We're one month from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, and this is a fun period for draft nuts like me. We've been asking all kinds of questions all year long, and now most have been answered. You know where your team is drafting (mostly), you know where the traded picks have landed (although I have a feeling it'll be a trade filled draft) and the approx pecking order of talent is known.
What's left? Aside from the excitement of 'Sam versus Sam' for second overall, we can ask some important questions about this year's draft. For instance, is it better than last year's draft? Answer: no. An early second round pick this season looks to be about equal with a late one in 2013, maybe a little worse. The draft has some nice talent at the top, and is at least interesting through about 25, but after that it's kind of a mess. I'm not saying there isn't talent available, but that talent hasn't made itself clear.
You're buying a lottery ticket after selection No. 40. That's my opinion.
Here's another question we can ask: are there any plug and play talents this season? In order to answer that question, let me go back to last season, 2013.
That's 9 players last season, but the bottom three don't belong. Lightning threw their goalie in for a game, and Buffalo was smoking the giant spliffs for a time early in the year. I think the others are going to be outstanding, leaving six players who we can safely say made the transition from junior to NHL.
I call these fellows 'plug and play' types. Step right in, help with the work. Let's have a look at forwards MacKinnon, Nichushkin, Monahan, Lindholm and Barkov, using Desjardins' NHL equivalencies. We're looking for players who showed enough offense to suggest they belonged in a higher league.
DESJARDINS' NHL Equivalencies for 12-13 Forwards
- Jonathan Drouin, Halifax (QMJHL) 19-30-49
- Sasha Barkov, Tappere Tampere (SM-Liiga) 18-22-40
- Elias Lindholm, Brynas (SEL) 15-25-40
- Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax (QMJHL) 17-22-39
- Max Domi, London (OHL) 15-18-33
- Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat (WHL) 14-19-33
- Sean Monahan, Ottawa (OHL) 13-20-33
- Anthony Mantha, Val d'or (QMJHL) 17-13-30
- Valeri Nichushkin, Chelyabinsk Traktor (KHL) 20-10-30
- Adam Erne, Quebec (QMJHL) 9-15-24
Hmmm. I count 9 forwards with 30 or more points via NHLE (basically it's a solution that takes the air out of junior numbers, pretty effective) and Monahan plus Nichushkin were pretty good comps for their NHLE seasons. Seth Jones was going to play no matter, so I'll suggest the 2013 draft actually had 10 possible NHL players. It was a helluva draft.
2014 DRAFT ELIGIBILES NHL EQUIVALENCIES (per 82gp)
- Sam Reinhart (WHL) 15-28-43
- Kevin Fiala (SHL) 11-30-41**** (small sample size alert)
- Leon Draisaitl (WHL) 15-25-40
- Sam Bennett (OHL) 16-23-39
- Nikolaj Ehlers (QMJHL) 18-20-38
- Robby Fabri (OHL) 19-18-37
- Michael Dal Colle (OHL) 14-21-35
- Nikolai Goldobin (OHL) 14-21-35
- Sonny Milano (USHL) 12-23-35
- Ivan Barbashev (QMJHL) 12-21-33
- Josh Ho-Sang (OHL) 12-19-31
- Nick Ritchie (OHL) 16-14-30
- Brendan Perlini (OHL) 14-16-30
- Nikita Scherbak (WHL) 11-19-30
- Alex Tuch (USHL) 11-16-27
- Jake Virtanen (WHL) 16-9-25
- Nick Schmaltz (USHL) 7-18-25
Huh. What do you know? Looks like there are MORE forwards (and Ekblad) who might be plug and play types this season. I count 14 instead of 9 (plus a defenseman each season).
Seems we have some confusion here, Orly.
What does this all mean? I don't think we're about to see a Nathan MacKinnon in 2014-15, but there may be more Nichushkins available. Perhaps we should have a closer look at this draft? That Fabbri kid really is good, and hell's bells there some USHL kids looking good too. And WHAT about Reinhart, Draisaitl and Bennett?
As the draft comes into view, I think there are things to get excited about for NHL fans, especially fans of Canadian teams.
NHL equivalencies are explained here by the brilliant Gabriel Desjardins.