Well, here is my shot at a mock draft. I'm sure there will be plenty of you that won't agree with how I have things play out, but no worries, I'm sure I will be 85% wrong. But this is for fun and isn't that what this is all about? I have included trades in my mock draft, as I'm sure some trades will happen. My mock trades are in italics. So take a look, let me know what you think and maybe give some ideas of your own. So here we go!
1. Colorado Avalanche – Nathan MacKinnon – C – The Avs biggest need is on defense and Jones is staring them in the face, but they just can’t pull the trigger. MacKinnon is an ultra talented center that could possibly be a generational player. They can’t let that slip through their fingers, so they select him and will deal with the center depth in time.
2. Florida Panthers – Seth Jones – D – The Panthers were expecting to add MacKinnon, but the Avs weren’t bluffing. They consider taking Drouin to help out Jonathan Huberdeau, but a franchise defenseman is just too hard to acquire. They select Jones and look for him to be the cornerstone of their backend.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning – Jonathan Drouin – LW – The Bolts seriously consider Nichushkin in this spot, but go with the superb playmaker in Drouin. He simply makes everybody around him better and should be a great linemate for Steven Stamkos in the future. Drouin gets a chance to learn from Martin St. Louis and will probably eventually replace him.
4. Nashville Predators – Aleksander Barkov – C – The Preds need a center and need offense, Barkov fills those needs and is probably the best player still on the board. He also plays a game that fits Nashville’s style very well, while upgrading their offense. It’s really like two puzzle pieces being put together and the Preds can’t be happier.
5. The Carolina Hurricanes trade the 5th pick and C Victor Rask to the Edmonton Oilers for the 7th pick, 37th pick and Ladislav Smid. The Canes have their eye on a particular player and believe they can pick him up at #7. They also acquire a top 4 defenseman for immediate help and add a high 2nd round pick. The Oilers get one of the "top 5" in the draft and also address a want in a big, young center. They give up some size on the backend, but get two good young players. Edmonton Oilers – Valeri Nichushkin – RW – The Oilers add a potential superstar to an already impressive group of top 6 forwards. Nichushkin comes with some risks, but he will have fellow countryman Nail Yakupov to help with his transition. Could this lead to a possible trade of one of their "young guns" to address their defensive woes?
6. Calgary Flames – Sean Monahan – C – Some scouts consider Lindholm as the player with the higher ceiling, but the Flames have had their eye on Monahan for a while and make him their selection. He has good size, the ability to play at both ends of the ice and in all situations. He also has a high hockey IQ and shoulders a lot of responsibility, the type of player you can build around.
7. Carolina Hurricanes – Elias Lindholm – C – Lindholm is the player the Canes were wanting and they get him at #7. He is an intelligent player with impressive skills and plays a very solid two-way game, your typical Swedish player. He played against men last season and is expected to contribute right away to the Hurricanes, either as the 3rd line center or possibly on wing with Jordan Staal.
8. Buffalo Sabres – Darnell Nurse – D – The Sabres wanted to move up to select one of the top forwards, but end up going with what could be the best defender in the draft. Nurse has a big frame, a mean streak and is very difficult to play against. He provides a little offense, but he mainly adds shutdown ability and physical play to Buffalo’s defensive prospect pool.
9. New Jersey Devils – Hunter Shinkruk – LW – Shinkruk didn’t have the season that was expected of him, but he was far from disappointing. The speedy skilled winger knows how to put up points and is an extremely hard worker, on and off the ice. The Devils have some defensive prospects, but Shinkruk add some talent to their forward ranks.
10. Dallas Stars – Alex Wennberg – C – The Stars go for the first reach of the draft when selecting Wennberg. Former Red Wing Scouting Director and current Star General Manager Jim Nill sees a little bit of Henrik Zetterberg in Wennberg and that worked out pretty well in Detroit. Wennberg is a talented all-around player that might give the Stars the opportunity to move Jamie Benn to wing and allow Wennberg to center him.
11. Philadelphia Flyers – Rasmus Ristolainen – D – The Flyers considered trading the pick for a more impact player, but if they are ever going to get their cap situation under control, they need a defenseman under an entry-level deal. Ristolainen is a complete package that skate, moves the puck well, has some physicality and is defensively responsible. He’s also a player that should be able to make the jump to the NHL soon, which is a plus for the Flyers.
