1. Edmonton Oilers Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Center
Edmonton will take the best player available in Nugent-Hopkins. RNH will serve as last year’s first overall pick Taylor Hall’s set-up man.
2. Colorado Avalanche Gabriel Landeskog Left Wing
While Larsson will be heavily considered, Colorado’s defense isn’t as porous as it showed last year. The real need is at wing, where the highly talented power-forward Landeskog would thrive alongside Matt Duchene. Ever since trading Chris Stewart, Colorado has been lacking a true power-forward who can make room for his linemates, but also keep up with them. Landeskog is considered to be the most NHL-ready player in the draft, and the Avs need him.
3. Florida Panthers Adam Larsson Defenseman
Larsson is far too good to pass up at #3. He would give Florida one of the scariest group of young defensemen along with last years third overall pick Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov. Larsson is the consensus best defenseman in this draft, and could contribute next year if he decides to cross the Atlantic to play.
4. New Jersey Devils Sean Couturier Center
This long, rangy center proved he can do it all when he scored 36 goals with 60 assists in 58 games this season with the Drummondville Voltigeurs. The Eric Staal copy would give New Jersey a tough one-two punch down the middle with Zach Parise.
5. New York Islanders Jonathan Huberdeau Center
Huberdeau led his Saint John Sea Dogs to their first Memorial Cup championship, collecting MVP honors along the way. Huberdeau can flat out score, and the Islanders have plenty of needs.
6. Ottawa Senators Brandon Saad Left Wing
With the drafting of Saad, Ottawa adds a big (6-2, 200lbs), strong left winger to play with Spezza. If they pass on Saad, Ottawa would likely take another top 6 forward, but they need scoring help immediately. Some might see Saad as a little “off-the-board,” so it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Ryan Strome selected, but size concerns may cause him to slip.
7. Winnipeg Team Dougie Hamilton Defenseman
With the first pick since relocation, Winnipeg will select the best player available as they have numerous needs except goaltender. Hamilton is a great two-way defenseman who can be a franchise cornerstone.
8. Philadelphia Flyers (from CBJ) Nathan Beaulieu Defenseman
The Flyers address an organizational need for a solid two-war defensemen in Beaulieu. Some mock drafts have him as high as top 5, but I expect him to be taken anywhere from 8-15. Chris Pronger is only getting older, and Beaulieu is at least a year or two away from contributing.
9. Boston Bruins Ryan Strome Center
The small forward has a great skill set and can do it all. Protection from 6’9” Chara could allow Strome to really blossom with Seguin and Caron on Boston’s talented collection of young forwards.
10. Minnesota Wild Joel Armia Right Wing
Some may consider this pick a little off the board, but Armia is a big forward who would team up nicely with fellow Fins Mikko Koivu and Mikael Granlund.
11. Colorado Avalanche (from STL) Tyler Biggs Right Wing
With all the centers the Avs have already in the system, they need some top-level wingers to skate with. If Biggs is still available, Colorado should wait to address their defense issues via trade or free agency. Biggs is another power forward and if he went with Landeskog to Colorado, the Avs are looking pretty scary in the future.
12. Carolina Hurricanes Matthew Puempel Left Wing
The Canes will take who ever is the best available at #12. If Puempel is still around don’t expect Carolina to pass on taking him.
13. Calgary Flames Duncan Siemens Defenseman
Since Phaneuf was sent packing, Calgary hasn’t had an elite defenseman. Siemens would be a good fit on Calgary’s blueline. He projects as a solid two-way defenseman.
14. Dallas Stars Seth Ambroz Right Wing
Big American can fill the net. Scouts are concerned that he didn’t dominate the USHL with his talents.
15. New York Rangers Zack Phillips Center
The Sea Dogs forward has great vision to go along with a great shot. He piled up 95 points this season en route to a Memorial Cup championship and has been compared to Adam Oates by his coach.
16. Buffalo Sabres Ryan Murphy Defenseman
At one point, Murphy was considered the best defenseman in the draft. While he is a very skilled, offensive defenseman, questions about his size (5’11”, 175 lbs) will scare some teams off. Imagine a smaller Mike Green.
17. Montreal Canadiens Mika Zibanejad Center
Zibanejad is a classic power forward with an above average skill set. Montreal will take the best available player in Zibanejad if he is still available. I think that the European effect will cause him to slide a few spots.
18. Chicago Blackhawks Jamieson Oleksiak Defenseman
Oleksiak is a bit of a question mark as to where he will go. He has one of the higher ceilings in the draft in terms of potential (largely due to his 6’9” frame), but playing college in the Hockey-East hurts his stock somewhat.
19. Edmonton Oilers (from LA) Christopher Gibson Goaltender
Edmonton can’t resist taking the best goaltender in the draft. They drafted Oliver Roy last year, but after taking Nugent-Hopkins, they can take a bit of a gamble.
20. Phoenix Coyotes David Musil Defenseman
Musil is a nice shut-down defenseman who would made a great defensive pair with former #3 pick Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Phoenix’s blue line.
21. Ottawa Senators (from NSH) Sven Baertschi Left Wing
As with Rattie, Baertschi could fall on draft day because of concerns of whether his production was due to playing alongside other talented Winterhawks.
22. Anaheim Ducks Nicklas Jensen L / R Wing
Big winger can really skate. Anaheim likes their forwards with some size and skill.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins Ty Rattie Right Wing
Rattie was rated higher to start the season and could end up being a bit of a gamble. How much of his success was from playing on the draft-pick-loaded Portland Winterhawks of the WHL.
24. Detroit Red Wings Tomas Jurco Right Wing
Skillful Swede screams Detroit Red Wings. Detroit loves talented Europeans, so what’s not to love about Jurco? He will be the fourth first round pick from this year’s Memorial Cup champions.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs (from PHI) Boone Jenner Center
Jenner is a big, skilled center with no glaring holes in his game. The Leafs need all the help they can get at every position.
26. Washington Capitals Mark McNeill Center
McNeill would be an ideal center behind Backstrom in Washington’s lineup for years to come with his solid two-way play.
27. Toronto Maple Leafs (from BOS) Mark Scheifele Center
If the Barrie Colts center is still available at #27, expect Toronto to run up to the draft podium.
28. San Jose Sharks Daniel Catenacci Center
The former #1 overall pick in the OHL draft has slid a little bit in the last year. He is still loaded with talent and can light the lamp.
29. Vancouver Canucks Joe Morrow Defenseman
The offensive minded defenseman would greatly help Vancouver’s aging defensive corps.
30. Tampa Bay Lightning John Gibson Goaltender
Gibson is the second best goalie behind Christopher Gibson (no relation). He is big, skilled, and could be Tampa’s long-term solution in net.