with the WJC's coming up I think it's time we get started on this. While this draft doesn't have 2013's depth for elite to borderline elite talent, it's still a very solid draft and the depth players may be better then we saw in 2013. Bloodlines all over the place in this one too, for you nepotism fans (*cough*JR*cough*). Very strong forward draft from the looks of things, which is nice since we need to replace a LOT of talent there given the busting of Dalpe, Boychuk, and Welsh.
my personal rankings (Dec 25th):
1 - D Aaron Ekblad - Barrie (OHL) - 6'4/217
Do it all defenseman. Offense? no problem; Defense? no problem; Physical game? no problem (Jones's big criticism), basically this guy is the prototype dman that brings size, skating, and overall game to the rink every day. Not sure he has the potential that Jones does offensively, but he has a complete game, and while Jones was nearly eligible for the 2012 draft (Oct 94 BD) Ekblad is a Feb 96 so he arguably has more room to grow. Jones also had the bad fortune to be in a draft with multiple franchise caliber forward prospects, I don't see one of those this year though I do see multiple top line talents, arguably more then last year.
2 - C Sam Reinhart - Kootenay (WHL) - 6'1/183
Brother of Griffin and Max Reinhart, son of former Atlanta Flame and NHL first round pick Paul Reinhart. He's been a top offensive player in the WHL since stepping onto the ice as a 16 year old two years ago. Excellent hands and skating, high hockey IQ type player who can play multiple situations. Would probably be in the Lindholm/Nichushkin/Monahan tier of last years draft IMO. Early Nov birthdate.
3 - C/RW William Nylander - Rogle (Allsvenskan) - 5'10/170
Hey look, chance #1 for Whalercane based nepotism in this draft. Don't worry, won't even be the last of my top 10, there's more to come soon. Son of former Whalers 3rd round pick and long time NHLer Michael Nylander. Excellent skater with a good bit of sneakiness to his game, and some excellent passing. Late birthdate for this draft as well, and already producing nicely in Sweden's 2nd league after seeing some ice time with MODO earlier this season.
4 - LW/C Michael Dal Colle - Oshawa (OHL) - 6'2/172
Explosive offensive talent with good skating and room to grow into a solid frame. Already plays a very physical game despite needing to fill out and will become even more of a dominant offensive and physical force in the OHL in the coming seasons if he returns. Will play a solid two-way game as well. REALLY like this kid and he's exactly the type of player we need, even if we're strong on the left side already.
5 - LW/C Sam Bennett - Kingston (OHL) - 6'0/181
Had a nice season for Kingston last year, and has already broken his rookie season mark easily. Not going to be the most explosive offensive player in the draft IMO, but a highly competitive player who should contribute in most situations.
6 - LW/C Adrian Kempe - MODO (SEL) - 6'2/187
You'll see a trend in the next couple picks: Late birthdate Swede with a physical game to him. Kempe started the season on the low end of the radar, but has since jumped to towards the top of the draft with his production in Sweden's top league. Absolutely tenacious on the forecheck, and capable of plowing through people despite his young age.
7 - W Anton Karlsson - Frolunda Jrs (SWE) - 6'2/194
Nepotism opportunity #2! We have his brother Erik in the system already! You won't find a prospect in this draft with more mixed opinions on him. Great size already and one of the youngest players in the draft. VERY physical and competitive player, the only question is how high is his upside. Very likely to be a top 6 forward, but has the potential to be much more to some, and the potential to be a rather average top 6er to others. Has been more inconsistent then Kempe to date.
8 - LW Brendan Perlini - Niagara (OHL) - 6'2/207
One of this years fast risers. Physically mature, and a great puck possession player in the OHL that has absolutely shattered last years scoring mark for him. As in 32 games in he's already scored more then 4 times as many points as he did in 59 last year. An interesting player to watch as his stock has risen over the year. Late April 96 birthdate as well.
9 - C/LW Leon Draisaitl - Prince Albert (WHL) - 6'1/209
Despite his size he's unfortunately not overly physical. The player that's arguably the best German prospect of all time is a likely top 10 pick, and an excellent possession player already, with solid playmaking skills. More likely to be a winger then a centerman in our org. should we draft him, if only because of what we already have in that regard. October 95 BD.
10 - RW Kasperi Kapanen - KalPa (SM-Liiga) - 5'11/174
YAY, NEPOTISM! Yeah if you don't know who his father is go ahead and turn in your Canes fan card. Stylistically VERY similar to his father, though he hasn't shown himself to be as defensively adept yet. But from a competitive standpoint he has the same drive as Sami did, which will serve him well in making the NHL and living up to his talent. Don't quote me on this but I believe he holds the record for the youngest goal scorer in SM-Liiga history. One of the youngest players in the draft as a late July.
HMs: D Haydn Fleury, C Jared McCann, LW Nikolas Ehlers, C Nick Schmaltz, G Alex Nedeljkovic