Recapping the first round of the NHL Entry Draft

It was an extremely busy week for the NHL as the league released the 1,271-game 2017/18 schedule, announced its annual award winners and held both the Expansion and Entry Drafts. We’ll recap everything but the schedule over the next few weeks just in case you missed any of the action. The seven-round amateur Entry Draft was held in Chicago on June 23-24 and we take a look at the first round below along with the players’ regular-season stats from 2016/17.
2017 NHL Entry Draft
1. The New Jersey Devils selected centre Nico Hischier of Switzerland with the first overall pick. He played with Halifax in the QMJHL last season with 38 goals and 48 assists in 57 games. Hischier becomes the highest-drafted Swiss player ever.
2. Philadelphia Flyers took centre Nolan Patrick of Brandon in the WHL. He scored 20 goals and 26 assists in 33 games in 2016/17 and has 205 points in 163 career junior contests. He also racked up 30 points in 21 playoff games last year and was the WHL’s playoff MVP.
3. The Dallas Stars took Finnish defenceman Miro Heiskanen of HIFK and he scored five goals and five assists last season in 37 games.
4. Colorado Avalanche drafted defenceman Cale Makar from Brooks of the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) after he was named the best defenceman in Canadian Junior Hockey and the AJHL last season. Makar scored 35 goals and 100 assists in a total of 111 games last campaign.
5. The Vancouver Canucks selected Swedish centre Elias Pettersson from Timra of the nation’s second division after he scored 19 goals and 22 assists in 43 games last season.
6. The Vegas Golden Knights chose centre Cody Glass from Portland of the WHL after scoring 32 goals and 62 assists in 69 contests.
7. The New York Rangers added Swedish centre/winger Lias Andersson, from HV71 after scoring nine goals and 10 assists in 42 outings last season. The Rangers traded forward Derek Stepan and goaltender Antti Raanta to the Arizona Coyotes for the draft pick and defenceman Anthony DeAngelo.
8. The Buffalo Sabres took American centre Casey Mittelstadt from the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL after he racked up 21 goals and 43 assists in 25 games and was named All-USA Player of the Year for the second consecutive year.
9. Detroit Red Wings selected centre Michael Rasmussen from Tri-City of the WHL after playing 50 games last season and scoring 32 goals and 23 assists.
10. The Florida Panthers chose right-winger Owen Tippett from Mississauga of the OHL after scoring 44 goals and 31 assists in 60 games last year.
11. The Los Angeles Kings took centre Gabriel Vilardi from Windsor of the OHL after he contributed 29 goals and 32 assists in 49 contests last year.
12. Carolina Hurricanes chose centre Martin Necas from Brno of the Czech Republic after playing 41 games last year with seven goals and eight assists.
13. The Vegas Golden Knights took centre Nick Suzuki from Owen Sound of the OHL after scoring 45 goals and 51 assists in 2016/17.
14. Tampa Bay Lightning chose defenceman Callan Foote from Kelowna of the WHL after scoring six goals and 51 assists in 71 outings last season. He’s the son of former NHL star Adam Foote.
15. The Vegas Golden Knights selected Swedish defenceman Erik Brannstrom from HV71 after he tallied a goal and five assists in 35 contests last year.
16. The Calgary Flames drafted Finnish defenceman Juuso Valimaki from Tri-City of the WHL after he scored 19 goals and 42 assists in 60 games.
17. The Toronto Maple Leafs chose Swedish defenceman Timothy Liljegren from Rogle after scoring a goal and four assists in 19 games last year.
18. The Boston Bruins took defender Urho Vaakanainen from JYP in Finland after he posted a pair of goals and four assists in 2016/17.
19. The San Jose Sharks picked up centre Joshua Norris from the USA Under-18 team after he scored 23 goals and 28 assists in 52 contests last season.
20. St. Louis Blues took centre Robert Thomas from London of the OHL after he scored 16 times and added 50 assists in 66 games last year.
21. The New York Rangers added centre Filip Chytil from Zlin of the Czech Republic after scoring four goals and four assists in 38 outings last campaign.
22. The Edmonton Oilers chose right-winger Kailer Yamamoto from Spokane of the WHL after he scored 42 goals and 57 assists in 65 games last season. The 5-foot-7-inch Yamamoto has scored 227 points in his 190 WHL games.
23. The Arizona Coyotes selected defenceman Pierre-Olivier Joseph from Charlottetown of the QMJHL after he played 62 times last season and scored six goals and 33 assists.
24. Winnipeg Jets took winger Kristian Vesalainen from Frolunda in Sweden after he tallied a goal and five assists in 26 contests last year.
25. The Montreal Canadiens drafted college centre Ryan Poehling from St. Cloud State of the NCHC after he posted seven goals and six assists in 35 games as the youngest player in the NCAA.
26. The Dallas Stars took goaltender Jake Oettinger from Boston University. He posted a save percentage of 92.7 last season along with a 2.11 goals-against average and a record of 21-10-3 in 35 games. He was the second-youngest NCAA player last season.
27. The Philadelphia Flyers selected centre Morgan Frost from Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL after he chipped in with 20 goals and 42 assists in 67 outings last year. The Flyers traded forward Brayden Schenn to St. Louis for this draft pick.
28. Ottawa Senators added centre Shane Bowers from Waterloo of the USHL after he scored 22 goals and 29 assists in 60 contests.
29. The Chicago Blackhawks chose Finnish defenceman Henri Jokiharju from Portland of the WHL after scoring nine goals and 39 assists in 71 games last season.
30. The Nashville Predators selected Finnish right-winger Eeli Tolvanen from Sioux City of the USHL after he scored 30 goals and 24 assists in 52 games.

