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With the league-wide trade freeze lifted, a movement frenzy has commenced amid the welcoming of future stars at the 2017 NHL draft.
High-profile names were traded before and during the draft, but many questions were also answered near the top of the draft board on Day 1. The second day of the entry draft is usually quieter, but late-round picks could end up supplementing the major transactions and choices made on the previous night.
With that in mind, let us take a look at the television schedule for Day 2, along with the full selection list for the remainder of the draft, courtesy of NHL.com. The first-day results can also be found at NHL.com; continue along for a review of two of the Day 1’s top storylines.
NHL Draft 2017 Day 2 Schedule
When: Saturday, June 24, at 10 a.m. ET
Television: NHL Network
Nico or Nolan?
Speculation swirled for months around the first pick, but New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero appeared to finally settle on either dynamic Swiss center Nico Hischier of Halifax or Brandon’s big-body pivot Nolan Patrick coming into draft week.
“If I was on the clock right now?” Shero asked The Record‘s Tara Sullivan Monday on if he was ready to make the pick. “Yes, I do.
Reports surfaced in the weeks prior to the draft that the Devils could look to trade down from No. 1. Defensive depth in the prospect pipeline is a need for New Jersey, and Sportsnet NHL insider Elliotte Friedman reported rumors on June 13 that Shero could opt for either Miro Heiskanen or Cale Makar by trading down, so there appeared to be plenty of possible directions for the top pick.
However, Shero made it clear to Sullivan that he was not shopping his top pick, and he backed that up on Friday. For a Devils franchise that has missed the postseason five straight years following a Stanley Cup finals appearance, giving the fanbase a spark of excitement by keeping and using a No. 1 overall pick was the right call.
Hischier got the nod, becoming the first Swiss player to ever go No. 1 in an NHL draft, per Sportsnet:
Sportsnet Stats @SNstats
BREAKING #NJDevils Nico Hischier becomes the first Swiss player in history to be selected 1st overall in the #NHLDraft https://t.co/MfxgURGVzC
Hischier came over to North America for the first time, and he exploded onto the scene with 86 points in 57 games for the Mooseheads, pretty much single-handedly bringing the team to the QMJHL playoffs, where he had seven points in six games. At the World Junior championships, Hischier continued to shine, scoring two goals to nearly beat the gold-medal winning U.S. team by himself while recording seven points in five games against the world’s top young talent.
A dynamic skater, Hischier makes his teammates better with excellent passing and strong two-way play. TSN’s Craig Button (via NHL.com’s Mike Morreale), compared Hischier’s game to a future Hall of Famer, which he said gave him the edge over Patrick at the top of the draft.
“Just because he has a bit of an edge in dynamic ability,” Button said. “The comparison I’ve used for Hischier is Henrik Zetterberg, and the comparison for Patrick is Eric Staal. They’ve both won the Stanley Cup, were each captains of their teams and won international gold medals, so that shows you how close they are.”
Zetterberg is a strong comparison in the way Hischier plays at a high speed while being able to think the game quickly. He is also responsible in his own end, much like the Detroit Red Wings star, while still possessing game-breaking offensive skill.
New Jersey ranked in the bottom three in the NHL the last two years in scoring at roughly 2.20 goals per game, so the team needs this infusion of playmaking. Especially considering the Devils already have an elite winger in Taylor Hall, Hischier should fit in smoothly in New Jersey.
Quiet Night for Trades
After a flurry of trades during the expansion draft process followed by notable deals involving Artemi Panarin, Brandon Saad and Derek Stepan on Friday, it appeared the draft would be filled with high-end trades since all 31 general managers were sitting in the same room.
Yet, big names like Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche, Alex Galchenyuk of the Montreal Canadiens and Travis Hamonic of the New York Islanders remain untouched. After weeks of chatter that these three could be on the move, that has yet to materialize. TSN’s Pierre LeBrun reported later on Friday that a Duchene trade now does not appear imminent:
Pierre LeBrun @PierreVLeBrun
Just had similar convo with Sakic here at the draft. Avs GM says nothing close at all on Duchene, nothing that makes sense for the team https://t.co/gtYdnTPmR0
There were no trades involving a player until late in the first round. As a result, the draft moved at a rapid pace as team after team strolled on stage, selected a player and remained quiet. An event that could take five or six hours was over in just over three, which was as fast as NHL.com’s Tom Gulitti can ever remember it:
Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL
Whatever happens with this last pick (which reportedly will be traded), this has been the fastest first round I can remember in a long time.
St. Louis acquiring Brayden Schenn from the Philadelphia Flyers was the most notable transaction of the night, but the Blues paid a hefty price.
The team traded Jori Lehtera, who, despite being a solid player, is slightly overpaid with a $4.7 million cap hit while averaging 40 points in three seasons in St. Louis. However, the deal also included the No. 27 pick along with a conditional first-round selection next season, the conditions of which TSN’s Frank Seravalli described:
Frank Seravalli @frank_seravalli
Condition of STL 1st to PHI: If in Top 10 in ’18, STL can defer to ’19. If Top 10 in ’19, can defer to ’20, when PHI also gets a 3rd.
At just 25 years old, Schenn is a surefire top-six center who recorded 114 points over the last two seasons. He can play on St. Louis’ top power-play unit while being a point producer for a star player like Vladimir Tarasenko or an emerging talent like Robby Fabbri.
On a roster with Patrik Berglund and Paul Stastny, Tarasenko needs more skilled centers with offensive capabilities. Schenn can provide that, and he still has three years left on his contract at $5.125 million a year.
St. Louis has made the playoffs six straight seasons but have failed to get out of the Western Conference while only reaching the conference finals once. The team is still built to win now, and it could use a shake-up to find different results. Schenn became expendable with the Flyers drafting Patrick, but look for him to be an impact player with the Blues while Philadelphia develops Patrick behind star center Claude Giroux.
Similar or even blockbuster deals still could emerge on Day 2. With six rounds to sit through, general mangers will have time to think and talk, so do not be surprised if a major transaction goes down on Saturday.
Statistics are courtesy of NHL.com. Contract information is courtesy of CapFriendly.com.