You can tell the Minnesota Wild do not have a 1st round pick in this year's draft. In previous years I'd be able to easily find posters to participate in a mock draft. Not this year. I sent out a bunch of requests and the response I got was rather universal from most people I queried, "We don't have a pick, so I didn't pay attention, sorry." As we enter the month of June, the NHL Entry Draft is just a few weeks away. The experts across North America and beyond have been chiming in as to how they feel the draft will shake down. As sure as some experts seemed to be as of May 1st as to how the prospects stood, a thrlling Memorial Cup that featured the 3 top prospects certainly could shake up those early predictions. For some experts it left them re-ordering their field while others stood fast with their original assessments. No matter what I think the future looks pretty bright for Nathan MacKinnon, Seth Jones and Jonathan Drouin no matter where they end up.
We are going to try to be a source of information if you want to see what people are saying about your team in regards to the NHL draft. The Wild do not have a 1st round pick at present, but Minnesota has made some significant splashes at the draft before and who knows, maybe General Manager Chuck Fletcher makes a deal to get a pick in the 1st round. Not likely, but I didn't expect the Wild to land Zach Parise and Ryan Suter last summer. So perhaps the best thing is to think as though we won't, but then not be totally surprised if they do make another summer splash. So who will be picked where and by whom?
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So if you're planning on putting together a mock draft of your own you might as well arm yourself with all the information that you can. Not only will we provide a plethora of mock drafts for your perousal, but also provide a few of our 'own' so to speak. We may not be TSN's Bob McKenzie or Craig Button but we feel confident in our selections (kinda). Apart from myself, I consulted Hockey's Future and one noted writer Nate Wells (Hfboards screename and Twitter handle GopherState) responded. He writes about the Golden Gophers Men's hockey team as well as First Round Bust which is a blog which really dedicates itself to the draft and Wild prospects. Nate's picks were a reflection of what he felt were the respective organization's strengths and weaknesses. Want a little more info before you make your own mock draft? How about the NHL Combine results?
My Mock Draft
1. Colorado Avalanche – D, Seth Jones (Portland, WHL) ~ I think the Avalanche will be very tempted to add MacKinnon but they just can't pass up on an athletic two-way defenseman like Seth Jones. He is the type of talent that will be able step in right away where he should be a franchise cornerstone for a youth-driven club.
2. Florida Panthers – C, Nathan MacKinnon (Halifax, QMJHL) ~ The Florida Panthers will add to their already deep stable of prospects with the ultra-competitive center who combines speed, with skill and the ability to protect the puck. MacKinnon was fantastic as this year's Memorial Cup MVP and he is a dual threat as finisher and a playmaker.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning – LW, Jonathan Drouin (Halifax, QMJHL) ~ Drouin is a fantastic player in his own right and is an outstanding puckhandler who can dangle like few players can but has the ability to finish or set up teammates. The Lightning certainly have issues on defense, but an offensive player of Drouin's ability was simply too good to pass up.
4. Nashville Predators – LW/C, Hunter Shinkaruk (Medicine Hat, WHL) ~ I think the Predators' first season without the playoffs really kind of shook this team. I think they will defy convention a bit and try to draft a player they feel fits into the team's roots; where they value hard work, feistiness and speed. Hunter Shinkaruk has outstanding wheels and he is also a very gifted scorer which is something the Predators also sorely need.
5. Carolina Hurricanes – C, Sasha Barkov (Tappara, Sm-Liiga) ~ The Hurricanes will be glad to have the opportunity to add another skilled centerman to its club in the skilled Finn Sasha Barkov who didn't just survive in the Sm-Liiga but thrived scoring 20 goals and leading his team to a championship.
6. Calgary Flames – F, Valeri Nichushkin (Chelyabinsk, KHL) ~ The Flames have 3 picks in this draft and they will use their first one to try to add more skill and size (6'4") up front and they'll do both by selecting this talented Russian. Nichushkin dispatched team Canada in the Bronze medal game at last year's WJC's and they are hoping he'll show that finish with Calgary someday where he could be the next Sergei Makarov.
7. Edmonton Oilers – D, Darnell Nurse (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) ~ Its about time the Oilers address their lagging blueline so they will be quite pleased to draft the tremendously athletic, big bodied defenseman who is the nephew of former NFL quarterback Donovan McNabb. Nurse loves to dish out hits, but can also be very effective in the offensive zone.
8. Buffalo Sabres – C, Elias Lindholm (Brynas, Eliteserien) ~ The Sabres traded away their captain to the Minnesota Wild in Jason Pominville, and they will attempt to replace some of that leadership with the offensively skilled center. Lindholm plays a very well rounded game where he works equally hard in the defensive zone as he does in the offensive zone.
9. New Jersey Devils – C, Sean Monahan (Ottawa, OHL) ~ The Devils will add a strong centerman that will be a franchise workhorse for years to come. Monahan is a great playmaker possessing uncanny vision, but he also has good finishing ability of his own. The Devils will appreciate that he is good at protecting the puck in tight spaces but also has the savvy to create turnovers on the forecheck.
10. Dallas Stars – C, Bo Horvat (London, OHL) ~ Horvat really shined for London this year, using a hard working style that willed himself and his team to an OHL championship. Horvat is very strong on his skates and is a deft finisher in and around the crease. The Stars will try to rebuild its offensive depth with its young core led by Jamie Benn, Loui Eriksson, Alex Chiasson and Horvat will be another key part of the youth movement.
11. Philadelphia Flyers – D, Rasmus Ristolainen (TPS Turku, Sm-Liiga) ~ The lack of nastiness of the Philadelphia Flyers' blueline was exposed throughout the early part of the season. This is why the Flyers will draft the big (6'4", 207lbs) Finnish blueliner who can provide quality minutes at both ends of the ice. He won't be confused for the second coming of Chris Pronger (even though that's what Flyers' fans will be hoping for) but he's a talented, big-bodied defenseman.
12. Phoenix Coyotes – C, Curtis Lazar (Edmonton, WHL) ~ Coyotes need scoring so they will be ecstatic to draft the clutch sniper with the wicked release. He is a streaky player who can either develop into a 2nd liner you can use on the power play or an elite scorer but either way the question is whether he'll just be good or great?
13. Winnipeg Jets – RW, Valentin Zykov (Baie-Comeau, QMJHL) ~ The Jets would like to diversify their attack and this talented Russian will help do just that. Zykov combines excellent speed, great instincts and the knack to find the back of the net. He has a solid frame and is difficult to knock off the puck.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets – D, Ryan Pulock (Brandon, WHL) ~ The offensively gifted defenseman is a true power play quarterback and will give Blue Jackets some serious options when you consider they already have Ryan Murray in their prospect pool. Pulock is certainly a risk taker, but he also loves to dish out hits and does not let his slightly below average-sized frame (6'0") be a hindrance to getting involved physically.
15. New York Islanders – D, Nikita Zadorov (London, OHL) ~ The Islanders have been very patient with their defensive prospects, but will look to finish out the blueline with this punishing defenseman. Zadorov brings great size (6'5", 230lbs) but he's not just some stay-at-home beast, as he can unleash a big shot with decent accuracy too which boosts his versatility. Zadorov and last year's 1st round pick Griffin Reinhart will be two pillars of strength on the Islanders blueline for years to come.
16. Buffalo Sabres – D, Steve Santini (USNDT, USHL) ~ The Sabres tried to address their 'softness' last year by bringing in Steve Ott and former Wild defenseman John Scott but it obviously was not enough. So the Sabres will draft punishing defenseman and Boston College recruit Steve Santini. Santini loves to dish out the pain with bonecrunching body checks but he's not just a punisher as he possesses good skill too and can move the puck up the ice effectively. He is an absolute warrior who Sabres fans will love watching each night.
17. Ottawa Senators – C, Frederik Gauthier (Rimouski, QMJHL) ~ The team's long-time leader Daniel Alfredsson is nearing the end of his NHL career. The Senators will be quite happy to draft a player with the character and leadership qualities of this big (6'5") centerman. Gauthier may be big but he moves very well for a big man noted for his strong work ethic and competitiveness. He can contribute very effectively at both ends of the ice.
18. Detroit Red Wings – C, Alexander Wennberg (Djurgarden, Eliteserien) ~ A Swedish-born player with lots of skill, speed and hockey smarts? Sounds like an ideal Red Wings forward to me. Wennberg is a solid offensive forward who has good creativity with the puck and a great release. He played in the Eliteserien and did not look out of place at all, racking up 32 points in 46 games.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets – RW, Michael McCarron (USNDT, USHL) ~ The Blue Jackets will use their 2nd pick in the draft to swing for the fences in a potential home run or bust selection of this big bodied (6'5", 220lbs) winger who has great athleticism but is still refining his puck skills. Yet his potential is high to be a prototypical power forward that may remind some of a young Brent Burns.
20. San Jose Sharks – LW, Kerby Rychel (Windsor, OHL) ~ It could only be more perfect if he was an Ottawa 67 for Sharks GM Doug Wilson but overall he will be very pleased to draft this talented winger. The son of former NHL'er Warren Rychel is a hard-nosed kid who also possesses some excellent finishing ability. The Sharks will covet a player who is not afraid to go to the tough areas of the ice and also has the ability to beat goaltenders with his wickedly quick release.
21. Toronto Maple Leafs – C, Max Domi (London, OHL) ~ Could this scenario be anymore perfect in Toronto? Son of former Leafs' tough-guy Tie Domi, his younger son has great hands and is a skilled offensive forward. He handles the puck as though its on a string and has good speed and quickness. He's small (5'9") but his vision on the ice is exceptional and while he won't be dropping the gloves as often as his father he won't back down either.
22. Calgary Flames – LW, Anthony Mantha (Val 'd Or, QMJHL) ~ The Flames will try to add another big bodied (6'4") offensively gifted forward in this Val 'd Or offensive workhorse. Mantha lit the lamp 50 times this season for the Foreurs but there are questions about his desire which will cause him to fall into the Flames lap. Calgary will hope to 'light a fire' underneath Mantha so he can live up to his potential and give the Flames another valuable scorer for their organization.
23. Washington Capitals – C, J.T. Compher (USNDT, USHL) ~ The Capitals will want to re-establish that up-tempo game that served it so well during the height of the Bruce Boudreau era and to do that they need to be faster. Compher certainly has the wheels to help that cause. The 5'10" center is a fiesty competitor who leaves everything he has on the ice and will play any role to help his team win. On a team that has sometimes been accused of lacking fire or being selfish, Compher is an unselfish competitor who will do whatever it takes to win. Sounds like a player the Capitals could definitely use.
24. Vancouver Canucks – D, Joshua Morrissey (Prince Albert, WHL) ~ With many of the skilled forwards already snapped up the Canucks will look to add a quality prospect for its blueline. As the Canucks' core of forwards get older, they will need more contributions from its defense. Morrissey is a high-end offensive defenseman with the ability to quarterback the power play as well as the smarts to contribute points at even strength. A fantastic skater, he sees the ice well and distributes the puck effectively.
25. Montreal Canadiens – LW, Andre Burokowsky (Malmo, Eliteserien) ~ Montreal has wanted to get bigger and add more skill. Burokowsky combines both of those qualities. He has a little more size (6'1") and is fantastic puckhandler who can make opposing defenseman look silly with the way he'll dangle right around them. He has great speed and has a great shot off the rush. He is not a very physical player, but he is a forward with top line potential and after the roster shuffling he's just the kind of player they need.
26. Anaheim Ducks – D, Ian McCoshen (Waterloo, USHL) ~ The Anaheim Ducks have locked up their stars in Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, so now their task is to solidify other key areas that could have some vacancies in the next few seasons. Particularly at defense which is why they will be pleased to sign this stable, two-way defenseman. McCoshen is the kind of defenseman that makes life miserable for opponents because his excellent mobility you can't get away from him and his physical style makes him a real pain. He has a reasonable shot when he can get it off and he consistetly makes a good first pass out of the zone.
