FTP’s Al Willig and I (Metz) blow out the first Mock NHL Entry Draft at FTP… the feature was a regular of mine over at HB, thrilled to bring it here.
By Brian Metzer/Al Willig
Welcome to the annual Mock NHL Entry Draft here at From the Point. This was a regular feature over at my HB blog over the years, but we did not get to do one last year, so this is the inaugural/annual draft at FTP. As many of you know, I am a big fan of the NHL draft and I came to find out that my pal (and writer here at the site) Al Willig was also a bit of a draftnik so we came together to tag team the draft this year.
I am sure that there are some picks that you will all agree with, but more likely plenty that you will not… which is what makes something like this pretty damn fun!
Feel free to break our picks down, discuss them, bash them… just plain do what you do! With that… Edmonton Oilers, you are on the clock!
1. Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Center – Height: 6.0′ Weight: 170
Metz: Though the Oilers might have been tempted to select Swedish defender Adam Larsson, they couldn’t pass up the chance to add this dynamic talent. Nugent-Hopkins dovetails nicely with the group of forwards that they have been building over the past few years. He joins a stable that already has Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi, and Jordan Eberle and could be centering two of the three as soon as this September.
ISS Scouting Report: There is very little not to like about the kid. He is the kind of player everybody wants on their team. Set up men with this vision and focus are extremely rare. He works hard, has an explosive skating stride and is extremely poised, patient and deceptive with the puck. Most of the plays he starts end up as goals. He doesn’t shoot as often as he should but when he does he seems to find holes and corners that still don’t even look possible on replays. He displayed an excellent two-way commitment this year with Red Deer and isn’t afraid to engage himself physically despite his smaller frame. He is always at least one step ahead of every other player on the ice.
2. Colorado Avalanche: Adam Larsson – Defenseman – Height: 6.0′ Weight: 200
Free: The rumours du jour have Adam Larsson falling as far as sixth overall. NONSENSE! The Avalanche have a huge need on the back end. They have not shown idiocy in past drafts and they are not going to start now by passing on the multi-talented Larsson. No, he is not going to be Nick Lidstrom, but he is better than Victor Hedman, to whom the naysayers have been comparing Larsson lately.
ISS Scouting Report: Larsson has been on the radar for some time now and has looked as if he could play in the NHL since he was 15. A very good skater, Larsson is poised in every situation on the ice and calculates his decisions with precision and quickness. His panic threshold is off the charts and his demeanour rarely changes. He can chip in offensively by leading the rush, springing teammates with stretch passes or finding a hole from the point with his good shot. He is extremely reliable and ready to step right into any NHL lineup. This year also saw Larsson really improve his grit and toughness. So much so that he was confident enough to drop the gloves during Elitserien play this year.
3. Florida Panthers: Gabriel Landeskog – Left Wing – Height: 6.0′ Weight: 207
Metz: The Panthers have picked up some impressive specimens on the back end in recent years in the forms of goaltender Jacob Markstrom and d-men Erik Gudbranson and Dmitry Kulikov. Though the Panthers might have liked to have grabbed Adam Larsson, Dale Tallon decided to address his forwards. Adding Landeskog gives him a player with high upside that could be a future captain for his team. Plus, I have learned that when Kevin Allen from USA Today says something, it is usually true and he linked the Panthers to Landeskog in a recent column.
ISS Scouting Report: An incredibly dynamic and versatile player, Landeskog is one of the only Europeans ever to captain a CHL team and many believe he will do the same at the NHL level one day. He has great hands and agility, is determined and focused around the puck and isn’t afraid to take abuse to make a play. He is very strong on his skates and takes contact well while protecting possession or drawing defenders to him. Landeskog has a great shot that will find the net if he is given room to use it and he has superior reflexes and makes excellent quick decisions around the puck. Away from the puck, he always seems to be open in a scoring lane. Fans really identify with him and love having him on their team.
