1. New York Islanders—C John Tavares, London (OHL)—6′0″/199 lbs.
The Islanders should use today as a coming-out party. Their fans are so excited for this day because no matter who they pick, they have reason to show optimism for the future. Don’t be surprised to see JT at Nassau at the Islanders’ draft party rather than in Montreal.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning—D Victor Hedman, MoDo (Swe)—6′6″/220 lbs.
Brian Lawton is now in charge. That being said, anything can happen here—including trading the pick. However, their best bet is to take the most NHL-ready player in the draft. Peter Forsberg says Hedman is the best Swedish defenseman since Niklas Lidstrom.
3. Colorado Avalanche—C Matt Duchene, Brampton (OHL)—5′11″/190 lbs.
Many scouts say that he is the best all-around player in the draft, drawing comparisons to Steve Yzerman. He could go as high as No. 1. However, sticking Duchene in a locker room with Joe Sakic could be the best thing for the kid.
4. Atlanta Thrashers—C Evander Kane, Vancouver, (WHL)—6′0″/170 lbs.
He is the most athletically gifted player in the draft. Great body to put muscle on, and he showed very good strength potential at the combine. I like Kane. If the Leafs move up, they should target Kane or Brayden Schenn.
5. Los Angeles King—C Brayden Schenn, Brandon (WHL)—6′0″/196 lbs.
Pairing up Schenn and Dustin Brown will scare other teams because of their physical play. Very good work ethic, hard worker, brown noser, call him whatever you want—this guy will try to outwork any opponent. Leafs would love to have him.
6. Phoenix Coyotes—D Jared Cowen, Spokane (WHL)—6′5″/216 lbs.
Cowen can step right in as a big, physical defenseman to replace Derek Morris, who was lost at the deadline last season. The Coyotes have a lot of young offensive firepower, so shoring up their blueline is a calculated move.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs—LW Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, Timra (Swe)—6′1″/187 lbs.
This is the scorer that the Leafs need. I don’t expect Burke to stay put at this spot, but if they do, Paajarvi is a really nice consolation prize. For Leafs fans, you had better hope they do not trade Tomas Kaberle and this pick for Phil Kessel. More on that later, but in a nutshell, that is a steep price to pay for Kessel.
8. Dallas Stars—D Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Leksand (Swe)—6′1″/165 lbs.
The Stars still do not have Sergei Zubov under contract, and he is not getting any younger. Larsson can complement a good power play for the Stars and has too much talent to pass up.
9. Ottawa Senators—D Dmitri Kulikov, Drummondville (QMJHL)—6′1″/195 lbs.
The Sens need an offensive defenseman, and this guy is it. Already playing in North America, he has 62 points in 52 games from the blue line. They can go with Jordan Schroeder or Nazem Kadri here to compensate for losing Dany Heatley, but Bryan Murray says that he will not let Heatley affect his draft choice.
10. Edmonton Oilers—C Nazem Kadri, London (WHL)—6′1″/177 lbs.
Kadri has been moving up the draft boards as of late due to his performance in the OHL playoffs and his combine results. He has great speed, crafty hands, and has a nose for the net.
11. Nashville Predators—RW Jordan Schroeder, Minnesota (NCAA)—5′8″/168 lbs.
The Predators need scoring. They need it really bad. Really really bad.
Schroeder can definitely help with that. The Preds love American talent, and Schroeder is the best one in this draft. Reuniting with Colin Wilson is nice to imagine in a year or two.
12. Minnesota Wild—RW Scott Glennie, Brandon (WHL)—6′1″/180 lbs.
He has good size and good hands to be a productive NHL scorer. He's jumping up on draft boards because of his scoring ability and physical play.
13. Buffalo Sabres—D Ryan Ellis, Windsor (OHL)—5′10″/173 lbs.
Ellis is another player that is gradually rising on draft boards. He was well introduced during the World Junior Championships with his poise with the puck, ability to man the power play, and his booming shot. This type of defenseman is exactly what the Sabres need.
14. Florida Panthers—RW Zack Kassian, Peterborough (OHL)—6′3″/205 lbs.
Huge power forward who brings a lot of energy.
