Eastern Conference Draft Previews – Part One


(Ed’s Note: Here is part one of Ryan Porth’s four part draft previews. He did an amazing job of breaking down each team’s needs, prospects, draft history etc… enjoy!)

By Ryan Porth

Atlanta Thrashers

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Evander Kane (4th overall)

2008- Zach Bogosian (3), Daultan Leveille (29)

2007- None

2006- Bryan Little (12)

2005- Alex Bourret (16)

2004- Boris Valabik (10)

2003- Braydon Coburn (8)

2002- Kari Lehtonen (2), Jim Slater (30)

2001- Ilya Kovalchuk (1)

2000- Dany Heatley (2)

Busts: None

Late-round steals:

Tobias Enstrom (8th round, 2003)

When you look at Atlanta’s drafts from the decade, it’s kind of hard to believe they only got one playoff appearance out of all those high picks.  Kovalchuk and Heatley have developed into top-notch goal-scorers in the NHL, but weren’t together for long as Heatley was dealt after the lockout.  GM Don Waddell hasn’t been able to find many steals, and probably should have held on to Coburn instead of trading him to Philadelphia for Alexei Zhitnik in 2007.  They were also expecting big things out of Lehtonen, which never came to fruition.  Overall, they’ve done well in the last ten years, but the one-ice results haven’t followed suit.

Decade Grade: ­B+

Top 5 Prospects…

1. LW Jeremy Morin

2. C Patrice Cormier

3. RW Carl Klingberg

4. D Ivan Vishnevskiy

5. D Arturs Kulda

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Offensive-minded forward

Left & Right wing depth

Defensive depth

First round picks:

8th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: C Ryan Johansen)

24th Overall, from NJ (C Evgeny Kuznetsov)

Other selections:

Round 2 (54th overall)

Round 3 (87)

Round 4 (101)

Round 5 (128, 150)

Round 6 (158)

Round 7 (188)

Final Remarks…

In Rick Dudley’s first draft in the GM post for Atlanta, it’ll be interesting to see what direction they go with a pair of first-rounders.  I don’t see them as a team that would package those picks to jump up to #3 or #4; they need both picks to help the farm system.

Boston Bruins

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Jordan Caron (25th overall)

2008- Joe Colborne (16)

2007- Zach Hamill (8)

2006- Phil Kessel (5)

2005- Matt Lashoff (22)

2004- None

2003- Mark Stuart (21)

2002- Hannu Toivonen (29)

2001- Shaone Morrisonn (19)

2000- Lars Jonsson (7), Martin Samuelsson (27)

Busts: Jonsson, Samuelsson, Toivonen

Late-round steals:

Matt Hunwick (7th round, 2004)

Phil Kessel is the only Bruins first-round pick in the last ten years that has lived up to potential – and he’s now with division foe Toronto.  Ever since they selected Joe Thornton first overall back in 1997, Boston’s first-rounders have failed to meet expectations.  2000 was a total bust for the B’s (and a handful of other teams), as well as 2002.  Kessel and Lashoff have been traded away, while the jury is still out on prospects like Hamill and Colborne.  As you can see, Boston has to make this week’s draft count…

Decade Grade: ­C

Top 5 Prospects…

1. C Joe Colborne

2. RW Brad Marchand

3. RW Jordan Caron

4. C Zach Hamill

5. C Jamie Arnel

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Goal-scoring forward

Forward depth

First round picks:

2nd Overall, from TOR (Current RLD mock draft pick: LW Taylor Hall)

15th Overall (D Dylan McIlrath)

Other selections:

Round 2 (32nd overall, 45)

Round 4 (97)

Round 5 (135)

Round 6 (165)

Round 7 (195)

Final Remarks…

As of now, it appears GM Peter Chiarelli will retain the #2 overall pick and take whomever Edmonton doesn’t.  But the 15th overall selection is a bit of a wild card.  Do they hold on to it, or use it to trade up or down?  There have been reports that Chiarelli would like to use that pick to jump back into the top ten (or five) to draft a top-notch defenseman.

