Ducks emerge as big Day 1 winners 

June, 26, 2010

The first round of the 2010 draft came and went without a lot of wheeling and dealing. I don't know why that surprises me anymore. Each year, we (in the media) expect a crazy night of deals. It never materializes. If we're honest, we'd probably just love the excitement of a night like that. These days, in a salary cap world, general managers can be pretty limited in what they can do.

The Florida Panthers, under the direction of new GM Dale Tallon, made the most significant move of the night, dealing D Keith Ballard to Vancouver. Among other things, Tallon got back a third first-round pick for his rebuilding franchise. And he was able to move Ballard's $4.2 million cap hit off the books.

I do think the deal works for both teams because the Canucks have a need for a top-four defender like Ballard. GM Mike Gillis clearly wanted to upgrade his defensive group. I suspect he'd like to add another experienced defender through a trade or free agency in the coming days.

On the evening, there were five teams (Panthers, New York Islanders, Anaheim Ducks, Phoenix Coyotes and St. Louis Blues) that had multiple first-round picks. There were six other organizations (New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks) that never made a trip to the stage in Round 1. That certainly makes for boring draft parties in those half-dozen cities.

While we won't know for couple of years which teams really did well or bombed out with their picks, I thought it might be a good time to look at some winners and losers from last night's festivities.

E.J. Hradek

Senior Writer, ESPN The Magazine
E.J. Hradek is a senior writer at ESPN The Magazine, joining the staff prior to its launch in 1998. He began covering hockey as a writer/editor for Hockey Illustrated in 1989.