When most teams loose these days, usually one of the reasons behind it is so they will get a good draft pick in the next years draft. This year is no exception with the New York Islanders bombing the season just so they can have a chance at drafting one of the most talked about prospects in recent memory, John Tavares.
But not to be outdone is the almost equally as talented defenseman Victor Hedman, who has been compared to the likes of fellow countryman Borje Salming and Niklas Lidstrom. The only difference being about five inches in height.
Still, even without those two prospects, this is going to be a very deep and talented draft. Sadly though, I can only do until the 14th pick because the NHL playoffs haven't been completed yet.
It is also not known yet what trades might be made in between now and the time of the draft.
But without further ado, here is my projected 2009 NHL Mock Draft.
1. The New York Islanders will select John Tavares of the London Knights
This is a no brainer pick. John Tavares is easily the best forward in this draft and has been compared to the likes of Wayne Gretzky. With absolutely no offensive talents on this team outside the likes of Kyle Okposo, Tavares will have some growing pains. But with the continued struggles of this team, it is about time to give this franchise a face and bring some excitement back to Long Island.
2. The Tampa Bay Lightning will select Victor Hedman from Modo (Sweden)
Even if the Lightning won the first overall pick in this years draft, I still think they would make this pick. The Tampa Bay Lightning easily had one of the worst defenses in the NHL last season and it showed. So the addition of Hedman will give an automatic boost to a struggling Lightning team and give them further optimism for next season.
3. The Colorado Avalanche will select Matt Duchene of the Brampton Battalion
With the ever aging Joe Sakic expected to retire this season and there only legitimate scoring center being Paul Stastny, this team needs depth down the middle. Duchene could make the team out of the draft and immediately give them a second line. Plus he has the best acceleration I have seen in some time and his playmaking ability is stellar. At worst will make the team for the 2010-2011 season.
4. The Atlanta Thrashers will select Evander Kane of the Vancouver Giants
One of Don Cherry's favourite players, Evander Kane is a great scorer while bringing a physical presence with his small frame. He would definitely give Ilya Kovalchuk reason to stay in Atlanta while fitting in perfectly on a team lacking real talented scorers. Plus when he finally does fill out a little bit, will be an amazing player in the NHL.
5. The Los Angeles Kings will select Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi of Timra (Sweden)
This team already has a stable of prospects that is almost scary to look at and with another player that has been compared to Peter Forsberg being thrown into the mix, I can only imagine how good they soon will be. Plus with he fact that the Kings have chosen defenders in the past two drafts, this pick makes the most sense.
6. The Phoenix Coyotes will select Jared Cowan of the Spokane Chiefs
The Phoenix Coyotes are another team that has a scary amount of prospects and with Derek Morris being traded at the Trade Deadline, Wayne Gretzky will be looking for another defenseman to fill that hole. Even though he is a year or two away from making the NHL, Jared Cowan has the potential to be a premier shutdown defenseman in the NHL.
7. The Toronto Maple Leafs will select Braydon Schenn of the Brandon Wheat Kings
Brina Burke will move up in the draft easily but if he were to stick with this pick, I would imagine that he would go with Braydon Schenn. He is the type of player that leads by example. He works hard every shift and is always there to stick up for his teammates. Plus with his brother being Luke Schenn, how could Burke turn down such a good opportunity at another pair of brothers.
8. The Dallas Stars will select Nazem Kadri of the London Knights
If not for the trade that was made for John Tavares, Nazem Kadri would be on the top line of this team. He is a highly skilled, hard working player that is a brilliant skater. Plus with Mike Madano not getting any younger, it would be smart for the Dallas Stars to draft their player of the future. Look for Kadri to make the line-up not this season, but the season after that in 2010.
9. The Ottawa Senators will select Ryan Ellis of the Windsor Spitfires
The Ottawa Senators biggest problem was not having an offensive defenseman to man the power play and give that great first pass to the big three. Ryan Ellis is easily the best offensive defenseman prospect in this draft and has an amazing first pass. All he needs is a little more work with his defensive game and he will be a top offensive defenseman in the NHL.
10. The Edmonton Oilers will select Zack Kassian of the Peterborough Petes
One of the biggest issues with the Oilers this season was there lack of grit and toughness. Kassian will not only bring both of those to the table, but will also bring an offensive game as well. He is a great power forward who is always moving his feet and isn't scared to drop the gloves. Something that the Oilers sorely need.
11. The Nashville Predators will select Jordan Schroeder from the University of Minnesota
He will drop in this draft because of his size, but Nashville will be smart enough to pick him up. He is a great skill forward who has great hands and playmaking ability. Not to mention he is fast as well. He will of course spend another year or two at the University of Minnesota but will be NHL ready as soon as he comes out.
12. The Minnesota Wild will select Simon Despres of the Saint John Sea Dogs
Simon is a big, smart defenseman who can hit and is defensively sound. He can also score, but his repertoire is defense. Think of the more offensive version of Derek Morris. He is just solid all round. Plus with a team that only preaches defense and nothing more, he will fit in perfectly. The only knock on this guy is his skating. So he will probably take a couple years to develop.
13. The Buffalo Sabres will select John Moore of the Chicago Steel (USHL)
With Teppo Nummenin likely to retire and the defense getting a little grey, it will be a smart decision for Darcy Regier to draft John Moore. He basically has the same report as Simon Despres, only a little more offensive and a little less defensive. So don't expect him with the Sabres for a couple years.
14. The Florida Panthers will select Dmitri Kulikov of the Drummondville Voltigeurs
Absolutely phenomenal offensive defenseman getting over a point-a-game during the regular season and getting an astounding 17 points in only nine playoff games, Kulikov is an offensive force. That being said, his defensive side leaves something to be desired and same goes for his skating ability. But his potential cannot be ignored. Plus with the Panthers expected to loose Bouwmeester, Cullimore and Eminger on defense, it would be smart for them to take a flier on the Russian defender.
Once the playoffs are completed, I will be posting an updated, full version of my first round mock draft.
I have a new blog and if you want to check it out you can go to http://shanegordonhouse.blogspot.com/ and see all my articles starting from March 7, 2009.