Monday, July 11, 2022

Rating the biggest NHL draft moments from draft weekend on the Surprise Scale

For the first time in three years, the NHL held its annual entry draft in person. While the league did what it had to do in Zoom era, it’s probably fair to say that those drafts won’t stand out as being especially memorable. This one will, and as always with a good draft week, it’s at least partly because of how it surprised us.

That seems like a good excuse to break out the Surprise Scale for the first time since those distant days of 2019. This is the gimmick where we look at the draft through the lens of how much it was able to deliver on the unexpected. Whether it’s a surprising pick, a big trade, or just something weird, it’s always great when an event that gets previewed and mocked and hyper-analyzed as much as the draft can still surprise us.

As always, surprises are rated on a scale of 0 to 100 based on a scientific model of me just making it up as I go along. We’ll start in the hours leading up to the draft, when the Blackhawks decided to throw a wrench into everyone’s afternoon off…

The Alex DeBrincat Trade

We knew the deal was coming, because the Hawks kept telling us it was even though it didn’t make all that much sense. Chicago is rebuilding, but that feels like all the more reason to hold onto a 24-year-old who scores 40 goals. The one argument in favor of a deal was that DeBrincat was easily the team’s top trade chip, so maybe somebody would step up with an offer that was just too good to say no to.

Then the deal went down with the Senators and… well, it’s fair to say the return wasn’t overwhelming. Two draft picks, including the seventh overall and an early second-rounder, and that was it. No prospects, no picks in future drafts to file away, just two picks in a decent draft in exchange for your best player.

As far as surprises go, this deal shouldn’t have ranked all that high, if only because we knew it was coming. But given how uninspiring the return was for Chicago and what a potential steal this looks like for Ottawa, we can bump it up a few points.

Surprise scale: 60/100. Seriously, the Hawks know that Ottawa has like a dozen solid prospects, right?

With no other major moves breaking in the leadup to the big night, let’s move on to the draft itself…

The Crowd in Montreal

They were amazing. An absolute A+. Being in the building on Thursday night was one of the highlights of my life as a hockey writer. I can’t pump their tires enough.

For the first few decades of the amateur and entry draft, the event was always held in Montreal. Honestly, at this point I think I’m willing to support going back to that. You rock, Montreal fans.

Surprise scale: 90/100. Look, I know Montreal fans are great, and my expectations were high. You blew them away.

And of course, we can’t talk about the crowd without a mention of…

Gary Bettman gets booed

It was brutal. We’re talking a 1995 Devils fans level of heat. And as always, Bettman seemed completely thrown off. He came with the same condescending jokes he always tries, and even worked in a new angle by speaking some truly awful French (although we’ll give him credit at least memorizing it this time, instead of reading it off a gum wrapper). But within a few seconds it was clear that this was going to be ugly.

>> Read the full post at The Athletic

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