2011 NHL Mock Draft: Who Goes Where? Winnipeg Gets Who?
Is there a future franchise player somewhere in this draft?
Edmonton would certainly like to hope so. The Oilers have the opportunity to add another franchise player when the 2011 NHL Entry Draft rolls around.
There is big debate again this year, just as there was last year with Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin, over who will be picked first. However, in this draft, there are four or five names rolling around as the best player in the draft.
Canadian Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tops the list in most people's mind because of his superb vision and passing ability. Edmonton has a dire need for defensemen though, and Sweden's Adam Larsson is a damn good one. Larsson has drawn comparisons to Detroit All-Star and Captain Nick Lidstrom, a lofty comparison for an 18-year-old.
Memorial Cup MVP Jonathan Huberdeau from Saint John has creeped into the discussion after a brilliant playoff run. Huberdeau has definitely turned a lot of heads and earned consideration.
Gabriel Landeskog is ready to play in the NHL yesterday; he is a terrific physical specimen and could play at a high level next season. He has great size and great hands. Some people also throw in Sean Couturier of Drummondville; he was the QMJHL league MVP.
With all this debate, it is difficult to determine who Steve Tambellini will take June 24th. There are a lot of great players in the top 10-15.
The Oilers don't really need someone to step in this year. The Oilers will probably have a sub-playoff year and will come back to the draft next year looking for more NHL-ready players to build a future dynasty. For that reason I think the Oilers will go for more finesse then a Landeskog-type.
Colorado needs a d-man but if Larsson is taken first, I would be very surprised to see them pass Nugent-Hopkins up.
This is my personal prediction. Feel free to comment with your opinions. This is one of my favorite times of year. Cheering hard for one team to win Lord Stanley's Cup while also looking at who will be added to the lesser teams organizations. Without any further ado: My prediction!
1. Edmonton—Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (C); Red Deer (WHL)
With the first overall selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers select from Red Deer of the WHL Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
Not really a huge surprise in my opinion. Nugent-Hopkins has great hands, great vision, great potential and fits in nicely with the Oilers. I think he will play another year with Red Deer and on Team Canada in December.
He has put on 12 pounds in the past month or so to show people he is totally committed to being the best he can possibly be. He was third in the WHL last season with 31 goals, 75 assists and 106 points. He will do great someday in Edmonton setting up Taylor Hall and company.
The Oil would have four of the best young players in the game with Jordan Eberle, Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Nugent-Hopkins. Get off the tracks because a very slow freight train is just starting to come. If the Oilers can secure this wealth of young players, great things will happen.
2. Colorado—Adam Larsson (D); Skelleftea (Sweden)
Not a big surprise here. The Avalanche are desperate for a d-man to replace Kevin Shattenkirk, and Larsson is a very good replacement.
Larsson could play in the NHL next season, but it is more probable that he will return to Sweden after training camp.
If Larsson isn't available, the Avalanche could also use a top-rank centerman.
3. Florida—Gabriel Landeskog (LW); Kitchener (OHL)
The Panthers need someone capable of entering the NHL next season and helping the team immediately. The Panthers have some good young prospects, and if they can implement those players within the next season and find stable goaltending, they could be a decent team.
Landeskog is completely NHL ready and can step into the first or second line right away. In my opinion, I think he could be the rookie of the year in 2011-12.
The Panthers have promising prospects in defensemen Erik Gudbranson and Colby Robak, forwards Quinton Howden and Nick Bjugstand, and goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Along with Landeskog, most or all of these players could enter the NHL within the next season or two, creating a great future for the Panthers franchise.
4. New Jersey—Jonathan Huberdeau (C); Saint John (QMJHL)
New Jersey must be singing praises after winning the draft and being able to add Huberdeau to an already solid team.
Huberdeau showed his great talent in the playoffs this year for Saint John as he led his team to the Memorial Cup Championship. Huberdeau has great scoring touch and could fit right in with New Jersey; he will find a nice home with fellow prospects Nick Palmieri and Mattias Tedenby.
