Roland McKeown Kingston OHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’1 Wt: 186 Shot: R
Comparison: Kevin Shattenkirk
I have to be honest, I didn’t realize until doing this mock that the Jackets really don’t have much coming on the blueline. It wasn’t too long ago (a year and a half to be exact) that the Jackets took Ryan Murray, had taken John Moore in the 09 draft, Cody Goloubef was a promising prospect, Tim Erixon came in the Rick Nash deal, David Savard was a nice prospect….that’s all done. Not much has come of that. Erixon and Murray look fine but they need a lot more. So I like a kid like McKeown going here. Sure, he isn’t a defensive stalwart, but solid enough. I LOVE the comparison of Shattenkirk here, their styles of play are very similar. Real smooth skater, great shot, not overly skilled offensively but he does produce. Knows how to play in his own zone enough to not drive a coach insane. Maybe a bit of a reach, but much like Ritchie is rare, McKeown I expect will go higher than the rankings have him because as it currently stands there just aren’t that many good D-men in this draft. Julius Honka might be the only other guy to go in the 1st round.
Jake Virtanen Calgary WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 213 Shot: R
Comparison: Claude Lemieux
Kevin Cheveldayoff has done a great job here being patient and not only has a good young team with some key pieces still on the way, but unlike a team like the Oilers, the Jets are built to play Western conference hockey. Enter, Jake Virtanen. Is a winger a great need for the Jets? No not really. Ladd and Wheeler are in their primes and locked up, Evander Kane is still growing (hopefully not just as a player but as a person as well), one of Nic Petan or Bryan Little may end up moving to the wing, and let’s not forget Devin Setoguchi. So there isn’t a NEED on the wings, but in the West you can’t go wrong stock piling size that can play. I love what Virtanen brings to the table. He doesn’t simply play with an edge, he’s mean. Some want to question his offensive upside, that’s fine. But a kid who can play a physical game who can actually skate and has some skill is so tough to find these days.
William Nylander Rogle SWE
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 169 Shot: R
Comparison: Ray Whitney
As much as I have disliked THIS addition of the Vancouver Canucks (I grew up liking the Canucks, and even the Naslund/Bertuzzi/Burke days I still liked them), I can’t believe how far they have fallen. In 2011 I would have said this will be what happens to this team because of all the dirt bags not just on the team but in the organization….but I wouldn’t have actually believed it. They’re still so talented, and aren’t over the hill. But they need to really shake things up throughout the organization. And they need to hit this pick out of the park. Virtanen would have be perfect. There isn’t much of a need for a kid like Nylander here. But a few factors play a part here. 1) he’s far and away the BPA at this point. 2) should it be Mike Gillis making this selection, he was the agent for Willie’s dad Michael, so he knows the family very well. This kid has ridiculous talent, top 5. He will be the best player on the ice some nights, and invisible the next. His old man was a bit like that.
Julius Honka Swift Current WHL
Pos: D Ht: 5’11 Wt: 178 Shot: R
Comparison: Mark Streit
This feels like a Jim Nill pick. The Stars could go with either Honka in this spot or Ivan Barbashev. They aren’t set on either D or center so neither would be a poor choice. I’m not sold on Barbashev being able to play the middle in the show, and D-men are scarce in this draft so I’ll have them taking Honka. I really love the comparison here, because he really does play just like Streit. Really smart, slick offensively, not a shutdown D-man but not a high risk kid either because he has a really good stick defensively. Stars got a pretty good thing going here. If they can continue to develop their guys as well as they traditionally have with Nill now running the show, they’ll climb back to the Western conference elite in the next 2 or 3 years.
Ivan Barbashev Moncton QMJHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: T.J. Oshie
Russian, possible 2nd line center, sounds like a perfect fit for the Caps in this spot. Again, I don’t know that Barbashev will be a center in the show, but he would be well worth the chance for the Caps to take here. T.J. Oshie isn’t going to be your typical comparison for Barbashev, but I think this fits perfectly. Oshie is a versatile guy who plays with a ton of passion, and can play in any situation. That is Barbashev. Craig Button also calls him a leader, definitely not the player I thought he was when I first heard of him. I like many others in this country assumed he was your stereotypical Russian player who was awesome to watch, but 1 dimensional and tried to be a 1 man show. Well he’s fun to watch, but he’s far from the stereotypical Russian player.
