Western Conference Draft Previews: Part Two

Here is part four of Ryan Porth’s draft previews…part two of the Western Conference featuring Los Angeles, Minnesota, Nashville, Phoenix, San Jose, St. Louis, Vancouver…

By Ryan Porth

Los Angeles Kings

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Brayden Schenn (5th overall)

2008- Drew Doughty (2), Colten Teubert (13)

2007- Thomas Hickey (4)

2006- Jonathan Bernier (11), Trevor Lewis (17)

2005- Anze Kopitar (11)

2004- Lauri Tukonen (11)

2003- Dustin Brown (13), Brian Boyle (26), Jeff Tambellini (27)

2002- Denis Grebeshkov (18)

2001- Jens Karlsson (18), David Steckel (30)

2000- Alexander Frolov (20)

Busts: Karlsson, Tukonen

Late-round steals:

Cristobal Huet (7th round, 2001)

Scott Parse (6th round, 2004)

Considering the Kings haven’t drafted from the top five until recent years, they did pretty well over the last decade.  Kopitar and Brown are key pieces to the Kings’ puzzle, and Frolov had his moments.  Ex-GM Dave Taylor was able to grab Lubomir Visnovsky, Michael Cammalleri, and Jonathan Quick after round one, as well as Huet and Parse later on.  Current GM Dean Lombardi has hit the jackpot a couple times in the last four years or so.  Doughty is going to be an annual Norris Trophy candidate, while Bernier will be a really solid starter some day in this league.

Decade Grade: ­B

Top 5 Prospects…

1. C Brayden Schenn

2. G Jonathan Bernier

3. D Thomas Hickey

4. D Colten Teubert

5. D Vyacheslav Voinov

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Left & Right wing depth

First round picks:

19th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: RW Vladimir Tarasenko)

Other selections:

Round 2 (49th overall, 59)

Round 3 (70, 79)

Round 4 (109)

Round 5 (148)

Round 6 (169)

Round 7 (199)

Final Remarks…

The Kings are in a great position to add some more talent to the cupboard with five selections in the first three rounds.  They’d love to see a highly-touted prospect fall to them, and I can see Tarasenko doing just that.

Minnesota Wild

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Nick Leddy (16th overall)

2008- Tyler Cuma (23)

2007- Colton Gillies (16)

2006- James Sheppard (9)

2005- Benoit Pouliot (4)

2004- A.J. Thalen (12)

2003- Brent Burns (20)

2002- Pierre-Marc Bouchard (8)

2001- Mikko Koivu (6)

2000- Marian Gaborik (3)

Busts: Thalen, Pouliot

Late-round steals:


Ex-GM Doug Risebrough’s poor drafting has resulted in current GM Chuck Fletcher having to pick up the pieces.  Minnesota virtually struck out on their first-rounders from 2004 to 2006, Gillies and Cuma are no guarantees to ever make an impact, and Leddy has already been dealt.  On top of that, Burns and Bouchard haven’t taken the next step due to injury, and the staff has failed to grab any late-round steals.  Gaborik and Koivu were great selections long ago, but you’re hard-pressed to find another impact selection made by Risebrough or Fletcher.

Decade Grade: ­D

Top 5 Prospects…

1. D Marco Scandella

2. D Tyler Cuma

3. G Matthew Hackett

4. LW Colton Gillies

5. C Cody Almond

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Offensive-minded forwards

Goaltending depth

Left & Right wing depth

First round picks:

9th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: C Alexander Burmistrov)

Other selections:

Round 2 (39th overall, 56)

Round 3 (69)

Round 4 (99)

Round 5 (129)

Round 6 (159)

Round 7 (189)

Final Remarks…

Here’s another club that can’t mess up with their first-round pick.  I would expect Fletcher to draft a forward at the #9 spot, with the offensive talent running pretty dry in the system.  Burmistrov or Mikael Granlund would be intriguing selections.