4. New Jersey Devils: Jonathan Huberdeau – Center/Left Wing – Height: 6’1″ Weight: 168
Free: The Devils are a wild card in the draft this year (and most years). Lou Lamoriello tends to like American kids but there is not one at the top of the draft board to justify this position (no, Couturier does not qualify as an American). The Devils could address a need by drafting a defenseman and since Scott Niedermayer worked out so well for them, maybe the size of Ryan Murphy does not scare Lou, but my guess is the defensive play of Murphy does scare Lou. The Devils will surprise the Xcel Energy Center by doing the expected and that is taking Jonathan Huberdeau. Huberdeau fills a need for a top line center and he is a dynamic multi-dimensional player who is not afraid to get a little dirty; just Lou’s type.
ISS Scouting Report: A dynamic puck handler, has excellent vision, and understands the game very well. Huberdeau had a great season with the Sea Dogs; after finishing 3rd in league scoring with 105 pts, he continued his hot play into the play-off, leading his team to the Memorial Cup. His continuous development has really helped him climb up the draft rankings. He is a complete player; a great combination of work ethic, skill, competitiveness and hockey sense. He contributes at both ends of the rink. He is an offensive threat whenever he touches the ice; he creates scoring chances with good 1 on 1 ability, vision, passing and he can score. The type of player you win with.
5. New York Islanders: Ryan Murphy – Defenseman – Height: 5’10” Weight: 176
Metz: There is no guarantee that Garth Snow even makes this pick right now considering his history of moving around in the first round, however I think he will be smitten with the offensive potential of Murphy. Though he isn’t the biggest guy, nor the best defender (as Free pointed out), he is probably the best pure offensive talent available on the blue-line. Snow has shown over his tenure that he isn’t afraid to make a reach, albeit a slight one in this case, and he will take this talented rearguard over Douglas Hamilton. This kid could make some magic with Tavares on the power play.
ISS Scouting Report: Extremely gifted with the puck, Murphy is either a player you have to have on your team or that you can’t handle because of the risk associated with his game. There is no denying that he is one of the most elite offensive defenders to come along in recent years and he can simply dominate play with the puck. He has an absolute rocket for a shot, can stickhandle his way through entire teams and seems to create offense at every turn. His defensive play leaves a lot to be desired and he can try to do too much on his own a little too often or go through stretches of tunnel vision. One thing is for certain, it is always exciting when Murphy is on the ice and he is the kind of player that can really sell tickets.
6. Ottawa Senators: Ryan Strome – Center – Height: 6’ Height: 183
Free: And the Senators breathe a sigh of relief. Having failed to trade up to draft either Landeskog or Huberdeau, the Senators were faced with the possibility of not having one of their preferred players available had the Islanders taken Strome. Strome’s performance in the CHL Top Prospects game was scintillating and his 106 points tied for tops amongst draft eligibles (Nugent-Hopkins) in Major Junior. He is fast, very creative and has great hands. The only thing the Senators do not like about him is he is not a winger and perhaps doesn’t have the snarl they were hoping to get from a forward with this pick.
ISS Scouting Report: Strome is a very smart and skilled center who is effective in all three zones of the ice. He plays in those traffic areas and he wins battles and then he makes great passes. He’s got great vision. Strome has received a lot of fanfare for his goal-scoring ability but ISS scouts have noted a strong playmaking ability in Strome’s game as well. ISS Director of Scouting Dennis MacInnis says “He is an ultra-intelligent and opportunistic playmaker who calculates his options extremely quickly and reacts even faster”. He displays a ton of poise and composure when he has possession of the puck. It’s almost as if he can slow the speed of the game down and operate at his own pace.
7. Winnipeg Jets: Sean Couturier – Center – Height: 6′ 4″ Weight: 195
Metz: This franchise does have some talented players in it’s forward ranks, but they haven’t had what could be called a legit NHL first liner since trading Kovalchuk. Kevin Cheveldayoff has a chance to get that with Couturier. The kid is going to have a power forward’s build, has good speed for his size and a scoring touch. Though some think he tops out as a second line player, others think that has more to do with the fact that he has been overscouted. A late birthday helped him go from blue chipper to the kid that everyone picks apart.
