Draft Recap: Matt Murray picked first

The Season 8 EURO Draft is complete and a few teams picked up players that should make the starting lineup a couple of weeks from now. Here’s a team-by-team look, sorted from the first pick on down. This story will be updated, but on no specific schedule.

OSLO – The Outlaws jumped over four teams into the first overall spot and they nabbed 22-year-old Matt Murray, a goalie with a 93 PO rating, which by the way, is the highest in the league among goalies. Not long after that pick, General Manager Chris Lee emphatically declared Murray the team’s main man in goal. He didn’t do so in words, but rather in a trade that sent 30-year-old starter Semyon Varlamov to St. Petersburg in exchange for veteran goalie Kari Lehtonen and promising power forward and sniper Anthony Mantha, 23. Lehtonen, 35 and on the final year of a Type 3 contract, will share the net with Murray this season and basically be the tutor for the young goalie from Thunder Bay, Ont. The pieces Olso has added in recent drafts are simply gems. Shayne Gostisbehere was selected fourth overall last season and was a runaway winner of the Rookie of the Year Trophy. The season before, they gambled on a future superstar who everyone knew would miss many games in his Websim attributes season due to injury and took Connor McDavid second overall. A round later, they grabbed Zach Werenski, who played well enough in the NHL to earn a 94 PO rating in Websim. In Season 5, it was defensive defenseman Viktor Antipin first overall. In the second round of the Season 8 draft, Oslo selected a big banging winger in Josh Anderson, 22, who won’t play too differently from the way Mantha does, although Anderson is more aggressive and Mantha has a better shot. As the depth chart stands right now, Mantha has a good chance of playing regularly for the Outlaws, perhaps as a winger for either McDavid or Tyler Seguin. Anderson could also make the team, depending on what the team decides to do with veterans Tyler Kennedy and Andrew Shaw. In the final round of the draft, Oslo went with Connor Timmins, a puck-moving defenseman who showed tremendous improvement over the last two seasons with Sault Ste. Marie in the Ontario Hockey League. He will be groomed in the NHL with Colorado before he is promoted to Oslo to join Gostisbehere, Werenski, Antipin and Morgan Rielly on the Outlaw blue line.

BERN – Fans in the Central Swiss city of Bern could not possibly be happier with Interrail General Manager Paja Jansson after he selected Nico Hischier with the number 2 pick in the draft. Nico, from the Naters region of Switzerland, only had to make an hour-and-15-minute drive north to get to Bern, and he has all the promise to help the team go north in the standings. Scouts say the 6-1 teen-ager has all the tools to be a star in the league, but Interrail fans will have to wait at least a season for him to get enough experience to get onto the ice surface in Bern to try his moves against the likes of Dustin Byfuglien, Alex Pietrangelo and Drew Doughty. With his picks in the second and third rounds, Jansson stocked the defense shelf by drafting Swede Timothy Liljegren and then Jake Dotchin. Liljegren is a highly-touted offensive defensemen and again, fans will have to wait a couple of seasons before they get to see the Liljegren-to-Hischier headman passes. Dotchin was plucked from the NHL Tampa Bay team. He acquitted himself well in 54 games with the Lightning and although he didn’t score a goal, he managed 17 assists and is pretty well-known for being the recipient of a Brad Marchand spear to the groin in the playoffs. Dotchin is unlikely to break into the Interrail lineup for a couple of years.

LONDON – The London franchise changed their name to the Saracens in the off season and selected a talented offensive forward from the USA third overall. Jake Guentzel isn’t big but he is industrious and capable of scoring 30 goals as a rookie. But to do that he will have to first make the Saracens lineup, and second, stay healthy and that will be difficult with a 50 durability rating. He can score points but the question is will he have to wait for a chance? Coach Darryl Sutter has lots of race horses to trot up to the starting gate including a left wing group that includes Guentzel, Taylor Hall, Brandon Saad, Anders Lee, Jason Zucker and William Nylander. They can’t all play and Sutter may consider some position changes to accommodate them. In the second and third rounds, London went with prospects Martin Necas, a skilled Czech forward with good size and Finnish defenseman Urho Vaakanainen, who can move the puck and pass very well.

