Trevor Linden referred to the first day of the NHL Entry Draft as Christmas, which makes sense: every team gets a present, though some have re-gifted those presents in advance.
At this time, the Canucks hold the fifth overall pick. While there's little chance the Canucks will move up from that spot, there is a possibility that they move down, if the Dallas Stars or Colorado Avalanche take one of the players they want and another player high on their list might be available a few picks later. That would provide a swift kick of excitement to what has been mostly a quiet pre-draft buildup for Vancouver fans.
But even if they simply stay at fifth overall, they're going to get a very good prospect. There are very few ways that Jim Benning can lose with the fifth pick, as long as they don't go too far off the board. It's such a big board, with so many players that make sense at fifth overall, that it would take extraordinary effort to go off of it.
What's going to happen? Who knows?! But PITB will be here for all of it with this liveblog. Refresh often: the latest updates will appear at the top.
7:15 | BREAKING NEWS: My youngest child pooped in the bath.
In other news, day one of the draft is over. The Canucks did very well, in my opinion, picking Elias Pettersson fifth overall, though there will be many Canucks fans upset they didn't take the highly-rated Cody Glass out of the WHL. We'll be back on day two, which will move a lot faster. See you tomorrow morning, bright and early!
7:08 | I thought there was a chance that he would fall to the Canucks at 33rd overall, but instead the St. Louis Blues took Klim Kostin with the final pick of the first round, 31st overall. At one point, it was thought he was a surefire top-10 pick, with potential to compete for first overall with a strong season. Instead, he had a significant shoulder injury that eventually needed surgery, wiping out his previous season. He's a power winger with high-end skill and a great pick for the Blues.
Seriously, the Blues just traded Ryan Reaves to get what might be the best player in the draft. Unreal.
That leaves just one player from my list of five that I thought might fall to 33rd overall, and it's the one I was least excited about: Maxime Comtois. Still lots of talented players available for the Canucks to select in the second round, but it's still disappointing to see Kostin taken off the board.
7:01 | Have the Penguins taken leave of their senses? Did they just trade for Ryan Reaves?
They traded the 31st overall pick and Oscar Sundqvist for Ryan Reaves and 51st overall. This trade is bonkers.
Meanwhile, Eeli Tolvanen falls to the Nashville Predators at 30th overall. Great pick for the Predators, who get a potential top-six, scoring forward well below where he was projected to go. He finished 4th in primary points per game in the USHL among under-18 players and led all under-18 USHL players in goalscoring.
6:54 | Shane Bowers is described as a "safe pick" for the Senators at 28th overall, which might be a red flag that he doesn't have much upside. Still, he had 51 points in 60 games in the USHL, which isn't too shabby, even if a higher-scoring player in the USHL, Eeli Tolvanen, was still available.
The Blackhawks dragged out their pick by trading down to 29th overall, and then they dragged out their selection itself, pandering to their fans in the building by bringing out Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane to announce their pick. Ugh.
I hate this.
They finally announce the pick of Henri Jokiharju, who was pretty much projected to go right around 29th overall. He's a guy who the Canucks might have had interest in at 33rd overall considering they got their centre with the 5th overall pick. He's a mobile, two-way defenceman who projects as a top-four guy.
6:42 | The Flyers take one of my favourite names in the draft 27th overall: Morgan Frost. That is a very good name for a guy who places an ice-related sport. Great pick by the Flyers for that reason alone. Also, Morgan Frost sounds like a name one of the guys in my Dungeons and Dragons campaign would choose.
"Is his dad a hockey coach," asks my wife, "because he chews his gum like a hockey coach."
Andy Frost is actually the Leafs former PA announcer. But maybe he coaches youth hockey too?
6:39 | Oh my goodness: they traded up to draft a goalie. They take Jake Oettinger, making him the first goaltender selected. Oettinger is very good, posting a .927 save percentage for Boston College in the NCAA this past season, but I'm not a huge fan of trading up to take a goaltender in the first round, because goaltenders develop in very unexpected ways sometimes. The Stars clearly coveted him and didn't want to risk the Blues picking him first.
Shortly after, the Blues traded their pick to the Philadelphia Flyers for Brayden Schenn! That's a big surprise. The Blues also toss in Jori Lehtera and a conditional first round pick. Wow.
Funny thing: Lehtera might be just as good as Schenn. This feels like a fleecing by the Blues.