Kasperi Kapanen Kalpa FIN
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 172 Shot: R
Comparison: Sami Kapanen
The Flyers really badly need to keep stockpiling D-men. Samuel Morin was a great start, but this team is in BAD shape moving forward on D. The Oilers, Hurricanes and Avs have worse bluelines currently, but moving forward nobody in the league looks any worse than the Flyers do. And they don’t know it, but UFA’s are going to stop signing there eventually. I mean, they’re rumored to want Ryan Kesler now. Great, because Giroux, Lecavalier, Schenn and Couturier aren’t getting the job done apparently. Paul, Bob, Ed, fella’s….try addressing your PROBLEMS. But in this scenario I don’t see who they could take to address a problem. So they take the BPA which would be Kapanen. Much like Nylander to the Canucks, the organization will know Kasperi well thanks to his dad finishing his career as a Flyer. They loved Sami in Philly, as he was a guy you could use in any situation and Kasperi is that same type of player with a bit more offensive skill although I debate that. I remember when Sami came up with the Whalers (yes the WHALERS…I’m old) and he was a pretty highly skilled player. That was the dead puck era though. If Sami came along today, I’m sure his numbers would be much better.
Nikolaj Ehlers Halifax QMJHL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 162 Shot: L
Comparison: Radim Vrbata
Post 05 lockout Ken Holland took D-men in 2 of 3 years with Kindl and Smith. But he hasn’t selected one since and they’ve needed guys. But they must feel like they’ll find them and develop them. In fairness they didn’t have a 1st in 09, 2011, or 2012 (traded down in 09 and 11). Anyway, with no D worth reaching for here, take the BPA which is Ehlers. Scouts love Ehlers more than I do. I have trouble trusting a small player who is putting up big numbers in the Q. But they see more of him than I do. I still say he falls to somewhere in the 15-20 range because of his size. I mean prior to the 2012 draft, Teuvo Teravainen fell likely because of his size and he is a more skilled kid than Ehlers is. Then again, there are a ton of guys just like Ehlers in this draft so maybe that’ll help him go higher. But nonetheless this feels like a Red Wings pick. Take the skilled kid, slowly develop him and teach him a 200 foot game, then bring him in when he’s 22 or 23. Side note, I think this pick will be higher. Datsyuk has been banged up, Zetterberg out basically the rest of the regular season, I don’t think they’re getting in the playoffs this time around, and I picked them to go to the final this season.
Alex Tuch USNTDP USHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 213 Shot: R
Comparison: Bryan Bickell
Riser. When I did the first mock this season I had Tuch 30th and really thought I was reaching pretty bad on him, but in connecting the dots I figured it was something the Blues would do (who I had making the 30th pick). Now, Tuch is maybe the fastest riser in this draft. He was 19th in Bob McKenzie’s midseason rankings, and a lot of scouts are jumping on this bandwagon. Another positive for the Rangers here is that they could use a winger. They’re ok down the middle, they were able to deal a good young D-man in Del Zotto just to sure up the right side of their blueline. So adding a big power forward like Tuch seems like a good move here. Like Ritchie, Virtanen and the D-men who have already gone, a rare player like Tuch is going to be jumped on earlier than expected. What I had read up on Tuch previously was that he was a big guy who thought the game more than he used his size. But what I’m now reading is that he plays with a ton of passion, and while he’s not that skilled he does chip in offensively. Again though, going to the OHL next season would be much better for his development.
Dylan Larkin USNTDP USHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 190 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Kesler
Again I’ll remind you that with some of these comparisons I’m not saying they will be these players. I try to look for that, but in the case of kids like Reinhart and Larkin it would be incredible if they became Toews and Kesler. But I just see a lot of similarities, especially from when they were draft eligible. Now, Larkin has a similar stature to Kesler, plays the middle a lot like Kesler too in that he’s not a traditional playermaker. Like Kesler, Larkin creates by playing a power game and taking the puck to the net every chance he gets. If he becomes a poor man’s Ryan Kesler any team will be thrilled with that I’m sure. Who drafted Ryan Kesler? Brian Burke…but who was the assistant GM in Vancouver at that time? Steve Tambellini….but who was the OTHER assistant GM at that time? Dave Nonis, there we go! Maybe more of a need for the Leafs to go D here than center, but again there is no D-man close. Larkin is ranked 20th on Bob McKenzie’s rankings, so he’s really not anything of a reach at this point.
David Pastrnak Sodertalje SWE2
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 167 Shot: R
Comparison: Martin Havlat
It is just so damn tough to not compare this kid to Havlat. Of course I’m talking Havlat in his Ottawa days, not what he currently is thanks to so many injuries just completely beating down his career. Havlat was AWESOME back then. He was so incredibly skilled with the puck, a real good penalty killer thanks to his speed, and really one of the few players who was exciting to watch back in the dead puck days. So if the Wild end up getting a player close to that, they’ll be laughing. They much like most of the teams in this 10-20 range need D-men, but again there just isn’t that many quality D in this draft. In the past few weeks though, Mikael Granlund has stepped up, Charlie Coyle has moved to the middle, and so the Wild look good again at center and might need an offensive boost on the wings. They’re one of the few teams in the league who don’t have much quality on the way on the wing, so it is a need for this organization.
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