This is a piece I have been working on for a couple of days and finally finished it today. It's the final mock I will be doing before the NHL entry draft. It's something do for fun and am by no means a scout. With that being said, I have seen 27 out of my top 30 play.
Also, you must remember this is a mock draft, an opinion of what could happen at the NHL draft next June. It's not necessarily my opinion of who are the better players in comparison to the others. Anyways, here it is.
#1 Edmonton Oilers – C, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
- The Oilers take the consensus best player and player with the highest offensive potential in Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. They still lack size down the middle, but will one day be able to provide smart two way play as well as a dynamic skillset highlighted by elite vision. He is a perfect compliment to the bull-in-a-china shop style of future linemate Taylor Hall. He provides a great two way skillset along with that offensive presence, not backing down physically or not shying away from a defensive matchup. The jury will be out all summer on whether or not the Oilers should play RNH in the NHL next year. I am against it, due to physical reasons more than anything. But I still think he will be there longer than a 9 game tryout.
If they don’t take RNH? Adam Larsson
#2 Colorado Avalanche – LW, Gabriel Landeskog
- The Avalanche have had a set mandate over the last couple of years that have them drafting players known to have character. Landeskog has that, then some. The big Swedish winger plays like a bull in a china shop, has solid hands in tight, isn’t afraid to get dirty, sticks up for teammates, hits, fights and can defend. He does a little bit of everything. He is also likely the most pro-ready player in the entire draft. Some scouts have said that he could have played in the NHL this season, let alone next season. He might not have the highest offensive potential out of the players available to the Avalanche, but they have shown they can be a high scoring team when they need to be. Their biggest issue is grit and true compete level. Landeskog is the way they will go.
If they don’t take Landeskog? Jonathan Huberdeau
#3 Florida Panthers – LW/C, Jonathan Huberdeau
- The weak link for Florida is done the middle. Some will argue for Sean Couturier here, but the Panthers haven’t benefitted from having an elite offensive player since Pavel Bure. Weiss was good, but not a 1st line centre. Horton was good, but his offense never translated like it needed to. Huberdeau is the answer. He plays hard, he plays aggressive, he can play centre or wing and he likely has the 2nd highest offensive potential of any player in this draft. The Panthers need to quit picking safe and need to go for the boom here.
If they don’t take Huberdeau? Sean Couturier
#4 New Jersey Devils – D, Adam Larsson
- The Devils have a number of different options here. They can take a potential first line, two way centre in Couturier. They can take a dynamic offensive player in Strome. Or they can take a stud blueliner to anchor them for the future. That’s what they do at 4. New Jersey hasn’t had a true pedigree set of defenders in quite a few years, since they lost Rafalski, Stevens and Niedermayer in the last handful of years. Larsson is a big, two way defender who will provide offense and defense when he decides to make the jump to North America from Sweden. When will that be? It’s hard to tell, but the Devils will welcome him with open arms.
If they don’t take Larsson? Sean Couturier
#5 New York Islanders – C, Sean Couturier
- SC is the big wild card in this draft. I could see the Avalanche taking him 2nd. I could also see him sliding as far as 7th overall. I think team needs should be taken into account here. The Isles have a large number of intriguing blueline prospects making their way up the pipeline. What they have lacked is a steady group of forwards behind players like Tavares and Moulson. Josh Bailey has improved much slower than expected and that’s a big reason why they take the big centre here. Couturier can do it at both ends of the ice, provide offense or play defense in a mold similar to a combo of Jordan and Eric Staal. He will likely start next season as the Isles 3rd line centre, eventually slotting in as their number two pivot down the road.
If they don’t take Couturier? Dougie Hamilton
#6 Ottawa Senators – C, Ryan Strome
- The league’s 2nd lowest scoring team this season also has a large number of highly talented blueliners in the system. That to me means they are taking a forward with this pick. Ryan Strome is a good fit to play centre down the line behind Spezza. He’s shifty, speedy, dynamic and has a pro shot with a great release. He won’t be pro ready for atleast a pair of seasons and the Sens don’t necessarily have a ton of time to wait around, but they will slowly phase in some of their other prospects on the back end before a guy like Strome is NHL ready.
If they don’t take Strome? Mika Zibanejad
#7 Winnipeg Thrashers – D, Dougie Hamilton
- Ideally, I think the Jets would be more suited to take a centre at this spot but I don’t think you can pass on a guy like Hamilton at 7th overall. There isn’t one centre that I think truly jumps out at me that would fit them to be taken this early either. Hamilton is a horse of a blueliner that has a strong skating stride mixed with a nice blend of size and offensive and defensive abilities. With this pick they will really be putting together an impressive package of defenders.
