Well, here is my 2014 NHL Mock Draft with potential trades. I view things a little different than most, usually focusing on needs rather than just the best player available approach. Last year I only got 3 picks correctly, but did get an additional 3 prospects to the team I predicted. So while I'm sure to be wrong on the majority of these picks, it's all in good fun. Hope you enjoy a good laugh.
With the 1st Pick of the 2014 NHL Draft:
1. Florida – Aaron Ekblad – D – Florida seriously considers trading this pick, but when they don’t get the offer they want, they keep it and select what may be a franchise defenseman. Ekblad and Erik Gudbranson give them a very good future top pairing.
2. Buffalo – Sam Reinhart – C – Director of Amateur Scouting, Kevin Devine, thinks extremely highly of Reinhart and easily convinces Sabres brass that he’s their guy. Buffalo gets a center to build around and one that should make the players around him better.
3. Edmonton – Leon Draisaitl – C/LW – Edmonton tries to move up, tries to acquire a defenseman, but the cost is just too much, so they stay put and select a player that should fill a hole. Draisaitl’s a big 2nd line center that could potentially be more.
4. Calgary – Sam Bennett – C/LW – He’s the type of player that Brian Burke loves plus he has a lot of talent. He fits right in with the Flames rebuild and given time to physically mature, they will have found themselves a hell of a player.
5. Florida (NY trades 5th pick & 78th pick to FLA for Dmitry Kulikov, 32nd pick & 2015 2nd) – William Nylander – RW/C – The Isles address a need on defense by getting the young, but ready Kulikov and they pick up two 2nd rounders. Dave Tallon realizes that with Ekblad, Kulikov is more expendable and he’s targeted Nylander for a while. The Panthers give up some value, but get a highly skilled player that also address a weakness down their right side.
6. Vancouver – Michael Dal Colle – LW/C – The Canucks surprised and happy that Dal Colle fell in their laps. He plays a power forward game, but has a full arsenal of offensive abilities. He might need another year of development, but will work with either a Vancouver retool or rebuild.
7. Carolina – Jake Virtanen – RW/LW – Carolina takes a bit of a risk, but the reward could be high. Virtanen has all the tools to be an exceptional player. He has size, has speed, has scoring ability and gives the Hurricanes something their organization is missing, a true power forward. There are some concerns and he most likely will be in juniors next season, but he could be a building block for the future.
8. Toronto – Nick Ritchie – RW/LW – Toronto like big, physical players and they get one of the biggest forwards in the draft in Ritchie. His body is physically ready for the NHL and he does bring more than just size. The big question is how will his play translate to a league where his physical maturity isn’t as much of an advantage.
9. Nashville (WPG trades Eric Tragradi & 9th pick to NSH for Colin Wilson & 11th pick) – Nikolai Ehlers – LW – Winnipeg needs some additional help down the middle, Wilson helps there and dropping two spots still allows them to pick up a good playler. Nashville needs scoring and makes a somewhat bold move to jump up and select one of the best goal scorers in the QMJHL. Ehlers also has the type of speed that Peter Laviolette would love. He might not be NHL ready, but he could be a very good one in the immediate future.
10. Anaheim – Brendan Perlini – LW – Anaheim adds another piece to their impressive prospect pool. Perlini has all the tools to become a very good power forward, but needs to develop the physical side of his game. With the Ducks prospect ranks, he’ll have some time to develop.
11. Winnipeg (see Pick 9) – Haydn Fleury – D – Winnipeg added a 3rd line center with the Nashville trade and are still able to address their depth on defense. They consider Fleury the best player available at 11 and he would instantly become one of the Jets top prospects. He’s a big, strong two-way defenseman that should develop into a top 4 guy within a couple of years.
12. Arizona – Kasperi Kapanen – LW/RW – The Coyotes consider moving up to get one of Ritchie, Virtanen or Ehlers, but are unwilling to pay the price to move up. Instead they stay where they are and end up with Kapanen. He’s a smart hockey player with skills and should be a solid offensive addition to the Coyotes system.
13. Washington – Dylan Larkin – C – The Caps have a new coach and possibly a new mindset. Barry Trotz was more defensive oriented in Nashville and might bring that to Washington. If so Larkin might be the type of player he likes. Larkin is a gritty, two-way center that has some skill and plays an agitating game.
14. Dallas – Ivan Barbashev – C/LW – Jim Nill said he believes his team needs to be strong down the middle, but they are also aren’t very strong on the left side. So they end up selecting the playmaking Russian C/LW that can play either. Barbashev has good size and can play in any situation, he could develop into a fine 2nd liner for the Stars.
15. Detroit – Julius Honka – D – Detroit has a pretty deep prospect pool, but they are limited in right-handed defenders. Honka isn’t the biggest guy, but plays a solid game in his own zone and has quite the offensive ability. Detroit will give him time to develop further.
