The NHL draft begins on June 25th, and it is never too early to speculate who each team will select.
The Edmonton Oilers will start off the draft and put an end to the question that has been asked all year, Taylor or Tyler. Unless the Bruins want to move up to the one spot, in fear the Oilers will take the guy Boston covets, but most likely scenario, Oilers keep their No. 1 overall, and the Bruins happily take who drops to them.
It's almost an opposite-Sophie’s choice for the Oilers—instead of picking one of two unbearable options, Edmonton is picking one of two players, neither of which they can go wrong with. While the Central Scouting Bureau ranks Seguin No. 1, most people think the Oilers will take...
Taylor versus Tyler will rage on until June 25th, so don't really expect an amateur journalist to be able to make this choice.
Seguin is ranked ahead of Hall, but the consensus is that Hall will go first. Most feel he is just above Seguin on talent level, and this will most likely land him in Edmonton. Though the Oilers probably need a center more than a winger, word on the street is that Hall will be an Oiler, and there is no way Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini is going to deal this pick, even to the Bruins.
Though the Oilers could look to last year’s draft—Tavares was the consensus No. 1 for a long time. Duchene challenged him late (as did Victor Hedman), but in the end the Islanders took Tavares. Now these players are only one season in, but Duchene did have the better season (albeit he had a better supporting cast). I don't think it would be too out there comparing Hall to Tavares and Seguin to Duchene.
I said the Oilers could use a centre in the last slide; well the Bruins could use a winger.
With Marc Savard, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and youngster Zach Hamill down the middle, the Bruins don't really have room for another centre—though if Edmonton does take Hall, the Bruins will gladly take Seguin.
But the Bruins’ struggles have come on the offensive end. They have a good blue line and Tuukka Rask has emerged as a goaltender that can give the team a chance to win night in and night out. Hall could fit on the top line with Savard, but the consensus says he'll be gone.
I think this third pick will either be Gudbranson or Fowler. Whoever it is, new GM Dave Tallon should make the right choice.
I have the Panthers taking Gudbranson because he is more of a defensive minded player then Fowler. The team already has Bryan McCabe and young gun Dmitry Kulikov who are more offensive puck movers. A Kulikov-Gudbranson pairing would be dominant in a few years.
Gudbranson very well could be NHL ready for next season and would provide a good physical presence on Florida's blue line. Whether the Panthers fire sale and start re-building or sign a free agent or two and make a run for the playoffs, Gudbranson would be a vital part of the organization.
If Fowler is here for Columbus they will most likely take him. The Panthers could use a defensive guy, and the Jackets could use a puck mover like Fowler. Fowler can be physical, and he's no liability in his own end, but with guys like Commodore and Jan Hejda he would really help in Columbus' transition game.
Throughout the year it seemed like the order was going to be Hall, Seguin and then Fowler, but some have touted Gudbranson to jump ahead of Fowler.
Maybe a good defensive prospect will help the Blue Jackets get into the playoffs again, but that will most likely be on Goaltender Steve Masons shoulders. He was a huge reason they made the post-season two years ago, and a huge reason Columbus was horrible last year.
A guy like Fowler is sure to help on the defensive end, and while he couldn't single handedly get Steve Mason into his Calder Trophy winning form, he should help improve a defense that were 24th worst in the goals against per game category.
With young talents up front like Kyle Okposo, John Tavares, Josh Bailey and Rob Schremp, the Islanders could use a defensive prospect. Ranking 28th in goals against per game doesn't make the decision hard either.
Gormley hasn't dominated as much as the players taken before him in this mock, but his on ice vision and maturity could have him playing in the NHL next season. He plays in the QMJHL, which is considered a tad weaker than the WHL and OHL that could play against Gormley.
If the Islanders do decide to start the year with Gormley on their roster, he could slot into the first pairing with Mark Streit on a not-so impressive blue line.
This would create a great pairing as the 32-year-old Streit (considered one of the best offensive defenseman in the game, but also a great two-way player) could mentor Gormley, who himself could become a great two-way defenseman in the NHL and someday quarterback power plays as Streit does.
