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@RossyYoungblood’s 2014 NHL Mock Draft

 

2014 NHL Entry Draft

 

  • Not-so-Bold Predictions:
    • Florida trades the 1st overall selection swapping spots with one of the Canadian teams in Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks or Toronto Maple Leafs
    • In general, trading should be on the rise in 2014 with many teams looking to get “their” targeted player in a crop that’s fairly tightly packed together (and consequently, difficult to project who goes where). Trading up will ensure teams get their guy.

 

  • 3 Potential Draft Fallers:
    • Sam Bennett – NHL CSS’ top ranking of Bennett could be a curse. He’s certainly got the skill to go 1st overall but both Aaron Ekblad and Sam Reinhart have promising potentials as well. In addition, their playing styles are easy to project into the NHL and that might give them an edge in a group that’s tightly packed. Mix in big skilled forwards Leon Draisaitl, Michael Dal Colle and Nick Ritchie (who is considered #1 by some NHL scouts) and Bennett may slide further than people expect.
    • Brendan Perlini – A hot start to his draft season was promising but fizzling down the stretch sticks in scouts’ minds didn’t help IceDogs’ winger Brendan Perlini. He remained a Top 10 prospect throughout the season but the concerns about his competitiveness are legitimate and he could slide into double digits.
    • Tony DeAngelo – Publicly discussed and debated, Tony DeAngelo’s troubles on the ice and off the ice have been a hot topic throughout the season and that has left a sour taste in scouts’ mouths. Despite rumoured strong interviews at the NHL Draft Combine, there are just some scouts who just won’t risk a 1st round pick on a defenseman who is one dimensional and has some red flags. DeAngelo is the most interesting storyline, in my opinion, at the 2014 NHL Draft. Personally, I want to see him selected well and prove that these were all overstated “troubles”. In the end, the gifted offensive defenseman could end up being selected anywhere from 10th to 75th overall.

 

  • 3 Potential Draft Risers:
    • Dominik Masin – Not an overly familiar name in North America, Czech defenseman Dominik Masin receives rave reviews from those who have followed him this season. He captained his nation to a silver medal at the Under-18 World Championships and showed that he can log huge minutes in both offensive and defensive situations. Don’t be shocked to see him scooped up inside the opening round.
    • Sonny Milano – Largely considered a mid-to-late 1st round selection, American Sonny Milano could be considered a “riser” if he creeps inside the Top 15. He is a wizard with the puck and in a draft class that’s fairly wide open after the opening 8-9 picks, Milano could get snatched up quickly by a team who values his game-breaking abilities.
    • Travis Sanheim – Calgary Hitmen defenseman Travis Sanheim elevated his game down the stretch and his performance at the Under-18 World Championships was nothing short of outstanding, lifting him into first round consideration. Sanheim could hear his name called any time after the Top 10, especially in a relatively weak defensive crop at the top of the draft

 

  • Sleepers to Watch: Jaden Lindo, Dylan Sadowy, Jake Walman, Louis Belpedio, Josh Wesley, Ryan Foss

 

  • Valuable Long-term Investments (Project Picks): Ryan MacInnis, Eric Cornel, Brett Pollock, Nicolas Aube-Kubel, Brycen Martin, Jacob Middleton

 

  • Rossy’s Favourite Draft Prospects Team: 
  • Just  some of my favourite prospects heading into the 2014 NHL Draft that I have enjoyed following or watching. Most of these players I have been high on dating back to last year (especially the forward trio)

Nick Ritchie (LW) – Robby Fabbri (C) – Nikolay Goldobin (RW)

Travis Sanheim (LD) – Julius Honka (RD)

Brandon Halverson (G)

 

  • The Coaches Choice Team:
    • Players who provide an element found on championship teams

John Quenneville (LW) – Conner Bleackley (C) – Brendan Lemieux (LW/RW)

Dominik Masin (LD) – Josh Jacobs (RD)

Alex Nedeljkovic (G)

  • Draft Eligible Wildcard Team (Boom/Bust):

                            Vladimir Tkachyov (LW) – Nikolay Goldobin (C) – Josh Ho-Sang (RW)

Joe Hicketts (LD) – Tony DeAngelo (RD)

Julio Billia (G)

Notes About the Analysis:

Alternative Option – This subsection provides one or two logical player options for the team under analysis to consider (within a reasonable projectable draft slot)

Rossy’s Ideal Target – I give the one prospect (within a reasonable projectable range) that each franchise should be targeting. Trading up or down is not an option with this scenario and occasionally, the player picked in the mock draft is the same ideal target.

 

1st Round

 

Aaron Ekblad (OHL Images)

Aaron Ekblad (OHL Images)

1st Florida Panthers – Aaron Ekblad (RD)

If the Panthers keep the 1st overall pick, the mature Aaron Ekblad would be a defenseman that would strengthen Florida’s blueline and be ready to step into the lineup immediately. Expect GM Dale Tallon to field plenty of trade offers but Ekblad is a great consolation pick if the proposals fail to impress.

Alternative Option: Trade down to land top wingers Michael Dal Colle, William Nylander or Nikolaj Ehlers.

Rossy’s Ideal Panthers’ Target: Aaron Ekblad

 

 

2nd Buffalo Sabres – Sam Reinhart (RC)

While Aaron Ekblad is the stud defenseman of the draft, Kootenay’s Sam Reinhart will be heavily targeted. Even though Sam Bennett got the nod on NHL CSS’ final ranking, it’s Reinhart that could be the target of many teams looking to trade up.

Alternative Option: If Sam Reinhart is unavailable, the rebuilding Sabres must select defenseman Aaron Ekblad. Case closed.

Rossy’s Ideal Sabres’ Target: Sam Bennett

 

3rd Edmonton Oilers – Sam Bennett (LC)

Building down the middle is the standard course of action in the NHL and Edmonton will snatch up one of Bennett, Reinhart or Draisaitl when GM Craig MacTavish takes the stage. Loaded with character, compete and two-way skill, Bennett gives the Oilers a potential number one centerman but he won’t be arriving in 2014-15, a scenario Edmonton isn’t familiar with.

Alternative Option: Leon Draisaitl is the type of pivot the Oilers could use as he offers a strong possession game and size down the middle. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Oilers give Nick Ritchie some serious consideration.

Rossy’s Ideal Oilers’ Target: Sam Reinhart

 

Read more…

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The Dean’s List: Prospect Outlook – 2012 Forward Draft Class

August 5, 2011 Leave a comment

Originally Posted at DobberHockey.com

Written By:  Brendan Ross

Nail Yakupov aims to become the top pick of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft

The 2012 NHL draft class is quickly emerging as one of the best groups in recent years.  Highlighted by a slew of first round talent defensemen, the 2012 draft is shaping up to bring a little bit of everything from elite forwards to skilled agitators.  While the defensive depth will likely become what the 2012 draft is known for, there are also several skilled forwards who have the potential to become elite NHL stars.  The top three forward candidates make things even more intriguing as each of them are Russian talents and NHL GM’s surely couldn’t pass on all three of them because of their “Russian Factor”. Could they?  In its DobberHockey debut, The Dean’s List will take a look a few forward skaters who are likely to be selected in the first round of next year’s NHL Entry Draft.

Nail Yakupov, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

2010-11 Statistics:  65 GP – 49 G – 52 A – 101 P

Please welcome the “Nail” to the Mikhail vs. Nail 2012 first overall discussion.  When a high-flying, game breaking Russian talent enters the CHL and destroys all rookies finishing in the top five of OHL scoring all while breaking franchise scoring records (in less games) previously held by NHL Superstar Steven Stamkos, he will get noticed. Yakupov has solidified himself into the 2012 NHL Draft classes’ Top 5 (in my opinion) with his Bure-like speed, Datsyuk-like shiftiness, Kovalchuk-like sniping abilities and Ovechkin-like celebrations and passion.  Simply put, Yakupov is a treat to watch play hockey and Sarnia has never seen a talent like him in their franchise history (yes, even Stamkos).  The young Russian’s offensive flare and his love of the game have become contagious for everyone watching.  Last season, Nail Yakupov entered a foreign country and saw little (if any) adjustment period.

Entering his second OHL season, it will be interesting to see if Yakupov can improve on his production in his draft year, especially since Sarnia has added solid team depth that they did not have last season.  There is a chance that Yakupov does not improve on his numbers as scoring will be spread around and the young Russian may not be relied upon as much as last year.  If that situation arises, it will be intriguing to see if Yakupov becomes frustrated with his own personal success.  Yakupov loves to score goals and loves winning so I expect him to enjoy his season more as Sarnia finally becomes a winning team.

Mikhail Grigorenko, CKSA-Krasnaja Armija Moskva (MHL)

2010-11 Statistics:  43 GP – 17 G – 18 A – 35 P

NHL Scouts will not have to travel as far to see Grigorenko this upcoming season as the big Russian center has decided to come across the pond by committing to the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts.  The decision to play in the CHL for his draft year will help ease some of the Russian factor that stigmatizes these Russian talents in past years.  Prior to his CHL commitment, Grigorenko appeared to be determined to make his mark in the KHL in his next step towards professional hockey.  Coming to North America will surely intensify the “Mikhail vs. Nail” discussions for first overall.  Unlike his country-mate, Grigorenko has favourable NHL size (6’3”) and has been compared to Canadian stars Joe Thornton and Mario Lemieux in the style of game that he plays.  Grigorenko was a dominating force during the past Under-18 World Championships notching four goals and 18 points in only seven games en route to Russia’s gold medal win. The 2011-2012 QMJHL Season will determine Grigorenko’s fate for the 2012 NHL Entry Draft and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the talented Russian lead all Q players in scoring.

Alex Galchenyuk, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

2010-11 Statistics:  68 GP – 31 G – 52 A – 83 P

With “AG94” (my personal tag for Alex) playing in my own backyard, I have had the privilege of watching this emerging superstar on a nightly basis.  Galchenyuk often finds himself playing in Yakupov’s shadow but it’s my belief that Alex will become a more valuable NHLer.  Remember, Galchenyuk (83 points as a ’94) finished third in CHL rookie scoring behind Yakupov (101 points as a ’93) and Sven Bartschi (86 points as a ’92) which is impressive as a 16 year old for most of the year.  The dynamic two-way center has quickly become my favourite OHLer as he competes hard at such a high level in all areas of the rink.  Scouts will learn to love this American born Russian as he plays a game that is almost identical to NHLer Marian Hossa.  Finding any flaws in Galchenyuk’s game is very difficult.  Alex is a great skater, strong on the puck,a deft puckhandler, owns a hard accurate shot, plays extremely responsible in his own end and has elite vision.  While Grigorenko and Yakupov may have the upper hand on pure offensive upside, Galchenyuk is no slouch in that area yet he owns a better overall game.

Henrik Samuelsson, US Under-17 Team (USHL)

2010-11 Statistics:  38 GP – 12 G – 16 A – 28 P

The son of former NHLer Ulf Samuelsson, Henrik is a big strong talented winger with tremendous on-ice vision and playmaking abilities.  Samuelsson competed in the Under-17 Hockey Challenge where he tied the tournament lead with his six goals while notching an impressive 10 points in only five games en route to a USA Championship.  Henrik also represented Team USA in the U-18 World Championships scoring one assist in six games as USA earned Gold again.  Samuelsson’s blood lines (father Ulf and brother Philip) won’t hurt his draft status but it is his combination of size, skills and elite hockey sense that will make Henrik a 2012 first round selection next summer.

Martin Frk, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

2010-11 Statistics:  62 GP – 22 G – 28 A – 50 P

Frk (pronounced “Firk”) finished his first CHL season with a respectable 50 points in 62 games on a poor Halifax Mooseheads team.  The 5-foot-11 solid powerful Czech winger has not quite broken out but Frk has the skills to become a very good NHLer.  Frk may be missing some vowels in his name but he’s not missing much in his hockey game as he’s gifted with plenty of attractive skills. Frk has a powerful skating stride with a fantastic shot and is a player who is not afraid to get dirty.  Frk has shown that he does not back away from much on the ice and plays an edgy game.  The Czech winger enters his second ‘Q’ season with some much needed junior experience and will be joined by top QMJHL prospect Nathan MacKinnon after a trade last week.  Frk will be given more responsibility on the Czech WJC team this December and it will be interesting to see how he succeeds.  There are several scouts who feel that Frk has fallen in the 2012 draft class ranks but the gritty winger has good upside and lots of intangibles that NHL teams search for year after year  It is too early to write off a player with Martin’s skills.  If Frk can put together his total package then we could be looking at a Cam Neely or Steve Downie clone.

Pontus Aberg, Djurgarden J20 (SuperElit)

2010-11 Statistics:  41 GP – 13 G – 17 A – 30 P

Pontus Aberg is an intriguing prospect as his progression has been trending upwards as his successes continue to add up.  The Swedish goal scoring winger has been dubbed as one of the best scorers of his age. Aberg possesses great speed with strong puck handling skills, a good shot and above-average hockey IQ.  The 5-foot-11, 190-pound Swede has caught the eye of many scouts with his skill but also his enviable work ethic.  Pontus Aberg formed a deadly line with recently drafted prospects Mika Zibanejad (OTT 1st Rd, 6th) and Victor Rask (CAR 2nd Rd, 42nd) during the 2010 Ivan Hlinka Tournament where Aberg notched 5 goals and 8 points in just 5 games.  Aberg rarely takes a shift off and plays the game consistently on a nightly basis.  These attributes will surely get him noticed for the 2012 draft.

Zemgus  Girgensons , Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL)

2010-11 Statistics:  51 GP – 21 G- 29 A – 49 P

The Latvian born centerman quickly earned the trust of his coach Jim Montgomery as he showed his urge to compete as hard defensively as he did offensively.  At 6-foot-1-inch, Girgensons has good size to go along with good hockey sense, strong puck protection skills and good feet.  Girgensons is another 2011 CHL import draft pick (Kelowna Rockets) and has already committed to playing at University of Vermont beginning in the fall of 2012.  Zemgus’ passion for the game of hockey is admirable and he prides himself on playing the game “the Canadian way” which is likely why he has been compared early on to strong character players like Jonathon Toews and Mark Messier.  Those comparisons will attract a tonne of scouts as this big strong center enters into his draft year.

With the 2012 NHL Entry Draft eleven months away, there will be plenty of movement within the first round (as Sean Couturier can attest to).  The next ten months will determine who rises to the top amongst his peers and who struggles to maintain their position.  The projected talent of the 2012 draft class gives NHL teams and fans lots to be excited about and there will be plenty of scrutiny of these young kids as they chase their NHL dreams.

Be sure to follow The Dean’s List as the series continues to release names for the upcoming draft and also prospects from past drafts as they look to become fantasy relevant.  Next up, The Dean’s List will feature the defensemen to watch for the upcoming 2012 NHL Draft.

Follow The Dean’s List writer on Twitter @rossyyoungblood for more prospect information.

NHL Entry Draft – A Trio of Mock Drafts

With the NHL Entry Draft less than 48 hours away, we take this time to look at two new mock drafts provided by hockey enthusiasts Evan Hotham and Mac Vincent as well as my own mock draft (Brendan Ross) posted a few weeks ago. Let’s get right into it and see where we all have the futures of the NHL ending up.

 1st – EDMONTON OILERS

Brendan Ross (BR):  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Evan Hotham (EH):  Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Mac Vincent (MV): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Read more…

Dean Youngblood’s 2011 NHL Mock Draft – Round Two

 

Check out the previous editions of DY’s 2011 NHL Mock Draft:

EDMONTON OILERS – 31st Overall
Scott Mayfield (D)
Youngstown (USHL)
6-4, 197 lbs
52 GP – 7 G – 9 A – 16 P – 159 PIM

The Oilers could use a stable presence on the backend and Mayfield offers just that. The Youngstown defender projects to be a top 4 pairing defenseman who skates very well, passes well and has an extremely accurate point shot. Mayfield’s stock has fallen but I believe that can be attributed to playing on a poor Youngstown team.

ST.LOUIS BLUES (from Colorado) – 32nd Overall
Alexander Khokhlachev (C/LW)
Windsor (OHL)
5-10, 188 lbs
67 GP – 34G – 42 A – 76P – 28 PIM

The dynamic Russian skater plays extremely hard at both ends of the rink and surprisingly plays an gritty type of game. Quick feet, good hockey smarts and a knack for scoring goals will attract teams to Khokhlachev but the small Russian will need to improve his play against bigger players. He has a tendency of getting knocked off the puck easily.

FLORIDA PANTHERS – 33rd Overall
Connor Murphy (D)
US Under-18 (USHL)
6-3, 185 lbs
14 GP – 3G -3A -6P – 6 PIM

Connor Murphy is coming off a season that saw him play only 14 games due to injury. Murphy has a solid all-around game as he’s valuable defensively and has good offensive upside. The Florida Panthers could beef up their blueline depth and continue to build from the net out. Plus, Connor’s dad, Gord, played fourteen seasons in the NHL and currently serves as the Panthers Assistant coach.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS – 34th Overall
Tyler Biggs (RW)
US Under-18 (USHL)
6-2, 210 lbs
48 GP – 17G – 11A – 28P – 112PIM

Biggs best attribute is his physical presence and compete level. Biggs is a good skater who thrives in the dirty areas of the ice. He eludes great leadership qualities too and would fit nicely on the island. Need to Know: His father was an on-ice stuntman for the best movie of all time – “Youngblood”.

OTTAWA SENATORS – 35th Overall
Stefan Noesen (RW)
Plymouth (OHL)
6-0, 195 lbs
68 GP – 34 G – 43A – 77P – 80 PIM

Noesen is a personal favourite of mine and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him drafted within the first round. The Texas born winger may just be one of the purest “two-way” players in the draft as he brings a boat-load of work ethic to the rink and can kill penalties with the best of them. The gritty forward doesn’t have that ‘wow’ factor but he has found an ability to score goals with a hard heavy shot.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (from Atlanta/Winnipeg) – 36th Overall
John Gibson (G)
US Under-18 (USHL)
6-3, 205 lbs
32 GP – 2.64 GAA – .918 SV% – 1 SO

Corey Crawford appears to have reached the big leagues for good so it’s time for the Blackhawks to re-stock their farm. John Gibson has good size between the pipes and has shown early in his career that he is consistently good. The starting netminder for the US Under-18 Team, Gibson was named the Top Goaltender en route to a Gold Medal win at the 2011 U-18 World Championships.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS – 37th Overall
Shane Prince (C)
Ottawa (OHL)
5-10, 174 lbs
59 GP – 25 G – 63 A – 88 P – 18 PIM

The small center Rochester, NY has deceptively quick speed that he often uses to beat defenders wide. Prince put up strong numbers this past season playing alongside Kings’ prospect Tyler Toffoli. Prince projects to be a set-up man but also owns a good shot. Scouts have some concerns about his compete level but he that shouldn’t keep him from falling too far in the draft on day two.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS (from New Jersey) – 38th Overall
Rickard Rakell (RW)
Plymouth (OHL)
6-4, 194 lbs
49 GP – 19 G – 24A – 43 P – 12 PIM

Rakell has “typical Nashville forward” written all over him. The hard working Swede very good hockey smarts and plays the game almost flawlessly. His stats aren’t that encouraging but I believe he has more offensive skill than his current stats show. Rakell is the type of player who will see the NHL sooner than later as he’s already proven that he’s strong enough and smart enough to compete against the OHL’s top player.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS – 39th Overall
Victor Rask (C)
Leksand (SWE-2)
6-2, 194 lbs
35 GP – 5 G – 6 A – 11 P – 8 PIM

Rask was once considered one of the elite players of the 2011 draft class but after struggling in his draft year with consistency issues his stock has fallen. It wouldn’t be crazy to think Rask could fall another 15 spots but Toronto might be attracted to his good offensive skill and size. Rask needs to be motivated and if that happens then he could become a steal because he definitely has great vision and the potential to put up big numbers.

BOSTON BRUINS – 40th Overall
David Musil (D)
Vancouver (WHL)
6-3, 198 lbs
62 GP – 6G – 19 A – 25 P – 83 PIM

Another former highly touted 2011 draft pick, Musil experienced a frustrating season playing for a poor Vancouver Giants team. The Calgary native comes from good hockey and athletic blood lines as his father (Frantisek), uncle (Bobby Holik) and mother (professional tennis player) passed on some good athletic traits. Musil projects to be a defensive defenseman but his offensive upside is limit…well, lets say very limited. He will need to improve his skating if he is going to find success at the next level.

 
ST. LOUIS BLUES – 41st Overall
Dmitri Jaskin (RW)
Slavia (Czech)
6-1, 191 lbs
33 GP – 3 G – 7 A – 10 P – 16 PIM

The big Czech winger was once projected inside the first round but after struggling with consistency he will likely fall somewhere after the 30th pick. Jaskin is an aggressive hard working player who has one of the better shots of this draft class. Scouts haven’t seen a lot of Jaskin this year but those who did have noticed that he thrives in the high traffic areas and is extremely good with the puck in tight spaces.

CAROLINA HURRICANES – 42nd Overall
Phillip Danault (LW)
Victoriaville (QMJHL)
6-0, 170 lbs
64 GP – 23 G – 44 A – 67 P – 59 PIM

Danault was named captain of his QMJHL team as a seventeen year old and that speaks wonders of the type of player he is. Teams will be drawn to his tireless work ethic and responsible defensive play. The small winger never gives up on a play and is always circling the puck and while he isn’t flashy Danault is the type of player who will help win those close games.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS – 43rd Overall
Daniel Catenacci (C)
Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
5-10, 183
67 GP – 26 G – 45 A – 71 P – 117 PIM

The former first-overall selection in the OHL Draft who can skate, dangle and plays with a ton of jam. At 5’10”, Catenacci plays much bigger than his size and doesn’t shy away from trouble on the ice (sometimes to a fault). This fiery center has the ability to come up big when his team needs him but also is dependable defensively. Scouts were almost certain Catenacci would be a first round pick earlier in the season but after a disappointing U18’s where he was virtually unnoticeable, Daniel is bound to slide outside of the Top 30.

DALLAS STARS – 44th Overall
Ryan Sproul (D)
Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
6-4, 185 lbs
61 GP – 14 G – 19 A – 33 P – 36 PIM

Sproul was brought up during the season from Jr.A and truly defines “riser” as he jumped from 124th to 54th on Central Scouting’s rankings of North American skaters. The smooth skating defenseman is very raw but the offensive upside will be tempting for clubs come draft weekend. Sproul notched an impressive 14 goals once he joined an average Greyhounds team after November and impressed scouts with his excellent mobility and hard shot. The native of Mississauga will be a project pick but his upside will be too good to pass over (even 45th might be too late).

CALGARY FLAMES – 45th Overall
Stuart Percy (D)
Mississauga (OHL)
6-0, 186 lbs
64 GP – 4 G – 29A – 34 P – 50 PIM

Percy’s stock has risen dramatically over the course of the season especially considering he wasn’t initially listed in Central Scouting’s preliminary rankings. Percy’s strengths stem from his strong hockey sense as it allows him to play smart plays especially when sending outlet passes, maintaining proper positioning and reading plays correctly. The Oakville-native better be prepared to be selected earlier than expected as I could see him becoming one of those defencemen who have long NHL careers.

 
ST.LOUIS BLUES – 46th Overall
Mario Lucia (C/LW)
(Wayzata, HS-MN)
6-2, 183 lbs
24 GP – 24G – 22A – 46P – 14 PIM

The Minnesota teenager is considered the top ranked high school player in this draft and there’s a good chance that Lucia doesn’t make it out of the first round or even this far. Lucia is a big strong center who skates phenomenally well. Lucia scored at will this past season for Wayzata HS with over a goal per game and he should continue to develop offensively once his frame fills out where he can better utilize his size.

FLORIDA PANTHERS – 47th Overall
Nick Shore (C)
Denver (WCHA)
6-0, 195 lbs
28 GP – 7G – 11A – 18P – 14 PIM

Shore entered this season with high expectations and many people believed he would contend to be a first-round selection. The strong two-way center would be joining older brother Drew if Florida selected him but the Panthers could be reaching to take him at 47th. However, the stocky Shore brings some good offensive skill sets with good speed, creativity and great hockey IQ. After missing some time due to injury and struggling to meet expectations set on him, Shore will be a player who will slide further than most projected.

OTTAWA SENATORS – 48th Overall
Seth Ambroz (RW)
Omaha (USHL)
6-2, 211 lbs
56 GP – 24G – 22A – 46P – 89 PIM

I am not sure why, but I keep selecting quality players for the Ottawa Senators. The Senators have enough picks in the second (3) to make a few gambles and if (big if) Ambroz falls to them at 48th he would be hard to pass over. Once touted as a high first round pick, Ambroz has seen his draft stock fall after scouts scene little improvement in his game – specifically his skating. Ambroz represents a boom or bust player but he does own soft hands, a quick release and thrives playing the physical game with his 6-foot-2 frame. Ambroz is a man child who can score but when a team takes a gamble on his poor skating is still unknown.

LOS ANGELES KINGS – 49th Overall
Nikita Kucherov (RW)
CSKA2 (Russia-JR)
5-10, 163 lbs
41 GP – 27G – 31A – 58P – 81PIM

The Under-18 standout for Russia, has rocketed up the rankings after his record setting tournament scoring 21 points in just 7 games. Kucherov is a dynamic winger who oozes offensive skills and the Kings aren’t shy about drafting Russians either. The small quick skating Russian had a strong season in Russia’s junior league but has been questioned because he often looks disinterested and takes undisciplined penalties. Of course, teams will likely be scared of the “KHL factor” but there’s little doubt that Kucherov has first round talent.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS – 50th Overall
Adam Clendening (D)
Boston University (H-East)
5-11, 190 lbs
36 GP – 5 G – 18 A – 23 P – 80 PIM

The undersized defenseman would be ranked higher (45th among North American skaters) if he were a few more inches taller. Playing for Boston University, Clendening impressed scouts with his tremedous ability to distribute the puck and is one of the better puck-moving defencemen in this draft class. Clendening has good upside but will need to work on his foot speed and mobility to thrive in the NHL as a smaller defenseman.

 
PHOENIX COYOTES – 51st Overall
Christopher Gibson (G)
Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
6-0, 193 lbs
37 GP – 2.42 GAA – .920 SV% – 4 SO

The Coyotes won’t be keeping starting goaltender Bryzgalov around after he wanted too much coin so expect Phoenix to use one of their top picks on a franchise goaltender. Chris Gibson has an american name but don’t let that fool you as he hails from Finland – a country that is known as a goaltending factory. Gibson has good size and covers the net well which complement his aggressive goaltending style. Gibson is ranked as the second best netminder in the draft and teams will surely be attractive to his lightning quick reflexes.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS – 52nd Overall
Lucas Lessio (LW)
Oshawa (OHL)
6-1, 197 lbs
66 GP – 27G – 27A – 54P – 66 PIM

Lessio’s calling is his hard-working approach to the game as he offers a strong two-way game with decent offensive upside. Doesn’t that sound like Nashville? Scouts have been disappointed with Lessio at times as he often becomes frustrated too easily and that can throw him off of his game. Lessio owns good size and is a strong skater but he won’t ever be a player that fills up the score sheet. Teams will draft Lucas based on his strong two-way game and capability of holding his own in the dirty areas.

ANAHEIM DUCKS – 53rd Overall
Matt Nieto (LW)
Boston University (H-East)
5-11, 193 lbs
36 GP – 8 G – 13A – 21P – 16 PIM

Anaheim wouldn’t mind adding another California kid to their lineup. Nieto grew up playing alongside 2010 1st Round Ducks’ pick Emerson Etem so there could be some campaign action for Nieto from within the Ducks organization come day two of the draft. Matt Nieto is an undersized winger who is likely one of the quickest skaters in the draft. Lightning speed, dangerous hands and a quick release make Nieto an offensive weapon that teams will be eager to select. It’s unlikely that Nieto drops to the Ducks at 53 but if he does GM Bob Murray should be thrilled.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS – 54th Overall
Joseph Lebate (C)
Holy Angels (MN-HS)
6-4, 180 lbs
25 GP – 27 G – 22 A – 49 P – 42 PIM

The Minnesota high schooler has made quite the name for himself as a goal scorer entering his draft year. At 6-foot-4-inches, Labate owns great size and with his natural goal scoring abilities a team could get a steal with him late in the second round. Labate plays with the intensity that scouts love and when he adds some bulk to his frame the lanky pivot could become an absolute steal.

DETROIT RED WINGS – 55th Overall
Joachim Nermark (C)
Linkoping Jr (SWE -Jr)
6-1, 187 lbs
37GP – 8G – 18A – 26P – 16 PIM

Nerward has all the tools to become a solid second line center but he will need to quiet all of the doubters after struggling through the past World Junior Championships and Under-18s in Germany. Nermark had an awesome Ivan Hlinka Tournament where he impressed scouts with his quick release, playmaking abilities and good skating. The versatile Swede has all of the skills to become an NHLer but a team will need to be patient with this raw centerman. No better place that Hockeytown for patience.

 
PHOENIX COYOTES – 56th Overall
Reid Boucher (C)
US U-18 (USHL)
5-10, 192 lbs
49 GP – 24G – 19A – 43P – 25 PIM

The Michigan native was once of the more impressive players to me at the Under-18 Tournament in Germany. Boucher is ranked 113th among North American skaters (4th round) but I like him to rise as a late 2nd or early 3rd. The 5-foot-10-inch center has a rare ability to score goals and with his late birthday still has room to grow. Boucher is a boom or bust type of player and with several picks in the second round, the Coyotes could take a risk.

CALGARY FLAMES – 57th Overall
Michael St. Croix (C)
Edmonton (WHL)
5-11, 176 lbs
68 GP – 27G – 48A – 75P – 48 PIM

With Michael St. Croix a team will get a player who is responsible in all three zones and has the ability to chip in offensively too. St. Croix is a playmaker first and shooter second but he does seem to have a knack for being in the right spot at the right time. The native of Winnipeg has a good quick shot and puck handling skills to create opportunities for himself or teammates. The Flames would be wise to select a player of St. Croix’s ability and hope that he has a chance of filling the big void down the middle.

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING – 58th Overall
Myles Bell (D)
Regina (WHL)
6-0, 214 lbs
68 GP – 14G – 31A – 45P – 86 PIM

By now, we are all aware of Myles Bell’s off-ice issues with the impaired driving causing death charges but if a team does their due diligence then this pick could prove worthy. Matt Bugg projects Tampa to take a flier on Myles Bell and I fully agree with him. Obviously, there is a strong possibility that Bell’s off-ice issues scare teams away and he drops late into the draft but Steve Yzerman might be willing to take on a project. The Lightning have a history of drafting prospects from the WHL and Bell certainly has good offensive instincts. Myles likes to rush the puck and is very effective on the powerplay which could be appealing to the Lightning organization. Bell is the biggest question mark entering the draft.

SAN JOSE SHARKS – 59th Overall
Miikka Salomaki (RW)
Karpat (SM Liiga)
5-11, 198 lbs
40GP – 4G – 6A – 10P – 53 PIM

Salomaki is an interesting player as he brings a lot of energy to his game and that could be a trait that appeals to a team picking in the second round. Ranked seventh among European skaters, Salomaki plays an aggressive in-your-face type of game with the ability to block shots, kill penalties and whatever else it takes to win. He played for Karpat in Finland’s top league and scouts say that he didn’t look out of place. If teams are looking for a player with offensive upside then they should pass on Salomaki as it’s limited but he does bring offer intangibles that play an important part in winning championships.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS – 60th Overall
Joel Edmundson (D)
Moose Jaw (WHL)
6-4, 191 lbs
71 GP – 2 G – 18A – 20P – 95 PIM

Ranked 33rd among North American skaters, the large and rangy defender has seen his draft stock sore after making the jump from Midget into the rough and tough WHL. Edmundson projects to be a defensive defender at the next level and has been compared to Ranger 2010 first round pick Dylan McIIrath in the way that he plays. In his rookie WHL season, Edmundson showed that he can skate well enough, make a good first pass and most importantly shut down and intimidate the opposition’s best player. Teams will be drawn to Edmundson’s natural size and in-your-face style of play.

OTTAWA SENATORS – 61st Overall
William Karlsson (C)
Vasteras Jr (SWE-Jr)
6-0, 185 lbs
38GP – 20G – 34A – 54P – 45 PIM

The luxury of having a boat-load of picks is always nice and Ottawa has the priviledge to go off the board with one or two of them. I can almost gaurantee that one of Ottawa’s three second round picks will be a Swede and why not add a third “Karlsson” to their depth chart? William is a good skater with high hockey sense and can be especially shifty when on the attack. After posting an impressive 54 points in the Swedish junior division he was called up to play with the senior club Allsvenskan where he notched four points in 14 games. Karlsson has tremendous compete level and was one of Sweden’s best players at the World Under-18 tournament en route to a silver medal and five points in six games.

 
 
Thanks for Following Folks


The Ottawa Senators’ 61st pick wraps up the second round of my Mock Draft and I am thankful for all of the comments and questions from those who followed along.

With the number of fantastic prospects and similar players in this year’s draft I often found it difficult choosing one player over another. If you look closely, you will find a few players who I am fond of and others that I don’t have much belief in.

To keep things fun, I attempted to include some riskier selections (see Ritchie in the first and Myles Bell and Reid Boucher in the 2nd). I don’t expect to be 100% (or even %10) accurate with my picks but I wanted to have fun with the process as I went along.

After sixty-one picks there are still some fantastic prospects remaining so if you have any questions about any other prospects then feel free to ask and I will do my best to chime in with any information I have.

Thanks for Following Folks!