Just 1 more to go after this one. I always like getting a mock draft in before Bob MacKenzie comes out with his rankings (tonight at 5:30 GMT) just to see where I stack up. Don’t put too much into this one, as it is more just to compare. Friday morning’s mock will be my final one and HOPEFULLY I can get it pinned down better than my final ones the last 2 seasons. How do I nail my NFL mock draft better than my NHL ones?!
A little info before I start up. First off, this draft is loaded with undersized, highly skilled wingers. Half of most scouting services top 30 are these players. I expect most of those types of players to go later, maybe much later, than their rankings suggest. This league is all about strength down the middle and on the blueline. You don’t win with small, skilled wingers. They’re a dime a dozen. So if you’re wondering why I have some kids much higher than others, that is likely why.
And pretty much anywhere I have one of those wingers what I am saying is that a team is in a spot where they either have to take one of those types, or it fits their needs. For example I have David Pastrnak going 22 to Pittsburgh. But what I’m really saying is that they’ll take one of the kids like Pastrnak, who knows if he’ll be the guy out of that group that they’ll like. Maybe it’ll be Sonny Milano, or Josh Ho-Sang or Jakub Vrana, or anyone of those kids.
In the last few years I’ve become less of a believer in simply taking the best player available. So many fans scream “just take the BPA!” But the fact of the matter is that it has just become so damn hard to make a trade these days that you have to take the guy who is the best fit sometimes, and then of course you have teams like Detroit, LA, and Boston who have a specific type of kid they love and they’ll keep drafting those guys until it stops working.
I simply had to do a trade in this one as it looks like there is zero chance the Panthers are staying at 1. Who it’ll be with, I have no clue but I took a shot and guessed.
As always I haven’t seen a lot of these kids play, I just try to compile as much information on them as possible and then look at what the organizations have either on the team and in the system about 25 or 26 and under. And just before I start again I stress, the comparisons are not who I think these guys will become, just who their games are similar to. “Before we begin, we have a trade to announce….”
Sam Reinhart Kootenay WHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 185 Shot: R
Comparison: Jonathan Toews
The trade in my opinion that makes sense for both sides is Alex Edler along with the 6th pick for the 1st pick. Tanev is the rumor right now but that just isn’t enough. That’s a steal if the Canucks only have to pay that. Edler gets destroyed by the media out here but the fact of the matter is that he’s a top 4, 6’4, 215 pound, puckmoving D-man with a cannon from the point. Canucks shed his ticket and the Panthers get immediate help plus the 6th pick where they can take their boy. As for Reinhart, the Linden-ing of the Canucks continues (more likeable, more character). He won’t be Toews but he won’t be far off. The type of kid you want leading your team. As for other possibilities to trade up, Edmonton, Calgary, Toronto, Anaheim, Philly will try hard and don’t sleep on Chicago. Dale Tallon LOVES his boys he picked in Chicago.
Sam Bennett Kingston OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 178 Shot: L
Comparison: Mike Richards
Think Richards circa 2008, not today. The Sabres really need a center and so with Reinhart off the board they take Bennett but don’t think Draisaitl isn’t possible here as well. It all depends on the type of kid Tim Murray prefers. If he wants size, he goes Draisaitl. If he wants more grit, he goes Bennett. Tough not to LOVE Bennett’s game and his intangibles. And no, the chin up BS won’t matter.
Aaron Ekblad Barrie OHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’4 Wt: 215 Shot: R
Comparison: Shea Weber
This is all dependent on who trades up to 1. If it’s the Leafs for example, then I think they take Ekblad although they need a high end center as well. If it’s the Canucks like I have it, then it’s Reinhart. Still a tough choice for the Oilers if Draisaitl is still there. Don’t kid yourself, moving forward the Oilers are much more desperate for a center and center is where you need to be great to win in this league, just look at the team that has won 2 of the last 3 Cups. But Ekblad is the better prospect and would give the Oilers ridiculous depth on the blueline moving forward.