Brett Connolly was very unfortunate to run into some groin and hip problems that limited him to a 16 game season. If he had played the whole year, some say he would have rivaled Hall and Seguin for the number one pick.
But the lack of games shouldn't affect his value too much—it could, but scouts know the talent Connolly possesses so his name should be called fairly early on June 25th.
His defensive upside is underrated, but it could always improve. That's not his bread and butter though; Connolly has a blistering shot that could make NHL goalies cringe. His big frame allows him to crash the net, though he won't be throwing hits like a Dustin Brown.
Down the road he could be a great line mate for Steven Stamkos. When you have two shooters of that caliber on the same line, defenses won't know what to do (a pure passer on the left would make that line complete).
I'll reference 'my' Calgary Flames as an example, usually Centres think they can only pass on a line with Iggy, so Iggy is usually the only player on that first line that can/will shoot. So simply, defenses pay attention and make sure Iginla has no space, so he can't get any shots off.
The second a defense would try to focus only on Stamkos, Connolly will already have put one in the back of your net.
Don't be surprised if Goaltender Jack Campbell get's selected by the Lightning. Or...
Carolina would be very grateful if they can steal Nino at the seven spot. He could fall to them like I have here, but don't be surprised if Niederreiter goes as high as fourth.
I've been talking about team needs, but really Nino brings so much to the table (which is phenomenal at the age of 17 if he was born a week earlier he would not be eligible for the 2010 Draft)). He is basically the definition of two-way player. All of his offensive upside is just as good as what he brings to the table defensively.
"I think that’s what makes good players great players—the ability and confidence to make the score with all the pressure." A quote from Niederreiter shows his mentality too. He doesn't need to get satisfaction from getting a bunch of points—he wants to be the guy that you can go to in the clutch, as Nino referenced in that same quote, like Crosby in the 2010 Olympic Gold Medal game.
All around a great player, a fringe NHL player next year, but it could very well happen due to his size, skating and vision.
There were other viable options for the Thrashers, but as I was looking at their roster, they have a good amount of talent on offense and defense, as well as a good number of prospects on each end. They do have Pavelec between the pipes who is a good young 'tender, but Jack Campbell is a really, really good investment. Some have already compared him to another American Goaltender, Ryan Miller.
As I said, some have talked about Jack Campbell going as early as 3rd, maybe to the Panthers—maybe to a team that really covets the Goaltender that will trade up.
Taking Goaltenders early in the draft poses a risk, but with risk comes reward. Many have flopped, many have been outstanding 'tenders.
His work ethic and character could almost alone warrant him to be taken in the first round. As we saw at the 2010 World Juniors, Campbell thrives playing in the big games. He plays well under pressure, though like most goalies he can lose his composure when opposing players crash the net., which can sometimes lead him to 'forget' his superb technique and revert to a flopping style (this doesn't happen often).
His size and athleticism help his positioning and are just a couple of more weapons in Campbells massive arsenal. With great technique and superb passing and puck handling, it's no wonder so many scouts are very high on Campbells potential/ability.
“I go on NHL.com every once in awhile and try and watch his games and just learn tips from him kind of. He’s outstanding to me, his play-making ability and vision just blows me away.” -Johansen on Sharks Centre Joe Thornton.
In fact, this is quite evident in Johansen's play and abilities. Not quite a big body like Thornton, but he should fill out his frame when he reaches the NHL (he is only 17). Not a sissy though, if opposing defenders get physical, he will not shy away from being physical right back. His passing and vision are his strongest attributes.
The Wild already have defenseman Tyler Cuma and Marco Scandella prospect wise, and for an organization built on defense, they should be looking to draft a forward come June 25th.
Chances are we won't see Johansen in the NHL next year or the year after, but he could make the jump three years from now.
A great all-around defenseman, it would be no surprise to see Forbort sneak into the top ten. Current situation, the Rangers have some bad free-agent contracts on the blue line (Redden, Roszival) and may look to the draft to develop their own talent instead of throwing money to free agents which has not really worked for them in the past.
