Hello everyone, and welcome to my 2010 NHL Mock Draft. This year’s draft is looking like a deep one, as some nice players will be able to be drafted deep into the second round and even see some potential gems slip well into the third or even fourth rounds.
With a relatively weak free agent class this offseason, expect to see quite a few trades to be made, involving both players and draft picks.
Most GM’s will be looking to improve their teams this offseason via trades rather than free agent signings. That all starts on June 25, the first day of the draft.
Personally, I think there is a lot of potential for trade-up and trade-down scenarios for a lot of teams across the board, even in the first round.
Without further ado, here is my mock draft for the first round, assuming there is no movement of draft picks (which there undoubtedly will be).
1. Edmonton Oilers—Taylor Hall (Center/Left Wing)
After much debate about who is the best player in this draft, Edmonton goes with the guy who’s been at the top of the board for the majority of the time leading up to the draft.
Hall is a natural goal scorer, and he would help any team that he plays for immediately in the goal scoring department.
However, Taylor has been criticized in the past for not properly utilizing his linemates, often times trying to do it all on his own.
A better skater than 2009 first overall pick John Tavares, putting Hall with a playmaking center and a fast skater on the other wing would set him up for success immediately at the NHL level.
2. Boston Bruins—Tyler Seguin (Center)
Boston will be very tempted to get their hands on one of the “big three” defensemen of the draft, but ultimately, Boston management will look at the team’s difficulty scoring goals last season and seek to address that with the second overall pick.
Seguin is the obvious choice here as the next best forward available. Tyler is a player who makes everyone else around him better, using his elite passing and vision to get the puck where he wants it to go.
Boston’s logjam at center could cause Seguin to be moved to the wing, but it would be an unwise move, considering his abilities and skill set.
Look for Seguin to be worked into the Boston lineup in some capacity this upcoming season.
3. Florida Panthers—Erik Gudbranson (Defense)
It would not shock me in the least to see newly appointed GM Dale Tallon trade down with this pick and select a forward later on in the top 10 picks. For argument’s sake, however, Gudbranson is the best fit for Florida should they draft at third overall.
Though Erik does not possess the offensive potential that Fowler and Gormley do, he is rock solid in his defensive end, and possesses exceptional leadership abilities.
For a Florida club seeking a new identity, a defensive pairing for the future composed of Gudbranson and Kulikov is a very nice start.
At 6’3”, 195 pounds, Erik still has a lot of room to grow and fill out his frame. If and when that happens, watch out.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets—Cam Fowler (Defense)
Before the emergence of Tyler Seguin, I had Cam Fowler pegged as the obvious choice for the second overall pick going to Boston. Combined with Seguin’s rise to the top of draft charts and a lackluster playoffs with the Windsor Spitfires, Fowler will slip a little bit on draft day.
He won’t slip past Columbus, however. Fowler’s speed and great puck-moving ability all but guarantee Fowler’s future success in the NHL.
Very few question marks surround Fowler, and Columbus is ecstatic to get a
potential No. 1 defenseman to anchor their defensive corps for years to come.
5. New York Islanders—Brandon Gormley (Defense)
A lot of people think the Islanders will take Brett Connolly with this pick if he’s on the board. However, I think the Islanders’ need for a top-flight defensive prospect far exceeds the need for a winger.
Gormley is a pure offensive defenseman, but he isn’t too shabby in the defensive end of the rink, either.
Gormley has the skills to contribute in the NHL right away, but whether he actually sees NHL action this upcoming season is dependent on the organization that drafts him.
With the Islanders, he’d be in the NHL sooner rather than later.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning—Jack Campbell (Goaltender)
Now under the leadership of Red Wings great Steve Yzerman, Tampa Bay is the real wildcard in this draft. The player they draft will likely shape how the next 10 picks of the first round go.
I know I’m going to get heat for this selection, but Stevie Y is a great hockey mind, and knows what it takes to build a championship team.
The Lightning have their offensive and defensive cornerstones already in Stamkos and Hedman, only a franchise cornerstone goalie is missing. Jack Campbell is the guy to fit that bill.
Building a team from the goal outward is a great way to build an organization; no knock on Riku Helenius and Dustin Tokarski, but neither have the potential that Campbell possesses.
It's a gamble for the Lightning for sure, but one that can end up paying dividends in a big way.