ISS Scouting Report: Here at ISS we believe Couturier is the victim of being over scouted due to his late birthdate. After what some might say is a disappointing year for this young man, here at ISS we still believe in this young mans ability to take his game to another level. He is an extremely smart and skilled playmaking center. He sees the ice well, knows where team mates are at all times; his passing is exceptional plus he is extremely dangerous in close. He creates offense and makes player better around him. He is very strong on his skates, and is very tough to knock off the puck for defenders when he has possession. He also displays good puck handling ability and soft hands.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets: Dougie Hamilton – Defenseman – Height: 6’4″ Weight: 193
Free: You could argue that the Blue Jackets need everything, but given they have Ryan Johansen and Nikita Filatov as forward prospects, defense is clearly the bigger need for this team. Hamilton is a wonderful combination of skill, brute force and leadership along the lines of Chris Pronger. That set of credentials is just too much for the Blue Jackets to ignore as Hamilton could have easily gone 4 spots earlier.
ISS Scouting Report: A very appealing defender with size, physical ability and some offensive skill as well, Hamilton strutted his stuff very well during Niagra’s playoff run. He is a strong defender with good separation skills along the boards who can fish loose pucks out of scrambles or use his body to take over the needed space. He is very mobile and fairly explosive for his size. He has good man to man coverage ability, and holds lanes well against the rush. He is very good at protecting the puck under pressure and can rush up the boards effectively. He likes to jump into the rush or drive the weakside during zone play. He can be an intimidator and front of his net as well.
9. Boston Bruins (Leafs): Oscar Klefbom – Defenseman – Height: 6’3″ Weight: 200
Metz: Though the Bruins would have liked to add some depth on the wing, that will come later as defense was a priority as well. Klefbom doesn’t exactly fit the mold of what we have come to expect from the B’s blue-line, but he could be a steal. He has excellent size, is poised with the puck and always seems to make the correct decision. He still has developing to do, but most feel that he is far beyond others in his age group skill-wise. He has the potential to provide solid two-way play in Bean Town for years to come.
ISS Scouting Report: Buried on a strong team in the Swedish Elite league, Klefbom wasn’t really able to strut his stuff until international competitions with the Swedish U18 team. And strut his stuff he did! Klefbom is still very raw but already well beyond the skill level of most of his peers, making him a very desirable prospect, but one who is overwhelmingly underrated. He is big, mobile and reliable. He is able to handle the puck well in traffic and rush up ice effectively. He has very good instincts with the puck at the point and loves to jump in off the weakside away from the puck. He has excellent speed and can recover well after aggressive pinches. He is a strong leader and plays hard consistently.
10. Minnesota Wild: Mika Zibanejad – Center – Height: 6’1″ Weight: 191
Free: Any mock draft showing the Wild drafting a defenseman in the first round can immediately be discounted. This team is desperate for offense and they will take the best forward available. At this point, that player is Zibanejad. There has been a lot of buzz around this player recently with some thinking he could be a top five pick. Given that he’s been playing in the Swedish Elite League, he could potentially step right into the Wild lineup although he hasn’t exactly been tearing up that league with 9 points in 26 games last season. A strong skater who likes to drive the net, he projects to be an offensive power forward; sounds exactly like the kind of player the Wild need.
ISS Scouting Report: A very intense player, Zibanejad has extremely explosive technical skills combined with great power and a determined work ethic. He applies tremendous physical pressure on the puck carrier in all zones and can really hammer opponents with his hitting ability. He displayed excellent awareness and intelligence away from the puck and is always calculating his next move. Zibanejad drives the net well and never has very much trouble penetrating the middle lanes off the rush with the puck. His hands and offensive timing could still stand to improve as he doesn’t always handle passes well and struggles to deal with bouncing pucks.
11. Colorado Avalanche: Joel Armia – Right Wing – Height: 6′ Weight: 191
Metz: Trading Chris Stewart wasn’t a very popular move in Colorado, especially considering that the Avs didn’t really have anyone in the organization that could fill the Stewart’s role moving forward. That could all change with the drafting of Armia. He is a big kid, who has isn’t afraid to go to the net. He could be a future power forward type and will make many in Colorado forget about Stewart. He will aide the power play and has the ability to score goals in bunches from right in front of the cage.
