The NHL season just ended with Chicago hoisting the Cup, but since the season was pushed back a bit because of the lockout, suddenly the 2013 NHL Draft was upon us on Sunday. For the first time in a while, the Edmonton Oilers weren’t picking first overall. Instead, the Colorado Avalanche, now with former legendary players Joe Sakic and Patrick Roy in key positions, got to choose first. There were a handful of names being bandied about as the potential top pick, there was no clear name like, say, when John Tavares was drafted, and there was also some talk that the Avalanche wanted to trade the pick. However, they didn’t end up doing that, instead taking center Nathan MacKinnon with the first overall selection.
MacKinnon played in the QMJHL this past season, where Roy was coaching, and he was the name that was connected with Colorado the most. They already have a few good centers in Colorado, but they figured MacKinnon was the best choice. This isn’t considered a reach or anything, so the pick makes sense. They just need to hope he pans out. Florida, choosing second overall, took Aleksander Barkov, a Finnish center. Centers are often popular picks near the top of the Draft. Jonathan Drouin, a winger who also played for Halifax, went third to Tampa Bay.
Seth Jones was the first defenseman taken, going fourth overall to Nashville. Jones is the son of former NBA player Popeye Jones, and he took up the game while living in Colorado while his dad played for the Nuggets, so I was kind of hoping the Avalanche would take him. Alas, that didn’t happen, but the Predators are a nice landing spot for him. The fifth overall pick was Elias Lindholm, a center out of Sweden. There were no goalies drafted in the first round. That is starting to become more common, perhaps because goalies tend to take a while to develop, so why not just take some big Scandinavian dude in the third round and give him a few years to learn the ropes?
However, the pick that garnered the most attention was the ninth overall selection. That’s because, while the pick originally belong to New Jersey, they traded it away to Vancouver in exchange for a goalie. That goaltender? Cory Schneider. That’s right, Schneider has been traded to the Devils.
We knew a goalie was going to be dealt out of Vancouver. The prevailing wisdom was that it would be Roberto Luongo, however. Luongo, after being the franchise guy for the Canucks, with the contract to match, was the backup to Schneider last season. Schneider is younger and cheaper. That also made him easier to trade. Getting somebody to take Luongo’s contract, especially after the new CBA, was going to be difficult. So, instead they traded Schneider for the ninth overall pick. Honestly, I think that’s a little light. They didn’t get ripped off or anything, but trading a 27-year-old goalie like Schneider for one ninth overall pick? They could have at least gotten a second rounder thrown in.
It might be kind of awkward in Vancouver, although they do have a new coach in John Tortorella. A coach who likes to air his grievances in the media. Luongo got jerked around a bit, and voiced his displeasure at it, but now he’s the guy again for the Canucks. However, he’s still a good player, although he wasn’t that good last season admittedly. He’s also getting up there in years. With the ninth pick, the Canucks drafted Bo Horvat, a forward. They’ll need him to be good.
As for Schneider, he’s now the heir apparent to Martin Brodeur in New Jersey. I guess it won’t be Johan Hedberg. Brodeur is under contract for one more season, and they may make him the starter out of loyalty, but Schneider should be starting for the Devils. I think they may end up splitting the role pretty evenly this season, with Schneider taking over next year. He’s shown quite a bit of promise in his career thus far, although he’s in his prime now so “showing promise” isn’t enough anymore. Still, I like this deal for the Devils.
The NHL offseason is now in full swing. Guys are getting bought out, like Vinny Lecavalier. Trades are happening. Free agency is around the bend. The Blackhawks’ names are still fresh on the Cup, but everybody is already focused on preparing to try and win it next season.