7. Carolina Hurricanes—Nino Niederreiter (Left Wing/Right Wing)
The marketing dream come true; a player with the nickname “El Nino” becoming a Hurricane. All kidding aside, Nino is a great fit for the up-tempo, hard forechecking style that the Hurricanes like to play.
Nino’s size, speed, and nose for the net secure a job for Nino in the NHL one day, but in what capacity remains to be seen.
Nino is perhaps the most “safe” pick of the draft, in the sense that he’s a sure-fire third- or fourth-line player in the NHL, but also possesses the potential to be more one day.
8. Atlanta Thrashers—Brett Connolly (Left Wing/Right Wing)
At one point considered the third best player in the draft, injuries have slowed down Connolly’s development after an impressive 30-goal campaign in the WHL as a 16-year-old, a feat only accomplished by Patrick Marleau up until Connolly did it last year.
This speedy winger can almost do it all; he can create chances, as well as finish them off and score goals.
Obviously, injuries are a concern for Connolly after sustaining a serious hip injury in the past year, but if he can stay healthy, Atlanta is going to get a real steal here, as they look to expand their depth at forward in their prospect pool.
9. Minnesota Wild—Ryan Johansen (Center)
Although Johansen may remind some leery Wild fans of another big power forward taken No. 9 overall that did not live up to expectations (James Sheppard), Johansen’s developmental curve and skill set are too hard to pass up.
In the course of just a year, Johansen has gone from a 3rd line grinder in the BCHL to a 1st line playmaking center. Johansen’s 6’3”, 190 pound frame leaves room for him to fill out, and he’ll need to if he wants to become a power forward in this league, since he is not overly physical like a similar player, Ryan Getzlaf, was in his draft year.
Minnesota is taking a risk with this pick, but they are in a position where they need to reach for top end offensive talent, which their prospect pool is currently bereft of.
10. New York Rangers—Vladamir Tarasenko (Right Wing)
The first Russian to be taken in this draft is Vladamir Tarasenko to the Rangers, a team that has shown in the past that they are not afraid of drafting Russians, especially in the first round. Personally, I would rate Tarasenko’s talent ahead of almost every forward in the draft, just behind Hall and Seguin.
Like other Russians, however, the question is if he comes over to the NHL from Russia. As it stands, Tarasenko has a two year commitment to his KHL team, coached by none other than his own father.
Although the pressure to stay in Russia will be great, Tarasenko reportedly interviewed well at the combine, and experienced great desire to come to the NHL and win a Stanley Cup. I have a feeling that Tarasenko would have no problem putting on a blue, red, and white sweater in Madison Square Garden one day.
11. Dallas Stars—Derek Forbort (Defense)
Among all defensemen eligible for this draft, Forbort has the potential to become the best. The question is if he does.
After seeing the success that Tyler Myers had this past season in the NHL, many GM’s are drooling at the prospect of taking a defenseman that possesses similar tools as Myers. At 6’4”, Forbort is a big kid, is great in his own end, and knows a thing or two about a break out pass.
After trading their best defensive prospect in Ivan Vishnevsky to Atlanta in the deal that sent Kari Lehtonen to Dallas, the Stars need another defensive prospect in the system. Forbort fits that bill, and then some.
12. Anaheim Ducks—Mikael Granlund (Center)
At this point, Granlund is the best player available. Playing against men in the Finnish league, Granlund impressed, scoring at roughly a point per game pace.
This playmaking center’s speed is a question, but his hockey IQ and passing ability more than make up for that.
I would say that Granlund is cut from the same mold as current Ducks center Saku Koivu, but whether Granlund lives up to be as consistent as Koivu was throughout his career remains to be seen.
13. Phoenix Coyotes—Jeff Skinner (Center)
Scoring 70 goals in the OHL during the regular season and playoffs is no easy feat. Phoenix, looking for another forward prospect to round out their prospect pool, can afford to be patient with Skinner, with so many high quality offensive prospects currently in the Coyotes’ system.
The best natural goal scorer eligible this draft not named Taylor Hall has some question marks, including his speed, and whether or not his skills and shot will translate to goals in the NHL. The payoff for Skinner can be huge if his statistics in the OHL are indicative of his future NHL success.
He can just as easily, however, go the other way and amount to very little.