ISS Scouting Report: After producing several smaller playmaking forwards in the past couple of years, Finland finally has a big, goal scoring prospect in Armia. He is a very dynamic player with excellent power elements in his game complimented by some very good skill around the puck. Few players have the shot release that Armia possesses, which makes him a threat to score from a variety of areas on the ice and from different situations. He fights his way around defenders with and away from puck well. He battles well along the boards and in the net area. He has great soft hands and his reach allows him to walk right around players at the net. He can tip almost any shot and corral most rebounds.
12. Carolina Hurricanes: Sven Bartschi – Left Wing – Height: 5’10” Weight: 175
Free: With the prospect of losing Joni Pitkanen this offseason, one might think the Hurricanes would be looking at a puck moving defenseman at this point, however they are hoping Justin Faulk can fill that role eventually and no one left on the board is likely to be an NHLer this season. The Hurricanes have a lot of decisions to make this season with their free agents as three wingers from their top 2 lines are UFA. With that in mind, they target Bartschi, who while on the smaller side (see Skinner, Jeff) has great skills and vision from the wing without much flaw in his game.
ISS Scouting Report: Bartschi has shown excellent development over the past two seasons and has really flourished in Portland under Mike Johnston. Bartschi is a very well-rounded player who plays a determined and hard working brand of hockey that coaches can’t get enough of. He understands the dynamics of the game in all zones and has excellent vision and hands around the puck. He always seems to be open at the right times around the net and off transition – where he is very good at getting into the head man lanes. He has excellent focus and makes great quick decisions in the offensive zone that create a lot of space for his teammates.
13. Calgary Flames: Rocco Grimaldi – Center – Height: 5′ Weight: 163
Metz: The Flames aren’t getting any younger and after Jarome Iginla they really don’t have a ton of elite scoring talent. Enter Rocco Grimaldi. Sure he is a smaller guy, but he has the heart of a lion. He has all-world offensive skills and could one day be amongst the leading scorers in the National Hockey League. Grimaldi is the perfect compliment to the stable of gritty 3rd and 4th line types that the Flames currently employ. Grimaldi and Mikael Backlund could be a lethal one-two punch for years to come.
ISS Scouting Report: If not for his diminutive stature we would likely be talking about Grimaldi as a potential 1st overall pick. He is dynamic and electrifying and is the kind of player who sells tickets and jerseys. He is unbelievably quick and has a seemingly endless bag of tricks with the puck. Although a smaller player, Grimaldi plays with passion and isn’t afraid to play tough when called for. He has extremely strong core strength and is considered one of the best workers off the ice as well as on it. He had no problem producing numbers against USHL competition or again against the College circuit. Grimaldi has blown scouts away during international play.
14. Dallas Stars: Duncan Siemens – Defenseman – Height: 6’3″ Weight: 197
Free: The Stars debated long and hard between Siemens and Nathan Beaulieu. As is their bent, they decided on the safer pick and that is Siemens. He is not as flashy as Beaulieu but he is a great skater, plays a physical all-around game and doesn’t mind dropping the mitts; as vanilla as this analysis and the Dallas Stars.
ISS Scouting Report: Siemens in a very difficult player to play against. He is fearless and competitive, never giving up much room and willing to propel his body into other players with great speed. His skating is very strong and it is has been a very rare occurrence to see a WHL player beat him wide. He has great work ethic and loves the pushing and shoving associated with playing in front of his own goal and in the corners. His biggest appeal moving forwards is that he projects very well as a shutdown defender who can play big minutes when the games get tough and can also contribute from time to time in the offense and powerplay. He plays an intimidating and energetic style of defense that is very explosive and can really apply intense pressure on puck carriers.