6:33 | ACTUAL BREAKING NEWS: A trade! The Blackhawks traded their 26th overall pick to Dallas for the 29th and 70th picks. Okay, not a thrilling trade, but a classic trading-down-to-acquire-additional-assets trade. We'll see who the Stars thought was worth trading two picks to acquire.
6:29 | BREAKING NEWS: My kids are home from daycare. They have new toys from McDonald's and my middle child is complaining that his doesn't work. Very loudly.
Meanwhile, Kristian Vesalainen, who was ranked in the top 10 on many rankings, fell to the Winnipeg Jets at 24th overall. He was superb at the U-18 tournament, scoring 6 goals in 7 games.
Ryan Poehling goes 25th overall to the Montreal Canadiens, which is right around where he was projected to go. Imagine that. He has already played a year in the NCAA and had a strong U-18 tournament as well.
6:18 | Pierre-Olivier Joseph goes to the Arizona Coyotes 23rd overall. He's a defenceman who is praised for his defence and physical play, but he could have some untapped offensive upside.
6:12 | There goes another player I was hoping to see fall to the Canucks in the second round: Kailer Yamamoto gets picked by the Edmonton Oilers 22nd overall. The kid is tiny, but he's an elite offensive winger who will likely thrive playing with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
That's after the Rangers took Filip Chytil, a centre that many scouts were very high on, while others had him as a second round pick. He's one of the youngest players in the draft, but still played against men in the Czech league, putting up 8 points in 38 games, and he stood out in international competition.
6:10 | Interesting revelation from George McPhee, General Manager of the Las Vegas Knights:
George McPhee to NBC: We had a deal...to get to 5 with Vancouver to move up one,but then we thought our guy would be there and we backed off— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) June 24, 2017
McPhee was clearly afraid the Canucks would take Cody Glass, but got the impression, somehow, that the Canucks were moving in another direction. You have to wonder if a more deceptive GM could have sold McPhee on his intentions to pick Glass and siphoned off some additional assets and still get the player they actually wanted at 6th overall.
6:04 | Back after a brief break to write up the selection of Elias Pettersson. I am very bullish on his selection and this quote from his former coach is a big reason why: "He finds solutions in the offensive zone that only he can see."
That's what I like to hear. The Canucks need an intelligent, playmaking centre, who can slow down the game and pick apart defences.
As for the picks I missed in the meantime, super-fast breakdown time!
Martin Necas went 12th overall to the Hurricanes. He's got some serious offensive upside, but it's questionable whether he projects as a centre in the NHL; more likely to be a winger.
The Knights grab Nick Suzuki 13th and Eric Brannstrom 15th. Those two along with Cody Glass represent quite the haul for the Knights. Fantastic first day of the draft for them, as Suzuki has sublime skill (I had him 10th overall on my personal list), while Brannstrom is an undersized, but very skilled defenceman. Brannstrom was a player I was hoping might fall to 33rd overall for the Canucks.
14th overall is Callan Foote, the son of Adam Foote. He's a big, stay-at-home defenceman, but he still put up 57 points in 71 WHL games, which bodes well for his NHL future.
Juuso Valimaki, a dynamic offensive defenceman, went 16th overall to the Flames. Stunning to see him and Foote get picked over Timothy Liljegren, who the Leafs were only too happy to take 17th. My goodness, the Leafs are going to be very, very good for many, many years.
Urho Vaakanainen, another player I hoped would fall to 33rd, was instead taken 18th overall. He's a talented two-way defenceman who may not be far off from Miro Heiskanen, the first defenceman taken in the draft.
The Sharks went off the board at 19th to take Joshua Norris. Most rankings had him late in the first round, if not in the second round. That left Rob Thomas, who's got the kind of loving that can be so smooth, to the Blues at 20th.
5:15 | Gabriel Vilardi finally gets selected, unfortunately by the Los Angeles Kings. If he pans out, he'll be a beast to handle in the Pacific Division, a guy who is nearly impossible to divest of the puck with his size, strength, and stickhandling. Kings have to be shocked that he fell that far to them.
5:10 | Owen Tippett goes tenth overall to the Florida Panthers, who are eschewing their progressive ways and going old school again. Tippett is a great prospect, a pure goalscorer. The biggest issue with him is that he's one-dimensional. Major flaws defensively and can be predictable at times. For some reason, he reminds me a bit of Jake Virtanen, just with less physicality and more goalscoring.
5:01 | And the Red Wings pass up on Vilardi as well! They instead go with Michael Rasmussen, who is massive, but there are some major concerns about his 5-on-5 scoring.
