2014 NHL Mock Draft – March Pt.3
Adrian Kempe Modo Jr. SWE
Pos: LW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 187 Shot: L
Comparison: Evander Kane
I really just had no clue as to where the Lightning should go with this pick. They really need D, they sort of need centers, yet I have them taking Kempe who is listed as a center by some but is likely going to play the wing in the pro’s. I really like the kid. He won’t be Evander Kane, but he can be a poor man’s Evander Kane and as long as he doesn’t have the attitude issues Kane apparently has he will become a very good player. Of course you never know with a player like this weather or not he will play this similar rugged style in North America. It’s tougher hockey over here, and we have seen some European’s embrace that, and some get turned off by that. So it remains to be seen, but at this point in the draft I think he’s a good pick. Again, not much of a need here for the Lightning, but they’re kind of stuck with the way this has shook down.
Anthony DeAngelo Sarnia OHL
Pos: D Ht: 5’11 Wt: 175 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Murphy
As the fan of a team who constantly get overwhelmed by the Kings size, I think they need to start getting smaller! Man alive this team is so good when they’re on. So big, know how to use their size effectively, play a 200 foot game, and they aren’t a slow team either. And they’re now in that zone as a franchise where they’re able to sit on their prospects and let them develop so kids like Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson, and Derek Forbort won’t be full time guys until they’re ready. DeAngelo is a bit of a reach, but for the Kings I don’t believe it is. They can take their time with this kid and mold him into something more. 2 more years in the OHL, minimum of 2 years in the AHL, then perhaps in his 3rd season you can start looking at him for the big club and by then he should be able to defend a little bit and tone down his risk taking.
Conner Bleackley Red Deer WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 190 Shot: R
Comparison: Drew Stafford
I had trouble coming up with a comparison here. Bleackley has more of a sniper’s mentality than Stafford, but then again Stafford has had some real good offensive seasons in the league. But he has a power game, will go to the dirty area’s on the ice, has good speed, is only 6’0 but he’s thick, and fits a lot of what I believe the Habs are looking for. I know the focus the past few years under Marc Bergevin has been to get bigger and grittier. Bleackley does that. He won’t put anyone through the boards but will lean on opponents. At this point in the draft he would be just a real nice and safe pick. At worse he’s going to fit nicely into someone’s top 9, he just doesn’t have the ceiling that others do.
Sonny Milano USNTDP USHL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 183 Shot: L
Comparison: Mike Cammalleri
I really like this pick for the B’s if it came to this. They are tough to handle but could afford to mix in a skilled kid like this in their top 6. They don’t have much skill up front in the organization and while that is the way the league is trending (back to the early 2000’s), it is good to have some skilled guys. Also, the Bruins are a team who at least claim they just want to take the BPA. Well if Milano slid to 27 he would be the BPA. As for Milano himself, the comparison is pretty much as you read. Really slick, skilled guy who plays mostly on the perimeter. That’s the issue with Milano and there for might make the B’s shy away because they don’t have players who don’t go in the corners and win puck battles or drive the net. Then again, maybe they believe if they teach this kid to play like a Bruin they could have a star on their hands.
Alexis Vanier Baie-Comeau QMJHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’5 Wt: 225 Shot: L
Comparison: Boris Mironov
This team is for real, much to my shock! Hats off to the job that Patrick Roy has done there this season. I can’t believe this team isn’t picking in the lottery to be honest. You think back to the gong show that this organization was just 11 months ago and it is stunning. Now, great goaltending helps and Varlamov has been unreal this season. But nonetheless you need more than goaltending and they’ve got it. Ok so they reach here a bit on a riser, but he’s a riser in the Q. So we know Roy (who we know has a lot of say here) loves the kids out of the Q where he used to coach and still owns the Ramparts. Vanier is pretty impressive. He’s HUGE and he is putting up pretty big numbers. He plays with some nasty too. He probably won’t be crushing guys in open ice, but he makes players pay for coming into his ice. It is his skating that is a concern. Some people say you can’t fix skating. Well, you can’t turn a poor skater into Matt Duchene or Duncan Keith. But you can improve a guys foot speed in particular which will improve the speed in general the player can get up to. Chris Bigras made the World Junior team, but couldn’t even get on the ice. He’s just ok. Stefan Elliott still can’t crack the big club. Duncan Seimens isn’t anything of sure bet to play in the league. So the point is, take the big swing on this project and add some help on D.
