Alright guys, it's almost here! The 2014 NHL Entry Draft is only three days away and it's time for my monthly edition of my Mock Draft, but this time, as others have done so, I'll add my big board after the 1st round.
As always, I don't factor in possible Draft Day Trades into my mock drafts; I just stick to the current order and adjust accordingly as deals happen.
Each pick is based on both my rankings and individual team needs (not looking at rosters, but at team prospect pools). The number in parentheses is that player's rise/fall since my May Mock Draft. These are my own opinions that I base on the extensive draft research I do each year so I ask you respect them as I would yours (as is stated in the DieByTheBlade rules).
1.) Florida Panthers – Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie (OHL)
Dale Tallon considers multiple trade offers, but in the end decides to take the best player in the draft. The Panthers had a multitude of problems in 2013-14, many of which came on defense. Ekblad’s play is very impressive; I feel he will have no problem making the Panthers this season with his all-around game.
2.) Buffalo Sabres – Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay (WHL)
Tim Murray knows his team is smack-dab in the middle of a rebuild. The Sabres lack elite offensive talent, and in his opinion there are three players who fit the mold. After mulling it over for a while, he decides to take the one with the best hockey IQ and vision in the draft (did I mention he had 105 points this year?).
3.) Edmonton Oilers – Leon Draisaitl, C, Prince Albert (WHL)
As long as Ekblad goes #1, I think this is the biggest "lock" of the draft. MacTavish takes the German forward with size and advanced offensive skill. The Oilers have had 3 1st overall picks in the last 4 years, and things looked up after picking all the way down at 7 last year. The characteristic that all three 1st overall picks lacked, however, was size, and that’s precicely what Draisaitl brings to the table.
4.) Calgary Flames – Sam Bennett, C, Kingston (OHL)
Brad Treliving’s Flames are trending downward, in a similar situation to that of Buffalo. He makes a solid first pick as GM to help the rebuild here: Bennett is a strong Power Forward with a great work ethic, who I personally would take third.
5.) New York Islanders – Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa (OHL)
Garth Snow makes his last first round pick as GM of the Islanders, but it’s a good one. Dal Colle is a very good winger with a high upside and an awesome shot. I think the Islanders will still not be a good team in 2014-15, but they should be significantly improved. I expect a pick in the 8-10 range going to Buffalo next year.
6.) Vancouver Canucks – William Nylander, RW, Sodertalje (Sweden) (+1)
Jim Benning makes his first pick as GM of the Canucks, and it may very well end up being the biggest steal of the draft. Nylander is quite possibly the most skilled player in the draft, but he struggled in the first half of the 2013-14 seasons.
7.) Carolina Hurricanes – Nick Ritchie, LW, Peterborough (OHL) (-1)
Ron Francis makes a great value pick here, in my opinion. I think Ritchie is worthy of a top-five pick; his game expertly mixes physicality and offense, and I think he’ll have a pretty good shot at a roster spot this coming season.
8.) Toronto Maple Leafs – Jake Virtanen, RW, Calgary (WHL) (+2)
Dave Nonis expected his team to make the playoffs this year – obviously that didn’t happen. Virtanen is a good consolation prize, though. While some may question his hockey sense, I think he’s the best available player at 8 (though I think Toronto should take a d-man). His 45 goals this season was 6th in the WHL and 1st in WHL draft-eligible players, and he plays a very physical game.
9.) Winnipeg Jets – Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
Kevin Cheveldayoff’s job is in jeopardy, and his team is going in the wrong direction. Ehlers is a good addition to their defensively-heavy prospect pool, adding high offensive skill but lacking size.
Bob Murray is liking his Bobby Ryan trade more and more – acquiring Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen, and now Haydn Fleury. The Ducks have no glaring need, so they take the best available player. I view Fleury as a slam-dunk top 10 pick, with the potential for an elite defensive career.
11.) Nashville Predators – Kasperi Kapanen, RW, KalPa (Finland)
Nashville may have the best defensive core in the NHL, and GM David Poile is well aware of this. I view Nashville’s prospect pool as a top-5 in the NHL, and they add another quality winger who has a promising future following in the footsteps of his father Sami.
12.) Arizona Coyotes – Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagara (OHL)
Don Maloney misses out on a 4th straight NHL bloodline by one pick – and lands a highly skilled winger with one of the best shots in this draft. Arizona is in a good spot in their organizational development; I think they have a good shot at the playoffs next season.
13.) Washington Capitals – Robby Fabbri, C, Guelph (OHL) (+2)
Brian MacLellan doesn’t want to rebuild his franchise – even though I think that’s the best course of action for the Capitals. Finishing as the best non-playoff team does have its benefits, as the Capitals take an undersized Center with pure offensive skill.
14.) Dallas Stars – Kevin Fiala, LW, HV71 (Sweden) (+3)
In 2013, Valeri Nichushkin fell into the hands of Jim Nill and the Dallas Stars – and this year, they take another player who some will say has "fallen" to 14 (in my opinion, this is the right spot for him). Fiala is a boy playing among men in Sweden, and after another two years there he should be able to make an impact on the Stars’ offense – right about the time this franchise should be at its highest.
15.) Detroit Red Wings – Alex Tuch, RW, USA NTDP (USHL) (-1)
Ken Holland knows his team is at risk of missing the playoffs for the first time in over twenty years. Tuch (correct pronunciation rhymes with puck) is a big, skilled two-way forward who is committed to play with Thatcher Demko at Boston College in the Fall.
16.) Columbus Blue Jackets – Jared McCann, C, Sault Ste Marie (OHL) (-3)
I have to say, Jarmo Kekalainen is one of my favorite GMs in the League. After using all three first rounders in 2013 on forwards, I think Columbus is more suited for a defenseman (which is why I think they’ll trade down), but since there really isn’t one in this region of the rankings, they go for the best available forward.
17.) Philadelphia Flyers – Ivan Barbashev, LW, Moncton (QMJHL) (+1)
Ron Hextall is jumping up and down in his seat after seeing Barbashev fall to him at 17. I think Barbashev should be a top-15 pick, but with the 2nd half surge of Fabbri and Fiala his draft spot fell a little.
18.) Minnesota Wild – Dylan Larkin, C, USA NTDP (USHL) (+2)
Chuck Fletcher’s team is in a good spot – I think they have a good shot at being a contender in 2014-15. As for prospects, they have good depth both in goal and at the blue line, but their forwards are limited. Dylan Larkin had 31 goals this season – the most of Draft eligibles on the Development Program U18 team. He’s committed to play at the University of Michigan in the Fall.
19.) Tampa Bay Lightning – Adrian Kempe, LW, Modo (Sweden) (+2)
I wouldn’t be surprised if Steve Yzerman packages this pick and his 2nd rounder to move up to take Haydn Fleury, as Tampa Bay needs a defenseman more so than a forward. In this case, though, they take the best available forward and expect a good defenseman to be there when they pick again at 28.
20.) San Jose Sharks – Sonny Milano, LW, USA NTDP (USHL) (+3)
Doug Wilson likes to trade up – but if he doesn’t there is still value here at 20, namely Sonny Milano. Milano played alongside Eichel and Tuch this season, ending the season with 85 points in 58 games. He is committed to play with Alex Tuch at Boston College this Fall.
21.) St Louis Blues – Nikita Scherbak, LW, Saskatoon (WHL) (+1)
Doug Armstrong is disappointed in his trade deadline deal – Steve Ott was relatively unnoticeable in the playoffs and Ryan Miller’s play was not up to par. He gave up his 2015 1st in that trade, so this one has to be a hit – and I think it will be. Scherbak came over from Russia this season and dominated immediately, something that doesn’t happen often with Europeans. There is always the Russian factor to consider once you get outside the top-20, but I don’t think that will be an issue with Scherbak.
22.) Pittsburgh Penguins – Jakub Vrana, LW, Linkoping (Sweden) (+5)
Jim Rutherford hand the draft reins to Jason Botterill, whom they are grooming to be the next GM in a few years. Botterill takes this Czech winger, one of the safer picks among the Europeans in this draft.
23.) Colorado Avalanche – Nikolay Goldobin, RW, Sarnia (OHL) (+1)
Patrick Roy may not be the biggest Russian supporter, but he can’t help but scoop up this one – the one who projects to be a pure goal scorer in the NHL in a few years.