15. Anaheim Ducks—C Peter Holland, Guelph (OHL)—6′2″/190 lbs.
An Anaheim-type forward—big, thick, and has hands.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets—D Simon Despres, Saint John (QMJHL)—6′3″/205 lbs.
A very big defenseman who has a good shot from the point, and most importantly, he can run the power play. There are probably better options at this spot, but the BJs desperately need to improve their power play, which was their Achilles' heel last season.
17. St. Louis Blues—C Jacob Josefson, Djurgarden (Swe)—6′0″/187 lbs.
Good size and good knowledge of the game. Good playmaker and holds his own defensively.
18. Montreal Canadiens—C Louis LeBlanc, Omaha (USHL)—5′11″/170 lbs.
LeBlanc is a Quebecer who played in the U.S. He's a French Canadian who can go back home and play for the Habs. Slowly rising on draft boards; ranked No. 12 by the ISS.
19. New York Rangers—D Tim Erixon, Skelleftea (Sweden)—6′3″/190 lbs.
He's a fundamental player whose father also played for the Rangers. Rangers could keep it in the family with this pick and would get a great defenseman with good hockey sense.
20. Calgary Flames—C Drew Shore, US18 (NTDP)—6′2″/198 lbs.
Big, strong centerman. Lots of room to grow and should evolve nicely with some help.
21. Philadelphia Flyers—D John Moore, Chicago (USHL)—6′2″/190 lbs.
Rumors say that the Flyers are after J-Bo, who is a big and mobile blue liner, much like Moore is. Whether they get J-Bo or not, Moore is the best available player at this point and should be taken before the 20th pick.
22. Vancouver Canucks—D David Rundblad, Skelleftea (Sweden)—6′3″/190 lbs.
Did not produce much overseas, but he has the talent and the body to be a very productive NHL player. He is a risky player that will have to change, especially in the Canuck system. But he is a type of player that the Canucks may be able to use, especially in power play situations.
23. New Jersey Devils—RW Landon Ferraro, Red Deer (WHL)—6′0″/170 lbs.
Energy guy who fits well with the hard-nosed mentality of the Devils. Scrappy player.
24. Washington Capitals—D Calvin de Haan, Oshawa (OHL)—6′0/170 lbs.
An offensive defenseman who I got to see a lot of playing in Oshawa. He is very smart and shows a lot of potential.
Took on more of an offensive role once Tavares left Oshawa and should continue to show improvement as his OHL career goes forward. Lots of potential but may need to bulk up.
25. Boston Bruins—D Dylan Olsen, Camrose (AJHL)—6′3″/207 lbs.
A big boy who is a nice fit in Boston’s defensive system. He is still a little raw, but with his size and untapped potential, he can be a nice shutdown defenseman who can help put up goals.
26. New York Islanders—LW Chris Kreider, Andover (HS-MA)—6′2″/200 lbs.
It is believed that the Isles will try to package this pick along with their second round pick to move up. If not, they get a high risk-high reward player in Kreider.
Since he is coming out of high school, he will need some time to develop. However, his size and skill are too much to pass up.
27. Carolina Hurricanes—D Stefan Elliot, Saskatoon (WHL)—6′1″/185 lbs.
He's a very smart player who is working on his shot to become even more of a complete player. Like all young defensemen, he will need time to learn to play physically, but the potential is there.
28. Chicago Blackhawks—RW Jeremy Morin, US NDTP—6′1″/193 lbs.
He's a goal scorer who is willing to use his big frame to help his team score. He can also wire shots from anywhere and try to find seams to get the puck in the net.
29. Detroit Red Wings—C Jordan Caron, Rimouski (QMJHL)—6′3″/200 lbs.
Another big body that drops into Detroit's lap. Like Johan Franzen and Tomas Holmstrom before him, Caron is a big body with enough sense to get in front of the net and use his body to score. Willing to sacrifice his body to score.
30. Pittsburgh Penguins—RW Carter Ashton, Lethbridge (WHL)—6′4″/212 lbs.
Holy smokes, what a big body. He has skilled hands and obviously size to play a productive physical game in front of the net. He is a player that any team could use.