NHL Draft 2019: 3 takeaways from the first round

The first round of the NHL Draft has come and gone and there are some clear-cut takeaways from it.

One comes with a question.

Another with a head scratch.

And the final one with some recent historical significance.

Here are three takeaways from the first round of the NHL Draft:

United States National Team Development Program sets record

The NTDP was the star Friday night and there is absolutely no denying it. The team had the No. 1 pick in Jack Hughes, the No. 5 pick in Alex Turcotte and the No. 9 pick in Trevor Zegras. All three of those young men are centers and all three played on the same team this year.

There’s a reason they were setting records left and right and that story has even more depth to it. There were seven players taken from the NTDP in the first 15 picks alone as Matthew Boldy, Spencer Knight, Cam York and Cole Caufield were all selected as well. John Beecher was taken by the Bruins with the 30th pick as well giving this team eight first-round picks in 2019.

How on earth did this team not win the U18 World Championships?

A run on defensemen

It’s undeniable that teams were doing all they could to not go without drafting a defenseman in the early goings. It all started with Bowen Byram, who the Avalanche took at No. 4 overall. This was a great pick. Now they will have Cale Makar on one line and Byram on another — a frightening proposition for Western Conference teams. This pair could be the equivalent of the Sharks’ Erik Karlsson and Brent Burns in a few years.

But this is where it got weird. Because Byram was expected to go very high, some thought he would even go third to the Blackhawks, but no other defenseman was seen as a top-2 guy in this draft. However, there were two drafted like it.

The Red Wings made a bit of a reach taking Moritz Seider at No. 6 in a move must have woken some teams up because the Oilers then took Philip Broberg two picks later. He was also seen as a 15-to-20 selection rather than a top-10 pick.

Then the floodgates opened and defenseman started flying off the board as Victor Soderstrom went eighth to the Coyotes, Cam York went 14th to the Flyers and Thomas Harley went 18th to the Stars. That’s six defensemen in the top 18 picks and only one was seen as truly to be valued in that range. That is definitely what you call a run.

A goalie in the first round

This doesn’t even need a creative header because the headline says it all: A goalie was taken in the first round. It sounds plain and boring but considering it was just the third time since 2012 a goalie has been taken in the first round, it was a pretty historic selection.

What made it even more rare was the goalie taken was Spencer Knight out of the NTDP. He is the first American goalie taken in the first round since the Kings took Jack Campbell in 2010. That’s a significant pick and one Knight has a chance to live up to.

He’s a special player with great hockey sense and without a true weakness. He will be going to Boston College next year, but then could very well either be the Panthers’ goalie of the future, or a key backup to Sergei Bobrovsky if Florida does indeed sign him. Knight’s going to be a fun story to watch going forward in his career.