Everybody like the weird technological, geeky title writing? I sure did. Anyways, it seems like a long time since I wrote here, but with life interfering all the time there was no time left. I've gotten a new job in what I am specialized to do, so I'm settling into that. I've closely watched the NHL Playoffs, andsomehow find myself cheering for the Vancouver Canucks. Not because of the Swedish connection, but hey, the group reminds me too much of the previous hey-days of the Ottawa Senators. Wouldn't have a problem with them winning it all. And I know how much you guys in Canada want your Cup back. Too bad you won't, since the world is going to end tomorrow...
But I'm coming out with my first mock draft of the year. I usually like to do 2 of them, one during the NHL Conference finals and one the week before the Draft, which is getting closer and closer to us. There's been some huge risers lately, including Oscar Klefbom, who I hope to write about in a future post. I won't make any trades in this draft, and I'll give the final two spots to the teams that are winning their series' now, and 30th to the Nucks since they won the Presidents Trophy. Here we go...
1: Edmonton Oilers select...Adam Larsson, D
Didn't you realize I would take Larsson first overall? Obviously. Well, the old adage is that offense sells tickets, defense wins championships. The Oil have already great building blocks, andanother one here with Larsson. I've seen Adam live for the past two years, and I can't help but see Ray Bourque in this kid. He's got speed, size, skill, and a future captaincy in him. Edmonton doesn't have defense for shit, andthis guy starts it all. Don't look fast, but the Oil could contend for the playoffs next season and will soon be Stanley Cup contenders.
2: Colorado Avalanche select...Gabriel Landeskog, W
Yes, I know, two Swedes in the Top 2. But this isn't my biased opinion here. If Larsson is gone 1st, Lando is the perfect pick here for the Avs. A glut full of centres in the Mile High, they need sandpaper and skill on the wing. Landeskog provides all that andhas a bevy of a shot. Colorado is well-known with Swedes, and one of their draft guys and former GM Pierre Lacroix loves Euros. Pick makes sense, and Sens Nation's heart is broken.
3: Florida Panthers select...Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C
RNH falls a bit here, but only because I'm a bit conerned with his size. Hopkins has great vision, skill, andhis play withthe puck is wizardly-like. The Southeast is loaded with great Number One centres, and for Dale Tallon to make his team competitive, needs to get one here and who better than the offensive dynamo from Red Deer. Where he gets picked all lies on how he does at the Combine, I think. But Top 3 should be guaranteed.
4: New Jersey Devils select...Sean Couturier, C
This is a pick that I am so sure will be traded, possibly to the Sens. Lou Lamoriello always loves trading down, and it makes sense here. However, Coutsis a great pick here for the Devils. They need a big guy up front to play with Zach Parise. Sean's draft stock has fallen a bit but don't be so quick. I have a feeling this kid's going to be special but another year in the Q would be beneficial.
This is the pick that makes the most sense out of this mock draft. The Isles NEED offense from defense. Look how much they suffered in missing Mark Streit. Murphy is smooth skater and his PP skills are something only the greats have. They have Tavares, Okposo, Bailey, Niederreiter, and Joensuuto build around up front. Add in 09 pick Travis Hamonic and Murphy and they could become a solid team once again.
6: Ottawa Senators select...Ryan Strome, C
Ahhh, the penultimate Ottawa Sens pick. I think it's clear and cut that unless Larsson magically drops here, this pick is going be a forward. And even though Jon Huberdeau is available here, Ottawa will take Strome. Once again, size is a matter. But in today's NHL, it isn't as much of a factor as it has been before. According to various sources on the internet, scouts for the Sens love Strome. Ryan's got that knack from what I've watched of him to always be on the puck, andalways be involved in the play. Looks like a perfect N.2 centre with Jason Spezza, therefore I take him here.
7. Winntlanta Thrashets select...Jonathan Huberdeau, C
Where the Trash play next year, Huberdeau is a great pick here. Falls off a bit since I do believe his stats may be skewed due to the fact that he plays in the QMJHL, an offense-first league. We talked about how the southeast has great centres, well Winntlanta gets theirs in Jon. Slick play-maker who plays great on special teams. He's the ultimate wild-card of the draft in my mind. Sounds like a Jacques Martin type of player, and Craig Ramsay has been known to love that. And seriously, they should name the team that.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets select...Nathan Beaulieu, D
The Jackets are another team here who need a power-play QB and offense from their defense. Nathan's the pick here, since he's been running to Saint John PP almost to perfection in the past couple of years. Maybe a bit of a project, and Columbus certainly can wait. They've been waiting for 11 years now...
9. Boston Bruins select...Dougie Hamilton, D
Another pick that Gary Bettman may announce a trade on Draft Day. Hamilton'sa big beast, with great skating abilities. Good offensive game as well, but from I've seen his forte is in his own end. The scary thing is that he would learn from the best big man in the league andis likely the second-most NHL-ready defenseman in this draft. I would pay money if his goal song was Teach Me How to Dougie. This pick is from the Toronto courtesy of Philler Kessel.
10. Minnesota Wild select...Joel Armia, W
Bastards took Finn Mikael Granlund last year, so now I say they take another Finn to play alongside Miikko andMikael in Minny for years to come. Big, hard-nosed winger with solid size and a knack for the net. The Wild don;t have much of those. Possibly a Johan Franzen in the making.
11. Colorado Avalanche select...Duncan Siemens, D
Another big D who plays big minutes and stepped up big time lats year in the WHL. Colorado can take a D here since they took Gabriel 2nd overall. Another young team that could turn heads next season if things go right. This pick was acquired from St.Louis in the Erik Johnson deal.
