The 2014 NHL draft is scheduled for June 27-28 in Philadelphia, and it’s time to break down how the entire first round will shake out with the latest mock draft.
While many fans are talking about where top prospects like Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart and Samuel Bennett will land, there are 30 selections to be made in the first round and plenty of chances for teams to make upgrades.
Here is how the entire first round will likely turn out.
1. Florida Panthers: Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie (OHL)
There has been plenty of discussion about who the Florida Panthers will take at No. 1 overall, but Harvey Fialkov of the Sun Sentinel is reporting the franchise will select OHL defender Aaron Ekblad if they aren’t offered a huge trade:
2. Buffalo Sabres: Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay (WHL)
There were many experts who believed the Buffalo Sabres would’ve taken high-scoring Kootenay center Sam Reinhart at No. 1 overall if they had won the draft lottery, but the team should be lucky enough to snag him with the second pick of the draft.
3. Edmonton Oilers: Samuel Bennett, LW, Kingston (OHL)
The third of the top three prospects coming into this draft is Kingston left wing Samuel Bennett. While the Edmonton Oilers already have plenty of offensive depth, Bennett is the best player available and will be a long-term asset to the franchise.
4. Calgary Flames: Leon Draisaitl, LW, Prince Albert (WHL)
Of all the teams that need an offensive boost, the Calgary Flames could be the most desperate. After racking up 105 points in 64 games over the last season, Prince Albert left wing Leon Draisaitl could be the cornerstone the franchise has lacked since trading away Jarome Iginla.
5. New York Islanders: Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa (OHL)
After once again failing to secure top free agents (i.e. Thomas Vanek and Dan Boyle), the New York Islanders simply need to add the best player available. At No. 5 overall, that should be Oshawa left wing Michael Dal Colle.
6. Vancouver Canucks: Kasperi Kapanen, LW, Kalpa (FIN)
The Sedin twins—Henrik and Daniel—are two of the best forwards in the game, but the Vancouver Canucks need players around them who can shine. Finnish left wing Kasperi Kapanen fits the team's need well.
7. Carolina Hurricanes: Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagara (OHL)
Another team that has struggled to find any offensive consistency is the Carolina Hurricanes. If Niagara left wing Brendan Perlini is on the board at No. 7, Carolina will have the offensive shot in the arm the franchise needs.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs: Jared McCann, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
One of the most important positions in hockey is center, and the Toronto Maple Leafs are in need of long-term depth through the middle. The best option left on the board would be Sault Ste. Marie’s Jared McCann.
9. Winnipeg Jets: Haydn Fleury, D, Red Deer (WHL)
The Winnipeg Jets are in a long-term rebuilding process, and that will continue during the 2014 draft. A player who should intrigue the franchise is standout Red Deer defender Haydn Fleury if he is still available.
10. Anaheim Ducks (from Ottawa): Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
The trade of Bobby Ryan has left a void on the wing for the Anaheim Ducks, and the likely retirement of Teemu Selanne isn’t helping matters. Adding the best remaining left wing with Halifax’s Nikolaj Ehlers is the smartest plan.
11. Nashville Predators: Nicholas Ritchie, LW, Peterborough (OHL)
With a strong defensive unit and great goaltending, the Nashville Predators have been able to overcome the lack of offensive skill each year, but it’s time to make a change. Adding a skilled prospect like Peterborough’s Nicholas Ritchie would be a good start.
12. Phoenix Coyotes: Ivan Barbashev, C/LW, Moncton (QMJHL)
It’s hard to tell what the Phoenix Coyotes will do on draft day. The best player available on the board when the team picks is versatile Moncton forward Ivan Barbashev, but with needs across the board, anything is possible.
13. Washington Capitals: Jake Virtanen, LW, Calgary (WHL)
Offensive consistency continues to be a major issue for the Washington Capitals, and the franchise should be looking to add a talented offensive-minded forward like Calgary (WHL) left wing Jake Virtanen.
14. Dallas Stars: Dylan Larkin, C, U.S. U-18 (USHL)
A playoff berth was a great start for the Dallas Stars, but the franchise will be looking for more, and that starts with a smart first-round pick. While American development player Dylan Larkin wouldn’t make an instant impact, he could be a difference-maker down the line.
