June 28, 2011

2011 NHL draft surprises

By Kirk Luedeke

With the 2011 NHL Entry Draft in the books and 210 players selected over seven rounds, let’s take a look at some of the surprises in terms of guys who were picked and those who weren’t.

NHL picks

John Gaudreau, LW Dubuque (USHL)- Ultra-skilled puck wizard who scored 36 goals and 72 points in 60 games with the Clark Cup champion Fighting Saints is also the smallest player ever drafted at a listed 5-foot-6 and 137 pounds. That’s not a typo. The Calgary Flames plucked the New Jersey native out of the fourth round, 104th overall. The pick raised a lot of eyebrows, especially since he went ahead of bigger names like Mike St. Croix, Colin Jacobs, Kale Kessy Marcel Noebels and Zach Yuen- all picked later in the round. Gaudreau recently de-committed from Northeastern after Greg Cronin left for the Maple Leafs.

Alexander Ruuttu, C Jokerit (Finland Jr.)– Second-round pick for Phoenix and just outside of the top-50 for the son of former NHLer Christian Ruuttu? Two rounds too early minimum from what we heard from several NHL scouts and insiders at the draft. Small and skilled is fine, but not exactly a value pick.

Andy Andreoff, C Oshawa (OHL)- We heard that the overager who had a breakout year for the Gennies would be picked, but sure didn’t figure it to happen in the third round. Andreoff went one pick to Los Angeles before Boston took Anthony Camara, and with 33 goals and 75 points, could be in Manchester next season.

Robbie Russo, D U.S. NTDP (USHL)- Fourth round for the Team USA captain and one of the better puck movers in the draft outside of the guys who went in the first round…really? That’s great value for Garth Snow and the boys on Long Island.

Not picked


Mike McKee, D Kent School (Prep)- OK, we get that McKee is playing at a lower level of competition, but how does a 6-5, 230-pound 17-year-old manchild who can skate fall completely through the draft? An NHL team is going to invite him to development camp, and with Cronin out at NU and the fact that McKee wasn’t drafted, look for him to sign an NHL contract and take his game to the OHL.

Jimmy Vesey, LW Belmont Hill (Prep)- Another New England prep snub, and motivation will have to be the tool Vesey uses to prove all 30 teams that they flubbed. North Reading, Mass. native is headed to Harvard in 2012 and his USHL rights are owned by Youngstown.

Zakhar Arzamastsev, D Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)- Mobile, shutdown blue liner should have gotten a look. Has some offensive upside and even with concerns about signability, was significantly more talented than quite a few d-men taken.

Mitch Elliot, LW Seattle (WHL)- Huge kid who’s a bit of a rough skater but has hands and vision. Oh, yeah- he can really fight. Are we starting to see a paradigm shift where skilled fighters are not as much in demand? Oh, wait- Flyers picked Derek Mathers who is a nasty fighter but can’t play a lick. Elliot’s snub really perplexing all things considered.