New Jersey is a good team that only got here because of a brutal first half of last season. Look for the Devils to be the only team picking in the top eight that makes the playoffs next year. Sorry folks, it's just my opinion.
5. New York Islanders—Dougie Hamilton (D); Niagara (OHL)
The Islanders need defense and get a very good d-man in Hamilton. He has good size (6'4" 190 lbs.) and can help put the puck in the net. Hamilton had 58 points in 67 games with Niagara last season.
The Islanders do have some very good prospects.
Nino Niederreiter is one of the top prospects in hockey, Travis Hamonic and Calvin de Haan are good prospects as well. The Islanders are starting to get the right pieces to build a franchise and make a run.
6. Ottawa—Ryan Strome; (C) Niagara
This might create some controversy, but Strome will fit in better with Ottawa then Sean Couturier.
Strome had a great OHL playoffs with Niagara, and Ottawa needs a pure offensive forward. Ottawa has a lot of defensive prospects like David Runblad and Jared Cowen, so they don't need another defenseman on their roster.
Strome will start as a top six forward in Ottawa. He has a knack for putting the puck in the back of the net and is great on the power play.He scored 106 points last year with Niagara.
Strome needs another year before being ready for the NHL, but he is worth the wait.
7. Winnipeg—Sean Couturier (C); Drummondville (QMJHL)
Winnipeg will be positively thrilled that such a great center fell to them.
Couturier did not have a great playoff run, but was the QMJHL regular season MVP with 96 points, despite missing over a month with Team Canada in December. Couturier could be ready for the NHL in the fall which would electrify an already hot Winnipeg fanbase.
It will be surprising to see his name in the No.7 spot as all six teams who drafted ahead of Winnipeg will have strongly considered picking Couturier. He could go anywhere from No.1 to No.7.
If Winnipeg does get Couturier, he could make an immediate impact this fall.
8. Colombus—Nathan Beaulieu (D); Saint John
Columbus picks the best available player here and gets highly talented d-man Nathan Beaulieu.
Beaulieu has great speed, great puck control, a good shot from the point, decent size and poise. He had a great playoff run with Saint John. Beaulieu is an offensive defensemen and has the potential to be better at that role than Mike Green. His high-level speed also helps him get back on D after going on an offensive rush.
Columbus should be very happy to get this d-man. He scored 45 points in 65 games during the regular season. In the playoffs, he added 16 points in 21 games.
9. Boston—Ryan Murphy (D); Kitchener
Ryan Murphy is a very good puck-moving offensive defenseman. He had 26 goals and 79 points for Kitchener this year. As with Beaulieu, Murphy has a great point shot and good speed. He could develop into a big time power-play quarterback for Boston.
10. Minnesota—Mika Zibanejad (C); Djurgarden (Sweden)
The top-ranked European forward has great scoring touch and will fit in nicely with the Wild next season.
Zibanejad could easily be a top line player. He has great hands, good speed and a quick release on his shot. He is widely acclaimed as the most-improved European player over the past year. If his improvements continue, Zibanejad has a very high ceiling.
11. Colorado Avalanche—Duncan Siemans (D); Saskatoon (WHL)
Colorado is the first team to make its second pick and gets another stud defensemen.
I would not be surprised if Siemans is already gone by this point. He is more of a defensive d-man that any of the other defensemen thus far, but has a very good point shot when he decides to unload it.
Siemans is greatly improving under the tutelage of star defenseman Stefan Elliot and manager Lorne Mollekon. He may not be NHL ready now, but could be Adam Larsson's partner after another year of WHL play.
I will go so far as to compare his talents to that of Shea Weber. He certainly has the potential to become that type of player.
12. Carolina Hurricanes—Sven Baertschi (LW); Portland (WHL)
Sven is a highly-skilled Swiss forward that could be as good as Nino Niedreitter. That is a pretty lofty comparison, but either way, Sven scored 34 goals and makes games more enjoyable to watch.
