Sat Jun 26 07:47pm EDT
LOS ANGELES -- As the tables and risers at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft were being taken down, a single piece of purple confetti floated down from the rafters.
It was from another event at Staples Center; likely a more festive one than the 36 hours of interesting, if not exactly gripping, building of hockey's future the arena hosted on Friday and Saturday.
Here are some winners and losers for the 2010 Draft, both in players, teams and themes.
There were 59 players born in the USA taken in the Draft, including a record-breaking 22 picked in the first two rounds. RW Beau Bennett became the highest-drafted California-born and bred player in NHL history, taken No. 20 overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Leafs GM Brian Burke, who was the GM of the U.S. Olympic hockey team in Vancouver, credited the U.S. developmental program and the spread of minor league hockey into "non-traditional" markets for the rise in highly-regarded players. So here's to you, Bossier-Shreveport Mudbugs.
There can be only one No. 1 Number One, and the fact is that Hall outplayed and made more of an impression than Tyler Seguin in the eyes of the Edmonton Oilers. He's the man of the draft, as was supported by his appearance on SportsCenter to introduce the top 10 plays of Friday night. You know he's a big deal if he can get the draft mentioned on ESPN.
The Anaheim Ducks GM said he had both defenseman Cam Fowler and forward Emerson Etem ranked high on his draft board, and would have considered moving up to draft them. But as the two prospects dropped down the first round, Murray discovered he could hang on to his first-rounders and still end up with the players. Add in No. 42 overall Devante Smith-Pelley, a point-per-game player with Mississauga St. Mike's, and it was a good two days for Murray.
The Dustin Byfuglien(notes) trade with the Atlanta Thrashers was a productive salary dump. Then, in the Draft, the Stanley Cup champions had 10 selections including five in the first two rounds, which is outstanding. LW Ludvig Rensfeldt, taken at No. 35, was the fifth-ranked European skater via Central Scouting. 'Hawks fans should be happier than Patrick Kane(notes) in Vegas with the last week for Stan Bowman.
The Portland 3
The Portland Winterhawks' explosive line of Brad Ross, Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter can dominate games, and made an impact in the 2010 Draft. Johansen, a center, may have been a reach at No. 4 overall, but the Columbus Blue Jackets weren't the only ones interested in him. RW Niederreiter was projected as a Top 10 pick, but the Islanders snagged the human highlight reel at No. 5. LW Ross, who compares himself to Matt Cooke(notes) and Steve Ott(notes), went in the second round to a team that will appreciate his truculence: The Toronto Maple Leafs. The two first-rounders are expected back in Portland next season.
What do you mean, "who?" He's the 2010 Mr. Irrelevant of the NHL Entry Draft, a defenseman taken No. 210 overall by the Boston Bruins. You better recognize.
New York Rangers and
Columbus Blue Jackets fans
Both teams rolled the dice in the first round, and many of their fans weren't in a gambling mood.
Blue Jackets fans couldn't understand taking Johansen, a
center, at No. 4 with the
needing help on the blue line in its system.
The Rangers selected defenseman Dylan McIlrath at No. 10 in a pick that the Rangers Tribune called "shocking". Blogger Derek Felix was angry the Blueshirts passed up Cam Fowler. In defense of the pick, from The Prospect Park:
What McIlrath does is play his position well so right off the bat when he becomes Del Zotto's partner then Del Zotto has a partner who will give him the freedom to be able to pinch; to be able to go end to end on a rush and not worry that his partner is so weak that he can not afford to gamble.
Time will tell on both picks.
The Keith Ballard(notes) trade with the Florida Panthers could solve some problems on the Vancouver Canucks' blue line, but he has five seasons left on his contract ($4.2 million per season on the cap) and it cost them former first-rounder Michael Grabner(notes) going to the Florida Panthers. Plus, Gillis became the first GM in Canucks history to come out of the draft without a player selected in the first three rounds.
Toronto Maple Leafs
GM Brian Burke said he didn't receive any suitable packages for defenseman Tomas Kaberle(notes), so he remains a Leaf. Toronto went European with two Swedes and a Norwegian in a draft that wasn't known for its overseas talent. Plus, they had to watch Tyler Seguin go to the Boston Bruins with a draft pick that was second overall thanks to their own futility. (Adding Mike Brown(notes) from the Ducks could be a nice depth move, however.)
The Seattle Thunderbirds goalie was projected as the second-best option in the draft at that position. After Jack Campbell went to the Dallas Stars at No. 11, Pickard had to wait through the indignity of seeing the Phoenix Coyotes select Mark Visentin of Niagara in the OHL and then continued waiting until the 49th overall pick, where the Colorado Avalanche took him. "I think he's a really good goalie, really underrated. Good for him," said Pickard of Visentin. Pickard took the frustrating days in stride and seems like a decent guy. Which makes us feel bad for calling him a loser.
The indignity of the Dan Hamhuis affair, in which the team acquired the defenseman's negotiating rights from Nashville only to then trade them to the Pittsburgh Penguins, earns them a place here.
Years from now, we may look back at this Draft as the beginning of the troubled Russian's maturation and development as a star player. But for now, he's a guy who was projected as a high first rounder whose stock took a nosedive, and he settled for a third-round (No. 65 overall) gamble from the New York Islanders. Not a winner. Even if he is hilarious.