1. Edmonton Oilers: RW Nail Yakupov, Sarnia (OHL)
Assuming the Oilers retain the first overall pick, the brass would be naïve to draft anyone other than Yakupov, who’s far and away the best of the draft.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets: RW Filip Forsberg, Leksand (Sweden)
The Jackets essentially need help all over the map, and in terms of NHL readiness, Forsberg’s as safe as they come.
3. Montreal Canadiens: C Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia (OHL)
There are fears Galchenyuk hasn’t recovered from his ACL injury, but scouts got positive news when the American had a good Combine. He’ll need another year of junior, but is the big, rangy centre the Habs want.
4. New York Islanders: D Ryan Murray, Everett (WHL)
In 2010, the Isles wanted Erik Gudbranson. In 2011, they wanted Adam Larsson. They need a franchise defenseman and Murray’s the best this year has to offer.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs: C Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec (QMJHL)
If anyone could be a mover and shaker at the draft, it’s Brian Burke and Toronto. The Leafs are in search of a big, skilled centre, and if Galchenyuk is off the board, Grigorenko is the next best option.
6. Anaheim Ducks: D Matt Dumba, Red Deer (WHL)
It looks like the Ducks will lose top prospect Justin Schultz, so Anaheim will likely need to both draft a defenceman and stay clear of NCAA players for a while. Dumba goes for the big hit, and the Ducks would love a player who plays like Chris Pronger.
7. Minnesota Wild: D Jacob Trouba, USA (NTDP)
Trouba’s a Minnesota boy, and the Wild have shown they like taking players from their own backyard (see Nick Leddy). Trouba has defensive defenceman capabilities, something the Wild lacked when they traded Brent Burns.
8. Carolina Hurricanes: LW Teuvo Teravainen, Jokerit (Finland)
Small, shifty, and skilled; sound like someone on Carolina you know? Jeff Skinner leapt to the NHL right after the draft, but the ‘Canes haven’t had much success at forward otherwise.
9. Winnipeg Jets: C Radek Faksa, Kitchener (OHL)
The Jets covet size and skill, and Faksa has it in spades. The Czech import is a character player for Kitchener while putting up point per game numbers.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning: D Morgan Rielly, Moose Jaw (WHL)
Like Galchenyuk, Rielly missed a ton of time before acquitting himself well at the Combine. Rielly might be the best offensive defenceman available and the Bolts would love to pair him with Victor Hedman.
11. Washington Capitals: D Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton (WHL)
The Capitals blueline is aging and soon Karl Alzner and John Carlson will be leading the charge, but Washington could use a defensive stud like Reinhart in their pipeline.
12. Buffalo Sabres: RW Thomas Wilson, Plymouth (OHL)
The Sabres parted ways with the burly Zack Kassian, but Wilson would be a worthy replacement. The 6-foot-4 Whaler brings size and grit to the table to an otherwise smaller forward pool.
13. Dallas Stars: C Zemgus Girgensons, Dubuque (USHL)
Big and rangy, Girgensons is classified as a safe pick, which is good for Dallas who could add another forward to their prospect cupboard. Scouts say he brings a good two-way game and competitive edge.
14. Calgary Flames: D Cody Ceci, Ottawa (OHL)
The Flames’ recent track record of drafting defensemen at the draft has been subpar at best (see Matt Pelech and Tim Erixon), but Ceci is a superb offensive defenceman who could make it. Scouts have made comparisons to Michael Del Zotto.
15. Ottawa Senators: RW Sebastian Collberg, Frolunda (Sweden)
Skill behind forwards like Jason Spezza and Kyle Turris is needed, and Collberg has lots of it. Playing on a deep Frolunda team, Collberg still has lots of upside.
16. Washington Capitals: D Derrick Pouliot, Portland (WHL)
The Caps will have a safe and rugged defender in Reinhart, so they can afford to swing for the fences with Pouliot, who does it all for the Winterhawks. He’s a defenseman with high scoring potential.
17. San Jose Sharks: D Olli Maatta, London (OHL)
The Sharks need help at just about every position, and with the best player available mentality, will take Maatta, who performed admirably for London at the Memorial Cup.
18. Chicago Blackhawks: G Oscar Dansk, Brynas (Sweden)
Corey Crawford is an on-again, off-again goaltender, and the Hawks need to consider the best available goaltender. Dansk isn’t the highest-ranked goaltender, but carries the least amount of red flags.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning: D Hampus Lindholm, Rogle (Sweden)
The Bolts already have one steady Swedish defenceman, why not two? By taking two blueliners in a defense-heavy draft, the Lightning secure their future on the back end with a handful of good defencemen.
20. Philadelphia Flyers: D Slater Koekkoek, Peterborough (OHL)
With Chris Pronger’s career coming to an end, the Flyers need to address their blueline. They have very little faith in Erik Gustafsson and M-A Bourdon, so Koekkoek will be their next project.
21. Buffalo Sabres: LW Pontus Aberg, Djurgarden (Sweden)
With Marcus Foligno graduating to the Sabres and the defense stocked with Mark Pysyk and Brayden McNabb, the Sabres get a skilled left winger in Aberg.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins: C Brendan Gaunce, Belleville (OHL)
The Penguins went with defenseman Joe Morrow last year, and with Simon Despres ready, they’ll likely draft a forward. Despite what GM Ray Shero says, Jordan Staal’s future with the Pens is far from secure, and Gaunce can be a good third line centre down the road.
23. Florida Panthers: D Matt Finn, Guelph (OHL)
Florida doesn’t have many blueliners with offensive upside outside of Dmitry Kulikov and Brian Campbell, but Finn has a good two-way game and a solid first pass. He’s the best player available at this point.
24. Boston Bruins: D Brady Skjei, USA (USHL)
A silky smooth skater, Skjei has some size and good upside. The U of Minnesota commit could afford to play more physical, but that’ll come with more time in Boston.
25. St. Louis Blues: D Ludvig Bystrom, Modo (Sweden)
With Vladimir Tarasenko signed and Jaden Schwartz ready, the Blues add a defenseman to their young blueline corps. Bystrom is a mobile defender who plays a patient and safe game.
26. Vancouver Canucks: C Tomas Hertl, Slavia Praha (Czech.)
The Canucks have selected a Czech for the last two years (David Honzik and Adam Polasek), showing their willing to take a Czech player if the right situation presents itself. Hertl is a mega-talented centre with hockey smarts and playmaking ability; he just needs to improve his skating.
27. Phoenix Coyotes: LW Nicolas Kerdiles, USA (NTDP)
Much like the Coyotes, Kerdiles is a bit of a wanderer in the sense he was born in Texas, lived in France as well as California. But on the USA NTDP, he’s a power forward with good finishing skills.
28. New York Rangers: LW Stefan Matteau, USA (NTDP)
His father was a favourite on the Rangers, and Matteau’s power forward capabilities and energetic style could make him one in the Big Apple as well. He’d be a perfect complement on a line with Chris Kreider.
29. New Jersey Devils: G Malcolm Subban, Belleville (OHL)
The Devils struck out with Jeff Frazee, and may still look to outside help to address an heir for Martin Brodeur, but Subban’s a quick and athletic goaltender who has starting goalie potential.
30. Los Angeles Kings: D Michael Matheson, Dubuque (USHL)
Assuming the Kings get to keep their pick, they take the best player available at 30 and that’s Matheson, a blueliner with good two-way skills but doesn’t show it enough.