Haggerty's 2015 NHL Draft report card
Buffalo Sabres: A+
Tim Murray has made his share of mistakes over the last couple of years, but drafting Jack Eichel with the No. 2 overall pick while trading for Robin Lehner and Ryan O’Reilly puts a lot of talent on next year’s Sabres. He said he’d have said you were on mushrooms if you’d told him he could have Lehner, Evander Kane and Eichel for the cost of three first round picks, and Murray deserves an A+ for that comment alone. The Sabres were one of the unquestioned winners of the entire weekend in Florida.
Calgary Flames: A+
The Flames stole Dougie Hamilton for three draft picks, and then managed to draft Rasmus Andersson and smooth Swedish defenseman Oliver Kylington with their remaining second round picks. The entire weekend was made when Brad Treliving pried Hamilton away from Don Sweeney and the Bruins, and can add him to a group of D-men that includes Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, Kris Russell, Dennis Wideman and Deryk Engelland. That is arguably the best group in the league, and will make Calgary a handful next season.
Edmonton Oilers: A+
Peter Chiarelli managed to draft generational talent Connor McDavid, find an answer at goaltender with Cam Talbot and shore up his D-corps with Griffin Reinhart and Eric Gryba without actually trading away any of his roster players. McDavid’s greatness could make this the real turning point for the Oil franchise after years of struggle, and ugly underachievement. The Oilers are set up to finally compete next season while Chiarelli must be overjoyed that he was able to leave behind the mess in Boston.
Anaheim Ducks: A
The Carl Hagelin-for-Emerson Etem trade is a win for the Ducks right off the bat after acquiring the speedy winger with top-6 ability, and Anton Khudobin could be a perfect 1A for Frederik Andersen out in Anaheim. Jacob Larsson is a safe pick at the end of the first round as a two-way Swedish defenseman, and the Ducks took a high ceiling guy with Finnish forward Julius Naatinen at the end of the second round. The draft was okay, but the trades really brought this grade up for Bob Murray.
New York Islanders: A
The Islanders took advantage of the Bruins generosity, and selected talented, playmaking center Mathew Barzal with the 16th pick in the first round after Boston reached for a second round talent with their final first rounder. Anthony Beauvillier and Ryan Pilon are both expected to be players, and the drafting of Chinese-born Andong Song – the first time a native of China has been selected in the NHL Draft -- really made this a pretty great weekend for Garth Snow and his crew.
Arizona Coyotes: A-
Don Maloney left several teams at the altar to make the pick, and came away with the big, skilled center in Dylan Strome that the franchise desperately needs. Nabbing Nick Merkley at the end of the first round was another excellent value pick, and they also ate up some salary cap space by taking on Niklas Grosmann and Chris Pronger’s contract from the Philadelphia Flyers. That’s a big deal for a team that entered the weekend needing to acquire $18 million to get up to the salary cap floor for next season.
Carolina Hurricanes: A-
The Hurricanes still have major work to get done, but Ron Francis did a pretty good job this weekend. He saw stud D-man Noah Hanifin fall to them at the No. 5 overall pick, and gave up just a third round pick to trade for a goalie in Eddie Lack that could have a big impact in Carolina. He then moved Anton Khudobin out to the Anaheim Ducks for James Wisniewski, who will fortify the Carolina blue line along with Hanifin. They’ve managed to recover from losing Andrej Sekera awfully quickly, but still have to find a way to get out from under that Alex Semin contract.
Philadelphia Flyers: A-
The Flyers were able to secure the player they wanted in Russian defenseman Ivan Provorov, and traded away flotsam and jetsam to Arizona in the form of Niklas Grossmann and Chris Pronger’s contract. The selection of small, overachieving winger Travis Konecny late in the first round along with the drafting of three goalies on Saturday addressed a lot of needs, and continued to make this a very good day for the Broad Street Bullies.
Toronto Maple Leafs: A-
The Leafs didn’t move Phil Kessel and Dion Phaneuf, but basically got a guarantee from head coach Mike Babcock that the problem players will be gone from Toronto’s dressing room before the season begins. The drafting of Mitch Marner and Jeremy Bracco in the first couple of rounds brings a lot of speed, offense and playmaking to a team that will use both of those qualities with their new coach. The real clues as to what lies ahead for this team will be revealed when they started jettisoning the roster players in trades.