14. St. Louis Blues—Nick Bjugstad (Right Wing)
Impressed by his 6’5” frame and excellent combine results, St. Louis decides to make Bjugstad the first American forward taken in this draft.
St. Louis’ prospect pool is rather deep, so they can afford to let a player like Nick develop at the University of Minnesota for a couple of seasons. Possessing the body of a power forward, Bjugstad is more of a playmaker whom also possesses a decent shot.
Look for Nick to spend a couple seasons in college to round out his game after playing most of his hockey with his local high school team.
15. Boston Bruins—Mark Pysyk (Defense)
There are rumors and speculation that the Bruins will attempt to trade up with this pick and get another top 10 pick. If they do not do so, Pysyk is a nice consolation prize.
After taking Seguin 2nd overall, look for Boston to take a defenseman with their second 1st round pick of the draft. It’s between Pysyk and Jon Merrill for this pick, but Boston goes with the WHL product over the US development product.
Pysyk is hardly out of position, and his solid defensive play in the corners and puck movement out of the zone gives Boston a nice defensive prospect to go along with their already solid farm system.
16. Ottawa Senators—Alexander Burmistrov (Center)
The obvious best player available at this point in the draft, and it just so happens to be in the Senators’ area of most pressing need. The smooth skating, two way center has great hands and passing ability, but at 6’, and just 160 pounds, he has a very skinny frame that is likely to get pushed around handily at the NHL level.
Burmistrov needs time to bulk up, and to explore playing more offensively. Although it is great to see great defensive responsibility from a young player, Burmistrov is more talented than his 65 point campaign this past season with the Barrie Colts would indicate.
Although there were rumors of a KHL jump for this upcoming season, permanent flight risk to Russia is minimal.
17. Colorado Avalanche—Jon Merrill (Defense)
After drafting Matt Duchene last year, and the aging of the current defensive corps of the team, Colorado needs some assurance that their future on the defensive end will be in good hands. Merrill can provide exactly that.
This big, rangy, smooth skater will fit in great with Colorado’s fast paced system. Having someone like Adam Foote in the organization as a mentor for this big defenseman will only serve Merrill well in his development as a player.
18. Nashville Predators—Austin Watson (Right Wing)
Every single defensive prospect that this team touches seemingly turns into a great player. However, the same cannot be said about the offensive portion of the Nashville organization’s prospect pool.
Watson is a big power forward that has soft hands, and can contribute in the goal column as well. After being traded away from a stacked Windsor Spitfires team, Watson truly broke out as a force to be reckoned with, scoring 20 points in 10 games with Peterborough.
Although Watson’s upside seemed limited at first, Watson will have to keep performing at the level that he did in Peterborough to elevate his status as an NHL prospect. Regardless, he would be a nice addition to the Predators’ prospect pool.
19. Los Angeles Kings—Emerson Etem (Right Wing)
This speedy sniper out of Medicine Hat of the WHL is the next prospect to join the ranks of one of the best young teams in the NHL.
Although he may need work on his defense, Etem’s offensive instincts are tough to pass up at this point of the draft, and would look good coming up Brayden Schenn’s wing.
The Kings appear to be well set on defense and at goalie for the time being, so they take the best forward available.
20. Pittsburgh Penguins—John McFarland (Center/Left Wing)
Whoever the Penguins draft his year at 20th overall is likely to be a forward, the first since Angelo Esposito in 2007. The Penguins already have their offensive franchise cornerstones in Crosby, Malkin, and Staal.
However, they need wingers to complement the best center corps in the league. Although McFarland has had a history of attitude and work ethic problems, his talent is worth the risk at 20th overall.
Being ranked only before Taylor Hall just a year ago by the ISS, McFarland will be on a mission to work his way back to that status. I’m rather sure Crosby or Malkin would be happy to help him out with that.
21. Detroit Red Wings—Riley Sheehan (Center)
Although Detroit would like to take a defenseman with this pick, the pickings started to become slim as soon as Merrill got selected.
Detroit can elect to reach for Jarred Tinordi, but the scouts of the organization would feel that 21st overall would be too soon to take him. Instead, the Red Wings opt for Riley Sheehan, a University of Notre Dame recruit. Although not terribly impressive in this freshman season, his big frame and playmaking ability allow Riley a little bit of room to grow and develop.
Detroit has had good history with letting their players develop in college, and I feel that Sheehan will be no exception to this rule.
