Who wants to play GM?
Oh boy. With the Community Mock Draft complete, the Fan Contest closed, and the Hockey Wilderness staff mock up, it becomes time for our individual staff members to make their picks. Who better to lead of with than myself?
My mock draft, at least this time around, is completely serious. This may be a departure from my norm, but for today we keep it real. I used a bit of logic, a touch of gut reaction, a pinch of cynicism, and a moderate amount of complete and total guess work. I've read upwards of 100 mock drafts to prepare, and hope that something stuck as I did so.
Once upon a time, I thought being an NHL GM would be kind of cool. I no longer think that. I think Chuck Fletcher's job is nearly impossible, with differing groups of constituents demanding different things, and his neck the only one on the line. I'll pass.
I hope you enjoy my mock draft. Please, be kind. Or don't.
1. Edmonton Oilers - Nail Yakupov
I think the Oilers will entertain packages to trade down, but the are going to want too much. They need a stud blue liner, but with the number one pick, you have to take the best player, and that is Yakupov.
2. Columbus Blue Jackets - Ryan Murray
Columbus really needs Yakupov or Galchenyuk, but I have strong reservations that they would take a Russian player. Murray is a stud, and he is the right pick here.
3. Montreal Canadiens - Mikhail Grigorenko
The Habs won't be able to pass on the top prosepct in the Q. He's earned a reputation as a floater, but half the team floats, so he'll fit right in.
4. New York Islanders - Alex Galchenyuk
With the Habs taking the wrong Russian, Garth Snow will sprint to the podium before they can change their mind.
5. Toronto Maple Leafs - Matt Dumba
This kid has Brian Burke written all over him. No way the Leafs pass on him.
6. Anaheim Ducks - Filip Forsberg
The Ducks love themselves a solid forward. Plus with the shock of Schultz leaving, they may have a bad taste in their mouths for d-men. Not really, but it sounds good.
7. Minnesota Wild - Jacob Trouba
We've got him as the second best defenseman available, but he ranks third or fourth in most mocks. Exactly the type of player the Wild need in the system.
8. Carolina Hurricanes - Teuvo Teravainen
The Canes love them some Finns almost as much as the Wild do, and a scoring winger would fit nicely in their system.
9. Winnipeg Jets - Griffin Reinhart
The Jets need some depth at right wing, but after Yakupov, it would be a reach this high in the draft. Defensemen are the best available. Maybe Reinhart could teach them how to make a check without breaking someone's face against the boards.
10. Tampa Bay Lightning - Morgan Rielly
I could actually see the Bolts trading up with the Canes if Teravainen is at risk to go. With no trades in a mock draft, there is no way to pass on Rielly.
11. Washington Capitals (from Colorado) - Cody Ceci
Defense, defense, defense. The draft is heavy on D, and the Caps system could use some D.
12. Buffalo Sabres - Radek Faksa
Buffalo's system looks pretty good, but they are light on centers. Plus, Faksa is the best player available. It works out well for them.
13. Dallas Stars - Brenden Gaunce
The Stars' farm system looks like HWSRN was in charge. They need everything. Center is always a place to turn.
14. Calgary Flames - Hampus Lindholm
If HWSRN is running the system in Dallas, Jay Feaster must be running the system in Calgary... oh... wait. They have Granlund the lesser, and Sven Baertschi, but other than that, completely lackluster. Gotta go best available here.
15. Ottawa Senators - Olli Maata
The Sens could be a team quietly poisied to be really good next year and beyond. Well balanced system, solid NHL team. No pressing major needs forcing them to go off script.
16. Washington Capitals - Zemgus Girgensens
Some team is bound to have a different plan than everyone else. This is my stretch pick. I just don't think the Caps can pass on this kid, and he won't be around when they pick again.
17. San Jose Sharks - Sebastian Collberg
The Sharks have gone all in on a Cup, trading away their prospects for NHL talent. Within the next couple years, it will be win or rebuild time. Picking in the mid to end of the draft for years, with no Cup to show for it, has hurt their ranks. They need a dash of everything, so there is no wrong way to go here. I think they lean toward offense, but that's a pure gut feeling.
18. Chicago Blackhawks - Slater Koekkoek
The Hawks could use some young D prospects. Who else are they going to dupe the Wild into trading for in four years?
19. Tampa Bay Lightning (from Detroit) - Pontus Aberg
The Bolts are a bit thin on the left, and missing out on Teravainen might sting them enough to go with Aberg. Plus, Aberg is pretty good.
20. Philadelphia Flyers - Colton Scissons
Flyers won't let him fall any farther.
21. Buffalo Sabres (from Nashville) - Matt Finn
The Sabres got their flashy pick out of the way earlier, so now they can fly under the radar a bit. They got the center they need, so with this pick, I see defense. Finn is a big kid, solid two way guy. Perfect guy to fill into their farm system.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins - Derrick Pouliot
We learned in the community mock draft that the Pens have trouble developing AHL talent into NHL talent. They need a home run pick, and at 22, that won't be easy. Taking a d-man is easy enough, developing them a much more difficult concept. Still, too many blueliners available to pass on them all.
23. Florida Panthers - Mark Jankowski
The Panthers are an embarrassment of riches. They remade their team in one offseason, all while adding picks and young talent. They are deep, and they are good. Hockey in the sun has a new ambassador. The only weakness I see is on the wings, but centers can move. They don't need this kid right away, so a nice long term project with huge upside is my bet.
24. Boston Bruins - Brady Skjei
Last year, the Bruins asked for someone to teach them how to Dougie. This year, do they panic and reach for a goalie with their nutjob... I mean All Star goalie jumping ship? I don't think they do, but they may be tempted to. There are no glaring needs, but their farm system has become mediocre. Such is life when you win so much. Best player available? Best player available.
25. St. Louis Blues - Ludvig Bystrom
A team thin on D in a D heavy draft that doesn't get to draft until most of the top d-men are gone? Ouch. I still think they go D.
26. Vancouver Canucks - Tomas Hertl
The system for the Canucks is, shall we say, not that good. It's a similar situation as the Sharks, except that the Nucks haven't traded away their prospects, they just don't have any. They will go with the best available player, and then bury them behind a wall of NHL talent.
27. Phoenix Coyotes - Andrei Vasilevski
Is it possible to draft an owner? Sure would be nice for our friends in the desert to be done with that mess. The Yotes' system has some bright spots, but it lacks in other areas. With their record this year, they may have screwed themselves out of a good pick, but they also made it very difficult to justify moving them. Picking this late is a project pick, so why not?
28. New York Rangers - Tom Wilson
The Rangers seem to be a good team, but they also seem to be one or two cards short somewhere. I'll admit I don't know a ton about their system, but what I do know is kind of thin. Not that they need the depth right now. No big holes to fill, late round pick, just go with something safe.
29. New Jersey Devils - Stefan Matteau
The Devils should have forfeited this pick. Lou looks silly on this one, which is unfortunate.
30. Los Angeles Kings - Dalton Thrower
Am I the only one who hopes Dean Lombardi walks to the podium in shades, asks everyone to stop cheering "so loud" and then thanks the Flyers for their ineptitude? I can't be. Picking last means you won, and also means you are really picking a high second rounder. Thrower looks to be a solid NHL talent, with low risk, high reward written all over him.