THN’s Future Watch is out now and in honor of the annual prospectus, I thought I’d take a look at the best draft selections made by all 30 teams in 2009. Some are quite obvious, but I also wanted to give respect to franchises that made savvy picks in the later rounds, so if your team’s top pick wasn’t a first-rounder, it’s not necessarily because that marquee kid did something wrong.
Anaheim – Igor Bobkov, G (76th overall): A star at the world juniors for an undermotivated Russian team, Bobkov’s size and athleticism will serve the Ducks well down the road. Offensive defenseman Sami Vatanen (106th) also looks like a steal.
Atlanta – Evander Kane, C (fourth overall): Hard to argue with an 18-year-old who steps right into the lineup. Kane’s name recognition is also important in a town that just lost its face in Ilya Kovalchuk.
Boston – Jordan Caron, RW (25th overall): On fire since a trade to Rouyn-Noranda in the Quebec League, Caron has a WJC silver medal this year and a shot at the Memorial Cup.
Buffalo – Brayden McNabb, D (66th overall): Big, strong, mean – McNabb’s a blueliner the Sabres will really need in the near future. The kid puts up a lot of points, too.
Calgary – Tim Erixon, D (23rd overall): Playing regularly in the Swedish Elite League and contributing offensively as part of a young defense corps. Ryan Howse (74th) also broke out with 47 goals in the Dub.
Carolina – Brian Dumoulin, D (51st overall): An impressive 17 points in 36 games as a freshman at Boston College. Dumoulin also brings great size to the blueline.
Chicago – Marcus Kruger, C (149th overall): Djurgarden pivot led all junior-aged scorers in the Swedish Elite League with 31 points in 38 games. Hawks also did well scooping up Brandon Pirri (59th) and David Gilbert (209th).
Colorado – Matt Duchene, C (third overall): Duchene has a shot at the Calder Trophy, so yeah, that pick worked out. Ryan O’Reilly (33rd) was also a breakout NHLer; both players own a two-way game.
Columbus – David Savard, D (94th overall): The blueliner is absolutely ripping up the QMJHL this year, finishing the regular season with 77 points in 64 games, tops in the league among D-men.
Dallas – Scott Glennie, C (eighth overall): Didn’t make the world junior team, but still posted his best offensive numbers yet (89 points in 66 games) and the Memorial Cup awaits.
Detroit – Tomas Tatar, C (60th overall): Already playing in the American League, Tatar has been solid for a very good Grand Rapids team. Nick Jensen (150th) is also looking like a nice pickup.
Edmonton – Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, LW (10th overall): MPS had another successful campaign in the Swedish Elite League, playing on the same Timra squad as fellow Oilers pick Anton Lander (40th).
Florida – Dmitry Kulikov, D (14th overall): Teenaged blueliners are a rarity in the NHL and Kulikov has paid immediate dividends for the Cats.
Los Angeles – Brandon Kozun, RW (179th overall): Size may be an issue, but right now the 5-foot-9 playmaker is the reigning Dub scoring champ.
Minnesota – Erik Haula, LW (182nd overall): Finnish import had crazy-good freshman campaign in the United States League. Goalie Matt Hackett (77th) also on the fast track.
Montreal – Louis Leblanc, C (18th overall): Harvard man and Great French-Canadian Hope is off and running to a solid NCAA career.
Nashville – Taylor Beck, LW (70th overall): A big kid with talent to match, Beck busted out for 93 points in 61 games for Ontario League Guelph this year.
New Jersey – Jacob Josefson, C (20th overall): Steadily progressing in his second year playing against men in the Swedish Elite League.
NY Islanders – John Tavares, C (first overall): He was the name the team needed and if the Isles acquire some veteran forward scoring this summer, he’ll really take off.
NY Rangers – Chris Kreider, C (19th overall): Speedy as hell, Kreider was great at the world juniors, as was fellow Blueshirts pick Ryan Bourque (80th).
Ottawa – Robin Lehner, G (46th overall): Look for Lehner to man the Swedish net at the world juniors next year; he’s learning the North American game in the Soo this season.
Philadelphia – Nicola Riopel, G (142nd overall): Flyers could use a goalie right now, but they’ll have to wait a bit longer for the Moncton Wildcats keeper.
Phoenix – Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D (sixth overall): Word on the street is the Yotes want OEL stateside next year and with his offensive hops, it’s no surprise.
Pittsburgh – Simon Despres, D (30th overall): Big D-man having his best season yet with powerhouse Saint John squad in the ‘Q.’
St. Louis – David Rundblad, D (17th overall): Another Skelleftea acolyte contributing to the big squad in the Swedish Elite League.
San Jose – Taylor Doherty, D (57th overall): Playing for an improved OHL Kingston squad, Doherty has Tyler Myers size (6-foot-8, 230 pounds) and numbers (44 points in 63 games).
Tampa Bay – Victor Hedman, D (second overall): Straight-to-the-NHL path nothing to sneeze at, but watch for Richard Panik (52nd) and Jaroslav Janus (162nd) soon, too.
Toronto – Nazem Kadri, C (seventh overall): Nasty Naz has already made his Buds debut and will fight for a permanent spot next year. Jerry D’Amigo (158th) was a WJC knockout.
Vancouver – Kevin Connauton, D (83rd overall): Gifted defenseman got his game straight with the Dub’s Giants this year and shined for them. Jordan Schroeder (22nd) is getting his AHL crack now.
Washington – Cody Eakin, C (85th overall): Nearly hit the 50-goal mark with Swift Current in the Dub this season, 91 points overall a nice consolation.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine, the co-author of the book Hockey’s Young Guns and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Monday and Wednesday, his column – The Straight Edge – every Friday, and his prospect feature, The Hot List appears Tuesdays.
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