All to often fans of the cellar-dwelling teams are looking forward to the NHL Draft months in advance. The 2011 NHL Draft is no different, as fans of the Edmonton Oilers and Florida Panthers have been eyeing the weekend of June 24th for far too long for their liking.
However, those fans can at least look forward to landing a potential impact player at the top of the draft. The 2011 NHL Draft crop looks solid, especially at the top, and if history tells us anything the top picks will shine.
Top draft picks are making an impact like never before. In fact, between the years 1997 and 2008, Patrik Stefan and Erik Johnson are the only two players drafted first overall who have not appeared in an All-Star Game.
Meanwhile, four of those players drafted with the first pick have hoisted the Stanley Cup, and Tyler Seguin has a shot to do so this season.
Teams are built through the NHL Draft. The talented youngsters available early in the draft have the ability to impact the game immediately. With the NHL transitioning to a game that is more focused on speed than physicality, an 18-year old can jump from juniors to the NHL seamlessly given he has the talent.
On June 24th and 25th at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn. the stars of tomorrow will be given new homes at the 49th NHL Entry Draft.
Canadian born playmaking center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and the offensively gifted blue-liner from Sweden Adam Larsson, have entered what appears to be a two horse race to be selected first overall in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.
The rest is a mystery.
Without elite top end talent in the first round, it's anyone's guess as to where this tightly ranked group will fall into place.
Here's the third edition of my 2011 NHL Mock Draft with more than ten changes in the first round. Stay tuned for more updates.