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NHL Draft Grades 2016: Red Wings, Flames come up big in the first round with trades

Detroit now looks to be the big contender for Steven Stamkos while the Flames profited on the draft board and the trade front.

Day one of the 2016 NHL Draft has come and gone. It was a quiet day leading up to a pretty busy night all things considered, with more than a few trades and surprising moves made during the first 30 picks.

The Maple Leafs surprised no one by picking Auston Matthews at No. 1 overall, but it most definitely got interesting from there. Columbus went a bit off the board by picking Pierre-Luc Dubois, which landed Jesse Puljujarvi right in the laps of the Oilers. The Flames and Red Wings both made big trades early in the night, with Detroit’s setting the Steven Stamkos alarm to code red.

By the end, the selections petered out much like they often do at the end of the first round. All in all, though, it was an entertaining first night of the NHL Draft. That being said, how do the teams stack up after one day of picking and trading?

Outstanding grades

Calgary Flames

In addition to snagging Matthew Tkachuk at the sixth overall pick, the Flames have bolstered their lineup by acquiring goaltender Brian Elliott from the Blues. Getting Tkachuk after he fell to the No. 6 spot is a huge steal for the Flames, as the left winger put up 107 points last season in 57 games with the London Knights of the OHL and was slated by many to be a top-five pick.

Not only that, the Flames acquired Elliott from the Blues for just their No. 35 pick in the second round this year and a conditional pick next season. Calgary has their starter and their forward core looks as deadly as ever, so it certainly was a big night for GM Brad Treliving and the Flames.

Edmonton Oilers

The Oilers may not have gotten the first overall pick this year, but it probably doesn’t matter to them now that they have Jesse Puljujarvi. After the Blue Jackets passed over the right winger, there was no question for Edmonton. Due to a head-scratcher from Columbus, the Oilers had a pretty fantastic draft considering they were sitting at the fourth spot.

Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings certainly come off as frontrunners for Steven Stamkos after the first round they put together. Though defenseman Dennis Cholowski is a bit of a reach at No. 20, the real waves made were when the Red Wings traded the contract of Pavel Datsyuk and the No. 16 to the Coyotes. Joe Vitale is also coming back in that deal to Detroit, but moving Datsyuk’s contract is huge should the Red Wings want to make a run at Stamkos.

Carolina Hurricanes

The Hurricanes made the most of their two picks on Day 1, grabbing defenseman Jake Bean and right winger Julien Gauthier. Bean will add to the Hurricanes' stacked defensive pool and they also nabbed Gauthier, who fell further than many predicted at No. 21. A solid defenseman and a steal pick at the end of the first round put the Hurricanes over the hump to a stellar first day of the draft.

New York Islanders

The Islanders didn’t make a move up or down nor a trade, but they landed a big get in Kieffer Bellows at No. 19. After Bellows fell past a few good suitors, the Islanders picked him up to add pure goal-scoring to their pool. The 18-year-old had 50 goals for the U.S. National U18 Team this past year, putting him in some pretty great company with Phil Kessel, Auston Matthews, and Jack Eichel to hit that mark for the team.

Above average grades

Toronto Maple Leafs

All Toronto needed to do to have a great draft was to not screw up the No. 1 overall pick. Thankfully for the safety of their fans, they delivered with center Auston Matthews, who will highlight Toronto’s studded young core. It was an easy pick and the best pick for the Maple Leafs, which earns them a solid grade on Day 1 of the 2016 draft.

Arizona Coyotes

The Coyotes had their cake and ate it too, getting both forward Clayton Keller and defenseman Jakob Chychrun in the first round. Not only that, the Coyotes now have Pavel Datsyuk’s contract after trading with the Red Wings to get Chychrun at the No. 16 spot and move them closer to the cap floor.

Arizona’s gets of Keller and Chychrun are huge for their organization, but the only reason they don’t get a higher grade is they just grabbed Datsyuk’s contract from the Red Wings. Sending Joe Vitale to Detroit helps, but they could have potentially bargained for a bit more.

Philadelphia Flyers

Ron Hextall has picks to play with now, after moving from No. 18 to 22 after a deal with Winnipeg that also sent the No. 36 pick Philadelphia’s way in exchange for No. 79. Gauthier and Bellows may have passed them by, but German Rubtsov is a great pickup for the Flyers. That additional jump of 43 spots might make a big difference on Saturday, as Philadelphia now has three second-rounders to work with.

Average grades

Vancouver Canucks

Our own Nucks Misconduct picked Olli Juolevi in the SB Nation mock draft, and what do you know, they were right! Juolevi was the first defenseman off the board this year, over Jakob Chychrun and Dante Fabbro, but Jim Benning clearly had a plan here.

Buffalo Sabres

Much like Vancouver, our own Sabres blog Die By The Blade predicted their own pick at No. 7 with Alexander Nylander. It’s a rarity to see the Sabres so far down the drafting chart, but Nylander will bring a lot of punch to Buffalo’s offense, and combined with Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart the Sabres have a pretty solid core solidifying.

Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche might have found a big steal in Tyson Jost, as analysts have labeled him as a Jonathan Toews-type player. The pick at No. 10 was the only splash the Avalanche made on Day 1 and they didn’t reach too much for him, so a fine day for Colorado.

Ottawa Senators

The Senators moved up one spot to No. 11 after a deal with the Devils — plus the Senators' No. 80 pick in this year’s draft — helped Ottawa nab center Logan Brown. With the higher-rated centers off the board, Brown was the pick for Ottawa and his size and playmaking ability are a solid fit for the Senators.

New Jersey Devils

Like with the Senators, the Devils had a center in mind, but were okay with skipping over Brown for Michael McLeod. McLeod fills a need for the Devils on offense, and they picked up the No. 80 pick to boot.

Minnesota Wild

The Wild went with Wisconsin forward Luke Kunin, who had an outstanding year on a bad Badgers team. Kunin will likely spend a few more years in college before hopefully making an impact on an offensively weaker Minnesota team.

Nashville Predators

The Predators will bolster their blue line with Dante Fabbro, a right-handed defenseman. Fabbo will be a great match for Nashville, as he looks up to Shea Weber and loves the Predators!

Florida Panthers

Forward Henrik Borgstrom was the pick for Florida at No. 23, who posted 55 points in 40 games last year in the Jr. A SM-liiga. The pick adds center depth for the Panthers, though it’s not a move that will impact their current roster.

Dallas Stars

At No. 25, the Stars got big winger Riley Tufte. The large forward will be a project for Dallas and will not likely grace the roster until a bit down the road, but the addition of Tufte will add offensive depth and grit to the speedy Stars system.

Washington Capitals

The Capitals selected Ryan Johansen’s little brother Lucas Johansen with the No. 28 pick in the first round. He’s a two-way defenseman and potentially a stretch pick at the end of the first day, but his floor looks solid as a mid-range defenseman.

Mixed grades

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets stunned the draft when they passed on the consensus third overall pick Jesse Puljujarvi for center Pierre-Luc Dubois. The pick is a bit of a head scratcher, as they have Sonny Milano leading the way at center in their prospect pool. Word was before the draft they would move Milano, but not going for the better player in Puljujarvi is a bit of a strange call.

Montreal Canadiens

The Canadiens were one of the many teams making deals outside of the draft itself, and though their pick of Mikhail Sergachev is a great addition to their blue line, points get knocked off for their pair of trades that sent Lars Eller packing for Andrew Shaw, who supposedly wants $4.5 million in a contract extension.

Boston Bruins

Thankfully the Bruins didn’t have a failure of a first round like they did last year. Boston went with defenseman Charlie McAvoy of Boston University is true Boston form. Though there was arguably a better defenseman on the board in Chychrun, McAvoy was clearly rated higher in the mind of Don Sweeney.

The Bruins also picked Trent Frederic at the No. 29 spot, a bit off the board for many who had him mid-second round or later. It’s a definite stretch and a definite mixed bag once again for the Bruins.

Winnipeg Jets

Much like Toronto, the Jets had an easy job in the first round. Patrik Laine was always going to be their guy, despite the late chatter that saw more than a few people think he’d go No. 1 over Matthews.

Yet, Winnipeg takes a hit after the Jets moved up four spots to take the No. 18 pick from the Flyers to draft Logan Stanley. Stanley is a bit of a reach, as the highest he was rated was No. 19 by one scouting site. Not only that, they gave the Flyers their No. 36 pick in the second round for a player who might have still been there at No. 22 when they originally were supposed to draft.

Anaheim Ducks

It’s hard to grade teams that pick in the late stages of the first round, but Anaheim did okay with their two picks. At No. 24 they selected Max Jones, a big-bodied forward who can skate well though has discipline problems with 106 accumulated penalty minutes with the London Knights last season. The Ducks then went off the board to pick Sam Steel at the No. 30 spot to close out the last round. Not terrible first-round choices, but nowhere near a standout first round for GM Bob Murray.

Tampa Bay Lightning

The Lightning were involved in some heavy rumors throughout Day 1 involving goaltender Ben Bishop. None of those came to pass and they picked center Brett Howden at the No. 27 spot. Much like many of the late picks, Howden will be a project for his club to work on, though he seems to have a bit more downside than upside.

Poor grades

St. Louis Blues

The Blues' pick of Tage Thompson is a fine grab at No. 26, but it’s hard to reconcile that with the biggest news from St. Louis. Brian Elliott was traded to the Flames in the early stages of the draft, cutting the depth the Blues have at the goaltender position. Though Elliott apparently requested the trade, the Blues had some pretty great success with the 1A-1B netminding system. Elliott really made a name for himself after the Blackhawks series this past playoffs and grabbing just two draft picks — the No. 35 this year and a conditional the next — seem a slim return for an outstanding netminder.

Did not play

The Penguins (traded pick No. 30 to the Maple Leafs, who then traded it to the Ducks), the Rangers (traded pick No. 20 to the Coyotes, who then traded it to the Red Wings), the Blackhawks (traded pick No. 22 to the Jets, who then traded it to the Flyers), the Kings (traded pick No. 21 to the Hurricanes) and the Sharks (traded pick No. 29 to the Bruins).