15. New York Rangers: Nathan Beaulieu – Defenseman – Height: 6’1″ Weight: 185
Metz: The Rags like the Stars were debating between these two blue-liners, but are thrilled that the decision was essentially made for them and they ended up with Beaulieu. Though they have some intriguing depth on the blue-line, they don’t look to have a player capable of running their power play and getting significantly involved on the offensive side of the puck. This could be their man… he will fit in well with the likes of Del Zotto, Gilroy and Mcdonagh with his mobility and vision, but add more scoring punch.
ISS Scouting Report: Beaulieu has led Seadogs in scoring from the blueline for the past two years. Nathan is a dynamic defender with great offensive skill set. Beaulieu found his name on the scoresheet with consistency, He is an offensive minded defender with an interesting package of natural abilities. A smooth skater with very good mobility and feet for his size, he possesses good puck skills and on ice vision. He creates his points by carrying and effectively distributes the puck to his team mates. He has the mobility, size, frame and strength to be very effective in his own zone but has not shown the same grit as noted last year.
16. Buffalo Sabres: Mark McNeill – Center – Height: 6’1″ Weight: 204
Free: With Rocco Grimaldi surprisingly off the board, the Sabres were left scratching their heads about what to do. With their plans to have the all-Smurf team demolished, the decision to take the hulking McNeill hit them like a bolt of lightning. Aside from the usual attributes of a 200 pound 18 year old power forward, McNeill who is very smart and has great hockey sense, is also comfortable playing on the perimeter and can play the point of the power play. The working class Buffalo crowd is going to fall in love with this guy.
ISS Scouting Report: A very smart and hard working kid, McNeill is a great team player who does whatever is asked of him with pride and determination. He is very good at creating space off the rush using his size and power to dominate the perimeter but he isn’t afraid to penetrate the middle either. He has shown some very good creative instincts around the net this year and while he can rush plays with the puck at times in the net front area he very rarely hesitates and often trusts his well guided instincts. McNeill can be relied on in every situation and was used often to kill two man disadvantages with Canada’s U18 team at the U18 World Championships.
17. Montreal Canadiens: Mark Scheifele – Center – Height: 6’1″ Weight: 177
Metz: Though the Canadiens could have gone d-man here, they opt for the toughness, grit and scoring touch of power forward in the making Mark Scheifele. Scheifele needs to put on some weight and bulk up a bit to be effective at the next level, but it won’t take long for his blue collar style to endear him to the Montreal faithful. He will bring toughness, but will do so while scoring goal after goal from on top of your goaltender.
ISS Scouting Report: Canada’s top forward and most consistent overall player at the U18 World Championships had to be Scheifele. He is big with a ton of room to build on his frame. He plays a very focused and disciplined style and he isn’t afraid to take the puck to the toughest areas of the ice. He has good quick hands and makes very good plays around the net. His OHL numbers would skyrocket if he had a better supporting cast. He makes great powerful outside rushes and can drive the net better than maybe any other player in this draft. He works hard in both directions and can throw some big hits from time to time. When the going gets tough, he’s the player you want on the ice.
18. Chicago Blackhawks: Brandon Saad – Left Wing – Height: 6’1″ Weight: 208
Free: Continuing the run on power forwards, the Blackhawks draft Saad. Saad is a player that could potentially step into the Hawks lineup next year and they could certainly use a power forward on the cheap given the liklihood they will lose Troy Brouwer. He is a very responsible, two-way forward with big scoring potential. He was on his way to a 40 goal campaign in Saginaw but hit the proverbial wall in the 2nd half of the season. Saad could end up either a 3rd line checker or a top line, 65 point forward, but he will play in the NHL.
ISS Scouting Report: Saad, a 18-year-old from Gibsonia, PA, enjoyed an up and down rookie season with the Spirit. Saad rose up swiftly into the top 10 in December but hasn’t been able to hang on to that momentum. The big question is his grit and willingness to pay the price at times does seem to shy away from the rough stuff. Did battle the inconsistency bug, and at times was invisible during games. Saad is a skilled, offensive minded winger that possesses the size of a power forward but seems to bring a little more offensive creativity to the table. He had a very good playoff series against Windsor to close out Saginaw’s season. Saad is a real strong skater, possessing a long powerful stride that generates speed and quickness.