EDINBURGH – The Capitals picked up four players in the draft and the first one they took will be a really good one. Nolan Patrick, a 6-2 center/right wing, will cut his teeth with the NHL’s Philadelphia Flyers and Edinburgh GM John Charles will be watching closely, hoping the Flyers put him in a position to get great Websim attributes. Patrick is viewed as a complete package, with hockey sense, competitiveness, skill, skating ability and size. Edinburgh fans hope he will pass Scott Conway on the depth chart as the team’s most promising center. Or maybe second-round pick Shane Bowers will do that. Bowers, just 17,  is in the Ottawa Senators organization and it will be some time before he makes his first trip to Scotland, but he has potential and Charles will be keeping a wary eye on him in the NHL too. Jimmy Vesey was the last player taken in the second round, and he joins a relatively crowded left wing in Edinburgh. He has great size and skill, but probably hurt his Websim career a bit with just an average first year with the New York Rangers. He will play for Edinburgh, but not this season. Shea Theodore was taken in the third round, and he will have to improve steadily if he wants to see quality time in the league.

PRAGUE – Sparta picked three times in the first 28 picks and once after that. Miro Heiskanen, viewed by most as the best defenseman available in the NHL draft will move from Finland to Dallas this year and perhaps to the Czech Republic in a season or two. He is 6-1 and plays a well-rounded game. Prague already had promising defense prospects in Mikhail Sergachev and Dennis Cholowski, so they could have a nice influx on reinforcements during Season 10 or 11 to join Vladimir Roth and Robin Grossman on the blue line. Big centerman Michael Rasmussen came to Prague with a late first-round pick and he is also a prospect who will have to play in the NHL to earn his Websim attributes. He starts out at 6-5, so expect him to have a good ST rating. When he is up with the big team, he will be joined on the depth chart at center by Devin Shore, who Sparta drafted five picks later, and Klim Kostin, who was drafted by Berlin between Rasmussen and Shore and later acquired in a trade. Ryan Dzingel was drafted near the top of the third round and if Prague doesn’t shift player positions and they don’t do well in free agency, he could see playing time this season.

ZURICH – The Lions picked a couple of players who will help them next season if not this season. Brayden Point can dangle and he was selected sixth overall by Zurich. There is a chance three centers on this team won’t be there because Patrice Bergeron, Jussi Jokinen and Brad Richards all are without contracts. It will be good to have talent, albeit inexperienced talent available if the three veterans can’t be resigned. Regardless, Point has more potential than any Lion center, so he will get beaucoup ice time in his career. Derek Forbort, 24, a big tree of a defenseman, was one of the most ready-to-play draft picks in the draft and when Zurich took him in the second, he grabbed onto the 13th rung on the depth chart at defense. He will climb the ladder, however, and should be a 5 or 6 defenseman on this team for a long time. Matt Benning, taken a round later, has better offensive skills, but he should stay right behind Forbort on the Zurich depth chart throughout their careers. With Charlie McAvoy also in the Lions system, GM Dennis Sullo will have a surplus at defense at some point, which is a very good problem to have.

GENEVA – Perhaps shooting for more balance, the Generals picked a forward who is good at defense and a defenseman who excels at offense before making a sneaky-good pick in the third round. Connor Brown, 22, is a hard-working, honest player who might start off his career by chipping in 15 or 20 goals. He will probably never be a big-time goal scorer, but he will be one of the most valuable defensive wingers in the league at his peak. When Troy Stecher, 22, breaks into the league, Generals Coach Brent Sutter might want to hide him on the last defense duo and pull him out for powerplays. Passing is his forte; defensive work is not, although he might eventually being a nice complement to stay-at-home defenseman Brandon Carlo, who is another future starter on the Lions blue line. In the third round, GM Andy Rolling selected right wing Tyler Pitlick, who may lack puck-handling skills but is not terrible at anything. A projected fourth-liner, Pitlick, 25, is capable of crowding the opposition’s net and poking in the occasional goal.