13. Calgary—Joel Armia (RW); Assat (Finland)
Armia really showed off his talents at World Juniors. He scored only one point in six games for Finland, but had a very excting style to his game and was robbed three times against the US.
In the World U-18 Championships, Armia was third in scoring with 13 points in six games. Armia is a very offensive forward, with super speed and fancy moves. He isn't all for show, though, and he can really put the puck in the back of the net.
14. Dallas—Daniel Catenacci (C); Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
The Dallas Stars will need someone to replace Brad Richards, and in a few years, Catenacci might do the trick.
NHL.com's Steven Hoffner calls Catenacci the darkhorse of the draft and puts him at No.11. While I do agree that Catenacci is a not-so-well-hidden gem, I think he goes to Dallas at No.14. Dallas needs to take a chance, and here is a player worth taking one on.
Catenacci is off most people's radar because he only scored 71 points in 67 games. He only scored 26 goals, and he was playing with the worst team in the Western Conference of the OHL. He will benefit playing with other young guys in Dallas, like Jamie Benn and Scott Glennie.
15. New York Rangers—Vladislav Namestnikov (C); London (OHL)
New York takes a small risk by selecting this highly skilled and flashy Russian sniper.
Namestnikov seems committed to staying in North America; the Rangers can only hope it stays that way. He adapted well to North American ice, scoring 30 goals and 68 points in 68 games.
16. Buffalo Sabres—Mark Scheifele (C); Barrie (OHL)
A rookie with the Barrie Colts, Scheifele scored 75 points in 66 games. He also led the Canadian forwards in scoring in the World U18 Championships.
He should develop into a great playmaker at the NHL level. He might be the Jordan Eberle of the 2011 draft—drafted in the mid-to-late first round, but becomes a productive player in the NHL.
17. Montreal Canadiens—Mark McNeill (C); Prince Albert (WHL)
Mark McNeill will follow in the footsteps of another former-Prince Albert Raider.
Kyle Chipchura was drafted 18th overall in 2004 by the Montreal Canadians. Now, years later, McNeill could go to Montreal one pick earlier.
McNeill has been compared nonstop in Prince Albert to Chipchura, but McNeill will hope to find a home quickly and start contributing to Montreal. McNeill is a big power forward, which is a much needed commodity for the undersized Canadiens.
While he is big, he does not lack skill and speed, so he should fit in well with Les Canadiens playing style.
18. Chicago Blackhawks—Boone Jenner (C); Oshawa (OHL)
The Blackhawks use their first round pick to finally replace the loss of Dustin Byfuglien in front of the net.
Jenner is only 6-foot-1, but tips the scales at 204 pounds. Needless to say, Boone Jenner is solid muscle.
He never stops going, finishes checks well, plays well in front of the net, forces turnovers and always works hard. He scored 66 points in 63 games this season, so he does not lack skill.
19. Edmonton Oilers—Jamieson Oleksiak (D); Northeastern (HE)
The Oilers address their need of defense with 6-foot-9 giant Zdeno Chara. Oh sorry, I mean 6-foot-7 Jamieson Oleksiak. I am just not used to two highly touted giants.
While Oleksiak lacks scoring ability, he more then makes up for it with his defense. He wields a huge stick and has the ability to play lots of minutes.
If Oleksiak develops well in college and with the Oilers organization, he could very well become the second Zdeno Chara of the league. His point shot could also be lethal with more coaching.
The Oilers are quite lucky for the giant to fall to No.19.
20. Phoenix—John Gibson (G); USA U-18 (USHL)
Gibson was simply outstanding at the World U18 Championships this year. Playing against the top players in the world in his age group, Gibson went 6-0 with a 2.34 GAA and a .926 save pct. He is the top-rated goalie, according to Central Scouting.
Phoenix has a terrible history of drafting goalies, with the exception of Nicolai Khabibulin (drafted by Winnipeg). Gibson is worth the risk though. Phoenix traded away the rights to Ilya Bryzgalov, and Gibson could come along after a year of patchwork for the Coyotes.
