Thanks in part to Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke, the Northeast Division will be one of the most interesting divisions to watch in the 2010 NHL Draft.
As it turns out, the Maple Leafs, who were the division’s worst team and had the second worst record in the entire league, do not have a pick in the first round of this year’s draft… for now.
After the first two picks in the draft—which are undoubtedly going to be Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin—the draft turns into a guessing game. Certain teams have certain needs, but things change, picks get traded, and the draft becomes even harder to predict.
Here’s what the Northeast Division’s first round could look like.
One of two things will happen with this pick: either the Bruins will draft Seguin or they will trade the pick.
Now that I’m done being Captain Obvious, let me explain.
Seguin’s numbers in the Ontario Hockey League were phenomenal this past season with the Plymouth Whalers. He was third in the OHL in goals (48) and finished tied for first in points (106) with Hall.
In the playoffs however, Seguin fell flat. After a first round which saw him tally 10 points in just five games, the 18-year-old had no points and a minus-six rating against Hall’s Windsor Spitfires.
The second round shouldn’t diminish Seguin’s value, it was just a four-game series in which his Plymouth Whalers had basically no shot.
Seguin is obviously a smart choice for any team, but critics are speculating Boston may trade the pick due to the amount of centers already on the team. Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron, and David Krejci are already signed on for next season, and it is expected that restricted free-agent Vladimir Sobotka will be re-signed.
What they will do: The Bruins can’t pass on a kid like Seguin. This pick was a major part of the Phil Kessel deal and it would be a poor decision to not take a natural goal-scorer like Seguin.
I had read that the Bruins were looking at Jon Merrill, a big defenseman for the USA U-18 team, but the move wouldn’t make any sense. Despite Zdeno Chara’s free agency after next season, Boston still has a good crop of defensemen within the organization, so let’s just move on to what the team will more-than-likely do with the 15th overall pick.
As it stands now, Michael Ryder and Shawn Thornton are the only two right-wingers on board for next season. It can also be assumed that the Bruins will throw restricted free agent Blake Wheeler a nice deal.
Mark Recchi, 42, has probably seen his last day with the team and Miroslav Satan’s unexpected postseason production may not have been enough to get him a deal with Boston.
Austin Watson would fit very nicely with the Bruins. The right-winger had 34 points in 42 games with Windsor in the OHL before being traded to the Peterborough Petes, where he had 20 points in only 10 games.
What they will do: Once he adds 20-30 pounds, at 6’3” Watson would gel quite well on a line with Milan Lucic. He’s the pick here.
The Sens have picked a number of solid defensemen over the last handful of drafts, so one would have to believe they will target a forward who can find the net this year.
The previously mentioned Watson could drop to this spot if the Bruins decide to take another right-winger, or even another forward altogether. If Watson is still available, the Sens will take a good look at him, especially with 37-year-olds Daniel Alfredsson and Alexei Kovalev on their way out.
If Watson is not available, left-winger Quinton Howden would serve Ottawa well.
Howden finished with 28 goals and 65 points in 65 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors in the Western Hockey League. He also rebounded from an atrocious minus-37 season with a solid plus-14.
His two-way play will continue to improve in future seasons and make him a valuable forward in the NHL.
Watson and Howden are also identical in terms of size, so factor that out of the equation.
What they will do: Howden might be the better pick here even if Watson is available. They will go with Howden.
There are two options here for the Sabres.
The first option is Notre Dame forward Riley Sheahan. The freshman posted six goals and 17 points in 37 games with Fighting Irish this season. He is a playmaker with great vision on the ice.
At 6’2”, 200 pounds, his frame would make Sheahan an ideal line-mate for a player like Zack Kassian, the Sabres’ 2009 first-round pick—assuming Kassian stays out of trouble off the ice for a while.
The other option is 6’6” defenseman Jarred Tinordi.
While Tinordi’s puck-handling ability has been called into question, he is one of the best defensive defensemen in the draft.
Tinordi captained the U.S. NTDP U-18 team in the USHL this season, where he had five goals and 13 points in 56 games. He also added 95 penalty minutes.
Seeing the hulking Tinordi on a line with 6’8” Tyler Myers would give opposing forwards nightmares for years to come.
Whether the Sabres take Tinordi is going to rely heavily on whether or not they trade for Tomas Kaberle and if they decide to finally give Mike Weber a permanent shot in the NHL.
What they will do: As great a pairing as Tinordi and Myers would be, expect the Sabres to take Sheahan.
The Habs could take anyone with this pick, but I’m going to lean toward a defenseman.
Alexander Petrovic is another big d-man. Standing at 6’4”, he would be a good partner for P.K. Subban or perhaps a solid second-line defenseman.
His offensive numbers aren’t overwhelming, but the ability to score is there. Petrovic has eight goals and 19 assists for the Red Deer Rebels in WHL this season and played for Team Cherry in the CHL Top Prospects Game.
Another possibility on the blue line is Stephen Johns, who was a member of the gold medal-winning Team USA at the U-18 World Championships.
Johns had three assists during the tournament.
Johns was also an alternate captain for the U.S. NTDP U-18 team as well. He had eight points in 23 games worth of USHL competition this season. His reliable defensive play and leadership would be beneficial for any team.
What they will do: I leaned towards a defenseman, but that doesn’t mean the Habs won’t go for a forward. Having said that, I think they will take Petrovic.