Editor's Note: Moving this to the front page again in case anyone missed it.
This is the seventh (and most important) 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 – Erik Gudbranson
5. New York Islanders – Brandon Gormley
6. Tampa Bay – Mikael Granlund
7. Carolina – On the Clock
10. New York Rangers
Well, the 6th pick was the closet so far! Every option received multiple votes with Granlund, Connolly, and Trading the Pick leading the way. In the end, the Canes Country voters selected, on behalf of the Lightning, Mikael Granlund. It appears we feel Granlund would make a good replacement for Martin St. Louis when he leaves Tampa. Now it’s on to the BIG vote, pick #7 for our beloved Carolina Hurricanes. The question arises; what are the Canes going to do? Are they going to draft the best player available, try to address a need, both, or something completely different? In my opinion, the Canes biggest needs are a 1st line winger, a 2nd/3rd line center, and a top 4 defenseman (let me also add a little bit of size). Could they look toward Connolly or Tarasenko to address the future 1st line winger for Staal? Could they look toward Johansen to address a 3rd line center need? Could they look toward Pysyk or Forbort to address a defensive need? Could they look to add some forward size with Niederreiter? Or will they go in a different direction or trade down, acquiring an additional asset? Well, it’s time to vote on Pick #7 for the Carolina Hurricanes! I’m going to leave this post up until Monday, so everybody can give their two cents.
Brett Connolly – Yeah, I’m not really going to hide the fact that this is the player I want the Canes to pick. Connolly is a good skater, has decent size, and most importantly is a goal scorer. He has a very good shot, has good hands, positions himself well, and is willing to crash the crease. He sort of reminds me of a younger, better version of Erik Cole. Connolly does have a big concern though; he missed a significant amount of time due to a hip injury. So the question is; will he be able to recover from that injury and be the player many expect him to become? I think Connolly will probably remain in juniors for another season before possibly making the jump to the NHL. But if he can regain his form, he should become a potential 30 goal scorer in the NHL. Having a top line of Connolly-Staal-Jokinen could be a very dangerous, high scoring 1st line.
Vladimir Tarasenko – This is another player that has 1st line written all over him, but he too has some big concerns. Tarasenko is a smaller winger, but he is built solidly (according to some scouts). He is a good skater with very good acceleration, has a very good shot, and controls the puck well. He also has hockey lineage; his father was a good player in Russia. It is said that Tarasenko doesn’t play a typical “Russian” game for someone of his abilities. He is somewhat physical and is always willing to battle in the corners. He is a very interesting prospect, but selecting him is a risk. There is always the “Russian Factor;” whether or not he is going to come over and play in the NHL. He is under contract in the KHL for one more season, but it is believed he is willing to come over to North America. Tarasenko should develop into a legitimate scoring winger that could play with Staal or Sutter.
Nino Niederreiter – Nino is a very good all-around player. He’s a big kid that plays a physical game, he is a good skater, he can put the puck in the net, and he’s a good character guy. His game reminds me a little of Tuomo Ruutu; in that he’s a power forward and scorer. He really impressed at the World Juniors and has seemed to step up his game in the WHL. I do question whether Nino could develop into a 1st line player. I think he will definitely be a NHL player for many years to come, but I think he is probably more of a 2nd line winger than a 1st line winger. But a 2nd line player isn’t bad; he would help increase the team size and would be able to offer some physical play. Wouldn’t it be fun watching a physical shutdown 2nd line like Niederreiter-Sutter-Ruutu that could also score?
Ryan Johansen – One of the Canes biggest needs (IMO) is a 3rd line center. Johansen would be able to fill that role and potentially more. He has very good size, can play in all situations, is a superb playmaker, and is pretty good in the faceoff circle. He has great vision, he controls the puck well, and he really worked on his shooting and goal scoring in the 2nd half of the season. This was his first year in the WHL and while he was very impressive, he could be even better. Giving him another year in juniors to grow and develop his skills, Johansen could be another version of Ryan Getzlaf or Joe Thornton. He could probably start for the Canes in 2011/2012 on the 3rd line and give us a solid group of young centers to build around. With Johansen’s skills and playmaking abilities, we could potentially have a 1st line and two 2nd’s that would stand up to any other group in the league.
Mark Pysyk – Pysyk is not a flashy player, but he is solid in almost every aspect. He is a smooth skater that makes good passes, can play in all situations, and is a very good shutdown defenseman. He’s not very big, but does a good job positioning himself and he has learned to really “shoulder the load” being on one of the worst team in the WHL. He is probably good enough and smart enough to be able to make the jump to the NHL next season. He wouldn’t be a top 4 guy right away, but given time he should easily fill out a top 4 slot. He’s not going to impress anyone with his shot or point totals, but Pysyk is a reliable defenseman and a true character individual. His game might be a perfect complement to Pitkanen and his style of play. Pysyk’s defensive responsibility could compensate for Pitkanen’s aggressive offensive style. This would not be an overly exciting pick, but would be an intelligent selection.
Derek Forbort – Forbort is an offensive defenseman in a defensive defenseman’s body. He is a smart player that skates well, has skills, and has a little bit of size to him. He is 6’5”, 198 lbs and is expected to fill out more as he gets older. He still has areas of his game that he needs to improve, but college hockey should help develop those skills and techniques. He plays a good two-way game, but he is considered more offensive than defensive. Even with his size, he is not the most physical player, but I’ve always heard; “you can’t teach size” and he has that. Forbort would not be a guy that would help the Canes immediately, but give him 2 or 3 years and we should have ourselves a nice top 4 (maybe even top 2) defenseman.
Trade the #7 Pick to Anaheim or Phoenix – While the 7th pick is nice, the Canes have probably missed out on selecting someone that could help the team immediately. Given that, should we consider trading out of the 7th slot to maybe acquire two 1st round picks (and I would only do it for two 1st round picks, not a lower 1st and a 2nd). This is considered a pretty deep draft and we could find two quality player in the 12th or 13th and early 20s slot that could really help our team over the long haul. We could potentially get someone like Nick Bjugstad, Emerson Etem, or Austin Watson in that 12/13 area. Then we could get someone like Riley Sheahan, Dylan McIlrath, Tyler Toffoli, or John Merrill in the early 20s slot. While those players are obviously not as highly ranked or may take a little more time before being NHL ready, they should develop into very good pros. If Anaheim or Phoenix covets a player that might not be available when they select, this is a move that JR should highly consider making. If you choose this option, please write in who you think Anaheim or Phoenix would select.
Other – If you think they should do something else, please elaborate.