The 2009 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone and produced more surprises than most years even though there wasn't a ton of NHL player movement.
Of course the Chris Pronger trade at the beginning of the event was significant, Jay Bouwmeester's rights now belong to Calgary while Florida gets the rights to Jordan Leopold and Kyle Brodziak moved to Minnesota. Outside of that, the excitment of the weekend was definitely on the floor where mock drafts were destroyed with surprising regularity almost from the get-go.
There were a few people who though Oliver Ekman-Larsson could be a Top 10 pick, just as many who didn't, but as far as I know the only mock that had him going 6th overall to Phoenix was at Hockey's Future. I can't recall anyone that envisioned Scott Glennie going to Dallas at the number 8 spot either.
The fact that Brian Burke failed to move up and get either of his two much-publicized targets was as surprising to me as the player they chose - I saw Nazem Kadri ending up in Ottawa (as Bryan Murray clearly did) and was quite stunned to see him go to the Leafs instead.
Our TEAM 1260 panel consisting of Dean Millard, Wil Fraser and myself all liked the way Columbus was able to move back in the draft, get some more picks and then move back up to get defenceman John Moore who inexplicably dropped to 21. At the other end of the spectrum, we hated the decision from the Islanders to move up from 16 to 12 and grab Calvin De Haan, a player no scouting agency or media outlet had ranked in the top 20.
Flames fans ripped us after our interview with Tod Button because they thought we implied their blueline prospects were thin. (for the record, I like the defensive prospects Calgary has). I wonder how happy Calgary fans are after seeing their team take a defensive defenceman from Sweden instead of some of the offensive talents who were still available to them. Dean thought the fit of Landon Ferraro and Brent Sutter was a natural and I thought Carter Ashton fits Darryl Sutter's draft trends of late.
We were surprised that both Drew Shore and Jeremy Morin last well into the second round. Both US-NTDP players were considered 1st round level talents by everyone we spoke with. That said, we're also a little surprised that 13 teams passed on them again in round 2 before Florida and Atlanta scooped them up.
I felt that Finnish netminder Mikko Koskinen was a real wild card heading into the weekend but even I didn't think he'd be the first goalie taken in the draft. It wasn't a great year for netminders in general but I was still confused as to why guys like Mike Lee and Olivier Roy fell as far as they did.
The first Edmonton Oil King that went in the draft wasn't Tomas Vincour but Philip Samuelsson. The late round pick of Edmonton played in the USHL and is headed to Boston College in the fall but no one I spoke with felt he was a better prospect than Vincour who lasted until round 5 before Dallas grabbed him.
There were also a few players who didn't get drafted at all that I thought were worthy of selection. Saskatoon forward Burke Gallimore comes to mind and does Kelowna defenceman Collin Bowman. Cass Mappin in Red Deer is another.
Overall it was a fantastic draft for Sweden who saw 12 players go in the first 2 rounds. That's terrific for a country that not that long ago was struggling at events like the WJC. Now, after two consecutive silver medals and this break out year at the draft, there is little doubt that Sweden is back on top with the U.S. for non-Canadian hockey production.
Dean and I quickly went through the individual teams to see who stood out for us as winners for the entire weekend (and not just Round 1) and we both agreed that the list should include: Colorado, Atlanta, Anaheim, Florida, Detroit and Tampa Bay.
I want to take a minute and thank Wil Fraser and Robin Brownlee for getting the TEAM 1260's live draft coverage started yesterday before Dean and I moved in at 5 PM. Both guys provided great comments and some good laughs too through the first hour of the draft, it was a lot of fun. Dean and I were joined again by Wil later on in the event which gave our panel a solid trio of opinions. I also want to give a shout out to The Sports Doctor, Taylor Medak, who was pushing the buttons and answering all the phone calls for us from 2 PM until we finally decided to wrap it up a little after 11 PM.
We also chatted with Hockey Hall of Fame writer Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, who I was forced to apologize to on the air, and also A.J. Jacubec who is the voice of the Oil Kings (and president of the Carter Ashton fan club). Our pal Jimmy Connolly of USCHO.com also gave us a surprise call to vent his frustration with the lack of NCAA picks in the first round.
We recorded our entire NHL Draft Show and I will upload it so that you can go back and listen to our coverage (if you missed it live) and relive the event as it unfolded. Undoubtedly some of our comments and predictions are going to look rather silly now... but we take solace knowing that we're far from the only ones who were off the mark this year.
For the record, Dean went 24/30 on his mock and I went 25/30 on mine... not bad considering how much parity there was in prospects this year.