06/29/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak
While the arrival of such highly touted prospects like Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel highlighted what was a very deep 2015 NHL Draft class, it was the trades that took place over the weekend that stole the show. Let's take a look at some of the major moves that will change the way some NHL teams look heading into the July 1st free agency period.
With the first overall pick in the draft, the Edmonton Oilers did what was expected by drafting Connor McDavid. McDavid is expected to be a generational talent, that even Wayne Gretzky has compared to having the impact that Mario Lemieux and more recently Sidney Crosby made upon arriving in the NHL and that he has the capacity to turn a franchise around. But the Oilers also addressed another need: goaltending. Edmonton acquired Cam Talbot from the New York Rangers for a 2nd, 3rd, and 7th round drafts pick. The Oilers also acquired defenseman Griffin Reinhart from the New York Islanders for the 16th overall pick and a 2nd round pick.
Of course with the second overall pick, the Buffalo Sabres did as expected as well when they drafted Jack Eichel. The praise for Eichel has been high as well, with many saying he would have been taken 1st overall in any other draft had McDavid not been there. Eichel has been compared to John Tavares, and should give McDavid a run for his money for this seasons Calder Trophy. But the Sabres were quite active away from the draft board as well. They started by trading the 21st overall pick to Ottawa for goaltender Robin Lehner and forward David Legwand. The Sabres then made another bold move by acquiring Ryan O'Reilly and Jamie McGinn from Colorado for touted prospects Mikhail Grigorenko, Nikita Zadorov, and J.T. Compher. With the moves, the Sabres, who finished last in the league last season, have upgraded significantly. Buffalo also has about $16 million dollars in cap room to make more moves when the free agency period opens July 1st.
The Boston Bruins were rather active as well. But unlike the Oilers and Sabres, who added players via the trade route, the Bruins subtracted a couple of big names. Milan Lucic was traded to Los Angeles for goaltender Martin Jones, defense prospect Colin Miller, and the Kings 1st round draft pick. Boston then traded defenseman Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for the Flames 1st round pick and two 2nd round picks. That gave the Bruins 3 consecutive picks in this years first round, which they used to select defenseman Jakub Zboril (13th overall) and forwards Jake DeBrusk (14th) and Zachary Senyshyn (15th).
Anaheim was busy away from the draft board as well. The Ducks traded forward Kyle Palmieri to New Jersey for draft picks. Anaheim then moved Emerson Etem and two draft picks to the New York Rangers for forward Carl Hagelin. The Ducks followed that up by trading defenseman James Wisniewski to Carolina for goalie Anton Khudobin. And in the first round, they selected defenseman Jacob Larsson with the 27th overall pick.
One other notable trade made was Arizona sending Sam Gagner to Philadelphia for defenseman Nicklas Grossmann and defenseman Chris Pronger, who hasn't played a game since 2011. The trade is basically a salary dump for the Flyers to get salary cap compliant, while for the Coyotes the added salary moves them closer to the mandatory cap floor, even though Pronger will not play an actual game for the team. Arizona also drafted highly touted center Dylan Strome with the 3rd overall pick in the draft. The Coyotes also drafted forward Nick Merkely with the final pick of the opening round.
The Flyers also had 2 first round draft picks. Defenseman Ivan Provorov was taken 7th overall, while forward Travis Konecny was taken 24th. Other teams with multiple picks in the opening round were Columbus, who selected defenseman Zach Werenski with the 8th pick, and defenseman Gabriel Carlsson with the 29th pick. The Islanders used the 16th overall pick they received from Edmonton to select center Mathew Barzal and the 28th pick to select forward Anthony Beauvillier with the 28th pick. Winnipeg picked forward Kyle Connor with the 17th overall pick, and forward Jack Roslovic at 25th. The final team with 2 picks in the opening round was Ottawa, who selected defenseman Thomas Chabot with the 18th pick, then used the 21st pick acquired from Buffalo to select center Colin White.
All in all it was a very exciting weekend for hockey fans. The 2015 draft was considered to be one of the deepest talentwise in recent history. Fans can now process all of the moving and shaking done over the weekend, then fasten their seatbelts for buyouts and signings as the annual free agency frenzy begins July 1st.
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