He scores most of his goals in front of the net, which looks attractive to some teams, but is a big red flag for me. Big men who score goals in junior against smaller players by staking out the front of the net worry me that they won't be able to do the same thing against the stronger players in the NHL.
But who cares about him? Let's look at a pretty goal new Canuck Elias Pettersson scored:
4:57 | The Rangers go off the board a bit with Lias Andersson, then the Sabres take Casey Mittelstadt. Surprisingly, Gabriel Vilardi is falling down the draft. Have to think teams are scared off by his skating issues.
4:49 | This moment just before the Canucks picked is amazing. Just look at Benning's face when Bettman motions the kid forward to the microphone.
Bettman with the clutch and grab. pic.twitter.com/mnwIgvzG11— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) June 23, 2017
4:45 | Sixth overall, the Las Vegas Knights select the player that Canucks fans will be talking about for years to come: Cody Glass. Out of the WHL, put up 94 points, well-rounded two-way game...he's going to be good. If he's better than Pettersson or even makes the NHL sooner than Pettersson, fans will not be happy. There's a danger of Matthew Tkachuk envy here, even though I personally think that Pettersson was the right choice and has a higher ceiling.
4:39 | I am stunned! The Canucks select Elias Pettersson fifth overall. He's the guy I had highest on my wish list at fifth overall. I am blown away.
More on Pettersson to come, but for now just know that he projects as a first-line centre. He has to fill out his frame, but his hands, skill, intelligence, and vision are extremely high-end.
4:33 | Joe Sakic wastes no time selecting Cale Makar fourth overall. Literally, he doesn't thank the city of Chicago for hosting the draft, doesn't congratulate the Pittsburgh Penguins for winning the Stanley Cup, doesn't say hello to the fans back home, just steps up and picks Makar.
That takes the top two defencemen off the board for the Canucks, giving them their pick of the second tier of centres: Gabriel Vilardi, Cody Glass, Elias Pettersson, or Casey Mittelstadt.
4:29 | The first defenceman off the boards is not Cale Makar, as the Dallas Stars take Miro Heiskanen instead. I had Heiskanen above Makar. Heiskanen is exactly the type of player the Stars needed: a reliable, top-pairing defenceman. He's going to be a rock on their blue line for years to come. Great pick, in my opinion.
4:23 | Nolan Patrick, unsurprisingly, goes second overall to the Philadelphia Flyers. Pretty much guaranteed to be a top-six centre. High-ceiling, high-floor.
But nevermind that: here's what I think Nico Hischier's attributes would be if he was a Dungeons and Dragons character:
Nico Hischier— Pass it to Bulis (@passittobulis) June 23, 2017
CHA 13 https://t.co/mFSJqTezi2
4:15 | The Devils bypass Nolan Patrick to pick Nico Hischier first overall. He's who I had at the top of my draft board, for what it's worth, which isn't much.
Hischier is incredibly talented and projects as a first-line forward who will look very good alongside Taylor Hall. The Devils are still in so much trouble on defence, but that could be a scary pair up front.
4:08 | Gary Bettman comes out to the traditional boos and doesn't even get cheers when he compliments Chicago. Then he flat-out calls them out for not booing loud enough and encourages them to be louder! I have to respect that.
3:58 | Call me unpatriotic, but I'm not a huge fan of singing national anthems before hockey games. Singing them before a draft seems particularly odd.
3:53 | A quick note on the Niklas Hjalmarsson trade: he's one of the closest comparables to Chris Tanev, an elite shot-suppressing defenceman who doesn't provide much in the way of offense. Analytically, they're incredibly similar.
That's a bad sign for the Canucks, as I don't think the Blackhawks got enough value for Hjalmarsson. There's a chance that it might work out long-term, if Laurent Dauphin turns into the top-six forward that some suggest he could be and if Connor Murphy takes a step forward on a new team, but as of now it's not much return for one of the best defensive defencemen in the NHL.
Oddly enough, Jeremy Roenick agrees with the nerds on this one. First time for everything, I guess.
I don't like the Hjalmarsson trade. He's the wrong guy to ship out. He is an ELITE defensive D who would be top 4 on any team. No no no #Bad— Jeremy Roenick (@Jeremy_Roenick) June 23, 2017
3:41 | "We would have to give up too big of an asset to move up," says Jim Benning to Elliotte Friedman, making it clear they won't be moving up to third overall. "We'll take the best player. It would be nice if he's a playmaking centre iceman or a power play defenceman, but we're going to take the best player where we pick."
Is Benning not aware that we all just refer to them as "centres" now?