Surprises, Disappointment For Collegians Atop 2009 NHL Draft

The Minnesota Wild pulled the ultimate fast one during Friday night’s NHL Entry Draft and in doing so were part of college hockey’s most disappointing opening draft round in recent memory.
 
After having the 13th overall pick in the first round, positioned perfectly the select Minnesota-born Jordan Schroeder, the Wild traded their top selection to the New York Islanders, moving down in the opening round to the 16th overall pick. Forty minutes later, with Schroeder amazingly still available, the Wild shocked the sellout crowd at Montreal’s Bell Centre, selecting Eden Prairie’s Nick Leddy.
 
Leddy, a freshman-to-be at Minnesota, was the lowest top collegiate pick since 1997, when Minnesota’s Ben Clymer was selected as the first pick of the second round, 27th overall by the Boston Bruins.
 

Jordan Schroeder, projected as a potential top-10 pick Friday, watched future Golden Gopher teammate Nick Leddy go first among players with collegiate ties (photo: Jason Waldowski).

Jordan Schroeder, projected as a potential top-10 pick Friday, watched future Golden Gopher teammate Nick Leddy go first among players with collegiate ties (photo: Jason Waldowski).

A hometown boy, Leddy will develop in front of his future employer, playing next year at Minnesota. Though only Wild property for less than an hour, the young Leddy already was aware of the pressure that will come.
 
“I would say there’s a little bit [of pressure],” said Leddy. “I guess you can always rise to it. That’s the kind of player I am.”
 
Schroeder, who many thought was a guaranteed top-10 pick, fell all the way to 22nd overall, becoming the property of the Vancouver Canucks.
 
Between Leddy and Schroeder, though, was a blitzkrieg of collegians. Harvard freshman-to-be Louis Leblanc was picked 18th by his hometown team and Draft host, Montreal. Chris Kreider, a freshman next year at Boston College, was picked 19th by the New York Rangers. And Colorado College rookie-to-be John Moore was picked 21st by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
 
“Whether I was sixth or 20th, I was happy to go,” said Moore of the difficulty in waiting to hear his name called. “I have to work as hard as I can over the summer and for the rest of my life and hopefully I’ll be, when the opportunity presents itself, I will be physically ready for the challenge.”
 
Kreider, who was the second American selected behind Leddy, said he’s excited about playing for Boston College but also understands that it’s unlikely that he’ll be there for all of the next four years.
 
“It depends on how I develop,” said Kreider of how long he intends to stay at Boston College. “I’m just thrilled to be drafted by the Rangers and I’m focused on that right now.”
 
The 2009 Draft was set up as a “meant to happen” moment for top selection John Tavares. When former Maine goaltender Garth Snow stepped to the podium to announce the New York Islanders’ pick, the top overall selection in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Tavares’ name was quickly on the tip of his tongue, a surprise to no one.
 
The forward was the ultimate stud of the Draft class and had only Sweden’s Victor Hedman to beat into the first spot to become the top pick of 2009.
 
For a team like the Islanders, scoring goals is valued at a premium. Offense, which obviously can be delivered by Tavares, was worth the price to make the 18-year-old the prime prospect to be in the NHL next year.
 
After that, there was little confusion when it came to the second overall pick, as Hedman was Tampa Bay’s easy choice, placing a talented defenseman into an organization that needs blueliners who can immediately make an impact.
 
By the time the third overall pick arrived, so too did a trade. Anaheim moved defenseman Chris Pronger to Philadelphia for Luca Sbisa and Joffrey Lupul and two first-round picks, which give the Flyers a chance to select at number 21 this year and wherever the Ducks end up a year from now in 2010.
 
The impact, though, had zero to do with the transaction and Colorado picked Matt Duchene, a center who played for Brampton in the OHL, as its first-round choice, the third overall.
 
The Draft’s first shock came when the Phoenix Coyotes chose Oliver Ekman-Larsson, a Swedish-born prospect, sixth overall. Larsson, a skilled defenseman, was predicted to be selected between 13th and 15th, so his ascent, while not positively received by the pro-Canadian crowd at Montreal’s Bell Centre, became an early storyline for the Draft.
 
Just when it seemed American collegiate hockey would head to the Draft stage, the Wild threw everyone for a loop. When most expected that Minnesota would draft Lakeville, Minn., native Schroeder as their top choice, they traded their first-round pick to the New York Islanders in exchange for New York’s first (16th overall), third (77th overall) and seventh (182nd overall) selections in this year’s draft.
 
But even as Schroeder sat available three picks later, the Wild still decided to pass and grab Leddy, Minnesota’s “Mr. Hockey” from a year ago.
 
After Schroeder made it to the stage as the 22nd pick, there were just two collegians who followed. Notre Dame recruit Kyle Palmieri was picked 26th by Anaheim and Minnesota-Duluth freshman-to-be Dylan Olsen was grabbed 29th by Tampa Bay.
 
The NHL Draft will conclude on Saturday beginning at 10:00 a.m. ET with the second through seventh rounds.

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