31. The St. Louis Blues finished the first round by taking Russian forward Klim Kostin from Dynamo Moscow of the KHL. Kostin played just 18 games last season due to shoulder surgery. The Blues traded Ryan Reaves to Pittsburgh for the draft pick.

Several NHL teams make moves before expansion draft

There were several NHL transactions before the league’s trade-freeze came into effect just before the expansion draft is announced on June 21st. The biggest deal took place on June 15th when the Tampa Bay Lightning traded forward Jonathan Drouin and a sixth-round draft pick in 2018 to the Montreal Canadiens for defensive prospect Mikhail Sergachev and a second-round pick in the 2018 entry draft. The 22-year-old Drouin was then promptly signed to a six-year contract worth $33 million by the Habs.
Drouin, who was drafted third overall by Tampa in 2013, was scheduled to become a free agent on July 1stwhile the 18-year-old Sergachev was taken ninth overall by Montreal in 2016. Tampa Bay general manager Steve Yzerman said the teams will only swap the draft picks if Sergachev plays fewer than 40 regular and postseason games with Tampa next season. Tampa decided to trade Drouin rather than risk losing him for nothing to the Vegas Golden Knights in the upcoming expansion draft. Sergachev doesn’t need to be protected in the draft since he’s signed to an entry-level contract.
Sergachev is a big offensive defenceman at 6-feet-3-inches tall and posted 10 goals and 43 points in 50 games for the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) this season. He also helped the team win this year’s Memorial Cup. Drouin, who can play both wing and centre, chipped in with 21 goals and 53 points for Tampa in 2016/17 and gives Montreal some insurance in case free agent forward Alexander Radulov signs elsewhere this summer.
Montreal made another move just two days later when they dealt defenceman Nathan Beaulieu to the Buffalo Sabres for a third-round pick in this summer’s entry draft, which will be the 68th selection overall. The 24-year-old Beaulieu was drafted 17th overall by Montreal in 2011 and was also scheduled to become a free agent on July 1st. The 6-foot-2-inch defenceman played 74 games with the Habs in 2016/17 and posted four goals and 28 points and added an assist in five playoff contests.
The Arizona Coyotes also made a move by trading veteran goaltender Mike Smith to the Calgary Flames for goaltender Chad Johnson, defensive prospect Brandon Hickey, and a third-round draft pick. Johnson is scheduled to become a free agent on July 1st as is Calgary’s other goaltender Brian Elliot. The 35-year-old Smith played 55 games with Arizona last season with a record of 19-26-9 with a save percentage of 91.4 and a goals-against average of 2.92.
Smith still has two years left on his current contract with an annual salary-cap hit of $5.67 million.  Johnson went 18-15-1 in 2016/17 with a 91.0 save percentage and a 2.59 goals-against average in 38 games. Elliot played 49 games with the Flames with a 26-18-3 mark along with a 91.0 save percentage and a 2.55 goals-against average. This move gives Calgary some goaltending insurance in case Elliot decides to leave town and sign with somebody else this summer.
Another move saw the New Jersey Devils make a trade with the San Jose Sharks as they picked up defenceman Mirco Mueller along with a fifth-round draft pick (143rd) this summer for a second (49th) and fourth-round (123rd) pick in June. The 22-year-old Mueller was chosen 18thoverall by San Jose in 2013 and has spent his time since then between the AHL and NHL. He played just four games with the Sharks last season with a goal and assist to his name.
In addition, the Washington Capitals sent a fifth-round draft pick in 2018 to the Minnesota Wild for centre Tyler Graovac. The 24-year-old Graovac, who stands 6-feet-5-inches tall, scored seven goals and nine points in 57 career outings with the Wild. He was drafted 191stoverall in the seventh round in the 2011 entry draft. Graovac also has 102 points in 202 career games in the AHL with Iowa on 49 goals and 53 assists.

