Everybody should know by now that I love speculation. So I thought I would give this mock draft thing a shot. While we all know the top 10 or 12 draftees, getting their correct order is a challenge. Which GM is going to draft based on team need, which GM is going after the best player available, which GM is looking to bolster their roster with proven NHL players so they trade their pick? There are so many variables. But the most difficult part to me was once I got past the 12th pick. Different scouts have different opinions, so its difficult to gauge who is really best player once you get that far in the draft. I have looked at scouting reports, looked a few highlights, looked at other mock drafts, and I have attempted to put together my best guess as to how I believe the 1st round will unfold.
I have also tried to make the task even more difficult on myself by included a few trades, involving 1st round draft picks, that I believe have a shot of happening. After each pick I make, I have also provided a little commentary. This is really all just for fun, as no one knows how everything will play out, but I have given what I believe is my best shot. I hope you enjoy and feel free to leave comments or rip me apart for some off-the-wall pick I made.
1. Edmonton Oilers - Nail Yakupov - He's been the top prospect for going on 2 years now and this guy could be a 50 goal scorer in the NHL. If you're Edmonton, you just can't pass that up. They will try to address their defensive issues by trading Ales Hemsky once the dust settles on Rick Nash, Zach Parise, and Bobby Ryan. A team missing out might overpay for Hemsky.
2. Toronto Maple Leafs (Toronto acquires pick from Columbus in exchange for 5th Overall & Luke Schenn) - Alex Galchenyuk - Toronto gets worried that the player they desire will not be around at #5 for them plus they have an extra defenseman anyway. Burke has never been shy about making a bold move & he seems to love to trade. They get their centerman to compliment their wingers.
3. Montreal Canadiens - Mikhail Grigorenko - With Galchenyuk off the board, the Habs struggle to decide if they go after a big center or the power forward in Filip Forsberg. Patrick Roy gives his former team a little friendly advise and they select Grigorenko. He also meets 3 of their criteria; he's a center, he's above 5' 9", and he is extremely talented.
4. New York Islanders - Ryan Murray - The Isles have a good foundation & centerpiece among the forward ranks, but they need that cornerstone for the defense. Murray isn't the sexiest defensive pick, but the guy is solid in every aspect of his game. They have John Tavares for the forwards and add Murray to the blueline, things are a little less gloomy in Long Island.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets (Columbus acquires pick & Luke Schenn from Toronto in exchange for 2nd Overall) - Filip Forsberg - The Jackets couldn't have planned this any better. The trade down to pick up a young, defensive asset and still get the player they would have selected at #2. Forsberg is the top power forward in this draft and looks to be an eventually replacement for their captain. Improve the defensive corp, check. Get a talented, non-Russian forward, check. Trade Rick Nash for the world, next on the list.
6. Anaheim Ducks - Mathew Dumba - The Ducks have some forward prospects, but their defensive prospects are a little scarce. Dumba is a little guy, but plays a big mans game. He hits and scores like no other defenseman in this draft. He could end up being the best defenseman from this draft class.
7. Tampa Bay (Tampa acquires pick from Minnesota in exchange for 10th & 19th Overall) - Teuvo Teravainen - Yzerman sees a little of his former teammate in Teravainen and realizes that Martin St. Louis isn't going to play forever. He gets a little nervous that the Canes might select Teravainen at #8, so he makes a move to acquire the player he wants. Teravainen looks to eventually replace St. Louis and provide Stamkos with another quick, playmaking winger.
8. Carolina Hurricanes - Radek Faksa - Jim Rutherford likes to stay in his comfort zone. He likes Staals', Sutters', offensive defensemen, recycling players, Plymouth Whalers and lately has a fondness for Kitchener Rangers. He & his scouts got to see plenty of Faksa while monitoring Ryan Murphy and you can never be too strong down the middle. Faksa could become a 2nd/3rd line center in the near future for the Canes.
