NHL Draft 2011 Prospects: Comparing Each 1st-Round Pick to a Current NHL Player

Brad LeClairCorrespondent IJune 25, 2011

NHL Draft 2011 Prospects: Comparing Each 1st-Round Pick to a Current NHL Player

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    As we wrap up the NHL draft, we take a look back at what was the first round and how it all went down.

    Who will be the best player to come out of the draft?

    Who will be the biggest surprise?

    Who will fall the furthest?

    All of those can be answered in time, but this slideshow will focus on the potential of all these draft picks. Who can we compare them to and how will they turn out?

1. Ryan Nugent Hopkins: Edmonton Oilers

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    Ryan Nugent Hopkins was taken first overall by the Edmonton Oilers ending speculation from TSN's Pierre McGuire that they'd go with Adam Larsson at No. 1.

    Nugent Hopkins has elite level vision, can really skate and has a nice set of hands. He'll likely play one more year of junior, but will be a threat each night when he eventually makes it professionally.

    TSN Comparable: Pavel Datsyuk

    LeClair's Comparable: Joe Sakic

2. Gabriel Landeskog: Colorado Avalanche

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    Likely the best two-way forward in the draft class, Gabriel Landeskog is like the "Dennis the Menace" of all players to play against. Pesky, tough and doesn't back down from anyone, Landeskog will remind many in Colorado of Peter Forsberg. Hopefully for Landeskog and the Avalanche fans, that will be the case.

    TSN Comparable: Brendan Morrow and/or Mike Richards

    LeClair's Comparable: Peter Forsberg and/or Doug Glimour

3. Jonathan Huberdeau: Florida Panthers

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    The smallest, but likely the most dangerous, offensive threat in the draft, Huberdeau's stock rose significantly after the Memorial Cup. Huberdeau will need a year or two of seasoning before making his debut with the Panthers.

    TSN Comparable: Henrik Zetterberg

    LeClair's Comparable: Mike Ribeiro

4. Adam Larsson: New Jersey Devils

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    Easily the best pick of the first round so far, Larsson is an NHL-ready defenceman with good size, vision, skating and defensive awareness. His make up will fit right in with the veteran Devils squad. They needed a defenceman, and they got one.

    TSN Comparable: Sami Salo

    LeClair's Comparable: Poor Mans Nicklas Lidstrom

5. Ryan Strome: New York Islanders

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    Another player with great vision and phenomenal hands, Strome is an elite level distributor and will likely find himself next to John Tavares.

    TSN Comparable: Martin St. Louis

    LeClair's Comparable: Paul Kariya

6. Mika Zibanejad: Ottawa Senators

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    The player who likely rose the most, Mika Zibanejad could go down as one of the best draft picks of this draft. He came into the draft relatively unknown, but will leave as a known player. He may not be ready for the big time but, in a year, expect him to be a Senator.

    TSN Comparable: Bobby Holik

    LeClair's Comparable: Mats Sundin/Marian Hossa

7. Mark Scheifele: Winnipeg Jets

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    The first surprise of the night, Mark Scheifele was ranked mid-first round, and is now another riser in a pretty fast paced first round.

    Scheifele is a big bodied center and will need to add some weight and get accustomed to playing against the best players.

    TSN Comparable: Patrick Sharp

    LeClair's Comparable: Ryan Getzlaf

8. Sean Couturier: Philadelphia Flyers

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    The biggest dropper so far in the draft falls right into the laps of the Flyers, who will say thank you to the rest of the NHL for this move.

    Couturier's stock dropped from a poor showing at the World Juniors but, I can tell you right now, be afraid, Eastern Conference. That center rotation in Flyer Country is wicked.

    TSN Comparable: Jordan Staal

    LeClair's Comparable: Jordan Staal (finally agree with them here)

9. Dougie Hamilton: Boston Bruins

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    Hamilton is likely the second best defenceman available in the draft behind Larsson, and guess who ends up with yet another big, fast, edgy defenceman? The Boston Bruins, of all teams.

    Hamilton will likely need another year in junior, but expect big things from this young man. With this pick, Hamilton closes the door on the Phil Kessel trade that saw the Bruins draft Tyler Seguin and Jared Knight as well with the picks received from the Leafs organization.

    TSN Comparable: Brent Burns

    LeClair's Comparable: Alex Pietrangelo

10. Jonas Brodin: Minnesota Wild

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    One of the more unknowns this year, Brodin's stock rose after a wonderful showing at the Under-18 with Team Sweden.

    Brodin isn't a physical defenceman, but he's a good passer and skates very well for his position.

    TSN Comparable: Alex Edler

    LeClair's Comparable: Carl Gunnarsson

11. Duncan Siemens: Colorado Avalanche

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    One of the more physically intimidating defenders, Siemens is a tough player and defense-first minded player with some offensive upside.

    TSN Comparable: Bryan Allen

    LeClair's comparable: Adam Foote with a touch more offense

12. Ryan Murphy: Carolina Hurricanes

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    By far the most dynamic and offensively dangerous defender in the draft, Murphy's stock dropped a bit since the recent cut he received from the Canadian Under-18 team and the small stature he possesses. He will need to gain strength to play at the next level.

    TSN Comparable: Sergei Zubov

    LeClair's Comparable: Dan Boyle

13. Sven Bartschi: Calgary Flames

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    A bit on the small side, Bartschi is a project but could very well pay off. He'll need to add some weight before playing at the next level, but his skill alone got him drafted here.

    TSN Comparable: Loui Eriksson

    LeClair's Comparable: Marian Hossa

14. Jamieson Oleksiak: Dallas Stars

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    One of the biggest defenders in the draft and drawing comparisons to Tyler Myers, Oleksiak is a very big and relatively athletic defenceman who will fit in with the Stars perfectly.

    Oleksiak will need to improve his offensive game a bit, but will likely be a shutdown defender in the NHL.

    TSN Comparable: Braydon Coburn

    LeClair's Comparable: Keith Aulie

15. J.T. Miller: New York Rangers

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    Miller is one of those good sized players who plays well in all zones and can really get up and down the ice. Miller can also play a physical game and will likely make it to the NHL in a year or so.

    TSN Comparable: Mason Raymond

    LeClair's Comparable: James Neal

16. Joel Armia: Buffalo Sabres

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    A pretty large and gifted right winger, Armia is the best Finnish prospect this year, and the Sabres gobbled him up at 16. His stock rose a bit because he looked at ease playing in the Finnish Elite League playing with men, so Armia will look to make his mark in the Sabres organization.

    TSN Comparable: Mikael Samuelsson

    LeClair's Comparable: Ales Hemsky

17. Nathan Beaulieu: Montreal Canadiens

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    Beaulieu was widely regarded as a top 12 pick this year, but his stock fell a bit and he ended up landing in Montreal.

    An offensively gifted defenceman will remind some Habs fans of PK Subban from the left side but, in the end, Beaulieu's consistency gets his drafted this high.

    TSN Comparable: Jack Johnson

    LeClair's Comparable: Brent Burns

18. Mark McNeill: Chicago Blackhawks

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    One of the more NHL-ready draft picks, Mark McNeill was a point-per-game player in the WHL last season and will likely fit in wonderfully with the Chicago Blackhawks going forward. There were plenty of teams in the mix for McNeill, but the Blackhawks decided to break the hearts of many after them.

    TSN Comparable: Manny Malholtra

    LeClair's Comparable: Mikko Koivu

19. Oscar Klefbom: Edmonton Oilers

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    A very physical defenceman, Klefbom is one of the more underrated defencemen in this draft. His ability to play both ends will undoubtedly get him into the NHL. He will need to improve some facets of his game, but will likely land in Edmonton in the next year or so.

    TSN Comparable: Douglas Murray

    LeClair's Comparable: Robyn Regehr and/or Ulf Sameulsson

20. Connor Murphy: Phoenix Coyotes

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    A product of a very deep U.S. developmental program, Murphy is a dynamic offensive defenceman. Had an injury not cut into his playing time, Murphy likely would've been a top 15 pick this year.

    The Coyotes went a bit off the board here with this pick, but I think he has the potential to be a solid NHLer one day. A project, he's likely around three or four years away from making the NHL.

    TSN Comparable: Alex Goligoski

    LeClair's Comparable: Alex Goligoski

21. Stefan Noesen: Ottawa Senators

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    Another project for a pick, Stefan Noesen is one of the few Texans drafted into the NHL. He's a projectable, big forward who plays with an edge. He has some drawbacks, but he will get every opportunity to develop within the Senators organization.

    TSN comparable: Maxim Lapierre

    LeClair's Comparable: Milan Lucic

22. Tyler Biggs: Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Likely the toughest player in the draft and the meanest, Biggs will likely be in the NHL in a few years. His game is very multi-dimensional and he plays with quite a bit of physicality.

    Toronto got themselves the captain of the USDP's team and likely another big top-six forward they sorely need. The Leafs got a whole lot more American today.

    TSN Comparable: Colby Armstrong

    LeClair's Comparable: David Backes

23. Joe Morrow: Pittsburgh Penguins

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    One of the best skating defenders in the draft, Joe Morrow is a high paced type of defenceman who excels when the play is uptempo and fast.

    He's not overly physical and needs to work on his strength, but his overall game will likely land him in the Pens' top four at some point in the near future.

    TSN Comparable: Matt Carle

    LeClair's Comparable: Jake Gardiner

24. Matt Puempel: Ottawa Senators

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    Likely one of the best snipers in the draft, Puempel has a great knack of finding the back of the net. His skating and injury past are concerns for any team, which is why he was more of a late first-rounder than an early first-rounder.

    TSN Comparable: Thomas Vanek

    LeClair's Comparable: Brad Boyes

25. Stuart Percy: Toronto Maple Leafs

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    Not a very offensive defender, but arguably one of the best positional defenders in the draft. He plays beyond his years and is nearly impossible to beat. Coach Dave Cameron for the Mississauga Majors said he could put Percy out in any situation and know the job would get done without any worries.

    His stock rose considerably after a great showing at the Memorial Cup as well.

    TSN Comparable: Paul Martin

    LeClair's Comparable: Nicklas Lidstrom-like defensive ability, with minimal offensive ability

26. Philip Danault: Chicago Blackhawks

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    Another good two-way player, Danault is more of a grinder than anything else, but this past season showed he does quite well offensively. Named captain of the Under-17 team for Team Quebec, Danault could be a future NHL captain some day.

    TSN Comparable: Mike Fisher

    LeClair's Comparable: Brad Marchand

27. Vladislav Namestnikov: Tampa Bay Lightning

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    A former London Knight, Namestnikov is a pretty decent offensive player with a somewhat cocky attitude. He needs to hit the gym and become more physical. He's a pretty solid three-zone player as well, which will only help him get to the NHL faster.

    TSN Comparable: Doug Weight

    LeClair's Comparable: Igor Larianov

28. Zack Phillips: Minnesota Wild

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    There's really not much to not like about Zack Phillips. He's a great offensive talent and responsible in his own zone but, most of all, he makes players around him better. Case in point: Sea Dogs teammate and third overall selection, Jonathan Huberdeau.

    Phillips can stand to get quicker on his skates, but that's really the only downside to his game.

    TSN Comparable: Joe Pavelski

    LeClair's Comparable: Poor Mans Adam Oates

29. Nicklas Jensen: Vancouver Canucks

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    The first Danish player to be selected in the first round of the NHL draft since Lars Eller, Jensen is a great three-zone player yet again. Not one skill jumps out at you but, overall, he's a solid player on any team.

    At 6'2" and 190 pounds, this player already has NHL size, but can stand to still strengthen himself up a little bit. He has a good shot, good vision and good speed. The strong only get stronger here as the Canucks steal Jensen at 29th overall.

    TSN Comparable: Jussi Jokinen

    LeClair's Comparable: Tuomu Ruutu

30. Rickard Rakell: Anaheim Ducks

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    Another great two-way forward, Rakell plays all zones effectively. He's a good offensive player and loves to score big goals. Can be relied upon to protect a lead, but also tie a game if need be. Plays a physical game and projects as a good power forward.

    Getting picked by the Ducks likely means a second line future as the club will likely stick with their top line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry until one of them retires.

    He's got pro size at 6'2", 185 pounds, and has a powerful shot.

    TSN Comparable: Tomas Plekanec

    LeClair's Comparable: Troy Brouwer

     



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