Like many others here, I really enjoy speculating about prospects and the draft and this year's draft seems to have the potential to be pretty exciting. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert or anything, because I'm not. The only players I know well is the three London knights slated to go in the first round from taking in quite a few knights games in the past two years. I have also been able to see most of the other OHL players live and of course have seen some of the other prospects in the WJC or Memorial Cup. I would be interested in hearing your own opinions about who goes where.
1) Colorado Avalanche - Nathan MacKinnon
This one is a real tough pick between Seth Jones and MacKinnon. I’m picking MacKinnon because I think he showed he was the better player at the Memorial Cup, despite being 11 months younger than Jones. I also think Patrick Roy will factor in this decision.
2) Florida Panthers – Seth Jones
Florida gets the next best player in this draft and a stud to build their blue line around. With some already key players like Kulikov and Gudbranson in place, their defense could become a strength in the future.
3) Tampa Bay Lightning – Jonathan Drouin
This pick seems obvious. A dynamic play maker with elite vision to set up Stamkos and eventually replace St. Louis. This is assuming Yzerman doesn’t continue his crush on risky and or Russian picks and selects Nichushkin.
4) Nashville Predators – Aleksander Barkov
One of my favourites of the draft and probably the best offensive talent ever selected by Nashville. Already plays a pro game and can shut down opponents as easy as he can score on them. Looks like a great fit in Nashville and Barry Trotz’s system.
5) Carolina Hurricanes – Valeri Nichushkin
One of the more intriguing prospects in this year’s draft with his size and raw skill yet is inconsistent, especially in actually using his size. GM Rutherford has shown though he isn’t afraid to commit to a Russian with consistency problems. (see Semin, Alex)
6) Calgary Flames – Elias Lindholm
Another of my favourites in this year’s draft, Lindholm has the potential to be a top producing #1 center that plays well in all three zones. A lot of people have Feaster taking Monahan, who is more NHL ready, but with two other picks in the first round, he can afford to go for the homerun with Lindholm who I think has more upside.
7) Edmonton Oilers – Sean Monahan
The Oilers would be thrilled to have Monahan fall to them as he fulfills a need as a big two way center that could play on their second line. Although many have them selecting a D, they need defense now, not in two or three years, and they already have several promising D prospects. If they do go the D route, Nurse would likely be their guy.
8) Buffalo Sabres – Darnell Nurse
Buffalo has a chance to draft a stud of a Dman who models his game after Shea Weber. Nurse does it all and Buffalo’s depth at defense allows them to develop Nurse properly. They don’t need to draft another center but if they go for a skilled winger, Shinkaruk could be their man.
9) New Jersey Devils – Hunter Shinkaruk
A team starving for skilled winger prospects gets just that with Shinkaruk. I see a lot of Zach Parise in him and hopefully he can fill that void down the road that Parise left.
10) Dallas Stars – Bo Horvat
I’m a big fan of Horvat and I think he will excel in the NHL. Dallas continues building a prospect pool with size and grit.
11) Philadelphia Flyers – Rasmus Ristolainen
Flyers need to rebuild their D prospect pool and they get a great one with this nasty Finn.
12) Pheonix Coyotes – Alexander Wennberg
Coyotes could use some high end skill and Wennberg address that. Not sure why I don’t hear much about him as he seems pretty underrated.
13) Winnipeg Jets – Anthony Manta
Jets have a very solid D core and could use some more scoring skill up front. Mantha has all the tools to be a premium big bodied goal scorer but will need to put it all together with consistency to duplicate his success in the NHL.
14) Columbus Blue Jackets – Nikita Zadorov
Jackets get a raw but a big time potential prospect in Zadorov that continues building their blue line.
15) New York Islanders – Ryan Pulock
Isles also get a D with a lot of upside and someone who will QB an already dangerous PP.
16) Buffalo Sabres – Valentin Zykov
Size, skill and two way grit. Sabres walk away with potential top 2 Dman and top six forward.
17) Ottawa Senators – Samuel Morin
This may be a bit of a reach but with his size, someone is bound to take a flyer on Morin. Sens have a deep prospect pool and will be able to develop Morin patiently.
18) Detroit Red Wings – Robert Hagg
Wings have a way with Swedes and Hagg had a good showing at the WJC. Underrated Dman IMO.
19) Columbus Blue Jackets – Max Domi
Domi has potential with sweet hands and won’t back down in the corners or in front of the net. Columbus can afford to take a high risk/reward with their 2nd of 3 first rounders.
20) San Jose Sharks – Zach Fucale
21) Toronto Maple Leafs – Kerby Rychel
22) Calgary Flames – Adam Erne
23) Washinton Capitals – Frederick Gauthier
24) Vancouver Canucks – Curtis Lazar
25) Montreal Canadiens – Ryan Hartman
26) Anahiem Mighty Ducks – Joshua Morrissey
27) Columbus Blue Jackets – Mirco Mueller
28) Calgary Flames – Steve Santini
29) Boston Bruins – Ian McCoshen
30) Chicago Blackhawks – Andre Burakovsky