Seeing as how the dog days of summer are the perfect time to look ahead to next summer’s entry draft, I thought I would compile my Top 10 list for the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. Keep in mind that there will be kids that make a name for themselves this year (doesn’t one kid always have a coming out party at the World Juniors?) and some will fade into obscurity. That said, here is the Top 10 as I see it right now:
- Victor Hedman (D-Modo Sweden) So long as the current fetish for defensemen holds steady, you can bet Hedman will get his name called first overall. The lure of a 6’6, 220 lb defender in the Chris Pronger mold will be too much for a team to pass up.
- Jonathan Tavares (F-Oshawa Generals) Long thought to be the consensus #1 pick in 2009, Tavares slipped a little last year (if you can call 118 in 59 games points a slip) and wasn’t dominant at the World Juniors. Watch for him to have a bounce back year and don’t count out the suggestion that he is bored playing against junior aged competition.
- Magnus Svennson-Paajarvi (F-Timra Sweden) A Swedish player with a Finnish last name, which is appropriate because he is all about the finish. A gifted scorer and playmaker, Paajarvi played most of last season in the SEL as a 17 year old. He may lack defensive polish and his work ethic has been questioned, but his offensive skills are too great to be ignored.
- Matt Duchene (F-Brampton Battalion) A good skater who possesses a lethal shot, Duchene is always around the puck and makes things happen on the ice. Though he didn’t put up huge numbers last season, watch for him to have a break out year in 2008-09.
- Jared Cowan (D- Spokane Chiefs) Another huge defenseman (6’5, 212), Cowan plays the role of defensive defenseman well. Though he doesn’t possess great foot speed, he still moves well and is gaining confidence offensively. I only have him at 5 based on the skills of the forwards above him, but if a team needs a defender, he could go as high as 3.
- Brayden Schenn (F-Brandon Wheat Kings) A skilled centre with grit, Schenn is the younger brother of Toronto Maple Leaf pick Luke Schenn. Coming off a successful rookie year in the WHL, Schenn will likely build upon that performance and put himself in a strong position to go top 10. His linemate Scott Glennie could also be a first round pick.
- Landon Ferraro (F- Red Deer Rebels) Another skilled forward with good bloodlines, Ferraro is the son of Ray Ferraro. A smart player with good hockey sense, Ferraro has benefited from growing up around the game and is drawing comparisons to Mike Richards.
- Stefan Elliot (D-Saskatoon Blades) Keeping up the strong WHL flavor, Elliot brings a strong offensive game to the table. Putting up big points as a defenseman in the WHL is never easy, and Elliot does it well.
- Tomas Vincour (F-Edmonton Oil Kings) Playing on a weak team and getting acclimated to the game in the WHL, Vincour nevertheless led Edmonton in scoring and was a threat every time he was on the ice. With a full season under his belt, look for Vincour to break out in 2008-2009 and turn some heads.
- Tyson Barrie (D- Kelowna Rockets) Just because every draft needs a surprise, Len Barrie’s son is a gifted offensive defenseman with excellent puck skills and good hockey sense. He is also a great skater who reflects the depth in 1991 talent in the WHL. The only problem? He is 5’9. Don’t be surprised if Tampa takes him, because who knows with those guys.
The Dallas Stars may have snagged themselves a keeper when they took Scott Winkler (F-Russell Stovers) with the 89th overall pick in 2008. Winkler, a 6’2 195lb Norwegian, put up impressive numbers, albeit at a lower level. He is moving on to the Cedar Rapids Roughriders this year and will be given every opportunity to succeed under head coach Mark Carlson. He plays a smart game and is able to create something every time he is on the ice, regardless of who his linemates are. He takes the puck strong to the net and is willing to skate right through defensmen if he has to. Winkler is responsible defensively and seemed to be nearly unbeatable in the faceoff circle. Make a note to watch for him in upcoming seasons.
I would also like to take the time to thank all of our readers who have helped make this website a success. We appreciate your readership. A special thank you to all the guys in Winnipeg who worked hard on the re-design.