Michael Dal Colle Oshawa OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’2 Wt: 184 Shot: L
Comparison: Patrick Sharp
The Flames didn’t even have Leon Draisaitl in town last week when they had all the other top prospects in. Draisaitl didn’t go to Edmonton because of flight issues, but the Flames simply didn’t invite him so that is pretty telling that they aren’t interested. Too bad for Flames fans because Monahan and Draisaitl would be such a great 1-2 down the middle. Instead they go with Dal Colle who should be a great sniper and will have good size once he fills out, but the last thing this team needs is another winger.
Leon Draisaitl Prince Albert WHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 208 Shot: L
Comparison: Joe Thornton
If things fall this way, I would bet a lot of money that Craig MacTavish would be on the phone with Garth Snow offering Yakupov for the pick. The Islanders, much like the Panthers, aren’t keeping this pick. Unlike the cats though, they aren’t looking to move down. They want immediate help. So while this pick says Draisaitl to the Islanders, that won’t happen. What will happen is a team will move in here and select Draisaitl at 5 if he’s still on the board.
William Nylander Rogle SWE
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 169 Shot: R
Comparison: Ray Whitney
Nylander and Nik Ehlers are apparently the kids they love. I’ve heard Nylander a lot more often so I’ll say it’s Nylander. I would go with Nick Ritchie, but they are the Panthers for a reason. This new ownership just sounds awful, and I have my doubts that Dale Tallon will stick around to see how it plays out. One positive I will say for them however is that they could use more help up front than people think, so Nylander helps there. But Kyle Woodlief from the Redline Report called him a diva. That’s a pretty big red flag.
Haydn Fleury Red Deer WHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’3 Wt: 207 Shot: L
Comparison: Mark Giordano
Not much has changed from my previous mock drafts with this pick. Jim Rutherford has ran this organization right into the ground (and somehow lands as the GM in Pittsburgh for doing so), and so it is now up to Ronnie Franchise is save this team again. He needs to load up the back end that Rutherford completely ignored over the last 15 seasons, so Fleury is a great fit here. Don’t be shocked if they like Travis Sanheim more though…
Nick Ritchie Peterborough OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’2 Wt: 218 Shot: L
Comparison: Jamie Benn
You’re loving me now aren’t you Leaf fans?! Chris Roberts, Shane Tomayer, Tyson Lowrie, Robb Fenton, Malcolm Radke, Daniel Q. Haygarth, you’re all loving me now aren’t you!!? Well, I don’t think any of you had an issue with me before, but point is that Leaf fans should love this pick. Ritchie falls no further than this spot, could go as high as 4. He is inconsistent but he’s a beast who is much more suited for the pro game.
Nikolaj Ehlers Halifax QMJHL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 162 Shot: L
Comparison: Patrik Elias
Do you remember Elias when he was young? The guy was one of the highest skilled kids in the league, now he’s just a shell of what he was but when the Devils were winning Cups he was awesome. I love this pick for the Jets because they need more skill in their top 6, although I do have my doubts about Ehlers. Mainly that it’s easy to tear it up in the Q which lacks grit as a league, and playing with Jonathan Drouin. But scouts adore this kid.
Jared McCann Sault Ste. Marie OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 180 Shot: L
Comparison: Patrice Bergeron
Like Haydn Fleury to the Canes, I just refuse to move off this pick. Remains to be seen if the Ducks will still own this pick come 6:00 or so GMT on June 27th. I think they will, it’ll be the 24th pick they’ll move in a deal for a center, but they still need depth down the middle and so McCann still makes a ton of sense here. If not McCann, maybe Dylan Larkin is the pick.
Brendan Perlini Niagara OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’2 Wt: 205 Shot: L
Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk
The Preds have amassed a pretty nice young blueline yet again, but they don’t have much offensive talent up front and with Peter Laviolette now behind the bench you can bet they’ll start to focus a bit more on having a team who can score. Perlini isn’t physical, but he can fly, has good hands and can really shoot. I could see Alex Tuch going here, but the Preds draft history suggests they take the CHL kid over the USHL kid.
Jake Virtanen Calgary WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 213 Shot: R
Comparison: Raffi Torres
So the West gets bigger and tougher yet again. I don’t know if Virtanen gets to the Yotes, a big, physical, fast kid with a great shot is a rare commodity. But I’m sure the Coyotes would be thrilled if he fell to this point. The biggest question mark with Virtanen is his hockey sense, but physically this kid has it all.
