This year, once again with the assistance of my good friend Andrew R (and some Bitches Brew…..both the beer and the music), I sat down to do my NHL Mock Draft. As per usual, trades were considered, and by a phenomenal stroke of luck we called Carter to Columbus for Voracek and the 8th pick….so we’re ready to go.
This was fun and challenging, as always, but especially this year, because it’s such a fluid draft and people are seriously all over the place. I’ve seen guys ranked top 10 in some drafts and out of the 1st round in others. I’m sure some of these picks will sound stupid, but I’m sure I’ll be wrong a lot….but hey, nobody thought Dylan McIlrath would go before Cam Fowler last year.
Without further ado, here we go…
1. Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer (WHL)
- This was right BEFORE he was told Edmonton picked him…
I think there are a few question marks about Nugent-Hopkins, specifically his size and willingness to go to the dirty areas, but despite this the Oilers think he’s too good to pass up at #1. They hope he and Taylor Hall form a dynamic duo for years to come.
2. Colorado Avalanche: Gabriel Landeskog, W, Kitchener (OHL)
We agonized over this pick, but we thought at the end of the day the Avalanche would be seduced by the size, heart, grit, and NHL readiness of Landeskog. He’s a Chris Stewart type – the kind of player you hold on to, and never trade, come hell or high water! Wait….what?
3. Florida Panthers: Sean Couturier, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)
Dale Tallon is a well-known fan of big players, and he overlooks the “analysis paralysis” in the scouting community to jump on Sean Couturier. Back-to-back 96-point seasons (despite having mono at the start of this year), experience at the WJC, winning the Mike Bossy Award, and his size (6’4) make him the right move for the Panthers.
4. New Jersey Devils: Adam Larsson, D, Skelleftea (SEL)
The Devils, by most accounts, should have lost their 1st round pick this year in the Kovalchuk chicanery. Instead, they won the draft lottery, and Lou Lamoriello looks like the cat who ate the canary after Larsson falls to him at 4. He had a sub-par year in the SEL by most standards, but Larsson’s talent and hockey sense will make him the best Devils blueline prospect since Scott Niedermayer.
5. New York Islanders: Ryan Strome, C, Niagara (OHL)
I can already hear the Dougie Hamilton fans sharpening their knives, but hear me out. In addition to resembling Mr. Burns (according to Niagara fans), I believe Strome is the best long-term fit for the Islanders. He projects as a top center with playmaking ability and creativity, and the Islanders justify this pick by citing his higher projection. At the end of the day, when you pick 5th, you want the guy who will be the better player down the road, not the biggest positional need or the guy who will calm Josh Bailey’s nerves about being replaced. I’ve had a hunch about Strome for a while, and I will not back off from it like I did last year with Nino Niederreiter.
Here’s a Strome highlight reel goal:
6. Ottawa Senators: Jonathan Huberdeau, C, St. John’s (QMJHL)
Huberdeau slips to Ottawa despite his incredible playoff run with the Memorial Cup champions, and Bryan Murray is glad he did (especially since Brian Burke is nowhere to be seen and can’t take the pick out of spite). Huberdeau projects as a flashy offensive player, and he’ll be a good one for Ottawa.
7. Winnipeg Not Yet Jets: Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagara (OHL)
Gary Bettman was much like the father in this famous Simpsons scene recently:
The NHL has indeed gone back to Winnipeg, and they bring this hulking (6’4) d-man with them. Hamilton is a smart player who will be a good fit on this team.
8. Philadelphia Flyers (From Columbus): Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
I had this as a mock trade, and now it’s a real trade. Siemens is big (6’3), mean, and a hard hitter….just the kind of kid the Flyers love. They pick him over my other option here, Mika Zibanejad, and hope Chris Pronger’s influence helps him become a star.
9. Boston Bruins (From Toronto): Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener (OHL)
Fresh off their Cup win, the Bruins add Ryan Murphy, whose suspect D is more than balanced out by skilled offense. He could be a true difference-maker on the Bruins PP for years to come, and they could always hide him with a defensive d-man in even strength situations to mask his weakness.
10. Minnesota Wild: Nathan Beaulieu, D, St. John’s (QMJHL)
The Wild step up to grab mobile but raw D prospect Nathan Beaulieu, whom some scouts have ranked above Hamilton, continuing a run on defense in this part of the draft. Beaulieu is a few years away but the Wild fans will cheer this one tomorrow night at the Xcel Energy Center.
11. Colorado Avalanche (From St. Louis): Jamieson Oleksiak, D, Northeastern University (NCAA)
The Avalanche have their forward and possible future captain in Landeskog. Now, playing with house money, they feel like they can reach just a bit for the hulking (6’7) defender Oleksiak, and give him time to develop at his own pace that he might not have received if he were a team’s top pick. He may leave Northeastern to play major junior next year; let’s keep an eye.
12. Carolina Hurricanes: Mika Zibanejad,
President of Iran C/W, Djurgarden (SEL)
Zibanejad finds a home with the Carolina Hurricanes, who still need depth at every position and grab the best player available. Some teams have him ranked top 5, but he slips due to being 2nd choice for a few of the teams above (Islanders, Winnipeg, Flyers, Avalanche). The Canes are glad to have this tough, hard-nosed player, and their fans will be as well.
