NHL Draft 2011: Top 10 Canadian Players Available and Where They'll Go
On Friday, the NHL will invade the state of Minnesota for an annual ritual known as the NHL draft. It's where franchises are made or destroyed.
In recent years, the NHL draft has been heavily filled with skilled Canadians. However, the talent pool is starting to level off on a worldwide scale.
The 2011 NHL draft may not be the flashiest draft, but the talent pool is pretty level after picks one through 10, so there will likely be plenty of movement come Friday night or even before then.
Let's break down where the top 10 Canadian players will go and what teams may take them.
10. Mark Scheifele, Forward: Barrie Colts (OHL)
A capable NHL center with decent size and an incredible head for the game, Scheifele is a playmaker by trade and hopes that his passing ability alone will earn him a first-round pick.
He has only played one year in the OHL, so many teams may be leery of picking a project, but down the line Scheifele could prove to be the mistake many teams wish they drafted.
NHL comparison: Dustin Brown
Taken: 15th overall by the New York Rangers
9. Mark McNeill, Forward: Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
McNeill already has an NHL body and comes into the draft as one of its largest movers. Once considered an afterthought, his consistent play with the Raiders this past season has elevated him to a spot among the top-10 Canadian talent available at the draft.
NHL comparison: Ryan Getzlaf
Taken: 13th Overall by the Calgary Flames
8. Nathan Beaulieu, Defenceman: Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
Beaulieu's stock rose this year mostly because of the team he played for, the Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs, but needless to say, it was his all-around play and ability to lead a young defensive crew that saw his stock rise.
Widely regarded as a power-play quarterback and future top-four defenceman, Beaulieu has the ability to really be a solid piece to the puzzle on a young team. No part of his game is heads and shoulders above anyone else's, but he's still a good piece of the puzzle.
NHL comparison: Cam Fowler or Bret Hedican
Taken: 11th overall by the Colorado Avalanche
7. Duncan Siemens, Defenceman: Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
At 6'3" and 200 pounds, Duncan Siemens is your typical big, brawny Western Hockey League defender. He has a good shot and some offensive touch, but it's his defensive ability that will get him the publicity.
Being one of the younger players in the draft, Siemens will likely need a few years in the minors before he's ready for the NHL. He still needs to work on his decision-making, as it could really use some work, especially in his own zone.
NHL comparison: Jay Bouwmeester
Taken: 10th overall by the Minnesota Wild
6. Ryan Murphy, Defenceman: Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
A very small defenceman, but if he were five inches taller and 30 pounds heavier, he'd be a top-three pick this year.
The most explosive and offensively dynamic defender available, Murphy is a wonderful power-play option for any team that needs a power-play quarterback.
He'll likely head back to junior this season and lead Team Canada at the World Juniors in Calgary and Edmonton in 2012.
NHL comparison: Dan Boyle
Taken: Ninth overall by the Boston Bruins (via Toronto Maple Leafs)
5. Dougie Hamilton, Defenceman: Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
A very large and capable two-way defenceman, Dougie Hamilton is a powerful defender with a great stride and a cannon from the point. He can also make a great pass out of the zone.
Because of his combination of size, skill and even skating ability, look for Hamilton to be taken in the first eight picks of the 2011 NHL draft.
NHL comparison: Brent Seabrook or Alex Pietrangelo
Taken: Eighth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets
4. Ryan Strome, Forward: Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
Not the biggest player around, but a very skilled and quick forward that really came into his own this past season in the Ontario Hockey League with the Niagara Ice Dogs.
The Mississauga native tallied 33 goals and 73 assists for 106 points in 66 games last season.
He will need to hit the weight room and hopefully in a few years will be a key player in the NHL.
NHL comparison: Martin St. Louis
Taken: Seventh overall by the Winnipeg franchise
3. Jonathan Huberdeau, Forward: Saint John Sea Dogs
A very adept passer and a wonderful stickhandler, Huberdeau is one of the best playmaking centers available this draft.
After a great Memorial Cup run, Huberdeau will likely be a top-six pick this year.
NHL comparison: Mike Ribeiro
Taken: Sixth overall by the Ottawa Senators
2. Sean Couturier, Center: Drummondville Voltigeurs
Once thought to be the runaway No. 1 pick this year, Couturier saw his stock drop slightly after a relatively pedestrian junior campaign and tour with the Canadian Under-20 junior team.
However, 96 points in 58 games is nothing to cry about, as Couturier is a great two-way forward.
He's slightly inconsistent with his effort, which is his drawback, but he has top two lines written all over him.
NHL comparison: Jordan Staal
Taken: Fourth overall by the New Jersey Devils
1. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Forward: Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
The best pure scorer in the draft, Nugent-Hopkins was always thought to be a top-three draftable player in the 2011 draft, but after this past year with the Rebels, he'll likely be the top overall pick.
With the number of forwards the Oilers have, I think going Adam Larsson first overall is a smarter choice long-term, but they'll likely just pick the best player available at the top, which would be Nugent-Hopkins.
NHL comparison: Joe Sakic
Taken: First overall by the Edmonton Oilers
My Top 10 Selected
1. EDM: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
2. COL: Gabriel Landeskog
3. FLA: Adam Larsson
4. NJD: Sean Couturier
5. NYI: Mika Zibanejad
6. OTT: Jonathan Huberdeau
7. WPG: Ryan Strome
8. CLB: Dougie Hamilton
9. BOS via TOR: Ryan Murphy
10. MIN: Duncan Siemens