It was a magical draft weekend in Montreal, hanging with THN correspondents on Rue Stanley, doing an Orland Kurtenblog radio interview from a parking lot at one in the morning and seeing at least a handful of important hockey people every time I got off the elevator in our hotel. But let’s get to the picks, shall we? As a bonus, the Canadian League import draft took place Tuesday, as well.
1. John Tavares, C – London Knights (OHL): Believe it or not, Tavares actually did not know whether the Isles would pick him first overall and even sweated the moment a little. Nonetheless, the Ontario League’s all-time leading goal-scorer will be a treasure for long-suffering Isles fans. Drafted first overall by the New York Islanders in 2009.
2. Carl Klingberg, LW – Frolunda Jr. (Swe.): Atlanta will not be an easy team to play in the future, as both Klingberg and first round pick Evander Kane know how to punish with extreme prejudice. And for the young Swede, coming over to the smaller-sized North American rinks will only improve his results.
“It fits me good,” Klingberg said. “I’m a very North American player in style – I’m always looking for the closest way to the net.”
His physicality is a calling card, but skating and net play are right up there, too. Something of a mercenary this season, Klingberg played for three different teams in three different circuits – junior hockey and the top two Swedish Elite League rungs. The youngster already knows where he would like to develop next year.
“My expectation is to play Elite League 2,” Klingberg said. “But my goal is to play Elite League 1.”
As for coming to a non-traditional hockey market in Atlanta, Klingberg is very positive about his future home, even if his knowledge base is shallow.
“I know it’s very warm in June, July,” he said. “That will be good for me, because I have a very weak tan.” Drafted 34th overall by Atlanta in 2009.
3. Jared Cowen, D – Spokane Chiefs (WHL): With his knee being rehabbed, Cowen appears to have concentrated on bulking up his upper body, which will only make him more dangerous next year. A 6-foot-5 all-round defenseman, Cowen is a steal for the Senators. Drafted ninth overall by Ottawa in 2009.
4. Kieran Millan, G – Boston University Terriers (Hockey East): Colorado is paper-thin in net right now, so drafting Millan and NTDP netminder Brandon Maxwell in succession was an important move. Millan, who will turn 20 this summer, helped the Terriers to a national championship with a conference-best 1.94 goals-against average. Drafted 124th overall by Colorado in 2009.
5. Seth Helgeson, D – Sioux City Musketeers (USHL): The Devils got a big dude in Helgeson, who will bring a surly disposition to the New Jersey blueline. Watch his development take off under coach Don Lucia at the University of Minnesota next year. Drafted 114th overall by New Jersey in 2009.
6. Andrej Nestrasil, RW – Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL): This has all the makings of a classic Detroit pick. Nestrasil put up 57 points in 66 games on an average Tigres squad and keep in mind, it was his first season in North America. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, the young Czech has a bright future. Drafted 75th overall by Detroit in 2009.
7. Stanislav Galiev, C – Indiana Ice (USHL): The first pick in the CHL import draft, Galiev can pack his bags for Saint John, as he will join the Quebec League’s Sea Dogs next season. The dynamic Russian popped in 64 points in 60 games and won a Clark Cup with the Ice in the process. Draft eligible in 2010.
8. Patrick Wey, D – Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL): Look for Wey to make some noise next season. He has already garnered an invite to Team USA’s world junior camp and will join a stacked Boston College squad next year. Of course, size and skill are a nice combination for any team. Drafted 115th overall by Washington in 2009.
9. Nino Niederreiter, C – HC Davos Jr. (Swi.): A point-per-game player for the Swiss at the under-18s in Fargo/Moorhead, Niederreiter’s CHL rights now belong to the Moose Jaw Warriors, who tabbed the 6-foot-1, 203-pounder with the second pick in the import draft. Draft eligible in 2010.
10. Brandon Kozun, RW – Calgary Hitmen (WHL): Think of Kozun as this year’s Justin Azevedo; a high-scoring small forward passed over in previous drafts, but picked up by the Kings nonetheless. Kozun wrecked the Dub for 108 points this year, good for second on the circuit. Drafted 179th overall by Los Angeles in 2009.
The Hot List, a weekly roundup of minor league, junior, college and high school players we’re excited to one day see in the NHL, appears every Tuesday only on thehockeynews.com.
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