Meet the prospects your team just traded for

Ryan Kennedy
Michael Paliotta (Photo by Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

The magnitude and volume of trades during draft weekend and the first few days of free agency has been impressive. Big names such as Phil Kessel, T.J. Oshie and Milan Lucic were all given new addresses and in all three cases, prospects were part of the return.

In fact, many teams acquired future NHL hopefuls recently, so let’s take a look at some of the more prominent kids involved in this summer’s trade crop.

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Colorado goes with big-time upside at the draft

Ryan Kennedy
A.J. Greer (left) and Nicolas Meloche (photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

SUNRISE – It would have been pretty easy for left winger A.J. Greer to have returned to Kimball Union Academy in New Hampshire this season and plunder the prep ranks. Instead, the Quebec-born power forward went to Boston University, where he was a teenaged freshman on a premier team.

Early on, Greer was a fourth-liner at best, sometimes a healthy scratch while teammate Jack Eichel destroyed the college ranks. But Greer persevered and by the time Boston was playing for the national title, he was a scoring winger on the second line. Now, he has been rewarded at the draft, as Colorado took him 39th overall.

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Winners and losers after the first round of the draft

Noah Hanifin (photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

SUNRISE – The start of the draft went 1-2-3 as expected, but as the first round got deeper, things veered in surprising directions. Who were the winners and losers on the night? I didn’t count Edmonton and Buffalo, since we always knew they’d have a good night. Otherwise, here’s how I saw things go down:

Winners

Carolina

My intel was that Noah Hanifin was not going to fall past Carolina at No. 5 and sure enough, the Canes pounced on the exceptional defenseman when Toronto passed on his services. Hanifin had an amazing second half at Boston College and should he return, he’ll be the cornerstone of the Eagles.

Russians

The first big shock of the draft came when Dallas tabbed right winger Denis Gurianov with the 12th pick. Though the ‘Russian Factor’ may still be a thing for some franchises (Columbus, for example), Stars GM Jim Nill has not been afraid to take Russians who played back home during his tenure. After all, Valeri Nichushkin was his first-ever pick.

“I’m not too worried about him going back to Russia,” Nill said. “He’s going back there next year, we knew that all along. But we’re looking for the best player available three, four years down the road and we’re comfortable that he’s going to come over and play for us.”

Another Russian with KHL ties, goalie Ilya Samsonov, went to Washington. Thanks to Alex Ovechkin, the Caps have been a mecca for talented young Russians for years and in Samsonov the Caps landed the most highly-rated netminder in the draft class.

Add in CHLers Ivan Provorov (Philadelphia) and Evgeny Svechnikov (Detroit) and you have the most Russian first rounders since 2004, when Ovie and Evgeny Malkin headlined the festivities.

The NCAA

The college ranks set a new standard with three first-rounders in the top eight picks thanks to Hanifin, Jack Eichel (Buffalo) and Zach Werenski (Columbus). It was a grand year for NCAA hockey and this first round was the capper. Miami-bound Jack Roslovic (Winnipeg) was a nice surprise too, as he was seen as a borderline first-rounder.

Ottawa

The Sens, who already have a great young roster, added a smart, slick-skating defenseman in Thomas Chabot and then a fast two-way/shutdown center in Colin White. Ottawa will be very tough to beat in a couple years if these kids shake out the way they are projected.

Losers

Small Guys

Once again this year, scouts sang the praises of players in the 5-foot-10 range, but couldn’t convince their bosses to pull the trigger early. While I didn’t expect Travis Konecny or Nick Merkley to go in the top 12, I thought one or both would go in the top 20. As it turned out, Konecny went 24th to Philly, while Merkley lasted until No. 30 when Arizona scooped him up.

“Obviously there were only a few guys 5-foot-10, 5-foot-11, and you get nervous about that,” Merkley said. “You just take it as it is and enjoy the moment.”

On the bright side, 5-foot-10 Anthony Beauvillier was a surprise first-rounder when the Islanders traded up to grab him 28th.

Boston

I don’t mean to pile on, but from an outsider’s view, the Bruins panicked tonight. Certainly when they acquired picks from Los Angeles and Calgary, they didn’t intend to use all three of their selections (which came 13, 14 and 15). But no trade emerged and the Bruins took two players they could have gotten later while passing on immense talents still on the board. Why didn’t they grab White, a Massachusetts product, or Kyle Connor, a future No. 1 center? Or, incredibly, Matt Barzal, who slipped to the Isles one pick later?

Coveted NCAA defenseman Mike Reilly chooses Minnesota Wild

Matt Larkin
Mike Reilly (Richard T Gagnon/Getty Images)

The top college free agent player has decided to stay home. Per beat writer Michael Russo of the Star Tribune, defenseman Mike Reilly will sign with the Minnesota Wild on an expected two-year, $1.85-million deal when eligible next Wednesday.

Reilly, 21, was born in Chicago but raised in Minnesota. He cut his teeth at the esteemed Shattuck-St. Mary’s. He won a gold medal with the U.S. world junior team in 2013 and bronze playing with men on the World Championship team this spring. Reilly played his college hockey at the University of Minnesota. He stood out as a puck-mover, notching better than a point per game in 2014-15 with the Gophers, and he’s the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. He was a Hobey Baker finalist, too.

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Canada’s world junior camp roster shows a wide-open competition

Canada's Lawson Crouse (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Heading into the 2015 world juniors in Toronto, there were many Canadian players we could basically check off as guarantees long before the roster was decided. Connor McDavid, Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Sam Reinhart, Zach Fucale, Darnell Nurse, Josh Morrissey and Madison Bowey were all locks, for example.

With the tournament shifting to Helsinki for 2016, Canada’s braintrust will have some tougher decisions to make, as evidenced by the summer camp roster.

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2015 Draft Preview – Detroit Red Wings still the prospect kings

Dylan Larkin (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

For years, the Detroit Red Wings had based much of their success on their ability to find late-round gems, almost always from Russia or Sweden. But that paradigm is shifting. The Wings’ top prospects are Canadians and Americans, and two of them – Anthony Mantha and Dylan Larkin – were first-round picks. That’s not to say the Wings have lost their magic in the late rounds. Finland’s Teemu Pulkkinen was drafted 111th overall in 2010 and defenseman Alexey Marchenko was taken 205th overall in 2011. Center Axel Holmstrom is now considered a steal, going in the 196th spot in 2014.

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2015 Draft Preview – Columbus Blue Jackets prospects like to move

Ryan Kennedy
Sonny Milano (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

The Blue Jackets will draft players from any and all circuits, but those kids tend to wind up in either major junior or the AHL. Sonny Milano chose Plymouth over Boston College, Peter Quenneville left Quinnipiac for Brandon, Markus Soberg went from Sweden to Windsor and Marko Dano dumped the KHL for the AHL. Will the trend continue?

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