12. The Phoenix Coyotes trade the 12th pick and RW Radim Vrbata to the Ottawa Senators for the 17th pick, C Mika Zibanejad and RW Mark Stone. The Yotes are looking to build a winner, they have the young defensemen, but they need to work on the forwards. Zibanejad is a young, NHL-ready center that appears to be getting pushed down when the Senators lineup is healthy. He’s more of a playmaking; top 6 center rather than a checking center. The Sens are looking to add some offense in a top line winger, which is difficult to do. Vrbata has been a very effective scorer in his time in Phoenix. He isn’t too expensive and fills a need. You have to wonder what he could do next to a center like Jason Spezza. The teams also flop 1st round picks. Ottawa Senators – Nikita Zadorov – D – The Senators have a good group of young defenseman that are NHL-ready or close, but they will need to restock the defensive prospect bucket. With Chris Phillips getting older and his contract expiring soon, Zadorov might be the perfect replacement for him. Zadorov is big and mean, can skate pretty well for his size and is a tough player to play against.
13. Winnipeg Jets – Max Domi – LW/C – Domi might be an undersized NHL player, but the guy has loads of skill and as we have seen with Martin St. Louis, little guys can be dangerous. The Jets have some big forwards, but they don’t really have a dynamic playmaker. He has speed, can handle the puck and has a motor that doesn’t stop. And even though he is small, he is strong and is willing to use his body.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets – Anthony Mantha – RW/LW – The Jackets (in particular Sergei Bobrovsky) were pretty good at keeping the puck out of their net, but not so much at scoring. They add Marian Gaborik at the deadline to help, but with this selection they go after the Q’s goal scorer leader. Mantha has some concerns about his game, but he is big and knows how to score and that is what the Jackets are looking for with this pick.
15. The New York Islanders trade the 15th pick and RW Nino Niederreiter to the Los Angeles Kings for the 57th pick, G Jonathan Bernier and D Keaton Ellerby. The Isles are looking for a goaltender and Bernier is a young guy, ready to play, that could become a stud. Ellerby adds some size to their blueline and they pick up a 2nd round pick. LA gets the #15 pick and a potentially good, young winger that didn’t mesh well with the Islanders organization. This might be a slight overpayment by the Isles, but they get their goaltender of the now and future. Los Angeles Kings – Valentin Zykov – LW/RW – The Kings need help at the wings and select a Russian that scored 40 goals in his first North American season. Zykov is big frame forward that drives the net and battles along the boards. He still has some improvements to make, but the Kings can give him a little time to develop.
16. Buffalo Sabres – Adam Erne – LW – The Sabres went defense with their first selection and go offense with their second 1st round pick. Erne is a solidly built winger that has good wheels, good hands, a quick shot and plays with a little edge. He plays a solid two-way game and while there is some more development to do, he will probably find his way on the NHL roster sooner rather than later.
17. Phoenix Coyotes – Bo Horvat – C – The Yotes added a center in the trade that got them to 17, but go ahead and add another with the pick. Horvat is a three zone center that is built like truck and is really good in the faceoff dot. He has some offense to his game, but will probably be more of a defensive center at the NHL level. He also has a chance of joining the NHL rather soon, which should benefit the Coyotes.
18. Detroit Red Wings – Ryan Pulock – D – The Red Wings have a good number of defensive prospects, but always like to select the top player on their board. Pulock is one of the better offensive defensemen in the draft and has one of the hardest slap shots. He’s a leader, a reliable defender that excels offensively and possesses something that many Wings defensive prospects don’t; a right-handed shot.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets – Frederik Gauthier – C/W – Gauthier could be a home run, but will almost certainly be a player that will get on base, based on his size alone. The Jackets would love to see him develop into a top 6 center, but should at worst be a defensively responsible player that is strong on the puck. He is a project and has areas to work on, but this is a risk/reward pick at 19 for the Jackets.
20. San Jose Sharks – Andre Burakowsky – LW – The Sharks really don’t get a lot of offense out of wingers beyond Patrick Marleau and Joe Pavelski and they don’t have much in the farm system either. Burakowsky is an offensively gifted winger that has all the skills, just needs to put it all together and work on his defensive game. The Sharks are willing to take the risk and hope that he lives up to his potential.
