Here is Part 2 of the Draft Grades for the 2014 class, where we will go over the Atlantic and Central Divisions. Check out Part 1 by Ryan Dadoun here if you want to see how the Metropolitan and Pacific Divisions did at the NHL Draft.
Boston Bruins - C+
The Bruins' top pick, Pastrnak wants to model his game after Czech countryman and current Boston center David Krejci. He needs work on his defensive game, but wants to be able to contribute at both ends of the ice. He's expected to be brought along slowly, while he fine tunes his game in Sweden and grows into his 6-foot frame, but he does have top-six potential. Boston also chose a pair of youngsters with familial ties to the NHL when they picked Ted's son Ryan Donato and Erik Condra's cousin, Anders Bjork.
Boston is thinking long term with these picks and nothing particularly stands out right now.
Buffalo Sabres - A
The Sabres chose Sam Reinhart (2nd), Brendan Lemieux (31st), Eric Cornel (44th), Vaclav Karabacek (49th), Jonas Johansson (61st), Brycen Martin (74th), Maxwell Willman (121st), Christopher Brown (151st) and Victor Olofsson (181st)
The last-placed Sabres brought in quite the haul at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, including six picks among the first 74 players off the board. The best of the bunch is without question, Sam Reinhart. He battled for top prospect supremacy for most of the year and is a superb all-around player, who is praised often for his elite hockey sense. He could fit in nicely as a second-line center behind either Cody Hodgson or Zemgus Girgensons. If he cracks Buffalo's lineup out of training camp then playing between Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford might be a possibility as well.
Buffalo also drafted a great sparkplug when they grabbed Brendan Lemieux with the first pick in Round 2. His game is similar to that of his father, Claude Lemieux, so opposing players will have to aware of him when he makes his way to the NHL. He's plenty motivated too after feeling like he should've gone in the first round. The Sabres added more skillful and cerebral players with picks going to center Eric Cornel and defenseman Brycen Martin. Vaclav Karabacek is another intriguing prospect with lots of scoring upside.
Buffalo brought in some talent up front to a prospect pool that is already one of the better ones in the league.
Detroit Red Wings - C+
Detroit picked Dylan Larkin (15th), Dominic Turgeon (63rd), Christopher Ehn (106th), Chase Perry (136th), Julius Vahatalo (166th), Axel Holmstrom (196th) and Alexander Kadeykin (201st)
Dylan Larkin went to Wings at 15th overall, which immediately prompted comparisons to current Detroit player Darren Helm. Larkin apparently has more offensive upside than Helm, but he brings the same speed and smarts that Helm has displayed. He sounds like he'll be an effective and versatile NHLer when he gets the opportunity. The Red Wings were also enamored with Dominic Turgeon so much that they moved up 13 spots to take him early in Round 3. Detroit dealt the No. 76 pick and a third rounder in 2015 to Columbus for the right to choose the son of former NHLer Pierre Turgeon. He sees himself as a good two-way player, but he may lack the offensive punch of his father. Turgeon may get a better chance to pick up points in Portland in 2014-15 if some of his teammates graduate to the pro ranks.
Detroit's scouting staff have proven to be excellent identifiers of talent. The team is also patient with their prospects which gives them a much better chance to be ready when they make the jump to the NHL. Still, their picks in 2014 appear to be more geared toward to bottom-six roles or projects rather than a tantalizing talent like Anthony Mantha was a year ago.
Florida Panthers - B
After plenty of trade speculation, Florida kept the top pick in the 2014 draft and went with consensus No. 1 player Aaron Ekblad. He's a great talent, with the ability to be dominant at both ends of the ice, and Florida will be more than satisfied with him. However, the team and the fans may be left wondering what could have been had they dropped a little down to choose another influential asset and acquire immediate help for their roster. The Panthers were reportedly asking for too much for the first overall choice when no one in this class was considered a "generational talent." The Panthers feel they addressed an organizational need at right wing by choosing Hawrluk, Lammikko and Wegwerth with their next three picks.
There was bound to be a drop off in prospect talent after Ekblad, but the Panthers appear to have targeted project players after the Hawrluk selection.
Montreal Canadiens - B
The Canadiens drafted Nikita Scherbak (26th), Brett Lernout (73rd), Nikolas Koberstein (125th), Daniel Audette (147th), Hayden Hawkey (177th) and Jake Evans (207th)
The Russian factor may have contributed to Scherbak being available at No. 26, but he went exactly where he was supposed to go according to Rotoworld's mock draft. He has great upside and his ability to learn quickly is a very underrated skill. He still has some filling out to do and would benefit from more time in the junior ranks, but has top-six forward potential.
