Hockey, NHL Draft Day Two

Islanders & Rangers Combine for 13 Picks in Day Two of NHL Draft By Matt Blittner, The New York Extra/

I know the draft is about celebrating the hard work and dedication of the young prospects who finally get to join the NHL’s pipeline and we’ll get to that in a minute, but man oh man, the draft needs an overhaul.

First let me start off by saying that ESPN’s Emily Kaplan did a tremendous job Friday night doing her interviews with various draftees, relaying so much background and human interest stories to the audience. There should be an award for that level of work and Kaplan earned it unanimously. 

Now, for what needs to be fixed. 

Why in Lord Stanley’s name do teams have multiple timeouts during Day Two of the draft? Actually, let me rephrase that. Why do teams have ANY timeouts during the draft? Are the General Managers and their staffs playing a physical game that requires occasional pauses in order to keep going? Last I checked, the answer’s “no.”

I get they need time to complete trades and time to adjust when a team selects whichever player you wanted to take before your turn. But there’s no reason for a round to take two-plus hours to complete. On a day when you have Rounds Two through Seven all bundled into one elongated broadcast, briskness should be your friend. 

The first-round is different. It’s on its own night and there’s the due amount of attention paid to the opening round as that’s where most of the “known” talent resides. Yes, there are plenty of legitimate NHLers taken in all rounds. But the numbers tell the story of a much higher percentage of prospects taken in the first-round fulfilling their potential than the other rounds. 

So, if you’re going to have Rounds Two through Seven all in one day, then timeouts need to be done away with and the length of time between picks being announced needs to be severely decreased. In a world where people want instant gratification and have instant access to whatever information they want, to take seven-hours or more to reveal all 224 picks is outrageous. 

Well, now that the grievances have been aired, let’s get to the breakdown of signings, buyouts and selections that occurred before Day Two got underway.

1) A little over an hour before the Second-Round began, word came down that Colorado and star defenseman, Cale Makar had agreed to a six-year/$56M contract extension ($9M AAV). If Makar got that much today, then what will Adam Fox of the Rangers get when his contract comes due after this coming season? One thing is certain, if Fox continues to play at his current level, then Garden CEO Jim Dolan is going to have to cut him a comically big check. 

2) The Rangers’ buyout of Tony DeAngelo became official on Saturday morning and closes the book on his tumultuous time on Broadway.

The buyout saves the Blueshirts $4,416,666 of cap space this season, but they will be dinged for a hit of $883,334 in 2022-23. 

3) If you went to bed early Friday night, you missed the incompetence displayed by the Montreal Canadiens, who, with the 31st pick in the first-round, selected defenseman Logan Mailloux from the GOJHL. 

Mailloux was convicted in Sweden last year for sharing an explicit photo of a woman performing a sex act without her consent. Mailloux attempted to pull himself from draft consideration after the story broke last week, but the Canadiens still chose to select him at the backend of the first-round. 

The optics of the selection were bad enough and then the Canadiens went and released a statement that further infuriated people.

Clearly there are no “repercussions” for his actions and Montreal should renounce the pick the same way Arizona eventually did with 2020 draftee Mitchell Miller. 

4) In case that wasn’t enough for the bad optics police, Chicago followed Montreal’s pick by trotting out eight female employees — alongside Stan Bowman — as part of the team’s “Advancing Women in Hockey” initiative, to announce the 32nd pick of the draft. 

On the surface it looked like a wonderful idea. But many saw it as a PR Shield to divert attention away from the current lawsuit and investigation that has hovered over the Blackhawks the last few months in regards to the sexual assault committed by one of the team’s now former coaches committed against two of its players back in 2010.

Overall, not exactly a banner way to end Night One of the draft. Kudos to ESPN for calling out the two Original Six clubs for their actions.

5) Honorable Mention: During the draft, Florida acquired Sam Reinhart from Buffalo for Devon Levi and a conditional 2022 first-round pick. (The condition is that if Florida’s pick is in the top-10, they will instead send their 2023 first-round pick to the Sabres).

Okay, okay, we’ve waited long enough, here’s a recap of all the Islanders’ and Rangers’ picks in Rounds Two through Seven:

ISLANDERS (Pick #’s: 52, 93, 125, 157, 189 and 221)

No. 52 (Round Two)

Aatu Raty (center): The 18-year-old pivot measures in at 6’2’’ 185 lbs and played the last two seasons with Karpat in LIIGA. Raty was on many scouts’ radars going back a couple years due to his ability to move the puck with speed through the neutral zone. Raty also displayed the ability to play with or without the puck and consistently managed to get to the middle of the ice to generate high-danger chances for his team. At one point, Raty was considered to be the best available player in this draft class. Unfortunately, a rough draft season cost him that distinction and saw him slide all the way to the middle of the second-round.