Nashville Predators

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Ryan Ellis (11th overall)

2008- Colin Wilson (7), Chet Pickard (18)

2007- Jonathan Blum (23)

2006- None

2005- Ryan Parent (18)

2004- Alexander Radulov (15)

2003- Ryan Suter (7)

2002- Scottie Upshall (6)

2001- Dan Hamhuis (12)

2000- Scott Hartnell (6)

Busts: None

Late-round steals:

Pekka Rinne (8th round, 2004)

Patric Hornqvist (7th round, 2005)

2003 was a huge draft year in Nashville; one, because they hosted the event… two, they grabbed three impact defensemen.  Ryan Suter and Shea Weber – the co-anchors to Nashville’s back end – were both drafted that year, along with Kevin Klein.  None of their first-rounders have qualified as busts, and all have produced at the NHL level.  Recent top picks like Blum, Pickard, and Ellis are expected to play big roles in the Predators’ future.  GM David Poile also picked up Rinne and Hornqvist – two young, bright stars for Nashville – in the deep stages of the draft.  Poile and company have always done an excellent job at drafting, which has put them in the position to make the playoffs in five of the last six years.

Decade Grade: ­A+

Top 5 Prospects…

1. D Ryan Ellis

2. G Chet Pickard

3. D Jonathan Blum

4. RW Zach Budish

5. D Roman Josi

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Offensive-minded forward

Left & Right wing depth

Defensive depth

First round picks:

18th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: C Nick Bjugstad)

Other selections:

Round 3 (78th overall)

Round 5 (126)

Round 6 (168)

Round 7 (194, 198)

Final Remarks…

The Predators have alternated taking a defenseman and forward seemingly every year.  Last year was a blueliner, and Poile has hinted at keeping that trend going by selecting a forward at #18 on Friday.  Nashville is also in a position to trade back, if he feels the need to regain a second-round pick.

Phoenix Coyotes

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Oliver Ekman-Larsson (6th overall)

2008- Mikkel Boedker (8), Viktor Tikhonov (28)

2007- Kyle Turris (3), Nick Ross (30)

2006- Peter Mueller (8), Chris Summers (29)

2005- Martin Hanzal (17)

2004- Blake Wheeler (5)

2003- None

2002- Jakub Koreis (19), Ben Eager (23)

2001- Fredrik Sjostrom (11)

2000- Krys Kolanos (19)

Busts: Kolanos, Koreis, Eager

Late-round steals:

Daniel Winnik (9th round, 2004)

Who did the worst drafting in the last decade?  Yeah, you guessed it… the Coyotes.  You see those 13 first-rounders above?  None of them have not or have yet to fulfill their potential in Phoenix.  In fact, their best pick in the last ten years was probably Keith Yandle in the 4th round in 2005.  Winnik was a nice find in 2004, but he’s nothing to brag about.  The Desert Dogs are going to need the likes of Turris, Boedker, and Tikhonov to play to their potential in the coming years; this organization can’t afford to virtually go oh-for-the-decade.

Decade Grade: ­F

Top 5 Prospects…

1. D Oliver Ekman-Larsson

2. LW Brett MacLean

3. D Maxim Goncharov

4. D Chris Summers

5. D David Schlemko

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Goal-scoring winger

Future #1 goaltender

Forward depth

First round picks:

13th Overall, from CGY (Current RLD mock draft pick: G Jack Campbell)

22nd Overall (C Tyler Pitlick)

Other selections:

Round 2 (52nd overall)

Round 4 (113)

Round 5 (138)

Final Remarks…

The Desert Dogs have a pair of first-round picks to work with, one coming from Calgary in exchange for Olli Jokinen.  Could the ‘Yotes package them and trade into the top ten??  Unlikely, as they could use the extra selection to add depth to the system.  Campbell would be a great pick at #13…

San Jose Sharks

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- None

2008- None

2007- Logan Couture (9th overall), Nick Petrecki (28)

2006- Ty Wishart (16)

2005- Devin Setoguchi (8)

2004- Lukas Kaspar (22)

2003- Milan Michalek (6), Steve Bernier (16)

2002- Mike Morris (27)

2001- Marcel Goc (20)

2000- None

Busts: Morris, Kaspar

Late-round steals:

Ryane Clowe (6th round, 2001)

Joe Pavelski (7th round, 2003)

San Jose hasn’t done that great of a job of picking in round one, but they’ve had balanced drafts throughout the decade.  Michalek and Bernier were solid selections in 2003, but were used as trade chips for big-ticket items.  Setoguchi in 2005 appears to be a good pick if he can keep progressing.  Also, Couture showed some promise late in the year and postseason.  But I’ve really liked what management has done after round one.  Pavelski and Clowe were great steals later on in the draft.  San Jose also drafted defensemen Christian Ehrhoff, Matt Carle, and Marc-Edouard Vlasic in the 2nd round or later; Jason Demers and Derek Joslin could follow suit on the back end.  It’s no wonder why the Sharks are a contender year after year…

