General Hockey

Eastern Conference Draft Previews: Part Two

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(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

New York Rangers

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Chris Kreider (19th overall)

2008- Michael Del Zotto (20)

2007- Alexei Cherepanov (17)

2006- Bobby Sanguinetti (21)

2005- Marc Staal (12)

2004- Al Montoya (6), Lauri Korpikoski (19)

2003- Hugh Jessiman (12)

2002- None

2001- Dan Blackburn (10)

2000- None

Busts: Blackburn, Jessiman, Montoya

Late-round steals:

Henrik Lundqvist (7th round, 2000)

Petr Prucha (8th round, 2002)

When the Rangers have drafted a defenseman in round one in the last decade, they’ve done just fine.  At the same time, the forwards and goaltenders they’ve drafted have never lived up to expectations; they also had the tragic death to a promising talent in Cherepanov just a year ago.  Henrik Lundqvist will go down as one of the biggest draft steals of all-time, and Petr Prucha was also a nice find in the 8th round.  Still, not having a first-rounder produce from 2000 to 2004 – and you might as well extend that all the way back to 1991 – can stunt the growth in your system’s youth.  It hasn’t affected the Rangers as much as it could have in recent years.  I think Lundqvist has something to do with that…

Decade Grade: ­C

Top 5 Prospects…

1. LW Evgeny Grachev

2. C Derek Stepan

3. C Chris Kreider

4. D Bobby Sanguinetti

5. D Ryan McDonagh

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Left & Right wing depth

Goaltending depth

First round picks:

10th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: C/W Jeffrey Skinner)

Other selections:

Round 2 (40th overall)

Round 4 (100)

Round 5 (130)

Round 7 (190)

Final Remarks…

The Rangers will have their highest first-round selection since 2004, when they drafted 6th overall.  Depending on who’s still available, there’s a wide array of prospects for GM Glen Sather to go after at #10.

Ottawa Senators

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Jared Cowen (9th overall)

2008- Erik Karlsson (15)

2007- Jim O’Brien (29)

2006- Nick Foligno (28)

2005- Brian Lee (9)

2004- Andrej Meszaros (23)

2003- Patrick Eaves (29)

2002- Jakub Klepis (16)

2001- Jason Spezza (2), Tim Gleason (23)

2000- Anton Volchenkov (21)

Busts: Klepis

Late-round steals:

Brian Elliott (9th round, 2003)

Out of all the years Ottawa has made the playoffs, it’s impressive that they held on to their first-round pick every year… you would figure they would have made a deadline deal at least once involving a first-rounder.  The Senators had a nice string of top picks earlier in the decade, as Spezza, Volchenkov, Meszaros, and Eaves all played a role in the team getting to the finals in 2007.  GM Bryan Murray is hoping the latest wave of prospects can have the same effect – especially standout defensemen Karlsson and Cowen.  Also, Brian Elliott was a 9th-round pick in 2003.  Ottawa had a solid decade’s worth of drafting.

Decade Grade: ­B-

Top 5 Prospects…

1. D Jared Cowen

2. D Patrick Wiercioch

3. G Robin Lehner

4. RW Andre Petersson

5. C Zack Smith

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Offensive-minded forwards

Goaltending

Forward depth

First round picks:

16th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: C Mikael Granlund)

Other selections:

Round 3 (76th overall)

Round 4 (106)

Round 6 (178)

Round 7 (196)

Final Remarks…

Ottawa has just five selections going into Friday’s draft, but could be looking to get more.  If GM Bryan Murray feels like he can’t re-sign Anton Volchenkov, he could dangle his negotiating rights for a draft pick.  Also, any deal involving Jason Spezza could bring back a pick in return as a part of the package.