Nikita Scherbak Saskatoon WHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 172 Shot: L
Comparison: Alexander Mogilny
TSN only has him listed as 6’0, but both the WHL site and Future Considerations have him as 6’2. But I’ll stick with TSN, truth is we don’t know on any of these kids until the combine comes around. Ok once again I stress, not saying he’ll be Mogilny, just that he plays like him. Scherbak is what we have a ton of in this draft. Slight, highly skilled winger. If he is in fact 6’2 though that’ll give him an edge on guys like Ehlers, Goldobin, Ho-Sang, Vrana and others. But he is a lot like these players in that he is highly skilled and has potential to produce at a high level in the show. Great shot, great playmaker, great skater, doesn’t shy away from traffic, and if you read a few articles about him you’ll find that the Blades rave about his character. As for the Sharks, well they used to love CHL kids, but have really gone away from that. Mirco Mueller was their 1st round pick last year but they don’t have near the CHL bias they once seemed to. But getting Scherbak here could be a steal. This kid could be a steal because the Blades are so bad and we won’t see Scherbak much more.
Thatcher Demko Boston College NCAA
Pos: G Ht: 6’3 Wt: 192 Glove: L
Comparison: Braden Holtby
That hockey factory in San Diego is at it again. That’s right, Demko is a native of San Diego, California. Now how many times in the last 2 mock drafts have I said that the Hawks should be taking a goaltender high in the draft? Well I’m saying it again, maybe the 3rd year is a charm? I like Crawford, and Raanta is a solid young goaltender they’ve developed. But there isn’t really anything behind them and I just don’t believe you can continue to basically ignore goaltending. The league unfortunately is getting more and more defensive and as we all remember from 97-04 goaltending was king in the league. Demko is a perfect butterfly goaltending who can stretch nearly post to post and does a great job of making himself big. He isn’t as smooth as a Carey Price or Marc-Andre Fleury in net, but he moves with a lot of ease.
Jakub Vrana Linkoping SWE
Pos: RW Height: 5’11 Weight: 185 Shoots: L
Comparison: Ales Hemsky
Big talent, work ethic concerns. But if I’m the Pens I don’t care because at this point if a kid with this kind of talent is available you grab him. Great skater, great vision, great shot, can play either wing, this kid would look pretty sick on Sid’s line sometime in the future. And in my opinion they can never go wrong getting Sid and Geno wingers. It’s like getting a good QB weapons at WR and RB to enhance their game. Look at Chris Kunitz. And don’t get me wrong, Kunitz is a better player than some of the Olympic team talk would have had you believe. People forget that he was a 1st line player on a Cup winning team in Anaheim. But obviously he isn’t the most highly skilled player to have playing with Sid. Vrana is a top 10 talent, in fact he was ranked 10th on Bob McKenzie’s list in September. The Pens obviously don’t need help down the middle, and they have done a nice job building up their blueline in previous years (Pouliot, Maatta, Harrington, Despres, etc), so winger seems like a good play for Ray Shero.
Ryan MacInnis Kitchener OHL
Pos: C Height: 6’3 Weight: 175 Shoots: L
Comparison: Michal Handzus
Hahaha not a chance they can let him slide by should they still have this pick! Of course, this is a conditional as it stands right now, and I’m betting Miller re-signs AND they go to the final so with only needing one of those 2 things to happen to trigger a move of the trade, it will belong to Buffalo. But as of right now it is still the Blues and this pick isn’t just made because Al is in the organization. And maybe Al would say to Doug Armstrong “don’t take my kid”. But Ryan MacInnis fits what the Blues like. He’s a 200 foot player, good skater, when he fills out he’ll play a very heavy game, and he can chip in a little offensively though I would peg him to be a high end 3rd line center. The Blues don’t have any big needs in the organization, but they aren’t great at center moving forward so this pick really does fit in every way. Having said that, they’ll have to hope MacInnis falls to them in the early 2nd where the Blues own the Oilers 2nd round pick (so 31-35 range), because this will be Buffalo’s pick I’m certain.
Nick Schmaltz Green Bay USHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 170 Shot: R
Comparison: Mike Ribeiro
First off, I’m guessing with them owning Ottawa’s 1st that this pick is dealt by Wednesday. Schmaltz isn’t exactly going to be a Selke winner, but he’s elite offensively. He’s an effortless skater, filthy mitts, great playmaker, and a real good shot. I really think he ends up going higher in the draft than this, but he has dropped a bit to start this season in most rankings. I’ve been saying this for a few years now that the Ducks needed 2 things: to build up their D which they have done, and to find a 2nd line C to play behind Ryan Getzlaf. Should Schmaltz pan out he would be a great fit. And if the Ducks don’t like Schmaltz down the middle then as with all centers you could put him on the wing and I’m sure he would do just fine. But the key to him is going to be if you can as an organization figure out how to get the most out of him.
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