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05-22-2010, 07:25 AM
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Hiishawk's 40 1st round candidates (for what it's worth)

I thought I'd post my thoughts and insights on the 2010 draft here as I do annually on this board. I don't post on HF too much anymore but hopefully long-term posters will remember me as someone who has been deeply involved in hockey (scouting at various levels- including NHL, officialdom), has connections and generally knows what he's talking about. Call me a very poor man's Bob Mackenzie.

I'll admit that my involvement this year with draftees has been less than in previous years when I would attend about 150 plus games but I do have the ear of some scouting insiders. I also admit that it's harder to post scoops here now with so many sources (solid and dubious) getting the inside track.

This is not a mock draft but a combination of personal likes, likes expressed by some insiders, and general prediction. Remember, it only takes one team to really like a prospect to make him go much higher than most rank him- it is not, as many assume, his final 'grade'.

I tend to see the draft in bunches.
1 and 2. We all know who goes in these two slots so 'nuff said. Hall probably goes to Edmonton.

3-17: Now, here's where it really gets interesting- more than in any recent draft. There are in my estimation 13 players who could go #3 and two more who might deserve to but won't. Any of Jon Merrill, Jack Campbell, Austin Watson or Ryan Johansen at #3 or top 5? It's a bit unlikely but would not shock me out of my gourd since I know that each is rated in the top 6 of at least one NHL team. Here's how I'll rank this bunch:
3. Vladimir Tarasenko: Probably deserves to go 3rd in terms of talent and potential but won't due to the 'Russian thing'. He will, though, be a great pick at the end of this set- especially to any team who has 2 1st round picks.
4. Brandon Gormley: Poise, sense, maturity- all in spades.
5. Cam Fowler: The WJCs were his biggest stage and he shone. Despite not being Scott Stevens the second his skill level still translates to the NHL.
6. Ryan Johansen: Improvement level is off the charts. If he continues to move forward he could challenge Hall and Seguin in a year or two. Was a horse in the WHL playoffs.
7. Michael Granlund: Has the size and so-so skating strikes against him but visualizes the game far better than anyone, and I mean anyone, in his age group. Smart enough to make the adjustments- as he already has in the Finnish league.
8. Nino Neiederreiter: Hands, shot, grit, colour- a clutch player. And one of the very youngest in the draft.
9. Evgeny Kuznetsov: Just a tad below Tarasenko and will drop for the same reasons but likewise will make a great pick after #15.
10. Jon Merrill: Leap frogged several defensemen in the past few months and was the best defenseman in Minsk by some margin. Upside is finally starting to appear.
11. Jeff Skinner: You WANT to find reasons not to draft him. Size. The fact that he looks (and sounds) like he's 14. He does NOT look like an NHL player. And then he's all over the ice and scores a clutch goal or two seeemingly every big game. He just gets it done.
12. Alex Burmistrov: The Russian factor even comes into play with players in the CHL. Electrifying, Mr. Through-the-legs-pass and dangle-til-you-drop. Would be top 10 in an ideal world.
13. Austin Watson- Like Johansen, became an all-around horse in the 2nd half. Oozes pro potential.
14. Derek Forbort: Although I (and others) have Merrill ahead at this point, Forbort is no slouch and could easily go top 10. Has been consistent all season.
15. Jack Campbell: The best goalie in the past 4 drafts. Has proven himself at both WJCs and U18s.
16. Brett Connolly- Combines will reveal a lot. What happened in Minsk? Who is the real Connolly? Top 5 if the hip flexor had never happened.
17. Erik Gudbranson- Another 'What happened in Minsk? case. Character points are off the chart as is physical development but I see some vision and puck decision problems here- finally exposed in Belarus?

I cannot remember a bunch of players so closely rated between #3 and the mid first round in over twenty years of draft watching. This should be fun.

And right after this, with the top Russians being considered at this point, there are two WHL boys who lay just a notch behind:
18. Mark Pysyk: Does everything well. I have trouble seperating him from Gudbranson in many ways (I even rate Pysyk higher in terms of puck decisions) except Gudbranson has the ‘super character’ thing going as well as the glimpses of meanness.
19. Emerson Etem: Eye catcher. Wants to make a difference. Flies down the wing and has a scoring touch to boot. Is now adding variety to his game so that he's not a one-trick pony.

