NHL Mock Draft 2011: How It'll Play out

Smiley GimbelCorrespondent IJune 16, 2011

NHL Mock Draft 2011: How It'll Play out

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    Not in a long time has the NHL entry draft been this wide open. 

    As many as five players could be going first overall. To quote Oilers GM Steve Tambellini, "I think there's at least five players that can be in play and arguably qualify as the No. 1 pick - no question. It's different than last year for sure."

    Bob MacKenzie simply says after the top three, this draft is "ridiculously wide open".

    The general consensus at this point is that Edmonton will pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins but, more than any other draft year in recent history, there's a solid chance he may not be.

    Further to that, many GM's agree that from 12-15 to pick 50, the players are about equal.  What does this mean? It means a team isn't necessarily going to draft "best available" and could instead be drafting for "position" and for "depth".

    Because the 12-50 slot is so wide open, expect teams to do a lot more trading than you would see on a "normal" draft day in order to fill their internal ranking lists.

    Other than the trades that have already occurred, I predict in the first two rounds no less than eight teams trading picks.

    Assuming there are no trades (yeah right), this is how it's going down!

1. Edmonton Selects...

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    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: Center

    They've got a boat load of talented young forwards that could be center-pieced with a very talented RNH.

    If they didn't have that 19th pick as well, I'd say their primary need would be drafting a high-end, puck moving defensemen. A blue-chip stud on the blueline!  Dougie Hamilton or Adam Larson.

    Second option: Dougie Hamilton or Adam Larsson


    I'm 51/49 on them drafting RNH over Hamilton/Larsson.

2. Colorado Selects...

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    Gabriel Landeskog: Left Wing

    The Avs are stacked down the middle and Landeskog would compliment Duchene for years with his heady, talented, goal scoring prowess.

    The Avs are fortunate to also have the 11th overall pick so they can really stock up on their blue-chip prospects with this draft.

    Second option: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, if he slips past first overall

3. Florida Selects...

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    Jonathan Huberdeau: Center

    They've got blue-chippers in Markstrom & Gudbranson now they'll shore up the center spot with Huberdeau.

    Huberdeau had a fantastic playoffs culminating in a Memorial Cup win. Very talented pivot with slick hands and good hockey vision.

    Second option: Sean Couturier

4. New Jersey Selects...

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    Dougie Hamilton: Defenseman

    New Jersey will be absolutely thrilled drafting Dougie. Hamilton is a phenomenal talent who will be a sure thing NHLer in a very short time.

    He has the tools and skills to be "Pronger-like". Plus if anyone was paying attention at the draft combine, he measured 6 feet 5.5 inches. Yeah, this 18-year-old monster grew almost three inches in one year.

    Compared to the other defensive "monster" in this draft – Oleksiak – Hamilton is head & shoulders above him in talent & skill.

    He will be the first defenseman selected in this years draft.

    Second option: Sean Couturier or Huberdeau

    *note* I wouldn't bat an eyelash if New Jersey traded down.  Remember they won this draft lottery and moved up from the eighth spot to the fourth spot. My guess is that Ryan Murphy & Zibanejad were more on their radar before the windfall. Trading down with say Ottawa for Ottawa's 1st & 2nd would allow New Jersey to draft Murphy and then with Ottawa's second round pick, take one of the Gibson goaltenders.

5. New York Islanders Select...

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    Sven Bartschi: Center

    Sven Bartschi & Nino Niederreiter are good friends and have played hockey together before.

    Garth Snow and his proxy Charles Wang have gone off the board before and will select this speedy, talented center.

    Second option: Sean Couturier

    *note* Garth Snow could attempt to trade back for picks ala 2008. I'm certain Bartschi is his man and he knows he'll be drafting him higher at the 5th spot than he's been ranked (at anywhere from eight to 38), so he'll attempt to trade back for picks. I can see him flipping firsts with a team in the 8-12 slot and accumulate an additional 2nd round pick.

    Some rankings have Bartschi going in the early second round. If Snow feels its really looking that way, he'll grab him with his second round pick. Either way - Bartschi is his man.