After the first round, Montreal was dormant until they moved up to take physical blueliner Brett Lernout with the 73rd overall selection. The Habs dealt pick No. 87 and pick No. 117 to Arizona to obtain Lernout. He's still a bit raw, needing work on his speed and puck-handling, but he has size and nastiness to his game. Nikolas Koberstein is another defenseman drafted by the Canadiens who has some snarl to his game. The Canadiens took former NHLer Donald Audette's son, Daniel, in the fifth round of the draft. He has great skills with the puck, which translates well into his ability to find his teammates and put up points.
Montreal did well for themselves in this draft by adding some toughness to the back end and some skill up front.
Ottawa Senators - C-
The Senators picked Andreas Englund (40th), Miles Gendron (70th), Shane Eiserman (100th), Kelly Summers (189th) and Francis Perron (190th)
Ottawa didn't have a first-round pick because of the Bobby Ryan trade. Anaheim used the selection 10th overall) on power forward Nick Ritchie. General manager Bryan Murray desperately tried to acquire a draft choice in the opening round in a package for captain Jason Spezza. He revealed that he had a deal that would've sent Spezza to Nashville, but the Predators are one of the teams on the star center's no-trade list. The Senators didn't make their first pick until the second round when they took defensive-minded defender Andreas Englund. Shane Eiserman could be an intriguing player to watch and his ability to step up when it matters most may be his best asset.
The Spezza fiasco dominated the news from the Ottawa draft table and the players they took aren't very noteworthy, which was greatly influenced by not having a first rounder.
Tampa Bay Lightning - B+
Tampa Bay didn't shy away from the behavioral problems of Anthony DeAngelo and chose the offensively-gifted defender with their first-round pick. He has the makings of a power-play quarterback and rush initiator when he gets to the NHL. The Lightning got great value with their next three picks as well. Masin doesn't have the flair of DeAngelo, but he's another solid prospect on the back end who plays a dependable and defensively aware style. MacLeod is a hard-nosed rearguard, who is responsible with the puck, while Point is a diminutive forward with scoring punch and a competitive instinct.
Tampa Bay has excellent prospects in the pipeline at forward and a superb one in goal, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that they focused on addressing their blueline in 2014. The Bolts had a strong draft and added to an already impressive collection of draftees.
Toronto Maple Leafs - B-
Toronto chose William Nylander (8th), Rinat Valiev (68th), John Piccinich (103rd), Dakota Joshua (128th), Nolan Vesey (158th) and Pierre Engvall (188th)
The Leafs added some much-needed skill to their prospect list by taking Nylander with the eighth pick. Nyander may have the best collection of offensive talents in the draft. The son of former NHLer Michael Nylander is a great skater who handles the puck with ease. He has top-line potential as a winger or a center. Toronto took Russian defenseman Valiev in the third round with their next pick after he went undrafted in 2013. He had a strong season in the WHL and he stepped up for Kootenay in the playoffs.
The Buds also acquired Roman Polak from St. Louis in exchange for Carl Gunnarsson and the 94th pick in the draft. He plays a harder game than Gunnarsson, but he isn't as strong at moving the puck. Fortunately for the Leafs, the team has mobile defensemen Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner poised to fill that gap with elevated roles in 2014-15.
Toronto's draft is populated mostly by project players. The trade is also underwhelming, but Nylander is a player to be excited for.
Chicago Blackhawks - B
The Blackhawks chose Nick Schmaltz (20th), Matheson Iacopelli (83rd), Beau Starrett (88th), Frederik Olofsson (98th), Luc Snuggerud (141st), Andreas Soderberg (148th), Dylan Sikura (178th), Ivan Nalimov (179th) and Jack Ramsey (208th)
Chicago traded up with San Jose to select Schmaltz at No. 20. The Blackhawks also acquired the 179th overall pick from the Sharks in exchange for the 27th and 62nd choices. He's a gifted offensive player with the skills to be an impact player in the NHL. The Blackhawks also traded rugged winger Brandon Bollig to Calgary for the 83rd pick in the draft, which became Iacopelli, who was an offensive force in the USHL as well.
Chicago will monitor several of their picks in the college ranks during 2014-15, but they put together another strong showing at the draft.
Colorado Avalanche - C+
Colorado selected Conner Bleackley (23rd), Kyle Wood (84th), Nicholas Magyar (93rd), Alexis Pepin (114th), Anton Lindholm (144th), Maximilian Pajpach (174th) and Julien Nantel (204th)
The Avalanche waited anxiously to take Bleackley with their first-round selection. He has great leadership qualities and he can contribute points. He might be a top-six player in the NHL, but his two-way game could make him better suited for a third-line role. Colorado's other selections are longer term projects, but Anton Lindholm may be the furthest along after spending some time with Skelleftea in the SHL.
