The NHL's annual entry draft is somewhat unique in the world of pro sports. Instead of various teams scattered across the continent sending in picks for a commissioner to read, everyone gathers in one building, with all 30 teams squished together at massive tables on an arena floor to make the picks themselves. It's a system that has its plusses (more trades, at least in theory) and minuses (seriously, guys, shut up with the preamble and just make the pick), but it's rarely boring, and this weekend was no exception.
The biggest star of the opening round was, as expected, top prospect Auston Matthews. He'd been the presumptive top pick all season long, and despite a small measure of intrigue thanks to a late push by Finnish winger Patrik Laine, the top of the draft played out as expected, with Matthews going to the Toronto Maple Leafs and their vaguely insane fan base. The second pick also followed the script, with Laine going to the Jets. That's when things started to go off the rails a bit, and we'll get to that down below.
In the end, the draft may be remembered as much for what didn't happen—remember when P.K. Subban was getting traded?—as for what did. And it may be overshadowed quickly, as we count down the days to Friday's opening of the free agency signing period. More than a few teams headed into the weekend looking to free up cap space for this year's auction; not all succeeded, at least not yet, which could set the stage for an interesting next few days.
One way or another, the league is going to look a lot different a week from today than it does right now. But for today, let's take a look back at the winners, losers and surprises from draft weekend.
Celebrating those who've had the best week.
5. Tyson Jost's grandpa—Jost went tenth overall to the Avalanche. It was a nice moment, given the often-difficult path he and his family had followed to get here. Then his grandfather reacted like this, and suddenly everyone's allergies were acting up:
Tyson Jost— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) June 25, 2016
4. 'Merica—Matthews became the seventh American to be taken first overall, joining the likes of Patrick Kane and Mike Modano (and also Rick DiPietro and Brian Lawton, but let's keep it positive). Two more Americans went in the top seven, and by the end of the round a total of 12 had been picked, equaling the number of Canadians taken and establishing a new US record. Perhaps even more encouraging, the picks weren't limited to the country's usual hockey hot spots, with picks used on players from Arizona and (especially) Missouri.