In preparation for the upcoming draft, I'll be predicting the entire first round.
The NHL Entry Draft will be held this Friday evening in Minnesota, as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jonathan Huberdeau, Adam Larsson and the other stars of tomorrow hope to hear their names called.
This segment features picks 6-10, which will see the Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Winnipeg, Boston Bruins and Minnesota Wild on the clock.
For picks 1-5, click here.
Ottawa's offensive corps have been depleted over the last couple of years, something that would show in the form of Win/Loss totals.
They've started to fill out the back end, drafting defensemen like Erik Karlsson, who looks to be a keeper for sure, and Jared Cowen, who's still a few steps away but is expected to become a strong NHL blueliner.
That's all fine and dandy, but at the same time, their offense more closely resembles a train wreck.
If you think about it, outside of Jason Spezza, who hasn't been nearly as productive as in past years, and an aging Daniel Alfredsson, there aren't many guys on this team who can step in and create offense.
Enter Jonathan Huberdeau. The star of the 2011 Memorial Cup, Huberdeau knows how to score goals. Lots of them. He also happens to have a great set of wheels, another aspect of his game that will only help the Sens going forward.
I envision Huberdeau playing the wing on a line with Jason Spezza. That could prove to be an excellent combination, one that could help jumpstart Huberdeau's career and revive Spezza's.
Prior to the recent sale of the franchise by Atlanta Spirit to True North, this team started to rebuild, and they've done a fine job thus far.
There are a number of quality young players in the organization, such as Evander Kane, Alex Burmistrov, Zach Bogosian, and so on. Established skaters, like Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Ron Hainsey, Andrew Ladd and Nik Antropov, to name a few, are also part of the team's makeup. Ondrej Pavelec appears to be a star goaltender in the making as well.
Honestly, there's a lot to like about this Winnipeg team, and I really don't think they're far from being a playoff contender. What they are missing is a capable, playmaking center who can also score goals. What they're missing, is Ryan Strome.
Strome would be an excellent addition to this burgeoning team, and I think he'd really complement the other young players already in the lineup.
The Blue Jackets have assembled a strong group of forwards through the draft. The likes of Derrick Brassard, Jakub Voracek, Nikita Filatov and Matt Calvert have made an impact, and, of course, the ultra-skilled Rick Nash is always a scoring threat.
On defense, it's a different story. The Jackets don't have a guy who can quarterback the powerplay and launch missiles from the blueline. Ryan Murphy would change all of that.
This kid's the real deal, and though he's rather smallish for a defenseman, he's incredibly mobile and has the tools to adjust and succeed at the NHL level.
I see Murphy as a Brian Rafalski type, in that both are undersized but resourceful. Murphy will be the anchor of Columbus' PP for years to come.
Some people might think it's unfair that a team that just won a Stanley Cup now has the opportunity to add yet another talented stud to their prospect pool.
I'm sure Brian Burke is real excited for the Bruins, given how well (sarcasm) the Phil Kessel trade has turned out.
Boston GM Peter Chiarelli has to be on Cloud Nine these days. He has a top 10 pick to work with, just days after celebrating a league championship.
I think he's going to use the pick to snap up Sven Bartschi. He's not as big as Nino Niederreiter, but he's a goal-scoring machine and has great hands.
Bartschi will be a fine addition to this Bruins team, and he need not rush; Boston is loaded with depth, so he'll be able to take his time and refine his skills before hitting the NHL ranks.
The Wild are another team trying to rebuild into a contender, and they've begun taking the necessary steps to achieve that goal.
Mikael Granlund is the top prospect in the organization right now, and he could conceivably become Minnesota's next Marian Gaborik, not just because they share the same initials, but because they both have speed, hands and a knack for finding the back of the net.
Of course, the best way to get a goal-scoring winger to do just that, is to provide him with a pivot who knows how to get the puck to him.
Mika Zibanejad, though perhaps not as well-known as some of the other top-tier prospects in this year's draft pool, is a fantastic playmaker who sees the ice well and thinks the game better than most in his age group.
He's also playing in Sweden, going up against older, wiser hockey players, something that perhaps makes him more NHL-ready, though I do believe another season abroad would be in Mika's best interest.
Comments are welcome.