22. Phoenix Coyotes—Calvin Pickard (Goaltender)
Outside of Mike Lee, the Coyotes do not have a potential No. 1 goalie prospect in the system. With their second 1st rounder of the draft, Don Maloney decides that it would be wise to roll the dice on Chet Pickard’s younger brother Calvin.
Although very naturally talented, Calvin will have to work hard if he wants to live up to his potential and become a successful goalie at the NHL level.
Ilya Bryzgalov is not getting any younger; it’s time for Phoenix start lining up potential suitors to fill the No. 1 role once Bryzgalov is gone.
23. Buffalo Sabres—Jordan Weal (Center)
Buffalo has shown the hockey world time and time again that they are not afraid to take small, skilled players.
At just 5’10” and 160 pounds, this small and shifty player is very agile and has a very quick stick. Compared to other Buffalo players, he is a nice intermediary between the playmaker Derek Roy and the sharpshooting Tyler Ennis.
Although more of a playmaker, Jordan can score a goal every now and then, as evidenced by this 35 goal, 67 assist season with Regina of the WHL. Whoever takes this guy is going to be very happy, and I have a feeling Buffalo will go for him here in the first round.
24. Atlanta Thrashers—Dylan McIlrath (Defense)
After taking Connolly earlier in the round, Atlanta now chooses to address toughness on the defensive end. A monster at 6’4” and 220 pounds as an 18 year old, McIlrath is sure to get even bigger and meaner as he develops.
Atlanta is determined to be a consistent threat to make the playoffs, and they will be out to prove that they are not to be pushed around. Although his puck skills are limited, McIlrath’s physical prowess will make him a very valuable commodity come draft day.
25. Vancouver Canucks—Tyler Toffoli (Center, Right Wing)
The Canucks are going the best player available route here by taking the sharp shooting center from the Ottawa 67’s. Although he projects better as a winger at the NHL level, Toffoli will go nicely with the playmaking prowess of other Canucks prospects Jordan Schroeder and Cody Hodgson.
Not exactly a big kid at 6’, 178 pounds, Tyler will need a bit of time to fill out his frame.
26. Washington Capitals—Quinton Howden (Left Wing)
A speedy winger from Moosejaw of the WHL who likens his game to Patrick Marleau, Howden would look very nice in the Capitals’ prospect farm.
Already solid in most regards, the Capitals nab a player that could have potentially found his way in the top 20 if a team in that range had fallen in love with him.
Similar to John Carlson, whom was drafted in 2008, we might see Howden making an impact on the big club sooner than we all may think.
27. Montreal Canadiens—Alex Petrovic (Defense)
This big, puck moving defenseman is an attractive option for Montreal at the 27th overall pick.
Since Montreal’s prospect system is rather full with forwards, the organization could use a defender with Petrovic’s capabilities. With standout P.K. Subban graduating to the Canadiens, it would not hurt to have another puck moving defenseman in the ranks.
28. San Jose Sharks—Tyler Pitlick (Center)
American hockey player playing in college, flying under the radar, drafted by San Jose, sound familiar Sharks fans?
A Mr. Hockey finalist as a high school senior, Pitlick continued his career predominantly as a winger at Minnesota State. Though he may be considered a project, San Jose can afford to wait for Tyler to develop, just like they did for a certain current San Jose Sharks center that played in college and went on to represent the USA in the past Olympics and carried his team throughout the playoffs this past season.
29. Anaheim Ducks—Beau Bennett (Right Wing)
After selecting Granlund earlier in the round, Anaheim goes with this speedy winger out of the BCHL. Although he put up impressive numbers this season with 41 goals and 79 assists, the best among rookies since Tyler Bozak in 2007, Bennett is rather unproven against higher competition.
Since Anaheim has already come away with Granlund this round, I think they will take a bit of a risk with this pick.
30. Chicago Blackhawks—Brock Nelson (Center)
Last but not least in the first round, Chicago takes the big center out of Warroad High School in Minnesota.
Committed to North Dakota, Chicago is surely happy to see Nelson heading to the current Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews’ alma mater. With Jack Skille, Kyle Beach, Akim Aliu, among others, waiting in the wings, the Blackhawks can afford to let Nelson develop in college.
Well folks, that’s it.
Feel free to comment and weigh in as you wish!