10: 13 PM – The first round is a wrap. Los Angeles selected Adrian Kempe with pick No. 29. Kempe is a Swedish winger with decent size and net presence. New Jersey finished up with John Quenneville, a character center and second cousin of Blackhawks coach and ex-Caps defenseman Joel Quenneville.
See you all tomorrow at 10 am when we roar through rounds 2-7 in a total of about four hours. Tonight’s pace wasn’t bad for a first round; only took about three hours.
10:00 PM – The Islanders made a deal with Tampa Bay to move up to No. 28 and take Josh Ho-Sang, yet another smallish but superbly skilled winger. Ho-Sang’s draft stock dipped some because of non-hockey issues. The Isles are able to land Dal Colle and Ho-Sang, which is a good haul from this draft.
9:53 PM – Montreal chose Russian right wing Nikita Scherbak at No. 26 and the Sharks followed with Russian right wing Nikolay Goldobin at No. 27. That’s 14 wingers in the first round and all 14 within the last 23 picks. Both Scherbak (Saskatoon of WHL) and Goldobin (Sarnia of OHL) played their 2013-14 hockey in North America.
9:44 PM – Okay, catch-up time after spending some time downstairs getting acquainted with Jakub Vrana, who went to the Capitals at No. 13 overall. Here’s what TSN Director of Scouting (and former Flames GM and son of late Caps personnel man Jack Button) Craig Button says about Vrana:
“Very good offensive mind and is hungry from circles down in offensive zone. Good shot and is a player you have to respect because he can score or make a play. Ability to be dangerous quickly. One shot and score capability.”
Vrana went to Sweden to play at the age of 15 and has been there since. He showed a knack for scoring important goals, and believes his overall development has been enhanced by playing in Sweden. The first round of this draft was thin on defenders and difference-making centers, but replete with skilled wingers, of which Vrana is one.
Growing up in the Czech Republic, Vrana played at a rink owned by ex_Caps defenseman Frantisek Kucera, the brother of longtime Caps scout Vojtech Kucera.
Now, to the rest of the choices after No. 13 …
Dallas chose small but skilled defenseman Julius Honka at No. 14 overall. Honka is a native of Finland who came to North America to play junior hockey; he played with Swift Current of the WHL last season. Honka is an offensive defenseman with power play ability.
At No. 15, the Detroit Red Wings took center Dylan Larkin of the US National Development Team Program in nearby Ann Arbor. Larkin was projected to go near the middle of the first round and he did. He is seen as a guy who can develop into a second line center.
Columbus chose Larkin’s teammate and linemate Sonny Milano at No. 16. Milano is another of those skilled wingers that are the trademark of the 2014 first round. Larkin and Milano frequently play with Jack Eichel on the Development Team; Eichel is projected to be one of the top two picks in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Draft host Philadelphia went next at 17, and the Flyers went with a defenseman as their first choice for the second straight summer, tabbing Travis Sanheim. Sanheim had perhaps the most meteoric rise of any player in this year’s draft, coming on swiftly in the second half of the season to move all the way to the second half of the first round.
Another Development Team forward – Alex Tuch – went to the Minnesota Wild at No. 18. While many of the wingers chosen ahead of Tuch are swift and skilled, Tuch is a bigger body who projects as a power forward.
Tampa Bay went with a bit of a wild card in defenseman Anthony DeAngelo (and local New Jersey kid) at No. 19. DeAngelo is a skilled, offensive defenseman who slipped on some lists because of non-hockey issues.
Chicago swapped the No. 27 and 62 choices in the 2014 draft to San Jose for pick Nos. 20 and 179. The Hawks then used that choice to take USHL center Nick Schmaltz. The Hawks must have really liked Schmaltz and believed that he wouldn’t last until 27th overall to swap an early third-rounder for a much later pick to move up to take him.
St. Louis took small but competitive pivot Robby Fabbri with the 21st overall choice. TSN had ranked Fabbri at No. 14 and most had him ranked a shade higher at least, so on paper the Blues appeared to get decent value here.
Pittsburgh took Kasperi Kapanen, son of longtime NHL winger Sami Kapanen, with pick No. 22. Kapanen has been playing with his dad in Finland and is yet another of the many skilled wingers available in the early portion of the 2014 NHL Draft.
Colorado chose center Connor Bleackly with the 23rd pick in the draft. He plays for Red Deer in the WHL and is seen as a character player who went right around where most projected he would.
The Canucks grabbed OHL center Jared McCann with their second first-round choice of the night. Some projected McCann to go as high as the teens, so the Canucks are likely quite happy with their first round haul of Virtanen and McCann tonight.
Boston was next at No. 25, and they chose another Czech winger who has been playing in Sweden, David Pastrnak. But while Vrana has been playing against men in the Swedish Elite League, Pastrnak played a level beneath that in 2013-14.
Montreal is up next, and there are only five more picks remaining before we shut it down for the night.
8:28 PM – The Preds took winger Kevin Fiala at No. 11 and the Coyotes followed with winger Brendan Perlini at No. 12. That’s seven wingers taken in the last eight picks, and likely to be eight of the last nine once the Caps make their choice at No. 13, assuming they keep the pick.
