1. Tampa Bay Lightning: Steven Stamkos (OHL)
This is clearly the easiest selection of the draft. Stamkos can do it all. He has the ability to skate, shoot, pass, play in big situations and is charismatic. The Lightning traded Brad Richards in February and now are lucky enough to add another potential MVP candidate to their star-filled roster. This pick has been decided long ago.
2. Los Angeles Kings: Drew Doughty (OHL)
The Los Angeles Kings are proud to select, from the Guelph Storm, Drew Doughty. Doughty grew up as a Kings fan (he has a Kings phone and pillow cases!) and is considered to be the most NHL ready of all the top-end defensemen. The Kings scouting department has been high on him all year and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he stepped right into the Kings lineup next season. They can score goals in bunches, but really need help on the back end. No off the map surprises (see Hickey, Thomas) this year.
3. Atlanta Thrashers: Zach Bogosian (OHL)
First of all, the Atlanta Thrashers would like to thank the Ottawa Senators Hockey Club and the city for hosting this year’s draft. With the third overall pick of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the Atlanta Thrashers select, from the Peterborough Petes of the Ontario Hockey League, defenseman Zach Bogosian. Bogosian, from Massena, New York, was a point-a-game defenseman for the Petes this year and has an impressive physical make-up. At 6’2”, 197 lbs, he is considered developed and tough enough to deal with the large forwards found in the NHL’s Eastern Conference. Atlanta is thin and small on the blueline and needs a big, skilled blueliner like Bogosian. Some scouts believe Bogosian may be a better version of Erik Johnson (drafted 1st overall by St.Louis in 2006).
4. St. Louis Blues: Nikita Filatov (Russia)
The Blues can pretend all they want that they are going to take a defenseman. But the fact of the matter is, this team needs offense. Their defensive core is young and solid for years to come, it is time they secure a supremely talented forward to add to their young crew of Perron, Oshie and Co. Filatov has the ability to be a game-changer. His speed is tremendous and his hands may be even better. Additionally, Filatov has already expressed his desire to play in the NHL, lessening any worries about possible transfer issues.
5. New York Islanders: Kyle Beach (WHL)
Aiming to copy their across the river rivals, the Islanders choose Kyle Beach to add some talent and grit to the lineup, a la Sean Avery. Considered by some to be a possible dominant player in the NHL, Beach brings top-end forward skills with just the right touch of crazy. A player with a good shot and touch around the net, Islanders coach Ted Nolan might just be the right guy to coax the best out of the talented centre from Kelowna.
6. Columbus Blue Jackets: Alex Pietrangelo (OHL)
Although Columbus will consider trading the sixth overall pick for a No.1 center, they will keep the pick because of their lack of depth at the defenseman position. Columbus has a few good defensemen currently in their system, including Rostislav Klesla (4th overall, 2000), Kris Russell (67th overall in 2002), and O-K Tollefsen (6th overall, 2002), but are pretty thin after that. Pietrangelo was ranked in the Top 5 by International Scouting Services for the entire 2007’08 season and is considered the 2nd or 3rd best defenseman in this year’s talent pool (depending on which scout you ask). Pietrangelo is big (6’3”, 206 lbs.) and talented. CBJ will select him because he gives them a nice 1-2 defensive kick with Russell.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs: Luke Schenn (WHL)
The Leafs will probably try and trade this pick for the rights to Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour and Dave Andreychuk but after being told those players have retired, they will opt to select talented defenseman Luke Schenn out of the Kelowna Rockets. Schenn is a shut-down defenseman and that is precisely what the Leafs could use on their back-end. His physicality will certainly be appreciated by Leafs Nation. Also, don’t overlook his offensive ability.
8. Phoenix Coyotes: Mattias Tedenby (Sweden)
The Coyotes have a few obvious needs to fill, but were intrigued by this Swedish phenom, who has drawn comparisons to Saku Koivu, Mats Naslund, Marty St. Louis and Paul Kariya. Able to make plays at top speed, the smallish winger would be seen as a compliment to Kyle Turris. Though the Coyotes toyed with selecting Colin Wilson, they were put off by college players by their recent failure to sign Blake Wheeler. Though Tedenby needs to improve his defensive skills, he is seen as a dynamic player who can make something happen every time he is on the ice. This skill set should mesh well with the Coyotes future plans.
