Draft Report Card: NHL Entry Draft 2014

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Teams that hovered between A’s and B’s:

Carolina Hurricanes

I admire a team that makes a clean round of picks, and Carolina did just that. They traded no picks and no players, instead going straight for the guys they wanted, when they wanted them. It’s who they chose, though, that made me scratch my head a bit.

They nabbed the second defenseman overall when they selected Haydn Fleury seventh in the first round; as a strong, uncharacteristically mature eighteen-year-old blue liner, Fleury makes a great prospect to skate with the club in the 2015-2016 season. After grabbing him, though, their picks started to dwindle, round by round.

“I admire a team that makes a clean round of picks, and Carolina did just that”

They selected goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic in the second round- and while Nedeljkovic was the OHL’s goaltender of the year, Carolina isn’t short on goaltending prospects. They then picked left wing Warren Foegele, who looks good- but hasn’t ever played higher than the high school level, so has little to be compared to, and former blue liner Glen Wesley’s son Josh, who had a little too much attitude for most fans to handle.

Carolina is a team on the cusp of becoming something great, so these picks are hard to grade. The team will either be filled with dynamite to support the Staal brothers, or just another mismatched group of flashy players like Toronto. I can’t ignore the skill that the Canes drafted, but I can’t ignore the oddness, either.

Minnesota Wild

I love watching the Wild. They did amazing things with the players they had this past year; it’s hard to get just the right balance of veteran experience on a young team, and the Wild did just that. This draft, therefore, wasn’t a life-or-death matter for the developing team. I was relatively happy with what they did, though.

To start off the draft, they drafted a right winger, Alex Tuch, eighteenth overall. Tuch is a self-described power forward, something that Minnesota could definitely use more of. They missed out on their second-round pick, having already traded it to Vancouver- who used it for Roland Mckeown in the steal of the night- but picked up a plethora of defense in the third, fifth, and sixth rounds, a couple centers in the final rounds, and a goaltender right in the middle who looks to have a promising future with the organization. Minnesota is another team that has had uncertainty in the net- for example, Ilya Bryzgalov ended up being the starter for the majority of the postseason- and adding a goalie to what seems to be a healthy, well-rounded mix of prospects was a smart move on the part of the Wild management.

Colorado Avalanche

Even if Colorado had given up every draft pick in their possession, the team has enough young talent to last it into the next decade. That being said, though, Colorado went with safe, smart picks that support the current prospect roster the team boasts. Two left wingers, a right wing, two blue liners, a goaltender, and a center- who was twenty-third overall pick Conner Bleakely- were picked up by the Avalanche from this draft class.

I have no complaints about any of the picks they brought home- after all, Bleakely was a solid prospect, goaltender Maximilian Pajpach is currently the starting goaltender for the Slovakian U18 team, and every pick is over six feet tall, fitting the big, burly mold set by last year’s first overall pick, Nathan MacKinnon. I can’t put Colorado up with the A’s, though, because- while they did nothing wrong this year, and didn’t necessarily need to make any big moves- there was nothing overly exciting about this particular bunch of draftees.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay went crazy at the draft this year, trading players and and swapping picks all before most teams were able to figure out what was going on. They traded their second first-round pick to the Islanders for two second round picks, then snatched up offensively-minded defenseman Anthony DeAngelo with their own nineteenth overall pick. They followed that up with some solid goaltending, a few more defenseman- four of their five early picks were used to pick up blue-liners- and an undersized offenseman who knows how to carry the puck and score goals. Jonathan Macleod, Brendan Point, Cameron Darcy, and Ben Thomas are all names that Tampa Bay added to their prospect cupboard this year- they made solid, smart choices.