There has also been a couple of coaching announcements since the Penguins hoisted the Stanley Cup. The Buffalo Sabres appointed Hall of Fame defenceman Phil Housley as their new head coach on June 15th. Housley spent the past four seasons with the Nashville Predators as an assistant coach and replaces Dan Bylsma behind the bench in Buffalo. Also, on June 12th, the Florida Panthers announced Bob Boughner as their new bench boss. Boughner is a former assistant coach with San Jose and he replaces Tom Rowe. 

Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy stay in Pittsburgh

The Pittsburgh Penguins won their second straight Stanley Cup and captain Sidney Crosby won his second consecutive Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP with a 2-0 win over the Predators in Nashville on June 11th. Pittsburgh scored twice in the last 95 seconds to clinch the best-of-seven series in six games. It’s the franchise’s fifth NHL championship with all of five of their Stanley Cup-winning games coming on the road. The team is the first to win back-to-back Cups since the Detroit Red Wings achieved the feat in 1997 and 1998, but the Penguins are the first to do it in the salary cap era.
As for Crosby, he led Pittsburgh in scoring in the final series with a goal and six assists and came in second in playoff scoring to teammate Evgeni Malkin with 27 points on eight goals and 19 assists in 25 games. Malkin finished the postseason with 28 points. Crosby is just the third player to win the Conn Smythe in two consecutive seasons since the award originated back in the 1964/65 campaign. Former Penguins’ great Mario Lemieux won it in 1990/91 and 1991/92 and former Philadelphia Flyers’ goalie Bernie Parent took the trophy home in 1973/74 and 1974/75.
Crosby also won the Rocket Richard Trophy for leading the league in goals this season and is finalist for the Hart Memorial Trophy and this is his third Stanley Cup win overall. Former Predator Patric Hornqvist, who was drafted with the very last pick in 2005 when Crosby went first overall, scored the eventual game-winner with just 1:35 left on the clock while Matt Murray saved 27 shots for his second consecutive shutout in the series. Carl Hagelin then scored into an empty net with just 13.6 seconds to go after Nashville had pulled goaltender Pekka Rinne for an extra attacker.
Pittsburgh’s five Stanley Cups is now fifth on the all-time list for NHL championships, which brings the club level with the Edmonton Oilers. The loss in game six was just the first regulation time defeat for the Predators in the 2016/17 postseason. They thought they had opened the scoring early in the second period when Colton Sissons knocked a loose puck over the goal line. Referee Kevin Pollock blew the call though by whistling the play dead after apparently losing sight of the puck. Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan also enters the record book as he becomes the first American coach to win a pair of Stanley Cups.
However, while Sullivan’s feat may very well be equaled in the future it’s going to be difficult to top goaltender Matt Murray’s achievement. Murray is the first goalie in history to win the Stanley Cup twice while still a rookie. He was called up late last season and didn’t appear in more than 25 games to lose his rookie status this season. The 23-year-old Murray also shut the Predators out over the last 126 minutes and 52 seconds of the final series and set a rookie mark in the finals with a pair of shutouts in the six-game series.
Nashville was enjoying its first Stanley Cup final as this is the furthest the franchise has advanced in the postseason in its 19-year history. The team entered the 2016/17 playoffs with just three postseason series victories out of seven. However the 16th-seeded team in the postseason reached the final by sweeping Chicago in four games and then taking care if St. Louis and Anaheim. In addition, captain Mike Fisher was the only player on the club’s roster to have ever played in a Stanley Cup final before. Pittsburgh beat Columbus in five games in the first round, but then had to go seven games to oust both Washington and Ottawa before facing Nashville.