24.) Anaheim Ducks – David Pastrnak, RW, Sodertalje (Sweden) (+1)
After selecting Haydn Fleury at 10th, Bob Murray uses his 2nd 1st round pick to select a medium-sized winger. Again, Anaheim has no glaring need, so I think that allows them to take a few risks with their selections (as I view Pastrnak as a bit of a risk).
25.) Boston Bruins – Julius Honka, D, Swift Current (WHL) (-9)
Peter Chiarelli is thrilled that this defenseman is still on the board. While he is undersized, in my opinion Honka possesses top-15 two-way talent on the blue line, a position that Boston is weak in.
26.) Montreal Canadiens – Josh Ho-Sang, C, Windsor (OHL) (-7)
Marc Bergevin went a bit off the board last year, taking big d-man Michael McCarron. I think he’ll take another risk this season, as many view Ho-Sang’s defensive awareness and attitude as issues that need to be addressed. I think, however, that his offensive talent is worthy of 1st round consideration, though the aforementioned issues could cause him to slip below 30.
27.) Chicago Blackhawks – Conner Bleackley, C, Red Deer (WHL) (+1)
Personally, I think Bleackley is top-20 talent, but he has been shuffled down the list due to other players’ rising. Stan Bowman shares this sentiment, and is happy to take Bleackley at 27.
28.) Tampa Bay Lightning (from NYR) – Roland McKeown, D, Kingston (OHL) (-2)
Sure enough, after selecting Adrian Kempe at 19 and hoping a d-man would be there, one does fall to them in McKeown. McKeown and his 200 lb frame may go higher depending on teams’ needs above (thinking about trades), but right now he falls to 28 and Steve Yzerman is excited to take him as they thought he wouldn’t be available.
29.) Los Angeles Kings – Brendan Lemieux, LW, Barrie (OHL) (+1)
I like this kid a lot. His NHL lineage does not hurt (for those of you who don’t know, the son of Claude Lemieux), but his two-way abilities overshadow that fact. After winning the Stanley Cup, a series jam-packed with physical play, they add yet another physical player (145 penalty minutes in 2013-14).
30.) New Jersey Devils – Nick Schmaltz, C, Green Bay (USHL) (-1)
After being penalized for the Ilya Kovalchuk circumvention, Lou Lamoriello is stuck with the 30th pick (he can’t trade it). So rounding out the first round, the Devils take Schmaltz, a skilled Center with solid playmaking abilities but lots of room to grow.
2014 Buffalo Sabres Selections
31.) Eric Cornel, C, Peterborough (OHL)
39.) Marcus Pettersson, D, Skelleftea (Sweden)
49.) Justin Kirkland, LW, Kelowna (WHL)
61.) Spencer Watson, RW, Kingston (OHL)
121.) Nelson Nogier, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
151.) Brandon Prophet, D, Saginaw (OHL)
181.) Vitek Vanecek, G, Liberec (Czech Republic)
2014 NHL Entry Draft Skaters Big Board (After 30)
31.) Jack Dougherty, D, USA NTDP (USHL)
32.) Eric Cornel, C, Peterborough (OHL)
33.) John Quenneville, C, Brandon (WHL)
34.) Ryan MacInnis, C, Kitchener (OHL)
35.) Anton Karlsson, RW, Frolunda (Sweden)
36.) Travis Sanheim, D, Calgary (WHL)
37.) Marcus Pettersson, D, Skelleftea (Sweden)
38.) Brett Pollock, C, Edmonton (WHL)
39.) Brycen Martin, D, Swift Current (WHL)
40.) Jack Glover, D, USA NTDP (USHL)
41.) Nicholas Magyar, RW, Kitchener (OHL)
42.) Jayce Hawryluk, C, Brandon (WHL)
43.) Ryan Donato, C, Dexter School (HS-MA)
44.) Brayden Point, C, Moose Jaw (WHL)
45.) Alex Peters, D, Plymouth (OHL)