19. Edmonton Oilers: Jamie Oleksiak – Defenseman – Height: 6’7″ Weight: 244
Metz: The Oilers have been collecting amazing talent up front over the past couple of years and it was finally time to bolster the back end a bit. The massive Oleksiak is an intriguing selection as he is one of the biggest kids in the pool this year. He has matured over the past couple of seasons and gone from a guy who looked a bit uncoordinated into one who is very smooth on the ice. He has a huge reach, makes a nice first pass and gets up the ice quickly. He could compliment a healthy Ryan Whitney very nicely.
ISS Scouting Report: The hype around the hulking 6’7″ 244lb defender just continues to grow and Oleksiak is quickly becoming one of the most interesting potential first round prospects for this year’s NHL draft. ISS scouts love his mobility for his size and the fact that it continues to improve. Oleksiak has gone from a very awkward looking teen trying to make it in the USHL to an increasingly smooth and well rounded young man playing in the NCAA. He has a huge frame, and when you take into account his long stick he has immediate range. He gets up the ice quickly and isn’t afraid to handle the puck and he displays a better the average stick. He has shown that he can make the crucial first pass out of the zone.
20. Phoenix Coyotes: Nicklas Jensen – Right Wing – Height: 6’2″ Weight: 188
Free: The Desert Dogs are simply desperate to be the first team to feature two Danish players. Yet another skilled power forward but Jensen does not play the gritty game you would expect from the Danish. (removing tongue from cheek) His skating is not exactly where you would want it to be but you can make someone a better skater and you can’t teach skill.
ISS Scouting Report: Jensen has been an ISS favorite since day one. His potential is off the charts. he is showing a lot more quickness and speed and has always shown a real understanding of the game. Jensen tied for the team lead with seven goals (7-4–11) in the playoffs before the Generals were eliminated in the second round. While displaying the ability to produce offensively, he plays an overall responsible game. He shows no hesitation playing in all the tough and ugly areas of the ice and is very effective in the high traffic areas of the ice while showing a willingness to take a hit to make a play. He displays a real touch when he has the puck. His balance and ability to protect the puck are outstanding.
21. Ottawa Senators: Alexander Khokhlachev – Center – Height: 5’10” Weight: 188
Metz: He isn’t particularly big, he isn’t a particularly great skater, but he could be one of the premier offensive players in this year’s draft and that is something that the Senators could use. They have Daniel Alfredsson coming down the home stretch of his great career, an underachieving Jason Spezza and a slough of youngsters that look like they can contribute, but not dominate. Khokhlachev is hard working, scores dirty goals and is already acclimated to North American hockey due to the fact that he came over to play for Windsor rather than opting to stay in the KHL. Should be a fun one…
ISS Scouting Report: His lofty ranking here at ISS may surprise experts however, after watching his development over the past few years we feel he has the potential to be a difference maker at the next level. One of the most electrifying offensive players in the OHL this year, Khokhlachev took things to a new level during the playoffs, scoring 20 points in 18 games. Alex is a highly skilled, crafty offensive minded forward who possesses a real scorer’s touch. He is at his best and most effective when he has possession of the puck. He has excellent hands and when he plays with the puck he does so at a very high pace and speed. He displays speed, quickness and the ability to change directions and gears in an instant.
22. Anaheim Ducks: John Gibson – Goaltender – Height 6’3″ Weight 205
Free: The consensus best goaltender in the draft goes to Anaheim. With Jonas Hiller’s health issues and Ray Emery headed for free agency, the Ducks need to shore up this position and while Gibson is not likely to be ready for a number of years and they have Igor Bobkov in the system, they need to have another potential number 1. Gibson is big, plays the angles very well and has a high compete level. He is intent on attending the University of Michigan where he will likely slide right in as the number 1 goalie as a freshman.
