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Canes Country First Round Mock NHL Draft

We're just days away from the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, which will kick off Friday night with Round 1 and resume Saturday with Rounds 2-7. The Carolina Hurricanes are set to select 27th, thanks to their run to the Eastern Conference Finals.

Each of SB Nation's hockey blogs is taking part in the 2009 SBN NHL Mock Draft (follow it over on From The Rink), with the Carolina pick to be posted Wednesday. But for you draft freaks, we're also doing our own mock here at Canes Country. This is how I see Round 1 unfolding. The picks don't necessarily reflect who I feel the best player available is (check each player's "CC rank" to see where I've ranked them), but rather takes into account each team's needs and tendencies. Without further ado ... the 2009 Canes Country Mock Draft!

1. New York Islanders: John Tavares, C, London (OHL) — Tavares has been considered a can't-miss player since he was a tween. Scouts and pundits have overanalyzed the 6-foot pivot's game to the point that any flaw or weakness is way overblown. He might not be the best skater, but the kid can flat-out score and has a knack for the dramatic. The Isles need someone to fill the decrepit Nassau Coliseum seats. Tavares is that guy. CC Rank: 1

2. Tampa Bay Lightning: Victor Hedman, D, Modo (SEL) — The monstrous Hedman is not a Zdeno Chara clone — think more of a bigger Niklas Lidstrom — but that doesn't mean the Lightning couldn't use a cornerstone defenseman. Hedman, still just 18, has been playing with men in the Swedish Elite League — arguably the world's best league outside of the NHL — for two seasons. He's mature beyond his years and, while lacking a mean streak, is not afraid to get his nose a little dirty. CC Rank: 2

3. Colorado Avalanche: Matt Duchene, C, Brampton (OHL) — Both ISS and Red Line Report have Duchene ranked second (ISS has Hedman at No. 3, RLR has Tavares there), but the chances of Duchene going No. 1 or 2 are slim. At the same time, he likely won't be slipping past No. 3 either. He's been touted as perhaps the best all-around player in the draft, and the Avs could use someone who can help them in all situations. CC Rank: 3

4. Atlanta Thrashers: Evander Kane, C, Vancouver (WHL) — Like Colorado, the Thrashers could use help just about everywhere. Enter Kane. The center scored 48 goals this year with the Giants and frequently outmuscled opponents on his way to the net. If Atlanta can hold on to Ilya Kovalchuk, Kane could be a great complement to him on the first line. CC Rank: 4

5. Los Angeles Kings: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, LW, Timra, (SEL) — Because of their depth on the blueline, I expect GM Dean Lombardi to look for a scoring forward. That might mean passing on a few higher-ranked players to fill a need. "MPS" is probably the top scorer on the board, and ISS has him ranked No. 4 overall. Don't be surprised if L.A. moves this pick to acquire some NHL help. CC Rank: 6

6. Phoenix Coyotes: Jared Cowan, D, Spokane (WHL) — I heard some rumblings from the Draft Combine that the Coyotes are enamored with Cowan, a punishing defenseman who is more in the Chara mold than Hedman. He won a Memorial Cup last year with Spokane — and Canes prospect Drayson Bowman — and is highly regarded despite suffering a season-ending knee injury this year. CC Rank: 7

7. Toronto Maple Leafs: Brayden Schenn, C, Brandon (WHL) — The chances that GM Brian Burke lands Tavares — as he proclaimed he'd try to do — seem slim and none. That being said, Schenn is a great consolation prize. The brother of Leaf d-man Luke, the younger Schenn is an all-out performer who has been compared by some to Flyers captain Mike Richards. Even though he won't get Tavares, Burke will be thrilled to have a second Schenn. CC Rank: 5

8. Dallas Stars: Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D, Leksands (Swe-1) — No player is zooming up draft boards faster than this slick blueliner. His all-around game has several teams drooling, and the Stars could certainly use a replacement for aging Sergei Zubov — the catalyst for their decade-long success — down the road. CC Rank: 11

9. Ottawa Senators: Jordan Schroeder, C/W, Minnesota (NCAA) — This is a reach, but I feel like the Sens need to add a dynamic player if they do indeed trade Dany Heatley. Schroeder's undersized (just 5-8), but his creativity and skills shouldn't be overlooked. CC Rank: 10

10. Edmonton Oilers: Scott Glennie, RW, Brandon (WHL) — The Oilers are pretty balanced in their system, but Glennie would provide them with a bit more size and scoring punch. A teammate of Brayden Schenn, Glennie is more of a finisher than puck distributor. CC Rank: 13

11. Nashville Predators: Nazem Kadri, C, London (OHL) — The Preds blueline is stacked with young talent, so they will likely look at forwards at this spot. Kadri's an elusive playmaker that could complement last year's No. 1 pick, Colin Wilson. He also could be a future captain. CC Rank: 9

12. Minnesota Wild: Ryan Ellis, D, Windsor (OHL) — With the Jacques Lemaire era over, the Wild want to get more exciting. There aren't any game-breaking forwards available, but Ellis is perhaps the most exciting player in the draft. He can run a power play with the best of them and doesn't allow his small size (5-9, 173) to hinder him. CC Rank: 15

13. Buffalo Sabres: Zack Kassian, RW, Peterborough (OHL) — Buffalo wants to get bigger up front and Kassian gives them that. He has a mean streak and already has an NHL body, plus the skills to go along with it. He's a power forward that would fit nicely with the Sabres' smaller players. CC Rank: 17