46.) Chase De Leo, C, Portland (WHL)
47.) Anthony DeAngelo, D, Sarnia (OHL)
48.) Justin Kirkland, LW, Kelowna (WHL)
49.) Ryan Collins, D, USA NTDP (USHL)
50.) Reid Gardiner, C, Prince Albert (WHL)
51.) Vladislav Kamenev, LW, Magnitogorsk (Russia)
52.) Hunter Smith, RW, Oshawa (OHL)
53.) Vaclav Karabacek, RW, Gatineau (QMJHL)
54.) Spencer Watson, RW, Kingston (OHL)
55.) Connor Chatham, RW, Plymouth (OHL)
56.) Alexis Vanier, D, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)
57.) Aaron Haydon, D, Niagara (OHL)
58.) Shane Eiserman, LW, Dubuque (USHL)
59.) Michael Bunting, LW, Sault Ste Marie (OHL)
60.) Juho Lammikko, RW, Assat (Finland)
61.) Johnathan MacLeod, D, USA NTDP (USHL)
62.) Warren Foegele, LW, St Andrew's (HS-ON)
63.) Lucas Wallmark, C, Lulea (Sweden)
64.) Nicolas Aube-Kubel, RW, Val-d'Or (QMJHL)
65.) Oskar Lindblom, LW, Brynas (Sweden)
66.) Ondrej Kase, RW, Chomutov (Czech Republic)
67.) Adam Ollas Mattsson, D, Djurgarden (Sweden)
68.) Aaron Irving, D, Edmonton (WHL)
69.) Ben Thomas, D, Calgary (WHL)
70.) Joshua Jacobs, D, Indiana (USHL)
71.) Sebastian Aho, D, Skelleftea (Finland)
72.) Matthew Mistele, LW, Plymouth (OHL)
73.) Tyson Baillie, C, Kelowna (WHL)
74.) Julien Nantel, LW, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
75.) Daniel Audette, C, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)
76.) Alexandre Goulet, C, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
77.) Dylan Sadowy, LW, Saginaw (OHL)
78.) Pavel Jenys, C, Brno (Czech Republic)
79.) Blake Siebenaler, D, Niagara (OHL)
80.) Edgars Kulda, LW, Edmonton (WHL)
81.) Reid Duke, C, Lethbridge (WHL)
82.) Dominik Masin, D, Slavia (Czech Republic)
83.) Nikita Tryamkin, D, Yekaterinburg (Russia)
84.) Daniel Muzito Bagenda, LW, Modo (Sweden)
85.) Luc Snuggerud, D, Eden Prairie (HS-MN)
86.) Keegan Iverson, C, Portland (WHL)
87.) Julius Bergman, D, Frolunda (Sweden)
88.) Francis Perron, LW, Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
89.) Alex Schoenborn, RW, Portland (WHL)
90.) Brett Lernout, D, Swift Current (WHL)
91.) Emil Johansson, HV71 (Sweden)
92.) Dysin Mayo, D, Edmonton (WHL)
93.) Vladimir Tkachev, LW, Moncton (QMJHL)
94.) David Kampf, RW, Chomutov (Czech Republic)
95.) Colby Cave, C, Swift Current (WHL)
96.) Jacob Middleton, D, Ottawa (OHL)
97.) Axel Holmstrom, C, Skelleftea (Sweden)
98.) Lawrence Pilut, D, HV71 (Sweden)
99.) Clark Bishop, C, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
100.) Emil Aronsson, C, Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL)
My Skater Rankings go to 225, but I figure you don't need all of them so here are a few sleepers (in my opinion):
133.) August Gunnarsson, RW, Farjestad (Sweden)
141.) Kelly Summers, D, Carleton Place (CCHL)
142.) Andrew Mangiapane, LW, Barrie (OHL)
148.) Rihards Bukarts, LW, Brandon (WHL)
153.) Noah Rod, RW, Geneve-Servette (Switzerland)
159.) Henrik Tornqvist, RW, Linkoping (Sweden)
171.) Cody Donaghey, D, Quebec (QMJHL)
2014 NHL Entry Draft Top-10 Goaltenders
1.) Thatcher Demko, G, Boston College (NCAA)
2.) Alex Nedeljkovic, G, Plymouth (OHL)
3.) Ville Husso, G, HIFK (Finland)
4.) Mason McDonald, G, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
5.) Jonas Johansson, G, Brynas (Sweden)
6.) Edwin Minney, G, USA NTDP (USHL)
7.) Linus Soderstrom, G, Djurgarden (Sweden)
8.) Kaapo Kahkonen, G, Blues (Finland)
9.) Austin Lotz, G, Everett (WHL)
10.) Brandon Halverson, G, Sault Ste Marie (OHL)