9. Nashville Predators (from Florida Panthers): Colin Wilson (Hockey East)
Like the Columbus Blue Jackets, Nashville will toy with the idea of trading this pick for a No.1 forward, but will instead opt to keep the pick and take Wilson. Wilson had a tremendous season for Boston University this season (12 goals, 23 assists, 35 points) and may only be one year away from being a Top-Six forward in the National Hockey League. Wilson addresses Nashville’s need for high-end forward prospects, as AHL young guns Cal O’Reilly, Antti Pilhstrom and Mike Santorelli are projected to be future 3rd or 4th liners. The Preds want to have a player to replace aging linemates Jason Arnott and J.P Dumont and Wilson fits that bill perfectly.
10. Vancouver Canucks: Cody Hodgson (OHL)
This is a tough selection for the Canucks. Tyler Myers is a beast of a defenseman and is right there for the taking, but the Canucks are fairly secure on the defensive end and clearly are set in goal; the prospect of taking Hodgson is too good to pass up. The speedy forward almost doubled his point total from the 2006-07 to this season for Brampton of the OHL. He has a good sense of the game and is strong in all areas. His skating, awareness and strength should be the reason why he doesn’t fall past Vancouver at ten.
11. Chicago Blackhawks: Greg Nemiscz (OHL)
The Blackhawks have made no secret about their desire to add some size up front. Specifically, they seek a big centre to play with Toews and Kane. After losing out on Kyle Beach, the Hawks were left with a number of big prospects at centre, but went with Nemiscz because he has the ability to be a dominant power forward when he fills out. Already 6’3, 195, he figures to add some bulk to that frame. Though he isn’t a great skater, he plays well down low and cycles the puck effectively. If he can bring that game and his offense to the NHL, he would be a perfect compliment to the young group of forwards in the Windy City.
12. Anaheim Ducks (from Edmonton Oilers): Tyler Myers (WHL)
The Ducks are desperate to acquire a playmaking center to complement scorers Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf but Anaheim will opt to use their first rounder (acquired in the Dustin Penner RFA offer sheet signing) on a defenseman. Myers is gigantic (6’7”, 204 lbs.) but has a smooth skating stride that doesn’t make him look as awkward as some big men (think Hal Gill or Zdeno Chara). Myers put up mediocre numbers for the Kelowna Rockets in 2007’08 (19 points in 65 games) but it is the potential he offers that will entice the Ducks.
13. Buffalo Sabres: Mikkel Boedker (OHL)
The Sabres would be ecstatic to have the opportunity to select this Kitchener Rangers standout. Even though the team may have some needs on their defense, Boedker is a terrific playmaker who is far too talented to pass-up. His gifted playmaking skills, ability to quarterback the power play and terrific speed make him capable of becoming a top-line NHL talent. On top of that all, his game was taken to another level during the OHL playoffs.
14. Carolina Hurricanes: Michael Del Zotto (OHL)
The 2006 Stanley Cup seems like decades ago for the Hurricanes as poor drafting and retirement have forced the team to take the draft more seriously this year. The Canes are pretty loaded at the forward positions with 10 player signed for next season so taking a defenseman is a no-brainer. Del Zotto was ranked No.17 by International Scouting Services but found himself in many scouts Top 10 last season. Although his star may have faded a little, the Hurricanes will be happy to take Del Zotto at No.14. He is a speedy puck mover who likes to jump into the rush. Del Zotto averaged 60 points for the Oshawa Generals over the last two seasons.
15. Nashville Predators: Josh Bailey (OHL)
Nashville, having already selected Colin Wilson, look to add another forward to the mix. Being more or less set on defense, the Preds could use an infusion of youth into the lineup. Bailey fits the bill here in that he is seen as a safe pick who should be a smart and reliable 2-way guy at the NHL level. Not overly flashy, he will serve as a possible future leader and a defensively responsible counter to Alexander Radulov’s offensive flash. He may eventually be a point producer, as he was able to put up 96 for Windsor of the OHL. With this selection, Nashville gets a guy that could step into the lineup in a couple years and be a contributor.
