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Posted 2:24 PM ET | Comments 0

The 2010 NHL Draft is turning out to be a fascinating one. Unlike recent draft years, this group of players lacks the ultra high end depth we’ve come to expect.

The 2010 draft has two great offensive players, and three premium defensemen in the top five, but after that group there are questions, questions, and more questions.

However, even with the severe drop off from #6 onward, this draft distinguishes itself by having tremendous depth. There are players that will be available in the late 30’s that would be potential 1st Rounders in most previous drafts (excluding the 2008 and 2009 drafts, which were exceptional).

Another anomaly in 2010 is that there are some hyper-skilled guys who are going to go quite low. Part of the reason is that this year’s NHL playoffs have shown the league that to be successful you need a stud defenseman, or preferably two stud defensemen. I think this perception will cause teams to slightly overvalue big, good skating D-men like Derek Forbert, Jon Merrill, Dylan McIlrath, Jerred Tinordi, Alex Petrovic, and Stephen Johns.

In the new (Salary Cap Era) NHL, a team’s first round pick is critically important. Five years ago, ten years ago, teams were willing to gamble a mid or late 1st round pick to try and hit a home run (see Canuck’s former 1st round pick Patrick White), rather than play it safe and just pick a solid prospect.

Now no team can afford to be cavalier about their pick, and therefore I wonder just how willing teams are going to be to gamble.

And make no mistake; there are myriad opportunities to gamble in this draft.

There are at least four offensive players, other than Hall and Seguin, who have the skills to be considered as top four picks in this years draft, but who could go anywhere from 5th to 40th. They are:

Brett Connolly

He is a tremendous natural goal scorer, an excellent skater, has very good size, possesses strong character, and is a winner.
But……Brett missed pretty much the whole 2009/2010 season due to serious injuries to both hips. He did come back late in the season, and was able to lace them up for the Ivan Hlinka (World Under 18) tournament, but he lacked the acceleration and jump he needed to be anything more than just average.
So, will he recover from his injuries, and continue on his anointed path to become the next Brendan Shannahan, or will his hips become a chronic problem leading to mediocrity and early retirement?
Would you pick him in the top 5? The top 10? Remember, the future of your team depends on this. Would you be willing to gamble?

Vladimir Terasenko

He has excellent quickness, a very high hockey IQ, is already playing, and succeeding, against men in the KHL, and was probably the only Russian who didn’t quit at their disastrous World Junior Championship.
But……even though he is considered the Russian prospect with the most projectable skill set, Terasenko is pretty much guaranteed to drop out of the top 5 because of the ‘Russian Factor’.
After all, would you spend a top five pick on a guy who may never come over to North America? He certainly doesn’t need to come to the NHL – he is already considered a future star in the KHL, and he will definitely make much more money there than he will on an entry level contract in North America.
How about a top 15 pick? A top 20 pick?

Kirill Kabanov

He was called ‘the next Ovechkin’ at 15, or was it the next Kharlamov? He was the Second Coming… the next Great One… a Hockey Genius at 16.
Only 1 year ago it was predicted that he and Taylor Hall would be duking it out for the #1 overall spot in this year’s draft.
But…… at just 18 years old, he is now considered a ‘head case’, with more red flags than a Chinese golf course. What the heck happened?
Kabanov’s story started last summer when he had to go to court in Russia to force the KHL to release him from a contract he never signed binding him to a KHL team. The case, and the circus surrounding it were acrimonious, to say the least, and eventually a disgusted KHL leadership group threw up their collective hands and said GO!
Bridges were burned, powerful people were pissed off, rumors started showing up about Kabanov’s father being combative and disrespectful.
But hey, the bottom line was that Kirill was coming to play Major Junior in Canada! Moncton was ecstatic! NHL scouts were beyond happy! Everyone forgot about those KHL Bozos.
And things started out great! 23 points in his first 20 games, and he looked great doing it.
But…..an injury. A bad injury – a broken wrist, and the expected magical season was over. Kabanov, reportedly at his father’s request, was given leave by the team to go back to Russia to have the injury treated by his own Doctors. That makes sense, right? I would probably have done the same thing.
But….. while he was back in Russia rehabbing his broken wrist for the whole season, Moncton decided to make some trades and re-tool for the playoffs. And when Kirill finally came back with only a short time left in the regular season, Moncton was on a roll, and there wasn’t much opportunity for him to get quality ice time.
Now here’s where things start to get weird: Early in the playoffs, Moncton is looking like a top notch contender for the Memorial Cup, when all of a sudden they release Kirill Kabanov to play for Russia at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament.
Huh? You’ve got supposedly one of the best Junior players on the planet available to you, and you just say; “no thanks. We don’t really want you here. You can go back to Russia, or whatever….Have a nice life.”
Huge Red Flag!
But….. the plot thickens: The kid joins the Russian Under 18 team in preparation for the Ivan Hlinka Tournament and……and……promptly gets kicked off the team !
So what’s wrong? Is he arrogant? Is he clinically depressed? Is he just a jerk? Is it his Dad? Is he merely a poor misunderstood fool? Does he need professional help, or just a helping hand. It doesn’t seem like this kid has a friend in the world, but maybe he’s just a massive tool.
But…..he struts into the Draft Combine like a Rockstar – covered in tats, and dripping charisma, and crushes the aerobic and agility tests (not so much the strength tests). He then spends an afternoon directing an amazing press conference, where he does everything but scream ‘Vivre le Quebec libre!’, and ‘Ich bin ein Berliner!’.
This kid is simply a force of nature. I’ve been trying to think of any NHL player I could compare him to (Jeremy Roenick? Derek Sanderson?), but the best analogy I can come up with is that Kabanov is a combination of NFLers Broadway Joe Namath, and Terrell Owens.
So, are you willing to put that kind of whirlwind in your dressing room? Remember; Namath is a Hall of Famer with a Super Bowl ring, and Owens is a six time All Pro, and a member of the All Decade (2000’s) Team.
I certainly don’t envy the GM’s who have to put their jobs on the line in trying to figure this guy out.

John McFarland

A former first overall pick in the OHL entry draft, McFarland is highly skilled, fast, strong and has captained Canada twice at international tournaments.
But….. He seems disinterested during the grind of the regular season, and consequently, his stats are pretty mediocre. He also hasn’t shown any improvement over the past two years, and hasn’t been able to lift his team to the point where they might even contend for a playoff position.
NHL Scout: “… there is so much Robbie Schremp in there it’s frightening.”
NHL Scout: “… a guy who is in the same bracket in terms of talent as Hall and
Seguin, but right now you throw it all in a blender and the mix
isn’t good.”
NHL Scout: “… he had really bad body language, like he didn’t want to be
But….. He came into the Draft Combine like a man on a mission – strong, confident, mature, and all business. And by the end of the combine, he was considered by most to be the best all round athlete in the draft.

So what are we to make of all this? In my Mock Draft I have Brett Connolly going 10th overall to the New York Rangers, Terasenko going 20th to the Pittsburgh Penguins, McFarland going 29th to Anaheim, and Kirill Kabanov having to wait until Saturday (2nd Round) to hear his name called.
Filed Under:   2010   MOCK   DRAFT   KABANOV   CONNOLLY  
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