Philadelphia Flyers

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- None

2008- Luca Sbisa (19th overall)

2007- James van Riemsdyk (2)

2006- Claude Giroux (22)

2005- Steve Downie (29)

2004- None

2003- Jeff Carter (11), Mike Richards (24)

2002- Joni Pitkanen (4)

2001- Jeff Woywitka (27)

2000- Justin Williams (28)

Busts: Woywitka

Late-round steals:

Roman Cechmanek (6th round, 2000)

The 2003 draft made a big impact in the Flyers organization.  That’s when Carter and Richards were drafted in Nashville, and they’ve taken over in Philadelphia.  Richards now captains the team, while Carter is one of the best snipers in the league.  Will ’06 and ’07 have a similar effect?  Giroux and van Riemsdyk have shown great promise as their talents are just scratching the surface.  Philly hasn’t had much success otherwise, though, and their current system of prospects is paying for it.  And because of Chris Pronger, the Flyers basically sacrificed their first-rounders from 2008 through 2010.

Decade Grade: ­B-

Top 5 Prospects…

1. LW Jon Kalinski

2. D Kevin Marshall

3. RW David Laliberte

4. LW Patrick Maroon

5. G Joacim Eriksson

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Defensive depth

Forward depth

First round picks:

None – traded to Anaheim in Chris Pronger trade

Other selections:

Round 3 (89th overall)

Round 4 (119)
Round 5 (149)

Round 6 (179)

Round 7 (209)

Final Remarks…

Without a pick in the first two rounds, GM Paul Holmgren won’t be busy ‘til well into day two in L.A… unless Jeff Carter (or someone else) is traded for a first-round pick.  Watch for Holmgren to at least attempt to vault back into round one.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Simon Despres (30th overall)

2008- None

2007- Angelo Esposito (20)

2006- Jordan Staal (2)

2005- Sidney Crosby (1)

2004- Evgeni Malkin (2)

2003- Marc-Andre Fleury (1)

2002- Ryan Whitney (5)

2001- Colby Armstrong (21)

2000- Brooks Orpik (18)

Busts: None

Late-round steals:

Max Talbot (8th round, 2002)

It’s pretty easy to draft guys like Crosby, Malkin, Fleury, and Staal when you’re in the top two every year.  That was the case for Pittsburgh from 2003 to 2006, and boy did those on-ice struggles pay dividends for the future.  That core of four led the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in 2009, and is locked in for the long haul.  Orpik was a good value pick at #18 in 2000, as he’s turned into their shutdown defenseman.  Even Whitney and Armstrong, who are no longer on the team, made key contributions here and there.  They also nabbed the Game 7 hero, Talbot, in the 8th round.  Yeah, I’d say they had a pretty good decade when it came to drafting!

Decade Grade: ­A

Top 5 Prospects…

1. LW Eric Tangradi

2. D Simon Despres

3. LW Dustin Jeffrey

4. D Brian Strait

5. LW Ben Hanowski

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Left & Right wing depth

First round picks:

20th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: C/W Quinton Howden)

Other selections:

Round 3 (80th overall)

Round 4 (110)

Round 5 (140)

Round 6 (152, 170)

Round 7 (200)

Final Remarks…

Pittsburgh doesn’t have many needs for this week’s draft, but will be looking to add all-around depth.  Don’t be surprised if GM Ray Shero trades back from #20 if the player(s) he wants isn’t on the board, and so they can stockpile picks in later rounds.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Victor Hedman (2nd overall), Carter Ashton (29)

2008- Steven Stamkos (1)

2007- None

2006- Riku Helenius (15)

2005- Vladimir Mihalik (30)

2004- Andy Rogers (30)

2003- None

2002- None

2001- Alexander Svitov (3)

2000- Nikita Alexeev (8)

Busts: Alexeev, Svitov, Rogers

Late-round steals:

Paul Ranger (6th round, 2002)

In the last ten years, the Lightning have not done well in the draft.  In fact, only one team has done worse (Phoenix).  Forwards Alexeev and Svitov never panned out, and defensemen Rogers and Mihalik probably won’t fulfill their potential.  Also, Helenius is in the midst of a goaltending logjam in the organization.  They also failed to grab many quality players in the later rounds.  However, they hit a grand slam (or in hockey terms, scored a hat trick) with the selection of Stamkos, who co-won the Rocket Richard Trophy this year.

