Obviously, this week we are concentrating on the draft here and if you have not seen enough mock drafts already, (or even if you have), it's my turn to take a stab in the dark. There seems to be more discussion and disagreement about the top choices then ever before as some scouts praise a prospect while others call them potential busts.
There are also rumors of trades, like always, and I will include a couple of possibilities in my mock. Of course these could be totally off base, but it's still interesting to try to think about what might be possible scenarios that some general managers could be thinking about.
As we have done in the past, this Friday night and all day Saturday, we will have an open thread going here at Canes Country so there can be ongoing discussion as the draft progresses. Cory and I will be hanging out at the PNC in the Hurricanes media War Room and we will be reporting on any interviews with Carolina's draft choices and any trades, as well as discussions with Ron Francis and Tony MacDonald. We will be reporting about what we hear in the open thread and will answer any questions as they come up, (that we can).
Brian LeBlanc has media credentials for the event and will be covering the draft for us in Philadelphia from the draft floor. All in all, we should have as much coverage as anyone out there, while the draft is happening.
Now, without further delay, my mock draft.
1. We have a trade to announce......There has been much talk from Florida this year about trading their pick and this time they actually do it. They find a partner in Calgary, who have several promising forwards in their pipeline, but not so much on the blueline.
The Calgary Flames trade Ladislav Smid, Sven Baertschi, and the 4rth overall pick to the Florida Panthers for the 1st overall and Steven Hodges. The Flames go on to pick Aaron Ekblad, with the hopes that he will anchor their suspect blueline for years to come.
2. Buffalo Sabres - Sam Reinhart The Sabres continue to stockpile promising prospects and this player is projected by many to be another one.
3. Edmonton Oilers - Leon Draisaitl I had the Oilers trading before they signed Nikitin. Now they choose the best player on their list and hope they will not be disappointed.
4. Florida Panthers, (From Calgary) - William Nylander - The Panthers swing for the fences with this pick and hope his tremendous skill outweighs his smallish size.
5. New York Islanders - Sam Bennett The Isles were trying to trade as well but stick at this spot and choose Bennett, who could be a superstar.
6. Vancouver Canucks - Jake Virtanen Vancouver hesitates here because Dal Colle is still available, but they love Virtanen and want to keep the hometown boy local.
7. Carolina Hurricanes - Michael Dal Colle Ron Francis' phone is ringing off the hook here as many teams try to trade up to get this kid, but no one steps up enough so the Canes have a potential star fall in their lap. (The Canes could very well use this pick as leverage to shed Ward's contract, but hopefully they do not trade for that reason alone here).
8. Toronto Maple Leafs - Nikolaj Ehlers This kid has speed to burn and might be an NHL'r sooner rather than later.
9. Winnipeg Jets - Brendan Perlini I still think Perlini is the safer pick than Ritchie, but we will see what happens on Friday night. Either way it is probably splitting hairs here, at just one pick apart.
10. Anaheim Ducks - Nick Ritchie The big kid just has too much potential to ignore and the Ducks take a chance.
11. Nashville Predators - Dylan Larkin Both Laviolette and Poile like Americans and what's not to like about this kid?
12. Arizona Coyotes - David Pastrnak Yotes go off the board a bit with this pick, but the kid has a ton of skill.
13. Washington Capitals - Haydn Fleury A bit of a change here as the Caps go after the highest rated defenseman left on the board.
14. Dallas Stars - Jared McCann Skilled, two-way forward fits well here.
15. Detroit Red Wings - Kevin Fiala Will the Wings go for this top-rated Swede? Chances are.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets - Kasperi Kapanen Jackets are very happy to see Kapanen still available at this point.
17. Philadelphia Flyers - Alex Tuch The Flyers would have loved to trade up but will not complain about adding this big bruiser to their stable.
18. Minnesota Wild - Sonny Milano Another American who should fit in well with the Wild.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning - Ivan Barbeshev Came from Russia to play in the "Q" and impressed.
20. San Jose Sharks - Robby Fabbri Another smallish forward with a ton of skill who could make it big in the NHL.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins - Josh HoSang Pens wanted to trade this pick but end up swinging for the fences with the out-spoken but super-skilled, winger.
23. Colorado Avs - Jack Dougherty Avs takes the big, strong American defenseman.
24. Anaheim Ducks - Travis Sanheim Another big, tough defenseman on the rise.
25. Boston Bruins - Conner Bleackley Big forward seems to fit with Bruins culture.
26. Montreal Canadiens - Julius Honka Very skilled defenseman, is a bit smallish.
27. Chicago Blackhawks - Roland McKeon Defenseman with size who will have plenty of time to develop.
28. Tampa Bay Lightning - Nick Schmaltz American center who could develop into someone special.
29. Los Angeles Kings - Thatcher Demko Top rated goalie in draft has time to develop here.
30. New Jersey Devils - Ryan Collins Devils take American defenseman who will also most likely need time to develop.
In the second round or later, look for the Hurricanes to take a good long look at Plymouth Whalers goalie Alex Nedeljkovic. His save percentage of .925 is one of the best in the OHL. Also Plymouth defenseman, Josh Wesley has one of the best plus/minus stats on the young Whalers team and the Canes might pick him at some point. With Mike Velucci in Carolina, I doubt that the Hurricanes will stop drafting Whalers.