This is the eighth in a series of Canes Country votes of how the first 10 picks of the 2010 NHL Draft will unfold. 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 – Erik Gudbranson
5. New York Islanders – Brandon Gormley
6. Tampa Bay – Mikael Granlund
7. Carolina – Brett Connolly
8. Atlanta – On the Clock
10. New York Rangers
After a very long time between votes, I’m back. The 7th pick, belonging to the Canes, was not as close as I thought it would be. While Johansen and Niederreiter received a lot of votes, Brett Connolly jumped out to an early lead and pretty much ran away with it. Maybe the Canes have found a future elite winger to lineup with Staal? Only time will tell. Up next is the Atlanta Thrashers with the 8th pick. This is Atlanta’s first of two 1st round picks. Atlanta is an interesting team. They have a good mixture of solid (but not spectacular) veterans and a good amount of young emerging players. IMO the Thrashers are missing a couple of things. They need a reliable goaltender to build around, they need a scorer to take the place of the departed Kovalchuk, and they could use a top notch center (something they have missed for a long time). They could also continue to build their blueline, but I believe the other needs are more pressing. Most importantly, they need something that will get people in the building. Could the Thrashers target someone like Johansen to address a need for a #1 center? We know their not afraid of the Russian factor. Would they consider a player like Tarasenko or Burmistrov? Will they be intrigued by Skinner and his goal scoring potential? Or will they look to solidify the defense with a player like Pysyk or a goalie like Campbell?
Ryan Johansen – Johansen has continued to increase in the rankings and for good reason. He is a playmaking center that has size and tends to make the players around him better. He has great vision, can play in all situations, and has worked on improving his goal scoring. This was his first year in the WHL and stills needs some time to develop and grow, but he could be REALLY good. He would probably spend another year in juniors (he’ll turn 18 this summer), but could then come up on a lower line and work his way up. He could potentially create a big 1st line in Atlanta of Kane-Johansen-Antropov. While that line wouldn’t have the elite scorer most team’s have on their top line, all three players would be dangerous and able to put the puck in the net.
Vladimir Tarasenko – Atlanta is not as scared as most teams of the “Russian factor” and this might allow them to select a very good player in Tarasenko. Tarasenko has all the tools needed to excel in the NHL; he skates well, is a sniper, controls the puck, and is willing to play a little physical. He also has a hockey pedigree and is the type of player the Thrashers need. His goal scoring potential could help fill the hole left by Kovalchuk, but he plays a more “complete” game than his fellow Russian. But everything revolves around Russia! He said he wants to come play in the NHL, but will he and if so, when? For a franchise that is more or less “floundering,” is this a risk they are willing to take? When he does make the move, he could be paired up with fellow countryman Antropov to help ease his North American transition. Or he could be paired with Kane; putting two young, complimentary style of play wingers on the same line.
Alexander Burmistrov – This is a Russian that has already made the jump to North America and has made a pretty smooth transition. He is an excellent skater with good vision and good puck control. He’s not big, will definitely have to put on some weight, and needs to improve on his shot/goal scoring. He needs more seasoning in the OHL, but he should become a very good playmaking center with speed. He has made the moves that show he wants an NHL career and averaged over a PPG in his OHL rookie campaign. I’m not sure if he will fully develop into a top line center, but he should at least merit a future 2nd line center spot.
Jeff Skinner – Skinner is not the best of skaters, he is not the biggest guy, and I could probably give 10 more reasons that this is too high to draft him; but there is one BIG reason to draft him here – he is a monster goal scorer! Skinner still needs some work, but there is no denying his ability to score. This past season (regular season and playoffs), he put the puck in the net 70 times in 84 games. What better way to replace your departed goal scoring machine than by putting in a new version? He is a hard worker that shows effort in all zones and has a great shot. Will his abilities translate to the NHL, I’m not sure. But this is a piece that Atlanta is missing. If Atlanta could put him on a line with a big player like Antropov and a physical player like Kane, Skinner should be able to make up for his issues through them. This would be a pretty risky pick for Atlanta, but it could be one that yields some high rewards.
Mark Pysyk – I personally think that Atlanta could find a very good defensive player with their second pick of the first round, but if they go defense – they should look toward Pysyk. He’s not an offensive dynamo, but he would provide what the Thrasher’s need; a defensive defenseman that could lead from the backend (similar to Gleason for the Canes). Pysyk is a smart player, a good skater, a decent passer, and a guy that can play in any situation. He would probably become the defensive “rock” in ATL. He has been compared to Scott Neidermayer and Atlanta would be thrilled to have someone like that managing their blueline. There is also a possibility of him making the jump sooner rather than later. He would probably start off on the 3rd pairing, but given time to acclimate; he should progress up rather quickly. Eventually, he and Bogosian could become a very respectable top pairing in Thrasher town (wherever that might be).
Jack Campbell – I view goaltending as Atlanta’s biggest need. Lehtonen has been moved, Hedberg has been around since Moses parted the ice, and Pavelec’s stats haven’t been all that impressive. Campbell is a good mixture of size, athleticism, and positioning that should make him a true #1 goalie. He’s quick and does a pretty good job at recovering from his mistakes/rebounds. He’s also played and won on some of the biggest stages he’s played in so far. Campbell is the type of player that a defense could rely on and potential help the Thrashers finally get over the hump of also-ran to playoff team. As with every goalie, it would probably take a few more years before he is NHL ready; but by then the younger Thrashers would have gained some experience that would help a young goalie. The big question; does the City of Atlanta have time to wait on Campbell?
Other – If you think they should do something else, please elaborate.