9. Winnipeg Jets - Griffin Reinhart - The Jets are happy to select what a few have said is potentially the #1 player in the draft. Most of the Jets defenders will have expiring contracts over the next 2 seasons, so they address a need and get a player that could develop into a dynamite player. Reinhart has the size, skating and pedigree to become truely special.
10. Minnesota Wild (Minnesota acquires pick & 19th Overall from Tampa in exchange for 7th Overall) - Jacob Trouba - The Wild get one of the top rated defensemen on their board plus pick up an additional 1st rounder in the trade with the Lightning. He plays a solid all-around game, skates well, and isn't afraid to get physical. Needs some more time to develop, but it should take long.
11. Washington Capitals (Washington acquired pick from Colorado in exchange for Semyon Varlamov in 2011) - Morgan Rielly - The Caps have moved more toward a defensive system, but what really seems to be hurting them is their PP. Since Mike Green hasn't been able to stay healthy the past 2 seasons, their PP went from tops in the league to middle of the road and the lack of scoring has seemed to create some problems in D.C. So GMGM, looks for an eventually replacement for Green and Rielly falls into his lap at #11.
12. Buffalo Sabres - Zemgus Girgensons - Buffalo has a good collection of player & depth, but they do lack some size at the center position. Girgensons has some size and also plays an effective two-way game. He will be attending college, so he does help immediately, but rarely do players drafted outside the top 5.
13. Dallas Stars - Cody Ceci - The Stars have a good young core, supplemented by some experienced veterans. They also have some decent prospects, but one area they would like to improve is their offensive defensemen. Ceci is a guy that could do that. He has good size, but relies more of his intelligence & offensive abilities.
14. Calgary Flames - Olli Maatta - The Flames should examine their roster and determine if it is time for a rebuild. They have a few good pieces, but they lack a lot and their prospect pool is only ankle deep. They do have a couple of good looking prospects, but those guys are not on defense. Maatta isn't really a high-end defender, but he is solid in all facets of the game.
15. Ottawa Senators - Slater Koekkoek - The Sens have a pretty good prospect pool, but their defense took a hit this season with Jared Cowen becoming a full-time NHLer & the trade of David Rundblad. So to help replenish the backend, they select a guy that has size and a ton of potential. Koekkoek has an impressive package and logged 30 minutes a night at times. He's a little bit of a project that could turn into a steal if he rounds out his game.
16. Washington Capitals - Tom Wilson - Washington has generally leaned toward bigger players and with their shallow RW position, they take a risk on the large forward from Plymouth. Wilson is gritty and physical, but if the stars align, he could be a decent goal scorer. A lot of teams are going to be upset, because they were hoping to steal this guy a little later in the draft.
17. San Jose Sharks - Brendan Gaunce - The Sharks have an aging core and almost barren prospect system. I think they will go after whoever they feel is the best available player and Gaunce is a very solid prospect. He likely has a ceiling of 2nd or 3rd line center, but his size & hockey sense are his best assets.
18. Chicago Blackhawks - Sebastian Collberg - Chicago has a pretty deep collection of talent throughout their system. But they do lack some skill among their RW prospects, so Collberg is a nice addition. While small, he has very good speed and offensive abilities. His stock really rose after a successful World Juniors.
19. Minnesota Wild (Minnesota acquires pick & 10th Overall from Tampa in exchange for 7th Overall) - Derrick Pouliot - Minnesota attacks their defensive need again by selecting a player that falls a little. Pouliot is talented offensive defenseman that some say is the best skating defenseman in the draft. He needs a little time, but should help out tremendously on the PP and on the rush.
20. Philadelphia Flyers - Dalton Thrower - The Flyers need some depth on defense, but at this position in the draft, depth is still a few years away. But Thrower is a Flyers style of player. He's a tough two-way player, is a good skater, and plays the game with passion. He is willing to stick up for teammates and can produce some offensively. He is not the biggest guy, but plays bigger than his size.
