Spring is here for the National Hockey League, which means the real season has begun.
That's right the Stanley Cup Playoffs are in the eyes of sixteen teams. The remaining fourteen organizations are now planning and working on their options for the National Hockey League 2009 Entry Draft.
Here are my projected picks for this years Entry Draft.
1). New York Islanders—John Tavares, C, London, OHL—Tavares will instantly become the franchise player the Islanders have been waiting for. He has excellent vision and natural talent and can project the play before it happens. He will suffer some growing pains, but he will adapt quickly to the NHL game. While he can not bring the Islanders back to their old glory days by himself, he will become an important part in bringing the Islanders back to their old glory.
2). Tampa Bay Lightning—Victor Hedman, D, Modo—Hedman is a big, fast defenseman from Sweden who will dominate on the blue-line. He can make plays happen very quickly. He posses excellent vision and will be a huge boast to Tampa's power-play.
3). Colorado Avalanche—Evander Kane, C, Vancouver—Evander is an excellent stick handler and scoring touch. After an amazing season leading the WHL in scoring he is ready to bring his game to a struggling, but talented Colorado team.
4). Atlanta Thrashers—Magnus Paajarvisvensson, LW, Timra—Without a doubt Paajarvisvensson is the best forward coming out of Europe this year. He has great two way skills and has been compared to other great Swedes like Forsberg and Sundin. He will be the piece of the puzzle Atlanta has been needing.
5). Los Angeles Kings—Matt Duchene, C, Brampton—Finally the term rebuilding can be taken off the Kings, and playoff team can be added to the label. This young but extremely talented team will become even better with Duchene. He is a quick two way player that can break a game open quickly. Probably one of the fastest skaters from a dead stop in the draft.
6). Phoenix Coyotes—Nazem Kadri, C, London—Over shadowed by teammate John Tavares, Kadri possess the most accurate shot in the draft. Coach Gretzky will be the perfect person to help Kadri develop into an NHL player. With a tutor like that you can see Kadri being a Calder Cup contender next season.
7). Toronto Maple Leafs—Dmitry Kulikov, D, Drummondville–While I expect Brian Burke to trade this pick and move down in the draft, he could decide to keep it and select Kulikov. He is a hard hitting defensemen with good puck handling skills. This is a corner stone for every successful Burke team.
8). Dallas Stars—Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Leksand—It will be at least a year before he can show his skills in the NHL, but Oliver is a hard hitting, fast skating defensemen in the mold of Sydor. Will be a big boost to an aging blue line.
9). Ottawa Senators—Brayden Schenn, C, Brandon—He is one of the hardest working players in the draft. Schenn could develop into a solid second line center for the Senators. He has excellent passing skills and a very accurate wrist shot.
10). Edmonton Oilers—Jared Cowan, D, Spokane—He is a big, bruising blueliner. Cowan will not get many points but he is a solid shot blocker who is not afraid to throw his body around.
11). Nashville Predators—Jacob Josefson, C, Djurgarden—A smart skater, who does not take risky chances but knows when the time is right to make the right play. Josefson is a good passer who should pile up a lot of assists during his career.
12). Minnesota Wild—John Moore, D, Chicago—Moore is a small but quick defensman with good puck handling skills. He will take some time to develop but should become a solid blue liner in two to three years.
13). Buffalo Sabres—Scott Glennie, C, Brandon— A small quick forward perfect for the system Buffalo employees. There is plenty of video of Glennie on you tube, which is perfect for the Sabres since they discarded their scouting department.
14). Florida Panthers—Nick Leddy, D, Eden Prarrie—This might be a reach but after two years in the AHL this kid could become the blue liner the Panthers need. He is quick and still growing. Leddy is an excellent shot blocker that can also handle the puck.
Consider this to be continued as the playoffs begin to dictate how the remainder of the draft plays out.