2014 NHL Draft: The Biggest Steals and Reaches on Day 2
The lights shine brightest on first-round picks at the NHL draft. Without question, these players are often crucial to an organization's future successes. Yet most of the top teams draft well in the later rounds by building good foundations for their teams.
Notable outstanding players drafted outside of Round 1 include Mark Messier, Pavel Datsyuk, Nick Lidstrom, Zdeno Chara and Shea Weber.
Hockey players, especially as teenagers, develop at much different rates, even if they are projected to be professionals somewhere down the road.
For many reasons, some players are selected higher than what most scouts feel is appropriate. Others see their stock lowered by scouts since a player's overall performance is so heavily scrutinized in today's game.
With all of this in mind, let's take a look at the players whose draft position differed most from expectations leading up to this year's event. Here are the biggest steals and reaches on the second day of the NHL draft.
Steal: Ivan Barbashev to St. Louis Blues in Round 2, Pick 33
It borders on stunning that Ivan Barbashev went undrafted in Round 1 of the NHL draft.
The talented forward, who has spent a lot of time at centre, has mature two-way skills that allowed him to look dominant from time to time in the QMJHL.
Barbashev is not large at 6'0" and 181 pounds, but there is room to grow. Despite not being a huge player, he does have a physical edge and delivers a solid body check when needed.
He put up 68 points in 58 games last season. With the St. Louis Blues' depth at forward, they can afford to be patient with the young pivot.
Barbashev is a steal at No. 33.
Reach: Vitek Vanecek to Washington Capitals in Round 2, Pick 39
The Washington Capitals reached with their Round 2 pick. At No. 39, they selected young Czech goaltender Vitek Vanecek.
With several goalies ranked much higher than the Czech standout, Washington's scouting staff and management must have seen something they really liked about this young man.
Vanecek is not a large netminder by NHL standards, as he stands 6'0" and weighs about 165 pounds. He's an athletic goalie who relies on his skills versus his size and positioning to make saves.
He was ranked at No. 8 by NHL Central Scouting among European goalies. Conventional wisdom would have had him drafted in the fourth or fifth round.
At No. 39, Vanecek to the Washington Capitals is a reach pick.
Steal: Roland McKeown to Los Angeles Kings in Round 2, Pick 50
The Los Angeles Kings have built a great team thanks in large part to their astute drafting. Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick are all Kings draft picks who have led the team to two Stanley Cups.
Roland McKeown should be considered a steal as a later second-round pick. The Kingston Frontenacs defenceman is an exceptional skater with the kind of mobility that all NHL teams crave.
At 6'1" and 186 pounds, McKeown is not massive, but he can play the physical game when required to do so.
McKeown was at No. 27 among North American skaters rated by NHL Central Scouting. This seemed low based on his very good play in 2013-14. TSN's Bob McKenzie had him rated at No. 17 in his ranking of all eligible players.
Sam Bennett's teammate moves the puck very well and joins the rush with ease. With 43 points in 62 games and a plus-38 rating as an 18-year-old, McKeown is poised to have a great year in 2014-15.
As with all of their top prospects, the Kings will not rush the young rearguard, so don't expect to see McKeown in sunny Southern California for at least two or three more seasons.
Reach: Elvis Merzlikins to Columbus Blue Jackets in Round 3, Pick 76
Selecting young goaltenders is a difficult task for all NHL clubs.
Projecting forwards and defencemen is challenging enough at this age, but predicting how young goaltenders will do as pros is extremely difficult. It is rare to see a goaltender make an impact at the NHL level before reaching 22 or 23 years of age.
The Columbus Blue Jackets reached with their pick of Latvian goaltender Elvis Merzlikins at No. 76. They made him the seventh goalie selected despite him being the sixth-ranked European goaltender in the draft, according to NHL Central Scouting.
Merzlikins did post good numbers with Lugano in the Swiss-A league. He had a .924 save percentage along with a 2.13 goals-against average.
There is no question that he's talented, but at No. 76, this qualified as a reach by the Blue Jackets.
Steal: Ryan MacInnis to Arizona Coyotes in Round 2, Pick 43
At 6'3" and 185 pounds, American centre Ryan MacInnis has the physical tools that all NHL teams covet. He has strength and tremendous reach.
His bloodlines don't hurt, either, as he's the son of former NHL star and Hockey Hall of Famer Al MacInnis.
The Kitchener Rangers pivot put up 37 points in his rookie season in the OHL. He played 66 games and displayed his maturing two-way game throughout the year.
He's a raw talent and several seasons away from potentially cracking the Arizona Coyotes roster.
Nevertheless, as the 20th-ranked North American skater prospect, according to NHL Central Scouting, he is a steal for Arizona at No. 43.
Reach: Zach Nagelvoort to Edmonton Oilers in Round 4, Pick 111
The Edmonton Oilers certainly need to stock their prospect cupboard with young players.
In particular, goaltending prospects have been in short supply in recent years. The Oilers have no goaltenders knocking on the door at the NHL level who've developed within their minor league system.
The Oilers selected University of Michigan goalie Zach Nagelvoort with their fourth-round pick, but he has to be considered a big reach at No. 111 overall.
Nagelvoort was the 20th-ranked North American goalie coming into the draft. Several higher-ranked North American and European goalies remained available to general manager Craig MacTavish.
Maybe Nagelvoort will prove to be an astute pick, but on this day, he qualifies as a big reach.