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Trade Coverage

Former first-round picks traded during Draft

Five players join new teams after failing to pan out

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

BUFFALO -- Draft weekend is always about hope, when teams and the young players they select swell with optimism about the future. But this weekend of hope provided a sobering reminder that nothing is guaranteed.

Five players who were selected in the first round in previous years were traded during the 2016 NHL Draft on Saturday.

The reason? Goalie Jack Campbell, forwards Beau Bennett and Kerby Rychel, and defensemen Mark Pysyk and Anthony DeAngelo never quite panned out with the team that drafted him.

"It happens year after year after year. There are some guys that are drafted that do a lot better than projected, and then there are some guys that don't," Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said. "As long as we're drafting these guys at this young age, the risk is higher."

The classic example is Campbell, who the Dallas Stars made the No. 11 pick in 2010. There was all kinds of talk about Campbell being the Stars' goalie of the future. Today, he's a member of the Los Angeles Kings.

Campbell was traded for defenseman Nick Ebert, the last pick, No. 211, in the 2012 draft.

"That's part of the draft, part of development," Stars general manager Jim Nill said. "The other thing is, goaltending is a tough position. It takes a long time to develop. I love Jack Campbell. I knew him back in my Detroit days when he was drafted by Dallas, and I've known him for many years.

"He's a good young man. You know what? You look at some of the best goalies in the world, they start showing up at 27, 28 or 29. That could be Jack Campbell. Sometimes you just need a change of pace, a new home to go to."

Campbell, 24, played one game for Dallas in the 2013-14 season. He allowed six goals. He struggled with Texas of the American Hockey League. He's also a pending restricted free agent who will require waivers to be sent to the AHL when he signs his new contract.

"If Jack came and was going to be lights-out, that would give us another option. We'd manage that," Nill said. "But it didn't work out that way and you just move on in life."

It never worked out for the underperforming and oft-injured Bennett in Pittsburgh either. The Penguins moved Bennett, the No. 20 pick in 2010, to the New Jersey Devils for the 77th pick.

Pittsburgh used the pick to select Connor Hall, a defenseman from Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League.

"He just had a lot of injuries," Rutherford said of Bennett. "He's a talented player. If he can stay healthy I think he'll do well in New Jersey. But when we looked at our team going forward, we have a bunch of young forwards that are presently playing, we've got some more coming, and we just felt we wanted to give those guys a chance."

The positive for Bennett is the Devils are run by general manager Ray Shero, who drafted him when Shero was the GM in Pittsburgh. The difference is, at that time, Bennett was 18 and filled with potential. Today, he's 24 and has never played in more than 49 games in an NHL season. He has 16 goals in 129 games.

"Where we are in New Jersey, I have to take some risks somewhere," Shero said. "Certainly, he's a cost-controlled asset and younger, and we'll see where it takes us. When I talked to him I said, 'I drafted you in 2010 in L.A., so let's just start again. I drafted you again today, how's that?' It's a good opportunity for him and a good opportunity for us."

The Buffalo Sabres at least used Pysyk, the No. 23 pick in 2010, to help their team immediately. The Sabres got defenseman Dmitry Kulikov and the No. 33 pick from the Florida Panthers for Pysyk and picks Nos. 38 and 89.

Kulikov, 25, at 6-1 and 204 pounds, fills a need as a big, physical, left-handed defenseman. Pysyk (24, 6-1, 200) never filled that role on the right side of the defense.

"You can't give away a bad player to get a good player; you have to trade away a good player," Sabres GM Tim Murray said. "Mark is a very good player. Mark is kind of an analytics darling and we know that, so we knew there'd be a little push back on that, and that's fine. We got a guy who was a five or a five-plus in our ratings."

The Lightning saw DeAngelo, 20, struggle with Syracuse in the AHL this season to the point where he was a healthy scratch. They also saw the ability to get another defenseman they coveted in the draft, so they parted with a first-round pick to get a second-round pick they clearly feel is better.

Tampa Bay traded DeAngelo to the Arizona Coyotes for the No. 37 pick, which they used on Libor Hajek of Saskatoon in the Western Hockey League.

"Libor was a guy we were considering with our first-round pick, trying to figure out how to acquire another pick to get him," Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said. "Ultimately, we felt trading Anthony for Libor was a good move for us."

Rychel, who was selected No. 19 in 2013 by the Columbus Blue Jackets, got his chance this season and collected nine points in 32 games. He reportedly asked for a trade last summer and got it Saturday, when he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Scott Harrington and a conditional fifth-round pick.

Rychel, 21, might pan out in Toronto. But he might not. It didn't work out for him in Columbus, but that's the gamble of the draft, the risk all 30 teams take every year at this event, where the only guarantee is that nothing is guaranteed.

"I feel sorry for kids actually because everybody looks at what their draft number is, and that's not a fair assessment," Nill said. "The draft, it opens the door, and from there, now you have to go perform."

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