Buffalo Sabres

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Zack Kassian (13th overall)

2008- Tyler Myers (12), Tyler Ennis (26)

2007- None

2006- Denis Persson (24)

2005- Marek Zagrapan (13)

2004- Drew Stafford (13)

2003- Thomas Vanek (5)

2002- Keith Ballard (11), Daniel Paille (20)

2001- Jiri Novotny (22)

2000- Artem Kryukov (15)

Busts: Kryukov, Zagrapan

Late-round steals:

Paul Gaustad (7th round, 2000)

The Sabres were also victims to poor draft classes earlier in the decade, but cashed in with everyone else in 2003.  Vanek has been one of the more important players for this Sabres club the last handful of years.  They also seem to have hit the jackpot by selecting Myers in 2008, who is the odds-on favorite to win the Calder.  GM Darcy Regier also found a late-round gem in Gaustad.  Other than that, though, the Sabres’ decade of drafting was above average… obviously not as good as it could have been.

Decade Grade: ­B-

Top 5 Prospects…

1. C Tyler Ennis

2. RW Zack Kassian

3. G Jhonas Enroth

4. D Brayden McNabb

5. LW Luke Adam

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Size & talent at forward

Forward depth

First round picks:

23th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: D Jarred Tinordi)

Other selections:

Round 3 (68th overall, 75, 83)

Round 4 (98)

Round 5 (143)

Round 6 (173)

Round 7 (203, 208)
Final Remarks…

It’s hard to gauge which direction the Sabres will go if they stick to the ‘best available’ motto.  But I don’t think they’ll take any risks with the 23rd overall pick, especially since they don’t possess a second-round pick.

Carolina Hurricanes

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Philippe Paradis (27th overall)

2008- Zach Boychuk (14)

2007- Brandon Sutter (11)

2006- None

2005- Jack Johnson (3)

2004- Andrew Ladd (4)

2003- Eric Staal (2)

2002- Cam Ward (25)

2001- Igor Knyazev (15)

2000- None

Busts: Knyazev

Late-round steals:


Carolina was able to capitalize on some first-rounders – namely Staal and Ward – but their lack of quality drafting past the first 30 overall picks is why their grade isn’t favorable.  Niclas Wallin (4th round, 2000) is the only player not drafted in the first round that was a factor in the Hurricanes’ lineup in the past decade.  Also, Johnson was expected to be a big contributor for the ‘Canes; that didn’t quite happen, as he was traded away before he laced ‘em up in Raleigh.  GM Jim Rutherford has the most picks in this week’s draft, and it’d be a good time to start cashing in on those late-round selections.

Decade Grade: ­C-

Top 5 Prospects…

1. LW Zach Boychuk

2. D Jamie McBain

3. LW Drayson Bowman

4. C Zac Dalpe

5. D Brian Dumoulin

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Offensive-minded forward

Defensive depth

Left & Right wing depth

First round picks:

7th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: RW Nino Niederreiter)

Other selections:

Round 2 (37th overall, 46, 53)

Round 3 (67, 85)

Round 4 (105)

Round 6 (157, 167)

Round 7 (187, 206)

Final Remarks…

I am really curious to see what GM Jim Rutherford will do with the 7th overall pick.  They’ve gone with a forward in round one in each of the last three drafts.  Does that mean he’ll go with a defenseman??  Common logic would say yes; but a guy like Niederreiter may be too good to pass up.