Columbus Blue Jackets: B+
The Blue Jackets shored up their defensemen situation by selecting Zach Werenski with the No. 8 overall pick, and then doubling down for speedy Gabriel Carlsson at the end of the first round. Werenski could be the best offensive D-man prospect in the entire draft, and is also a great competitor. They also managed to grab power forward Paul Bittner in the opening of the second round after he was projected to be a first round pick. The Blue Jackets wanted D-men headed into the draft, and they certainly now have a few after making their moves.
Ottawa Senators: B+
Bryan Murray got a first round pick for Robin Lehner, and then parlayed his two first round picks into defenseman Thomas Chabot and Patrice Bergeron-like center Colin White to continue adding onto a talented, young core. The future is very bright for the Sens, and it got a little brighter with their actions last weekend while leading the pack.
Winnipeg Jets: B+
The Jets made some real nice picks in the second round with two-way center Jansen Harkins at the 47th spot, and in the third round with a player named Erik Foley that many scouts were raving about. Kyle Connor also fell into their laps at the No. 17 spot after the Bruins passed on the University of Michigan commit with their series of three-mid first round picks. Center Jack Roslovic might have been a bit of a reach at the end of the first round, but picking 25th is a good spot to take a risk on a player you like.
Detroit Red Wings: B
The Wings didn’t do a ton, but they did grab big, dangerous right wing Evgeny Svechnikov at the No. 19 pick in the first round. They also had a number of pretty promising picks later on in the draft in an interesting draft. Nobody knows if they’ll play the same way without Mike Babcock, or be in the market for the same kind of players at draft weekend. That remains to be seen, but the big Russian winger should be a factor for them in a couple of years.
New Jersey Devils: B
The Devils grabbed big, skilled center Pavel Zacha with their top-10 pick in the first round, and used a second rounder to select MacKenzie Blackwood, a goaltender that actually impressed scouts at the scouting combine. That’s usually a place where the goaltenders just try not to embarrass themselves, but Blackwood proved to be strong and athletic along with the rest of his prospect peers. The trade for forward Kyle Palmieri is another move that gives Ray Shero and the Devils a check mark for last weekend.
Florida Panthers: B-
The Florida Panthers weren’t big factors while hosting draft weekend at the BB&T Center, but they did get the unexpected benefit of drawing powerful left wing Lawson Crouse at the 11th spot in the first round. Scouts are divided as to whether Crouse is another Milan Lucic in the making or simply a third line winger, but there’s little doubting he adds to what’s already a very large group of forwards in Florida. They could use a player with a mean streak like Crouse, and he could really bring a different element to that team while learning from Shawn Thornton if he makes the club this coming season.
Los Angeles Kings: B-
The Kings paid a hefty price for a rental player in Milan Lucic, but they got the B’s to swallow nearly half his cap hit and will enjoy No. 17 playing angry and motivated hockey in a contract year. The actual picks for Dean Lombardi and the Kings were unremarkable after trading away their first rounder, goalie Martin Jones and defenseman Colin Miller to the Bruins.
Vancouver Canucks: B-
Brock Boeser is a good, late first round pick as a sharp-shooting offensive winger that’s been compared to Patrick Sharp, but they didn’t get too many high value picks after that point. The third round pick return for Eddie Lack was a disappointment, and Jim Benning wasn’t able to move Kevin Bieksa on draft weekend. So this grade is a bit of an incomplete until that deal finally falls into place, but the offer of Zach Kassian and Bieksa for Milan Lucic turned out to be a decent one that fell short of LA’s package.
San Jose Sharks: C+
The good news: they drafted Swiss winger Timo Meier, who should bring size and goal-scoring ability to a forward group that’s getting old in some spots. They also got offensive D-man Jeremy Roy with the first pick in the second round. But the Sharks missed out on Griffin Reinhart and any number of goalies dealt at the draft, and still need a D-man and a goaltender. Doug Wilson still has some work to do back in San Jose.
Minnesota Wild: C
The Wild took a decent, safe European pick with Joel Eriksson Ek, and took a flyer on big USNTDP forward Jordan Greenway (6-foot-5, 222-pounds) in the third round. Greenway could turn into something special based on the size and strength, and he’s committed to Boston University for the next four years. He could also be a bust based on the lack of production up until this point in his hockey career.
Nashville Predators: C
The Predators took a few forwards in Yakov Trenin and Thomas Novak that could help them down the line, but Nashville and Dave Poile were essentially bystanders after trading their first round pick to Toronto at the deadline. Their best move would be to step as far away from the Mike Ribeiro negotiations as possible at this point as well.
