The 2013 NHL draft is now over, and it's time to grade the best team performances on draft day.
The best teams will have selected a mix of NHL-ready prospects that fit team needs, as well as intriguing prospects who offer enticing options for the future.
There are few teams that met those criteria. Which teams were they? Read on to find out.
The Predators got lucky when stud defenseman Seth Jones fell into their laps with the fourth overall picks. Now, the Preds can combine Shea Weber and Jones into an elite pairing.
They also selected monstrous defenseman Jonathan-Ismael Diaby and skilled center in Felix Girard, who scored 23 goals with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.
The real prize, however, is Jones, who could've easily been selected with the first overall pick. After losing Ryan Suter last season to free agency, Jones will make the jump from juniors instantly and play first-pairing minutes. He has an absolute bomb from the point and the power play should be instantly upgraded.
The Preds still need to upgrade their offense, and will look to do so in free agency. But Jones represents a real step forward for the Preds, who have fallen on hard times after consistent contention in the early part of the century.
The Preds, mainly because of their luck, earned a grade of "A+."
The Sabres had a pretty bad defense last year. They gave up 2.9 goals per game, which was 22nd in the league. They also had the 26th-ranked penalty kill.
To address this, the Sabres went all defense with their two first-round picks. First, they selected Rasmus Ristolainen, a menacing, physical defenseman from Finland. Ristolainen averaged 25 minutes in the Finnish league, where he played against men as an 18-year-old. He's NHL ready and, combined with Tyler Myers, gives the Sabres a legitimate first-pair.
He also has an rocket from the point, and should upgrade a power play that converted on just 14.1 percent of its chances.
Their second first-round pick was Nikita Zadorov, a defenseman with London of the OHL. Another physical, hulking defenseman, Zadorov also has some offensive ability. Probably a year away, Zadorov will eventually fill a role in the top four.
In addition, the Sabres snagged J.T. Compher, a center who had 24 points in the USHL last season, and Connor Hurley, another center who scored 15 goals with his high school team in Minnesota.
Between Ristolainen and Zadorov, the Sabres have really improved their defense. The two project as good players for a long time, and they should help Ryan Miller find his game again.
They earned a grade of "A-."
New Jersey Devils
The Devils' best move on draft day was a trade. They shipped the ninth overall pick to the Vancouver Canucks for Cory Schneider, as Pierre LeBrun of ESPN reports:
The Devils now have a plan for when Martin Brodeur retires, which could be after next season. Schneider, just 27, had a 2.11 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage, along with five shutouts.
While Brodeur will be the starting goaltender next season, the two could split some of the duties, keeping Brodeur fresh for the stretch run. And after Brodeur retires, the Devils have a legitimate and quality starter in net, who is already much better than anyone they could've selected with the ninth overall pick.
In addition to Schneider, the Devils also picked up Steven Santini, a defenseman with the U.S. NDTP. He is a physical, stay-at-home defenseman who will attend Boston College in the fall. Also, a sleeper pick is Myles Bell, a fifth-round pick out of Kelowna of the WHL. Bell scored 38 goals and had 55 assists last season.
With Schneider in the fold, as well as shrewd drafting the rest of the way, the Devils easily had one of the best drafts. Their effort deserves a grade of "A-."
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