Sure, the NBA draft might get more buzz, what with its short format (just two rounds) and the familiar star power many of us are familiar with from the college ranks. But with the NHL draft up next, it's time to turn away from the hardwood and back to the ice.
Who needs Andrew Wiggins when we've got Aaron Ekblad, after all? Who needs Jabari Parker when we've got Sam Reinhart? They may not be as familiar to the casual fan, sure, but the hardcore puckheads among us can't wait to see what these guys can do at the NHL level.
Of course, you won't want to miss a single pick, and with the following information below, you won't have to. From the television schedule to streaming information and even a mock draft included, the following article will have you prepped for the NHL draft.
When: Friday, June 27 at 7 p.m. ET (Round 1); Saturday, June 28 at 10 a.m. ET (Rounds 2-7)
Where: Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Watch: NBCSN, TSN and RDS (Round 1); NHL Network (Rounds 2-7)
|NHL Mock Draft|
|1||Florida Panthers||Aaron Ekblad||D||Barrie (OHL)|
|2||Buffalo Sabres||Sam Reinhart||C||Kootenay (WHL)|
|3||Edmonton Oilers||Leon Draisaitl||C||Prince Albert (WHL)|
|4||Calgary Flames||Sam Bennett||C/LW||Kingston (OHL)|
|5||New York Islanders||Michael Dal Colle||LW||Oshawa (OHL)|
|6||Vancouver Canucks||Jake Virtanen||LW||Calgary (WHL)|
|7||Carolina Hurricanes||Nikolaj Ehlers||LW||Halifax (QMJHL)|
|8||Toronto Maple Leafs||William Nylander||C/RW||Sodertalje (SWE)|
|9||Winnipeg Jets||Kasperi Kapanen||RW||KalPa (FIN)|
|10||Anaheim Ducks||Brendan Perlini||LW||Niagara (OHL)|
|11||Nashville Predators||Nick Ritchie||LW||Peterborough (OHL)|
|12||Phoenix Coyotes||Haydn Fleury||D||Red Deer (WHL)|
|13||Washington Capitals||Kevin Fiala||LW||HV71 J20 (SWE)|
|14||Dallas Stars||Jared McCann||C||Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)|
|15||Detroit Red Wings||Ivan Barbashev||C||Moncton (QMJHL)|
|16||Columbus Blue Jackets||Julius Honka||D||Swift Current (WHL)|
|17||Philadelphia Flyers||Alex Tuch||RW||USA (NTDP-18)|
|18||Minnesota Wild||Dylan Larkin||C||USA (NTDP-17)|
|19||Tampa Bay Lightning||Sonny Milano||LW||USA (NTDP-17)|
|20||San Jose Sharks||Tony DeAngelo||D||Sarnia (OHL)|
|21||St. Louis Blues||Robby Fabbri||C||Guelph (OHL)|
|22||Pittsburgh Penguins||David Pastrnak||LW/RW||Sodertalje SK (SWE)|
|23||Colorado Avalanche||Roland McKeown||D||Kingston (OHL)|
|24||Anaheim Ducks||Travis Sanheim||D||Calgary (WHL)|
|25||Boston Bruins||Nick Schmaltz||C||Green Bay (USHL)|
|26||Montreal Canadiens||Josh HoSang||RW||Windsor (OHL)|
|27||Chicago Blackhawks||Adrian Kempe||C||MoDo U-20 (SWE)|
|28||Tampa Bay Lightning||Conner Bleackley||C||Red Deer (WHL)|
|29||Los Angeles Kings||Nikolay Goldobin||RW||Sarnia (OHL)|
|30||New Jersey Devils||Thatcher Demko||G||Boston College|
At this point, it seems safe to say there is a consensus top five in this year's draft. In no particular order, Ekblad, Reinhart, Sam Bennett, Leon Draisaitl and Michael Dal Colle seem likely to be the top five picks off the board.
Ekblad, the lone defenseman of the group, is an intriguing prospect not only because he is easily the top blueliner around but also because of his size, smarts, strength and hockey IQ. He also has a lot of room to grow, especially in joining the rush, and his monstrous shot from the point will make him a nice contributor on the power play.
But this draft, at least at the top, is all about the forwards. And each of the top four has their own characteristics that set them apart.
Bennett matches skill with grit and determination. Reinhart hails from a family of hockey players. Draisaitl is quite the playmaker from his position at center. Dal Colle has a great combination of size and skill.
It's possible we won't see another defenseman taken off the board until after the top 10, or even top 15, once Ekblad goes. It's that deep of a draft at the forward position (or perhaps that thin a draft on the blue line, depending on your perspective).
Of course, these prospects come with their own question marks. Many of their weaknesses have to do with their age or physical development. Read through many scouting reports and you'll see "needs to be more physical" or "needs to add strength" listed more than a few times. Bennett, for example, couldn't do a single pull-up at the NHL Scouting Combine.
Yes, you read that correctly.
He's since improved that aspect of his physique, however, according to Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo Sports:
'Really didn’t think it was that big a deal until the next couple of days when it went crazy,' said Bennett on Monday, attending the Stanley Cup Final with other top prospects.
The news spread quickly through junior hockey blogs. The Toronto Star did a roundup of hockey fitness experts’ opinions on his pull-up deficiency. Bennett, projected as a top five pick from the Kingston Frontenacs, was suddenly The Guy Who Can’t Do a Pull-Up.
'It really did bother me. It’s just … I know I couldn’t do them, but obviously I’m going to keep working on them,' he said. 'I guess that’s how people are labeling me right now. There’s nothing I can really do about it, except for work hard in the gym and get better.'
And so he hit the gym after that, working on his upper body strength. In a development that’s likely to get a lot less coverage, he can do multiple pull-ups now.
Spend any time watching him on tape, of course, and you're a bit more likely to give him some time to improve his pull-up game. The kid is a true two-way player and leaves everything on the ice, every night. It's not as though you generally find yourself needing to do pull-ups on the ice (though, of course, upper-body strength is important).
One thing is for certain—Bennett's lack of proficiency at the pull-up bar is unlikely to affect his draft stock too much. It would be pretty shocking if he dropped out of the top five, and if he did, one team would be getting a heck of a steal later in the top 10.
I think we can all put "Pull-Up Gate" behind us. In a few years, we'll hardly remember it happened.