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Another attempt at a mock draft

Published on May 22nd 2014


No, this isn't the new Starbuck. It's WIlliam Nylander

Prospect soup.

That's perhaps the best way to describe the upcoming 2014 NHL Entry Draft, which will be held on June 27 and 28 in the City of Bodily Harm, Philadelphia. Players and hockey fans alike will be fighting to get in.

The problem in predicting this year's draft class is that there are no superstars. It reminds me a bit of the 2007 draft. While a pretty amazing player in Patrick Kane came out of that draft class, I remember analysts saying it was a hard draft class to evaluate because every player seemed to come with some sort of flaw. With guys like Kane and Sam Gagner, they had offensive tools but no size. You had someone like James van Riemsdyk that had size, but questionable skating. Etc.

2014 is a little different in that the top prospects - Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, Sam Bennett and others - Aren't considered to have flaws per se; there just isn't a true Toews, Doughty, Crosby or Malkin in the bunch. What there is? A whole bunch of decent prospects that will become solid NHL players. From what I understand, arguments could be made for drafting anyone in the top 15 ranked prospects at any point during the first round.

I'm going to try doing a mock draft again. I'm not sure why I got sidetracked with my last attempt, but I did. I'll likely do one more FINAL mock draft in June after the NHL Combine, which takes place at the end of May. Expect teams like the Panthers, Oilers and Sabres to interview 101 players...especially the Sabres, who appear to have half of the draft picks.

Let's start from the beginning...Top 10 picks. And I am basing these on how the draft order is at this exact moment. Everyone is pretty sure there will be deals made this time around, with teams trading up and down. When you have around 10-15 prospects all very close with respect to quality, you could see tremendous movement of picks. Of all the teams I think is most-likely to trade down, I would say the Oilers, as they have no second and third round picks for this draft. Trading down a few spots is a good way to acquire picks.

1. Aaron Ekblad, D, Florida Panthers - I've been reading a whole bunch of media comments recently from Florida-based writers, suggesting the team doesn't feel that desperate to add another scoring forward. It's completely possible they could trade down, with the Calgary Flames and New York Islanders both potentially very keen to trade up. But assuming no deals are made, Ekblad would be the player the Panthers select, as he'd fill a roster hole and be useful for the next 15 seasons.

2. Sam Bennett, C, Buffalo Sabres - This is mostly a matter of proximity. Sabres management have likely seen Bennett play 40 games over the last year, so they know what his potential is. While Bennett would not make the Sabres bigger up front, he'd give the team an incredible 1-2-3 at center for the future (Bennett, Hodgson and Girgensons). A feisty player in the Doug Gilmour mode. Enormous compete level and team emotional leader.

3. Sam Reinhart, C, Edmonton Oilers - Edmonton wins the lottery here. Almost everyone is certain the Oilers want big German center Leon Draisaitl, and he's playing some great hockey at the world championships right now. But since the beginning of the 2013/2014 season, the Oilers have been discussing Reinhart like he's some sort of dream player to acquire. Compared often to Jonathan Toews...How could the Oilers go wrong with that? Keep in mind Draisaitl is a big player who plays slick hockey...but he's not a bruiser. Reinhart isn't a small player though some consider him so (6'1" 185lbs is more or less what Taylor Hall was when he got drafted). If the Oilers get a shot at Reinhart, they won't pass him up.

4. Nick Ritchie, W, Calgary Flames - I am going off the map here a little. Ritchie is huge, he fights, takes penalties, and can score goals. Perhaps the most Brian Burke-type player available in the whole draft class. This fits with the plan in Calgary. They will become the dirtiest team in hockey once again in a few years with Burke at the helm.

5. Michael Dal Colle, LW, New York Islanders - I believe the Flames and Islanders will work hard to move into the Top 3. For the Flames, the player of interest would be Reinhart. For the Islanders, it would be Ekblad. But assuming both can't move up, the Islanders will take the best winger available at #5, and that's Dal Colle. The team has so much depth at center - Tavares, Nielsen, Strome, Bailey, and Nelson - What they need most is a scoring left-winger. The real weird thing here is, the Islanders owe the Sabres a first round pick, and with superstar Connor McDavid available in 2015...the new way the draft lottery works...the Isles might chance it this season and give up their pick for a shot at McDavid.

6. Leon Draisaitl, C, Vancouver Canucks - This is a two-foot putt. If Draisaitl is available, the Canucks take him, no questions asked. Both Sedins and Ryan Kesler will be gone soon, so the Canucks need to start now to rebuild their top six forward group. They already have dynamite prospects in Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk. Draisaitl would be key piece #3. Big, slick forward often compared ton Anze Kopitar.

7. Haydn Fleury, D, Carolina Hurricanes - The 'Canes have some pretty decent forwards, so there isn't as much urgency to add another. Defensemen, however, well they need about four. At 6'2", 207, Fleury is a decent size and he has some offense in his game. There are forwards available who might be better prospects, but the Hurricanes need to address their sad defensive group in a hurry. Hurry rhymes with Fleury.

8. William Nylander, C, Toronto Maple Leafs - The Leafs have been waiting a million years to find a true #1 center. Nylander is not a monster size-wise, but his offensive skills are sick. Could be a long-term solution to a long-standing problem in TO. Just don't let Nylander use the same agent his dad did and we'll be fine.

9. Jake Virtanen, RW, Winnipeg Jets - Goal-scoring winger with decent size. A good replacement for guys like Evander Kane (when he gets dealt) and Andrew Ladd (when he goes UFA and runs for it). The Jets have better defensemen than forwards, so this pick works for them.

10. Kasperi Kapanen, RW, Anaheim Ducks - Could this be the next Finnish Flash? Anaheim would love to find out.

So there's my most recent Top 10. I'll try to add more to it tomorrow. Enjoy!

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Richard CloutierPuckrant Contributor

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