6. Ottawa Selects...

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    Sean Couturier: Centre

    This big, dominate centre will fall into the Senators arms and they will happily take him. He will provide them with a very solid centre foundation in their re-build.

    Second option: Jonathan Huberdeau

    *note* Ottawa has the 23rd pick as well, so it wouldn't be too shocking if they drafted back, to accumulate picks, or even move up. The level playing field in this draft means that teams like Ottawa drafting in the top-10 could have someone high on their list they feel comfortable will still be around in the mid or later parts of the first round.

    That said, if Couturier's there, he's their guy.

7. Winnipeg Selects...

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    Ryan Strome: Center

    After bringing the NHL back to the 'Peg' after 15 years, the Winnipeg (Jets? Moose? Falcons?) will be happy to draft the human highlight reel that is Ryan Strome.

    This exiting, extremely talented player will lead them into the next decade. And they will rejoice.

    Second option: Ryan Murphy

    *note* possible move up trading with NYI for the 5th? NJ for the 4th? Florida for the 3rd? Minnesota is pretty close to Manitoba and they might want to make a splash at this draft.

8. Columbus Selects...

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    Adam Larsson: Defense

    Columbus will select this talented two-way blueliner who can step into the line up right away.

    He has all the skills and talent on the backend that the Blue Jackets have been missing since they entered the league.They will be extremely happy that he slipped to the 8th spot!

    Second option: Ryan Murphy

9. Boston Selects...

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    Ryan Murphy: Defenseman

    This slick skating, talented defenseman is loaded with God-like skill in an undersized body. He is just the type of quarterbacking, playmaking, highlight reel creating defenseman that the Bruins have lacked since Bourque retired.

    Now I don't mean to heap on such grand expectations comparing him to a Hall-of-Famer, but this kid does have some serious talent, and if they're patient he will be an exciting fixture on their team for years to come.

    Plus - isn't Bobby Orr his agent?

    Seriously tips the Kessel deal to Boston!

    Second option: Adam Larsson

10. Minnesota Selects...

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    Mika Zibanejad: Center

    Minnesota needs scoring. With talented fellow Swede Mikael Granlund already in their system, it should perfectly compliment an incredibly talented human highlight-reel in Mika.

    Second option: Rocco Grimaldi

11. Colorado Selects...

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    Joel Armia: Right Wing

    Along with Colorado's earlier pick, this gives the Avs scoring options for a playmaking Duchene.  Can you imagine a line of Landeskog, Duchene and Armia? That could be quite a line if all their potentials pan out!

    Armia projects as a talented, power forward type sniper. Good in the corners and on the powerplay. Shoots from just about anywhere with great accuracy.

    Second option: Rocco Grimaldi or Tyler Biggs

12. Carolina Selects...

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    Rocco Grimaldi: Center

    Carolina won't be afraid to draft a small five-foot-six center. 

    Rocco is the most purely talented player in this draft, arguably better than RNH. If he was just four inches taller you'd be hearing his name as the first overall pick in the 2011 draft.

    The difference between other tiny players in the draft and Rocco?  Rocco exudes confidence.  He completely believes in himself on a whole other level and he is in phenomenal shape as he proved at the draft combine.

    Second option: Nathan Beaulieu

13. Calgary Selects...

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    Mark McNeill: Center

    Sorry Toronto fans - unless Brian Burke trades up, they won't have Mark falling into their lap with their 25th pick.

    He has just too much solid raw talent for Calgary to pass up. His pro game might be a couple of years away but Mark has a strong, athletic pro body right now.

    He has a fairly high ceiling as a versatile power forward.

    Second option: Zack Phillips

14. Dallas Selects...

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    Oscar Klefbom: Defenseman

    A pure leader who has consistantly made his team better being in the lineup. Captain of the Swedish U18's he does need to add some snarl to his game.

    Mobile, attacking defensemen, with great potential as a top four, minutes eating, point producer.

    Dallas will consider this a steal at the 14th spot.

    Second option: Zack Phillips

15. New York Rangers Select...

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    Zack Phillips: Center

    Point producing playmaker for the Memorial Cup winning Seadogs. Zack will be a much needed top-six prospect.