8:17 PM – The Ducks grabbed big winger Nick Ritchie at No. 11. Anaheim could have Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Corey Perry and Ritchie in its lineup in the not-too-distant future. Those four will be a handful for opposing coaches and defenses.
8:09 PM – Keeping with the theme of skilled wingers, the Jets go with Nikolaj Ehlers from the QMJHL. He has speed and skill in spades. Also, we’ve got the first big swap of the night: Nashville sends forwards Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling to Pittsburgh in exchange for James Neal. Neal had been rumored to be on the move, and there’s Jim Rutherford’s first big move as the Penguins’ new GM.
Neal has four years left on a deal that pays him $5 million a season and Hornqvist has four years left with a shorter cap hit. ($4.25 million). Spaling is one of those elusive bottom six guys the Pens have been lacking.
8:04 PM – William Nylander, son of ex-Caps center Michael Nylander, went to the Maple Leafs at No. 8. The two Nylanders played together in the Swedish league last season. Nylander is one of the most skilled players available in this draft, by most accounts.
7:58 PM – Carolina sent ex-Flyer Rod Brind’Amour up to make the Hurricanes’ pick at No. 7, to much applause. The Canes took Haydn Fleury, the second defenseman on everyone’s list this year. There will be some wild divergence on team’s lists vis a vis defensemen from here on out, and some teams could end up reaching for blueliners in a year in which there is a dearth of them.
7:51 PM – Jake Virtanen goes to the Canucks with the first of Vancouver’s two first-rounders. Carolina is up next. Possibility of Kasperi Kapanen – son of ex-Hurricane Sami – to go to the Hurricanes here. But if they want him, they could probably drop down a few slots and still snare him. Will be interesting to see where the first traded first-round pick takes place.
7:45 PM – The Islanders grab Oshawa left winger Michael Dal Colle here at No. 5. Canucks up next with the first of their two first-rounders here. First-year GM Jim Benning has been busy today. Teams looking to move up for “their guy” could target this pick, but more likely the Canucks go ahead and make the choice. They appear to be in rebuild mode, which is prudent given their overall age and the competition out west.
7:38 PM – New Calgary GM announces Sam Bennett as Flames’ first pick. Some had him at the top of their board, so good value for Flames here. First four picks went pretty much as expected. Things could start to diverge a bit from here on out.
7:33 PM -- Indeed, it was Draisatl to the Oilers. There are a lot of NHL bloodline picks in this draft, the first of which was Reinhart. But Draisatl’s dad played 20 years of pro hockey in Germany and played in three Olympics. Good pedigree there, albeit not of the NHL variety.
7:26 PM – The Sabres had their choice of three pretty good pivot prospects, and they’ve opted for Sam Reinhart. He’s the son of ex-Flame Paul Reinhart (and brother of previous years’ draftees Max and Griffin), so Calgary (sitting in the hole at No. 4 overall) is likely a bit downcast. Edmonton is up next, and the Oilers are believed to prefer Leon Draisaitl over Sam Bennett. We’ll see.
7:20 PM – Tallon with a little filibuster, then announces that the Panthers take Ekblad. He’s the first defenseman to go first overall since Erik Johnson in 2006. Likely looking at three straight centers coming up next, we’ll see what order they go in.
6:44 PM -- Back in 1970, defenseman Dale Tallon was the second overall choice of the Vancouver Canucks in the team’s first ever NHL Amateur Draft. Some 44 years later, Tallon is the GM of the Florida Panthers and his team holds the first overall pick in the 2014 NHL Draft. Tallon has made it known that he is willing to move that top choice, but he had yet to be overwhelmed by any of the offers for the pick. Sounds like that may be about to change.
Darren Dreger reported via Twitter that Canucks first-year GM Jim Benning – who has already made three significant swaps today – may be making a late push to obtain the first overall choice from the Cats. According to Dreger, the Canucks are believed to be offering the sixth and 24th picks in the 2014 draft as well as forward Hunter Shinkaruk, one of two first-round choices the Canucks made in the 2013 NHL Draft. The Canucks took Shinkaruk with the 24th overall choice, one pick after Washington grabbed left wing Andre Burakovsky.
Tallon was believed to be seeking a roster forward, a player who could step right in and help the Panthers in 2014-15. Whether Benning’s offer will be enough to get the deal done remains to be seen, but it will also be interesting to see what Benning plans on doing with that first overall choice. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad might be on Benning’s mind, but no defenseman has been taken first overall since 2006 (Erik Johnson). If the Canucks use the choice to take one of the trio of top centers available – Sam Bennett, Leon Draisaitl or Sam Reinhart – the Edmonton Oilers might get a crack at Ekblad. Edmonton is sitting at No. 3.
6:15 PM -- We're less than an hour from the start of the 2014 NHL draft here in Philadelphia. The Vancouver Canucks have been the big newsmakers here today so far; they've made three separate deals today in the hours leading up to the first pick, and some believe that first-year Canucks GM Jim Benning is gunning for the first overall choice, a pick currently held by the Florida Panthers. The first round of the draft will be held tonight and we'll be right back here tomorrow at 10 am for rounds 2-7.