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PHILADELPHIA – The 2014 NHL Draft ended with a whimper, as trade activity involving roster players was handcuffed once again by the salary cap. The James Neal trade between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators was the lone blockbuster; the biggest other news was made over what didn’t happen.
Here’s a look at some of the winners and losers in the 2014 NHL Draft from Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia:
Winners: NHL Legacies
There were several players with NHL bloodlines take in the draft, including Kasperi Kapanen (son of Sami), Daniel Audette (son of Donald Audette), Ryan Donato (son of Ted Donato), Josh Wesley (son of Glen Wesley), Brendan Lemieux (son of Claude Lemieux), Ryan MacInnis (son of Al MacInnis), Jack Ramsey (son of Mike Ramsey), Lukas Sutter (son of Rich Sutter) and Dominic Turgeron (son of Pierre Turgeon). In the cases of Audette, Donato and Wesley, they were drafted by teams their fathers played for; in the case of Kapanen, he was drafted by the same man that originally drafted his father, Jim Rutherford.
Losers: Character Issues
Anthony DeAngelo was supposed to be the defenseman whose suspensions and locker room issues in juniors might drop him from the first round. Josh Ho-Sang was the unfiltered loose cannon who was too risky to take in the first round. Welp, DeAngelo went at No. 19 to the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Islanders moved up to take Ho-Sang at No. 28. So take that, character issues!
Winner: Patric Hornqvist
The Predators forward is a big body in front of the net. Now he gets to be one on a power play with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. That sound you just heard was fantasy hockey owners checking his status in their keeper leagues.
Loser: Mike Ribeiro
Not only was his long-term deal with the Arizona Coyotes bought out, he was embarrassingly dumped as GM Don Maloney cited “behavioral issues” as the catalyst.
Winner: The United Kingdom
The U.K. produced two draft picks, as Brendan Perlini (born in Guildford, England) and Nathan Walker (from Cardiff) went to the Coyotes and the Capitals respectively. Walker was an especially good story, becoming the first Australian player to be selected in the NHL Draft.
The inventors of hockey (well, maybe) saw their numbers slip from 96 players in 2013 to 77 players taken in 2014. Some of this was due to an increase in American-born players being selected, as 67 U.S.-born players were taken, representing its highest percentage (32%) of total selections ever. But most of the Canada decline was due to the dive in QMJHL players, as 17 were taken in 2014 after 31 were selected in 2013.
“Once again the Blackhawks have had a blast in the city of Philadelphia.” - Chicago exec, before making 7th round pick. #ShadeThrown
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) June 28, 2014
Winner: Chicago Blackhawks’ Comedy
Both GM Stan Bowman and director of amateur scouting Mark Kelley made references to the Blackhawks’ 2010 Cup victory in Philadelphia, which was some Grade-A trolling of the Flyers fans at the Draft.
Losers: Gary Bettman’s Comedy
Try as he might, Bettman couldn’t overpower the jeering Philly fans with his usual brand of Draft whimsy. “Isn’t this supposed to be the City of Brotherly Love?” /rimshot
Winners: No-Trade Clauses
Ryan Kesler got his wish, which was a move out of Vancouver to division rival Anaheim. Jason Spezza prevented a trade to Nashville with his. NTCs rule the hockey world.
Losers: Teams That Hand Out No-Trade Clauses
On the flip side, the Canucks got the kind of value you’d expect when a player has a one-team trade market, and the Senators had to admit that Spezza killed a trade with the Predators, potentially leading to Dany Heatley Version 2.0 for Bryan Murray.
Winners: St. Louis Blues
Defenseman Carl Gunnarsson can be a top four pairing guy and a potential match with Kevin Shattenkirk. Beyond that trade, the Blues made a solid pickup with big forward Robbie Fabbri and was one of the big winners on Day 2.
Losers: Toronto Maple Leafs
Roman Polak is the kind of defenseman that you can literally hear Leafs fans tearing apart for his ineffectiveness by midseason. While William Nylander was a solid first-round choice, the rest of the draft was way more “what if?” than filling needs. But hey, at least they didn't re-sign Dave Bolland.
Winner: Brendan Lemieux's Angst
Son of Claude Lemieux, he said this of the teams who passed him over until the Sabres took him in Round 2: “I’m definitely to love going in their arenas and really making it hard on their guys because they decided to pass me over, so I’m just going to use this as fuel. They gave one of the more fiery guys in the draft, I’d like to say, a lot more fire.”
Loser: NHL Teams' Congrats
Look, can we end the masochistic tradition of teams giving the Stanley Cup champion no-hearted "congratulations"? Only four teams should have to, and it's the teams that lose to them.
Winner: Kasperi Kapanen
He fell longer than expected but still made the first round and ended up in a rather promising place: The Pittsburgh Penguins.
Loser: Ivan Barbashev
The Russian QMJHL player was projected to be a mid first-rounder but ended up at No. 33 with the St. Louis Blues. Operative word: “Russian.”
Winners: Calgary Flames
Sam Bennett could blossom into a star and the rest of their draft was very solid, including Mason McDonald (goalie, No. 34) and a big body Hunter Smith (RW, No. 54). And they even added a little truculence with a ring for Brian Burke in Chicago's Brandon Bollig.
Losers: Pittsburgh Penguins
The James Neal trade has Penguins fans questioning the direction of the team even more than they already were, which is quite a feat. While Kasperi Kapanen was a nice pick in Round 1, the Penguins didn’t have another one until No. 113.
Winners: Skilled Forwards
Skill was the name of the game in Round 1, which Kevin Fiala (No. 11, Nashville), Jakub Vrana (No. 13, Washington) and Sonny Milano (No. 16, Columbus) moving up higher than expected.
After Aaron Ekblad went No. 1, only three other defensemen went in the first round after nine were taken in the first round last season.
Winners: The Philadelphia Fans
The incessant jeering of the Pittsburgh Penguins, New York Rangers and New Jersey Devils carried through both days of the draft, but it was the “SUCKS!” they added after every name of the roll call on Day 1 and the cascading boos that greeted Gary Bettman that were the most memorable. It was like watching the NFL Draft if the crowd were entirely comprised of NY Jets fans. So, in essence, it was like watching the NFL Draft.
Loser: The Viewers At Home
The lack of trades and the relative lack of a big-name draft picks made the first round fizzle a bit. It also didn’t help that NBCSN dumped out of draft coverage to switch to track and field.