It's springtime in the NHL again. While the top sixteen teams in the league are battling it out for Lord Stanley's mug, the other fourteen are looking forward, forward to what can be the event that can spell the doom of a franchise, or be the start of a rise to greatness.
Yes, I am speaking of the upcoming NHL draft. With this year's draft class being one of the most talented in recent memory, most scouts must be salivating at the potential players they could acquire for their respective teams. Here is my look at what I believe will be the result of the top ten picks in this year's draft, and a breakdown of each pick.
1. John Tavares - New York Islanders
Make no mistake, the Islanders have to make this pick. This isn't simply a question of talent, it is a question of marketability. John Tavares has the ability to be a selling point in Long Island.
He might be a reason why season ticket holders will renew. Forget what Brian Burke has said about acquiring this pick, because it isn't going to happen.
Garth Snow has to make this pick to save his franchise. With the Isles history of trading away great players for peanuts, don't expect Snow to let this one slip out of his hands.
2. Victor Hedman - Tampa Bay Lightning
Tampa is one of the most offensively gifted teams in the league, which is why they will take the consensus number two pick, Victor Hedman. Hedman will anchor the Lightning's defense for the future, and will provide lots of offense when called upon. Although I don't believe that Tampa Bay will trade down, there is a possibility that they could if they know that Jared Cowen was going to be available.
3. Matt Duchene - Colorado Avalanche
With Joe Sakic in the twilight of his career and possibly retiring, the Avalanche will be looking for a replacement, and who better than the highly touted Brampton product. Matt Duchene has even been compared to Sakic, and possesses the number one franchise centre tag that many teams covet. Make no mistake, Matt Duchene will be the property of the Colorado Avalanche this June.
4. Evander Kane - Atlanta Thrashers
Evander Kane will be added to a plethora of highly touted Atlanta prospects including Bogosian, Pavelic, and Esposito. Kane has the potential to become the franchise centre in Atlanta, and could one day provide a dynamic punch with Ilya Kovalchuk (if he re-signs, of course). This pick will be a BPA (best player available) pick.
5. Brayden Schenn - Toronto Maple Leafs
Although Brian Burke will not be able to land the first overall pick, there is a good chance that he will be able to acquire Los Angeles' number five overall pick. With this pick, the Leafs not only acquire a likely franchise cornerstone, they also complete a move that the fans will love- uniting the Schenn brothers.
6. Magnus Svensson-Paajarvi - Phoenix Coyotes
The Phoenix Coyotes will simply be looking to pick the best player available to them at the number six and will be ecstatic to find the highly touted Timra prospect fall in their lap. Paajarvi will be added to an already potent young offense that includes the likes of Kyle Turris and Peter Mueller. Expect Paajarvi to play the entire year in the NHL as well, as the Coyotes have a habit of fast-tracking their young players.
7. Jared Cowen - Ottawa Senators
The Sens acquire this pick from the Kings, and are happy to select a future defensive cornerstone in Jared Cowen. Cowen, a big bruising defenseman from Spokane, was thought to have top three potential at one time, until a season-ending knee injury put him down a few notches in the minds of NHL scouts. Make no mistake though, Cowen is the real deal, and will be a great addition to the Ottawa defensive corps.
8. Dmitri Kulikov- Dallas Stars
With Sergei Zubov likely retiring within the next couple years, the Stars pick up a great offensive replacement in Kulikov. The Stars already have plenty of firepower up front; it is time to bolster their defense, and with this pick they do exactly that.
9. Jordan Schroeder- Los Angeles Kings
The Kings have finally traded down enough, and pick up their guy with the ninth overall pick. The Kings will likely be looking for a talented winger, and Schroeder fits the bill. The talented product of the Minnesota Golden Gophers program will be a great fit in Los Angeles, and will flourish under very little scrutiny.
10. Jacob Josefson- Edmonton Oilers
The highly regarded Djurgarden product will add to an already offensively stellar Oilers team. With the Oilers already fairly close to making the playoffs, the won't be looking to trade up, and will be happy to supplement their prospect pool with Josefson as they let the kids develop with the big team.