2018 NHL Draft winners and losers: Sabres, Islanders improve in a hurry; Canadiens make a reach

The first round of the 2018 NHL Draft is in the books. The initial 31 selections were made on Friday night in Dallas and teams across the league attempted to build a better and brighter future for their club.

As is always the case, it'll take a while to find out who truly came away as big winners or losers. It often takes selections years to even crack an NHL lineup, then some additional time to develop at the highest level. But, with that being said, there's often good reason to feel good about the way certain teams approached the draft, while being skeptical about the strategy of others. 

So, who are we feeling good about this year? And who are we raising eyebrows at? Here are some kneejerk winners and losers.

Winner: Sabres

They got Rasmus Dahlin at No. 1 ... it's pretty much that simple. Anytime you can land yourself a potential generational talent, that's a pretty good night for the franchise. What Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews were to forwards, that's what Dahlin is considered to be for a defenseman. Not a bad starting block. It's just an extra bonus for the Sabres that it comes at a position of need.

Winner: Islanders

The Isles were reportedly looking to trade one of their back-to-back picks for a ready-now roster player, but it didn't happen. Maybe that turns out to be a blessing in disguise, as I really like the guys that they took at Nos. 11 and 12. Winger Oliver Wahlstrom has the potential to be a great scorer that can play alongside John Tavares or Mathew Barzal, and defenseman Noah Dobson is a promising defensive prospect that could be end up being a big-time force on the blue line. The Isles needed both of those things.

Winner: Kids named Rasmus

For real, though...three players named Rasmus going in the first round. Pretty good day to be a Rasmus.

rasmus-dahlin.jpg
The 2018 NHL Draft will be remembered as the Year of Rasmus.  USATSI

Loser: Joe Veleno

Many projected Veleno to be a lottery pick, but the talented center nearly fell out of the first round somehow. Ultimately, he wound up in Detroit with the 30th pick, but it was strange how many teams decided to pass on him. He'll be able to use that as motivation moving forward, but it probably stings a bit right now.

Loser: Canadiens 

The No. 3 spot is somewhat of a tough draw in this draft considering there were two sure things in Dahlin and Svechnikov, then a drop-off after that. However, I don't love the Jesper Kotkaniemi pick for the Canadiens. He's a good player, his stock picked up late and he addresses an immediate need for Montreal, but anytime you have a pick that high I believe in going for the best overall player on the board…and I don't think it was him. (I probably would've went with Filip Zadina.) I'm surprised they couldn't find a deal to trade down a few spots, get some additional value while still getting their guy.

Loser: Coyotes 

Arizona is another case of making a reach in the Top 5 to address an area of need. Barrett Hayton going that high was a big-time surprise, and I don't love the pick. Unless his draft stock quietly surged over the past few days, they probably could have moved down a few slots and still landed him. I would think that a number of teams would be very interested in jumping into the top five to pluck a guy like Zadina or Hughes, but apparently not. If the ask was too high, Arizona might've played themselves. 

Pete Blackburn is from Boston, so there's a good chance you don't like him already. He has been a writer at CBS Sports since 2017 and usually aims to take a humorous and light-hearted approach to the often... Full Bio

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