Here’s how I see things going down…
1. Edmonton – Taylor Hall LW – Edmonton, like the Islanders a year ago, are in a no lose situation. They will either pick the super talented Hall or the kid who compares to Steve Yzerman. I say they take the flashy Hall and never look back.
2. Boston – Tyler Seguin C – Boston GM Peter Charelli should be given an Honorary Rhodes Scholarship for his ingenious trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Charelli already has a team packed with young talent and now they are going to pick a very special kid in Tyler Seguin.
3. Florida – Brett Connolly LW – New Panthers GM Dale Tallon is in an enviable position. Does he take a chance on Connolly who is a extremely gifted goal scorer but suffered with injuries this past season or does he make the safe pick and take the Pronger like Gudbranson? I say he takes Connolly.
4. Columbus – Erik Gudbranson D – There are lots of people who say that the Jackets take Fowler here. It’s extremely possible, but I don’t think they will if Gudbranson is still available. Gudbranson has the highest celing of the top 4 defenseman in this draft and is already physically ready.
5. Islanders – Cam Fowler D – The Islanders regardless of who is left (Fowler or Gudbranson) will hit a home run here. In Fowler, they will have the best skater in the draft, along with the defenseman with the most offensive game. Paired with last year’s 12th overall selection Calvin deHaan and 2008’s 2nd rounder Travis Hamonic, the Islanders are set on the blue line for the next decade.
6. Tampa Bay – Brandon Gormley D – They say you can never have enough defenseman…well the Lightning have only 1 in Victor Hedman. Gormley will provide Tampa Bay with a knockout 1-2 punch on the blue line for years to come.
7. Carolina – Jonathan Merrill D – Carolina is in need of just about everything in regards to prospects. In the year of the defenseman, Carolina takes the young Merrill. ISS states he can be a Norris candidate at some point, that’s exactly what the Hurricanes needs.
8. Atlanta – Jack Campbell G – Atlanta, who traded Kari Lehtonen to Dallas last season, is in need of a stud goaltender…Campbell is that guy. He opened eyes at the WJC and should be NHL ready sooner than later. With another pick later in the first round, Atlanta can fill a need first.
9. Minnesota – Ryan Johansen C – The Eric Staal look alike will find a home in Minnesota. Johansen has a huge frame and is a very talented playmaker. He’s not NHL ready, but isn’t far off either.
10. Rangers – Vladimir Tarasenko LW – The Rangers love those Russians and Tarasenko is an extremely talented one. With Artem Anisimov already in their lineup and Evgeny Gratchev vying to crack the 2010 roster, Tarasenko will feel right at home.
11. Dallas – Nino Niedereitter LW – El Nino (as he’s called) falls a little bit here to 11 as 5 of the top 10 picks are defenseman but Dallas get a real winner in Niedereitter. He should develop into a scoring power forward in the mold of Brendan Shanahan.
12. Anaheim – Derek Forbort D – Anaheim stays with the defensive theme and picks the talented Forbort at 12. At 6’4” and with good offensive instincts, Forbort should develop into rock for the Ducks. He’ll need some time to develop, but the Ducks have another pick later in the first round to help restock their system.
13. Phoenix – Mikael Granlund C – The Coyotes luck out here if Granlund falls to 13. He is NHL ready and has huge offensive upside. He could step right into a very talented lineup and will have a solid head coach in Dave Tippet.
14. St. Louis – Alexander Burmistrov C – St. Louis is loaded on the blue line with Erik Johnson already playing and stud Alex Pietrangelo waiting in the wings. Burmistrov is a wizard with the puck and could provide a huge talent boost up front for the Blues.
15. Boston – Nick Bjugstad C – After getting the top Center in the draft, the Boston Bruins at 15 will take another in Nick Bujgstad. Bujgstad competes every shift and could develop into a top line winger. A classic case of the rich getting richer.
16. Ottawa – Quinton Howden LW – The 16th pick could be the first for Ottawa, or depending Jason Spezza, it could be their second pick. Either way they would be wise to take Quinton Howden here. Howden is a gamer plain and simple. He hits, plays a 2 way game and can put the puck in the net. Just what the Sens are looking for.
17. Colorado – Mark Pysyk D – Colorado does well for themselves once again taking Pysyk at 17. After last year’s picks Duchene and O’Reilly made the roster out of camp, the Avalanche did a 180 and made the playoffs (Craig Anderson’s Vezina type play helped as well). Pysyk is an outstanding skater who’ll be able to run the power play one day. His style of play will mesh nicely with the current Avs’.
18. Nashville – Jeff Skinner C – Skinner is this year’s Jordan Schroeder. He’ll be the player who drops to the mid to late first round and someone takes him and everyone says….how the hell did they get him at 18? Skinner is a talented goal scorer and will be a complete steal for the Preds.
