#1 - Curious minds may inquire as to what a real good rebuild looks like. Check out what the Dallas Stars accomplished after their second season of narrowly missing the Western Conference playoffs. After failing to trade Brad Richards two seasons ago, the Stars weren’t going to make a similar mistake with Mike Ribeiro.
Ribeiro had one year left on his 5-year, $25M deal and the Stars sold him while he still had some value, to the Washington Capitals for Cody Eakin and a pick, as a deal that was upstaged by the Jordan Staal deal on Friday.
After securing Eakin, who is a very good two-way winger and was the best player in his WHL graduation class last season, they selected another two-way Canadian Hockey League forward with their first round pick: Radek Faksa, who was available at number 13.
I’m not based in Ontario, so I can’t give any information about Faksa that isn’t second hand (this post by Justin killed it, however), but what I’ve picked up, and confirmed by a few TV viewings (this is the worst way to scout talent, for the record) but he does all the things a centreman does that I like. He played the tough minutes, took face-offs, killed penalties, and was used as primarily a defensive forward. His offensive upside is limited, but he’s a pretty low-risk player who will see NHL minutes in the next two seasons.
The Stars add Faksa and Eakin to an already impressive young corps. They were also made cheaper with the removal of the Ribeiro deal, allowing the team to focus on its current stars in Loui Eriksson and Jamie Benn, whom I’ve already discussed in some detail here. They could be a team to watch when the NHL next drops the puck.
#2 - The consensus draft winners on press row were the Montreal Canadiens, who either made out like bandits, or who simply rank their draft picks based on Central Scouting and other amalgamated services, which means something has gone horribly, horribly wrong.
First pick, third overall Alex Galchenyuk was pretty well as expected. Sebastian Collberg, who was ranked just below the top-tiered forward prospects, was available at #33. Another player projected to go in the first round, defenceman Dalton Thrower, the 200-lb Saskatoon Blade with some offensive upside, was available at 51, a pick acquired by the Habs in the Hal Gill trade.
In round three, the Habs found offensively-gifted Tim Bozon, a Kamloops Blazer who scored a point-a-game, playing on the second line of a very good team. Gems who were ranked quite high at first, or high-scoring forwards who had dipped for some reason were snagged by rookie general manager Marc Bergevin at a regular pace.
But the Habs may saved their most intriguing selection for the fifth round. With the 122nd overall pick, Montreal selected a 5’10″, 170 centreman from the Chicoutimi Saguenéens named Charles Hudon. Via Buzzing the Net:
Hudon will likely be a third- to fifth-round choice on Saturday, which is his 18th birthday. One red flag is he didn’t increase his points from his rookie to sophomore season, going from 60 to 66. But he was a leader for the President’s Cup runner-up Saguenéens and his team had one of highest strengths of schedule in the Quebec League, thanks to playing in the loaded Telus East Division, which accounted for three-fourths of the league’s semifinalists and the Memorial Cup champion.
Players who are younger and selected in the later rounds, we’ve found are more likely to surprise as NHL players. Against tough teams, Hudon was a point-a-game player in the QMJHL last season, and, like Bozon, an added bonus is that he speaks French.
#3 - I like Detroit’s seemingly endless ability to draft players in the late rounds that I really like going into the draft. Recent examples include Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco, two players who are very much on a crash course with the National Hockey League. They had dealt away their first this year, but landed on Martin Frk with the 49th overall pick, a player who was highly ranked in the 2012 class around the end of last season.
In the fourth round, the Red Wings used their pick on speedy, skilled Andreas Athanasiou. Nobody denies Athanasiou’s talent, but he had a difficult time picking up minutes in Mark Hunter’s London Knight’s system. Part of the problem was a concern about character. Apparently he’s a real tough guy to play and coach, but with the patience exhibited by the Wings’ system, he’s potentially a guy who will turn some heads once they’ve knocked some NHL sense into him.
#4 - The most intriguing pick of the draft was when the Pittsburgh Penguins used their 173rd selection on Anton Zlobin. It sounds odd to take an older player in the Entry Draft, but this was a pretty old field due to a relatively weak 2012 class. Zlobin didn’t only lead his junior team in scoring this season: he crushed the rest of the field, with 40 goals and 76 points, well above his teammates’ second best 30 and 63, respectively.
Zlobin was passed over, probably incorrectly, in 2011 and he responded with a terrific campaign. However, thanks to the presence of the more familiar, spotlight-loving Kirill Kabanov, Zlobin never got a fair shake in Shawinigan, the team not even bothering to sell his jerseys throughout the concourse.
Zlobin’s Cataractes won the Memorial Cup this season, on an Overtime goal scored by Zlobin. Shawinigan is rebuilding this summer, however, and he was traded out of town for a song. He has a very interesting story.