As the first half of the first round of the NHL Draft comes to an end, teams started projections and preparing for the future as these players will not make an immediate impact in the NHL.
The Nashville Predators used the #11 pick on Swedish junior player Kevin Fiala. He is a good skater, and has offensive potential that is much needed in Nashville, but his contribution is probably a couple of years away as he needs to develop size and strength for the rigors of the NHL grind. The Predators addressed some of the offensive punch by acquiring James Neal moments earlier, and that will help the present while Fiala represents the future.
The Arizona Coyotes (yes they are no longer just Phoenix’ Coyotes) picked Niagara IceDogs winger Brendan Perlini. He is a fast riser in the draft but is a project for the future, still needing to refine his skills and get more consistency.
The Capitals selected Jakub Vrana from the Czech Republic with the #13 selection. He has an NHL shot, but his skating ability is in question, but he wouldn’t be the first goal scorer who could make up for lack of foot speed with hockey sense and positioning.
Dallas held the #14 pick, and they chose Julius Honka, a puck moving defenseman from the Swift Current Broncos of the WHL. He is comparable to Erik Karlsson in size and speed, but doesn’t have the Karlsson shot. He is a Finnish blue liner who has played one season in the WHL.
At pick #15, the Detroit Red Wings opted to pick Dylan Larkin, who will be attending Michigan University. It is the Red Wings tradition to go slowly with their prospects, and they will be able to keep close tabs on him while he develops. He is a good two-way forward who has offensive upside and will fit in nicely with the Detroit philosophy.
Check back for picks 16-20 soon.