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2011 NHL Mock Draft: The Top 5 Picks

Daniel FriedmanCorrespondent IJune 20, 2011

2011 NHL Mock Draft: The Top 5 Picks

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    TORONTO, CAN - JANUARY 19:  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #9 of Team Orr skates against Team Cherry in the 2011 Home Hardware Top Prospects game on January 19, 2011 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. Team Orr defeated Team Cherry 7-1. (Photo by Claus Ande
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    With the 2011 NHL Entry Draft just days away, it's time to take a look at the talent pool and predict how things will play out Friday night.

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is, almost unanimously, expected to go first overall, and I feel the same way.

    The other 29 picks? I've got some different ideas of what will happen from that point onward. 


No. 1 Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

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    TORONTO, CAN - JANUARY 19:  Rickard Rakell #25 of Team Cherry stops Ryan Nugent-Hopkins #9 of Team Orr from getting to the puck in the 2011 Home Hardware Top Prospects game on January 19, 2011 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. Team Orr defeated
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is exactly who the Oilers need, given that they've already drafted a couple of fantastic wingers in Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi. 

    He's a fantastic playmaking center, which should be a tremendous boost to his linemates, and his passing ability will allow Hall and Eberle more goal-scoring opportunities. 

    Nugent-Hopkins is the best offensive player in the draft, bottom line. He'd be a phenomenal addition to this Edmonton Oilers hockey team and a huge asset to their rebuilding efforts.

No. 2 Colorado Avalanche: Gabriel Landeskog

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    LAKE PLACID, NY - AUGUST 05:  Jonnas Nattinen #29  of Team Finland is hit into the boards by Gabriel Landeskog #12 of Team Sweden at the USA Hockey National Evaluation Camp on August 5, 2010 in Lake Placid, New York.  (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    A natural successor to Peter Forsberg in Colorado, Landeskog is an excellent power forward, ripe with playmaking ability and leadership skills. 

    He's a tough competitor and, considering the Avs recently traded away one of their more physical forwards (Chris Stewart), they now have the chance to add a significant upgrade to their depth chart in that category.

    Landeskog is exactly the kind of player the Avs need right now, from multiple standpoints.

    They're still ways away in terms of re-building this team, but the addition of a player like Landeskog would represent a huge step in the right direction. 

No. 3 Florida Panthers: Sean Couturier

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    TORONTO, CAN - JANUARY 19:  Sean Couturier #7 of Team Cherry skates with the puck against Team Orr in the 2011 Home Hardware Top Prospects game on January 19, 2011 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. Team Orr defeated Team Cherry 7-1. (Photo by C
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    Most, if not all of you are probably thinking "what about Jonathan Huberdeau?"

    Huberdeau's a great player, but I still think Couturier is better.

    Both are listed as centers, but Huberdeau played the Wing several times this season, which probably gave him some extra scoring chances, and Couturier scored 96 points with nowhere near as much talent surrounding him in Drummondville as Huberdeau has on the Sea Dogs. 

    He's also got a size advantage over Huberdeau, which should help him at the NHL level. Huberdeau is a faster skater, but there are players in this league that find ways to produce, even if they don't have a tremendous set of wheels.

    The Florida Panthers are a team completely devoid of talent, so they need someone who can step into that type of situation and be a star.

    Couturier strikes me as that kind of player. Huberdeau does not.

    Sean Couturier will help jump start Dale Tallon's reconstruction of this Panther offense, joining a forward corps that features two capable point-producers in Stephen Weiss and David Booth, but is otherwise lacking in that regard. 

No. 4 New Jersey Devils: Adam Larsson

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    BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 31: Defenseman Adam Larsson #5 of Sweden carries the puck during the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship game between Canada and Sweden on December 31, 2010 at HSBC Arena in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Lou Lamoriello doesn't mess up when the Devils pick in the 20's, and he's not about to do that with the fourth overall selection.

    New Jersey has won three Stanley Cups, in large part because of their defensive-depth. Scott Niedermeyer, Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko all played vital roles for the Devils, but since that era, the team has yet to restore that dominance at the blueline. 

    Adam Larsson will help change that.

    I'm not comparing him to those three players, but I am saying that he's one heck of a defenseman. He's got size and plenty of offensive ability. His vision and passing ability should help New Jersey's powerplay, as will his knack for launching rockets from the point. 

    Having played (and succeeded) against grown men in the Swedish Elite League, Larsson is likely NHL-ready, so he can step in right away and make an impact. 

    The Devils have to start somewhere, and in this case, that somewhere is with Adam Larsson.

No. 5 New York Islanders: Dougie Hamilton, D

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    TORONTO, CAN - JANUARY 19:  Dougie Hamilton #27 of Team Orr skates against Team Cherry in the 2011 Home Hardware Top Prospects game on January 19, 2011 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, Canada. Team Orr defeated Team Cherry 7-1. (Photo by Claus Anderse
    Claus Andersen/Getty Images

    My pick for the Islanders (assuming Larsson is off the board) is Dougie Hamilton. 
    He's exactly the kind of blueliner the Isles lack in their depth chart, because unlike Calvin de Haan and Aaron Ness, Hamilton has size.

    He also has tremendous hockey sense and leadership qualities.

    Dougie Hamilton packs a combination of size and offensive ability that the Islanders simply cannot pass on. At 6"4, Hamilton can be physical and play shutdown hockey, but he also has the mobility and puck-moving skills of a smaller, offensive defenseman.

    He knows when to play tight defensively and when to join the rush.

    I think the Isles would get tremendous value by picking Hamilton fifth overall. 

    Stay posted for the next segment, which will cover picks 6-10.


    Follow Daniel Friedman on Twitter and check out NYI Faceoff Circle.

    Comments are welcome.

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