NHL finalizes Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft Rules

The NHL will soon be holding its first expansion draft since June, 2000 when the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild entered the league. With the 2017 draft being just a couple of weeks away, now’s a good time to go over the rules as the league prepares to accommodate its newest franchise the Vegas Golden Knights. The expansion team has already been given the green light to sign non-NHL free agents and NHL players who are playing overseas and to start acquiring draft picks from other clubs, which is a distinct possibility due to the expansion draft coming up on June 21st.
During the draft, the Golden Knights will be allowed to choose one unprotected player from each of the other 30 NHL teams to build their roster. However, several teams may be inclined to persuade the league’s 31st franchise to leave specific unprotected players alone by sending them draft picks or future considerations. For example, a club may offer a third-round pick if the Golden Knights turn a blind eye on a specific player in the draft. This year’s expansion draft choices will be revealed to the public live on television on June 21st, which is the same night the annual NHL Awards show is held in Las Vegas.
However, Vegas will actually send their draft picks to the NHL earlier in the day as they need to be in by 10 a.m. The league also clarified a few other rules recently as it released a timeline of draft-related events. The NHL has imposed a player-movement freeze for the time the Golden Knights receive the protection lists from the other teams until after the draft picks have been announced. The only team allowed to sign players or make deals in this time period will be the Golden Knights themselves. The movement freeze includes player signings, waivers and trades.
In addition, clubs will be allowed to ask roster players to waive their no-movement clauses in their contracts if they have them. If a player agrees to waive the clause he could be left unprotected in the draft. Also, any player who waives the clause will have it reinstated after the draft. Teams have until 5 p.m. Eastern time on June 12thto ask players to waive these clauses, but Pittsburgh and Nashville will have until 24 hours after the Stanley Cup Final if it ends after June 12th. The latest the Final will end is June 14th.
Once June 15th arrives on the calendar, teams will be able to buy-out players if they choose. If a club wants to buy-out a player with a no-movement clause they must ask him if he would like to be placed on waivers before the contract is bought out. NHL clubs will have until lunchtime Eastern time on June 16th to place players on waivers. Also on this day, players who have been asked to waive no-movement clauses have to agree by 5 p.m. The no-movement clause for the other 30 teams comes into effect on June 17th and all clubs have to hand in their protection lists this day.
All NHL teams will receive a copy of the protection lists by 10 a.m. on June 18th and the Golden Knights will be allowed to speak to free agents the same day. The Vegas franchise will submit the list of 30 players chosen in the draft by 10 a.m. on June 21st and they’ll be announced that evening at the awards ceremony. The players no-movement freeze will then be lifted one June 22nd at 8 a.m. As far as the protected lists go, each team is allowed to protect one goalie, three defencemen and seven forwards or a goalie and eight skates at any position.
Players with no-movement clauses have to be protected unless they agree to waive them. Teams don’t have to protect first and second year pro players and any unsigned draft choices since they’re all exempt from the draft. The clubs need to leave a defenceman and two forwards unprotected who are under contract for next season and played in at least 40 NHL contests this year or 70 games in the past two campaigns. They must also leave a goalie unprotected who is a restricted free agent this summer or who is under contract for next season.

In addition, if a team elects to leave a free-agent goalie unprotected they must give him a qualifying offer before submitting their protected list. Also, players who have missed at least 60 straight games due to injury or have career-ending injuries, can’t be left unprotected. Those are the main points of the expansion draft and it’ll be interesting to see the new lineup of the Vegas Golden knights come the evening of June 21st.