St. Louis Blues: C
The Blues had just one pick in the first three rounds, and didn’t make any kind of a splash during draft weekend. They also didn’t do anything to free up their roster from its salary cap limitations. Now might be a good time to start making the hard decisions that will face the Blues over the next month. T.J. Oshie or David Backes could have netted the Blues some pretty good assets were they to move last weekend.
Tampa Bay Lightning: C
The Lightning went with some skill forwards in the middle of the draft that are more of the same of what they already have, but they traded away their first round picks. Not much to see here from Steve Yzerman and his Bolts crew, but they came within a few games of winning the Stanley Cup. So a big win wasn’t needed last weekend like it was for so many other teams in the Eastern Conference.
Dallas Stars: C-
Denis Guryanov felt like a reach with the 12th overall pick as a raw 6-foot-3 forward that hasn’t really played in North America. The grade goes up to a B- if the Stars can reach an agreement with Antti Niemi on a contract, and settle down a goaltending situation that has been in flux over the last couple of seasons. The Stars were in a position to help themselves a little more than actually did this weekend.
Washington Capitals: C-
The pick of Russian goaltender Ilya Samsonov makes little sense with Braden Holtby already in the fold unless they don’t plan on keeping him long term, so this was a team that was tough to read this weekend. Washington GM Brian MacLellan might have been hedging his bets in case he has any problems signing Holtby, but this feels like the Bruins selecting Malcolm Subban back in 2012. They have come to wish they made another choice there because goaltender wasn’t really an area of need at that point with Tuukka Rask poised to sign a large contract extension.
New York Rangers: D+
Glen Sather took pieces away from last year’s Eastern Conference final representative as the Rangers lost Carl Hagelin and Cam Talbot with only non-first round draft picks and Emerson Etem to show for their efforts. There were only a handful of NHL teams that lost ground last weekend, and the Blueshirts were one of them. They did pick up Antti Raanta as a backup goaltender to Henrik Lundqvist, but that’s certainly a downgrade from the talented Talbot, who will be the guy out in Edmonton.
Chicago Blackhawks: D
Stan Bowman didn’t have a first round pick, and didn’t make any moves to address their looming salary cap problems. The picks they made on Saturday were fine, but let’s be honest: they could care less about their grade for the 2015 NHL Draft after winning their third Stanley Cup in the last six seasons. Bowman will eventually have to make the big moves that Boston tried to execute on Friday night, but they will play the waiting game until the time suits them.
Montreal Canadiens: D
Noah Juulsen was a bit of a reach at the end of a first round as a limited ceiling defenseman, and this is also a retroactive grade for giving Jeff Petry ridiculous money to keep him in Montreal. There is no way he rated for a long term deal worth $5.5 million per season, but Marc Bergevin showed him the money anyway. The Habs took some high risk/potentially high reward players later in the draft, but it will be years before we knew if any of them are going to pan out.
Boston Bruins: F
First the good news: the Bruins picked six times in the first two rounds of the deepest draft in nearly 10 years, and picked up 10 prospects altogether. But they botched the entire weekend with everything they did in Don Sweeney and Cam Neely’s first kick at the can. Sweeney and the B’s took much less than they should have while shipping Dougie Hamilton to Calgary in a salary dispute, failed to move up to get Noah Hanifin after stock-piling mid-first round picks and now have no one that can step into the void left by Hamilton’s absence. It will take a couple of years to make judgments on players they selected like first round reach Zachary Senyshyn, but they really gummed up the works for next year’s NHL team. Sweeney and Neely were essentially taken to school by the rest of the NHL last weekend. Let’s hope they learned a few things.
Colorado Avalanche: F
The Avalanche acquired a bunch of spare parts in Mikhail Grigorenko and Nikita Zadorov, vastly overpaid Carl Soderberg on a long term deal and then traded away a legitimately good two-way player to Buffalo in Ryan O’Reilly. You have to wonder what Joe Sakic is doing there in Colorado with what should have been a very good young core of talent. Perhaps last season’s step back wasn’t an aberration.
Pittsburgh Penguins: F
If the Bruins were guilty of doing way too much this weekend, the Penguins were guilty of doing the opposite. They selected Daniel Sprong in the second round, and then didn’t pick again until the fifth round in the deepest draft in a decade. He’s got offensive talent, but his willingness to work, play defense and fit into the team concept have all been questioned by scouts. Maybe it will work out for the Pens, but a team that could use an influx of cheap, young talent won’t be getting it from this draft class. They also failed to come away from last weekend with a top-six forward they desperately need, so the search goes on.