    He has great hockey sense, and good on ice vision. He needs to get bigger, and though he's not "slow" it wouldn't hurt him to find an extra gear or two.

    Reminds me a bit of Yannick Perreault.

    Second option: John Gibson

16. Buffalo Selects...

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    Matt Puempel: Left Wing

    Pure sniper, with a hard, heavy accurate shot, great quickness, acceleration and a deft touch around the net.

    Good along the boards and in front of the net.  Needs to be coached a bit in the nuances of the game to become a more complete player, and who better to coach him than Lindy Ruff.

    Second option: Duncan Siemens

17. Montreal Selects...

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    Nathan Beaulieu: Defenseman

    Nathan has all the right tools to carry the mail and be a solid top four defenseman.

    His real strength is in his skating which allows him to get to his defense responsibilities as well as carry the rush.

    His hockey smarts are excellent, and he ran the power play for the Memorial Cup winning Seadogs.

    Most people would suggest they need forwards, but a quick look at Capgeek and Hockey Futures suggests that any position would be fine.  And Nathan would fill the cupboards nicely.

    Second option: Tyler Biggs

18. Chicago Selects...

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    Jamie Oleksiak: Defenseman

    Of all the teams drafting in the first round, I believe Chicago and L.A. are the two teams who have the prospects "cupboard" full enough to take a flyer on this behemoth of a defenseman in the middle to late first round.

    He's a raw project.

    He needs a lot of work, especially his skating and footwork.  But he has soft hands and good hockey sense.  At 6 foot 7, he's a monster who, if he fills out and polishs up, could be quite a force.

    Dustin Byfuglien had the same deficiencies in his draft year. And we all know how important he was to the 2010 Stanley cup champions.

    Second option: J.T Miller

19. Edmonton Selects...

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    David Musil: Defenseman

    If the Oilers draft RNH you can best be sure they'll try and draft a blue chip defensive prospect. What better "project" than the son of Frank Musil?

    David Musil has the potential to be a much better player than his father who was a stalwart stay-at-home defender.

    Second option: Joe Morrow but he could very easily fall to the second round and be grabbed at 31st spot.

20. Phoenix Selects...

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    Jonas Brodin: Defenseman

    If Jonas eats a few more helpings of Swedish meatballs and fills out to his potentials, he could be the perfect top two pairing with Oliver Ekman-Larsson - Phoenix's number one prospect.

    Excellent skater, excellent passer and plays the one-on-one gap control superbly. Great potential here!

    Second option: J.T. Miller

21. Ottawa Selects...

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    John Gibson: Goaltender

    Ottawa is re-building, and what a perfect way to rebuild than adding the top goaltender in this draft, a goaltender who some scouts are saying is a "franchise goalie" in the making.

    John is calm, with good size, plays square to the attacker and is the consensus top goalie in this draft.

    Second option: Tyler Biggs


22. Anaheim Selects...

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    J.T Miller: Center

    He's the kind of prospect that will need to simmer in the AHL to perfect, but when (if) he's ready, could be a dynamic player.

    Plays a strong possession game, with a creative flair and solid offensive hockey sense.

    Anaheim has a very solid depth of prospects, and can afford to let JT Miller learn his game for a few years.

    Second option: Tyler Biggs or Ty Rattie

23. Pittsburgh Selects...

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    Tomas Jurco: Right Wing

    Tomas is a very highly skilled prospect whose hand-eye coordination is simply dazzling! He can and has made plays that will drop your jaws in awe.

    That said, like many young prospects he needs to work on his strength and defensive play.

    Pittsburgh would be drafting Tomas as a top line winger projecting for 3 years from now in the mold of Alex Kovalev.  If he turns up half the player Alex was it'll be a good pick.

    Second option: Brandon Saad

24. Detroit Selects...

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    Vladislav Namestnikov: Center

    His father John had a cup of coffee playing with Vancouver, and his uncle Slava Kozlov had much more than a cup of coffee in the NHL getting 853 points in 1182 games, 79 points in 118 playoff games.

    Fantastic bloodlines and fantastic talent.  Talent the team drafting him will need to nurture and grow.  All the tools are there for him to develop into a nifty point producing second line center or even greater.

