June 25, 2011
ST. PAUL -- The real winners and losers of the 2011 NHL Draft won't come into focus until about three or four years down the line, when some of these names are contending for NHL awards and others are footnotes in history.
But having watched all seven rounds of the draft at Xcel Energy Center, some winners and losers are apparent right away.
Winner: Winnipeg hockey fans
Jets fans were loud during Round 1 on Friday even before True North Sports and Entertainment chairman Mark Chipman subtly let loose the team name as he was introducing GM Kevin Cheveldayoff to announce their first round pick. The "Go Jets Go" and "We want Teemu" chants were abundant on Friday night and is just a signal of the passion we'll be seeing once again from the fanbase in Winnipeg.
Loser: Vancouver Canucks' Reputation
Minnesota Wild fans don't like the Canucks to begin with, but the post-Game 7 riots in Vancouver brought out some extra vitriol at the draft. References to the riots were shouted from the arena seats during Vancouver's picks, and the team was lustily booed every time it was mentioned.
Winner: Colorado Avalanche
They opted not to draft Adam Larsson at No. 2 overall but instead went for Gabriel Landeskog, who could be an offensive cornerstone for their team. Then, at No. 11, they snagged Duncan Siemens, who is considered one of the better shut-down defensemen in the draft.
Loser: Columbus Blue Jackets
The Jeff Carter(notes) trade was enormous for the fans, but he's been distant and disgruntled about getting dealt to Columbus. They didn't have an impact draft pick and had to cut the cord with bust Nikita Filatov(notes) (although the third-round pick coming back is solid). Carter could be a huge asset on the ice; off the ice, it's been a frustrating weekend from a public relations perspective.
Winner: The cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis
The Twin Cities played great hosts for the NHL Draft Weekend and showed why Minnesota is called the "State of Hockey". Wild fans were loud -- especially when the Devin Setoguchi(notes)/Brent Burns trade was announced -- and were given plenty to cheer when they saw 10 Minnesota high schoolers chosen on Saturday.
Loser: The City of Minnesota
Ottawa Senators assistant GM Tim Murray accidentally thanked "the city of Minnesota" during the first round on live TV, completely ignoring the state of St. Paul.
Winner: Stan Bowman
It came out this week that the Los Angeles Kings forward had asked to be traded closer to home in Alberta. Discussions between the Kings and Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames took place during the Draft, but fell apart. According to TSN, a deal to the Oilers was in line to be executed, but an injury to Gilbert Brule(notes) killed things. Smyth now must wait even further to find out if he'll be returning to Alberta.
Winner: Terry Pegula
The new Buffalo Sabres owner made noise about winning a Stanley Cup immediately after closing the sale. He worked to convince Calgary Flames defenseman Robyn Regehr(notes) to waive his no-trade clause for Buffalo and picked up Regehr's annual salary cap hit of $4.02 million.
Loser: Pick No. 69
There was no 69th pick in the Draft due to the fact that it was forfeited by the New Jersey Devils after the Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) contract saga last summer. New Jersey still has to forgo one first round pick in one of the next three drafts to fulfill the punishment laid down by the NHL.
Winner: Minnesota Wild
Loser: Players With Long-Term Contracts
Jeff Carter, Mike Richards(notes), Robyn Regehr, Brian Campbell ... these are players who committed long-term to their teams (and in the case of the two Flyers, very, very long-term) and then were traded to other teams. With teams locking up talent before they hit free agency, trading long-term contracts is becoming the best way to acquire players in their prime.
The top junior ice hockey league in the United States produced 25 picks, behind the OHL (46) but ahead of Quebec Major Junior (22).
Loser: Johan Mattsson
Winner: Matt's Bar
Your humble editors of this here blog made it a point to visit Matt's Bar to see what the fuss about the Jucy Lucy hamburger was all about. Two beef patties with molten hot cheese on the inside made for a fantastic dinner on Thursday and a little bit of a mess for Wysh: