There isn’t a Crosby, Ovechkin, or Doughty-calibre player available in this year’s version of the NHL entry draft, but the annual June affair provides franchises the opportunity to stock their prospect cupboards with future talent. Provided that all NHL teams stay the course and don’t make any trades today, here is my mock draft.
1. Edmonton Oilers – Taylor Hall – LW – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): Edmonton can’t be the team that passes on the draft’s most complete and dynamic player.
2. Boston Bruins (from Toronto) – Tyler Seguin – C – Plymouth Whalers (OHL): Never mind the centres in Boston’s system, Seguin is just about on par with Hall.
3. Florida Panthers – Cam Fowler – D – Windsor Spitfires (OHL): Fowler’s got an incredible winning attitude and is arguably the third-best player available.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets – Erik Gudbranson – D – Kingston Frontenacs (OHL): Has drawn comparisons to Chris Pronger and Tyler Myers . . . adds size to smallish Blue Jackets’ defence.
5. New York Islanders – Brandon Gormley – D – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL): Projected top-pairing blueliner adds to an Isles team which needs high-end talent on back end.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning – Nino Niederreiter – LW – Portland Winter Hawks (WHL): Strong, fast, and skilled, “El Nino” would look good alongside Steven Stamkos.
7. Carolina Hurricanes – Brett Connolly – RW – Prince George Cougars (WHL): Aside from hip injuries, goal-scoring fiend is a strong two-way player.
8. Atlanta Thrashers – Alexander Burmistrov – C – Barrie Colts (OHL): Russian centre already plays Canadian game and still electrifies fans, to boot. Atlanta needs star power again.
9. Minnesota Wild – Derek Forbort – D – USA NTDP: Minnesota loves drafting close to home and local Duluth kid is a burly skater.
10. New York Rangers – Jeff Skinner – RW – Kitchener Rangers (OHL): Stock has catapulted in last few months and top-skating sniper adds new dimension of offence.
11. Dallas Stars – Jon Merrill – D – USA NTDP: Dallas needs a big defenceman who can also play the physical shutdown role. Merrill can do both.
12. Anaheim Ducks – Ryan Johansen – C – Portland Winter Hawks (WHL): Scoring threat needs time to fill out his body, but the Ducks can afford to wait a couple years.
13. Phoenix Coyotes (from Calgary) – Austin Watson – RW – Windsor/Peterborough (OHL): Intelligent scorer considered a top defensive forward plays a big game.
14. St. Louis Blues – Mikael Granlund – C – HIFK (Finland): Smallish centre is a slick forward who can fill the net and the Ducks need help down the middle.
15. Florida Panthers (from Boston) – Nick Bjugstad – C – Blaine Bengals (USHS): Dominating Minnesota highs chool centre named state’s “Mr. Hockey” for 2010.
16. Ottawa Senators – Dylan McIlrath – D – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL): Scary defenseman strikes fear into opponents with big fights and hits . . . A potential Boston fan favourite.
17. Colorado Avalanche – Jack Campbell – G – USA NTDP: Best player available at this point and fills goaltending prospect void for the Avs. Has a winning pedigree.
18. Nashville Predators – Quinton Howden – LW – Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL): Howden brings defensive acumen, size, and scoring ability to a team which needs more blue-chip forwards.
19. Los Angeles Kings – Emerson Etem – C – Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL): California native has wonderful hands and smart hockey sense.
20. Pittsburgh Penguins – Vladimir Tarasenko – RW – Sibir Novosibirsk (KHL): With fellow Russian Evgeni Malkin already on the Pens, Tarasenko could be lured across the Atlantic.
21. Detroit Red Wings – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Chelyabinsk Traktor (KHL): Similar to Pittsburgh, Detroit has Datsyuk and the Russian ties to bring Kuznetsov overseas.
22. Phoenix Coyotes – Brock Nelson – C – Warroad Warriors (USHS): Pure finisher scheduled to attend University of North Dakota could find himself on the wing in the desert.
23. Buffalo Sabres – Riley Sheahan – C – Notre Dame (CCHA): Growing up close to Buffalo, all-around player is defensively aware and plays a complete game.
24. Chicago Blackhawks (from Atlanta, via New Jersey) – Charlie Coyle – RW – South Shore (EJHL): Boston University-bound winger is Tony Amonte’s cousin and has a diverse game.
25. Vancouver Canucks – Jarred Tinordi – D – USA NTDP: Canucks need a physical defenceman and Tinordi has it in spades at 6’6 and 205 pounds. Captained the USA NTDP U-18 team.
26. Washington Capitals – Kirill Kabanov – LW – Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL): Wild attitude and could possibly go back to Russia, but why would he with Ovechkin on his NHL team?
27. Montreal Canadiens – Alex Petrovic – D – Red Deer Rebels (WHL): Bruising, physical defender adds to a Montreal blueline which needs shutdown players.
28. San Jose Sharks – Beau Bennett – C – Pentiction (BCHL): Another California standout, San Jose could use a scoring centre. Bennett will attend Denver University next fall.
29. Anaheim Ducks (from Philadelphia) – Calvin Pickard – G – Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL): Won’t make an immediate impact, but gives the Ducks a future goaltending prospect for the pipeline.
30. Chicago Blackhawks – John McFarland – C – Sudbury Wolves (OHL) – Questionable effort, but no questioning his skating. Has been good on bad teams, but equally bad on good teams.