27. Columbus Blue Jackets – D, Samuel Morin (Rimouski, QMJHL) ~ The Blue Jackets last pick will be more of a project as they select the 6'6" giant from Rimouski. He is big but also mobile and he uses that wingspan effective to deny the middle of the ice. Everyone likes to hope they can develop the next Zdeno Chara and the Blue Jackets have never really had a giant defenseman like this before and if he continues to develop they could have a real steal on their hands.
28. Dallas Stars – C, Nic Petan (Portland, WHL) ~ Dallas traded away some significant skill when it dispatched Jaromir Jagr and Derek Roy and some believe it was those moves that forced the organization to axe Joe Nieuwendyk (dealing James Neal and Matt Niskanen for Alex Goligoski and losing Brad Richards for nothing didn't help either) and replace him with Jim Nill. So with a need for some more skill up front they will select the small but very skilled offensively gifted center. Petan has tremendous speed and has a terrific release. He is not big at 5'8", but he projects to be a great secondary scoring threat.
29. Calgary Flames – G, Zach Fucale (Halifax, QMJHL) ~ Fucale was a rock for the Mooseheads all season long and while he certainly had lots of offensive support he did prove in his own right that he's an athletic, NHL-sized (6'1", 185lbs) goaltender lauded for his tremendous maturity. Sorry Leland Irving, but this is Miikka Kiprusoff's future replacement.
30. Chicago Blackhawks – D, Madison Bowey (Kelowna, WHL) ~ The Blackhawks are without any pressing needs at just about any position so it allows them to take the best player available without much regret. Bowey is not a big defenseman, at almost 6'1" but he plays a gritty, high energy game with a splash of offensive flair. Kelowna has a pretty good reputation for developing solid defenseman (Shea Weber, Luke Schenn) and the Blackhawks can afford to wait for Bowey to develop at his own pace.
Hockey's Future – Nate Wells (First Round Bust & Hockey's Future GopherState)
1. Colorado – Seth Jones, D (Portland – WHL)
2. Florida – Nathan MacKinnon, F (Halifax – QMJHL)
3. Tampa Bay – Jonathan Drouin, F (Halifax – QMJHL)
4. Nashville – Aleksander Barkov, C (Tappara – SM-liiga)
5. Carolina – Elias Lindholm, C (Brynas – SEL)
6. Calgary – Sean Monahan, C (Ottawa – OHL)
7. Edmonton – Rasmus Ristolainen, D (TPS – SM-liiga)
8. Buffalo – Valeri Nichushkin, RW (Dynamo Moskva – KHL)
9. New Jersey – Hunter Shinkaruk, LW (Medicine Hat – WHL)
10. Dallas -Anthony Mantha, LW (Val d'Or – QMJHL)
11. Philadelphia – Darnell Nurse, D (Sault Ste. Marie – OHL)
12. Phoenix – Frederik Gauthier, C (Rimouski – QMJHL)
13. Winnipeg – Nikita Zadorov, D (London – OHL)
14. Columbus – Morgan Klimchuk, LW (Regina – WHL)
15. Islanders – Max Domi, C (London – OHL)
16. Buffalo – Ryan Pulock, D (Brandon – WHL)
17. Ottawa – Robert Hagg, D (Modo – SEL)
18. Detroit – André Burakovsky, LW (Malmo – Allsvenskan)
19. Columbus – Adam Erne, RW (Quebec – QMJHL)
20. San Jose -Bo Horvat, C (London – OHL)
21. Toronto – Alexander Wennberg, LW (Djurgarden – Allsvenskan)
22. Calgary – Josh Morrissey, D (Prince Albert – WHL)
23. Washington – Robert Hagg, D (Modo – SEL)
24. Vancouver – Curtis Lazar, C, (Edmonton – WHL)
25. Montreal – Valentin Zykov, LW (Baie-Comeau – QMJHL)
26. Anaheim – Ryan Hartman, RW (Plymouth – OHL)
27. Columbus – Anthony Mantha, LW (Val d’Or – QMJHL)
28. Dallas – Michael McCarron, RW (USNTDP – USHL)
29. Calgary – Zach Fucale, G (Halifax – QMJHL)
30. Chicago – Steven Santini, D, (USNTDP – USHL)
So what would your mock draft look like? Post it in the comments below, we'd like to hear how you think the draft will shake out!