On a night where 12 Americans were taken by NHL teams, a new record for USA Hockey, the Washington Capitals selected Port Moody, British Colombia’s own Lucas Johansen from the Kelowna Rockets (WHL).
But the craziness in Washington started after the Toronto Maple Leafs ended months of speculation and drafted Auston Matthews with the first overall pick. Between that announcement and the selection of Patrick Laine by the Winnipeg Jets, Montreal took the spotlight from their Canadian rivals.
The Canadiens conducted a series of swaps, sending two 2nd Round picks this year to Chicago for Andrew Shaw (an RFA with no guarantee he will sign there) and then shipping out Lars Eller to Washington for 2nd Round picks in 2017 and 2018.
Eller is capped at $3.5 million for the next two years, but General Manager Brian MacLellan jumped at the chance to acquire his thrid-line center of choice, as Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post reported on Twitter.
The Edmonton Oilers, foreign to not picking first overall after the last few seasons, lucked into picking Jesse Puljujarvi after the Columbus Blue Jackets passed on him in favor of Pierre-Luc Dubois.
Boston University (where this writer attends school) enjoyed a great night for its incoming freshman class, and for one active player. The Arizona Coyotes selected Clayton Keller out of the US National Team Development Program, the Boston Bruins picked Charlie McAvoy (a rising sophomore), Kieffer Bellows went to the New York Islanders, and Dante Fabbro went to the Nashville Predators.
The longest wait of the draft came when Detroit held up the crowd as they negotiated a trade with Arizona. The Red Wings traded the 18th pick and Pavel Datsuyk’s massive cap hit to the Coyotes for the 20th pick (which Arizona got from the New York Rangers).
Lucas is the younger brother of Ryan Johansen, the 2015 NHL All-Star MVP when he played for the Colombus Blue Jackets (who were hosting the event), and current defenseman for the Nashville Predators.
Washington entered the 2016 Draft with the 26th overall pick, a pick they traded to St. Louis to get their 28th pick and the 87th pick (3rd round), which was initially Washington’s but went to the Blues in the T.J. Oshie trade. The Blues selected Tage Thompson out of the University of Connecticut at #26.
Johansen can play the two-way game, much like Madison Bowey, another Kelowna standout that the Caps drafted in 2013. He improved on his meager eight points (one goal, seven assists) from 2014-15 to 49 (10 goals, 39 assists) this past season.
Per Bill Placzekon the site draftsite.com, the younger Johansen has a good point shot, “can move attacker out of the front, get in the lanes and break up passes, and he make that first pass out in transition and jump into the rush.”
The main nock on Johansen is his size. At 6′ 1″, he only fills out 174 pounds. A little more muscle, and the Caps may have found their bruising defenseman of the future.
Johansen will play in Kelowna again next season; he can be seen in a the Hershey Chocoalte and White as early as 2017-18.
Rounds 2-7 will be broadcast on NHL Network starting at 10 a.m. tomorrow morning.