The first round of the NHL draft has come and gone. The intrigue at the top didn’t disappoint.
As expected, Auston Matthews went first to the Toronto Maple Leafs, while Patrik Laine went second to the Winnipeg Jets. Then, it got crazy.
With the third pick, many (myself included) expected the Blue Jackets to select Finland’s Jesse Puljujarvi. This is why we can never assume. The Blue Jackets made a pick, but selected Pierre-Luc Dubois. The crowd reaction in Buffalo was something to see and hear.
Just wow: Jackets take Pierre-Luc Dubois third overall. Holy mama
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) June 24, 2016
This doesn’t mean Columbus blew it, far from it actually. Dubois was a projected top-five pick all along, just many didn’t expect he’d go before Puljujarvi. According to GM Jarmo Kekalainen, Dubois was higher on their list and they got their guy.
So what else happened in Buffalo Friday night? I will now share one sentence thoughts on every prospect that heard their name called in round one. Think of this as first thoughts that came to mind with each pick. You can see the entire first round here.
30 Prospects, 30 Thoughts
- The Matthews/Jack Eichel rivalry is fantastic not only for Toronto and Buffalo, but for the entire NHL.
- The Winnipeg Jets landed the best prospect skills-wise in Laine.
- Dubois thrived at center during the second-half of the season in Cape Breton, which certainly helped the Blue Jackets decide this was their guy.
- Puljujarvi could play on Connor McDavid’s right, which is just filthy.
- The Canucks landed probably the safest pick in the draft in Olli Juolevi, after missing out on Dubois.
- Adding Matthew Tkachuk to a group that includes Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau only makes Calgary’s future brighter.
- Arizona became a big winner by drafting the ultra-talented Clayton Keller.
- If Eichel/Matthews is one thing, the Nylander brother rivalry with Buffalo/Toronto only enhances the rivalry more as Alexander Nylander joins the Sabres.
- The Canadiens landed an offensive force on defense by grabbing Mikhail Sergachev.
- Tyson Jost to Colorado a tad surprising given defensive need for the Avalanche, but still a very solid pick.
- Ottawa landed the big center they were looking for, and I mean big, in landing 6-foot-6 Logan Brown.
- The Devils needed offense in any and all forms, and landed one of the most intriguing prospects in Michael McLeod.
- If you have a need, and you need a D, who you gonna call? Carolina. Jake Bean gives Hurricanes major defensive depth.
- The Boston Bruins did the most Boston Bruins thing ever (not a bad thing here) by drafting BU’s Charlie McAvoy.
- The Wild needed a center at all costs and got one of the better ones in Luke Kunin.
- If landing Keller made Arizona a winner, landing Jakob Chychrun (!!!!) 9 picks after Keller makes them the clear winner of day one.
- Nashville loves drafting their defense, and get a quality puck mover in the process in adding Dante Fabbro.
- The Jets used their other first rounder and got a potential shutdown defender in 6-foot-7 Logan Stanley, aka Laine’s protector.
- The Islanders landed one of the better snipers in this draft by getting Kieffer Bellows.
- Landing Dennis Cholowski was nice for Detroit, but clearing cap space for a potential run at Steven Stamkos is jackpot as Datsyuk’s contract resides in the same place as Chris Pronger’s.
- The Hurricanes got excellent value in landing Julien Gauthier while addressing a major offensive need.
- The Flyers traded back and made the most of it by landing the rising German Rubtsov.
- I literally had to look at page two of my best available list to find Henrik Borgstrom, but after a little diving into the numbers, you can see why Florida selected him.
- Max Jones is the perfect fit for the Anaheim Ducks.
- We might not see Riley Tufte in the NHL for a few years, but he certainly has the tools to eventually make an impact.
- The Blues also needed a center, and got an intriguing one in Tage Thompson.
- While most of the focus with Tampa Bay was on Steven Stamkos, they landed a solid center prospect in Brett Howden, who many teams had in mind for the beginning of round two.
- The Washington Capitals added to the long list of defenders drafted from Kelowna by grabbing Lucas Johansen.
- The Bruins reached to grab Trent Frederic 29th overall, whom I had as a late second rounder.
- The Ducks got a Steel at the end of the first round, Sam Steel that is. He was on many radars early in day two.
Auston Matthews, Patrik Laine & Pierre-Luc Dubois went 1, 2, 3 in the 2016 #NHLDraft. Picks: https://t.co/8QUHGN6zhS pic.twitter.com/y98RJ2dYTA
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 25, 2016
Round two gets underway at 10am. There is a lot of great talent remaining, especially at the beginning of round two. Stay with the Hockey Writers all day as we will have wall-to-wall coverage of all the picks.