2011 NHL Draft Grades, Atlantic Division

Here are some knee-jerk draft grades for the Atlantic Division.

New Jersey Devils: B+
The Devils really lucked out that defenseman Adam Larsson was on the board at No. 4 overall. The polished Swede will be an NHL mainstay for years to come and could even end up being be the best player in the entire draft. They get docked for not having a second-round pick, which the league made New Jersey forfeit for attempting to circumvent the salary cap with the Ilya Kovalchuk contract fiasco of 2010.

New York Islanders: A-
Owning four of the top 63 picks, the Islanders had a great draft. First they grabbed skilled center Ryan Strome fifth overall. Early in the second round they were able to pick a 6-foot-4, smooth-skating defenseman in Scott Mayfield who many thought could be a first round talent. At No. 50 overall the Isles nabbed a 6-foot-2 Swedish center, and they rounded the early choices out with Andrei Pedan, a 6-foot-4 defenseman. That’s a lot of size and skill added for an organization that’s looking to build through the draft.

New York Rangers: B
The Rangers selected Pittsburgh native J.T. Miller at No. 15 overall and then had to wait until No. 72 before they had another pick. Who knows if any of their middle round picks will ever turn into professional prospects, but adding Miller to the fold ensures they ought to have at least one impact player come out of the 2011 draft.

Philadelphia Flyers: B+
Sean Couturier, thought to be a top prospect, slipped to the Flyers at No. 8 overall, which is good enough to salvage a B+ here. However, they just traded a surefire NHL impact player (Jeff Carter) for two young, unproven players in Couturier and Jakub Voracek. Time will tell if the risky deal was wise, but it's hard to argue the pick of Couturier makes it a solid draft for Philly.

Pittsburgh Penguins: C+
Using a first round pick on defenseman Joe Morrow might be understandable, since the Penguins don’t have any players with Morrow’s skill-set in their prospect pool. But GM Ray Shero went off the board in the second round, selecting a defensive defenseman in Scott Harrington. It was a surprising move in many observers' eyes. The Pens then used their three middle-round picks on smallish, little-known forwards that seem to be longshots at this point.

NHL Drafts take a long time to sort themselves out, but as of now, Shero passed over several well-regarded skill forward prospects to add two defensemen. Considering the Pens' weakness in young forwards, and strength in prospect defensemen, it was a curious draft. Defensemen can always be moved for forward assets, as the trades of Ryan Whitney and Alex Goligoski proved, so Pens fans will just have to be patient and hope the Pittsburgh scouts selected young players who can pan out.

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