No. 93 (Round Three)

Tristan Lennox (goalie): At 6’4’’ Lennox is an athletically gifted goaltender who utilizes an inside-out style to get the most out of his big frame. Lennox relies heavily on his athleticism to make saves at the last moment; which allows him to wait out opponents rather than overcommitting himself. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic he missed out on the 2020-21 season as the OHL sat out the season. He remained active by skating three-times per week on average and worked closely with his goalie coach to hone his skills through practices. 

No. 125 (Round Four)

Cameron Berg (center): This 6’0’’ 192 lbs is a high energy pivot who registered 27-goals and 31-assists in just 51-games for Muskegon (USHL). He is hailed for having above-average leadership skills.

No. 157 (Round Five)

Eetu Liukas (left-wing): A power-forward at 6’2’’ 198 lbs, Liukas likes to use his size and strength to annoy opponents and get under their skin. He’s a solid penalty-killer and goes to the “dirty areas” to make plays. He’s the type of player who you love if he’s on your team and likely hate if you’re facing him.

No. 189 (Round Six)

Aleksi Malinen (defense): This 6’0’’ 176 lbs defenseman uses his swift skating ability to blow past opponents, especially when joining the rush. His stats don’t jump off the page, but his speed sure does when you watch him play. 

No. 221 (Round Seven)

Tomas Machu (defense): He’s a 6’4’’ 190 lbs right-handed D-man who played in the Czech League.

RANGERS (Pick #’s: 65, 75, 104, 106, 112, 144 and 208)

No. 65 (Round Three)

Jayden Grubbe (center): A tough-as-nails, checking centerman, this 18-year-old plays like a “bulldog.” His tough style of play cost him all but five-games of his draft season as Grubbe tore his ACL and had to have it replaced. At 6’2’’ 200 lbs Grubbe should be a solid addition to the Blueshirts’ pipeline if/when he fully recovers and he also offers tremendous leadership to boot.

No. 75 (Round Three)

Ryder Korczak (center): The Rangers sent the 80th and 176th picks to Washington to move up to 75 in order to select this 5’11’’ 174 lbs 18-year-old. Korczak is a two-way, three-zone player who led the entire WHL in scoring for first-year eligible players during the 2019-20 season. The Hockey News compares him to another Blueshirts’ pivot, Filip Chytil. Korczak rates as an intelligent puck possession player and uses his ability to elude defenders to make highly accurate passes to his teammates.

No. 104 (Round Four)

Brody Lamb (right-wing): This 6’1’’ 165 lbs puck wizard needs to add roughly 15-20 lbs of muscle if he wants to dominate the NHL the way he did his High School competition. During a 24-game High School season, Lamb put together a ridiculous 52-goal, 87-point campaign. He is now taking his talents to the University of Minnesota, where he hopes to continue to build on early career success. 

No. 106 (Round Four)

Kalle Vaisanen (left-wing): A 6’4’’ 178 lbs forward, Vaisanen is deceptively strong and protects the puck well along the boards. His shot is his bread and his long reach is his butter. He lacks foot speed and isn’t much of a facilitator.

No. 112 (Round Four)

Talyn Boyko (goalie): He’s a 6’8’’ netminder, so filling up the net to stop pucks is a strength of his. While he has made big strides in his rebound control he is a project. If he can get the right tutelage, he could develop into a reliable backstop.

No. 144 (Round Five)

Jaroslav Chmelar (right-wing): He’s 6’4’’ and played very well for the Czech Republic in the U18 tournament. 

No. 208 (Round Seven)

Hank Kempf (defense): The Rangers’ last pick of the draft measures in at 6’2’’ 190 lbs and spent last season in the USHL. As McKeen’s Hockey Magazine writes, “A well-built all-situations defender, Kempf somehow stood out more in his second year of eligibility than he did his first time around, despite missing over half of the season to injury. From what I have seen, the difference this year is that the Cornell commit grew more comfortable playing aggressively in his own zone. He is a decent puck mover, but really starts to pop when the opponent has the puck. He was one of the best in the USHL at winning puck battles, and he can lock opposing forwards in place if they try to attack his side.”

That’s all for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. The Rangers made seven picks and the Islanders made six. There were some interesting picks mixed in for both, but overall this was one of the weaker draft classes in recent memory for the NHL and its teams. 

Thanks for following along. 

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