Then, in my estimation, there is a drop. The next set is from #20 to #25 and there we might expect to see:
20. Calle Jarnkrok: Consensus best Swede available. Considering his late rise this year and Sweden’s recent player development successes, that says a lot.
21. Scott Bjugstad: I NEVER know much about USHS players but he seems to have the clear, consensus nod as being the best this year.
22. Ludvig Rensfeldt: Has that consummate pro look about him. Is consistent and does everything well. Very solid in Minsk.
23. Jaden Schwartz: Reminds me of Mikael Granlund but on a smaller stage. Great hands, top notch vision. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him being a better player than many listed above him here in 5-10 years’ time.
24. Quinton Howden: Potential reminds of Watson and at times he looks like he’s about to break out. He was hit and miss in Minsk and inconsistent in Moose Jaw but showed occasional flashes of top 20 potential.
25. Stanislav Galiev: Did not wow as expected in the Q but was consistent, shows flashes of skill and a well-rounded, mature game. Less affected by the Russian factor than the three countrymen listed earlier but it’s still a consideration.

I feel confident about these top 25 ending up in the real 1st round (borderline on Galiev). In the next slots we should see a bunch off current- or soon to be- NCAA players and the 2010 draft’s toughest dude. These are:

26. Dylan McIlrath- Varying views on his playing potential but his toughness is unquestioned. If you think he can make decisions at an NHL level then you take him in the early 20’s. If not, on toughness alone he warrants an early 2nd round pick. Somebody will bet on the former.
27. Beau Bennett: Players on the rise, who simply find a way to score, hold great value. The scoring instinct is the hardest to teach or develop- and Bennett has it.
28. Charlie Coyle: The top pick I admit to knowing the least about (I’ve seen a total of 2 EJHL games in my entire life) so I’m simply placing him by consensus here.
29. Brock Nelson: Consensus Minny H.S. #2 after Bjugstad. Gotta love the name- kind of a Captain America, football captain type. Never seen him personally.
30. Riley Sheahan: He and the next pick Pitlick have something in common. They were described to me as “future NHL journeymen, but the kind of journeymen coaches love in trades and at playoff time, even before they’ve finished a year in the NCAA. Very complete but also unspectacular. If a late round picking NHL team wants to swing for the fences a little more (and they often do so look to my picks #31 and #32), these guys might slip to the very early 2nd round. Sheahan’s late season indiscretion should make for some interesting Combine interview Q&A. But, if journeymen, why in the top 30 or thereabouts? Some see Ryan Kesler in Sheahan and a 15 year reliable top 6 guy in Pitlick.
31. Tyler Pitlick: See above.

The next set of players will be good choices for teams with multiple early picks.
I think another goalie should just about round out the first round or start off the 2nd, so I’ll go next with:
32. Calvin Pickard: Was great all year for a mediocre team but did not step up in Minsk.
33. Jared Tinordi: Almost all have him behind Forbort and Merrill on the US defence but the flashes of meanness and vast potential entice.

Next come six mystery players, the ultimate high-risk, high-reward picks. Again, a team with many early picks or someone with a big enough prospect cushion will swing for the fences here. Although I know that some teams wouldn't touch some of these players in their top 60s, someone will be willing to take the gamble. Combine interviews will be a deciding factor for the first two, about whom HF readers will already know the stories. So,
34. John MacFarland
35: Kiril Kabanov
36: Johan Larsson: Was his stunning U18 performance a one-off, or is this a guy on the rise?
37. Teemu Pulkinen: see below
38. Joey Hishon: Hishon is Canada’s Pulkinnen. Both can score, have great sets of hands and creativity but have been inconsistent, suffered from injuries and many scouts wonder they are the player type whose lower-level successes can be duplicated in the NHL.
39. Maxim Kitsyn: A top 30 talent and if you think you can get him to come over you pick him about here.

And to round it off:
40. Tyler Toffoli- Known for his big shot and scoring touch, as well as compete level but his skating is a question mark.
If I had to add an HM it would be:
Kevin Hayes- Along with Coyle, this is the player I know least about at the top end but 3rd hand information seems to have him as a consensus early 2nd rounder.

Last edited by Hiishawk: 05-22-2010 at 06:16 PM.
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