Ryan Dadoun

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West Conference Draft Review

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The dust has settled on the 2011 NHL entry draft and it was certainly worth watching, not just for the draft itself, but for all the trades related to it. The festivities really started on Thursday when the Philadelphia Flyers decided to change the face of their team by sending Mike Richards and Jeff Carter to the Western Conference. You really can't separate the draft itself from the transactions that happen around it, so we'll grade the teams on the trades they made as well as the prospects they drafted.

Read Corey Abbott's Eastern Conference Analysis


Anaheim Ducks - B-

The Ducks traded the 22nd overall pick to Toronto for the 30th and 39th picks. They started off by selecting Rickard Rakell to cap off the first round. Rakell should develop into a great defensive forward, but he doesn't have a lot of offensive upside and he's consequently projected to be a bottom-six forward. However, Anaheim used the 39th overall pick on a player that could end up having a much greater impact on their organization: goaltender John Gibson. Gibson was arguably the best netminder available in this year's draft and although he will need some time to further develop while attending the University of Michigan, he might be the Ducks' starting goaltender someday.

Calgary Flames - B+

The Flames grabbed Sven Bartschi with the 13th overall pick. The Swiss native proved himself with the Portland Winterhawks by scoring 34 goals and 85 points in 66 regular season games before adding another 10 goals and 17 assists in 21 playoff contests. They also cleared up some much needed cap space by trading away Robyn Regehr and Ales Kotalik during the draft. With those two off the books, they had plenty of leeway to ink Alex Tanguay to a five-year contract.

Chicago Blackhawks - A+

The Blackhawks era of cap trouble may finally be over. While the draft was underway, they finally found a trade partner for Brian Campbell and his horrid $7.14 million annual cap hit. They also sent restricted free agent Troy Brouwer to Washington for the 26th overall pick. With two first round selections, Chicago took forwards Mark McNeill and Phillip Danault. McNeill projects to eventually be a good power forward at the NHL level while Danault is likely to become a second or third liner. It's also worth noting that they took Brandon Saad with the 43rd overall pick. He's a great two-way forward and although he still needs some work before he makes the jump to the NHL, he might prove to be a steal as a second rounder.

Colorado Avalanche - A

It's easy to look good when you get to pick 2nd and 11th overall. After Edmonton predictably took Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Avalanche decided to go with Gabriel Landeskog, who is regarded as the most NHL-ready prospect in this year's pool. Landeskog can do a bit of everything and he has the potential to develop into a great first liner. Colorado then used the 11th overall pick to take Duncan Siemens, who will need more seasoning than Landeskog, but Siemens could prove to be just as valuable someday. He has demonstrated plenty of offensive potential, but he's also physical. He should eventually become a blueliner that pleases both fantasy owners and his team.

Columbus Blue Jackets - A+

It might seem odd to award an 'A+' to a team that didn't even pick in the first round, but when you consider what they did with that pick, it's really not a stretch. They packaged the 8th overall selection with Jakub Voracek and a third rounder to get Jeff Carter from the Flyers. Carter is signed to a long-term contract at a very reasonable price - especially when you consider how high the salary cap has climbed recently. More importantly, he's the first line center that the Blue Jackets have always needed, to play alongside Rick Nash. Nash has shown that he's capable of producing alongside almost anyone, but Carter and Nash should be an explosive duo. They also selected Boone Jenner early in the second round. Jenner is generally regarded as a safe pick, but not the most offensively gifted out there.

Dallas Stars - B+

In Jamie Oleksiak, the Stars got one of the most interesting blueliners of the draft. He has an incredibly 6-foot-7, 244-pound frame and he's only 18. Oleksiak has already made the jump to the college level and although he hasn't done much offensively yet, he does have upside in that area. He's been compared favorably to Zdeno Chara. Not bad for a guy who slipped to 14th overall.

Detroit Red Wings - C+

The Red Wings didn't draft in the first round, instead opting to send the 24th pick to Ottawa for the 35th and 48th overall. The Senators used that pick to take Matt Puempel, who, despite being something of a risk, could prove to be quite a steal for a late first rounder. Conversely, Detroit took Tomas Jurco with the 35th overall pick, who has both speed and stickhandling abilities, but has some consistency issues. Detroit also took blueliner Xavier Ouellet, who had eight goals and 43 points in 67 QMJHL contests to round out the trade.

Edmonton Oilers - A-

For the second straight year the Edmonton Oilers had the first overall pick and while it's hard to go wrong with that, I do have to question their decision a little. They took Ryan Nugent-Hopkins with the top selection and he's likely to please the Oilers fans. We've become accustomed to seeing first overall picks step into the NHL immediately and while that might not be the case for Nugent-Hopkins, we could see him making an impact in one or two years. That being said, a blueliner like Adam Larsson would have made more sense for Edmonton, given their system. Edmonton also had the 19th overall pick and they did use it to grab blueliner Oscar Klefbom, who captained Team Sweden in the World Under-18 Championship and helped them win a silver medal.

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Ryan Dadoun is an Associate Editor for Hockey on Rotoworld. Feel free to follow him on Twitter or check out his blog.
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