With another draft in the books here is a look at my personal favorite picks from each round:
Round 1 – Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild
I moved to Calgary in 2008. Fresh from a couple years in Europe, my mind was full of skill development, skating and puckhandling. The first game I saw in Calgary was a bantam matchup between the Northwest Calgary’s Bronks AAA and the Calgary Northstars Sabres AAA. Matt Dumba was the captain for the Bronks. After throwing his third massive hit on the first shift of the game, he took the puck end-to-end and scored. Every couple of years you find a kid you have heard nothing about who blows you away. The next year, Dumba was on everyone’s radar.
He fits so incredibly well with what the Minnesota Wild have been building in recent years that they could be Edmonton’s biggest rival, not just in the division, but throughout the whole league in terms of young talent. I love this pick for the Wild – one of the most logical selections of the entire draft. Dumba will be an incredible option for Mikael Granlund and company. Big honorable mentions go to the Jets at ninth overall with Jacob Trouba, who is an absolute monster, and Buffalo with its pick of Mikhail Grigorenko at 12.
Round 2 – Dalton Thrower, Montreal Canadiens
It won’t shock those who know me, or have heard me speak about this draft class, that Dalton Thrower (51st overall to Montreal) is my favorite pick in Round 2. He is good all over the ice and tough as nails. He is a steal where Montreal found him. Honorable mentions go to Columbus for snagging Oscar Dansk (31st overall), who I feel was the best pure goalie in the draft, Detroit for picking Martin Frk at 49 and New Jersey with Damon Severson at 60.
Round 3 – Chris Driedger and Jarrod Maidens, Ottawa Senators
The third round had several great picks, but Ottawa made my two favorite selections of the entire draft with goaltender Chris Driedger at 76 and Jarrod Maidens at 82. Driedger has great potential and brings a tremendous attitude and never-quit passion to the crease, while Maidens would have been a first-rounder if he hadn’t missed most of the OHL season due to injury. While Maidens’ long-term health status remains in the air, his upside is tremendous. Honorable mentions go to Buffalo with Justin Kea and Winnipeg with Scott Kosmachuk.
Round 4 – Calle Andersson, New York Rangers
The Rangers weren’t the most active team with only four picks in the entire draft, but they made them all count. To me, their best pick was Calle Andersson – another big, mobile Swede who at times outshone higher ranked Swedish defenders Ludvig Bystrom and Hampus Lindholm. Honorable mentions go to Detroit with London speedster Andreas Athanasiou and Dallas with Gemel Smith.
Round 5 – Niklas Tikkinen, Phoenix Coyotes
Phoenix scored a fifth-round win with Niklas Tikkinen. Like Andersson in Round 4, Tikkinen is a defender who outshone higher-ranked prospects with the Finnish national team. His play at the under-18s overshadowed big-time Finnish defenders Rasmus Ristolainen (projected first-rounder in 2013), Ville Pokka, Mikko Vainonen and Esa Lindell. Not to mention he was playing forward only a couple years ago. Honorable mentions go to San Jose with its pick of Daniel O’ Regan and Anaheim with its choice of Brian Cooper.
Round 6 – Collin Olson, Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina had a huge steal with Collin Olson at 159. A ton of goalies (24) went in this draft, but few had such underwhelming hype as Olson. This kid was lights out for the U.S. team that won gold in April’s under-18 championship. Poised, calm and confident, he plays perfect angles and was as dominant in that competition as Jonathan Quick was in the NHL playoffs. Honorable mentions go to Washington with Riley Barber at 167 and Tomas Hyka to Los Angeles at 171.
Round 7 – Valeri Vasiliev, Philadelphia Flyers
Valeri Vasiliev is an animal. He can crush people and plays with a fearlessness we often associate with players who haven’t existed since helmet rules came into place. Does that sound like a Flyer or what? He did not get near enough exposure and could have been a second-rounder had he played more games in front of more NHL scouts. Honorable mentions in the seventh round go to Columbus with Gianluca Curcuruto and Los Angeles with Nick Ebert.
Ross MacLean is the head scout for International Scouting Services and is considered one of the rising stars of the business. A young, diverse and versatile hockey mind, MacLean leads ISS’ network of scouts and puts his domestic and international hockey experience and knowledge towards ranking and providing industry-leading profiles and information on draft eligible players around the world.