16. Boston Bruins: Mikhail Stefanovich (OHL)
The Bruins will pass up smaller, higher-ranked forwards such as Zach Boychuk and Jordan Eberle to take Stefanovich (ranked 43rd by International Scouting Services). The Bruins have depth at goal (Tukka Rask) and on the blueline (Andrew Alberts, Matt Lashoff) so they will address their need for a big, skilled center to complement superstar Marc Savard. Stefanovich had a decent year playing for Patrick Roy’s Quebec Remparts (32 goals, 34 assists, 66 points) and is seen as player who can be coached to be a smarter, tougher player.
17. Calgary Flames: Zach Boychuk (WHL)
The Flames will be more than happy to select Boychuk with the 17th overall pick as the Airdrie, Alberta native was ranked No.12 by International Scouting Services. Boychuk isn’t big (5-9, 175) but he is considered highly skilled and future captain material. Boychuk had 71 points for the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2007’08, a drop from his 91 point sophomore season of 2006’07, but is still nonetheless seen as a highly-charged offensive weapon. Boychuk played for Canada at the Russia-Canada Summit Series and the World Junior Hockey Championship and showed a lot of grit and heart.
18. Ottawa Senators: Jacob Markstrom (Swedish Jr. League)
With the 18th overall pick of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, the hometown Ottawa Senators will please their fans by selecting goalie prospect Jacob Markstrom. The Senators will buy out “Sugar” Ray Emery at some point so they will need to pounce on this talented puckstopper. GM Bryan Murray, unhappy with his current collection of goalie prospects (Jeff Glass and Brian Elliot), will step up to the mic at ScotiaBank Place and make Markstrom a lucky man. Markstrom was phenomenal for Sweden at the U-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament and posted good stats in the Swedish Elite league. Markstrom was the highest-ranked goalie going into the draft and was even drawing comparisons to New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (from Colorado Avalanche): Colton Teubert (WHL)
Having already selected Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo at 6th overall, the Blue Jackets will take another defenseman at the No.19 slot. Teubert has the size (6’3”,185 lbs.) and toughness (135 penalty minutes for Regina Pats this season) that the Blue Jackets desperately need on the back end. Teubert is not considered to be a future power play quarterback. He only had 23 points this season but it is physical strength that will excite Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson. You have to consider the ghost of Adam Foote. Foote was supposed to provide the Blue Jackets with power on the blueline for years but was a resounding disappointment, and was subsequently traded for this pick. Teubert gives the Jackets a young hulk on defense for years to come.
20. New York Rangers: Jordan Eberle (WHL)
The Rangers, with a sizeable chunk of their payroll tied up in two forwards, will need to find reasonably priced offensive production in the future. Eberle, who can fool teams with his game, is a one-shot scorer type who put a healthy 42 goals in the defense first Western Hockey League. Possessing great puck skills, Eberle isn’t afraid to play in traffic and can get shots off with limited space. Said to be more quick than fast, Eberle can go up and down the wing or play a darting game that can leave defenders baffled. He should be a favorite in Manhattan should Jaromir Jagr leave town.
21. New Jersey Devils: Jared Staal (OHL)
The Devils will try hard to move up in this years draft as numerous late 1st round picks have significantly depleted their farm system. But, for the purposes of this year’s mock draft, the Devils will keep the 21st overall pick and will select Sudbury Wolves forward Jared Staal, the 4th member of his family to be drafted by an NHL club (Eric, Carolina Hurricanes; Marc, New York Rangers; Jordan, Pittsburgh Penguins) Devils GM Lou Lamoriello is a big fan of good hockey bloodlines (please see Jordan Parise and Stephen Gionta of the AHL’s Lowell Devils) and will be happy to take Jared at the 21st spot. Staal may have only scored 49 points in 60 games this season for Sudbury but he is big and likes the physical side of the game. Sounds like a perfect player for Head Coach Brent Sutter.
22. Edmonton Oilers (from Anaheim Ducks): Daulton Leveille (Junior B)
Leveille, thought by many to be one of the fastest skaters in the draft, has Edmonton written all over him. A product of the lesser junior leagues of Ontario headed to Michigan State, his skill set should allow him to merge seamlessly into the program underway in the City of Champions. Already dealing with a very young lineup, the Oilers can afford to have a player or two in college for a few years until he is ready for prime-time action. A natural centre with excellent offensive panache, Leveille could represent the next wave of talent of Edmonton along with Riley Nash.
23. Washington Capitals: Luca Sbisa (WHL)
The Capitals have never been ones to shy away from drafting skillful European-born players and hence will welcome talented defenseman Luca Sbisa of Switzerland with open arms. Sbisa left his home country to play for Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League i 2007’08 and put up solid offensive numbers (33 points in 62 games). Sbisa has good size (6’1”, 176 lbs.) and a quick first move out of the defensive zone. The Capitals currently employ several talented defensemen (Mike Green, Tom Poti, Steve Eminger) but will need more young, cheap blueliners down the road.
24. Minnesota Wild: Tyler Cuma (OHL)
The Minnesota Wild could use some bodies at both ends of the rink, but the need for reliable defensemen is more pressing right now. Tyler Cuma fits the bill for the Wild in that he is a reliable defenseman who can be counted on in any situation. Not a dynamic offensive contributor, he can nevertheless chip in with a few points and play on the power play. He competes hard and should be able to play a top 4 role with the Wild for a number of years. Blessed with leadership potential, a blueline of Schultz, Foster, Burns and Cuma could give the Wild an identity that will allow them to have some post-season success.
25. Montreal Canadiens: Yann Sauve (QMJHL)
Let’s be honest. The Habs are stacked at every position and have one of the youngest, most exciting teams in the league. Okay, enough with the superlatives. The Habs will seize the opportunity to take the best player available in the draft and will select Yann Sauve of the QMJHL’s Saint John Sea Dogs. Sauve is projected to be a steady Top-4 defenseman in the NHL that can play in a variety of different game situations. Sauve is not as offensively gifted as Doughty, Bogosian or even Del Zotto, but his intelligence and size make him a solid 25th overall pick. Plus he’s from Quebec. Snap.
26. Buffalo Sabres (from San Jose Sharks): Thomas McCollum (OHL)
Faced with the possibility of finding money to sign Ryan Miller and the fact that Miller may want to leave for the Red Wings, the Sabres draft the New York native to fill the space between the pipes. Considered one of the best goalies in the OHL, the 6’2, 205 pounder plays sound fundamentally and has improved his all around game. Though he needs to be more consistent, McCollum does have athletic talent and natural ability.
27. Philadelphia Flyers: Joe Colborne (AJHL)
Who needs an early first round pick when you can unearth gems later in the first rounds like the Flyers can? While the Flyers can use some help defensively, a talent like Colborne being available at 27 makes the team change their minds. The monsterous center has been called “soft” which obviously is not a Flyers’ trait, however, his immense talent and upside make him worth the risk late in round one.
28. Los Angeles Kings (from Dallas Stars): Nicolas Deschamps (QMJHL)
Having used their first selection on a defenseman, and with Jonathan Bernier coming through the system at goaltender, the Kings will focus their attention on depth up-front. This youngster led all rookies in scoring last season in the Quebec league. His work ethic is impressive and he improved throughout his first CHL season. With the Kings possessing a fair amount of young talent at forward, they can afford to allow Deschamps to take his time and develop at the junior level.
29. Atlanta Thrashers (from Pittsburgh Penguins): Anton Gustafsson (Swedish Jr. League)
The Thrashers, like the Kings before them, will look to add talent at forward after securing a stud defender in the top three. Atlanta is in dire need of skill up-front, and this is where they will look to add a steal of a draft pick with the selection of Anton Gustafsson. Son of former NHLer Bengt Gustafsson, the Thrashers are adding a player with immense skill. His injury history does present some concern, however, the Thrashers are picking at number 29 and Gustafsson could be a top 15 talent. With that risk/reward, Atlanta won’t be able to pass on this impressive prospect.
30. Detroit Red Wings: Chet Pickard (WHL)
Being as good as the Wings are, you can afford to draft the best available prospect. Pickard posted an impressive .918 save percentage during the WHL season and then turned up his performance to another level with a .937 save percentage during the playoffs. Standing six foot three, the backstop uses his size to his advantage by playing the butterfly ala Patrick Roy. Put it this way, he’s too good for the Wings to pass up at 30.