Florida Panthers

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Dmitri Kulikov (14th overall)

2008- None

2007- Keaton Ellerby (10)

2006- Michael Frolik (10)

2005- Kenndal McArdle (20)

2004- Rostislav Olesz (7)

2003- Nathan Horton (3), Anthony Stewart (25)

2002- Jay Bouwmeester (3), Petr Taticek (9)

2001- Stephen Weiss (4), Lukas Krajicek (24)

2000- None

Busts: Taticek, Stewart

Late-round steals:


Like Carolina, the Panthers have drafted pretty well in the first round.  Their top picks from 2001 to 2003 have been productive, while Frolik and Kulikov promise to be solid NHLers when/if they reach their potential.  But this is yet another team that has failed to strike gold late in the draft.  Truthfully, David Booth was Florida’s only good selection after round one, and that selection came in the second round.  This grade would be higher if they were able to find some players of value on day two…

Decade Grade: ­C

Top 5 Prospects…

1. G Jacob Markstrom

2. D Keaton Ellerby

3. RW Michal Repik

4. D Colby Robak

5. G Alexander Salak

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Left & Right wing skill

Center depth

First round picks:

3rd Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: D Cam Fowler)

Other selections:

Round 2 (33rd overall, 36, 50)

Round 4 (92, 93)

Round 5 (123)
Round 6 (153)

Round 7 (183)

Final Remarks…

One direction you can assume GM Dale Tallon won’t be going at #3 overall is goaltending.  It’s likely that he takes a defenseman; but don’t rule out a forward, or Tallon possibly trading the pick.  The Panthers have a solid farm system, but this is a prime opportunity to expand on that.

Montreal Canadiens

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Louis Leblanc (18th overall)

2008- None

2007- Ryan McDonagh (12), Max Pacioretty (22)

2006- David Fischer (20)

2005- Carey Price (5)

2004- Kyle Chipchura (18)

2003- Andrei Kostitsyn (10)

2002- Christopher Higgins (14)

2001- Mike Komisarek (7), Alex Perezhogin (25)

2000- Ron Hainsey (13), Marcel Hossa (16)

Busts: Hossa, Perezhogin

Late-round steals:

Jaroslav Halak (9th round, 2003)

Mark Streit (9th round, 2004)

Sergei Kostitsyn (7th round, 2005)

I’ve stressed the importance of drafting beyond the first round.  Montreal has done an admirable job doing just that in the last decade.  Really, their top picks – for the most part – haven’t performed to expectations.  But when you’re able to get Halak, Streit, and the other Kostitsyn beyond the 5th round, it speaks volumes to the scouting staff.  Also, the Habs were able to grab the likes of Plekanec, Lapierre, O’Byrne, Latendresse, and Subban in round two or later; all of those players have made an impact one way or the other.  Montreal has been able to get great value for the position where they’ve drafted players.

Decade Grade: ­A+

Top 5 Prospects…

1. D P.K. Subban

2. C Lars Eller

3. RW Danny Kristo

4. C Louis Leblanc

5. D Yannick Weber

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Offensive-minded forward

Defensive depth

Goaltending depth

First round picks:

27th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: C Brock Nelson)

Other selections:

Round 2 (57th overall)

Round 4 (117)

Round 5 (147)

Round 7 (207)

Final Remarks…

Advancing all the way to round three was the difference in 12 spots in the draft order; if they had lost to Pittsburgh or Washington, the Habs would be drafting 15th… that’s a pretty big difference.  At #27, look for GM Pierre Gauthier to go with the ‘best player available’, and could nab someone who falls in the second half of the first round.

New Jersey Devils

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Jacob Josefson (20th overall)

2008- Mattias Tedenby (24)

2007- None

2006- Matthew Corrente (30)

2005- Niclas Bergfors (23)

2004- Travis Zajac (20)

2003- Zach Parise (17)

2002- None

2001- Adrian Foster (28)

2000- David Hale (22)

Busts: Foster

Late-round steals:


It’s hard to imagine the Devils made the playoffs every year in the last decade while not drafting too well during that span.  Parise and Zajac were the only bang-on selections in round one, as they couldn’t grab any useful talent as the drafts went on.  Paul Martin was picked in round two in 2000, but after that you’re hard-pressed to find another non-first round gem.  Even though they haven’t done well in the entry draft, though, it’s a testament to Lou Lamoriello for keeping a playoff team on the ice year after year.

