The NHL held its annual amateur draft in Dallas at the American Airlines Arena Friday night.
The New York Rangers, who seemingly always trade away their first round picks, had three picks in Round 1 including the ninth overall where they selected Russian right wing Vitali Kravtsov.
The Rangers are in a rebuild right now and played it safe with the pick, continuing to stock pile young studs in hopes of a future payoff down the road. They also picked 22nd and chose K’Andre Miller, an American born defensemen. The blueshirts finished off their first round trifecta by taking Nils Lundkvist, another defensemen from Sweden. Spelled differently from the most famous Ranger Swede, Henrik Lundqvist.
Second generation NHLer Brady Tkachuk was taken fourth overall by the Ottawa Senators, and was the first American taken in this draft. His Father Keith played for almost 2 decades and is in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
The first three picks all went pretty much as expected with the Buffalo Sabres taking defensemen Rasmus Dahlin from Sweden. The second pick went to the Carolina Hurricanes and they selected Andrei Svechnikov, a speedy winger from Barrie of the OHL. Montreal picked third and often set their sights on a Canadian player, but they went against the grain with Jesperi Kotkaniemi, a center from Finland.
Before the night officially began, the Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals traded veteran defensemen Brooks Orpik and goaltending prospect Philipp Grubauer to Colorado for a second round pick. The deal was mostly a financial one for the Caps as it cleared Orpik’s 5.5 million dollar salary off the books.
In other non-draft related hockey news, rumors were abound about Islander superstar potential unrestricted free agent John Tavares. With a new GM and Coach in tow on Long Island, the odds of Tavares staying put and not testing the free agent waters just went up, and they may be offering him a monster deal as early as this coming week. It may take offering Tavares the biggest contract in league history to get him to stay. The money and the current new commitment to bring nothing but the best to make Islander hockey great again might convince the Canadian born Tavares to stay put.