Thursday, June 25, 2015

NHL Draft Observations

Let me clarify something as we currently sit two days prior to the 2015 National Hockey League Draft, I have a huge passion for junior hockey, specifically the Western Hockey League because of where I geographically situate. As much as I take pride in knowing my fair share about the Ontario and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, it fails in comparison to what I consider appreciable knowledge when it comes to the ins and outs of the league affectionately known as the dub. The draft is an exciting time because it's the day where aspiring young amateur athletes get their names called and for all purposes begin their professional journey.

This year's draft biggest question mark is who the Edmonton Oilers will select first overall. There's apparently this kid out of Ontario named McDavid,what is it..Colton, Connor??? He's said to be pretty good. In all seriousness, you'd have to NEVER turn on the television to not know that Connor McDavid is a generational talent, a coined term that is used far too often in sport now a days, but in this instance the word generational probably undersells him a great deal. There is a combination that he possesses that included literally Darren Helm speed(former Medicine Hat Tiger), Milan Lucic size and toughness in the corners, and Sidney Crosby's vision on the ice. The only knock on him, and this is really grasping at straws is the lack of a quality shot in his repertoire.

The second overall pick would in any other year be the first overall pick. Unfortunately for the lanky American Jack Eichel, his draft year of 2015 happened to fall on who certain media dignitaries like to call "McJesus". The way he's built does not scream eighteen year old, both physically and the way he conducts himself off the ice. There's a particular Youtube video of which a sixteen year old Eichel was asked by one of the American media outlets covering the World Juniors to be the interviewer amongst his fellow American teammates. His ability to control the conversation whilst adding humour gave off the impression that you witnessing a savvy media vet interviewing teenagers, but no this was an sixteen year old holding his own on the mic with eighteen and nineteen year olds. On ice, it really is a man against boys. The speed is noticeable, not quite McDavid-esque but noticeable. His shot will only get better with age and I expect him to step up with Buffalo next year and possibly have the wherewithal to nab 25-30 goals. As a sidebar though, Sportsnet and Elliotte Friedman are reporting that purportedly Eichel has not ruled out going  back to college which in my humble opinion would be career suicide. A conversation with former Ohio St. Buckeye and current Boston Celtic Jared Sullinger may be in order as Sullinger was set to be the NBA's first overall pick, went back to school and now is a bench player on a non-playoff team.

Connor McDavid's teammate Dylan Strome....where do I begin. Huge praise and can be easily construed from my previous two paragraphs regarding Eichel and McDavid. Dylan Strome, a tad more negative, a lot more negative. This is what makes Connor McDavid so good, the fact that he allowed Strome to ride his coat tails all year long even assisting with Dylan Strome's scoring title. The guy CAN'T skate. I've seen better skating abilities from current NHL goon/pylon John Scott. The impression is that Arizona is leaning towards selecting Strome with the third overall pick is typical Arizona Coyotes. GM Don Maloney, Mitch Marner is on the board still!!!!!...Regina Pat rival(we won't even get into that cheap shot against Adam Brooks) Ivan Provorov is on the board!!! Heck,  Noah Hanifin will be a serviceable defenceman. All these selections make the Coyotes a better team but in typical Coyote fashion they're going to find a way to screw it up which partially upsets me because I have went to Coyote games in the past and intend to go to some in the future and would love nothing more then for them to find that inquisite  compliment to future stud, former London Knight, son of former TSN broadcaster Tie, Max Domi. This may sound harsh, but I've been known to throw a outside the box prediction now and again, I believe that Dylan Strome won't score more then thirty career goals.

I'd like to touch on a few of the Regina Pat draft hopefuls that expect, sorry that will get their name called in Miami over the weekend.

First, let's start with one of my favourite junior players of all time, and I've been tooting his horn the entire year, and that's Austin Wagner. McDavid may the best skater in this draft class which is no surprise because he's the best in every particular skill set in this draft seemingly. Austin Wagner, for people who have examined him play and skate will agree with me when I say he's not far off. The guy has a huge frame for the way he trucks around the playing surface. He's only seventeen and whichever NHL team calls his name to the podium will have gotten the steal of the draft. As you'll evidence in my mock draft below, I have serious qualms about labelling Wagner a steal for the simple reason that I think next year in the Western Hockey League he may jettison and be a candidate for the league's most valuable player. I believe once he flourishes his pair of mits, he'll be a 40 goal scorer in the dub quite realistically as early as next season and eventually a twenty to twenty five scorer consistently in the show. For these reasons, I have a good gut we'll be hearing Austin's name in the first round.

