Who won and who lost the 2018 NHL draft?

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With the 2018 NHL draft in the books, it’s time to analyze which teams had a successful draft and which teams left much to be desired. Successful drafts are not only based on the picks teams made, but also about the picks and players they acquired (or could have acquired) through draft day trades. One of the most exciting parts about the draft in any sport is watching desperate teams go down to the wire to try and trade up to get their guy.

Let’s first take a look at our draft “winners”:

Buffalo Sabres

This one was easy. The Sabres had the first pick and they took Rasmus Dahlin, the best player in the draft. Not many players see the ice in their first season, but Dahlin will contribute right away and is the early frontrunner for the Calder (Rookie of the Year) trophy. Dahlin was just recently named as the best defenseman in the World Junior Championship in Buffalo, now he will call Buffalo home. The Sabres followed their first overall pick with four more defensemen including Mattias Samuelsson, a defensive-minded defenseman with great IQ and vision, who many saw as a first rounder.

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings had the steal of the night, scooping up Filip Zadina with the 6th overall pick. Zadina was largely regarded as the best offensive player in the draft and some analysts had him going has high as 2nd overall. Their next pick, Joe Veleno, is an offensive speedster who was expected to be drafted in the 10-15 range; the Red Wings grabbed him with the 30th pick. Detroit wanted to go after defensemen, but they went with the “best guy on the board” mentality and grabbed two promising offensive talents who miraculously fell into their laps.

Washington Capitals

The Capitals made a move right before the draft that ensured the current state of their championship team more than any draft pick could. They moved Brooks Orpik and Philipp Grubauer for the 47th pick in the draft. The moves gave them the cap space they needed to keep John Carlson, their top defender, who they locked up two days later. Carlson signed an 8-year, $64 million deal to stay in Washington. The Caps don’t want to stop at one Stanley Cup, they are in win-now mode.

New York Islanders

The Islanders had two middle picks in the first round (11 and 12) and they nailed them both. At 11 they took Oliver Wahlstrom, the Team USA U18 phenom who is considered to be the best pure goal scorer in this draft class, and next they grabbed Noah Dobson, who, “was considered by some to be the most complete defenseman in the draft after Dahlin.” The Islanders landed two top 10 picks outside of the top 10.

Now let’s take a look at a couple “losers”:

Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes took center Barrett Hayton, who many thought was a reach, while Filip Zadina was still on the board. The rest of their draft wasn’t terrible as they added a couple solid defensemen including Kevin Bahl, but passing up on Zadina was confusing to say the least.

Ottawa Senators

The Senators, who picked a spot ahead of the Coyotes, also passed on Zadina. The bigger issue for them however, was that they didn’t make a deal for Erik Karlsson. Karlsson has no intention of remaining in Ottawa, and the Senators lost their chance to enhance their draft with another first round pick and possibly more.

New York Rangers

The Rangers seemed to reach on many of their picks. They had three picks in the first round and it felt like they could have done more with them. Their 9th overall pick, Vitali Kravtsov, was projected to be a later first round pick, and then, with their first pick in the second round, they took goalie Olof Lindbom. Goalie was not a position of need for the Rangers at all, as they have Henrik Lundqvist, Alex Georgiev backing him up, and Igor Shestyorkin coming over from the KHL in another year.