Dallas Stars - B
The Stars harvested Julius Honka (14th), Brett Pollock (45th), Alexander Peters (75th), Michael Prapavessis (105th), Brent Moran (115th), Miro Karjalainen (135th), Aaron Haydon (154th), John Nyberg (165th) and Patrick Sanvido (195th)
The Stars grabbed offensive defenseman Julius Honka with their first-round pick. He is very mobile, can push the puck up the ice and is a future power-play quarterback. Dallas added five other blueliners with their next eight selections. The Stars already have a stockpile of defensemen in their system, with Kevin Connauton, Patrik Nemeth, Jamie Oleksiak and Jyrki Jokipakka inching closer to full-time NHL duty.
The Stars could deal from a position of strength here for immediate help or wait to see what they have with each player. It's a great position to be in, but some offensively talented forwards would be a welcome sight next year.
Minnesota Wild - B-
Minnesota nabbed Alex Tuch (18th), Louis Belpedio (80th), Kaapo Kahkonen (109th), Tanner Faith (139th), Pontus Sjalin (160th), Chase Lang (167th), Reid Duke (169th) and Pavel Jenys (199th)
Alex Tuch has the all makings of a power forward for the Wild and he could be a top-six forward in the future. He still needs to fully utilize his size better, though. He has good hands as well, which could make him an effective player on the power play. Minnesota didn't have a second-round pick because of the Matt Moulson trade with Buffalo, so their next selection didn't come until the third round when they chose defenseman Louis Belpedio. He compares to current Wild defender Jared Spurgeon and he tries to model himself after Pittsburgh's Kris Letang.
The Wild took a goaltender, Kahkonen, in Round 4 from the factory of Finland. He was ranked fourth among European netminders by NHL Central Scouting.
Nashville Predators - A+
The Predators have a more offensive mindset now with Peter Laviolette behind the bench and that philosophy was evident at the 2014 draft. Nashville chose Fiala with their first pick and he has great offensive skills and deceptive skating abilities. He has plenty of upside as a top-line forward. Kamenev mixes offensive potential with a physical edge up front, while Dougherty is a strong two-way defender who went late in the second round when it was projected that he had opening round skills. He may end up being a steal for the Predators because of his all-around play.
Nashville also made a splash on the trade front at the draft when they acquired James Neal from Pittsburgh in exchange for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling. The club could still use a center to pair him with, but if one can't be found via trade or free agency then Mike Fisher, Calle Jarnkrok and Colin Wilson will probably each get trial runs.
St. Louis Blues - A
St. Louis drafted Robby Fabbri (21st), Ivan Barbashev (33rd), Maxim Letunov (52nd), Jake Walman (82nd), Ville Husso (94th), Austin Poganski (110th), Jaedon Descheneau (124th), Chandler Yakimowicz (172nd), Samuel Blais (176th) and Dwyer Tschantz (202nd)
The Blues started a busy weekend by selecting OHL Playoff MVP Fabbri in the first round. He is a creative player who excels on the power play, but he can also score off the rush and isn't afraid to play physical despite his small stature. St. Louis was also fortunate to get a couple of steals on Day 2 of the draft. Barbashev fell into their lap at pick No. 33. He was slated to go in the first round because of his speed and game-breaking ability. He doesn't shy away from the rugged side of the game either. The Blues also picked up goaltender Ville Husso in the fourth round. He was the top-rated European goalie on NHL Central Scouting's list and he was impressive as a rookie in the SM-liiga with HIFK.
The Blues also dealt Roman Polak to the Maple Leafs for Carl Gunnarsson and the pick that became Husso. Gunnarsson is a solid defenseman who should benefit from having a reduced role with his new team.
The Blues made a whopping 10 picks in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. Even though the team doesn't expect any of the players to be in the NHL anytime soon, St. Louis added some strong prospects to a system in need of some restocking.
Winnipeg Jets - B
The Jets led their 2014 draft by taking the electrifying Ehlers in the first round. He was excellent finisher and playmaker alongside Tampa Bay top prospect Jonathan Drouin this past season en route to the QMJHL Rookie of the Year award. Winnipeg added a tough two-way defenseman in Glover during the second round. He's a strong skater and he has some offensive upside, but he still hasn't put everything together yet. He should learn more in the college ranks next year.
The Jets added some skill and size with their remaining picks. The club also dealt goaltender Edward Pasquale and the No. 159 selection for 164th and 192nd picks. Pasquale lost the starting job in AHL St. John's to Michael Hutchinson, partially because of injury. Hutchinson may become Winnipeg's backup in 2014-15, while Eric Comrie and Connor Hellebuyck develop in the minors.