Jesse Gabrielle, the agitator who reportedly had an outstanding NHL combine which more then likely increased his draft stock. My thoughts on Jesse are this, wasn't exactly a "fan" upon his arrival to Regina. I listened when head coach and General Manager John Paddock explained the reasoning on the kind of truculence Jesse could bring to the table and for the first handful of games, wasn't buying what I was getting sold. As the second half of the season wore on, I began to see that a player like Gabrielle was never going to be able to lead a line which is maybe what I blindly expected when he was brought in for Morgan Klimchuk. He's a speedy complimentary force that isn't afraid to get his nose dirty or come back hard on the back check.Also, to the distain of Paddock, his mouth isn't exactly free of tabasco if you catch my drift. All in all, with the superb combine, I have him penciled in as a third round pick.

In regards to Connor Hobbs, if I was a National Hockey League scout, I'd be a little torn. He's a big defenceman who has a Shea Weber-esque shot,.ok so I lied, it's not quite in the Weber category but It's a threat from the point. My issue with Hobbs is the fact that he takes too many untimely pinches during times that you would consider inopportune. If he would hit the books and become a better student of the game there's no doubt in my mind that he'll be an everyday NHLer because the physical tools jump out at you every time you watch him play. The A + shot is his bread and butter but another facet that he doesn't get enough credit for is the first pass.  Always tons of zip to it and routinely clears the defensive zone with ease. Due to these features, Hobbs should be a fourth round pick on draft day.

The Winnipeger Adam Brooks is next on my list. This is a unique situation as a handful number of players go through this type of situation every year and that is re-entering the draft for a second time after getting passed over in trip number one. I believe scouts may be emphatic to  Brooksy, stealing a line from the colorful John Tortorella because under previous Regina Pat head coach Malcolm Cameron, he didn't play. I'm sure Cameron had his reasons but until this year Adam Brooks didn't have the opportunity to be showcased to the hockey world. In all reality, due to not playing the year before this is his draft year. On the smaller side, surprisingly good in the corners and isn't afraid to crash the net looking for that rebound. I like Brooks, he is certainly on the drafting bubble because he's an extremely late bloomer, here's hoping someone takes a chance, via the draft or a free agent contract after the fact.

Mr.Sergei Zborovsky(had to reference google to make sure I'm spelling right, if not blame google) was a pleasant import beneficiary for the Regina Pats this past season. A lanky defender that his skating will take you a back, it's actually quite stellar for a man of his size.  A man that has to be given a ton of praise for Zborovsky's development was his fellow Euro Pavlo Padakin. I've heard Pavlo took Zborovsky under his wing and helped him with the language deficiencies he was experiencing and taught him a better understanding of the North American game.

I will now include my four round mock draft for you to observe, appreciate you reading!