13. Calgary Flames: Joel Armia, W, Assat Pori (FIN)
The Flames go for the home run by picking Armia, one of the more talented Finnish forward prospects in the last 10 years. There are some questions about his work ethic, but the Flames love his talent too much to let him slip away.
14. Dallas Stars: Sven Bartschi, W, Portland (WHL)
The Stars jump on The Other Swiss Winterhawk, Sven Bartschi, who was a force of nature in this year’s Memorial Cup playoffs. Some are surprised to see him slip so far, but he was again second choice for many teams, and the Stars practically pinch themselves on the way to the podium.
15. New York Rangers: Nicklas Jensen, RW, Oshawa (OHL)
The Islanders have a Dane, and now the Rangers have one too. Jensen’s hockey sense is off the charts, and the Rangers, after targeting D in the first round in previous years, think he’s the right move at 15 this year.
16. Buffalo Sabres: Oscar Klefbom, D, Farjestad (SEL)
The Sabres go for the BPA with Oscar Klefbom, a mobile, agile, and incredibly smart Swedish defenseman. He has the potential to be the steal of the 1st round at this slot.
17. Montral Canadiens: Rocco Grimaldi, F, US NTDP
The Canadiens have trouble finding a forward taller than 5’3, and this does not get better with Grimaldi, who would be the shortest player in the NHL should he make it (yes, even smaller than Nathan Gerbe…who is a gnat). However, he may be the most skilled player in the whole draft, and you can’t doubt his will to make it. The Habs will look for size elsewhere….or not…
18. Chicago Blackhawks: Matt Puempel, W, Peterborough (OHL)
Puempel is a pure goal-scorer, and the Blackhawks go for the home run in continuing the rebuild of their farm system. There are questions about his consistency, but Puempel is a great call here.
19. Edmonton Oilers: John Gibson, G, US NTDP
The Oilers have many goaltenders in the system, including Devan Dubnyk and Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers, but none project as a solid #1 goaltender. Therefore, with Nugent-Hopkins in the fold, the Oilers jump up and take Gibson, hoping he will stabilize the crease for years to come.
20. Phoenix Coyotes: Mark McNeill, C, Prince Albert (WHL)
McNeill is strong in the corners, kills penalties well, and generally drives hard to the net. The Coyotes have some danglers in the system, and McNeill projects as a strong, safe pick….they’re glad to have him.
21. Ottawa Senators (From Nashville): Brandon Saad, LW, Saginaw (OHL)
Ottawa is also playing with house money after nabbing Huberdeau at 6, and they can afford to take a flyer on Brandon Saad. Saad will either be a home run power forward or a groundout, but with Huberdeau hogging all the attention as a top pick the Senators can let the Pennsylvania native find himself without a lot of pressure.
22. Anaheim Ducks: Joe Morrow, D, Portland (WHL)
Joe Morrow rocketed up the draft board due to his hockey sense, tenacity, and offensive potential. The Ducks grab him and hope he’ll anchor the blueline for years alongside Fowler and Sbisa.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins: Tyler Biggs, RW, US NTDP
Even though the Penguins absolutely deplore violence in all its forms, they can’t resist another boom or bust type in Biggs. He has size and a great net-front presence, and they hope he develops into his full potential.
24. Detroit Red Wings: Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestad (SEL)
This is almost too easy. Smooth-skating, intelligent but raw d-man out of Sweden? The Red Wings live for picks like this. Brodin oozes talent and potential, and in Detroit he may have the best chance to harness them.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs (From Flyers): David Musil, D, Vancouver (WHL)
At a time, the hulking Musil was rated a potential top 5 pick in this draft. His performance steadied, and he fell amid concerns his ceiling is not as high as originally thought. He still plays a mean game and has offensive potential beyond that of his father, Frank, and he’s just truculent enough to fit Brian Burke’s bill.
26. Washington Capitals: Alexander Kochlachev, C, Windsor (OHL)
This is another almost no-brainer, as we know the Capitals LOVE their Russians. Kochlachev oozes skill and pure offense, making him a potential home run pick this late in the draft.
27. San Jose Sharks: Mark Schiefele, C, Barrie (OHL)
The Sharks pick Schiefele as best player available, slightly ahead of J.T. Miller from the US NTDP. Schiefele has discipline, playmaking ability, and great net-front presence, making him a good complement to the current crop of prospects in the South Bay.
28. Tampa Bay Lightning: Connor Murphy, D, US NTDP
Murphy is a big, competitive 2-way winger who will do a little bit of everything for Steve Yzerman’s club in Tampa. He’s best available for them.
29. Vancouver Canucks: Scott Mayfield, D, Youngstown (USHL)
He’s big, he’s smooth, he’s poised with the puck, and he’ll be a great fit in Vancouver.
30. Toronto Maple Leafs (From Boston): Zach Phillips, C/W, St. John’s (QMJHL)
Toronto closes out the pick by making it a trio from the Memorial Cup champions. Phillips is a smart player with great puck skills and an ability to score. Good fit for what they’re building in Toronto.
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About the Author: Tech Entrepreneur, Islanders fan with the scar (David Volek's overtime goal) to prove it, college hockey fan (Go BU!), a little too interested in business and politics writes about the Lighthouse Project at Let There Be Light(house) - lettherebelighthouse.com Twitter: LetThereBeLH