The Rangers decided to make a interesting move with their second pick of the first round. Before the Devils could make their third pick at number 21, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced a trade between the Flames and Rangers.
GM Jeff Gorton decided to trade the number 22 pick and number 72 in the third round to move up to number 19. While the TSN panel speculated on whether they’d take a center with Hendrix Lapierre sliding down the first round due to his concussion history, instead the Rangers took defenseman Braden Schneider. A surprise considering he’s a right shooting D.
Although I was initially disappointed due to the gap at center with Ryan Strome expected to be gone by tomorrow, when they showed the highlights of the big, physical 19-year old out of Prince Albert, Saskatoon, I was pleased. Schneider looks like the kind of rugged, in your face defenseman this team has needed. He’s spent the past four years honing his game for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League (WHL).
The Canadian plays a “two-way game” and isn’t shy about letting opponents know he’s there. In some aspect, this sounds like a do-over for Dylan McIlrath. The difference is Schneider is a better skater and is capable of playing the point on the power play. He can contribute offensively, putting up seven goals with 35 assists for 42 points in 60 games for the Wheat Kings in 2019-20. Schneider also finished with 42 penalty minutes and a plus-nine rating.
Predictably, the wise TSN panel including Craig Button knew some of our fans would be less than enthused about the Schneider pick because it takes longer to develop defensemen. However, I regret my first reaction. I’ve never seen him play. Once they showed the highlight package and spoke highly about him, my mood improved. In fact, the only thing I’m annoyed at is the ridiculous managing of Aaron Boone. The less said, the better.
I honestly think the Rangers organization had a inkling that the Devils could be targeting Schneider with their number 20 pick. Why? Because with plenty of good players left on the draft board, they went off it to select Russian defenseman Shakir Mukhamadullin of Ufa Salavat Yulayev in the KHL.
He sounds more like a good skating, offensive defenseman who plays power play. I’m sure the Devils like him, but probably were interested in Schneider to fill a void. We’ll see who turns out better in the future.
As for Lapierre, he fell to number 22 where the Capitals swung a second deal with Calgary, who were happy to gain more picks later to grab center Connor Zary two slots down at 24.
The Kings went for Quinton Byfield over Tim Stutzle following the Rangers’ consensus top pick of Alexis Lafreniere. Byfield made history by becoming the first black hockey player to go that high. Second overall in a great draft. Pretty memorable. Stutzle went to the Senators, who were happy to add the scoring German and then draft the first defenseman at number five by taking American born Jake Sanderson. The son of former NHLer Geoff Sanderson.
Anaheim followed suit by going defenseman as well by grabbing Canadian born Jamie Drysdale at six. With the seventh pick, the Devils chose Swede Alexander Holtz. A scoring right wing, who was extremely happy with his family following the selection. Jack Quinn was the eighth pick going to the Sabres. Rounding out the top 10 were center Marco Rossi (Wild) and center Cole Perfetti (Winnipeg).
At number 11 is where the very highly rated Russian goalie prospect Yaroslav Askarov wound up. The Predators were very happy to scoop up the future star, who drew favorable comparisons to Carey Price and even Devils legend Martin Brodeur. It’s rare for goaltenders to go this high. But Askarov is very good and should be the next franchise goalie in Nashville. He’s currently in his first full season playing for St. Petersburg SKA of the KHL. Unlike most goalies, Askarov catches right-handed and is very athletic.
He definitely sounded like a prospect that interested the Devils, Sabres and probably the Oilers, who didn’t pick until number 14. Other notable players who went high included Anton Lundell (No. 12, Panthers) and Seth Jarvis (No. 13, Hurricanes).
The Devils had a third pick in Round One. Their second one was forward Dawson Mercer of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens of the QMJHL. A right center at number 18.
That’s going to do it for this post. We’ll have much more news coming soon including the fate of former Ranger Henrik Lundqvist. It’s not a surprise.