The middle of the pack has seen its fair share of stars emerge, but you never really hear much about them. This year however you will be hearing from the middle as there are many players with star potential. This article outlines my choices compiled from numerous scouting rankings and reports. This is a list from 20-11 of who I think will get drafted, where, and when.
20. Ottawa Senators: Jeff Skinner (C)
Current Team: Kitchener Rangers
Stats: 64GP, 50G, 40A, 90P
Jeff Skinner is a high risk high reward type of player. Skinner currently sits seventh in OHL scoring second in overall goals scored. Seems like a sure thing, but his size and skating is a bit of an issue. At 5’10” he is not a very big forward, and on the whole he is not a strong skater. Scouts have Skinner ranked all over the board, and he really could go anywhere from the top half of the draft to the second round, but Ottawa has a bit of a history of taking gambles in the draft, and will likely be compelled to take Skinner with their first round selection.
19. Nashville Predators: Ryan Johansen (C)
Current Team: Portland Winterhawks
Stats: 70GP, 24G, 43A, 67P
Coming into Portland expectations were not overly high for the B.C. native. Johansen has proved however that he will likely be a first round selection this year. Johansen is a solid skater, and a hard battler, he is not afraid to go into the corners, or lay out a big hit. Ryan is best known for his adept passing ability. He could be a force for any team, as he seems to be developing very well.
18. Detroit Red Wings: Austin Watson (RW/C)
Current Team: Peterborough Petes
Stats: 52GP, 20G, 34A, 54P
Watson spent most of the season with the Windsor Spitfires, and never got the chance at real minutes. But since being traded to Peterborough he has been seeing first line time, and had been outstanding. Watson is a very defensive minded forward, who is an expert penalty killer and shot blocker. After three games with the Petes, Watson went down with a broken ankle. Since returning he has recorded 7 goals and 4 assists in 5 games, and has really proved that despite being defensive minded he has a lot of offensive potential.
17. Phoenix Coyotes: Emerson Etem (C)
Current Team: Medicine Hat Tigers
Stats: 71GP: 36G, 28A, 64P
Etem has been ranked all over the board, but will likely land in the middle of the pack. He is a big body presence, and has speed to boot. The Californian is a pure sniper, and can score from anywhere on the ice. Etem has issues that still need to be hammered out, but he would be a solid pick for anyone in the draft.
16. Anaheim Ducks: Evgeni Kuznetsov (RW)
Current Team: Chelyabinsk Traktor
Stats: 35GP, 2G, 7A, 9P
While Kuznetsov’s stats may not be exactly eye popping, they are in no way a representation of his play. Kuznetsov has had limited ice time, and hasn’t gotten a chance to prove himself. Kuznetsov has pure talent; he has amazing hands, and can beat you in a hundred different ways. Expect him to hop over into the Canadian Hockey League next year, and make the leap into the NHL in 2011/2012.
15. Montreal Canadiens: Nick Bjugstad (C)
Current Team: Blaine HS
Ht/Wt: 6’3”/ 190
Nick represents something that the Montreal Canadiens are missing. Bjugstad is a power forward. The Habs are seriously lacking in the size department, and could use this kind of player. Nick was an all-star, and likely the best high school player around. Nick has good speed, and size, and a fairly good shot. He plans to join the NCAA ranks next year with the Gophers, and should really benefit from the experience.
14. Boston Bruins: Riley Sheahan (C)
Current Team: Notre Dame
Stats: 37GP, 6G, 11A, 17P
Sheahan may not be the flashiest player in the world but he gets the job done. Sheahan is a playmaker through and through. He can read the play with the best of them. Sheahan has good hands, and has an amazing ability to feed the puck through a maze and still find his target. Riley will likely make the NHL at some point, and has the potential to be an elite playmaker.
13. St. Louis Blues: Jack Campbell (G)
Current Team: USA- U18 NTDP
Stats: 9GP, 4W, 3L, 1T, 2.27GAA, .917S%
Campbell is not a huge goalie, which may have people concerned. However, they shouldn’t worry; he has star written all over him. Campbell was a major part of the American world junior team, and really excelled at the higher level of play. Campbell has amazing reflexes and a good recovery speed. Unlike many goalies, Campbell is also fairly good with the puck, and can make solid plays while in possession. Campbell will play out next season with the Windsor Spitfires, and should gain a lot of experience as the Spits will be strong once again.
12. Dallas Stars: Derek Forbort (D)
Current Team: USA U-18 NTDP
Stats: 22GP, 3G, 9A, 12P
In a draft loaded with defensemen Forbort’s name rarely gets mentioned as an elite pick, but for those who may not have their sights set on the Minnesotan may miss out. While he may not be able to make the jump yet he has a lot of talent that will eventually get him there. Forbort has a good breakout pass, and is a good skater. Offence comes first, but the defensive aspect is not lacking.
11. Anaheim Ducks: Mark Pysyk (D)
Current Team: Edmonton Oil Kings
Stats: 48GP, 7G, 17A, 24P
Mark certainly isn’t the biggest defenseman around, but he is one of the best in this draft. Rated ninth in the mid terms he will likely fall just shy of the top 10. Pysyk has played 2 full seasons with the Oil Kings, and parts of a third. During that time he has really proven himself. Despite being on one of the worst teams in the league, Pysyk has proven to be an exception to the rule in Edmonton. Pysyk is a rock solid player prone to little mistakes. He has some offensive potential, but would be better served on the defensive side of the game.
One last article remains outlining the top 10 players available in the 2010 NHL entry draft. Several follow-up articles will be published leading up to the draft, based on player and team movement. If you wish to see my picks for 30-21 please use the following link: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/359823-nhl-2010-mock-draft-30-21