As always, it was an interesting, entertaining and at times frustrating NHL Entry Draft this year. Here's a quick rundown of the best 3 picks per round, in my humble opinion:
3 - Conner Bleackley - COL - 23 - There were three solid picks in a row with St. Louis grabbing Fabbri at 21 and the Penguins snapping up Kasperi Kapanen at 22 but the Bleackley pick for Colorado was a perfect pick for this organization. Bleackley has the makeup to fit in well with their young core and can play a variety of roles that will insulate their high end offensive players. He has great leadership potential and his maturity is very high already. Look for him to be an O'Reilly type player without as much headache for management. He gives them a lot of options moving forward.
2 - Josh Ho-Sang/Michael Dal Colle - NYI 28/5 - The Islanders got a great pickup with Dal Colle at number 5. He is a consistent and reliable player who is the type of players coaches trust. That pick gave them the ability to swing for the fences with Ho-Sang at pick 28. The ultra-speedy and insanely talented offensive producer had a lot of questions around his character and that scared teams away. The two picks together are a stroke of genius and a calculated risk that could prove to pay massive dividends down the line.
1 - Aaron Ekblad/Sam Reinhart - FLA/BUF - 1/2 - This feels almost like a cop out for me, but the fact that these two teams did not overthink these selections and took the two best players is huge for both organizations. With Ekblad the Panthers get a versatile all-situations defender who is not only a weapon but the type of commodity all teams covet and have a very difficult time finding. In Reinhart, the Sabres get a stable leader who will consistently make their team and the players around him better.
3 - Josh Jacobs - NJ - 41 - With Jon Merrill fitting in nicely to the Devils lineup, Jacobs fits a similar mould and gives them two incredibly exciting and versatile young defenders for years to come. In a few years, we may not to be able to tell them apart.
2 - Hunter Smith - CAL - 54 - An absolute monster who is just starting to understand his value, Smith will be a great fit to insulate some of Calgary's younger smaller and skilled forwards. He is tough, intimidating and has underrated hands around the net.
1 - Roland McKeown - LA - 50 - Snagging one of the top 5 defenders with the 50th pick could end up being the pick of the draft. LA pulled in some tremendous value with many picks in this draft but having McKeown fall to them here is almost obscene.
3 - Dominic Turgeon - DET - 63 - Son of Pierre, Dominic is a versatile player with great two-way potential. In terms of players with late bloomer potential Turgeon could be a great value pick at this point of this draft.
2 - Jack Glover - WIN - 69 - Big versatile defender could thrive around a player like Jacob Trouba. He was considered a top round candidate before the season start and although he struggled through the year, he finished strong and if he can continue to trend up, he'll
1 - Brayden Point - TB - 79 - Point is an incredibly intelligent playmaker who if not for his lack of size would have been on every team's first round wish list. At pick 79 Tampa Bay may have found themselves an incredible potential secondary offensive weapon.
3 - Ville Husso - STL - 94 - Anytime you are taking the first Finnish goalie of the draft, odds are it's a solid pick!
2 - De Leo - WIN - 99 - With Nic Petan already in the organizational fold, adding De Leo his Portland Winterhawk teammate allows the two to continue to work together and bring some comfort into camps and their quest to make it to the next level.
1 - Brent Moran - DAL - 115 - His long term potential is extremely high and the pick solidifies a very strong lineage of puck stoppers in their organization. They look set for the next 10-15 years in the crease with Lehtonen, Campbell, Desrosiers and now Moran.
3 - Daniel Audette - MTL - 147 - The kid has great ties in his home province and has tremendous skill. He's worth the risk at this point in the draft and could pan out very well for the Habs.
2 - Jaedon Descheneau - STL - 124 - Small but speedy, that seemed to be the theme of this round. He has the head and reaction time to succeed in fast pace environments. Some tie his success to Reinhart but he held the fort on his own while Reinhart represented Canada. He's a very underrated scoring forward.
1 - Anders Bjork - BOS - 146 - This kid has never received the credit he has deserved. He has great wheels and quick hands. He makes things happen on the ice and plays with great pace. He has excellent potential as he bulks up to be a capable secondary scoring threat at the next level.
3 - Adam Ollas Mattsson - CAL - 175 - A big bruising defender who has room to improve his technical skills, he's a bit slow footed right now but his feet aren't heavy, just not quick yet. Great use of a late pick on a long term prospect with very good upside.
2 - Chase Lang - MIN - 167 - Lang is a hidden gem in this draft. He was buried on a deep Calgary Hitmen team but showed significant improvement and poise as the season went on. He is a smooth player who has potential to put up big numbers as his WHL career continues.
1 - Jaden Lindo - PIT - 173 - This ranks among the best picks of the entire draft. Lindo gives the Penguins something they have been missing since letting Max Talbot walk away. He will play a role, add energy, consistency and positive leadership and could do so within 2 years.
3 - Spencer Watson - LA - 209 - The Kings had some very savvy picks in this draft and took some calculated gambles. Watson is just that, a calculated gamble who has great speed and skill but is on the smaller side which scared the rest of the league off.
2 - Kelly Summers - OTT - 189 - He has good size can skate and has produced offense at a torrid rate. He's a project who will likely go the college route and reappear on the scene 4-5 years from now as a legitimate prospect with PP distribution potential.
1 - Jacob Middleton - LA - 210 - Potentially the best pick of the entire draft and it just happened to be the very last one, the Kings hit it out of the park in rounds 2 and 7 and got two of the best versatile defenders out of the OHL significantly later than they should have. Middleton skates well and can play in a variety of roles. He is underrated tough as well. He will play in the NHL at some point.