ST. PETERSBURG – Juuse Saros won’t have to travel too far, relatively speaking, to get from his home in Forssa, Finland, to St. Petersburg. And he will find a compatriot in St. Pete when he gets there because last season, Patrik Laine made almost the identical trip. The two grew up less than 100 kilometers from each other. Along with his suitcases, Saros will be bringing along a huge part of the Krassnyye Zvezdy’s future. At just 21 and with Semyon Varlamov already in place, Saros will be given time to develop in the minor leagues, but the relatively little goalie projects to be a long-time starter in the league. Saros was a good first-round haul for General Manager Ben Stuller, who rolled the dice in the second round, selecting former Erie Otter point-generator Taylor Raddysh. Stuller sent the winger to Tampa in the NHL to start his learning process. They hope he is a quick learner because the only young right wings in the whole system are Laine and Raddysh. In the bottom third of the third round, Stuller went with another goalie – Michigan native Tyler Parsons. Parsons will play in the NHL for the Calgary Flames and he posted a nice 92.5 save percentage in the OHL last season. Someday, he and Saros will be pushing each other in practices in Petrograd.

DUBLIN – Fighting Irish GM Gayle Rock practiced patience in the draft, taking two attributes-less prospects. In the first round, she picked Swedish forward Elias Pettersson, who scouts describe as a crafty, all-around forward. In the NHL draft, he went fifth overall to the Canucks and Rock hopes he spends his off hours following the JapaDog food truck around and topping it off with heaping helpings of salmon candy, because he’ll need to pack on some weight before he makes his EURO debut. But to be sure, once he gets into the lineup in Dublin, he will be very hard to remove. Pettersson will be able to play in all situations. In the third round, Rock went with a Finnish manchild who already has EURO size. Kristian Vesalainen, 18, is 6-3, 210, he hits like a Brock Nelson, and he scored nearly a point-a-game in a top league for Under-20s. Vesalainen slipped a little further in the NHL draft than a lot of experts expected, going 24th to Winnipeg.

MUNICH – There’s a new sheriff in Bavaria and General Manager Eli Broad has already begun the team’s facelift, shedding the dark, brooding Dire Wolf theme for a colorful Red Bull feel. In the draft, Broad concentrated on the blueline, picking up three defensemen in rounds 1 and 2 and then a grinding winger in the third. Cale Makar was definitely the biggest mystery of the NHL draft in June because he totally dominated in the little-known AJHL League with the Brooks Bandits. Scouts marveled at the way he plays labeling him as a pure player. The Colorado Avalanche staff liked him enough to select him fourth overall and Broad made him the 10th pick in the EURO draft. Juuso Valimaki became a teammate of Makar when Broad picked him in the second round. If you go by numbers alone, then there is no way Valimaki should have been available at 34th overall. The 18-year-old is already 6-2, 212, and he racked up 61 points in 60 games as a defenseman last season with the Tri-City Americans in the Western Hockey League. Included in his point total were 19 goals, so you know he can fire away. Makar and Valimaki will have to have good rookie seasons in the NHL to make these good picks for Broad. If the lag, then their Websim attributes will be lower and they will be stuck with them their whole EURO careers. Nikita Zaitsev, picked later in the second round, is ready to skate in the Munich lineup today. On the current depth chart, he is 6th among 11 blueliners. It will probably come down to the rookie or young veteran John Moore for that last starting spot on the team. Zaitsev is durable, likes to check, and he is the best passer among the defense corps.  In the final round of the draft, Munich took Scott Wilson, a prototypical fourth-line forward who offers some hustle and grit and not a lot more.

