizing your selections matter. And if Chinakhov isn't good, well, this is a pick Columbus fans won't soon forget.