Decade Grade: ­F

Top 5 Prospects…

1. RW Carter Ashton

2. RW Richard Panik

3. G Dustin Tokarski

4. D Ty Wishart

5. C Blair Jones

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Talent at forward

Defensive depth

First round picks:

6th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: D Brandon Gormley)

Other selections:

Round 3 (63rd overall, 66, 72)

Round 4 (96, 118)

Round 6 (156)

Round 7 (186)

Final Remarks…

GM Steve Yzerman is in a solid position Friday, sitting at 6th overall.  They should be to grab Gormley, Fowler, or Connolly there; any of those three would be good fits in Tampa Bay.  Also, with five picks in rounds three and four, look for Yzerman to explore trading into round two if he sees a player he wants.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Nazem Kadri (7th overall)

2008- Luke Schenn (5)

2007- None

2006- Jiri Tlusty (13)

2005- Tuukka Rask (21)

2004- None

2003- None

2002- Alexander Steen (24)

2001- Carlo Colaiacovo (17)

2000- Brad Boyes (24)

Busts: None

Late-round steals:

Ian White (6th round, 2002)

When you look at Toronto’s first-rounders, you would assume the grade would be lower than a B-minus.  Between Pat Quinn (coach/GM) and John Ferguson Jr., the Leafs were able to find some decent talent past round one – Kyle Wellwood, Matt Stajan, Ian White, Viktor Stalberg, and Carl Gunnarsson.  None of them have or will set the world on fire, but are solid pickups in the later stages of the draft.  Boyes and Rask both found their way to Boston in trades before they even put on the Maple Leaf sweater.  Schenn and Kadri have great potential, but are a couple years away before they maximize it at the NHL level.  It also doesn’t help that their next two first-round picks (including #2 overall this week) are in Boston’s possession via the Phil Kessel deal.

Decade Grade: ­B-

Top 5 Prospects…

1. C Nazem Kadri

2. RW Christian Hanson

3. G James Reiner

4. D Keith Aulie

5. C Philippe Paradis

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Talented forwards

Goaltending depth

First round picks:

None – traded to Boston in Phil Kessel trade

Other selections:

Round 3 (62nd overall)

Round 4 (112)

Round 5 (122, 144)

Round 7 (182, 202)

Final Remarks…

Since the Leafs do not possess a pick in round one, GM Brian Burke will likely deal Tomas Kaberle – whose no-trade clause lifts Friday – for a first-round pick or a forward.  If that doesn’t come to fruition for whatever reason, Burke will be unusually quiet until day two.

Washington Capitals

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Marcus Johansson (24th overall)

2008- Anton Gustafsson (21), John Carlson (27)

2007- Karl Alzner (5)

2006- Nicklas Backstrom (4), Semyon Varlamov (27)

2005- Sasha Pokulok (14), Joe Finley (27)

2004- Alexander Ovechkin (1), Jeff Schultz (27), Mike Green (29)

2003- Eric Fehr (18)

2002- Steve Eminger (12), Alexander Semin (13), Boyd Gordon (17)

2001- None

2000- Brian Sutherby (26)

Busts: Sutherby, Pokulok, Finley

Late-round steals:

None

The Capitals really benefitted from all of their selling during the trade deadline earlier in the decade.  In 2004, Schultz and Green – their current top defensive pairing – were essentially acquired in trades.  The same goes for Varlamov, who was drafted with Nashville’s original selection (Brendan Witt trade).  Then in 2008, future star blueliner Carlson was picked with Philadelphia’s original selection (Steve Eminger trade).  Combine all of these picks gathered through trades with the likes of Ovechkin, Semin, and Backstrom, and you’ve got yourself a damn good hockey team!

Decade Grade: ­B+

Top 5 Prospects…

1. D John Carlson

2. D Karl Alzner

3. G Michal Neuvirth

4. C Marcus Johansson

5. RW Mathieu Perreault

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Talented forwards

Defensive depth

First round picks:

26th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: C John McFarland)

Other selections:

Round 3 (86th overall)

Round 4 (116)

Round 5 (142, 146)

Round 6 (176)

Final Remarks…

I wouldn’t expect much out of the ordinary from Washington.  With the 26th pick, I think they’ll lean towards taking a forward since Anton Gustafsson may not have the ceiling once thought.  McFarland would be exactly what they’re looking for…


** 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.

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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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