NHL draft winners:
One N.Y. team makes out well, but the other doesn’t. Plus, why Detroit fans should cheer but those who like Carolina shouldn’t.
DALLAS – The Washington Capitals traded goalie Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Brooks Orpik to the Colorado Avalanche right before the draft began, allowing them to keep premium defenseman John Carlson.
The Capitals received a second-round pick in the deal, but the salary cap room created was far more important. Losing Orpik’s $5.5 million cap hit allowed them to sign potential unrestricted free agent Carlson two days later to an eight-year, $64 million contract.
Carlson’s $8 million cap hit ties him with the San Jose Sharks’ Brent Burns for second among league defensemen behind the Nashville Predators’ P.K. Subban ($9 million). Carson will be second on the Capitals behind Alex Ovechkin’s cap hit of $9.5 million-plus.
“I spent a lot of time with the guys in the room, most of them for my whole career,” Carlson told reporters on June 25. “There’s obviously a big friendship, and wanting to be around your friends is nice. … I love the city. I love being around here. It’s my home.”
Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan said it was difficult trading Grubauer and especially Orpik because they helped the team. “He’s been a big part of our culture change and a big part of the room,” he said of Orpik.
The Avalanche bought out Orpik. Would the Capitals bring him back at a reduced salary?
“It’s legal,” MacLellan said. “We are open to that.”
The Avalanche are thrilled with the deal. “We wanted to make sure with our young group we had two goalies that’ll make sure we have great goaltending for 82 games,” Colorado general manager Joe Sakic said.
Semyon Varlamov is Colorado’s No. 1 goalie, but Grubauer could challenge him for an equal share of playing time. Grubauer signed a three-year extension.
The Capitals and Avalanche were winners at the draft. Here are other winners and losers.
Loser: Montreal Canadiens. It feels as if we are all waiting for the Canadiens to make a difference-making move, it just never comes.
The consensus is the Arizona Coyotes were the early winner in the earlier Alex Galchenyuk-Max Domi swap, and it doesn’t feel as if we should celebrate Montreal’s decision to take Jesperi Kotkaniemi with the No. 3 pick.
Kotkaniemi is a quality center prospect, and the Canadiens need a center. But Filip Zadina seems like a more dynamic offensive player. When you factor in his flair and cockiness, it feels as if he was born to play in front of Montreal fans.
Winner: New York Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello. Owning the No. 11 and No. 12 picks in the draft, Lamoriello landed the second-best pure goal scorer in Oliver Wahlstrom and one of the top three available defensemen in Noah Dobson.
Loser: Fans. Several trades were expected and only two were transacted. This was projected to be an exciting draft, but the trade market was all talk and no action.
Winner: Detroit Red Wings general manager Ken Holland: With the No. 6 pick, the Red Wings landed Zadina, one of the most exciting offensive players in the draft. With the No. 30 pick, they landed Joe Veleno, a hardworking, highcharacter center who was projected to go much earlier.
Loser: Carolina Hurricanes. A mixed result. General manager Don Waddell planned to shake up his team by making trades but didn’t do it until Day 2. He acquired Dougie Hamilton and Micheal Ferland from the Calgary Flames, but he had to give up promising defenseman Noah Hanifin and forward Elias Lindholm. Jeff Skinner could draw greater interest in the trade market now that free agent Ilya Kovalchuk is off the market after signing with the Los Angeles Kings. Waddell did draft winger Andrei Svechnikov with the second overall pick. He will be a star.
Winner: Edmonton Oilers. They drafted Evan Bouchard at No. 9 to finally land the defenseman they have needed for several years. Bouchard might have the best point shot the team has had in a decade. He’s 6-2, and it’s not unthinkable that he could make the team and work in slowly.
Loser: New York Rangers. It feels as if they should have chosen Bouchard with the No. 9 pick. Nothing against Vitali Kravtsov, who might end up being a premium NHL forward, but Bouchard is going to be a top-pairing defenseman, and those are more difficult to find. The Rangers did make two other strong picks in K’Andre Miller and Nils Lundvist, both of whom will be listed among their top prospects.
The Capitals were able to re-sign John Carlson, left, after making a draft-day trade to clear cap space.