The 2014 NHL Entry Draft is 5 days away and the Wild are looking to find that next NHL star to raise their franchise to the next level. Hockey Wilderness is counting down the days with a daily mock draft. We are at pick number 26 today.
The Canadiens made a deep run through the playoffs this year, but a brutal knee injury to Carey Price derailed their Stanley Cup dreams for 2014. Some of their highly touted prospects such as Nathan Beaulieu and Jarren Tinordi made appearances with the big club this season and each contributed two assists each. With a lot of the Canadiens' prospects already pro or ready to turn pro, a prospect that they are able to wait on is exactly what they need this draft.
The Canadiens will take the first Minnesotan in the draft by selecting Jack Dougherty. Dougherty is a multi-tool defenseman that possesses good hockey intelligence. The former St. Thomas Academy Cadet was playing with the US National Development Team in Michigan for the 2013-14 season and totaled 4 goals and 8 assists in 23 games. Once he joined the US Under-18 squad, his point total jumped up to 22 in 55 games. The Cottage Grove native stands at 6'2" and 185 pounds and has a right-handed shot on the point.
Skating isn't his strong suit, but his on-ice awareness allows him to be in the right position at the right time. He is able to turn defense into offense with a great outlet pass.
Dougherty has committed to the University of Wisconsin, so he'll be able to go through a program that's churned out a lot of great defensemen, including Ryan Suter. Wisconsin does a better job of keeping players for at least three years than some of the other NCAA Division I schools in the Midwest. He was good enough to land at number 30 in Central Scouting's top North American Skaters, and highest ranked Minnesota player.
Here's what some have to say about Jack Dougherty:
Dougherty has made great strides the past couple of seasons — steadily progressing from a defensive defenseman to a confident puck handler and someone with a great ability to read the play. Has the size and skating ability that attracts scouts and has not let his offensive play diminish his defensive game.
Brendan Ross of Dobber Prospects
Scouts are enamoured with Jack Dougherty’s all-around skill set as this young blueliner has few weaknesses in his game. Blessed with an great hockey processor, Dougherty shows intelligence and conviction in his abilities, which include a great outlet pass, good positioning and astute awareness on both sides of the puck. Committed to the University of Wisconsin, Dougherty will be mentored in a program that has produced some great defensemen (Gary Suter, Brian Rafalski, Chris Chelious, Ryan Suter and Jake Gardiner). His skating needs some polishing and quickness could be added but it appears Dougherty is among the top defenders in the 2014 NHL Draft class.
Dougherty is an intelligent defenseman who tries to blend strong positioning while trying to inflict a physical dimension on his opponent. He isn't the fleetest of foot, but does get where he needs to go. He also makes a strong first pass and has solid offensive instincts.
If the Wild were to select him, it wouldn't be a selection to just make the provincial Minnesota fans happy. There seems to be real talent in Dougherty's game. There's also never a problem with having too much depth on defense even though the Wild seem to have good young prospects that they've drafted as well as signing undrafted college free agents. Dougherty is a player that is a few years away from turning pro and they know that he is developing in a top-notch NCAA program.