You may have been following along with the Fansided Mock Draft on our main NHL site, Too Many Men On The Site, where the sites on the network selected for their teams. Here, I will offer my take on what might happen this Friday night, keeping in mind that one team can throw a wrench into the whole proceedings with a trade or a pick off the board, which makes the night exciting but very random. So here is my attempt to predict the unpredictable.
1. Edmonton Oilers – Adam Larsson – The Oilers need the defensive presence to go along with their burgeoning collection of young forwards. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins will be very tempting, but to win a Stanley Cup, you need to have an elite defenseman capable of eating up 30 minutes on occasion. The Oilers do not have that element right now, and Larsson could be that man in a few years.
2. Colorado Avalanche – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Despite the young depth at centre in Colorado, Nugent-Hopkins is described as a franchise player and will be too good to pass up at #2. Has the vision and playmaking ability to be a superstar in the NHL.
3. Florida Panthers – Gabriel Landeskog – Landeskog already has NHL size and compete level. With the Panthers looking for help everywhere, Landeskog will step in right away to a prominent role in all aspects of the Florida game plan.
4. New Jersey Devils – Dougie Hamilton – The Devils are hurting on the blue line, and Hamilton is a big, mobile defenseman who has offensive upside and can also be a shutdown defensive presence.
5. New York Islanders – Jonathan Huberdeau – His stock has risen in the past month with his playoff and Memorial Cup performances. Huberdeau will join Tavares to start the development of a solid nucleus on Long Island.
6. Ottawa Senators - Sean Couturier – Has size, skill and head to be a top level player. Was the #1 prospect entering the season. A bout with mono following the World Juniors slowed his progression in the second half and dropped his ranking somewhat, as has his pre-season #1 status. Scouts tend to pick apart a player’s game more with that status.
7. Winnipeg ______ – Ryan Strome - The franchise formerly known as the Thrashers can use help up the middle, and Strome has the skill set to help them get over the hump, perhaps not next year, but down the road.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets – Mika Zibanejad – The Swede’s stock is rising and could easily be taken up to 4 spots earlier. Will be a positive addition to the core of forwards the Columbus is putting together. Along with Derrick Brassard and Ryan Johansen, the Jackets will be set up the middle for years. Don’t expect Zibanejad to be in Columbus next year however.
9. Boston Bruins (via Toronto Maple Leafs) – Ryan Murphy – Boston is yearning for Murphy to step in and be the player that they thought they were getting in Tomas Kaberle. Murphy is a offensive dynamo that will take time to learn how to play in his own end, similar to Erik Karlsson.
10. Minnesota Wild – Nathan Beaulieu – Smooth is the word to describe the talented defenseman. He won’t blow you away physically but he is smart and a good puck mover. Will bring some offensive flair to the Wild blue line, and will be able to step in to replace Marek Zidlicky as a go-to guy in 2-3 years.
11. Colorado Avalanche (via St. Louis Blues) – Jonas Brodin - After addressing the forward ranks at #2, the Avs can focus on the blue line with this pick. The second of three Swedish blueliners expected to go in the first round. Brodin could be the best all-around of the three. Will provide offensive support and a defensive stopper.
12. Carolina Hurricanes – Sven Bartschi - If he develops some consistency, Bartschi could be a dynamic offensive presence. If he doesn’t he could be the next Rob Schremp, who will struggle to find a full time NHL job. The Swiss native put up good numbers with a good WHL team in Portland.
13. Calgary Flames – Zack Phillips - The Flames haven’t had a number one centre since Joe Nieuwendyk. Phillips could eventually fill that hole, but unfortunately it might be too late for Jarome Iginla to benefit from his full potential.
14. Dallas Stars – Mark MacNeill - Maybe the closest comparison to MacNeill is Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk himself. MacNeill had the misfortune (or is it benefit?) of playing on a bad Prince Albert team that allowed him to be the man and play a ton in all situations.
15. New York Rangers – Jamie Oleksiak - The towering defenseman will take time to develop, but in the long run it would be tough for the Rangers to pass up on this combination of size and potential.
That is the first half of the first round. Check back tomorrow for the 2nd half, which will feature another Ottawa Senators selection at #21.
Thanks for reading and as always, comments are welcomed.
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Tags: Adam Larsson Boston Bruins Calgary Flames Carolina Hurricanes Colorado Avalanche Columbus Blue Jackets Dalla Stars Doug Hamilton Florida Panthers Gabriel Landeskog Jamie Oleksiak Jonas Brodin Jonathan Huberdeau Mark MacNeill Mika Zibanejad Minnesota Wild Nathan Beaulieu New Jersey Devils New York Islanders New York Rangers NHL Mock Draft Ottawa Senators Ryan Murphy Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Ryan Strome Sean Couturier Sven Bartschi Tim Murray Winnipeg Zack Phillips