STOCKHOLM – Two young Americans with no experience are in the running for the sixth and final defense position on the Eagles right now. Ryan Gunderson was alone in that sentence until pick number 11 rolled around in the draft. That’s when GM Michael Sauer announced that Stockholm would be drafting Brady Skjei. The two young men are about  equal in value at this point, but they look and play quite different. Gunderson, of Pennsylvania, is small and he can flat-out fly on skates. He thinks defense first. Skjei, of Minnesota, has good size, is feisty and can really move the puck deftly up the ice but he has some learning to do in his own end. Five decidedly better defensemen are currently signed and above them on the depth chart. With his final two picks in the draft, both in the third round, Sauer put on his gambler hat and went with slick, offense-minded Aleksi Heponiemi, a Finn who played in the WHL last year, and then goalie Carter Hart, who also played in the WHL and managed a 92.7 save percentage last year. Both are long-term projects in Stockholm and when they will challenge for a spot on the big club is anyone’s guess. Hart looks to be behind 24-year-old Louis Domingue on the three-goalie depth chart, while Heponiemi might be looking up at Jack Eichel, Curtis Lazar, Sam Steel and Sakari Salminen for much of his career unless changes to the depth chart occur.

MOSCOW Moscow opted for prospects over attributes in Rounds one and two of the draft. A good hockey brain is what young Cody Glass is known  for, but he’s got hands and legs too. He scored 32 goals and 94 points with Portland in the WHL last year and Moscow is hoping he takes the top center job from Ryan O’Reilly, 27, once his skills degrade with age. Likewise, Jake Oettinger of Boston University was taken in the second round as a prospect gamble and he could be a replacement for 27-year-old Alexander Salak some day. The only other goalie in the Moscow system right now is 35-year-old Viktow Fasth, so look for a free agent or two to bridge the gap between Salak and Oettinger. In the third round, General Manager Ron Lavallee took another forward with good hockey sense in Tanner Kero. The former Chicago Black Hawk will never be a scorer in this league, but he will be good at checking opposition centers.

COPENHAGEN – Gabe Vilardi was selected in the 11th round of the NHL draft by Los Angeles, but many scouts had him going much earlier than that. Martin Sayle happily grabbed him 13th overall in the EURO League. An expert at shielding the puck and keeping possession, Vilardi will be a two-way forward and he’ll never be the top forward on Copenhagen as long as Auston Matthews is there. A few years from now, however, along with Matthews and Michael McLeod, the Tridents could have three top-level centers, but that all depends on what attributes the latter two get. In the second round, Sayle selected forward Zach Hyman whose specialty is playing hard and annoying opposing goalies by buzzing the net as – or after – they are making saves. Hyman is currently fifth on the depth chart on right wing in Copenhagen but he will surely play in the EURO League for several years. In the third round, Copenhagen picked twice, grabbing a nifty Swedish point producer in Jonathan Dahlen and then meaty Russian Anton Slepyshev, 22, a left wing.

MILAN – The Guerriero roster is currently packed with forwards of all shapes and sizes. In the farther-off future, first round pick Owen Tippett will be relied upon to be the finisher – the goal scorer – for Milan when he will be be playing right wing with either Matthew Tkachuk or Robby Fabbri on the other side of the line. All three of them can shoot the puck, so ideally, Milan will find a generous playmaker to center that line. In the second round, General Manager David Bell went with Swedish defenseman Erik Brannstrom, who is small but talented at moving the puck up ice. He may someday team with Ryan Pulock, Josh Morrissey or Jakub Zboril on the Guerriero blueline. Drake Caggiula was taken in the third round and he will have trouble getting regular work on a team that is loaded with forward talent. Caggiula must make the most of the opportunities Milan gives him and he could be a decent penalty killer for the team.

GOTHENBERG – Kailer Yamamoto is a little guy who has put up big numbers in the Western Hockey League (42 goals and 99 points last season). Some scouts love his game and others are put off by the fact he’s little. Frolunda General Manager Austin Dwyer wasn’t deterred by Yamamoto’s size and he made him a first-round pick at 15th overall. Yamamoto will grow up in the Gothenberg system along with Keifer Bellows, another slick American teen. Kailer and Keifer both can put the puck in the net and if they find themselves a good passing center, the sky is the limit.  But fans in southwest Sweden are going to have to wait for the youngsters to mature and get their attributes. The same goes for Pierre-Olivier Joseph, a Quebec native who Gothenberg took in round 2 of the draft. Joseph is 6-2, has good character, scouts say, and is a good puck mover. He joins Oliver Kylington as the only young defensemen in the system. The two play similarly and it’s easy to picture them as a cooperative defense pair in the future. Kylington has shown a lot of improvement in his two seasons in Stockton, Calif., playing in the American Hockey League, and Dwyer hopes Calgary Flames brass ease him into the NHL wisely.

