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2015 NHL Draft Coverage: First Round Recap

Zach Werenski and Kyle Connor have been drafted into the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Winnipeg Jets organizations, respectively.

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To put it lightly, it was a loud evening full of boos and cheers at the BB&T Center, as one of the best generational talents in years, Connor McDavid, became a member of the Edmonton Oilers.

As I recapped last night via vlog, the draft was absolutely nuts, but Michigan had a stupendous evening and proved a few things in the process.

Zach Werenski - 8th Overall, Columbus Blue Jackets

I love this pick for Columbus. After losing out on the Mike Reilly sweepstakes, the Blue Jackets will get a college defenseman who is starting look like less and less of a college player by the day in terms of maturity, size, and talent.

It's not often that I project my opinions about players in posts (nor is it often that I write in the first person), but the Blue Jackets desperately need defensemen from every single direction, and Werenski is a huge get after Provorov slid off the board at seventh.

What Columbus has here is a defender, who is a tad bit of a project, but can work all areas of the ice and be a serviceable top-four guy. They don't have that currently after trading James Wisniewski and allowing Jack Johnson to be their be-all end-all blue-liner. Jack Johnson just isn't all that great (highly overrated) and isn't going to trend upward anytime soon. With rumors floating that the Blue Jackets would be willing to part with some forward prospects in order to get D, they'll be able to relax a bit now on that front and take another look should the need arise.

Zach goes to a blooming organization, gets at least a Michigan connection (though for how long we shall see) in Johnson, and an opportunity to join a sound organization should he choose to leave Michigan in the immediate future. If not, the Blue Jackets will be even better by the time he joins them further down the road.

Kyle Connor - 17th Overall, Winnipeg Jets

Coincidentally, after randomly picking seats in the stands, the second half of the SB Nation draft crew wound up sitting next to some of Kyle Connor's Extended family. He was extraordinarily close to going to Detroit, his hometown team, but the Jets nabbed him instead:

I'm seriously questioning as to how many full-time Winnipeg scouts live in Ann Arbor, considering that every one of their picks has either done time with the US National Team Development Program or is an active roster player/commit to the University of Michigan: Trouba, Copp, and now Roslovic and Connor to name a few.

Adding Kyle Connor that low in the draft is a home-run for Winnipeg. He's an easy kid to be high on, but he adds to an immensely well-balanced and deep prospect pool. The Jets are that team that really has to rely especially on the draft thanks to its lack of appeal in trades and its small market, apparently turnoffs for players. (Would you voluntarily live in -50 F temperatures to play hockey when you could play in California on a contender or two?)

However, Connor is far from an insurance policy. While appearing on Broome & Henschke in addition to Joe's in-depth preview, he was highlighted as a guy who can do pretty much anything you ask of him. He appears all over the ice, has wonderful hands, and can make plays at any given turn. He'll fit in just fine north of the border, no matter how many relatives disapprove of the snow.