1.Edmonton Oilers-Connor McDavid(Erie OHL)
2.Buffalo Sabres-F Jack Eichel(Boston University)
3.Arizona Coyotes-D Noah Hanifin(Boston College)
4.Toronto Maple Leafs-F Dylan Strome(Erie Otters OHL)
5.Carolina Hurricanes-Ivan Provorov(Brandon Wheat Kings WHL)
6.New Jersey Devils-F Mitch Marner(London Knights Ontario Hockey League)
7.Philadelphia Flyers-D Zach Werenski(US-NTDP)
8.Columbus Blue Jackets-F Matt Barzal(Seattle Thunderbirds-Western Hockey League)
9.San Jose Sharks-F Mikko Rantanen(TPS-Turku Finland)
10.Colorado Avalanche-F Lawson Crouse(Kingston Frontenacs OHL)
11.Florida Panthers-F Travis Konecny(Ottawa 67's OHL)
12.Dallas Stars-D Oliver Kylington(Farjestads Sweden)
13.Boston Bruins-F Pavel Zacha(Sarnia Sting Ontario Hockey League)
14.Boston Bruins-D Jeremy Roy(Sherbrooke QMJHL)
15.Boston Bruins-F Kyle Conner
16.Edmonton Oilers-D Jakub Zboril(Saint John QMJHL)
17.Winnipeg Jets-F Colin White(US_NTDP)
18.Ottawa Senators-F Yevgeni Svechnikov(Cape Breton Screaming Eagles QMJHL)
19.Detroit Red Wings-F Nick Merkley(Kelowna Rockets Western Hockey League)
20.Minnesota Wild-F Timo Meier(Halifax Mooseheads QMJHL)
21.Buffalo Sabres-Jake DeBrusk(Swift Current Broncos WHL)
22.Washington Capitals-F Denis Guryanov(Togliatti 2 Russia)
23.Vancouver Canucks-F Joel Ek-Eriksson(Farjestads Sweden)
24.Toronto Maple Leafs-D Thomas Chabot(Saint John Sea Dogs QMJHL)
25.Winnipeg Jets-F Jansen Harkins(Prince George Western Hockey League)
26.Montreal Canadiens-F Brock Boeser(Sioux City USHL)
27.Tampa Bay Lightning-F Austin Wagner(Regina WHL)
28.Anaheim Ducks-D Brandon Carlo(Tri-City Americans Whl)
29.Arizona Coyotes-F Daniel Sprong(Charlottetown Islanders QMJHL)
30.Philadelphia Flyers-F Jordan Greenway(US-NTDP)
Round Two:
31.Buffalo Sabres-F Jack Roslovic(US-NTDP)
32.Arizona Coyotes-F Jeremy Bracco(US-NTDP)
33.Edmonton Oilers-G Mackenzie Blackwood(Barrie Ontario Hockey League)
34.Columbus Blue Jackets-F Paul Bittner(Portland Winterhawks WHL)
35.Carolina Hurricanes-D Travis Dermott(Erie Otters Ontario Hockey League)
36.New Jersey Devils-F Zach Senyshyn(Sault Ste.Marie Greyhounds OHL)
37.Boston Bruins-F Anthony Beauvillier(Shawinigan Cataractes QMJHL)
38.Columbus Blue Jackets-F Nikolai Chebykin(Dynamo Moscow KHL Russia)
39.San Jose Sharks-G Ilya Samsonov(Magnitogorsk Russia)
40.Colorado Avalanche-D Nicolas Meloche(Baie-Comeau Drakkar QMJHL)
41.New Jersey Devils-F Blake Speers(Sault Ste.Marie Greyhounds OHL)
42.Ottawa Senators-F Mitchell Stephens(Saginaw Spirit OHL)
43.Los Angeles Kings-D Vince Dunn(Niagara Icedogs Ontario Hockey League)
44.Tampa Bay Lightning-D Noah Juulsen(Everett Silvertips WHL)
45.Calgary Flames-F Michael McNiven(Owen Sound OHL)
46.Boston Bruins-Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson(Omaha USHL)
47.Winnipeg Jets-F Michal Spacek(Pardubice Czech Republic)
48.Ottawa Senators-F Dennis Yan(Shawinigan Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
49.Dallas Stars-Filip Chlapik(Charlottetown Islanders QMJHL)
50.Minnesota Wild-F Graham Knott(Niagara Ontario Hockey League)
51.Buffalo Sabres-D Gabriel Carlsson(Linkopings Sweden)
52.Calgary Flames-D Matthew Spencer(Peterborough OHL)
53.Calgary Flames-F Dimitryo Timashov(Quebec Remparts QMJHL)
54.Chicago Blackhawks-D Rasmus Andersson(Malmo Sweden)
55.Nashville Prehidators-D Mitchell Vande Sompel(Oshawa Generals OHL)
56.St.Louis Blues-F Thomas Novak(Waterloo USHL)
57.Edmonton Oilers-F Nicolas Roy(Chicoutimi Sangueneens QMJHL)
58.Philadelphia Flyers-F Nikita Korostelev(Sarnia OHL)
59.New York Rangers-G Matej Tomek(Topeka NAHL)
60.Arizona Coyotes-F Cameron Hughes(Spruce Grove AJHL)
61.Columbus Blue Jackets-D Guillame Brisebois(Acadie-Bathurst QMJHL)
