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NHL Draft Prospect Preview: Erik Gudbranson

As we round out our coverage of the prospects at the ninth position, we take a look at a couple guys that very likely will not be available. While the possibility is slim that these final players are available to the Wild, we are simply doing our due diligence to get you the information you need to be prepared.

Who knows, maybe one of the teams in front of the Wild "pulls a Risebrough" (note, this does not count as mentioning HWSRN's name, instead it a new label for drafting someone that you have no business drafting).

Today, we look at defenseman Erik Gudbranson from Kingston of the OHL. Profile:

Erik Gudbranson
North American Skater
Kingston, OHL
Final Rank:  4 Midterm Rank:  6
Position:  Defenseman Shoots:  Right
Height:  6' 4" Weight:  195
Born:  January 7, 1992 Hometown:  Orleans, ON
Born in:  Ottawa, ON, CAN

Nathan: As complete a player available in the draft, Erik Gudbranson has size, hands, skating ability, can move the puck, can play physical, block shots, get in the passing and shooting lanes and drop the gloves if necessary. He would only need a partial season in the AHL coming out of camp just to ensure that he's up to speed after missing part of last season with mono. Seriously, he's a Calder candidate who is a franchise top pairing defenseman. There is no chance that he's available at 9. In fact, there's a good chance that he goes #3. If he's available, you take him even though the Wild need forwards. He's that good.

Buddha: As mentioned above, Gudbranson has a slim chance of falling to 9. Ranked the 4th best NA skater by CSS, and chosen to go between 4-6 in every mock draft I have looked at, Gudbranson is never going to make it to the Wild. He draws comparisons to Chris Pronger, which I suppose is good or bad depending on which quality it is they are comparing to. Personally, I wouldn't want my name in the same sentence as Pronger's, but that's just me.

Would the Wild take him at 9 if, by some miracle, he drops that far? You had best be on the phone betting your house, your car, and your next year's worth of salary that they would. But Buddha, a d-man? Yes, a d-man. A top paring, ready very soon, large, physical d-man with the ability to add offense. Yeah, like you wouldn't want that.

JS: Good sized defender with skill, missed 27 games with mononucleosis. Not afraid to drop the gloves. Believe it or not, this guy's actually a French-speaking player from Ontario... just like Pouliot! Mmmmmm... Good shot, good hockey sense, and a natural leader. Perfect mix of size and offense. Might've challenged Fowler and Gormley for top d-man in the draft had he had a healthy season. He's a big man who can play with an edge and is compared to Tyler Myers, Larry Robinson and even Chris Pronger, and say what you will about Pronger (we all hate him), but he's a hell of a defenseman, so being compared to him is a compliment if you're talking about his defensive tools and not his ass-holiness. Not likely to fall to #9, many even have him being picked before Fowler at #3. Could see some NHL action as early as this year, especially if he gets drafted by Florida, but it would be wise to give him quality minutes in the AHL to hone his mix of offense and edge.

Circular Theory: A favorite of mine. He possesses all the tools to become a top pairing d-man. He has strong shot, long stick, good mobility, good defensive skills, a mean edge, solid body, and great character. While considered the most raw out of the 3 defenseman expected to be selected in the top 10 (Fowler, Gormley, Gudbranson), he may possess the highest upside because of all his tools mentioned previously. At #9, the Wild should be fortunate to have a chance to draft a prospect like Gudbranson but this might be the time for the Wild to move down and collect a few extra picks and trade the pick to a team that wants a potential top pairing defenseman.