NHL mock draft: Flyers grab a talented D-man
Everybody has an idea of just whom their favorite team will take in the draft. Those ideas are never 100 percent accurate – and just one or two “off the board” picks or trades can change everything.
Generally speaking, if you pick a player within 10 slots you’re doing well. So, with that in mind, here’s the way we see things working out in the first round of the draft, which takes place Friday evening.
1. Edmonton Oilers: Nail Yakupov – forward – 5-11/190
This talented Russian will be too good for the Oilers to pass up. He could be the team’s best player in a few years based on his will to win, precision skating and ability to provide instant offense. He’s ready to contribute in the NHL. For those wondering why they would take him: The Oilers could easily deal some of their other assets.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets: Mikhail Grigorenko – forward – 6-2/183
There are those who think the Jackets will shy away from another Russian draft pick based on past failures, but passing on an all-around great talent like Grigorenko could haunt them for a decade. With he and Ryan Johansen, they’ll have a lot of youth in the middle – and teams need that.
3. Montreal Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk – forward – 5-11/189
He isn’t a risk to flee to the KHL, and his knee injury is in the rear-view mirror. The Sarnia star has the ability to make players around him better. The Habs need a young scorer like this to lead them into the future.
4. New York Islanders: Filip Forsberg – forward – 6-2/181
This Swede might be the most versatile player in the draft. Many think the Islanders should take a defenseman, but can they pass up a dynamic offensive talent with size? In a few years, he’d look good on the same line as John Tavares.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs: Mathew Dumba – defenseman – 6-0/183
This kid is tough. He skates well, he scores and he can run a power play with his tremendous shot. The Leafs need a player like this to eventually get them to the next level.
6. Anaheim Ducks: Ryan Murray – defenseman – 6-0/205
His slapshot is over 90 MPH already. He has great recovery speed and he rarely makes mistakes. Has he peaked already? Who knows, but the Ducks could plug him into their lineup next season, and that’s what they need.
7. Minnesota Wild: Cody Ceci – defenseman – 6-3/206
Ceci has size, hockey sense and scoring ability. He will likely get stronger in the future. When the Wild drafted Jonas Brodin, they had to be thinking about who they could pair him with in the future. This is the guy.
8. Carolina Hurricanes: Jacob Trouba – defenseman – 6-2/193
This American blueliner has top-pairing ability with a plus shot and long reach. He could be the perfect complement to Ryan Murphy.
9. Winnipeg Jets: Griffin Reinhart – defenseman – 6-4/202
His bloodline is strong, with his dad Paul having played in the NHL for many years. He’s a hard worker who makes good decisions. He already has a pro shot and he’ll get even stronger. Reinhart will be a fan favorite amongst Winnipeg supporters.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning: Morgan Rielly – defenseman – 6-0/190
Rielly has arguably the best two-step quickness in the draft. He can lead the rush like Dan Boyle used to. He can be that piece on the power play that complements Steven Stamkos perfectly a few years from now.
11. Washington Capitals: Sebastian Collberg – forward – 5-11/180
This fast-skating Swede has a low center of gravity. His exceptional stick and puck control along with his scoring touch will get the attention of the Capitals. He could be the steal of the draft.
12. Buffalo Sabres: Martin Frk – forward – 6-0/198
This Czech prospect creates a lot of offense with his great vision, precision passing and scoring touch. He had a concussion issue that skewed his numbers this season, although he had a good showing in the playoffs. He’s loaded with confidence and is a power-play dynamo like Thomas Vanek.
13. Dallas Stars: Olli Maatta – defenseman – 6-1/202
This Finn skates very well. He can bring the puck end to end and pierces the offensive zone very well, which is necessary in today’s NHL. His passing is excellent and he keeps his head on a swivel. He can win battles and make key defensive stops. The Stars like those kinds of players.
14. Calgary Flames: Zemgus Girgensons – forward – 6-2/198
This Latvian has plenty of physical and offensive gifts. He was dominating at the USHL level. Some other players who have done that in the past found it challenging at the next level, however. He will be attending the University of Vermont, which means the Flames will have some time to watch him progress.
15. Ottawa Senators: Slater Koekkoek – defenseman – 6-2/184
This defenseman seems to be over his recent shoulder injury. He showed great strength in the combine, and he possesses a good point shot and good closing speed. He has to work on two-step quickness, but he wants the puck on his stick. He might be on the second pairing in Ottawa someday.
16. Washington Capitals: Teuvo Teravainen – forward – 5-11/165
He’s already grown a few inches but still has a slight frame. This Finnish forward is a great skater who can score from anywhere on the ice. He handles the puck extremely well, and the Capitals love those skilled players.
