The 2016 NHL Entry Draft was lighter on trades than everyone seemed to think it would be, but there were still some important moves made and the actual draft brought plenty of intrigue on its own. There were surprises aplenty and even some history was made.
First off, the Maple Leafs left no mystery as to who was the No. 1 pick. Auston Matthews, the native of Scottsdale, Arizona, was selected first overall and Toronto will hope he is the key to putting them on the path to finally breaking their long Stanley Cup drought, or maybe just getting back to being competitive again.
Patrik Laine, the obvious No. 2 pick, went second to the Jets, granting Winnipeg a potentially dominant goal scorer at this level. But after Laine's selection, the surprises started to roll in.
The Blue Jackets picked Pierre-Luc Dubois and not presumed No. 3 Jesse Puljujarvi, who fell right into Edmonton's lap at No. 4. Vancouver decided to draft for need over best player available and nabbed top defenseman Olli Juolevi, allowing Matthew Tkachuk to drop to sixth.
One of the bigger surprises of the night, though the trend seemed to be headed this way, Jakob Chychrun, who came into the season as a potential top three pick slid all the way down to No. 16 after the Coyotes traded up to finally stop his tumble.
As we mentioned, history was made Friday night in Buffalo. Matthews ended up leading a first round that included 12 American-born players drafted. That is a new record, breaking the previous one set in 2011 when there were 11 U.S.-born players picked. It has been a banner year for American hockey.
As for the trades, the key moves made Friday night included:
- The Chicago Blackhawks traded forward and two-time Stanley Cup winner Andrew Shaw to the Montreal Canadiens for two second-round picks in 2016.
- The Washington Capitals acquired Lars Eller from the Montreal Canadiens for second round picks in the next two drafts.
- The Calgary Flames acquired the much-needed No. 1 goalie they were searching for in Brian Elliott, who was traded from the St. Louis Blues for a 2016 second-round pick
- And the biggest one of the night: The Detroit Red Wings packaged Pavel Datsyuk's cap hit with the No. 16 pick in a deal with the Arizona Coyotes that brought back Joe Vitale and the No. 20 pick. The Red Wings' shed a $7.5 million cap hit that would have counted against them even though Datsyuk won't play in the NHL next year and now have more room to make a big push for big-time free agents. Perhaps one Steven Stamkos is on their wish list?
Here is the full list of first round selections:
|1. TOR - Auston Matthews, C||11. OTT - Logan Brown, C||21. CAR - Julien Gauthier, RW|
|2. WPG - Patrik Laine, RW||12. NJD - Michael McLeod, C||22. PHI - German Rubtsov, C|
|3. CBJ - Pierre-Luc Dubois, C/W||13. CAR - Jake Bean, D||23. FLA - Henrik Borgstrom, C|
|4. EDM - Jesse Puljujarvi, RW||14. BOS - Charlie McAvoy, D||24. ANA - Max Jones, LW|
|5. VAN - Olli Juolevi, D||15. MIN - Luke Kunin, C||25. DAL - Riley Tufte, LW|
|6. CGY - Matthew Tkachuk, LW||16. ARI - Jakob Chychrun, D||26. STL - Tage Thompson, C|
|7. ARI - Clayton Keller, C||17. NSH - Dante Fabbro, D||27. TBL - Brett Howden, C|
|8. BUF - Alexander Nylander, RW||18. WPG - Logan Stanley, D||28. WSH - Lucas Johansen, D|
|9. MTL - Mikhail Sergachev, D||19. NYI - Kieffer Bellows, LW||29. BOS - Trent Frederic, D|
|10. COL - Tyson Jost, C||20. DET - Dennis Cholowski, D||30. ANA - Sam Steel, C|
Here is our live draft coverage, complete with analysis of most picks and trades from the night: