Mock drafts have always been difficult to formulate because a single trade – or thousands of other variables – can make the most accurate projection look flawed, but I’ll take a stab at this year’s draft anyway. This mock draft is based on information gathered throughout the year and what the needs are of each team selecting.
1. Tampa Bay Lightning – Steven Stamkos, C; Sarnia Sting (OHL)
Simply the best player in the draft; he may play in the NHL next season and fill the hole left by the Brad Richards trade. Stamkos will also be a favorite for the Calder Trophy.
2. Los Angeles Kings – Drew Doughty, D; Guelph Storm (OHL)
The vast crop of stud defensemen gives the Kings a few options, but the most NHL-ready is Doughty. The Kings are building a powerhouse from the backend out with Jonathan Bernier, Jack Johnson, Thomas Hickey and Doughty.
3. Atlanta Thrashers – Zach Bogosian, D; Peterborough Petes (OHL)
There is much debate among the Thrashers’ staff on whether to select a defenseman or the dynamic Nikita Filatov, but GM Don Waddell knows his team has to build the blueline and Bogosian has all the tools.
4. St. Louis Blues – Alex Pietrangelo, D; Niagara IceDogs (OHL)
There once was a defender named Pronger, who plays for the Blues no longer, they want a clone, so Pietrangelo is shown and the defense corps becomes immensely stronger.
5. NY Islanders- Nikita Filatov, LW; Moscow CSKA-2 (Rus)
If Filatov falls to the Isles at No. 5 it would be a dream come true for GM Garth Snow, but don’t be surprised if someone jumps ahead of the them in a trade.
6. Columbus Blue Jackets- Luke Schenn, D; Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
The chance to get a stud defenseman like Schenn will make GM Scott Howson a happy man. The organization is lacking quality defensemen, so this pick fits perfectly.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs – Cody Hodgson, C; Brampton Battalion (OHL)
The Leafs’ brass will debate between Tyler Myers and Hodgson, but at the end of the day, the character, leadership and overall skill set of Hodgson will convince them to take the local boy.
8. Phoenix Coyotes – Tyler Myers, D; Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
The Coyotes continue to build a future powerhouse and although Myers will take a few years, he has an unlimited upside. They will take the best available defenseman and unless they trade up, it will be Myers at No. 8.
9. Nashville Predators – Mikkel Boedker, LW; Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
A fantastic performance by Boedker at the Memorial Cup has the Preds dreaming of big things from the small, but lightning quick scorer.
10. Vancouver Canucks – Michael Del Zotto, D; Oshawa Generals (OHL)
Luc Bourdon’s tragic death has created a significant void in blue chip defense prospects. Although new GM Mike Gillis would love Josh Bailey, the Canucks will take another player he’s familiar with. Del Zotto’s defensive game needs work, but his offense is world class. In the future he could become a power play specialist.
11. Chicago Blackhawks – Luca Sbisa, D; Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Another team lacking defense prospects is the Blackhawks. Management will debate between selecting Colten Teubert and Sbisa. Teubert is far tougher to play against, but Sbisa has been one of the most improved prospects over this season. He is a fantastic skater and one of the best passers from the blueline in the draft. Sbisa’s toughness was questioned, but his play in the rough Western League provided answers. He would be a tremendous choice and would feed the young offensive superstars the Hawks possess.
12. Anaheim Ducks – Kyle Beach, C; Everett Silvertips (WHL)
If Beach falls to the Ducks, GM Brian Burke and his staff will be doing back flips to the podium. Beach has size, skill and plays with an edge that scares weak-hearted opponents and stands up to other physical players. There are rumors about his questionable character, but Beach is a young man who has made a few mistakes, but still has a chance to be a star in the NHL.
13. Buffalo Sabres – Colin Wilson, C; Boston University (NCAA)
The run on defensemen in the top 10 means Wilson, a probable future captain, could fall to the Sabres. The son of former NHLer Carey Wilson, Colin’s play at the World Junior Championship showed he is able to dominate offensively, while still playing as a lock-down defender.
14. Carolina Hurricanes – Colten Teubert, D; Regina Pats (WHL)
Although he may never be a guy who puts up a lot of points, Teubert is the kind of player who makes opponents pay the price for standing in front of the net. There are varying opinions about Teubert as two teams have him in their top eight, while three others don’t have him in the first round at all.
15. Nashville Predators – C; Joshua Bailey; Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
If Nashville can walk out of the draft with Mikkel Boedker and Joshua Bailey in addition to the plethora of tremendous young defensemen in the system, they will have gone a long way to rebuilding their franchise for the long haul.
16. Boston Bruins – C; Zach Boychuk; Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Initially, Boychuk started out as the 13th forward on the Canadian world junior team, but much like Corey Perry a few years earlier, he proved he could contribute in all areas and moved up in the depth chart. He spring-boarded from the world junior team to have a fantastic second half and Peter Chiarelli learned long ago how important character and skill are, and Boychuk is loaded in both categories. He may be gone earlier because of a trade, but if not, he will be loved by Bruins fans for years to come.
17. Calgary Flames – D; Colby Robak; Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Although Calgary loves their Junior A players and local boy Joe Colborne is an obvious choice, it would be a surprise if the Flames took him here. He is too atypical of what the Sutter-Keenan combo like in players. Robak is a smooth skating defenseman and has a lot of upside for a Flames franchise that has a lot of defensive prospects, but none who really stand out as sure-fire NHLers.
18. Ottawa Senators – Eric O’Dell, C; Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
It may be a bit of a reach, but this late rising star is a favorite of the Sens. Although No. 18 might be a bit high, there’s no chance he’ll be around in the second round, so the Sens may trade down to get him. A slick offensive player, O’Dell played Junior-A with the Cumberland Grads before Sudbury acquired him at the trade deadline from Oshawa and had an amazing final two months, capped off with a very good Under-18 performance.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets –Jared Staal, RW; Sudbury Wolves (OHL)
The second flyer in a row I think has a chance of happening would be to see the Jackets step up and get the last of the Staal boys. Although he is a bigger project than any of his brothers, he has a tremendous frame and good stick skills.
20. NY Rangers –Kirill Petrov, LW; Kazan (RUS)
The Rangers have gone from a staff that made some very curious decisions in the early Glen Sather years to a tremendous crew that has made some phenomenal selections including Marc Staal, Alexei Cherepanov, Bobby Sanguinetti and Artem Anisimov and they will continue that trend by taking Petrov. The lack of an agreement and Petrov’s unwillingness to commit to coming over have many teams scared, but the Rangers understand it may take a few years and Petrov has a chance to be an impact forward.
21. NJ Devils –Tyler Cuma, D; Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
New Jersey continues to quietly and consistently draft exceptionally well. If Tyler Cuma were still on the board at the 21st spot, they would be quite happy to get this under-appreciated defender who can play very well in all three zones.
22. Edmonton Oilers –Erik Karlsson, D; Frolunda (SWE)
One of the biggest risers since Christmas has been Karlsson, who has been compared to a poor man’s Nicklas Lidstrom. He has excellent offensive instincts and although the knock on him is his lack of physicality, he has a bright future and the Oilers could use a blueliner to go with the young talented forwards they have.
23. Washington Capitals – LW; Mattias Tedenby; HV 71 (SWE)
Under the guidance of Jack Adams winner Bruce Boudreau, the Capitals’ speed comes at you in waves and the addition of Tedenby would add to that mix. He isn’t big, but he is supremely skilled and quick. The Caps are one of the teams I expect to move up in the draft if they can find a partner.
24. Minnesota Wild –John Carlson, D; Indiana Ice (USHL)
The Wild always take the best player on the board, but their system is lacking in potential defensive studs and as a result will pluck Carlson, a solid pick with very limited risk. He is a powerful kid that will be playing for Dale Hunter and the London Knights next year and that will guarantee he will get in touch with his physical side and use his strength more effectively. On a side note, expect the Wild to dangle underachieving prospect Benoit Pouliot to a team if someone they want is available around pick 15. Or, the Wild could drop down and take a goaltender.
25. Montreal Canadiens –Nicolas Deschamps, C; Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
Although GM Bob Gainey has made it clear he will build the best team he can wherever the players come from, the Chicoutimi star fits very well with the style coach Guy Carbonneau is implementing and Deschamps’ French background is only an added plus. If not Deschamps, look for the Habs to take Jake Gardiner or Aaron Ness, a couple of Minnesota high school defensive studs.
26. Buffalo Sabres –Jake Gardiner, D; Minnetonka (MN-HS)
A personal favorite, it’d be shocking if Gardiner is still on the board at No. 26. But if he is, the Sabres will be pleased to get him. He is one of the best pure skaters in the draft and can use that ability to move the puck out of trouble much like a certain defender Sabres fans fell in love with before he headed to San Jose at the deadline.
27. Philadelphia Flyers –Jakob Markstrom, G; Brynas (SWE)
Although Markstrom isn’t the top-ranked goaltender on our board, he has undeniable upside and the Flyers had a phenomenal Swedish goaltender back in the early ’80s and may go down that path again. They have added quality prospects at all positions lately except in net.
28. L.A. Kings –Brandon Burlon, D; St. Mike’s Buzzers (OPJHL)
As we said earlier, Dean Lombardi understands building from the back end out and the additions of Drew Doughty and Burlon would add to the fine young defensemen they already have. Burlon was outstanding at the World Junior-A Showcase against teams from around the world and is NCAA-bound, which will give him time to round out his game.
29. Atlanta Thrashers –Joe Colborne, C; Camrose Kodiaks (AJHL)
We would bet the house Colborne will be gone by now because he has great size and skill. But for our money, his inconsistent effort some scares us to death and he reminds us of a couple prospects from the past named Hugh Jessiman and Michael Henrich.
30. Detroit Red Wings – Greg Nemisz, C; Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
So what diamond in the rough are the Stanley Cup champs going to unearth this year? We think the big power forward from across the river is the man for the Red Wings. He still hasn’t come into his own but Nemisz has all the tools and when he does, he could become another Joe Thornton.
Mark Seidel is the chief scout for North American Central Scouting and appears as a host on Leafs Lunch on AM 640 radio in Toronto.