Here's an update of my shot at the top 10 for the upcoming NHL Draft. This is not what I want to happen but what seems likely. I think the significant debate will be where Larsson lands given the commentary of Tallon and the differing organizational needs. My thoughts are that Tallon likes to deal and if the sens could send him the 6th pick plus a late 2nd rounder and a 3rd rounder he would be willing to move the 3rd overall. Gives us the chance to take Landeskog and him the opportunity to still pick high while guaranteeing a few more prospects come into the fold (Potentially giving him more ammunition to trade up also). Ahh but one can dream...
Here's the top 10 assuming no changes:
Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C. *Burnaby, BC*
It is pretty evident these days that RNH is the consensus #1. The Oilers will bolster a lineup already featuring the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson. Tambellini has pretty well tipped his hand on this one. Very little debate that RNH wont be the #1 overall pick in the coming entry draft.
Colorado Avalanche: Jonathan Huberdeau, C/LW. *St-Jerome, QC*
The Avalanche need wingers and have the center position pretty well covered but luckily for them Huberdeau has played most of the year as a winger. His memorial cup performance and MVP status has raised his profile exponentially and his grit and character are unquestionable. He has cemented himself as a Top 3 contender and I find it difficult to see the Avalanche passing up on the most dynamic offensive talent in the draft.
Florida Panthers: Gabriel Landeskog, RW. *Stockholm, SWE*
The Panthers were originally put down by me to select Adam Larsson. I've since changed my mind after re-evaluating their prospect pool and seeing what GM Tallon has to say about the upcoming draft. "Probably going to go for more speed and skill," said Tallon. "That's one thing we don't have a lot of, offense yet. We're going to look at probably the same character and same traits but probably go with more speed and skill to offset the size we drafted last year.
Considering who is left on the board and who has already been taken, it seems that Tallon would have liked to take an offensive forward who still has character and grit. Huberdeau and Landeskog have both but with Huberdeau off the board Landeskog is the obvious choice.
New Jersey Devils: Sean Couturier, C. *Phoenix, AZ/Bathurst, NB*
The Devils are missing front line scoring in their prospect pool and will not pass up on Couturier. Some have argued that the large center from the QMJHL will enter into the top 3 and others have argued that he will drop due to the perception of a decreased level of play. I see him being selected at #4. He provides scoring punch to a team that has struggled of late and will be a cornerstone of the rebuild going forward. It is a close debate as to whether the Devils will pick Larsson or Couturier but I think Snow will offer NJ some sort of deal to either swap picks or an incentive (3rd rounder etc...) to pass up on Larsson.
New York Islanders: Adam Larsson, D. *Skelleftea, SWE*
The Islanders see themselves taking a cornerstone defender in Adam Larsson. This is a dream come true for Garth Snow to see Larsson fall this far but at this point the evidence adds up. It is a realistic possibility that Larsson is taken by New Jersey so I wouldn't be too much on this particular scenario but either way I feel flipping the picks is all that would occur.
Ottawa Senators: Ryan Strome, C. *Mississauga, ON*
I have been debating significantly over this pick and i'm not necessarily the biggest fan of Strome but I have to say that given Tim Murray's commentary it is evident that they have a list of 5 forwards they want. He indicated that there was only one scenario where they do not get one of their top rated players and that is an unlikely one. The scenario I think he is depicting is where 5 straight forwards are selected. Even then the Senators get Larsson but if that happens I myself would be inclined to trade down because some team would definitely be willing to overpay to get Larsson at #6. There is also debate as to whether it would be best to select Zibandjad in this position, particularly with the Senators success with Swedish prospects. I think that the Senators will select Strome but I will not be terribly shocked to see Zibandjad selected here.
Winnipeg Jets: Dougie Hamilton, D. *Toronto, ON*
The umm... Jets... select the best player remaining at #7 with Dougie Hamilton. Hamilton is a big strong defender who has a wealth of offensive upside also. There are people who would argue in favor of the Jets selecting Mika Zibandjad but I think with this franchise being "new" and looking for impact factor, selecting one of the "good Canadian boys" is a more likely scenario. Especially given Hamilton's size and that he has earned many honors including scholastic player of the year in the OHL.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Ryan Murphy, D. *Aurora, ON*
Columbus has been perpetually in search of a puck-moving defenseman and finally they draft a top-tiered one in Ryan Murphy. He fits the needs of the team so well that it is almost a sure thing if Murphy is still on the board.
Boston Bruins: Jamie Oleksiak, D. *Toronto, ON*
Now the fun begins, the Bruins select Jamie Oleksiak, a very large (6'7) defenseman who is considered to be a long-term project. The Bruins are in need of defensive help in the long term and have offensive prospects with considerable upside already. Oleksiak is a smaller version of Chara who could develop into a monster for the Bruins. I stick with this pick because I am confident the Bruins will pick a defenseman and also because I think that through their experience with Chara they will know how to effectively train a towering defenseman such as Oleksiak. With the best 3 remaining D-men being Beaulieu, Siemens and Oleksiak I think it is tough to see them pass on Oleksiak.
Minnesota Wild: Mika Zibandjad, C. *Stockholm, SWE*
Although it has been argued that Armia would fit in well in Minnesota given their predisposition for Finns, the Wild select Zibandjad as the best remaining forward. The Wild were previously tapped by me to select a smaller forward but with Zibandjad's rise in the rankings and his tenacious nature it is hard to see him escaping the top 10. He is viewed by his coach as being better than Jacob Josefson was at his age and Josefson contributed well for the Devils last year.