Attending the NHL draft is one of the most thrilling and unique experiences a hockey fan can have.
Watching it on TV is a fine alternative, and while some may see four hours of watching men in suits call young players to the stage as a waste of a Friday night, the draft is a compelling event.
You're watching young men who've dedicated most of their lives to this pursuit — and much of their family's lives — finally reach that pinnacle of being drafted and find out where the next phase of their career will lead them.
You're seeing how far the actual picks deviate from the consensus rankings, how high certain teams are on certain players, which players go shockingly early or surprisingly late, and of course, don't forget the trades on the draft floor.
Friday's draft was the first one in several years where the first overall pick was not a foregone conclusion.
Sure, most people expected the Edmonton Oilers to take top-ranked right winger Nail Yakupov, but there was a reasonable possibility that they'd opt to fill a need and choose defenceman Ryan Murray instead. In fact, one plausible scenario had Yakupov sliding to the third pick.
At any rate, Oilers general manager ended the drama with the words "from the Sarnia Sting" and took Yakupov, only the third Russian to be picked first overall, after Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexander Ovechkin.
The Columbus Blue Jackets turned down a larger-than-life offer that included the New York Islanders' entire draft to take Murray, their preferred option all along.
That left the Montreal Canadiens to snag Yakupov's Sarnia teammate Alex Galchenyuk, a big centre who some scouts believe will eventually be the best player in the draft.
The next seven picks were all defencemen, an unprecedented run on a position that this draft had in abundance. A record-high eight players in the top 10 were rearguards.
The biggest surprises in that group in terms of how early they went were Hampus Lindholm, who went sixth to Anaheim; Weyburn's Derrick Pouliot; who was picked eighth by Pittsburgh, and Slater Koekkoek, who went 10th to Tampa Bay.
Of course, that streak of defencemen caused some highly ranked forwards to fall much lower than projected. Swedish left winger Filip Forsberg, a consensus top-five pick, slid to 11th where he was scooped up by Washington.
Russian centre Mikhail Grigorenko, considered the biggest wild card in the draft due to his sublime skill combined with consistency and work ethic that have been questioned, fell to 12th, where he was picked by Buffalo.
And the player who slid the furthest from his expected draft position in the first round was winger Teuvo Teravainen, a small, supremely talented Finn who was a consensus top-10 pick, but didn't hear his name called until Chicago selected him at 18th.
This year's draft was not considered particularly strong, with many players deemed interchangeable, which opened the door to lots of players being picked in different ranges than the rankings would suggest.
However, it did cut down the number of draft pick trades on the floor, with teams either not seeing much to separate the players on their list, or figuring that the player they liked would still be there at their pick.
Despite the fluidity of the draft this year, those who had a look at my mock draft published on my blog last week will see that I predicted 25 of the 30 players who went in the first round, an accomplishment I clearly take a little too seriously.
One of the trends that distinguished this year's draft from the last few was the number of skilled European forwards taken in the first round.
The first Canadian forward to be picked was Tom Wilson, 16th by the Capitals.
Let that sink in for a minute.
More often than not, a Canadian forward is the first overall pick, and there are usually many more where he came from.
Having no Canadian forwards in the top 10 is unheard of, and something I've never seen in roughly 15 years following the draft.
It should be noted that it was a banner year for Canadian defencemen, though, with eight being taken in the opening round, including six in the top 10 alone.
There were plenty of deserving Europeans to fill the forward void, from Yakupov and Galchenyuk — who has both American and Russian heritage — to centres Radek Faksa (Czech Republic), Zemgus Girgensons (Latvia) and Tomas Hertl (Czech Republic).
It's usually foolish to try to definitively declare winners and losers based on draft picks just days after they were chosen. But based on the opinions of the scouting world, the Canadiens did appear to get a staggering amount of value for their picks.
Aside from picking up Galchenyuk, the Habs got two other potential top 30 picks in the second round in left winger Sebastian Collberg (33rd) and defenceman Dalton Thrower (51st). Their third-round pick, left winger Tim Bozon, was a consensus second-round pick, as was their fourth-rounder, centre Brady Vail.
If even a few of those prospects work out, the Habs did a nice job of restocking their system in one draft.
Meanwhile, we Leafs fans are left hoping that James van Riemsdyk can stay healthy long enough for us to forget Luke Schenn.
Josh Lewis can be reached by phone at 634-2654, by e-mail at spo...@estevanmercury.ca, on Twitter at twitter.com/joshlewis306 or on his Bruins Banter blog at estevanmercury.ca/bruinsbanter. Was anyone surprised to see England lose to Italy on penalties? Really?