Corey Abbott

Experts Analysis

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East Conference Draft Review

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Don't forget to check out Ryan Dadoun's Western Conference analysis.

Boston Bruins - B+
The final piece of the Phil Kessel trade to Toronto saw the Stanley Cup champion Bruins select defenseman Dougie Hamilton with the ninth overall pick in the first round. He was projected to go slightly earlier in the draft, so Boston must have be thrilled to get him when they did. Once the 193-pound defender grows into his 6' 4" frame, he'll have a much easier time of handling the fast and physical NHL game. Hamilton already has the smarts, skill and skating ability to be a successful player at the pro level for a long time and he could be patrolling the blueline there in a year or two.

Buffalo Sabres - B+
The Sabres chose Finnish winger Joel Armia with their first-round selection, 16th overall, on Day 1 of the NHL Entry Draft. Armia is viewed as a pure goal scorer with plenty of size, which is typically a great combination. Buffalo also took speedster Daniel Catenacci with their second pick in the draft, which came in the third round. He won the Fastest Skater Competition at the 2011 Top Prospects game after registering a lap time of 14.017 seconds. The Sabres also completed a big trade on draft day when they acquired rugged shutdown rearguard Robyn Regehr, forward Ales Kotalik and a second rounder for Paul Byron and Chris Butler.

Carolina Hurricanes - B
Ryan Murphy dropped down to the Hurricanes with the 12th overall pick in the 2011 draft on Friday. His mobility and his scoring prowess are his best assets, but questions have arisen about his size and how well it will translate to the NHL against men. Murphy has flair with the puck and his power-play skills could make him a productive fantasy player. He also knows Calder Trophy winner and current Carolina forward Jeff Skinner from their days together in the OHL with Kitchener, which should help when he is ready to make the jump to the next level.

Florida Panthers - A
The Panthers made the most of their first two picks in the 2011 draft by selecting potential offensive studs in Jonathan Huberdeau and Rocco Grimaldi. Huberdeau, who was taken third overall, is a dynamic scorer with game-breaking talent. The 2011 Memorial Cup MVP has a shot to crack Florida's roster out of training camp this fall, but the team will not rush him into the NHL which could be a very smart move to further his development. Grimaldi is an undersized and gifted scorer, who is committed to play at the University of North Dakota next season. He has drawn comparisons to Tampa Bay's Martin St. Louis and if he can tap into some of that potential then the Panthers have a real steal on their hands with the 33rd overall choice in the draft. Florida also made a trade on Day 1 of the draft when they received Brian Campbell from the Chicago Blackhawks for Rostislav Olesz in a move that should help to stabilize their back end.

Montreal Canadiens - B
The Montreal Canadiens picked up Saint John blueliner Nathan Beaulieu with the 17th overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft. He projects to be a solid offensive defenseman in the NHL, who can move the puck very well. Beaulieu slipped slightly in the draft to land with Montreal and they clearly felt the need to add to their back end as five of their seven picks were spent on defensemen.

New Jersey Devils - A
The Devils were probably tickled pink when they stepped up to the podium to take Swedish defender Adam Larsson with the fourth overall pick. Many draft pundits had him going as high as first overall, so to have him fall into your lap at number four is a great moment for New Jersey. Larsson has played two full seasons for Skelleftea in the Swedish Elite League where he logged big minutes, which indicates he is ready to step into the NHL as soon as next year.

New York Islanders - B+
The Islanders are starting to build their way back into a competitive NHL franchise. They displayed glimpses of improvement through the course of the 2010-11 campaign and their organization has continued to progress through the draft. New York took Ryan Strome with the fifth overall pick in 2011 and they followed that selection up with defenseman Scott Mayfield with the 34th choice. Strome is a creative playmaker with a strong work ethic. He should provide the Islanders with another potential scoring threat alongside star center John Tavares when he makes the transition to NHL-level competition. Mayfield is committed to play for the University of Denver next season. He plays physical and is solid defensively, but needs more time to refine his game.

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Corey Abbott is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him Twitter @CoreAbbott.
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