First I want to start off by saying that I am the worst flier of all time and having just come back from Europe, petrified of turbulence over the Atlantic, all I could think of the entire time was "what if I don't get to see who Ottawa takes 9th overall?" Nothing about not seeing family or friends again, just that I won't get to see who is selected, who they sign and how Leclaire does this season.
Now that I am back safe in Ottawa, it is still all I can think about. Having read nearly every report, blog, article, mock draft etc. I'd like to share who I think Murray has narrowed it down to... as well as hear from other Sens fans as to who they think Murray should select.
As I see if right now, it comes down to two prospects.
1. D Oliver Ekman-Larsson. This kid is a brilliant defenseman who's stock just keeps rising and rising. Some are even suggesting in 4-5 years time he will be better than Hedman. I remember reading an interview with Murray who said just that... there was another defenseman who they thought was going to be better and who they could grab later on. Now that OEL is all over everybody's radar I can't see him dropping to 9th, especially with Burke selecting 7th. Burke loves building from defense out and OEL would compliment Schenn nicely, not to mention Burke has had luck with Swedes in the past.
2. RW Jorda Schroeder. Honestly this guy had me at the World Juniors. He is an amazing talent and I was just hoping to myself that Ottawa was going to draft high enough to select him. I also think this is Brian Murray's kind of guy. Aside from Karlsson, Murray has drafted three Americans in the first round the past four drafts. His size could be better, but just tell that to Patrick Kane, Derek Roy and Daniel Briere. What makes me not even worry about his size is his showing at the Combine. This kid was weighed in at 175lbs and finished second in bench press with 17reps at 150lbs (first was 18) not to mention he also came in second in push strength generating 351lbs only one pound behind the leader. Impressive. To me that means not only does this kid have hands, skill and hockey I.Q. but he is going to be tough as nails to knock off the puck even for a smaller guy.
If both these guys go before 9th I would have to think that Murray then goes with either Jared Cowen or Nazem Kadri... unless one of the big six slips way down. Cowen is that big bruising shutdown defenseman Ottawa doesn't have who will compliment Karlsson and Weircioch nicely. Kadri is an undeniable talent. The fact that he wasn't able to showcase himself in the Juniors and had an OK showing at the combine makes me hesitate. But there is no denying his skill on the ice and could be a welcome addition to our top 6.