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NHL Draft: First Round Wrap-Up

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Honestly, the draft picks weren't really the story yesterday in the NHL.  Steve Stamkos went to the Lightning as expected, while the Kings, Thrashers, Blues and Maple Leafs all went with defensemen in a d-heavy class.  And, of course, the Avalanche picked nobody.

The real news was the mass salary dump of several teams, as they traded away talented, proven players for the possibility of maybe having a good player or two several years from now.  Mike Cammalleri got sent to the Calgary Flames as part of a three-way draft pick trade that included Anaheim and his now-former team, the Kings.  The Flames also sent former-Av Alex Tanguay to Montreal.  The most interesting tidbit from that deal was this quote by Canadiens general manager Bob Gainey:

"Alex Tanguay was not comfortable with the Calgary Flames."

I don't blame him.  That team sucks.

Olli Jokinen is no longer the centerpiece of the Florida Panthers, which is really good for him.  Maybe not so good is where he's going: Phoenix.  The Coyotes improved last season, and they have a much better potential to play well than Florida, but there's still a lot of work to be done before that franchise is anything close to dominant.

And finally, the last big trade of the day involved R.J. Umberger.  He's going from the Eastern Conference Finals with the Flyers to what could be the Western Conference basement with the Columbus Blue Jackets.  The Jackets have some serious lineup problems, and decided to go with a forward on draft day instead of attempting to fill their gaping hole in defense (thanks to Adam Foote).  Good for them.  At least Rick Nash won't be the only guy up front who can score goals---maybe.  I have a feeling Columbus will try to sign some kind of D during free agency, but you never know with those guys.

The NHL Entry Draft continues today with rounds two through seven.  The Avalanche will choose their first draft pick (50th overall) during the second round.