Central Division Draft Grades: Stars, Blues earn top marks
The 2017 NHL Draft has come and gone, and all 31 teams are exiting Chicago with varying degrees of satisfaction in regards to their respective hauls.
Here's our take on the teams in the Central Division:
The Blackhawks traded down in the first round, giving up the 26th pick only to land a highly touted young defenseman in Henri Jokiharju at 29 and make a bit of a reach for forward Andrei Altybarmakyan at 70.
Forward Tim Soderlund was a nice get at his position, and we'll give Chicago a bit of a bump for being good hosts, but this isn't an overwhelming harvest.
After falling hard in the draft lottery following a historically awful season, the Avalanche did well to select a stud on the blue line in Cale Makar. They further bolstered their defensive prospects with Conor Timmins, and landed a potential steal in Denis Smirnov late in the selection process.
They didn't reel in one of the biggest fish at forward, and there's a lot of work left to do with this roster, but this is a decent start.
In selecting Miro Heiskanen and Jake Oettinger in the opening round, the Stars may have drafted the best available defenseman and goaltender. Jason Robertson was also seen as having first-round potential.
That trio is enough to leave general manager Jim Nill feeling good about his weekend's work.
The Wild had to wait until Saturday to make a selection after having previously traded their first- and second-round picks.
It obviously gets more difficult to grade choices in later rounds, but Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune notes that Minnesota seemed to have a clear plan: "Take as much skill as you can, no matter the player's size, and then develop them." It'll be a while until we see how that plays out.
Despite having the second-last pick in the opening round, the Predators were gifted forward Eeli Tolvanen, who many expected to go much higher. Nashville also appears to have closed things out with a bang.
David Farrance could also be another Predators special on the blue line. They always seem to find the good ones.
St. Louis Blues
Decent swap, we'd say.
From there, St. Louis used three of its four Day 2 picks on defensemen, but either way, the first-round magic gives the Blues a big boost.
The Jets picked later in the opening round than projected after sending their original pick to Vegas in order to protect Toby Enstrom in expansion. They ended up with Kristian Vesalainen, who could be a great fit alongside Patrik Laine.
Winnipeg landed two promising defensemen in Dylan Samberg and Johnny Kovacevic from that point on, with the rest of the crop falling into crapshoot territory.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)
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