17. San Jose Sharks: Brendan Gaunce – forward – 6-2/212
This Belleville Bulls star has an extremely fast and accurate shot. He has good wheels too, especially when he’s driving towards the net. This pivot won gold at the U-18 Ivan Hlinka tournament last summer. His older brother Cameron is in the Avalanche system. He can give the Sharks a missing element that they need.
18. Chicago Blackhawks: Stefan Matteau – forward – 6-1/209
He seems to have the clutch gene his father Stephane is known for. He is a highly skilled player who is deadly in the slot. This two-way power forward has a great bloodline. He is scheduled to attend North Dakota this fall. His dad played for the Hawks he’ll follow in his footsteps.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning: Radek Faksa – forward – 6-3/202
This Czech forward is an effortless skater who is quick to pick up loose pucks. He’s a terrific two-way player who won’t spend a lot of time in the penalty box. Tampa could use more size down the middle.
20. Philadelphia Flyers: Jordan Schmaltz – defenseman – 6-2/189
This American defenseman is a great skater. He has a pro one-timer already. His excellent stick and puck control is something the Flyers like. He currently needs more of a challenge, and therefore will attend North Dakota in the fall. He once had a verbal commitment to play for the University of Wisconsin at the age of 14 (really!).
21. Buffalo Sabres: Oscar Dansk – goalie – 6-2/189
With fellow countryman Jhonas Enroth lacking size, and Ryan Miller getting older, the Sabres need a bonified No. 1 future goaltender. Nathan Lieuwen may not be that guy. They can’t afford to pass on this talent. He just announced he will likely play in the CHL next season.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins: Hampus Lindholm – defenseman – 6-2/196
This slick Swede is a fast skater who keeps players honest with good stick work. He will use his body, too. Lindholm has good on-ice awareness. If the Pens fail in the Justin Schultz sweepstakes, they will get a gold star here.
23. Florida Panthers: Matt Finn – defenseman – 6-0/185
This Ontario native has leadership qualities and goal-scoring ability. His zone coverage is good and so is his skating and stick work. He plays the corners well and will use his body when he has to. He has a passion for the game and could be a nice future addition for Florida.
24. Boston Bruins: Malcom Subban – goalie – 6-0/165
He’s the most athletic goalie in the draft. His brother is P.K of the Canadiens. He carries himself very well on and off the ice. This backstop is fast up and down. He’s had some groin issues, but fills a lot of net for his size. The Bruins will be looking to restock their system with goaltenders.
25. St. Louis Blues: Ville Pokka – defenseman – 5-11/198
This Finn plays a solid brand of defense. He skates very well and spends time on the power play. He needs to work on holding the puck in better on the man advantage if he wants to be the top guy in the future, however. The Blues will be patient and they won’t rush him.
26. Vancouver Canucks: Derrick Pouliot – defenseman – 5-11/186
This Portland Winterhawks blueliner plays on the penalty kill and plays the corners very well while doing so. He’s a fast skater and adept passer, and is very smooth overall. He can get back on defense and strip the puck from fast skaters. He will be a fan favorite for sure.
27. Phoenix Coyotes: Dalton Thrower – defenseman – 6-0/189
This player can score goals. He likes to fight and he’ll stand up players with big hits using solid technique. He’s a good positional skater and will do anything to make a play. Phoenix needs a player like this.
28. New York Rangers: Esa Lindell – defenseman – 6-3/194
He’s signed with Jokerit until 2015. He’s a decent skater but can get better. He has terrific offensive ability and can find open areas of the ice and unleash scoring strikes quickly. His positioning is solid. The Rangers need a future power-play quarterback.
29. New Jersey Devils: Tom Wilson – forward – 6-4/205
A very physical two-way player who can drop the gloves or create offense. He’s deadly down low, especially off rebounds. He’s a good skater who will improve. He’s a lot to handle out on the ice, and understands the game. The Devils love those players.
30. Los Angeles Kings*: Colton Sissons – forward – 6-0/172
He’s a good passer. He’s good at cycling the puck and can be a good third-line NHLer. It’s a safe pick for the Kings.*Columbus could cash in their option for this pick that they received in a trade with L.A., or roll the dice for next year – which will likely yield a better pick.Russ Cohen is the founder and owner of Sportsology.net, co-author of ‘100 Ranger Greats’ and the host of Hockey Prospect Radio on SIRIUS/XM. E-mail Russ at firstname.lastname@example.org.