21. Ottawa Senators—Jonas Brodin (D); Farjestad (Sweden)
Brodin has been a steady riser this season, as the reliable 17-year-old defenseman has shown strong consistency playing in Sweden’s top professional league. He will need to bulk up to play in the NHL.
A very good, safe pick for the Senators.
22. Anaheim Ducks —Zach Phillips (C); Saint John (QMJHL)
The Sea Dogs No. 2 center scored 38 goals and had 95 points in only 67 games. He is very hard working and always seems to be in the right place at the right time.
Phillips will join an already flamboyant offense in Anaheim and will only help make it better. He does not fall very short in comparison with teammate Johnathon Huberdeau.
Anaheim had Cam Fowler fall to them last year and will be very happy to have Phillips fall to them this year.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins—Scott Mayfield (D); Youngstown (USHL)
Pittsburgh needs better defense, and this is a good first step. Whether or not he will be able to replace Goligoski is to be determined.
Good selection for Pittsburgh.
24. Detroit—Nicklas Jensen (RW); Oshawa (OHL)
This Danish star will fit in well with the European contingent that is the Detroit Red Wings. Jensen has a very good shot and release but will need to bulk up and get faster.
Detriot always drafts gems, and we will see what happens with Jensen.
25. Toronto—Tomas Jurco (RW); Saint John (QMJHL)
Tomas Jurco is a one-man highlight reel. His goals at the prospect camp were astounding. Jaws hit the floor at the young kid's skills.
Jurco can actually play, too. He is a lot like Jussi Jokinen. Jurco and Jokinen can both score well in games and excel in the shootouts. Jurco scored 31 goals this year and was almost unstoppable in the shootout.
26. Washington Capitals—Nikita Kucherov; CSKA Moscow (KHL)
I am going way off the board here to pick little known Russian Nikita Kucherov.
If any team can convince this kid to come to North America, it is the Capitals. They would give him the chance to play on the same team as Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin, and a chance to play against Evgeni Malkin and potentially Pavel Datsyuk if Detroit moves to the East. Washington might be the only team that can make him leave the KHL.
This kid scored 21 points in seven games at the World U18 Championships. If that doesn't put you on the radar, what will? He has a load of potential, and the sky is the limit.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning—Christopher Gibson (G); Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Tampa Bay picks a great goalie that plays for an absolutely brutal team.
Gibson was 14-15-8-4 last season with a 2.42 GAA and a .920 save percentage. He will come into Tampa and fill a hole likely to be vacated by Dwayne Roloson.
Great pick up for Tampa. They need to get either Gibson, or the other Gibson that I have being drafted No.20 to Phoenix.
28. Toronto Maple Leafs—Matthew Puempel (LW); Peterborough (OHL)
Puempel was sidelined for a good stretch of this past season after undergoing hip surgery; he still led his team with 34 goals and 69 points in only 55 games.
His lack of games played and the injury have affected his ranking, but he could be a diamond in the late picks of Round 1.
Burke makes his second first round pick as the Leafs GM. Another good selection.
29. San Jose—Ty Rattie (RW); Portland (WHL)
Rattie had 28 goals and 79 points with the Portland Winterhawks. He is a very gritty player and works hard for every goal he gets.
Rattie was a big reason the Winterhawks won their very strong US division this year. The Sharks will enjoy his work ethic and goal scoring.
29. Vancouver Canucks—Alexander Khokhlachev (C); Windsor (OHL)
Vancouver gets versatile Russian forward Alexander Khokhlachev, which will give them some more depth in the future.
It's hard to make a great team better, but they may have gotten better with this selection. Khokhlachev has been rumored to go anywhere from No.14 or higher in the second round.
31. Edmonton—Joseph Morrow (D); Portland (WHL)
This is just a possible selection for Edmonton with their third selection. If Morrow drops this far, Edmonton might be crying with happiness. Morrow is a great defenseman who, for some reason, just doesn't get recognition. He is being projected in the Round 1 20-30 range.