PHILADELPHIA -- The Toronto Maple Leafs liked the pieces they had on the blue line last season, they just didn't think they fit together in the puzzle. General manager Dave Nonis said he feels the Maple Leafs addressed that issue Saturday during the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center.
"If you look at how our [defense] was put together, we had a lot of the same, particularly down the left side with Gunnar, [Jake] Gardiner, [Morgan] Reilly … so we felt we could use a different look, a right shot, a guy that plays a little harder, more difficult to play against without giving up anything because we still have those other players," Nonis said. "We had an abundance of one thing and we were definitely lacking in the other."
PHILADELPHIA -- Tim Murray didn't get everything he wanted in his first draft as general manager of the Buffalo Sabres. But he left Wells Fargo Center on Saturday feeling pretty good about the nine players the Sabres selected.
"I think the original plan was to get an extra pick in the first round and we weren't able to do it," he said. "Other than that, it went pretty well."
They started Friday by selecting Kootenay Ice center Sam Reinhart with the second pick and continued with eight picks Saturday.
Those eight players included six forwards, starting with Barrie Colts left wing Brendan Lemieux, the first pick of the second round (No. 31). Lemieux (6-foot, 206 pounds) had 27 goals, 53 points and 145 penalty minutes in 65 regular-season games. The son of four-time Stanley Cup champion Claude Lemieux plays a game reminiscent of his father, which was a big selling point to Murray.
PHILADELPHIA -- Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving was more than willing to begin the run on goaltenders early in the second round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday.
The newly appointed GM and his scouting staff proved it with the selection of goalie Mason McDonald of the Charlottetown Islanders of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at No. 34.
McDonald (6-foot-4, 178 pounds) was the first goalie taken at the draft and the first of five selected in the second round. There were 21 goalies selected during the final six rounds of the draft. No goalies were selected in the first round Friday night.
"I talked to [Calgary] at the combine and I talked to a guy in Calgary last week," McDonald said. "They were one of the teams that showed a little more interest than others. It was between them and two others that I kind of had in the back of my mind and I’m glad to be selected by them."
PHILADELPHIA -- The Chicago Blackhawks got some necessary salary-cap relief and an extra draft pick by trading forward Brandon Bollig to the Calgary Flames for the No. 83 pick Saturday at the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center.
The Blackhawks used the pick to select right wing Matheson Iacopelli, who had 41 goals last season playing for Muskegon in the United States Hockey League.
By trading Bollig for a draft pick, the Blackhawks save $1.25 million on the $69 million NHL salary cap. The Blackhawks are in the market for a second-line center and have less than $1 million in available salary-cap space, according to Capgeek.com.
"It’s always tough when you trade a player who has been … a regular player for you," Bowman said. "You have to make tough decisions these days. We're not the only team that will go through that. We wish him the best. We helped him a lot in terms of we brought him out of college (St. Lawrence) and developed him and he made himself an NHL player. So we wish him the best. But, yeah, we have to look at doing some things like that to prepare for next year."
PHILADELPHIA – A total of 210 players from 12 countries were selected at the 2014 NHL Draft, which concluded today at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia. That includes 67 U.S.-born players, representing the country's highest percentage (32%) of selections.
Following is a breakdown of draft selections by birthplace:
PHILADELPHIA -- Brendan Lemieux was forced to sit through the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center on Friday without hearing his name called. It wasn't easy.
After the Buffalo Sabres selected him Saturday morning with the first pick of the second round (No. 31), Lemieux vowed to make the rest of the NHL regret making him wait, particularly some of the teams his father, Claude Lemieux, played for during his 20-plus year career, including the Colorado Avalanche.
"There are a few teams there -- Colorado -- that really stung, but like I said, I'm definitely going to love going in their arenas and making it hard on their guys because they decided to pass me over," said Lemieux, who was born in Denver while his father was playing for the Avalanche. "I'm going to use this as fuel. They gave one of the more fiery guys in the draft, I'd like to say, a lot more fire."
PHILADELPHIA -- Chicago Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said he has no doubt he will be able to re-sign forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews to long-term contract extensions. He's just not sure when all the details will be hammered out and their signatures go on the legal documents.
Kane and Toews are entering the final year of their respective contracts and are eligible to sign extensions starting July 1. They each reportedly are seeking an eight-year contract worth $12 million per season.
"The discussions are ongoing and I don't want to get into that, but we're definitely going to get them re-signed," Bowman said Friday from the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center. "It's a process you go through and it's been a great process. I've got a lot of respect for Pat Brisson, he's a top agent in the game, and we're working on it."
PHILADELPHIA -- Dylan Larkin is going home.
A product of the United States National Team Development Program Under-18 in the United States Hockey League was born in Waterford, Mich., less than an hour away from Joe Louis Arena, home of the Detroit Red Wings.
The 6-foot-1, 190-pound center was as surprised as anyone when the Red Wings opted to select him No. 15 in the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at Wells Fargo Center on Friday.
Larkin was one of several top prospects to be selected by a team with some sort of local tie.
"It's awesome to be picked by Detroit," Larkin said. "I grew up just north of Detroit and all my friends and family were Wings' fans. It's a great organization and I'm excited to now be a part of the team."
The free-agent market hasn't been kind to goaltenders in recent years because there are so few openings and even fewer teams willing to commit significant dollars to the position when they might be in a rebuilding phase.
Jaroslav Halak is the exception because he got what he was looking for in a four-year contract with the New York Islanders last month. The Islanders, though, were one of maybe three teams that closed the 2013-14 season without a goalie under contract who has either proven to be a No. 1 or has been advertised as one.
The Calgary Flames and Buffalo Sabres are the other two, but both are in the early stages of rebuilding programs and at least have goalies that are cheap, serviceable and potentially could turn into strong No. 1s in Karri Ramo (Flames), Michal Neuvirth (Sabres) and Jhonas Enroth (Sabres). There's no reason for either to dole out big contracts to iron out the position now.
Barring a trade, the Vancouver Canucks might be willing to give out a significant multi-year contract to a goalie. Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom are inexpensive, but also young and inexperienced. If the objective is to get back into the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Canucks might decide to address the position.
Miller and Hiller could be options.
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It was pretty unbelievable...I think (my family in France) is pretty much in front of the TV right now. I don't think I have to wake them up.