With the NHL Draft nearly upon us, it is, after all, only a day away, here is my mock of how the draft will shake down, with no trades projected:
1. Edmonton Oilers – RW-Nail Yakupov, Sarina (OHL) – They can’t pass on him at the top of the draft, he is simply too talented to fall out of the top spot this year.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets – C-Filip Forsberg, Leksand (Sweden) – Alex Galchenyuk may have a higher upside but injuries and the Blue Jackets less than positive experience with some Russian prospects will lead them toward Forsberg, who may not have quite the upside of Galchenyuk but still has the talent to be a star in the NHL.
3. Montreal Canadiens – D-Ryan Murray, Everett (WHL) – He will be a top paring defenseman for years to come and would be a perfect fit in Montreal. Most prognosticators have them going offense but Murray should be the pick.
4. New York Islanders – C-Alex Galchneyuk, Sarina (OHL) – Had he not gotten hurt he could have overtook Yakupov for the top stop but some scouts may still be concerned with his knee despite playing very well this year. He could make the Islanders next year and have an impact immediately.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs – C-Mikhail Grigorenko, Quebec (QMJHL) – He’s a top 5 player and makes this an easy selection, some see him going higher which is certainly possible, but he makes a lot of sense here. Though I am not projecting trades in this mock, if he or Galchenyuk are still on the board at five, this pick becomes very valuable.
6. Anaheim Ducks – D-Matthew Dumba, Red Deer (WHL) – The Ducks are in good position to take the best player available and Dumba is a very solid all around player with leadership qualities.
7. Minnesota Wild – C-Radek Faksa, Kitchener (OHL) – Big and skilled, Faksa is a fast riser. Last year was his first in North American and his second could see him logging time in the NHL. He can move among lines and he could pay his dues on the checking line while providing scoring ability.
8. Carolina Hurricanes – D-Morgan Reilly, Moose Jaw (WHL) – Injury concerns aside this highly talented defenseman would be a great fit with Carolina.
9. Winnipeg Jets – D-Griffin Rheinhart, Edmonton (WHL) – Big and physical, he could add some intimidation to the defense corps, something the team needs.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning – L-Teuvo Teravainen, Jokerit Jr. (Finland) – The Lightning are a better team than they showed last year, Teravainen needs time to get bigger and the Lightning could provide it to him. He could be phenomenal player if a team is patient in his development.
11. Washington Capitals – D-Derrick Pouliot, Portland (WHL) – There are lots of signs that Pouliot will be in the NHL for a very long time, and yet his stock seems volatile. The Capitals should jump on him here.
12. Buffalo Sabres – C-Brendan Gaunce, Belleville (OHL) – After adding the highly skilled Cody Hodgson from the Canucks the Sabres will continue to stock the pivot, Gaunce, in contrast to Hodgson is a big bodied player who could turn into a tremendous second line center and create match up problems for the opposition.
13. Dallas Stars – D-Jacob Trouba, USHL – He could certainly go higher as he has size and offensive skill, but I see no way he lasts past 15. Dallas is in good position with this pick to take the best player available.
14. Calgary Flames – G-Malcolm Subban, Belleville (OHL) – Subban could take to develop but the Flames patience would be rewarded. Subban can be a number one goalie for a long time and Flames would be wise to get him in their pipeline, especially if Leland Irving will soon on the big club year round, Subban could assume duties in Abbottsford.
15. Ottawa Senators – D-Cody Ceci, Ottawa (OHL) – The offensive defenseman would be a good fit in Ottawa and give the hometown fans extra reason to be happy.
16. Washington Capitals – RW-Thomas Wilson, Plymouth (OHL) – Big bodied forward would fill a need for the Capitals and provide a scoring touch to boot.
17. San Jose Sharks – G-Andrei Vasilevski, Russia – I think he cracks the top 20, and I’m sure I’m in the minority here. I think he would fit in with the Sharks well and they may be willing to roll the dice here and take him a bit earlier than most project.
18. Chicago Blackhawks – C-Zemgus Girgensons, USHL – Many things about his game seem to mesh with the Blackhawks style of play, and I think this is a lock if he’s on the board here.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning – D-Olli Maatta, London, OHL – Every year there is a guy or two who drops lower than he should, Maatta has the talent to go much higher and yet that’s not how my mock shook out. The Lightning would be ecstatic if he fell here.
20. Philadelphia Flyers – RW-Sebastian Collberg, Frolunda Jr. (Sweden) – A very talented skater and solid scorer, the Flyers should look to add more goal scorers to bring up in the pipeline.
21. Buffalo Sabres – D-Matthew Finn, Guelph (OHL) – Solid two way defenseman who fills a need for Buffalo.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins – D-Hampus Lindholm, Rogle Jr. (Sweden) – The Penguins would be well served by adding more talented defensemen, Lindholm is a solid player who plays with more experience than his age would indicate in terms of being able to read and understand the game.
23. Florida Panthers – C-Stefan Matteau, USHL- Strong and gritty, he would be a good fit with how the Panthers are being built. The Panthers are loaded with young talent waiting in the wings and Matteau could be a great special team player and leader.
24. Boston Bruins – C-Tomas Hertl, Czech Republic – Talented and well rounded, Hertl could fit with a number of clubs and help on special teams as well. He may never be an elite scorer but he could be one of the players from this draft who has a very long NHL career.
25. St. Louis Blues – C-Colton Sissons, Kelowna (WHL) – A power forward who has time to address his skating needs, he would fit in well with the Blues and should be a solid contributor in a few years.
26. Vancouver Canucks – D-Brady Skjei, USHL – A big defenseman with offensive upside, he would fill a void in the Canucks system and he would have the benefit of not being rushed along. WThe extra time should serve him well.
27. Phoenix Coyotes – LW-Tanner Pearson, Barrie (OHL) – A power forward with a scoring touch, he is a late bloomer but he would fit the Coyotes team-first system well and fills a need for the club.
28. New York Rangers – D-Slater Koekkoek, Petersborough (OHL) – The injury hurt him as he was probably headed for a higher draft slot (and he may be picked higher than 28 without raising an eyebrow) but the Rangers will happily select Koekkoek who could realistically develop into a top 4 defenseman in my opinion.
29. New Jersey Devils – LW-Pontus Aberg, Djurgardens (Sweden) – The Devils go back to Sweden to take a winger with a scorer’s touch and an array of offensive skill.
30. Los Angeles Kings – RW-Martin Frk, Halifax (QMJHL) – He’s worth the risk here as the Kings could get a steal provided he has no long term issues from concussions.