Decade Grade: ­D

Top 5 Prospects…

1. C Jacob Josefsen

2. LW Mattias Tedenby

3. D Matthew Corrente

4. D Tyler Eckford

5. D Alexander Urbom

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:


All-around talent

First round picks:

None – traded to Atlanta in Ilya Kovalchuk trade

Other selections:

Round 2 (38th overall)

Round 3 (84)

Round 4 (114)

Round 6 (174)

Round 7 (204)

Final Remarks…

Due to the Kovalchuk trade, New Jersey won’t be selecting in the first round.  However, they did swap second-round picks with Atlanta in the same trade, so they will draft early on day two.  One need that Lamoriello should address is goaltending – especially if Calvin Pickard falls to them in the 2nd round.

New York Islanders

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- John Tavares (1st overall), Calvin de Haan (12)

2008- Josh Bailey (9)

2007- None

2006- Kyle Okposo (7)

2005- Ryan O’Marra (15)

2004- Petteri Nokelainen (16)

2003- Robert Nilsson (15)

2002- Sean Bergenheim (22)

2001- None

2000- Rick DiPietro (1), Raffi Torres (5)

Busts: DiPietro

Late-round steals:

Chris Campoli (7th round, 2004)

A lot of people call Rick DiPietro a ‘bust’.  I’m hesitant to, as he’s endured some tough injuries, and has put together a couple good seasons when his team reached the playoffs.  With that being said, as a #1 overall pick, DiPietro has been a bust with that label.  Raffi Torres, drafted four slots later, didn’t get a chance to prove himself in New York before getting dealt to Edmonton.  Those are two picks they could have done better with in 2000.  Management hasn’t necessarily drafted well, but it hasn’t been horrible.  They’re certainly hoping Tavares, Bailey, and Okposo buck that trend.

Decade Grade: ­C+

Top 5 Prospects…

1. D Calvin de Haan

2. D Travis Hamonic

3. LW Jesse Joensuu

4. RW Kirill Petrov

5. G Mikko Koskinen

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Goal-scoring forward

Left & Right wing depth

First round picks:

5th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: RW Brett Connolly)

Other selections:

Round 2 (35th overall, 58)

Round 3 (65, 82)

Round 4 (95)

Round 5 (125)

Round 6 (155, 160)

Round 7 (185)

Final Remarks…

GM Garth Snow will likely go one of two ways at #5 overall – either Connolly or one of the remaining defensemen.  The Islanders could use a go-to-guy for Tavares, but also a future star blueliner.  I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Snow trade back like he has in recent years, and gather more picks in the cupboard.

** Ryan is a diehard hockey fan that would prefer to watch a Leafs-Islanders regular season replay over any NBA game! He’s been the editor in chief of RLD Hockey since it started in 2008, and also contributes to Inside Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter here.


About Brian Metzer

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Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Brian Metzer has been covering the Pittsburgh Penguins and National Hockey League since 2004. He is the host of Penguins Live Weekly, a show that airs Saturday mornings on 105.9 the X and iHeart Radio. He serves as the Pittsburgh Penguins correspondent for NHL Network Radio on SiriusXM, and is the NHL and Penguins correspondent for the Beaver County Times. Metzer is also a contributing writer for NHL.com and is the primary contributor for this site www.fromthepoint.com.

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  1. Walshy

    June 22, 2010 at 5:57 am

    Great work Ry, that would have taken some time!

  2. Jay

    June 22, 2010 at 3:15 pm

    Even though the deal looks one sided right now, you have to love the move the Panthers made today. Two picks in the top 15 in this draft will look good in two years time. Add thos two high end players to Markstrom , Frolik and Kulikov.

    As for the Pens, I’m hoping they trade down. There’s a lot of quality in this draft and if the Pens can get two picks in the top 50 or 60 they can address quality and quantity in their system.