If they don’t take Hamilton? Mark Schiefele
#8 Columbus Blue Jackets – D, Ryan Murphy
- There isn’t a player that fits a team need more than the Jackets taking Murphy at 8. The guy is the most talented offensive defenseman prospect in the last several years. His size is a concern, but his defensive play did show strong growth this season compared to last. That will need to continue. Frankly, I have concerns that much of the stuff he does on a game to game basis won’t translate to the next level, but he’s so highly thought of because he’s so creative and adaptable. He will have a role as a PP QB in the NHL at some point. Let’s just hope the Jackets don’t rush him like they have countless times with other young players.
If they don’t take Murphy? Mark McNeill
#9 Boston Bruins – D, Nathan Beaulieu
- Nathan Beaulieu provides a very solid package of size, skating ability and two way play. With the amount of depth the Bruins have on offense, they take a defenseman with this pick. I originally had Sven Bartschi going here, but with the emergence of a player like Brad Marchand, that immediate need of scoring from the wing isn’t as pressing. Beaulieu still has some flaws in regards to defensive coverage and consistency so the Bruins won’t have any reason to rush this kid to the spotlight.
If they don’t take Beaulieu? Joe Morrow
#10 Minnesota Wild – LW, Sven Bartschi
- Scoring has always been an issue in Minnesota. That fact has shone through more than ever now that the club is lacking franchise scoring leader Marian Gaborik, who is now on Broadway. Offense and compete is the goal here as they go with Swiss-sniper Sven Bartschi from the Portland Winterhawks. He’s not big, but he plays big. He also is a committed defensive player. Mikael Granlund will provide a good 2nd option down the middle for the Wild within the next two years and ultimately they could opt for more size, but to me Bartschi provides a few roles that some other players won’t at this spot in the draft.
If they don’t take Bartschi? Joel Armia
#11 Colorado Avalanche – D, Duncan Siemens
- The Avs are spoiled by having two picks in the top 11 of the 2011 NHL draft. It’s a big chance for them to add to their prospect pool. These two picks will also create an interesting dynamic. I would hope (I’m an Avs fan) that if they go with a FW at #2, they take a D here and if they take a D at #2, they take a FW here. So, with that philosophy in mind, they take a big, bruising blueliner in Duncan Siemens at the 11th spot. Siemens is 6’3 and skates like the wind. He makes a strong first pass, will stand up for any teammate in a scrap and has very strong leadership capabilities. He also fills a massively huge organizational need for Colorado.
If they don’t take Siemens? Mika Zibanejad
#12 Carolina Hurricanes – RW, Joel Armia
- You can’t teach size and a knack for scoring goals. Armia has both. The Canes can use both. Not only that, but they seem to enjoy Finnish players. To me, I could see Armia going much higher than this spot. He’s a big body that moves well for the most part and has one of the best shots in the draft. Carolina will gladly add a player like this to their roster.
If they don’t take Armia? Mika Zibanejad
#13 Calgary Flames – C, Mark McNeill
- Another one of those players that could go as high as 7th or 8th, but I think he’s the perfect fit in the middle of the first to the Flames. He plays a style of game that truly fits the organization as well. A big rugged centre that has very underrated vision, he’s great on the forecheck and can win a draw in a clutch moment. He’s also been known to play the point on the PP in Prince Albert, showing that he is truly a versatile player. The Flames are in a great spot at 13th, being able to snag a player that might ‘slip’ a bit.
If they don’t take McNeill? Mark Schiefele
#14 Dallas Stars – C, Mika Zibanejad
- This guy is one of most interesting players of the draft. I could see him going anywhere from 5-20. I like his all around game, his size, scoring ability and his (not overpowering) physical game. His skating might be a bit of a concern, but with work it won’t hold him back. The Stars might have some longterm questions down the middle in their lineup and Z is a guy that will fit on either their 2nd or 3rd line somewhere down the line.
If they don’t take Zibanejad? Mark Schiefele
#15 New York Rangers – C, JT Miller
- Miller fits the type of player the Rangers seem to like. He’s big, he skates fairly well, he’s got underrated offensive skills and he has worked his way through the American junior system. There might be concern in regards to his offensive ability translating, but a strong under 18 tournament should have alleviated some of those. A true boom or bust type of player for the blueshirts in round 1.
If they don’t take Miller? Alexander Khokhlachev
#16 Buffalo Sabres – C, Mark Schiefele
- The Sabres have battled with size and depth down the middle of their lineup for years. They finally have some prospects with grit and size making their way through the pipeline in Luke Adam, Marcus Foligno and Zack Kassian but none of those guys have the skill level of Mark Schiefele. Scouts raved about his under 18 tournament for Canada and confirmed that this guy is the real deal. A two way player that can dish the puck and bury it with some space.
If they don’t take Schiefele? Nicklas Jensen
#17 Montreal Canadiens – D, Joe Morrow
- The Canadiens make it back to back years that they take defenseman in the 1st round after snagging Jarred Tinordi last year. Morrow is one of the blueliners that could shock people as to where he goes in the draft. He’s a big body that skates very well and looks similar on the ice to Duncan Keith. He can QB a PP and will be known more as a two way defender as opposed to being dominant at either end of the ice. Montreal might not have a ton of size up front, but they still know you win a championship with a strong defensive core first and foremost.
If they don’t take Morrow? Jonas Brodin
#18 Chicago Blackhawks – LW, Matt Puempel
- The Blackhawks go with one of the purest snipers in this year’s draft. Coming into this season, the 2010 OHL Rookie of the Year had a ton of hype around him. An up and down season was capped off with some minor hip surgery for Puempel. For me, I still love his instincts and hope the Avs look long and hard at him for the 11th pick. The Hawks get a great player here that will look nice in their top six in a few seasons.
If they don’t take Puempel? Jamie Oleksiak
#19 Edmonton Oilers – D, Oscar Klefbom
- There haven’t been too many players glide into the spotlight late in the season like Klefbom. He captained Sweden’s team at the under 18’s and is a unique blend of size and all around ability. He takes the bull by the horns as a defenseman and isn’t afraid to join the rush or smash someone through the boards in his own zone. Scouts have knocked that about him, that he tends to run around a bit instead of playing his position. But, I’ve always said I’d rather have to tame a player as opposed to continuing to remind a player to be aggressive. A nice project pick for the Oilers here.
If they don’t take Klefbom? David Musil
#20 Phoenix Coyotes – LW, Dmitri Jaskin
- The Coyotes haven’t exactly had a ton of success when it comes to drafting and developing European players. But, they go back to the well with Jaskin. The big Czech is aggressive in going to the net and has arguably the best shot of anyone in the draft. The best part about his game is the fact that he doesn’t lack motivation. He’s got a high motor to go with his large frame and that could be a deadly combo for the Yotes’ opposition.
If they don’t take Jaskin? Boone Jenner
#21 Ottawa Senators – LW/RW, Nicklas Jensen
- Injuries decimated the Sens last year and totally robbed them of their offense. Once again, with a massive group of solid blueliners (Cowen, Rundblad) expected to make a big pro jump next fall the Sens decide to go for talent. Nicklas Jensen is a big man with a smooth stride and very slick offensive abilities. He can be compared to a left handed, poor man’s Kovalchuk. A late-season surge by the Sens won’t be as frowned upon come June when they walk away with two amazing prospects in Strome and Jensen.
If they don’t take Jensen? Boone Jenner
#22 Anaheim Ducks – D, Jonas Brodin
- Another mystery player to many North American fans is Brodin. If his Swedish country-man Klefbom is the dynamic defender, this guy is the calm and subdued one. He’s got solid size at 6’1, is a slick skater and is known to make an excellent first pass. That type of mobility makes him very attractive to NHL teams and Brodin could be one of those guys that slides into a top 12 or 15. The Ducks have a number of intriguing prospect up front in Emerson Etem, Peter Holland and Devante Smith-Pelly and are glad to add another high end blueliner to their group.
If they don’t take Brodin? Jamie Oleksiak
#23 Pittsburgh Penguins – LW, Brandon Saad
- Saad was a guy that was expected to be a much higher pick than this. He made the trip to the OHL from the US and put together a strong season. He has the body of a power forward without the true drive of one. He’s got great hands and scores a ton of goals from the hashmarks in. He’s also shown that he can be a committed defensive player. Scouts want to see him get dirty on a more consistent basis. The Pens are very pleased to add this Pennsylvania native to their prospect pool.
If they don’t take Saad? Stefan Noesen
#24 Detroit Red Wings – FW, Rocco Grimaldi
- If Grimaldi was 3 inches taller, he’d be a top 5 pick. That’s the common saying thrown around on this guy. He’s smaller than small at 5’6 but he has arguably the best offensive skills of any player available. This kid is also a big time Red Wing fan and they are happy to role the dice with him and hope he turns into the next Martin St. Louis.
If they don’t take Grimaldi? Brett Ritchie
#25 Toronto Maple Leafs – D, Jamie Oleksiak
- Size and strength, without sacrificing mobility, is the big thing about this 6’7 monster. The Leafs are happy to grab this kid who could end up being similar to a Tyler Myers if all the stars align. Personally, I think the Leafs need to take a safer approach to the draft and avoid projects, but this is a mock and not a personal ranking! The Leafs have done a great job rebuilding their blueline piece by piece and we all know that Brian Burke loves big strong kids, especially Americans….maybe to a fault.
If they don’t take Oleksiak? Boone Jenner
#26 Washington Capitals – C, Boone Jenner
- The Capitals play this season finally showed that they can slow things down and play some defense. That philosophy translates to their draft table as they pass up high end talent for a solid two way player in Jenner. This kid skates like a car wreck in slow motion, but he still gets the job down. He’s also got leadership skills and could very well be a fine replacement for Brooks Laich as a leader on the Capitals if he leaves via free agency.
