In past years the NHL draft has taken place over several days, sometimes detracting from the stories which emerge from the later rounds. This year, with all the craziness of the lockout and how it altered every NHL date we’ve come to memorize over the years – the draft took place all in one day.So in hockey’s penultimate exciting moment of the offseason the 2013 NHL Draft began, and began with a surprise. No, not the worst kept secret in hockey that the Colorado Avalanche would select Nathan MacKinnon first overall, but that other possible #1 choice defenseman Seth Jones would fall to 4th. Sometimes it pays to be lucky, right Nashville?
Jones’ fall to fourth was one story of the draft, but the real highlights of the first round were some other blueliners wound up.
The Buffalo Sabres did their best to begin digging their way out of the NHL basement after a disappointing season. With both the 8th and 16th picks, the Sabres had an opportunity – and they seized it – in the form of two beastly defenders Rasmus Ristolainen and Nikita Zadorov. If Buffalo is going to start making headway in the new (and tough) eastern division these two bruising defensemen are definitely a good place to start.
Speaking of strong d-men, how about Philadelphia’s draft choice who is a shadow of one of their top players? The Flyers’ chose Samuel Morin at 11th overall – a player who is almost a carbon copy of Chris Pronger (aka his idol growing up). Philly, too, is looking to bounce back from a less-than-stellar NHL campaign and a player who was a fan of an incredible defenseman, then grew up to the same size as him is a pretty solid bet.
Is it me or was this first round all about size? Dallas also took advantage of power players available in the first round by drafting Valeri Nichushkin. The Russian power forward could end up being the steal of the draft – and yes that’s something you can say about a guy who was taken 10th overall. Let’s face it – he dropped a few spots because he’s European, and there were some concerns coming out of the combine – but this pick is going to help Dallas regain some of its past glory.
Dallas also might have had another major steal in the Canadian goalie they picked up late in the second round. Philippe Desrosiers led Canada to gold at the U-18 world tournament, so look out for him in the crease down the road.
There was definitely a lot of skill to go around, but what’s another essential factor of the greatest game on ice? Yup – fighting. Two big names come to mind when you look at the grittier side of the draft: Keegan Kanzig, a 6’7” defender went to the Flames and a former enforcer’s nephew was drafted by the Red Wings: Tyler Bertuzzi.
So whether your team picked up a big defender or a skilled forward in the top 10, there was plenty of skill to go around. However, nothing was more heart-warming than the New Jersey Devils’ final pick of the draft (especially because they were the hosts of the night).
Current goaltender and future hall of famer Martin Brodeur announced the 208th pick of the draft: naming his son Anthony as the newest member of the Devils organization.
Looking ahead, plenty of these guys will have an impact on the NHL, but time will tell. With all the skill to be had, there are plenty of chances for these guys to break out. Should be an interesting season next year.