21. The Toronto Maple Leafs trade the 21st pick and D Matthew Finn to the Colorado Avalanche for C Paul Stastny (Avalanche retain $1.6 million in salary). The Leafs get a playmaking center to play beside Phil Kessel. The Avs get rid of one of their centers, who is on an expiring contract, and picks up a decent defensive prospect and a draft pick. Colorado Avalanche – Micro Mueller – D – Beyond the center position, the Avs aren’t very deep anywhere else, but defense is definitely a priority for them. Mueller is a good two-way defenseman with size and skating ability. He will probably take a couple of years to develop, but once he does, the Avs potentially have themselves a top 4 defenseman.
22. Calgary Flames – Josh Morrissey – D – The Flames chose a center with their first pick and go offensive defenseman with their next pick. Morrissey’s skating ability and speed are top notch; he also handles the puck very well and has excellent vision. His shot isn’t great and he needs to improve in his own zone, but even though he isn’t big, he is willing to get physical. He will take some time, but the Flames are in a rebuilding mode.
23. Washington Capitals – Samuel Morin – D – Morin is a huge blueline that has the tools to be a quality shutdown defender at the NHL level. But while he is a decent skater for his size, his skating does need improvement and he needs to add weight to his massive frame. He’ll contribute some on the rush, but he is definitely a defensive defenseman. He is a project that could pan out well for the Caps in a couple of years.
24. Vancouver Canucks – Curtis Lazar – C – Lazar is a do-it-all type of player that can play well in about every situation. He is a strong, quick skater with a quality shot that cycles the puck well and is willing to forecheck. He is a good defensive player that creates turnovers, but will need to add some strength for the NHL. He will probably play somewhere in the top 9 and could eventually center the Nucks checking line.
25. Montreal Canadians – Kerby Rychel – LW – The Habs need to add some grit to their lineup and Rychel does that plus more. Rychel is a gritty power forward that can score goals and has a tremendous work ethic. His competiveness sometimes becomes a detriment, but its tough complaining about passion. If he works on his defensive game and continues getting stronger, he should progress quickly to the NHL.
26. Anaheim Ducks – Ryan Hartman – RW – Anaheim system has a good number of prospects in every position, so they go with the best player available and get a great team player. Hartman is a heart and soul guy that plays a 200 ft skilled, gritty game. He is a power forward that drives the net and crashes the boards, but he is also a good passer and plays hard at both ends of the ice. His biggest weakness his is size, but his work ethic will turn him into a top 9 player.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets – Steve Santini – D – The Jackets have a good amount of young defenseman, but could use another shutdown blueliner. Santini has great patience, instinct and vision, generally making the smart play. He has a big shot, but his game is about defense, not offense. He is a strong player that will get physical, but is just as good positionally and with his stick.
28. The Calgary Flames trade the 28th pick to the Montreal Canadians for the 34th pick and 55th pick. The Flames have three 1st rounders, but no 2nd rounders in a deep draft for a team rebuilding. The Habs identify a player they want and don’t think we’ll be available when they draft next, so they exchange two 2nd rounders for another 1st rounder. Montreal Canadians – Zach Fucale – G – The Habs have a good prospect system, but are lacking quality goaltending prospects. Fucale is considered the best of the bunch and should be given ample time to develop properly. A couple more years of developing, a couple as Carey Price’s understudy and Fucale will hopefully be able to take over the reins in Montreal.
29. Dallas Stars – Robert Hagg – D – Jim Nill goes back to Sweden for his second 1st round pick by selecting the two-way defenseman Robert Hagg. He is a blueliner that has a ton of offensive abilities, but also plays well defensively. He moves well, is adept at carrying the puck and make good passes. He also is good positionally and isn’t afraid of getting physical. He needs to get more consistent and will take some time adjusting to the NHL.
30. Chicago Blackhawks – Madison Bowey – D – Bowey is a complete defensive player that skates well, is good positionally and is willing to throw his body around. He isn’t huge, but uses his size effectively and is a smart player. He works hard, makes quality passes, contributes offensively and keeps his game simple. He will probably take a couple of years before NHL-ready, but his game should translate easily to the highest level.