The second day of the NHL draft brought no shortage of players chosen from all reaches of the globe, but the top Russian skaters to change hands were both former selections.
A pair of once top prospects who had fallen into disfavor, Nikita Filatov and Evgeni Grachev, were both dealt. Filatov went from the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Ottawa Senators while Grachev moved from the New York Rangers to the St. Louis Blues.
The star forwards of Russia’s 2009 World Junior Championship squad were sent packing with a bit of a whimper, commanding only third-round selections in return.
"There’s no risk in this at all. A third round pick, you get a player that maybe four years from now could play to take a shot at a guy who was number six overall. It’s a no-lose for us,” Senators general manger Bryan Murray said.
Grachev may become part of a Russian invasion in St. Louis. Along with 2010 first-round pick Vladimir Tarasenko, Grachev could bolster a Blues offense that finished in the top ten in team scoring this season for the first time since the lockout.
Elsewhere former Calgary Flames blueliner Robyn Regehr ultimately approved his trade to the Buffalo Sabres. The deal for Chris Butler and Paul Byron was consummated after Regehr agreed to waive his no-trade clause. Buffalo will also receive a 2012 second rounder and the bulky short-term deal of forward Ales Kotalik.
Regehr, 31, shored up a Buffalo defense that looked a bit thin after sustaining the losses of veterans Toni Lydman and Henrik Tallinder last offseason.
The Tampa Bay Lightning and Phoenix Coyotes each made low-cost acquisitions. Phoenix brought in forward Marc-Antonie Pouliot from Tampa Bay for a seventh-round selection, 201st overall, which became Matthew Peca.
“We had some interest in Marc-Antonie Pouliot for a number of years. We’ve been searching for center-icemen, we don’t have a lot of depth (at center) in our system,” said Phoenix GM Don Maloney, who expressed optimism at the size, competitiveness and overall promise of his selections in this draft.
Tampa bolstered their defensive depth by acquiring Bruno Gervais from the New York Islanders for future considerations.
The Islanders remained relatively quiet despite dangling their fifth overall pick before selecting Ryan Strome, much to the chagrin of the Ottawa Senators. The last time the Isles had the fifth overall pick, they traded down not once but once but twice, ultimately selecting Josh Bailey ninth in 2008.
There were several potential trades from day one that Hockey’s Future learned more about today. Surprise selection Mark Scheifele, who went seventh overall, was apparently sought after widely. The Phoenix Coyotes targeted the product of Kitchener, where Maloney also hails from.
“We loved that kid. We were desperately trying to move up,” Maloney said.
The Dallas Stars and New York Rangers were known to have been shopping their first-round picks yesterday but neither team made a move. Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli said that the ninth overall selection may have been in play at one point, but also called Boston’s selection of Doug Hamilton “a no-brainer.”
Another holdover deal has been the widely reported trade that would return Ryan Smyth to the Edmonton Oilers. The Los Angeles Kings received a request from Smyth to be dealt closer to his home in Alberta for family reasons and were trying to accommodate him with a deal to either Calgary or Edmonton.
With the Flames’ re-signing of Alex Tanguay to a 5-year, $17.5M deal, they appear to have dropped out of the negotiations. The more likely and preferable destination for Smyth was Edmonton, however a deal for a late-round pick and Gilbert Brule deteriorated.
There were murmurs about concerns regarding Brule’s health, but Oilers GM Steve Tambellini said Brule was completely healthy and had been skating normally for some time following a concussion he sustained last season.
The narrowing of suitors for Smyth may put Edmonton in an advantageous position. Although both Tambellini and Kings GM Dean Lombardi declined comment on the trade, Tambellini did say his club sought veteran leadership to complement the young talent they have amassed in recent drafts.
“Whether it’s through free agency or a trade, we recognize that we need to have some solid leadership people around these players,” Tambellini said.