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THN at the NHL Draft: A savvy opening day

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

OTTAWA – We’re fast and furious in the nation's capital now. Kyle Beach goes to Chicago in what will prove to be a popular choice for all those Hawks fans who miss the Norris Division.

Plus, Buffalo gets way bigger with 6-foot-7 rearguard Tyler Myers. Just for comedy’s sake, the Sabres need to do a photo shoot with Myers and 5-foot-5 dynamo Nathan Gerbe.

Los Angeles makes a real savvy pick-up with Colten Teubert at No. 13. The Regina Pats defenseman is a crusher of a player, so in a couple years the Kings can trot out a real mean twosome in Teubert and Jack Johnson. Add Drew Doughty to the mix and the Kings might finally have something here.

Carolina takes Zach Boychuk at No. 14. The Lethbridge Hurricanes star is short at 5-foot-9, but showed he can survive hostile Western League environments. Carolina’s skill-over-surliness philosophy seems to once again be in play here. Not that Boychuk is a pushover, but it’s the offense that will make him a good fit here.

This will be the last time I mention Tyler Myers’ height, but the Kelowna tower congratulated Boychuk in the media room, with the diminutive new Hurricane giving up ten inches in the process.

Ottawa gets a huge ovation at the podium with captain Daniel Alfredsson getting a rousing welcome from the fans. Alfie then proceeds to announce the selection of fellow Swede Erik Karlsson with the 15th pick. The roof didn’t exactly blow off with this announcement, but Karlsson is an offensively inclined defenseman and in case you haven’t noticed, the Sens aren’t exactly stocked with those.

Boston grabs Joe Colborne next at No. 16. The Bruins will definitely have to wait a couple seasons for this pick to pay off. Anaheim steals a bit of the Wild’s thunder by grabbing Minnesota high schooler Jake Gardiner.

The first goalie of the night goes, as Nashville nets Chet Pickard. With Dan Ellis and Pekke Rinne ahead of him, Pickard will have time to develop. The fact he played behind Carey Price in Tri-City isn’t the only reason the two will be compared; Pickard has the same size and build as his Habs counterpart and frequently chatted up Price during their time together.

Philly grabs Lethbridge-by-way-of-Switzerland defender Luca Sbisa. The fact Sbisa came over to play in the Dub when contracts back home are lucrative has been widely noted as a positive.

In the first truly puzzling pick of the day, the Rangers take offensive defenseman Michael Del Zotto. The Blueshirts already have a similar player in Bobby Sanguinetti coming up the pipeline and for Del Zotto’s sake, I hope New York brings him along slowly, because the Rangers faithful will get on him if his current defensive miscues follow him to the NHL.

And Washington follows with…Anton Gustafsson, just like our mock draft said! We called it, we called it! Well, once and awhile you get one right.

The rest of the first round featured many surprises. Minnesota did not take a local high school defenseman as was widely anticipated, instead drafting OHL blueliner Tyler Cuma. New Jersey followed with the un-Devils like Mattias Tedenby (he’s speedy with a lot of offensive gifts).

Calgary then countered by taking a Flames-type pick in power forward Greg Nemisz, while Buffalo went back to its small-is-deadly philosophy with Medicine Hat’s Tyler Ennis. I’m a big fan of this pick. Edmonton took undersized but dangerous Jordan Eberle from Regina, so obviously being able to hang in the Dub was a valued commodity this year.

Two other solid picks came right after: John Carlson to Washington and Viktor Tikhonov to Phoenix. Carlson will get the chance to learn a more physical game with the London Knights next year and with his power play skills, that will make him all the more complete. Tikhonov is a 20-year-old who played in the Russian Super League last season and could challenge for a roster spot sooner than later.

Atlanta picked up some much-needed skill in Daultan Leveille, though the Junior-B standout will take several years at Michigan State before he would be expected to crack the Thrashers roster.

The Red Wings ended the night by taking goaltender Thomas McCollum. Just because it’s Detroit, we have to assume this pick will be dynamite. In all seriousness, though, yeah, McCollum is a big goalie who plays a solid positional game. No doubt he’ll get his chance in a couple years when Chris Osgood gives up the mantle.

More on the draft when Day 2 commences.

The Hockey News will cover the NHL Entry Draft from all angles with live coverage and up-to-the-minute pick-by-pick updates on both June 20 and 21 in our Draft Central.

Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey's Young Guns and a regular contributor to His blog appears Wednesdays and his features, The Hot List and Year of the Ram, appear Tuesday and Thursday, respectively.

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