By: Omar Moubayed
Well this is the day that every NHL fan that roots for a crappy team waits for. THE NHL DRAFT LIVE FROM NEW JERSEY. I don’t think you’ll ever hear anyone else say “I wish I was in Jersey”. Here comes Gary Bettman, the commissioner of the NHL, to announce the opening of the draft to a chorus of boos. These sound worse than David Stern’s boos at the NBA draft but guess what, if Bettman tries to troll the crowds he will be have an angry mob after him. I’m going to breakdown the first round of the NHL draft below with a small description of each player drafted, who they compare to, and what they bring to the their new NHL club. There is only 3 minutes between picks (NFL maybe you can steal this idea from us). Here we go!
1) Colorado Avalanche – Nathan Mackinnon (C/Halifax)
Colorado was 26th in the league in scoring last season. They were also 27th in goals against. They need a franchise defenseman to go with Gabriel Landeskog. With Nathan Mackinnon, the Colorado defense looks to be weak again. This kid is a stud, shoot first centre-man and he will get the job done. Unfortunately, his scoring won’t get the Av’s in the playoff, this was a bad pick for team needs but he was the BPA. He might be the new Stamkos, which doesn’t mean much. A lot of easy goals will come but they won’t be not game changing goals.
2) Florida Panthers – Alexander Barkov (C/ Finland)
Here comes my team. The Panthers were the worst team in the league in every category but the power play while being hampered by injuries. Off the heels of the 2011 #3 pick Jonathan Huberdeau winning the rookie of the year award the Panthers will use Barkov to sure up the middle. The TSN commentators are hating but this is what the Panthers needed. A two-way threat who will be a 1C for years to come, look for Barkov to be an Anze Kopitar style player.
3) Tampa Bay Lightning – Jonathan Drouin (C/ Halifax)
Jonathan Drouin is a player who can be a pure playmaker in the N. Stamkos will benefit from having Drouin’s vision on the ice with him at the same time. Tampa was 3rd in scoring in the league last year and only won 18 games. The problem with this team is defense. Seth Jones would’ve been a better pick here I feel. Look for Drouin to be a player to mimic a Patrick Kane.
4) Nashville Predators – Seth Jones (D/ Portland)
This was a no brainer. After losing Ryan Suter to Minnesota, Seth Jones was an obvious pick here. He was the best defenseman in the draft. A kid who can be a Ryan Suter, he was wildly considered the best player in the draft.
5) Carolina Hurricanes – Elias Lindholm (C/ Brynas)
Lindholm is a safe pick for Carolina on a team that was pretty good on goals, but horrible on the power play/penalty kill. This kid may take a year or two to reach the N but when he does he will definitely contribute to one of the worst PP/PK units on the NHL.
6) Calgary Flames – Sean Monahan (C/ Ottawa)
Monahan will be filling in for a centre corp that was depleted amidst the Calgary fire sale that occurred last year. Calgary dumped Ignila and Jokinen amongst others and is banking for youth going forward. There is no doubt that Calgary will be a bad team next year and they are in play for the 2014 #1 pick. Monahan is a good skater who makes plays with and without the puck. Very Toews like.
7) Edmonton Oilers – Darnell Nurse (D/ Sault Ste. Marie)
Straight from the Q comes Nurse. This kid has raw offense ability and under the right coaches he can be a top-two defenseman in the future form a team that doesn’t play Defense. Edmonton is known for their high flying scorers (RNH, Hall, and Gagner) but their defense is the thorn on the Oiler’s side. As soon as this kid matures, they can raise from 19th in goals against as long a defense corps joins in on the party. There’s a lot of work left to do at Rexall.
8) Buffalo Sabres – Rasmus Ristolainen (D/ Finland)
Let’s Go Buffalo! Oh I’m going to puke just typing those words but, I have high praise in Rasmus. The 6’3 d-man who is the first pick for Buffalo (4 in the first 52) will be a force to reckon with in the next level. Ristolainen will be a player, at the top of his prospect chart, will look like Victor Hedman. Large and versatile with production coming at both ends of the ice.
9) Vancouver Canucks (from NJ) – Bo Horvat (C/LW/ London)
London just seems to roll out top 10 picks year after year. This kid will project to be a good third line pick after the Canucks dealt Cody Hodgson over to Buffalo. He can project to be a 2nd line center but behind Sedin, and Kesler it might take a while. The Canucks received this pick by trading goalie Corey Schneider to the NJ Devils. This might end Broduer’s tenure in NJ as the starting net minder.
10) Dallas Stars – Valeri Nichuskin (LW/ Russia)
Here we go, “The next Alexander Ovechkin”. Those are big shoes to fill and with the big shoes come the big amount of controversy surrounding Valeri. Some scouts think Valeri is the best offensive player in the draft. So what’s the problem here? Valeri has a contract with Dynamo Moscow of the KHL and can’t come to the NHL right away. At 6’4, 202 he has been claimed as the fastest and most powerful skater of the draft.
For picks 11-20… check the front page 😉