Some have compared him to Tyler Myers, and it isn't a stretch. A big physical D-Man who can contribute on the offensive end, who in time could make a great pairing with current sophomore Del Zotto. Someday he could even quarterback the second power play. He usually just doesn't clap shots from the point; he utilizes low shots to create rebounds down low for his team.
Plus it's easy to love a defenseman with a big stick to block up passing lanes.
The Stars will probably hope that one of the defenseman gone will fall to them, but the only that could likely fall to eleven is Forbort. Dallas has Loui Eriksson and James Neal, two good young forwards and in the past have been good at developing forwards. They could use a D-Man, but they should take Skinner if he's there at the eleven spot.
Skinner is a pure sniper who has been criticized for his skating (though the hockey writers say it's more of an acceleration problem (Skinner was in fact a nationally ranked figure skater)).
Skinner can also win face-offs, though it usually takes guys that are great at face-offs in Junior to get good in the dot at the NHL level.
If Jack Campbell falls here, the Stars could take advantage.
Watson draws comparisons to Jordan Staal and Ryan Kesler. A great, gritty two-way player who can put up a good amount of points.
The Ducks got a very good prospect, Luca Sbisa, in the Pronger deal with Philadelphia. Sbisa should be a dominant defenseman in a couple of years. They also have D Jake Gardiner.
There's really not many ways to describe Watson aside from comparing him to Staal and Kesler. He's good in his own end, with good hands, a good shot, physical presence, good size—he has it all. Played Centre and Wing this year, so he could be versatile.
No matter what, whoever takes Watson will at the very least get a great penalty killing third line player, at best, well the sky is the limit for the big forward.
Tarasenko has been compared to Ovechkin—he doesn't have the talent, but they do share some traits. A good shot, and hard to knock off the puck, Tarasenko could be a wild card in this draft. Like Kulikov fell last year, Tarasenko could fall in the draft if teams fear he could bail for the KHL.
His quick shot pairs with good play making ability, so he is very dynamic offensively, which the Coyotes could use. They were 24th in goals per game, but 3rd in goals against per game. They could use a dynamic forward, maybe a prospect like Tarasenko who could play with Turris someday.
Granlund, a smaller play-making centre from Finland will automatically draw comparisons to fellow Finn, Saku Koivu.
He won't really help you on the defensive end, but his offensive prowess is excellent. His speed and skating could be a fault, but he has good agility and balance. His knowledge of the game could help him to a lengthy career in the NHL though don't expect him to be playing next year, it will take a few years for Granlund to make the jump.
Again, the Russian Factor can play in here, but Burmistrov could have an edge because he plays in the Ontario Hockey League and has stated he wants to play in the NHL.
He's not going to be an Alex Kovalev—Burmistrov has excellent work ethic and will not let his talents go to waste. He shows desire to play in the NHL, and that and his superior hockey knowledge and outstanding hands and playmaking ability could put him on the path to greatness.
I doubt the Bruins take a defenseman in the first two rounds, their issues are on the offensive end.
17. Colorado Avalanche—Jon Merrill D USA U-18
18. Nashville Predators—Quinton Howden LW Moose Jaw Warriors
19, LA Kings—Mark Pysyk D Edmonton Oil Kings
20.Pittsburgh Penguins—Dylan McIlrath D Moose Jaw Warriors
22. Phoenix Coyotes—Emerson Etem C Medicine Hat Tigers
23. Buffalo Sabres—Riley Sheahan C Notre Dame U
24. Atlanta Thrashers— Jaden Schwartz C Tri-City Storm
25. Vancouver Canucks—Jarred Tinordi D USA U-18
27. Montreal Canadiens—Stanislav Galiev RW Saint John Sea Dogs
28. San Jose Sharks—Calvin Pickard G Seattle Thunderbirds
29. Anaheim Ducks—Evgeny Kuznetsov C Chelyabinsk
30. Chicago Blackhawks—Brock Nelson C Minny HS