Decade Grade: ­A-

Top 5 Prospects…

1. D Nick Petrecki

2. LW Steven Zalewski

3. G Alex Stalock

4. G Tyson Sexsmith

5. D William Wrenn

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Forwards with size

Left & Right wing depth

First round picks:

28th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: RW Beau Bennett)

Other selections:

Round 3 (88th overall)

Round 5 (127, 136)

Final Remarks…

This is another team I wouldn’t be surprised to see trade back, given they only have three picks in the entire draft.  If they stay put, I think GM Doug Wilson will go with a forward over a defenseman.

St. Louis Blues

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- David Rundblad (17th overall)

2008- Alex Pietrangelo (4)

2007- Lars Eller (13), Ian Cole (18), David Perron (26)

2006- Erik Johnson (1), Patrik Berglund (25)

2005- T.J. Oshie (24)

2004- Marek Schwarz (17)

2003- Shawn Belle (30)

2002- None

2001- None

2000- Jeff Taffe (30)

Busts: Taffe, Belle, Schwarz

Late-round steals:

Petr Cajanek (8th round, 2001)

Lee Stempniak (5th round, 2003)

Roman Polak (6th round, 2004)

I have a feeling that the Blues will benefit from selling at the Trade Deadline similarly to the Capitals before the lockout.  In 2006 and 2007, the Blues had five first-round picks combined.  They selected Johnson, Berglund, and Perron with three of those picks (after Oshie in 2005).  Cole is a solid prospect still growing, while Eller was flipped for their pending starting goalie for 10/11 – Halak.  Ex-GM Larry Pleau did a decent job picking after first round, and was able to get rugged players like David Backers and Polak.  Now with John Davidson in the front office, this Blues club is certainly headed in the right direction.

Decade Grade: ­B-

Top 5 Prospects…

1. D Alex Pietrangelo

2. C Lars Eller

3. D Ian Cole

4. G Jake Allen

5. D David Rundblad

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

All-around talent

Forward depth

First round picks:

14th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: RW Austin Watson)

Other selections:

Round 2 (44th overall)

Round 3 (74)

Round 4 (104)

Round 5 (134)

Round 6 (164)

Final Remarks…

St. Louis is sitting nicely at 14th, in position to grab someone who may fall out of the top ten.  In that context, guys like Burmistrov or Skinner would be appealing.  Watson is a solid two-way forward that would be a nice changeup to all of the young skill the Blues currently possess.

Vancouver Canucks

Decade in Review…

Last ten first-rounders:

2009- Jordan Schroeder (22nd overall)

2008- Cody Hodgson (10)

2007- Patrick White (25)

2006- Michael Grabner (14)

2005- Luc Bourdon (10)

2004- Cory Schneider (26)

2003- Ryan Kesler (23)

2002- None

2001- R.J. Umberger (16)

2000- Nathan Smith (23)

Busts: Smith

Late-round steals:

Kevin Bieksa (5th round, 2001)

Vancouver’s drafting over the last decade has been pretty average, considering only one first-rounder has made a major contribution – Ryan Kesler.  He has really emerged over the last couple years as the Canucks’ do-it-all center.  Grabner and Hodgson are getting there, but Schneider will eventually get traded in all likelihood, as ‘Bobby Lu’ is in his way for the next, oh, decade!  Bieksa and Alex Edler were nice defensive finds past the first 30 picks, but other steals are few and far between.

Decade Grade: ­C

Top 5 Prospects…

1. C Cody Hodgson

2. G Cory Schneider

3. C Jordan Schroeder

4. LW Sergei Shirokov

5. RW Anton Rodin

2010 Look-ahead…

Draft needs:

Top-tier defenseman

Forward depth

Goaltending depth

First round picks:

25th Overall (Current RLD mock draft pick: C Riley Sheahan)

Other selections:

Round 4 (115th overall)

Round 5 (145)

Round 6 (172, 175)

Round 7 (205)

Final Remarks…

Vancouver is yet another team I can see trading out of round one to gather picks in rounds two or three.  They don’t really have a glaring need that they could fulfill at 25th, so GM Mike Gillis could be working the phones.

** 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.