ISS Scouting Report: Gibson could be considered the safest goaltending pick in this year’s draft. He is reliable and well conditioned. he has a very good work ethic and has shown excellent development through the season. Gibson is not flashy but he gets the job done and although he didn’t show too much in the way of being able to steal games he can be relied on to be consistent and avoid giving up deflating bad goals at bad times. Very well rounded goaltender.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins: Tyler Biggs – Right Wing – Height: 6′ Weight: 210
Metz: Even after adding James Neal last February, the Penguins are still lacking serious depth on the wings, so they went that direction with this pick. There were several to consider and it wasn’t an easy decision, but the size, forechecking ability and net front presence of Biggs won out. He plays a two-way game, isn’t afraid to hit, and can be a dominant force banging in garbage goals on the power play, something the Birds seriously lacked this past season. A top six that could eventually feature Crosby and Malkin centering lines with Tangradi, Neal, and Biggs could be very tough to play against.
ISS Scouting Report: Biggs is terrifying to match up against as he is a big, strong kid who knows how to use his biggest assets to his advantage. His intimidating and crushing physical forechecks open the door for a lot of offensive pressure and he has proven that he can take advantage of that around the net. He has a great shot with a good quick release but does most of his offensive damage directly in front of the net. Biggs was hot and cold in ISS viewings this year. When he is on he is dominant and controls the game but he can go long periods where even his physical play doesn’t undo his invisibility.
24. Detroit Red Wings: Jonas Brodin – Defenseman – Height: 6’1 Weight: 165
Free: Brian Rafalski has hung up the blades and Nick Lidstrom is not far behind him. The Wings need to fill in behind those two and Brodin is a decent start. While they had a few options at this pick, Brodin’s style is one they recognize and are comfortable with. He is composed, a strong skater with very good positional play and can play big minutes. Sound like anyone you know? The offensive potential is there but is also the biggest question mark.
ISS Scouting Report: Perhaps one of the best skaters in the entire draft, Brodin is a very intelligent and poised defender who does his job effectively but has showcased potential for so much more. He is a coach’s dream and can and will eat major minutes at the next level in every situation. His ability to deny space is incredible and all the more impressive is that he does it with little to no physical play whatsoever. He is excellent at retrieving pucks and using his skating ability to create room and calm the play down or to execute quick counterattacks and transitional rushes. His offensive skill has really yet to come out but it is obvious that there is an abundance of potential.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs: J.T. Miller – Left Wing – Height: 6’1″ Weight: 198
Metz: We all know how much Brian Burke loves those feisty players who can play a hard nosed style, crash the net, and use their physicality to impose their will. That is a big part of what he will be getting with Miller. This kid loves to bang, isn’t afraid to get into the dirty areas of the ice and can score a bit. He does need to improve his speed, but this two-way performer should be a nice get for the Leafs rebuilding plan.
ISS Scouting Report: Miller was one of the most impressive forwards for any team during the U18 World Championships in Germany and his hard-nosed take no prisoners style really got a lot of momentum started in the US team’s favor. He is a very difficult player to contain off the rush and always seems to be able to find open ice away from the puck. He has a great shot and can muscle his way into difficult spaces or out work opponents to create space for his teammates. He plays a great gritty style that will make him a very versatile prospect moving forward. Miller is heart and soul and will do whatever it takes to win and can up his game when the stakes are high.
26. Washington Capitals: Dmitri Jaskin – Right Wing – Height: 6’2″ Weight: 196
Free: The Capitals have the thoroughbreds and now they have a Russian plow horse. Jaskin has been banging around the top Czech league and likes to operate in traffic. He is not the quickest or swiftest skater but then neither is Milan Lucic. Expect to see a lot of Ovechkin’s rebounds being gobbled up and deposited by this burly winger.
ISS Scouting Report: One of the most mysterious prospects of the draft, Jaskin was hot and cold in ISS viewings but did manage to demonstrate his appeal and potential. When Jaskin is on he is very opposing player to play against as he can be very aggressive and difficult to shake. He has a great shot and finds places to set up outside of coverage in the offensive zone away from the puck. Jaskin is very good at holding onto the puck and using his big body to protect possession. He started off the U18 World Championships with a bang, pushing the Swedes around and eventually netting the winner with an incredible wrist shot off the rush but then tailed off for the rest of the tournament, leaving many scouts scratching their heads..