HELSINKI – For the Jokerit’s first pick in the draft, General Manager Michael Cronebacj selected a player who seems built specifically for a Helsinki uniform. Left wing Ryan Hartman is a feisty, hard-charging guy who doesn’t mind playing in traffic and causing trouble, And he can pop in 15 to 20 goals for his team. Hartman currently has three good left wings ahead of him on the Helsinki depth chart, but he will challenge Pavel Razvadovsky for ice time on the fourth line. Right wing Brett Ritchie, who Helsinki claimed in the second round, is a big tough kid who will bang defensemen down deep and in front of the other team’s net. Ritchie will have to be patient on the famr team for a couple of seasons before getting an invitation to Finland’s capital. In the third round, the Jokerit went with Stephen Johns, a massive 24-year-old defenseman who – get this, Helsinki fans – enjoys hitting people. But Johns can play the point well in the opposition’s zone and Jokerit scouts see him as the new Daniel Fernholm when Fernholm retires.

LISBON – The Portuguese team that surprised everyone by battling its way into the Cup Finals this season traded away its draft picks in the second and third rounds, but GM Bryan Camara had acquired a first-rounder along the way and he got to pick twice in a row late in the first round.  Forward Casey Mittelstadt went right after Lias Andersson in the NHL draft and the same thing happened in the EURO draft, thanks to Camara. Both teens can play center and left wing and both will grow up in New York State as they prepare for life in the EURO League, Andersson with the Rangers and Mittelstadt with the Sabres. Andersson projects as a good two-way player who will remind some of Patrice Bergeron. Mittelstadt is a Minnesota high school league wunderkind and points machine who was actually ranked 18 places higher than Andersson at 7th overall by ISS (International Scouting Services). Lisbon now has 9 prospect forwards in the system waiting to get their Websim attributes. There are also five other forwards on the current roster who are age 21 to 23, but it looks like there will be a period of a few seasons that Camara will have to turn to trades or free agency because the rest of the forwards are approaching retirement age fast.

ATHENS – The Gods had a pick late in Round 1 and then had to wait to near the end of the draft to make their second pick. Esa Lindell is a solid player and safe pick. At 22 and with impressive size, the Finn won’t score many points for Athens, but he won’t take penalties and he will not get caught out of position very often. Athens has an aging defense corps and Lindell will step into a starting role very soon, perhaps even this season if Dennis Seidenberg, Mark Giordano or Andrei Markov are seen as weak links. In the third round, GM Justin Haines gambled on prospect defenseman Nicolas Hague – if a tough 6-6 defenseman who was assistant captain of his OHL team while pumping in 18 goals and producing 46 points can be considered a gamble.

PARIS – The Rouge Eiffels still have tons of talent and by picking goalie Aaron Dell, General Manager Ralph Booth signaled that he wants to keep his good thing going and challenge for the Cup again in the very near future. Dell is ready to be inserted into the lineup today because he’s A) good; B) reasonably priced at $625,000 for two years; and C) more experienced than any other draftee at age 27. The one thing he lacks most in stamina, so it seems he is destined to be a backup goalie for most of his career. In Paris, Tuukka Rask is still the starter, but Booth now has a decision to make behind him because Dell and Philipp Grubauer are quite similar in terms of age, cap hit and some attributes. He also has four prospect goalies percolating through in the system. Will Booth trade Dell or Grubauer or simply send one to the minors for a while? The second round of the draft saw Paris pick up Pavel Buchnevich, an offensive-minded Russian left wing. Buchnevich can use some seasoning before he’s ready to play in the EURO, as can the team’s third-round draft choice, Jonah Gadjovich, a hustling, team-first power forward who showed incredible improvement over his last two seasons with Owen Sound in the OHL.