If they don’t take Jenner? Tomas Jurco
#27 Tampa Bay Lightning – D, Scott Mayfield
- There were concerns over Mayfield as the year went as he was stuck on a bad USHL team. Some people may have thought his play stagnated as the year went on. Either way, he’s a strong skater and plays with an edge, registering over 150 PIM’s this season. The Lightning have some strong pieces up front in regards to prospects (Asthon, Connolly) and are happy to grab a solid two way defender with good size.
If they don’t take Mayfield? Connor Murphy
#28 San Jose Sharks – D, David Musil
- I always have a tough time picking what the Sharks might do when drafts roll around. Do they address the defense or the forwards? Last year they hit a homerun (in my opinion) with Charlie Coyle at 28th overall. This year at 28, they try and do the same thing on the blueline by adding a safe player in Musil. The big blueliner is likely one of the most NHL ready blueliners out of this draft. He moves well for his size, blocks shots and can make a solid first pass. The Sharks don’t have a ton of high end skill in regards to forward prospects, so I wouldn’t be shocked at all if they took a flyer on someone like Zack Phillips, Tomas Jurco, Ty Rattie or Alexander Khokhlachev.
If they don’t take Musil? Ty Rattie
#29 Toronto Maple Leaf – RW, Tyler Biggs
- The Toronto Maple Leafs are more than happy to add a player who plays similarly to Kings captain Dustin Brown. Biggs hits like a truck, drops the gloves and has a hard clapper. Questions have been raised about his overall skill level and that could very well be valid. The way I see it, if Biggs works out you have a 2nd round winger who does it all. If his offensive game doesn’t round out and excel, you have someone that can find a role and provide leadership on the bottom two lines.
If they don’t take Biggs? Daniel Catenacci
#30 Vancouver Canucks – RW, Stefan Noesen
- The Stanley Cup champs are more than pleased to add more size and skill to their top six in Stefan Noesen. Personally, I like this guy a lot more than a 30th overall pick. He provides a nice blend of speed, size, physical play and offense. The Canucks won’t need to rush this kid along, even if he is further along than most players his age, already being noted for his great defensive play.
If they don’t take Noesen? Tomas Jurco
Other Notables To Consider:
Daniel Catenacci – This skilled winger has blazing speed and a solid nose for the net. Think Darren Helm.
Tomas Jurco – I could see a team grabbing this guy early as he has some of the best hands of the draft. Consistency has been a concern.
Ty Rattie – Smart two way player with excellent vision but his skating could use work. Patrick Sharp is a solid comparable.
Richard Rakell – The Swede has good size and plays a solid two way game. I have concerns about his overall offensive game translating to the next level.
Vlad Namestnikov – A skilled and dynamic Russian that competes and plays a two way game. A darkhorse to go in the 20’s of round 1.
Seth Ambroz – Was highly touted coming into 2010-2011, but this power forward suffered a power outage as his skating continues to hold him back.
Zack Phillips – Has a nose for the net and offensive touch that you can’t teach. If a team can see past his skating he could be a top 15 pick.
Alexander Khoklachev – More dynamic and flashy than Namestnikov, but he’s small and isn’t as good defensively.
John Gibson – My top goalie available. The big American has future #1 potential and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a team snag him late in round 1.
Victor Rask – Arguably top 10 skill, but not enough compete and a bad attitude have plagued him all year. Watch the Wings snag him in the first….
Phillip Danault – 17 year old captains don’t come along often, but he was one. Good grit and solid offense for this Frenchman.
Brett Ritchie – An up and down year but I could see him doubling his production next year in Sarnia. One of my top sleepers.
Ryan Sproul – Another darkhorse of a blueliner that reminds some of Alex Pietrangelo. He’s big, he’s rangy and he moves better than most his size.
Connor Murphy – A dynamite two way defender with great size who played for the US National team this year. Son of former NHLer Gord Murphy.
Nikita Kucherov – Tore up the scoreboard at the under 18’s, but he’s not the biggest guy and teams are shying away from Russians more and more.
Joel Edmundson – A big, strong, defense-first defenseman who plays with the Moose Jaw Warriors. He uses his reach well and isn’t afraid to punch someone’s face.
Myles Bell – An offseason car accident has put this defenseman’s future up in the air. Before that, he was considered a high end offensive prospect.
Mario Lucia – Arguably the top high school player available this year. Good size for the forward who should be a good defensive player.
Chris Gibson – The Finn is likely the 2nd best goalie available in the draft and should be grabbed shortly after the first goalie goes off the board.
Adam Clendening – A dynamite offensive blueliner who was the highest scoring freshman blueliner with Boston University this year.