IceNationUK Mock NHL Draft! (well everyone else is doing one…)

Image courtesy of nhl.si.com.

What with the NHL Entry Draft taking place all day tomorrow, and with every man and his dog expressing his, her or it’s opinion on who their team should take, I thought I’d chuck my hat into the ring.  Yeah yeah, mock drafts are two-a-penny these days, but they’re a fun exercise (for the writer at least!) and at the very least allows a quick glimpse at 30 of the top draft prospects.

It goes without saying that these are my views on who each team might take based on their needs and/or past drafting, as opposed to a personal ranking of the players involved.  Sincere thanks goes to Bob McKenzie at TSN, Corey Pronman at Puck Prospectus, and Hockey’s Future for all the information they make available for free to the draft nerds like myself, it’s incredible and much appreciated.

POSITION PLAYER WHY?
1 – COL Nathan MacKinnon (C) Avs will replace Stastny with younger, better center with superstar two-way potential. A 1-2-3 punch of MacKinnon, Duchene and O’Reilly could be killer, reminiscent of Sakic, Forsberg & Drury.
2 – FLA Jonathan Drouin (RW) Best offensive talent in the draft, could form wonder-duo with Huberdeau.  Slightly undersized and a work-in-progress defensively, but could be one of the best offensive talents out of the draft in years.
3 – TBL Aleksander Barkov (C) Lecavalier’s replacement at centre, big & gifted offensively and defensively; regarded as most NHL-ready player in draft after a season-for-the-ages in Finland.
4 – NAS Seth Jones (D) Preds replace Suter (and possibly Weber?) with stud defenceman who has All-Star potential with unbelievable two-way game.
5 – CAR Valeri Nichushkin (LW) Canes are a little light (in talent and size) on the port side – big, speedy power forward VN could solve that immediately, though just what his offensive ceiling might be is unclear.
6 – CAL Elias Lindholm (C) Finally gives the Flames some elite talent at centre: speed, IQ, scoring, defensive acument & deceptive strength.
7 – EDM Sean Monahan (C) Monahan gives the Oilers some much needed depth at centre – big, strong, can score & defend, though needs time to develop.
8 – BUF Anthony Mantha (LW) Huge goal scorer gives BUF some much needed size coupled with speed, smarts and finishing ability.  Questions about passion but undeniable talent.
9 – NJD Hunter Shinkaruk (LW/C) Undersized sniper gives the Devils a scoring injection; Devils’ system should cover up defensive deficiencies.  Top finishing ability.
10 – DAL Darnell Nurse (D) Big, mean, minute-munching defender displays good all-around skills – could form quite the imposing duo with Stars prospect Oleksiak.
11 – PHI Rasmus Ristolainen (D) Highly skilled big, physical defender from Finland, the Flyers will snap up a potential top-2 NHL defender, something their system sorely lacks.
12 – PHO Bo Horvat (C) Top defensive center with offensive potential, fits Phoenix’s mandate like a glove. Strength, speed & physicality complete the picture.
13 – WPG Max Domi (C) Small but fantastically gifted offensive forward boosts the Jets’ talent level considerably. Feisty and hard-working, but defensive deficiencies remain.
14 – CBJ Alexander Wennberg (C) Versatile Swede can play all 3 forward positions, with good skating ability and top offensive talent and a good defensive game, can play a power game not many of CBJ’s players have.
15 – NYI Ryan Pulock (D) One of the most offensively skilled D in the draft, Pulock will eventually replace Mark Streit. Howitzer of a shot and good thinker, though has defensive issues and average skating.
16 – BUF (from MIN) Curtis Lazar (RW/C) The Sabres continue to shore up on prospect forwards, this time taking the versatile Lazar. Questions surround his offence, but receives rave reviews for work ethic, attitude, physical willingness and defensive potential.
17 – OTT Nikita Zadorov (D) The Senators have some quality offensive and two-way defenders, but in Zadorov they pick up a huge, smooth skating physical defensive presence.  Does possess offensive skills, but not clear how much.
18 – DET Josh Morrissey (D) This might go against the grain for Detroit, as this might be earlier than expected for Morrissey to be taken, but he’s a high quality prospect with top skills in all areas of the game, suiting Detroit’s style.
19 – CBJ (from NYR) Adam Erne (LW) Very good all-round player capable of adapting to the type of game being played around him thanks to tremendous smarts.  Gives Columbus more skill on the wings.
20 – SJS Mirco Mueller (D) Big athletic defenceman with strong two-way ability, despite average offensive numbers he has good puck skills and is a good skater.  Gives the Sharks a more famous name in their defence-prospect pool.
21 – TOR Zach Fucale (G) Toronto is always obsessed with goalies, and Fucale comes with a heck of a winning resumé.  Excellent ability and awareness with that mystical “big game player” quality gives Leafs fans someone to be excited about for the future.
22 – CAL (from STL) Frederik Gauthier (C) The Flames continue to build up the middle by taking this big, skilled center.  Smart and possessing good two-way ability, he can also skate well and displays good competitiveness, though could be more physical.
23 – WAS Kerby Rychel (LW) Giving the Caps some more depth at left-wing, Rychel has good size, plays nasty, and possesses very good offensive skills that could end up complementing the Capitals’ other skill players down the road.
24 – VAN Andre Burakovsky (LW) A fast skating, highly skilled Swede would fit in nicely with Vancouver’s system, which is lacking in quality prospects.  Apparently not as natural a finisher as some, but creates a ton of chances with his speed, similar to Magnus Paajarvi.
25 – MON JT Compher (C) Montreal’s system is chock full of decent prospects, and Compher would fit in very well with his strong two-way play, good skating and offensive skill.  Is heading to college, meaning he’ll have the time to fill-out his frame.
26 – ANA Samuel Morin (D) Morin fills a couple of Anaheim’s needs: size, and defence.  At 6’6″ and over 200lbs, Morin is an imposing specimen who has improved very quickly over a short time.  Still something of an unknown, but has undeniable potential particularly thanks to his skating.
27 – CBJ (from LAK) Robert Hagg (D) After taking two forwards, with it’s third 1st rounder Columbus takes a typical Swedish defender: good skater, quality puck skills and two-way potential.  Columbus has some quality D prospects already, but Hagg is too good to pass up.
28 – CAL (from PIT) Chris Bigras (D) Calgary needs an injection of quality on defence, and while Bigras isn’t a famous name, he delivered excellent two-way play for Owen Sound of the OHL this past year, with a particularly incredible +67 rating in 68 games.  Dependable and reliable are the two keywords here.
29 – DAL (from BOS) Jacob De La Rose (C) Has fallen in many rankings, probably thanks to questions about offensive potential, but nonetheless possesses very good size, physical play, skating, defensive play and skill.  Like Burakovsky, could end up as a Paajarvi type – not be a high-end scorer, but a very good two-way guy.
30 – CHI Valentin Zykov (LW) Top goal-scoring ability and overall offensive hockey sense as well as being very thickly built and thus quite difficult to handle.  Along with Saad, could give the Hawks quite the 1-2 punch on the port side in a few years.
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