The NHL Draft held few surprises this year, with expected top pick Jack Hughes going first to the New Jersey Devils. Hughes should have an immediate impact for his team.
That is not the case for other high draft picks. Unlike basketball or football, those chosen in the first round, especially outside the top 10, can expect to begin their first professional season in the minors.
It makes predicting who did well in the draft a little harder, but not impossible. We take a look at some of the winners and losers from this year’s draft.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils were going to be winners with the first pick in the draft, but it was what they did after taking Hughes that was impressive. They managed to pick up P.K. Subban from Nashville for defensemen Steven Santini and Jeremy Davies plus two second-round picks.
General manager Ray Shero was obviously pleased about the draft.
“Those were two good days for us,” Shero said. “Jack yesterday, obviously the Subban trade today. That was a really good day for us and our franchise.”
Besides Jack Hughes Going No. 1, USA Hockey placed several players in the first round, including three in the top 10. The Los Angeles Kings took Alex Turcotte No. 5, and the Anaheim Ducks selected Trevor Zegras No. 9.
Eleven of the first 31 picks were from the US, and seven of those came from the U.S. National Development team.
The Avalanche were already trending up with their appearance in the playoffs last year, but now have to solid players to help keep them strong down the road. The team took the pick they got at No. 4 from Ottawa to take Bowen Byram, the top-rated defenseman in the draft.
Twelve picks later they grabbed Alex Newhook. The center had 102 points in 53 games in the British Columbia Hockey League.
Canada Hockey Players
The country that proudly claims hockey as its national sport has been in a losing streak regarding the draft. This was the fourth consecutive year a Canadian wasn’t the No. 1 pick.
They didn’t have a player picked until No. 3, when Alberta’s Kirby Dach went to the Chicago Blackhawks.
The Ontario Hockey League was also a big loser on the day. For the first time in 33 years no players from the OHL went in the top 10 picks.
Arthur Kaliyev was the leading scorer last year for the Hamilton Bulldogs in the Ontario Hockey League, and was expected to be a top 15 pick. The winger fell all the way to No. 33, where the Los Angeles Kings picked him up. He is 17 years old, and will have time to mature before the Kings call him up. There are questions about his style of play, which some say isn’t suited for the NHL.
Detroit Red Wings
Former Red Wings great Steve Yzerman really liked defenseman Moritz Seider. The only problem was Detroit’s new general manager wanted to trade down for him. Getting some more value for the No. 6 pick was the plan, but the only problem was he couldn’t find any takers. He knew Seider would be gone by the team’s next selection, so he was forced to take the defenseman way higher than he was projected.