12. Carolina Hurricanes select...Mika Zibanejad, C
Imagine another centre in Carolina. It happens, since Jim Rutherford loves taking forwards and hates taking defensemen. Mika's got great potential and could become a Henrik Zetterbeg-type of player. Good defensive zone player and slick with the puck.
13. Calgary Flames select...Sven Bartschi, W
Another Swiss gets taken in the first round. Bartschiplayed with a lethal offense in Portland this past year, and his awareness on the ice is top-notch. Very competitive, from what I have read. For the Flames to get back on track, they need offense up front. Jarome can't handle it all anymore.
14. Dallas Stars select...Jonas Brodin, D
A bit of a reach here, but I'm firmly planted in my idea that Brodin is something special. Dallas hasn't had that game-changing defenseman in quite a while, and I believe they grab one here in Brodin.
15. New York Rangers select...Mark McNeill, C
Without a doubt this is a Glen Sather type of guy. Big-body, huge on the lean meat, and very skilled. McNeill may need some years to develop, but the Rags take a risk here that could pay dividends in the years to come.
16. Buffalo Sabres select...Mark Scheifele, C
Buffaslugs need a centre to play a puck-possessiongame with their big-bodied wingers. Mark's a guy that make crack the Top 10 come June 24th, but right now I'll keep him the mid 10's. good size and strength with great first passes and a knack for finding his team-mates quickly.
17. Montreal Canadiens select...Tyler Biggs, W
His name says it all. The Habs continue their onslaught of Americanos, and a winger with a big body and solid speed is just what the doctor ordered. The Ghost strikes again.
18. Chicago Blackhawks select...Vlad Namestnikov, W
Another reach, as their loss to Canucksin the first round showed they miss some of the skill they gave away after the Cup win. Vlad'sskill is well known, but the Russia factor will hang around him. The Bowmans like Russians, andtake a gamble here with the slick offensive shooter.
19. Edmonton Oilers select...Rocco Grimaldi, W
By this point the Draft starts becoming a crapshoot. So Steve Tambellini might as well take the highly-skilled yet diminutive Grimaldi here. Great skills and his shot is seeing-eye. Some will bring up his size (which is 5'6), but I say bull to that. Look at Martin St.Louis, Nathan Gerbe, Jeff Skinner, etc. Well worth the shot here. Pick's orginally LA's but stolen by Edmonton in the Dustin Penner deal.
20. Phoenix Coyotes select...Oscar Klefbom, D
Another D taken by the young Yotes, and Oscar'sperfect here. Smooth skater andstrong with the puck, he, Ekman-Larsson, and Gormley along withextreme point-getter Keith Yandle will shore up Phoenix's blueline for quite a long time.
21. Ottawa Senators select...David Musil, D
Yay! Another Sens pick! Likely going to trade up, but not in this draft! I would want Brodin here, but it looks like he may go before this. Musil'sa big-body D who has underrated offensive skills. Needs time to develop but with Ottawa's stock on D they can wait. Pick taken from Smashville in the Carrie Underwood trade.
22. Anaheim Ducks select...Jamie Oleksiak, D
Oleksiak falls just because he doesn't have a higher ceiling that most of the D prospects likely to be taken i nthefirst round. However, Jamie's a huge guy from his age and strong positional play makes grown men cry (not recorded?). Limited offensive potential, but Anaheim's need for defensive defenseman makes this pick logical.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins select...JT Miller, W
Ray Sherois a wizard at the Draft. He takes a young American who is a project but his ceiling is great. Good two-way player with solid hands and really makes a name for himself on the ice.
24. Detroit Red Wings select...Dmitrij Jaskin, W
This is going for broke here, but Detroit is so fine-tuned in every position that this could be anyone. But a hunch tells me it might be Jaskin. Good player who great potential, whether or not he will take time to come to the NHL is a question but the Detroit scouting staff sure do love their Euros.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs select...Zack Phillips, C
Obviously I'm giving them the crappy pick cause I hate the Leafs. All kidding aside, Phillips is a wonderful player with good skill and great speed, and a truculent centre that Brian Burkie loves. From Philly in the Kris Versteeg smashzzle.
26. Washington Capitals select...Connor Murphy, D
Big D with good potential as a shutdown D-Man, something the Caps long for. They clearly need those type of players.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning select...Scott Mayfield, D
Safe D-Man with great coverage in his own zone and likes to rough it up a bit. Although their good run, Tampa needs some D with this pick, which isn't determined yet because of the ongoing NHL Playoffs.
28. San Jose Sharks select...Brandon Saad, W
Falls big-time in the draft because of questions on his defensive play. Great skill, good puck movement yet I wouldn't be surprised if he falls on Draft Night. Another undetermined pick.
29. Toronto Maple Leafs select...Mike McKee, D
Off-the-board here, but from I have read, McKee is a solid d-man with good shot-blocking abilities, guiding the PK and leadership in the locker-room. Leafs need that. And no, Toronto did not make the Cup Final, this is their pick from Boston in the Tom Kaberle trade, still to be determined.
30. Vancouver Canucks select...Alex Khloklachev (sp?), W
Hey, congrats Nucks fans, you guys have won the Cup! Too bad it's some Swedish poster'srandom order of the last four picks! Van City has depth everywhere, so why not take a bit of a faller in Khoklachevwho has a bounty of skill with his bullet of a shot and slick play-making, but could fall because of, oh yeah, he's a Ruskie. Had a great U18 tourney.
After looking it over, I realize I've made a few odd picks. Matt Puempel falls out because of injury concerns, and so do Nicklas Jensen, Ty Rattie, and Victor Rask because, um, wait, I have no clue. Either way, it's still a bit early, and most of this will change. We shall see, folks. Buh-bye folks, from Skelleftea!