16. Columbus – Kevin Fiala – RW – Columbus doesn’t have any particular needs, so goes with offensive skilled little guy. Fiala also has some wheels and plays a gritty game that would fit with the Blue Jackets style. His offensive abilities and work ethic give him the chance of becoming a top 6 winger.
17. Philadelphia – Alex Tuch – RW/C – The Flyers wanted to make a splash at the draft, but can’t get anything to materialize. So they go with a guy that seems to fit with their style. Tuch is a big guy that will stand up for his teammates and has a little skill to go along with that size. He isn’t the best skater, but can work on that at Boston College.
18. Minnesota – Jared McCann – C – Minnesota was without a 1st rounder last year and they don’t have a 2nd rounder this year, so they need to make this pick count. They have a number of young players that have recently started contributing, so they don’t need to rush anybody. McCann is a leader that will play tough in both ends of the ice and also has some offense. He needs to fill out more, but plays with a physical edge.
19. Tampa Bay – David Pastrnak – RW – Tampa has done a good job of drafting lately and have good depth at a number of positions. But those guys eventually graduate or are moved, so Pastrnak helps replenish some of the prospect talent lost. He’s extremely skilled offensively and is quite the skater, but he will need to get bigger to be able to handle the rigors of the NHL.
20. San Jose – Nikita Scherbak – LW – Whether San Jose is rebuilding or not, they could add some offensive to wing depth. Scherbak has that plus can play a little in-your-face game. There are still areas he needs to work on, like in his own end, but he should continue to get better with more time on North American ice.
21. Ottawa (STL trade Patrick Berglund, Ian Cole & 21st Pick to OTT for Jason Spezza) – Adrian Kempe – LW – St. Louis struggled scoring goals in the playoffs. Their hoping Spezza can make them a more dangerous team, adding an offensive element. Ottawa didn’t exactly get what they were hoping for, but Berglund and Cole should be able to help the team right away. And with the pick, they select a power forward that skates well and drives the net. He also has a strong work ethic and loves to check.
22. Pittsburgh – Robbie Fabbri – C/LW – Pittsburgh looks to trade the pick for immediate help, but can’t come up with the right deal. So instead, Jim Rutherford selects a highly ranked prospect that has dropped due to his size. Fabbri has all the tools and is a big competitor, but he’s just undersized.
23. Colorado – Josh Ho-Sang – RW – The Avalanche are a young team on the rise, but they aren’t exactly deep on the wings. Ho-Sang is a talented offensive player that needs some more time for growth and refinement. He’s very creative, but sometimes tries to do too much on his own.
24. Vancouver (ANA trades Emerson Etem, Sami Vatanen & 24th pick to VAN for Ryan Kesler) – Connor Bleackley – C – Anaheim finally makes their move and gets their 2nd line center, they give up a lot to get him, but they feel they have a good shot at the Stanley Cup. Vancouver continues with their rebuild by getting two NHL ready young players that should be able to contribute very soon, if not immediately. With the pick, they choose a guy that has a never quit attitude and with some work could develop into a 2nd line center.
25. Boston – Brendan Lemieux – LW – The Bruins aren’t really in need of much, so they pick a player that’s in the Boston mold. Lemieux is a gritty, agitating player that isn’t afraid to mix it up, but he also has some skill and could grow into a larger role.
26. Montreal – Sonny Milano – LW – The Habs are a team that likes speed and has a tendency to draft American born players. Milano is a guy that drops because he’ll probably take additional time to make it to the NHL, but he’s got speed, vision and good hands. A very skilled winger that makes his line mates better.
27. Chicago – Jack Dougherty – D – Chicago is a very talented team that has a pretty full cupboard of prospects. Dougherty is a talented two-way defenseman that has good size, can move the puck and is very solid in his own zone. He plays a very complete game and will develop more at the University of Wisconsin. The Blackhawks are certainly in a position to let him work on a few things and strengthen his game even more.
28. Tampa Bay – Roland McKeown – D – Probably the weakest part of the Lightning system is their defense, but they try to address that here. McKeown is a good all-around defender that probably leans a little to the offensive side. He handles the puck well, has good vision and has a hard shot. He needs a little more time to fill out his frame and learn how to become a little more physical.
29. Los Angeles – Vladislav Kamenev – C – It’s got to be tough being the champs. Two Stanley Cups in three years and a pretty impressive prospect pool to replace the players that do leave. LA goes out on a limb and takes the Russian Kamenev. Kamenev is a solid player that has already lined up against men in the KHL. He has a good combination of talent, size and plays a LA type of game. He’s a risk, but the Kings have afforded themselves that option.
30. New Jersey – Nikolay Goldobin – RW/LW – The Devils are a very old team that could use help at every forward position, they were lucky to get this pick. They end up select Goldobin because he is an offensive dynamo that has all the offensive tools to make it in the NHL. The Russian has put up fantastic numbers in his first two OHL seasons. He needs work on the defensive side and could benefit from some strength training, but he is talented.