MADRID – The Royals and Tony B added two prospects to their growing list of prospects. The team now has five forwards, two defensemen and three goalies waiting to gain their Websim attributes. Finnish left wing Eeli Tolvanen has been compared by some scouts to Nikita Kucherov and near the end of round one, he learned he will have to learn some Spanish. Since coming to North America to play in the USHL two seasons ago, Tolvanen has notched 47 goals in 101 games. Toronto native Jordan Kyrou is in the St. Louis Blues system and in the second round, he joined the Madrid franchise. The 19-year-old center/right wing is described as a two-way player with some dynamic offensive skills. With his third pick in the draft, Tony B went with 21-year-old defenseman Steven Santini who plays a good checking game but will probably always be a fill-in, 7th defenseman type in Madrid.

BRATISLAVA – Mike Matheson can really skate but he makes questionable decisions sometimes. Still, Bratislava definitely needs to add young defensemen to its system and Matheson was picked in the first round. He might even see playing time this season on the team that won the South last season, thanks to salary issues the team is having. Second-round pick Kevin Labanc is raw still, but Bratislava sees him contributing as a right wing on the third or fourth lines in the future. Going into the draft, the Eagles had just one prospect, that being defenseman Brendan Guhle. In the third round, General Manager Chuck Massaro added two more prospects by drafting winger Kole Lind and center Joshua Norris. Massaro liked the improvement Lind showed over the last two seasons with Kelowna in the WHL and hopes he will develop into a solid two-way player. Norris is seen as a similar player, perhaps a little more offensive-minded, from the U.S. Developmental Program.

MINSK – The Hussars finished as the President’s Trophy winner and had to wait to place number 24 to draft. They made two selections – one in the first round and one with the very last pick of the draft. Center Nick Suzuki, a London, Ont. native, is a blend of work work and talent, scouts say, and he promises to bring a solid 200-foot game and some scoring to Minsk in the far-off future. All will depend on the attributes he gets from Websim, but Suzuki will see some traffic ahead of him on the depth chart because the team already lists Bo Horvat and Pavel Zacha there and neither is older than 22. He is one of four prospect forwards in the system and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is now one of two goalie prospects with the team. the tall Luukkonen, obviously a Finn, was the top-ranked goalie by the ISS.

BERLIN – The Smurfs and Giants didn’t have any first-round picks due to previous trades, but both picked two prospects each in the second round. Berlin got to pick 26th overall and went with Russian forward Klim Kostin. a lanky right winger who plays a big game and has offensive skills. Scouts with ISS compare him to Patrik Berglund. Kostin was at one time talked about as a potential top 10 pick in the NHL draft before being forgotten about and falling to 31st where he was grabbed by the St. Louis Blues. Later in the draft, Berlin GM Guybrush Threepwood gambled again, this time on prospect Filip Hronek, a 6-0, 170-pound defenseman who was drafted in 2016 by the Detroit Red Wings and who put up good offensive numbers in the OHL last season.

BELFAST – At 33rd overall, General Manager Chris Patton added Callan Foote to the champions’ roster. Foote has good size and plays a solid all-around game. He is polished enough to play for his attributes soon in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. He doesn’t have a great shot from the point, but he can move the puck and is adept at setting up teammates. He becomes the second teen-age defenseman on the team whose father was an NHL defenseman. Jakob Chychrun is the other. Robert Thomas, a sturdy Ontario native, scored a point-per-game in the OHL last season and that was a vast improvement from his 15-point season the year before. ISS scouts compare him to Derek Stepan in style and effectiveness. The Giants’ other pick in the draft was Brock McGinn, brother of Jamie. McGinn is a decent skater, but he doesn’t seem to have the skills to play a major role on the Belfast team. His hard work and willingness to do the tough jobs might get him some games, however.

Check later for more picks


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