Dylan Larkin USNTDP USHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 190 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Kesler
Might be a bit of a reach here for Larkin but again center’s aren’t all over the place in this draft like last season. I feel like the Caps could either go with Larkin to add a great skating 200 foot center to play with all that offensive skill, or add to the blueline but I don’t see the D-man that fits their specific need.
Travis Sanheim Calgary WHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’3 Wt: 181 Shot: L
Comparison: Roman Josi
I mocked Honka here the last two times. But Travis Sanheim is this year’s riser and I believe he could go as high as 7th overall (remember, going into the 2012 draft Hampus Linholm was a riser but nobody had him ranked near 6th). All he has done all season is improve. Good size, good skater, moves the puck well, he’s what most teams covet. The Stars need to build up their blueline so this is a great fit. Remember, Jim Nill is their GM and he came from Detroit where they really coveted puck moving D-men.
Robby Fabbri Guelph OHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’10 Wt: 166 Shot: L
Comparison: Saku Koivu
Speaking of the Wings…the question is weather or not Fabbri will be able to stay at center in his career or if he’ll move to the wing. The Wings don’t have a need for yet another small, skilled player, but Fabbri has versatility and grit that they’ll covet. I think they need to take Julius Honka or Travis Sanheim if he is still on the board, but they haven’t selected a D with their top pick since Brendan Smith in 2007.
Julius Honka Swift Current WHL
Pos: D Ht: 5’11 Wt: 178 Shot: R
Comparison: Mark Streit
I think Honka is pretty close to Travis Sanheim, but as we enter draft week I would say Sanheim and Fleury are in the same category (very similar players) and Honka is just a little outside of that group. He’s a pure PP QB and while there isn’t much size, he can really mix it up. The Jackets have a nice young blueline but they could stand to add to it, they didn’t with their 3 first round picks last year.
Ivan Barbashev Moncton QMJHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: T.J. Oshie
Bad spot now with no D-men worth taking in sight, but IF they pick I think this is one that makes a lot of sense. A player out of the Q which they love, versatile, plays with energy, he feels to me like a Flyers kind of guy. But they need to make sure they find a way to upgrade their D moving forward. Samuel Morin, Shayne Gostisbehere and Robert Hagg just are not enough. Trade down and take Roland McKeown? Trade the pick for a D prospect? Trade up? Hextall and Holmgren have to find a way.
Alex Tuch USNTDP USHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 213 Shot: R
Comparison: Bryan Bickell
Another team that could use a D-man, but they more so could use a guy via UFA. Dumba and Brodin are going to become good running mates for Suter. So with that being said they take Tuch and I love this kid as a surprise top 12 pick because of his great size, but I can’t find a spot where I like him to go prior to this. I say Bickell but he is kind of a cross between Bickell and Blake Wheeler. He can really move for a guy his size.
Conner Bleackley Red Deer WHL
Pos: C/RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 192 Shot: R
Comparison: Brooks Laich
We’re talking about a kid who scouts won’t love as much as GM’s will because he doesn’t have that elite skill that scouts covet, he has all the intangibles that GM’s covet. So while who knows if he lands here, he’ll go higher than most scouts have him which is between 30-22 or so. I don’t like to call a kid a C/W but in this case most seem to think he will see time at both spots. Tampa needs D, but could use a character kid up front like this with nice size.
Kasperi Kapanen Kalpa FIN
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 172 Shot: R
Comparison: Sami Kapanen
I don’t dislike Kapanen at all, but I don’t get the hype around him that some scouts have. So I’m saying he falls and this would be a pretty big fall as some have this kid as a top 10 prospect. But having said that, what a team to fall to. The Sharks develop their kids as good as any team in the league.
Vladislav Kamenev Magnitigorsk MHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 176 Shot: L
Comparison: Travis Zajac
Last time I had Thatcher Demko and that still makes a lot of sense. But so does Kamenev. This isn’t just a center, it is a center with a big frame who plays a Ken Hitchcock style of game. It is likely they go get that center they need either at the draft or on July 1st, but they still could use another guy in the system. They also haven’t been afraid of Russians in the past, Tarasenko has definitely worked out for them.
