Draft Report Card: NHL Entry Draft 2014

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The A’s:

Dallas Stars

Slow round of applause for Dallas. They started what’s been an extremely productive off-season with a bang, trading forward Alex Chiasson and two prospects for another prospect and Jason Spezza. (Spoiler alert, they also ended up signing Sens forward Ales Hemsky at the start of free agency, but that’s neither here nor there) They also captured defenseman Julius Honka with the fourteenth overall draft pick, up immensely from his prospect ranking. The Finnish D-man was only the second blue liner to be picked in the first round, though, and had been ranked in the top ten North American skaters by Central Scouting despite being only five foot ten.

The Stars also nabbed Oil Kings left winger Brett Pollock in the second round, then two solid defensive picks in the subsequent rounds. Fantastic, even showing from a team that’s looking increasingly more dangerous.

Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes walked away from the entry draft with more than just a new name, taking home steal after steal as the weekend went on. Their prospect pool, which grew exponentially from the moment the team landed power-forward stud Brendan Perlini, is now overflowing with top-notch talent that could easily bring the struggling Pacific Division team back into the postseason going forward.

In addition to snagging Perlini twelfth overall, the team managed to pick up Hockey Hall of Famer Al MacInnis’s son Ryan in the second round, as well as Edgars Kulda and Dysin Mayo, two players from the Edmonton Oil Kings, who- for those who weren’t watching- took home the Memorial Cup this May. The Coyotes may not have been cup contenders for the past few seasons, and probably won’t for the next few. Once these players graduate from the farm system, though, this will be a team to look out for- a rare thing to say coming out of this caliber of draft class.

Los Angeles Kings

I thought the Kings had made the steal of the draft when they selected Adrian Kempe twenty-ninth overall; the forward is physically a perfect fit in Los Angeles with his strong, fast, imposing ice presence. Then, the fiftieth pick rolled around.

Roland McKeown was anticipated to go in the first round. As a former teammate of Sam Bennett’s who is known for making a big impact on the ice, TSN’s Bob McKenzie had ranked the D-man seventeenth overall. The Kings somehow managed to nab him fiftieth overall, though, making them the thieves of the year. Spencer Watson and Jacob Middleton were two other late and stellar picks by the Kings, followed by Alex Lintuniemi, Michael Amadio, Steven Johnson, and Alec Dillon. The team’s immense draft class was rounded off by Jake Machment and Matthew Mistele- needless to say, the cupboard shouldn’t be bare for the Kings any time soon.

Chicago Blackhawks

It seems almost unfair how well-balanced the Hawks have been these past few years, but it makes perfect sense when you look at the way they draft. Starting with the twentieth overall selection, which was traded to Chicago by the San Jose Sharks, Nick Schmaltz joined the already-stacked cast of all-stars in the Midwest. Schmaltz is a sneaky, slippery forward who is known for his fast skating and ability to find openings for passes where no one saw them coming. This will be a great fit in Chicago.

The Blackhawks brought home one more speedy forward in the third round before turning to select six foot five Beau Starrett eighty-eighth overall. The Hawks then added enormous Russian goaltender Ivan Nalimov and blue-blood skater Jack Ramsey in the final rounds, finishing off what looks to be an almost greedy haul of new prospects with some high-reward long-term projects. Overall, it looks like Chicago isn’t going anywhere BUT the playoffs for the next few seasons, at the very least.