27. Tampa Bay Lighting: Connor Murphy – Defenseman – Height: 6’2″ Weight: 185
Metz: Murphy is a big kid who can play in all situations. He had an up and down season that started out with him dealing with an injury, but it ended on a high note as he scored the game winning goal in overtime of the U18 world championships gold medal game. He is not afraid to get physical, has a booming shot, can quarterback the power play and has great hockey sense.
ISS Scouting Report: Injured for most of the season (and for part of last season), Murphy had a very up and done year when it comes to showcasing his skills. He was excellent during the Ivan Hliinka U18 tournament but then really tailed off. He managed to finish the year strong with a superb performance at the U18 WC, scoring the winning goal in overtime of the gold medal game. He is big, mobile and aggressive. He plays a tough physical style and can displaya bit of a mean streak from time to time. He has a strong shot from the point and was a mainstay on the US team’s top PP unit in international play. He is the son of former NHLer Gord Murphy and projects very well if he can stay healthy.
28. San Jose Sharks: Matt Puempel – Left Wing – Height: 6′ Weight: 198
Free: This could be the steal of the draft or a complete bust for the Sharks. Puempel was a consensus top 10 pick but that was before he cracked a hip that required surgery. He still managed 69 points in 55 games for a poor Peterboro team. The Sharks are not desperate for anything in particular so are playing with house money and can afford to take a risk with this pick. Puempel can add to an already formidable group up front if is able to come back from the injury.
ISS Scouting Report: Puempel is a left handed skilled forward that possesses a great stick and shows a high end of ability to finish. His lofty ranking here at ISS may surprise some experts however Pure goal scorers are a highly sought after commodity come draft day, and Puempel may just be the best sniper in this draft. Has good speed with quick acceleration. He makes a lot of smart touches with the puck and makes pretty solid decisions. He is at his best in the offensive zone, especially below the top of the face off circles. He has tremendous offensive instincts and is tenacious in offensive situations. He had to have season ending hip surgery, causing him to miss the Under 18’s, however he is expected to make a full recover.
29. Toronto Maple Leafs (Bos): Zack Phillips – Center – Height: 6’1″ Weight: 181
Metz: If Phillips was a better skater, he would likely have been selected earlier in the draft. He had a huge offensive season finishing seventh in the QMJHL scoring race. He has great on ice vision, can create and has a great scoring touch. He should be a very productive player for the Leafs as long as he can improve his skating.
ISS Scouting Report: Phillips, an 18-year-old from Fredericton, NB, enjoyed a breakout year offensively finishing seventh in QMJHL scoring during the regular season recording 38 goals and 57 assists for 95 points in 67 games. A gifted playmaker, Phillips is a decent skater that possesses excellent vision on the ice. Listed at Right Wing he has been centering Saint John’s top offensive line since December. He has the ability to carry the puck and make good intelligent passes while in motion. He can also score. His skating continues to show improvement and will need to continue if he plans to play in the NHL. He also needs to continue to play in traffic and compete at a high level.
30 Vancouver Canucks: David Musil – Height: 6’3” Weight: 200
Free: At first glance, the Canucks would seem to be very deep at the defense position, but upon closer inspection they have 4 dmen on the current squad up as UFAs this year. Musil is a prototypical stay at home defenseman and is very difficult to get around. He will play a physical game and a high compete level.
ISS Scouting Report: On the radar for some time now, Musil, who is the son of former NHLer Frank Musil, has shown impressive development and has evolved into a very reliable and consistent defender. Although not overly flashy or overly skilled in any particular facet of the game, Musil is impressive at making sure he meets expectations. He is not easy to get around, can play physical when required and isn’t afraid to mix it up or answer the bell when required. He has great gap control and can really lure players in and then strip them of the puck using his big reach. His skating ability has come a long way as has most of his other technical skills. Musil is still going to get a lot better and has proven that he is more than willing to do whatever that takes.