    Plus he's a great kid personality-wise.  It'll be a good pick for a very patient Detroit team that doesn't rush their prospects.

    Second option: Brandon Saad

25. Toronto Selects...

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    Victor Rask: Center

    Toronto isn't going to let a player who was challenging for the top 10 at the beginning of his draft year go after he slips into their sights at the 25th pick.

    Rask is a real solid "darkhorse' in that he has all the skill, size, hockey sense & drive to actually be an exceptional NHL hockey player. He can really carry the puck.

    Why has his ranking slipped from such lofty heights to what some scouts now have as middle second round? He simply didn't have a great year playing for Leksands IF with much reduced minutes in the second highest level Swedish league SuperAllsvenskan. Rask only put up 11 points in 37 games for Leksands.

    In all other games in 2010/11, be it international, U18's, or Leksand J20 in SuperElit, Victor Rask was a point per game player and a key component to his teams success.

    Burke will draft Rask with the 25th selection.

    Second option: Brandon Saad , Tyler Biggs or Ty Rattie

26. Washington Selects...

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    Alexander Khokhlachev: Center

    Washington isn't adverse to drafting Russians as we all know.  At this rate Washington could be called the Little Kremlin.

    Alexander Khokhlachev brings large offensive instincts and skills to his team. He also has a set of gears that can separate him from pack. He is a bit undersized at 5'11, but can overcome this by adding some strength to his frame. 

    Will be a very solid prospect for Washington.

    Second option: Tyler Biggs

27. Tampa Bay Selects...

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    Tyler Biggs: Right Wing

    Tyler scored very high in the draft combine for strength.  He's a strong, solidly built player with good balance and soft hands.

    Though not slow by any means, he could use some extra gears.  He plays a very simple north/south game, and he protects his teammates with the loyalty of a rottweiler. He's not a "pest" or "agitator" and he prefers to payback via hard, heavy hits.

    He also knows how to plant himself in front of the net like a power forward potting rebounds with a deft touch.

    Stevie Y will be pleased to select him.

    Second option: Brandon Saad

28. San Jose Selects...

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    Duncan Siemens: Defenseman

    Projects as a solid stay-at-home defender who really knows how to control the gap and contain attackers. Has good size and good offensive upside posting 43 points in 72 games.

    Why did he slip on my list? He needs to work on his skating and stick work that will allow him to compete to the same degree at the pro level. Other than that, he shows fantastic leadership, and he can really drop the gloves!

    Second option: Ty Rattie

29. Vancouver Selects...

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    Brandon Saad: Wing

    Big strong winger, with a great arsenal of shots that shout "NHL". Hard to contain, Brandon has an edge to his game that the scouts really love.

    He has a robust, healthy NHL size at 6'2, 211lbs and is projected as a two-way power forward with good hands and hockey vision.

    He will need to work on his defensive game, but many to most prospects have this learning curve to develop.

    Should be a great pick up for Vancouver.

    Second option: Ty Rattie

30. Toronto Selects...

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    Scott Mayfield: Defenseman

    As loaded with defensive prospects as the Leafs are, it's always good to keep adding to it as not all will work out to their potentials in the NHL.

    Scott has very good potential as an NHL defenseman. He's got excellent NHL size at 6'4, 200lbs. He can skate, hit, defend, pass, shoot - all the good stuff you'd like to see. He has great on-ice instincts, and can really carry the mail on a puck rush and often joins the attack as a fourth forward.

    He's projected as a top four pairing, playing in all situations.

    The flaws in Scott's game are few, and he's making active attempts to fix them.  Going to the University of Denver will be very beneficial as their hockey program is very adept at developing a player's game over their raw abilities.

    Toronto was one of the first to interview him, and his interview, rumors say, went very well.  Plus he already knows Wilson through the US development programs.

    Though my strong personal feelings are that the Leafs need to draft skilled forwards, Brian Burke will go with Scott at the 29th selection.

    Ty Rattie? I believe he'll either go earlier than the Leafs feel he's ranked, or the Leafs can try for him at the 39th pick.

    Second option: Brandon Saad