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Prospect Pulse: Who is Lucky #7?

One of the Prospect Pulse columns from last week focused on who the Winnipeg franchise might call to the podium with the seventh overall pick on Friday.

At the time, my best guess was Ryan Strome with an outside chance of Dougie Hamilton, Mika Zibanejad or a couple of others.  As is often the case in the run-up to the draft, there are trade rumours and whispers of certain prospects “rocketing” up the charts after positive testing sessions and interviews.   Phrases such as “…won’t make it out of the Top 10” are thrown about, and the natural human tendencies towards group think take over.

Now, I can’t say to what extent these tendencies affect General Managers and scouting staffs, but I firmly believe they play at least a small part in their selections.  With that in mind I wanted to do a quick refresher on some of the possible #7’s.

Two players thought to have improved their selection order are the aforementioned Mika Zibanejad and Ryan Murphy. They are definitely firmly in the mix, as are Ryan Strome, Dougie Hamilton and maybe, just maybe Sean Couturier (though I really, really doubt it).

More about the possible draft choices for Winnipeg after the jump.

Here is a quick primer on the possible new additions to the Winnipeg franchise:

Ryan Strome:· Centre, Niagra Ice Dogs, OHL· 6’0, 184 lbs· 65 GP, 33 G, 73 A, 106 Pts· Seen a one-dimensional scorer, Strome is thought to be one of the best puck handlers in the draft. A possible #1 centre, Strome could be too much for Winnipeg to overlook, as #1 centre types with skill and hockey sense do not grow on trees. Some doubts as to how he will project in the NHL, but might be the safest pick here.

Dougie Hamilton:· Defence, Niagra Ice Dogs, OHL· 6’4, 193lbs· 67 GP, 12 G, 46A, 58 Pts· Often referred to as the consolation prize of defencemen in the first round, Hamilton’s only crime as compared to Larsson is that he did not play in a “men’s” league like Larsson. So even if Larsson might be ready sooner, Hamilton could still end up being the better player in the long-term. Big kid with offensive ability and a mean streak. Who wouldn’t love a player named Dougie?

Ryan Murphy:· Defence, Kitchener Rangers, OHL· 5’11, 177 lbs· 63 GP, 26 G, 53A, 79Pts· Murphy is one of the players that has shot up the draft charts this week as the speculation builds he could be a steal in the top 10, given his offensive output. Often compared to other smaller defencemen with skill (Housley, Rafalski, Ellis, et al), the question is whether or not Winnipeg wants to gamble with the #7 pick. I see Murphy as high-risk, high-reward.

Mika Zibanejad:· Centre, Djurgarden, Swedish Elite League· 6’2, 191lbs· 26 GP, 5G, 4A, 9Pts· The hybrid Finn, Swede and Iranian centre is another player that has been climbing the charts this week on the strength of some good testing and interviews. Since I am not privy to what is asked and answered in the interviews, I assume he has impressed with his insight into Scandanavian-Middle Eastern relations. Hockey wise, he is a solid two-way type with a little sandpaper to his game. I think part of the reason why he is suddenly popular is that he might be ready to step in right now. Likely projects as a 2nd or 3rd line centre, so is that worth a #7 overall?

Sean Couturier:· Centre, Drummondville Voltigeurs, QMJHL· 6’4, 194lbs· 58GP, 36G, 60A, 96Pts· As discussed in the Previous Prospect Pulse, Couturier has had the misfortune to have been identified early as a potential #1 and to have been plagued with a poor season (by his standards) due to illness. Should he fall (I don’t think he will) to #7, Winnipeg would be crazy not to take him. He is big, plays centre with above-average skill, can score and is capable in his own end. As with Strome, these guys don’t go on trees.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. With all the talk of trades, etc., this could very well be a wild and wooly first round, with players climbing and falling well out of their projected range.  Even a talent like Cam Fowler fell to the mid-first round last year, so anything can happen.  The important thing is that you listen to the Illegal Curve Radio show live on both Friday and Saturday, and follow our Twitter (@illegalcurve, @ICKylek and @ICEzra) feeds for live action from the draft. Your comments below, as always.