I know the hockey world is swamped with mock drafts and top-30 lists at the moment, but I thought I’d add one more – mine. This is not a mock draft; rather, this is how I rank the players I feel are the top-30 prospects for tomorrow’s draft.
|1||Adam Larsson||SEL||37GP – 1G – 8A – 9PTS||Two-way defender is already handling tough opposition in one of the world’s best leagues|
|2||Ryan Nugent-Hopkins||WHL||69GP – 31G – 75A – 106PTS||Smallish power play dynamo is the consensus first overall pick; has been compared to Datsyuk|
|3||Sean Couturier||QMJHL||58GP – 36G – 60A – 96PTS||Big forward plays a strong two-way game, skating is a concern|
|4||Gabriel Landeskog||OHL||53GP – 36G – 30A – 66PTS||Gritty winger is a better scorer than he gets credit for; he outscored Nugent-Hopkins at even-strength|
|5||Jonathan Huberdeau||QMJHL||67GP – 43G – 62A – 105PTS||Top scorer for the best team in the ‘Q’; will probably be selected before Couturier|
|6||Ryan Strome||OHL||65GP – 33G – 73A – 106PTS||Complete player is in the draft’s upper tier, though (relatively) poor playoff showing might hurt him|
|7||Dougie Hamilton||OHL||67GP – 12G – 46A – 58PTS||6’4" defender can do it all – he really isn’t that far behind Larsson|
|8||Ryan Murphy||OHL||63GP – 26G – 53A – 79PTS||All-offense defenseman put up a lot of points on the powerplay, but defensive game is weak|
|9||Alexander Khokhlachev||OHL||67GP – 34G – 42A – 76PTS||One of the youngest players in the draft, Khokhlachev’s got high-end puck skills|
|10||Duncan Siemens||WHL||72GP – 5G – 38A – 43PTS||Tough as nails defender has pretty good skills too.|
|11||Mika Zibanejad||SEL||26GP – 5G – 4A – 9PTS||Physically mature two-way forward is rising fast and seems to have broken into the draft’s top tier|
|12||Zack Phillips||QMJHL||67GP – 38G – 57A – 95PTS||Goal-scorer was a key member of Huberdeau’s powerhouse Saint John team|
|13||Mark McNeill||WHL||70GP – 32G – 49A – 81PTS||Smart, two-way forward lacks a glaring weakness|
|14||Sven Bartschi||WHL||66GP – 34G – 51A – 85PTS||Small winger played for a ridiculously good Portland team, but is gritty and can score|
|15||Matt Puempel||OHL||55GP – 34G – 35A – 69PTS||I really like this natural goal-scorer, despite injury problems|
|16||Nikita Kucherov||MHL||41GP – 27G – 31A – 58PTS||Phenomenal offensive player is a gamble because of the ‘Russian factor’|
|17||Mark Scheifele||OHL||66GP – 22G – 53A – 75PTS||6’3" centre has plus hockey sense, doesn’t mind traffic|
|18||Jonas Brodin||SEL||42GP – 0G – 4A – 4PTS||Intelligent finesse defender needs to bulk up; offensive upside is a bit of a question mark|
|19||Michael St. Croix||WHL||68GP – 27G – 48A – 75PTS||5’11" centre has scoring skills, defensive play described as "indifferent"|
|20||Rocco Grimaldi||USNTDP||23GP – 12G – 13A – 25PTS||5’6" forward is one of the best players in the draft, but stands 5’6"|
|21||Joel Armia||Fin.||48GP – 18G – 11A – 29PTS||Big, highly-skilled shooter gets knocked for vision and hockey sense|
|22||Ty Rattie||OHL||67GP – 28G – 51A – 79PTS||Another offensive player from that ridiculously loaded Portland team|
|23||Scott Mayfield||USHL||52GP – 7G – 9A – 16PTS||Huge defender played big minutes for a lousy Youngstown team|
|24||Joe Morrow||WHL||60GP – 9G – 40A – 49PTS||I wonder if this offensive defenseman would have managed these total outside Portland|
|25||Connor Murphy||USNTDP||9GP – 3G – 1A – 4PTS||I’m a sucker for hockey sense, but his back injuries scare me. This late, I’d risk a selection.|
|26||Dmitrij Jaskin||Cze.||33GP – 3G – 7A – 10PTS||Had a great U-18 tourney; 6’3" winger went 1st overall in the KHL’s 2010 Draft|
|27||David Musil||WHL||62GP – 6G – 19A – 25PTS||Defensive defenseman’s scouting report sounds a lot like he’s a higher-end version of his dad|
|28||Jamie Oleksiak||NE||38GP – 4G – 9A – 13PTS||Massive (6’7") player is a decent skater for his size, provides minimal offense|
|29||Nicklas Jensen||OHL||61GP – 29G – 29A – 58PTS||Big Dane had a great playoffs, scoring seven times in 10 games|
|30||Oscar Klefbom||SEL||23GP – 1G – 1A – 2PTS||Defenseman had a great U18 tournament as Sweden’s captain|
I have Ryan Nugent-Hopkins at number two, and despite my worries about his even-strength scoring I want to make something clear: I like this player. He’s a high-end prospect, a dynamo on the man advantage, and a guy people I respect have seen a lot and gushed about. I expect him to go first overall, and I’d be drafting him fairly high as an NHL G.M. That said, I think there’s a small chance (say one in 15) that his career turns out to be a disappointment.
I’m a huge fan of Gabriel Landeskog, and I think if he’d put up a few more points with the man advantage he would be going first overall. Character, grit, and goal-scoring aren’t often wrapped up in the same package, and he’s a guy I’d love to see in the system.
Portland was a ridiculously loaded club, with three players likely to go in the first round this year, plus high picks from last year like Ryan Johansen, Nino Niederreiter and Brad Ross. Because the team was so good, I’m a little suspicious of some of the totals we’ve seen from prospects in this year’s draft.
Jonas Brodin was compared to Nicklas Lidstrom in Bob McKenzie’s TSN list, and seems to be a guy that might skyrocket on draft day. It only takes one team to love him that much.
I really, really like Connor Murphy. From what I’ve read, I can’t find a scout that disagrees with that statement. He’s suffered through some terrifying injuries the last few years, and it’s fair to ask whether he’ll be permanently damaged as a result – if he isn’t, a 25th overall selection would be brilliant, but then again he might be retired by 25.
Everyone has Jamie Oleksiak higher than I do because he’s so huge, and could turn into the next Tyler Myers or Zdeno Chara. My worry would be that he turns into Boris Valabik.