Round three:
62.Washington Capitals-F Alexander Dergachev(SKA Saint Petersberg Russia)
63.Arizona Coyotes-F Christian Fischer(US-NTDP)
64.Tampa Bay Lightning-F Roope Hintz(Ilves Jr Sweden)
65.Toronto Maple Leafs-D Jacob Larsson(Frolunda Sweden)
66.Carolina Hurricanes-F Julius Nattinen(JYP Jyaskyla Finland)
67.New Jersey Devils-F Radovan Bondra(Slovakia)
68.Columbus Blue Jackets-D Jeremy Lauzon(Rouyn-Noranda QMJHL)
69.Columbus Blue Jackets-D Alexandre Carrier(Gatineau QMJHL)
70.Philadelphia Flyers-F Filip Ahl(HV71 Sweden)
71.Colorado Avalanche-D Jonas Siegenthaler(Zurich Switzerland)
72.New York Islanders-F Nikita Pavlychev(Des Moines USHL)
73.Detroit Red Wings-D Brendan Guhle(Prince Albert WHL)
74.Los Angeles Kings-F A.J Greer(Boston University)
75.Boston Bruins-D Caleb Jones(Portland Western Hockey League)
76.Calgary Flames-F Ryan Gropp(Seattle Thunderbirds WHL)
77.Florida Panthers-D Simon Bourque(Rimouski QMJHL)
78.Winnipeg Jets-D Kyle Capobianco(Sudbury OHL)
79.Edmonton Oilers-F Keegan Kolesar(Seattle Western Hockey League)
80.Anaheim Ducks-f Gabriel Gagne(Victoriaville QMJHL)
81.Arizona Coyotes-F Nathan Noel(Saint John QMJHL)
82.New York Islanders-D Vlad Gavrikov(Russia)
83.Calgary Flames-D Will Reilly(North York CCHL)
84.Anaheim Ducks-F Dante Salituro(Ottawa OHL)
85.Nashville Predators-F Jesse Gabrielle(Regina WHL)
86.Edmonton Oilers-D Devante Stephens(Kelowna WHL)
87.Montreal Canadiens-F Jens Looke(Brynas IF Sweden)
88.Florida Panthers-D Ethan Bear(Seattle WHL)
89.New York Rangers-D Jesper Lindgren(Modo Sweden)
90.Philadelphia Flyers-G Daniel Vladar(Kladno Czech Republic)
91.Chicago Blackhawks-F Hayden McCool(Niagara Icedogs Ontario Hockey League)
Fourth round:
92.Buffalo Sabres-D Parker Wotherspoon(Tri-City Americans WHL)
93.Carolina Hurricanes-D Ryan Pilon(Brandon Wheat Kings WHL)
94.St.Louis Blues-D Austin Strand(Red Deer Western Hockey League)
95.Toronto Maple Leafs-D Jack Sadek(Lakeville North High School-Minnesota)
96.Carolina Hurricanes-G Callum Booth(Quebec Remparts QMJHL)
97.New Jersey Devils-D Samu Niku(JYP=Jyvaskyla Finland)
98.Philadelphia Flyers-D Thomas Schemitsch(Owen Sound Attack Ontario Hockey League)
99.Philadelphia Flyers-F Robin Kovacs(AIK Sweden)
100.Nashville Predators-F Matteo Gennaro(Prince Albert Raiders whl)
101.Colorado Avalanche-D Jason Bell(Cape Breton Screaming Eagles QMJHL)
102.Florida Panthers-F Dryden Hunt(Medicine Hat Tigers Western Hockey League)
103.Dallas Stars-D Chaz Reddekopp(Victoria Royals WHL)
104.Los Angeles Kings-F Adam Musil(Red Deer Rebels Whl)
105.Boston Bruins-F Brent Gates(Green Bay USHL)
106.San Jose sharks-F Jonne Tammela(KalPa Kuopio Finland)
107.Toronto Maple Leafs-F Sebastian Aho(Skelleftea Sweden)
108.Winnipeg Jets-D Colton White(Sault Ste.Marie Greyhounds Ontario Hockey League)
109.Ottawa Senators-F Andrew Mangiapane(Barrie Colts OHL)
110.Detroit Red Wings-F Brad Morrisonn(Prince George Cougars WHL)
111.Minnesota Wild-F Rihard Bukarts(Brandon  Wheat Kings WHL)
112.New York Islanders-D Joe Cecconi(Muskegon USHL)
113.Washington Capitals-D Tate Olson(Prince George Cougars Western Hockey League)
114.Vancouver Canucks-G Conor Ingram(Kamloops Blazers WHL)
115.Nashville Predators-D Damir Sharipyzanov(Owen Sound Attack OHL)
116.St.Louis Blues-F Erik Foley(Cedar Rapids USHL)
117.Edmonton Oilers-F Brendan Warren(US-Under seventeen)
118.Tampa Bay Lightning-D Connor Hobbs(Regina Pats Western Hockey League)
119.New York Rangers-D Loik Leveille(Cape Breton Screaming Eagles QMJHL)
120.Tampa Bay Lightning-F Conor Garland(Moncton Wildcats QMJHL(
121.Chicago Blackhawks-F Cameron Askew(Moncton QMJHL)


Brett Murray


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