14. Florida Panthers: Jacob Josefson, C, Djurgarden (SEL) — The Panthers haven't been shy about drafting European forwards and even though there's new leadership, Josefson fills the need of a skilled center. CC Rank: 16

15. Anaheim Ducks: Landon Ferraro, RW, Red Deer (WHL) — The Ducks are in need of more scoring, so they pass on some available D to get this two-way winger. Ferraro, the son of ex-NHLer Ray, has goal-scoring in his blood. CC Rank: 20

16. Columbus Blue Jackets: Dmitri Kulikov, D, Drummondville (QMJHL) — Like Nikita Filatov and Maxim Mayorov before him, Kulikov slides and the Jackets are happy to the be the beneficiary. At 18, Kulikov already shows the poise of an NHLer and could be on the Columbus blueline in a year or two. Like Filatov, he's embraced North America, always a plus when bringing in Europeans. CC Rank: 8

17. St. Louis Blues: Louis LeBlanc, C, Omaha (USHL) — The Blues will be looking for more scoring power. While LeBlanc isn't an elite scorer, he's probably the best forward left. The Quebec native, who is set to attend Harvard in the fall, is a reliable two-way player. CC Rank: 14

18. Montreal Canadiens: Carter Ashton, RW, Lethbridge (WHL) — The hometown Habs will want to add more size up front, and Ashton is probably the best fit. The 6-3 winger will join Max Pacioretty to make a solid 1-2 punch of power forwards for the retooling Canadiens. CC Rank: 21

19. New York Rangers: Peter Holland, C, Guelph (OHL) — Holland is an all-situations player who could grow into a No. 1 center — something the Rangers desperately need. He's a good skater who plays well in both ends and also contributes to special teams, even manning the point on the power play at times. CC Rank: 19

20. Calgary Flames: John Moore, D, Chicago (USHL) — Moore might be the best skater in the entire draft, plus he has great size (6-2, 189) with room to grow. While he lacks some grit, the Flames have that in spades with Robyn Regehr and Dion Phaneuf. The Flames will thank their lucky stars if Moore slips this far. CC Rank: 12

21. Philadelphia Flyers: David Rundblad, D, Skelleftea (SEL) — What the Flyers really need is a top-notch goalie prospect, but no one jumps out enough to go in the first round. Rundblad would add offense to Philly's back end, even if it comes with some risk-taking. CC Rank: 22

22. Vancouver Canucks: Simon Despres, D, Saint John (QMJHL) — The Canucks will be sad to see Moore and Rundblad go in the two picks before they select. But they need D, and Despres — while a defense-first blueliner — is still a suitable pick here. Despres is already 6-4, 205, but could add a little more edge and utilize his size more. CC Rank: 18

23. New Jersey Devils: Tim Erixon, D, Skelleftea (SEL) — Erixon is another Swedish blueliner moving up the charts. The Devils are in need of more blueline depth, and Lou Lamoriello has never been shy about taking the player who most intrigues him, regardless of where the experts rank him. Erixon is a steady d-man who could fit well in New Jersey's system. CC Rank: 33

24. Washington Capitals: Chris Kreider, C, Andover, Mass. (U.S. High School) — One of the top skaters in the draft, Kreider has size and skill — the former being a big need for the Caps up front. On top of that, Kreider isn't even set to being college until 2010, so Washington can bring him along slowly and use him a few years down the road when they have more salary invested in their current young players. CC Rank: 24

25. Boston Bruins: Zach Budish, RW, Edina, Minn. (U.S. High School) — Budish missed a lot of the year because of a knee injury suffered while playing football. but the Bruins want more size and simply can't pass on him. At 6-3, 229 pounds, he's one of the biggest guys in the draft. CC Rank: 39

26. New York Islanders: Kyle Palmieri, RW/C, U.S. U-18 NTDP — Palmieri is a small, skilled forward with excellent vision — a nice match to go with No. 1 overall pick Tavares and current Isles brute Kyle Okposo. His size (5-10, 191) is a question mark, but if he were to play with a big forward like Okposo, he'd get the ice he'd need to work his magic. CC Rank: 23

27. Carolina Hurricanes: Drew Shore, C/W, U.S. U-18 NTDP — GM Jim Rutherford wants a banger up front, and Shore's the best one left (that he's willing to draft — Swede Carl Klingberg could be a great fit if the Canes are willing to take a European). Shore may never be a first-liner, but he could be a great complement to smaller and more skilled prospects Zach Boychuk and Drayson Bowman. CC Rank: 27

28. Chicago Blackhawks: Jordan Caron, C, Rimouski (QMJHL) — With ultra-skilled Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane in the fold, Caron will provide a straight-ahead, reliable presence at forward. He won't bang or intimidate like Andrew Ladd or Kyle Beach, but he will go to the net and fight for his points. CC Rank: 26

29. Detroit Red Wings: Carl Klingberg, LW, Frolunda (SEL) — The Red Wings can't help themselves — and shouldn't. Another Swede heads to Detroit, and this is a big one. At 6-3, 205 pounds, Klingberg has an NHL body, plus knows the nuances of the game that would help him thrive in the Wings' system. CC Rank: 31

30. Pittsburgh Penguins: Jeremy Morin, LW, U.S. U-18 NTDP — Morin is, plain and simple, a finisher — exactly what the Pens need alongside Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. He's a shoot-first winger with decent size, adequate speed and a great shot. CC Rank: 28