With the NHL’s draft lottery completed, the non-playoff teams and the Bruins now know where they stand this summer when it comes to selecting their future. And while GMs will constantly feed the message that they will be selecting the “best player available,” it’s rarely the case. Just look at the Islanders in recent years.
Taking John Tavares first overall was a no-brainer last summer, but moving back to pick Josh Bailey with the No. 9 pick in 2008 and Calvin de Haan 12th overall in ’09 were clear examples of GM Garth Snow knowing what he wanted and going for it.
So casting aside draft position trades and the fact some GMs just aren’t as good at their jobs as others, here’s an early top-10 mock draft based on what these teams could use in the future:
1. Edmonton – Tyler Seguin, C, Plymouth (OHL): The Oilers need as much help as they can get and despite the ascent of young pivot Jordan Eberle, another center would benefit Edmonton greatly. Seguin pumped up his goal-scoring this year, so maybe Ales Hemsky will finally have someone to pass to.
2. Boston – Taylor Hall, LW, Windsor (OHL): The Bruins must be praying Edmonton passes on Hall. Lost in all the condemnation of the Phil Kessel trade from Toronto’s perspective is the fact Boston couldn’t score this year, while Kessel netted 30 in a short season for the Leafs. Hall is that dynamic replacement and can suit up next to Marc Savard or David Krejci right away.
3. Florida – Cam Fowler, D, Windsor (OHL): The Panthers have big defensemen in their system (Keaton Ellerby, Colby Robak, Adam Comrie), so Fowler’s skating and offensive upside make him too tempting to pass up. Imagine a future with him and Dmitry Kulikov manning the points.
4. Columbus – Erik Gudbranson, D, Kingston (OHL): Now the Jackets are a team that could use a big, snarling blueliner and Gudbranson projects to be one. Anton Stralman and Kris Russell may have the puck-moving skills, but someone needs to clear the crease for Steve Mason.
5. NY Islanders – Brandon Gormley, D, Moncton (QMJHL): The Isles will have a lot of open roster spots going forward, so why not go with a great two-way defenseman in Gormley? The kid’s got poise, size and skill.
6. Tampa Bay – Derek Forbort, D, US NTDP (USHL): The Bolts have very little in the pipeline when it comes to defense, so taking the 6-foot-5, 200-pounder will help them long-term, even if there are higher-rated forwards available.
7. Carolina – Mikael Granlund, C, HIFK (Fin.): Considering the way the Canes played when healthy and given their burgeoning youth movement, GM Jim Rutherford is playing with house money here. Granlund may need a few years to beef up, but his skill set is sublime. Prince George Cougars left winger Brett Connolly, who missed most of the season to a hip injury, is another option here.
8. Atlanta – Mark Pysyk, D, Edmonton (WHL): Tobias Enstrom and Zach Bogosian are the present, but they’ll need reinforcements on the blueline. Pysyk is used to carrying a heavy load for an awful Oil Kings teams and he brings a little bit of everything to the table.
9. Minnesota – Alexander Burmistrov, C, Barrie (OHL): Goal No. 1 for Minnesota is to not screw up another draft pick (Colton Gillies, James Sheppard, Benoit Pouliot, though at least the Guillaume Latendresse trade bailed the Wild out of that one). Goal No. 2 should be offense and Burmistrov is a wizard in that respect. He needs to put on weight, but he’s already shown a commitment to North America by coming over to the Colts.
10. NY Rangers – Jack Campbell, G, US NTDP (USHL): How’s that for a curveball? But think about it: The Blueshirts have some great young defenders (Matt Gilroy, Michael Del Zotto, Ryan McDonagh) and very promising forwards (Derek Stepan, Evgeny Grachev, Chris Kreider, Ryan Bourque). What they don’t have are many candidates to take the mantle from Henrik Lundqvist one day. Campbell already has a world junior gold medal to his credit and will get a shot at the Memorial Cup next year with Windsor, so Broadway pressure won’t be a problem.
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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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