The 2010 NHL Draft this year in Los Angeles, California was anything but a numbers game. Some of the top ranked players saw their stock plummet from a first round guarantee to a second or third round afterthought and nearly all of us hockey nerds lost our draft pools. After the 1-2 picks of Taylor and Tyler that we all knew going in, the picks were all over the map, proving that a draft selection is every bit as complicated as choosing a lifemate. Because despite the fact that many players look good on paper, there’s always that search for that elusive quality, that feeling.
It was hard not to feel the love for Taylor, Tyler and the top-ranked Gudbranson, Johansen, and Nino Neiderreiter. Feeling the chill were Cam Fowler (the third ranked player going into this first round, a surprise pick at number 12), Emerson Etem (a lonely 29), Tyler Pitlick (who stayed around until the third round) and Maxim Kitsyn sticking around so long that there were rumours that he may have signed with the KHL in the interim.
Edmonton got the crown jewel of this draft pick by getting a star in Taylor Hall, but that doesn’t mean that they had the best day. The real winners of this draft were the New York Islanders, the Anaheim Ducks, and the Florida Panthers, who have all given their rosters a major makeover loaded with potential. The New York Islanders got a steal in Nino Neidereitter, the Swiss sensation who carried his team in the World Juniors. The Anaheim Ducks may have gotten the steals of the draft in Cam Fowler and Emerson Etem, picking up a quality defenseman and a speedy Centre. Despite all of the booing that occurred from the L.A. fans every time the Anaheim Ducks were called to make their picks, Anaheim gave their fans a lot to cheer about with their smart selections.
The Florida Panthers may be an entirely different team; it may take them a few years to get there, but they did a lot of forward thinking with their picks. Picking up Erik Gudbranson, Nick Bjugstad, Quinton Howden, and John McFarland. Florida’s motto of the day was to pick smart and pick often. Gudbranson is a gritty and strong defenseman, Bjugstad’s a two-way forward who will get bigger and more consistent with time, and McFarland and Howden may have the potential to play together on a line, with McFarland leading a powerful charge and Howden picking him up near the line. It may take another few seasons, but there may be a reason to care about hockey in Florida, and not just for the growing number of retiring Canadian snowbirds migrating over during the hard winter months.
With Steve Yzerman taking over for the Tampa Bay Lightning, there are high hopes for this team’s future and with good reason. There’s very little that Stevie Y can’t do when it comes to the world of hockey. Even so, taking a first round chance on the injury-prone Brett Connolly was something of a surprise. He definitely has the potential to put up some great numbers, but with one troubled hip and another overcompensating hip, you have to wonder if hips do lie (and yes, that is a reference to Shakira).
Dallas knows that Turco’s number one days are pretty much over, so they made a smart choice in Jack Campbell, the US goaltender with a golden medal to prove his stock. Detroit made some judicious choices as well, picking up Riley Sheahan and Calle Jarnkrok, adding two more strong Centremen onto their dangerous offensive lines.
This 2010 draft was a deep draft, steeped in talent and there were very few bad choices in this list. The only bad choice to be made in this group of speedy, strong and young talents was to not choose at all, something the Ottawa Senators did when they sacrificed their first round pick at number 16 in favour of a trade (more on the Senators draft day in a follow up article). This is a promising group of players coming into the NHL and they’re going to make next season very interesting. The Taylor/Tyler debate won’t end with draft day either. As the season revs up, everyone will be watching these two superstars numbers like stockbrokers eying the TSX. The puck hasn’t dropped yet in either Edmonton or Boston, but I still say the real deal is Taylor Hall. Let’s hope that Edmonton can keep up with him.
About the Author
Written by Mika Oehling
Office worker and sports nerd. Cannot play a professional sport to save my life, but love to write. Prone to rants, raves, snarky humour and caustic commentary. My team's the Ottawa Senators. Author of Armchair Hockey, a work of humourous fiction released this year and available for sale online at Chapters and Amazon.