This is the third in a series of Canes Country votes of how the first 10 picks of the 2010 NHL Draft will unfold. We all have our own ideas of how things will play out and who will be available when the Canes select #7. I thought a fun way to decide things would be to take a consensus of the people here at Canes Country. What I will do is offer a few reasonable draft choices for each team. After a day or so, I will award who the “people” have selected and go down the list from #1 to #10.
2010 Canes Country NHL Draft
1. Edmonton – Taylor Hall
2. Boston – Tyler Seguin
3. Florida – Cam Fowler
4. Columbus – On the Clock
5. New York Islanders
6. Tampa Bay
10. New York Rangers
So, surprise, surprise; Cam Fowler, a defenseman, is now a Florida Panther (according to the Canes Country voters). What many believed were the top 3 players are now off our board. Next up is Columbus! One year ago, Columbus made the playoffs and looked to be a team that had finally turned the corner. A year later and they are back near the bottom of the NHL. If you look at their lineup, they have a solid (not spectacular) top 6 and a slightly above average defense. The couple of things I think they need: a really good playmaking center, a top-end defenseman, and another 1st line winger. They share similarities to Carolina; having players play beyond their true levels. Umberger and Vermette are good players, but are they really 1st line material? I think both would probably fit on most teams 2nd or maybe even 3rd lines. I think Columbus should look at Gudbranson first and foremost and then turn their attention to Connolly, Granlund, and Tarasenko. The answer on who they draft will be determined by their mindset. Do they draft for the present or do they look toward the future? And no I didn’t include Gormley because I think his game is more suited in the Eastern Conference.
Erik Gudbranson – To me, Gudbranson should be a no-brainer for the Blue Jackets. They were 7th worst in the league this past season in Goals Against and he is probably the highest rated player on the board. He is big, has a big shot, and has a little nastiness to him that would serve the Jackets well in Central Division. You could pair him with the young offensive defenseman Russell or the all-around defenseman in Tyutin and have a top pairing of the future. Or you could put him with Commodore or Hejda and have him play a shutdown role. He’s not going to rack up the points, but should become a good leader (like Gleason) on the ice for the Jackets. Either way you go, Gudbranson should be able to come in immediately and be an effective blueliner in the NHL for a long time.
Brett Connolly – Connolly is arguably the most elite forward left in this draft. He would probably not help immediately, but like I said; the Jackets need some more talent at the top of their lines. I’ve even read that Connolly compares his game to Rick Nash, so who better to teach him how to play in the NHL. He has some size, skating ability, and knows how to puck the puck in the net. You could imagine having two wingers that are willing to crash the net, score some goals, and be a complete handful for opposing teams. Or you could put them on separate lines and have similar styles of play, making it difficult for teams to match-up the defensive pair that would work best against that style of play. This would probably work well in the more physical Western Conference.
Mikael Granlund – Granlund could be an interesting pick for Columbus. His skating is good, not great and he is on the tiny size, but he has been playing against men in the Finnish Elite League. He has a good shot, unbelievable puck control, and has tremendous vision on the ice. If Granlund could play the top line center role, he might be a great future partner for Nash. Having Granlund distribute the puck to Nash could become one dynamic combination for years to come. He would have to add some weight and get accustom to the North American game, but as we Carolina fans know; the Finnish players can play.
Vladimir Tarasenko – This would be another interesting pick for the Jackets. Are they willing to risk another high draft pick on another Russian? Could selecting Tarasenko help persuade Filatov to come back to the NHL? It’s an interesting dilemma for the Jackets. Tarasenko is a highly skilled player with strength, good wheels, a hockey lineage, and a great scoring touch. He would not come over right away, but he would drastically improve the skill level of the Jacket forwards. He might be able to play opposite Nash on the top line or could be the primary focus on the 2nd line. He would be an awesome acquisition, but the question remains; will Columbus take the “Russian Risk?”
Other – If you think they should do something else, please elaborate.