21. Buffalo Sabres (Buffalo acquired pick from Nashville in exchange for Paul Gaustad & a 4th Round Pick in 2013) - Stefan Matteau - Buffalo wants to get stronger and they have a number of defensive prospects. They missed out on Tom Wilson, so they look toward Matteau with their 21st pick. Matteau plays a simply game, shields the puck well, and plays a solid two-way game. He's got good size and plays with an edge.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins - Tomas Hertl - Pittsburgh is looking for defensive help, but they have a good collection of defensive prospects in their system. The prospect area they lack is their current strength at the NHL level, center. Hertl has a good frame and uses it to his advantage. He has to work on his skating, but the kid looks like my might be a solid replacement for Jordan Staal down the road.
23. Edmonton Oilers (Edmonton acquires pick from Florida in exchange for 32nd Overall & Linus Omark) - Hampus Lindholm - The Oilers make a move to by moving one Swede to draft another. Lindholm is an offensively talented defenseman that skates well. I have him falling a bit, so that is why Edmonton moves up to acquire him. They already have the more defensive Oscar Klefbom in their system, so adding the his offensive countryman could help both players transition well.
24. Boston Bruins - Malcolm Subban - Goal has been one of Boston's strengths for the past couple of seasons, but with the unexpected departure of Tim Thomas, a strength becomes a question. Enter Subban, an athletic goaltender that is said to have a really good work ethic. He is a little on the smaller side for the position, but he has been compared to Carey Price. Goalie is tough to predict, but this might be the right spot for the deep Bruins.
25. St. Louis Blues - Brady Skjei - The Blues have had a very deep prospect group for quite a while, but these guys are starting to graduate to the NHL and the Blues need to restock. Skjei is a solid two-way player that is built well and is a fluid skater. He still is learning how to use his body more effectively and needs to work on his play in his own zone a little more. Skjei is far from a finished project, but continues to get better in all aspects of the game.
26. Vancouver Canucks - Colton Sissons - The Canucks have a very talented team and also have some blueline depth among their prospects. But one area that they could use some help is at the center position. They seem to juggle 3rd line centers and could use a good center among their prospect pool Sissons is not the biggest guy and doesn't put up crazy numbers, he plays with a lot of heart. He is solid in all three zones, plays with a ton of energy, and is deceptively good offensively.
27. Phoenix Coyotes - Henrik Samuelsson - The Yotes take a little flier here on a big, nasty forward with hockey lineage. Phoenix is a defense first team and they have a lot of defensive prospects. But they also were very poor on the PP and a player like Samuelsson might be able to help with that. He is a big forward that plays with an edge, but he also possesses some skill. He tough in front of the net and in the corners.
28. New York Rangers - Oscar Dansk - The Rangers are a team that always spends a lot of money, but they have also developed a very deep team full of talent. But one area they are a little weak on is backup goaltending. They have a stud in Henrik Lundqvist, but their goalie prospects are not very highly rated. So I have the Rangers selecting another Swede in goal, if it worked once, why not try it again? Dansk has nice size and moves very well, he also has very good rebound control.
29. New Jersey Devils - Tanner Pearson - The Devils are sort of weak among their winger prospects, so they take a chance on a late bloomer that can put up some points. Pearson was passed over the past 2 drafts, but he really showed something this past season. He is a hard working, two-way player, that has a good feel for the game. He can pass, shot, and cover his man. The kid plays a solid all-around game and his work ethic is amazing.
30. Los Angeles Kings - Matt Finn - The Champs have obviously done of great job of assembling talent over the years, particularly when it comes to defense. But now looking at their defensive prospects, many have moved to the NHL or have been traded to acquire other assets. Finn is projected by most to go higher than this, so LA feels good about getting him at #30. He is a solid two-way defenseman that plays with some grit. He has a little bit of offense, but he mainly plays a smart, responsible game. He's not a star, but one of those glue guys that helps everything together.