19. Los Angeles – Emerson Etem C – The Southern California native can be a top 6 forward and just add to the impressive showcase that is the Kings prospect pool. Having already seen Drew Doughty, jack Johnson, Anze Kopitar tear it up this year, and with Jonathan Bernier and Thomas Hickey looking to break through in 2010, Etem has all the time in the world to develop for this team who could be 2010-2011 version of the Blackhawks.
20. Pittsburgh – Evgeny Kuznetsov C – The Pens amazingly need secondary scoring. After Malkin and Crosby, there really isn’t a real goal scorer on the wing. Kuznetsov would solve that problem as he is as ISS puts it “a masterful offensive player”. He is an excellent skater and has world class puck skills. He has yet to learn the word defense but that should come with time.
21. Detroit – Austin Watson RW – Watson is your typical jack of all trades kind of player. He adapts and plays in any role his coach gives him. He has excellent hockey sense and an outstanding work ethic. Detroit steps in you know what here with Watson.
22. Phoenix – Johan Larsson LW – Any player who’s style is compared to Doug Gilmour is alright in my book. Larsson plays with passion and desire and never gives up on a play. After taking Granlund at 13 the Coyotes keep getting better with Larsson.
23. Buffalo – Alexander Petrovic D – Petrovic is a bit of a reach for the Sabres here, but his size and his dynamic offensive abilities make him a no brainer for Buffalo. After taking huge forward Zack Kassian last year, Petrovic (stands at 6’4”) will fit right in, pardon the pun.
24. Atlanta – John McFarland C – After taking Campbell at 8 and getting their franchise goalie for years to come, the Thrashers take a bit of a gamble on a very talented John McFarland. McFarland was mentioned in the same circles as Hall, Seguin and Fowler last year at this time. He is a bit immature, but has the ability to be an elite scorer at the pro level.
25. Vancouver – Dylan McIIrath D – The Canucks take the huge and hulking McIIrath at 25. A bit of a surprise that he’s still available, but some questions about his skating ability will cause a little fall here. He’ll need some additional development, but should turn out to be a flat out intimidating player.
26. Washington – Jarred Tinordi D – What does the team with everything do in the first round?….they get richer. The Capitals, the team with 3 potential 100 point scorers up front, a perennial Norris Candidate on Defense, and a top notch prospect in net, take the very large and talented Tinordi at 26. Projected to be a top notch shutdown defenseman, Tinordi is the son of former Stars defenseman Mark Tinordi.
27. Montreal – Tyler Pitlick C – Montreal takes the talented though needs further development Tyler Pitlick here. He needs to improve his consistency and defenseive game, but should develop into a good NHL power forward.
28. San Jose – Stanislav Galiev C – The Sharks take the smallish but talented Galiev here at 28. He is a highly skilled offensive forward and could turn into a top 6 forward. The Sharks seem to pull these type players out of their hat.
29. Anaheim – Charlie Coyle RW – Tony Amonte’s cousin plays a variety of roles and loves the physical part of the game. He is an explosive skater and is deadly one on one. He’s off to Boston University this fall (just like Amonte).
30. Chicago – Calvin Pickard G – Chicago chooses Pickard with the final pick in the first round. I am not sure they will keep this pick as they may have to package it with higher salaried player to buy themselves some cap space. But if they do in fact keep it they will take the super athletic Pickard and wait until he’s NHL ready.
I would have loved to have had the time to do an additional Mock with possible trades (as they are always the most fun), but between preparing for Friday night’s draft and planning my daughter’s 1st birthday….it’s been a tad hectic.
Hope to see some of you out at the Coliseum Friday night for the Islanders Draft Party…enjoy!
About the Author: The New York Islanders have been a huge part of my life since I was 7 years old, and during the past 27 years I have experience many ups and downs with this team. The back end of 4 straight Stanley Cups, the Drive for 5, the Easter Epic, trading of my heroes John Tonelli, and Kelly Hrudey. Mike Bossy's early retirement, Pat LaFontaine for Pierre Turgeon, Dale Hunter, David Volek, Ron Hextall, Al Arbour's retirement, Bill Torrey to Florida, Mike Milbury, John Spano, The Milstein's, Hoistgate, the sale to Charles Wang, Draft Day 2000, Alexei Yashin and Michael Peca, Milbury's "reassignement", 40 days of Neil Smith, Ted Nolan, The Lighthouse Project, Kate Murray, Scott Gordon, going from 5 to 7 to 9, Josh Bailey, John Tavares, Calvin deHaan, El Nino, the 2 Kirill's and hopefully.....much, much more. I have been an Islanders blogger for the past 3 years, starting on Myspace, then for IslesNation.com and currently for HockeyIndependent.com, and I have been selected to the 2010-2011 New York Islanders Blog Box. I am an IT Manager for a quite large facility working for a government agency. I am married for 7 years to an incredibly patient woman and am the proud father of a beautiful 1 year old daughter. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: Twitter.com/tonystabile