15. Detroit Red Wings: William Nylander, C/RW, Modo (SWE)
Finding youth at the center positions is a must for the Detroit Red Wings, but versatility is a big plus as well. Swedish forward William Nylander fits both needs to perfection and could be an impact player quickly.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets: Anthony DeAngelo, D, Sarnia (OHL)
The Columbus Blue Jackets are getting better each year, but the franchise must keep the long-term goals in focus. Adding another defender to the depth chart would be a smart move, and Sarnia defender Anthony DeAngelo is the best option available.
17. Philadelphia Flyers: Alex Tuch, C/RW, U.S. U-18 (USHL)
The Philadelphia Flyers should be in the mindset to take the best player available. While this would be a long-term selection, adding American forward Alex Tuch could make a major difference down the road.
18. Minnesota Wild: Thatcher Demko, G, Boston College (H-EAST)
After clear issues in net for the Minnesota Wild, the franchise must address the need during the draft by selecting Boston College goaltender Thatcher Demko.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning: Julius Honka, D, Swift Current (WHL)
The Tampa Bay Lightning need to get back to basics, and that change starts with a fundamental defensive addition like Swift Current defender Julius Honka. Honka would add the edge and grit the team desperately needs.
20. San Jose Sharks: David Pastrnak, RW, Sodertalje (SWE-2)
This pick will depend heavily on what the San Jose Sharks do with Joe Thornton. If the team holds on to him for another year, adding a right wing like Swedish league prospect David Pastrnak would be a wise choice.
21. St. Louis Blues: Adrian Kempe, LW, Modo (SWE)
While goaltending will be a major focus this offseason for the Blues, adding more depth at the forward positions will be a need for the streaky offense. Swedish left winger Adrian Kempe has the potential to join the NHL team and contribute on the third line.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins: Nikita Scherbak, RW, Saskatoon (WHL)
One of the biggest downfalls of the Pittsburgh Penguins was the lack of support for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the postseason. Saskatoon winger Nikita Scherbak has the talent and the intangibles to make an impact with the franchise sooner rather than later.
23. Colorado Avalanche: Brendan Lemieux, LW, Barrie (OHL)
As the son of Colorado Avalanche legend Claude Lemieux, Barrie left wing Brendan Lemieux will be a welcomed addition to a team coached by Patrick Roy. If anyone knows the stock Lemieux comes from, it’s Roy.
24. Anaheim Ducks: Kevin Fiala, LW, HV71 (SWE)
The rebuild of the wings in Anaheim continues with the selection of Swedish left wing Kevin Fiala. The hope is that the losses of Ryan and likely Selanne can be offset by these young prospects.
25. Boston Bruins: Ryan MacInnis, C, Kitchener (OHL)
The Boston Bruins will be one of the top contenders next season as well, but the franchise is always building for the future. One intriguing option that Boston should explore is Kitchener Rangers center Ryan MacInnis.
26. Montreal Canadiens: Joshua Ho-Sang, C/RW, Windsor (OHL)
With Thomas Vanek likely walking via free agency, the Montreal Canadiens must continue to bolster the offensive depth chart. Adding a versatile player like Windsor’s Joshua Ho-Sang would fill the team’s need.
27. Chicago Blackhawks: Nick Schmaltz, C, Green Bay (USHL)
It was clear from the loss in the postseason that the Chicago Blackhawks need more consistency on offense. With American star Patrick Kane shining, drafting Green Bay standout Nick Schmaltz would be a smart pick late in the first round.
28. New York Rangers: Roland McKeown, D, Kingston (OHL)
Despite coming up short in the Stanley Cup Final, the New York Rangers are still a strong team. One aspect of their game that must get better is defensive depth, and Kingston’s Roland McKeown has the potential to make an instant impact.
29. Los Angeles Kings: Sonny Milano, LW, U.S. U-18 (USHL)
The Los Angeles Kings have the chance to be a bona fide dynasty in the NHL, and the franchise needs to start planning for the future as well. While left wing Sonny Milano won’t be NHL-ready for a few seasons, he could be a difference-maker when several big-name free agents eventually leave.
30. New Jersey Devils: Conner Bleackley, C, Red Deer (WHL)
After being relegated to the No. 30 pick due to the repercussions of the Ilya Kovalchuk contract, the New Jersey Devils will be desperate to add depth at center. The most intriguing prospect remaining will be Red Deer’s Conner Bleackley.
*Stats via NHL.com.
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