David Pastrnak Sodertalje SWE2
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 167 Shot: R
Comparison: Martin Havlat
Get some running mates for Crosby. I don’t care if it’s Pastrnak, or Scherbak, or Vrana, or Ho-Sang, or Milano, or Fiala, or any of these smaller skilled wingers, but there are a billion of them in this draft so all you have to do is take one of them. This should fit perfectly with Jim Rutherford because he’s obsessed with undersized skilled kids.
Roland McKeown Kingston OHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’1 Wt: 186 Shot: R
Comparison: Kevin Shattenkirk
Really like this pick and I know McKeown has stumbled down a lot of rankings in the 2nd half, but in a draft that doesn’t have a lot of talent on the blueline I still believe he goes a little earlier than expected. I have read too much good about this kid to think he’ll bust, a character kid who is effective at both ends.
Nikita Scherbak Saskatoon WHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 172 Shot: L
Comparison: Martin Erat
I would bet this won’t be their pick come selection time. So I’ll guess it’s the Canucks, although I wouldn’t deal Kesler in division. The Canucks get this pick in a Kesler deal, take Scherbak who has a ton of skill and while he isn’t a smooth skater, he’s an effective skater. And again with the comparison, Erat while in Nashville, not what he’s become since.
Adrian Kempe Modo Jr. SWE
Pos: LW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 187 Shot: L
Comparison: Sean Bergenheim
A big winger who isn’t afraid to go to the tough area’s on the ice and play with an edge, does that sound like a Bruins type of guy? He might be Swedish, but Kempe plays a North American style and I believe would be a great fit for the B’s. The President’s trophy winners don’t have a lot of holes, so they can sit back and take the best guy on their board and Kempe fits their bill, and if their patient with Kempe he may become something special.
Brendan Lemieux Barrie OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 206 Shot: L
Comparison: Claude Lemiuex
Now, will he become the ultimate pest and clutch performer his old man was? Probably not. But he finds ways to be effective just like the old man and people forget that Claude had some toughness when things got nasty and he needed to throw down. 96 World Cup he had a great tilt with Keith Tkachuk who was far from a pushover. Anyway, the Habs could use more players like this and Claude likely still has some ties to the organization which always help in hockey. The Habs have killed it in 2 drafts thus far under Marc Bergevin.
Nick Schmaltz Green Bay USHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 170 Shot: R
Comparison: Mike Ribeiro
Schmaltz might not go in the 1st round. But as I said last time, if he goes to the right organization like Boston, Chicago, or LA he might become a legit star player. He has so much skill, but disappears far too often for a lot of people’s liking. The Hawks could stand to upgrade their blueline but with the way they develop forwards I believe a kid like this could be huge value here, and then look to move a forward for a D-man down the line.
Anthony DeAngelo Sarnia OHL
Pos: D Ht: 5’11 Wt: 175 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Murphy
The Lightning need D-men in their organization. Last time I had DeAngelo going to the Hawks a pick before, this time he gets to them. But who knows who they’ll like. A lot of USHL kids ranked right around here. But their head scout is Al Murray who prior to this job was the head scout for Hockey Canada. DeAngelo’s comparison pretty much says it all. The difference is that DeAngelo doesn’t try to win a game 1 on 5 like Murphy does.
Hunter Smith Oshawa OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’7 Wt: 208 Shot: R
Comparison: Brian Boyle
Man is this EVER a Kings pick! They’ve had a lot of success with kids out of the OHL (Brown, Doughty, Simmonds, Pearson, Toffoli, etc), and they love size up front and as you can read this kid has boat loads of it. Tough to compare him to anyone because I believe the only regular forward (so not John Scott) in the league who is over 6’5 is Brian Boyle. But while Boyle is a center, they do have similar games. Probably a top 9 guy with grit, just don’t expect him to be Lucic.
Sonny Milano USNTDP USHL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 183 Shot: L
Comparison: Mike Cammalleri
I’m not getting over them being awarded this pick anytime soon and I’m guessing the league will regret doing so when the fans in Philly go ape sh*t on Friday when it’s their pick. Anyway, Milano is yet another guy in this draft who is small but skilled. He is expected by most to go higher than this and easily could, tough to say what the order of the small wingers will be. I hope for the Devils sake he is a complete bust should they select him.
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