Thursday, June 19, 2008

My 2008 NHL 1st round Mock draft

2008 NHL Entry Draft – Mock by The Nemesis

Foreword: This is a totally unscientific mock done by someone who watches a lot of hockey but doesn’t profess to be a scout or a prospect guru or have the same level of understanding of every team in the league. That said, I’ve read up on as many prospects as I can, watched what I can, and done my best to at least put some thought into this.

My mock uses a combination of best player available and drafting to fill long-term organizational holes. Pure BPA sounds good in theory, but trading to fill a void in your system isn’t quite as simple as this approach needs it to be. Very rarely will you be able to swap people 1-for-1, and then that creates the hassle of structuring the other pieces of the deal. Add to that the fact that the team with a prospect your club covets might not be interested in what you have to offer and I find that in my opinion, it pays to at least in part pay attention to the kinds of players who are available within a reasonable range of your team’s pick. If someone slips, obviously a team pounces. If the best fitting player is ranked way outside the realm of feasibility (for example you’re picking #10 and the power forward you desperately crave is rated at #25) then yeah, drafting for need takes a backseat. However if you have a choice between a perfect fit who’s ranked just a few spots away (though that “few spots” grows as you slide further down the round and the disparity between players shrinks) and a guy ranked right where you are who’s of no use, I say take the better fit.

Also, my version of “drafting for need” is not to address immediate or short-term needs a team has. It’s to look at what the prospect pool lacks and plug that hole. A team might be missing a power forward at the NHL level, but that’s not a big concern in my selection process. However, within the prospect pipeline, that gaping hole where an offensive d-man should be is something I look at.

I also select players the way I do because it makes the mock more interesting. Anyone can take their favorite published list and churn out a paint-by-numbers mock. But the fun here is putting more thought into a pick and figuring out who can go where and why.

Remember though, this is just for fun. If you think I’ve shafted your favorite team, it’s a decent possibility. I’m a Sharks fan without a first or second or third round pick to look forward to. My familiarity with your team’s needs may vary.

Now, on with the draft:

#1 – Tampa Bay Lightning


Well duh, right? I know they’re taking Stamkos. You know they’re taking Stamkos. The whole freaking hockey world knows that there’s probably a “Stamkos 08” jersey sitting in the equipment room in the St. Pete Times Forum right now. The “” website was kind of a tip-off. Still, Stamkos is a high-caliber offensive forward who fills Tampa Bay’s need for any kind of internally developed offence, and can step right in and take that 2nd line center role. The fact that he’s also capable of handling the rough stuff and playing sound defensively should help the Bolts replace what they lost in Brad Richards.

#2 – Los Angeles Kings


Los Angeles has its pick of any number of quality players at this point, but they end up going with Doughty. A very good all-around defenceman with an NHL-projectable frame and NHL-ready skill would be a big boost to Los Angeles and an immediate help alongside Jack Johnson. Doughty can play almost any game the Kings require of him, and the combination of him and Johnson should give the Kings a skilled, flexible unit for years to come

#3 – Atlanta Thrashers

NIKITA FILATOV – LW – (Central Army/RUS)

Sure, the Thrashers might want to add to the defencemen in their pipeline, especially given that people are iffy on Boris Valabik, and Nathan Oystrick regressed tremendously last year. However, a bigger concern might be finding an offensive future for this club. The Thrashers never recovered from the departure of Marc Savard to Boston, and things only got worse when Marian Hossa forced management’s hand and was shipped out of town. That means that all the attention turns to Ilya Kovalchuk and just how long he will stay happy with his situation. That’s where the choice of Filatov comes in. Having a budding Russian on the team should be an enticing opportunity for Kovalchuk that would make him want to stick around. And if he wants out, then they’ve got someone to replace him. Filatov is, by all accounts, a dynamic talent with skill to burn and none of the customary character issues that seem to dog most of the top tier Russian prospects in the past few years.

#4 – St. Louis Blues

ZACH BOGOSIAN – D – (Peterborough/OHL)

In the same way that Drew Doughty becomes a great compliment to Jack Johnson in L.A., St. Louis’s own Johnson on the blueline gets his own running mate out of the OHL. Bogosian has rocketed up the draft charts to the point where he is expected to seriously contend for the 2nd overall spot. But in my mock, he ends up here at #4. Bogosian possesses many of the same tools as Doughty, and being a dependable two-way player with a good shot and offensive instincts should allow him to mesh with the equally capable Erik Johnson. Having two imposing defencemen on the back end should remind fans of the days when Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis controlled the ice for the Blues.

#5 – New York Islanders


Good all-around defencemen are a recurring theme in this draft, and it continues at pick #5 with the Isles taking Alex Pietrangelo of the Niagra Ice Dogs. Leapfrogged by Bogosian for the title of best d-man behind Doughty, Pietrangelo is still a capable defender. The fact that some scouts say he lacks the edge possessed by those above him lands him in this spot, but with the Isles in need of more blueline skill in their pipeline, I’m sure that Pietrangelo will sit just fine with them. New York already has several promising young forwards both on the team and in the system, so though a player like Hodgson or Boedker might be appealing, the opportunity to fill a specific hole should not be passed up.

#6 – Columbus Blue Jackets

LUKE SCHENN – D – (Kelowna/WHL)

Columbus found themselves forced to trade Adam Foote earlier this year, but the void he left won’t be empty for long. Schenn is most often compared to Foote as a big rugged stay-at-home defender who can drape himself on the opposition’s skilled forwards and also lead a defensive unit. This should be appealing to the Jackets, who could use a bulldog-type d-man to work alongside Kris Russell in the future. Don’t misunderstand though, replacing Foote with Schenn isn’t filling a current hole. Columbus has some steady offence from the likes of Nash and Zherdev, and good young goalies in Leclaire and Steve Mason. Adding more defence to the system will be a good building block for a club that is slowly but surely working its way up the league.

#7 – Toronto Maple Leafs

CODY HODGSON – C – (Brampton/OHL

A lot of people have indicated that Toronto management really likes what Hodgson brings to the table. The team needs prospect depth everywhere except in net, and Hodgson is a good playmaking center that the team can put alongside scoring forwards like Jiri Tlusty and Nikolai Kulemin. Plus it doesn’t hurt that Hodgson is an OHL player and from nearby Markham, Ontario. With all the discussion of players who grew up in LeafLand and rooted for the Blue & White, finally adding one would be a great bonus for the organization.

#8 – Phoenix Coyotes


Like Anze Kopitar and countryman Lars Eller before him, Boedker’s unusual origin (he’s Danish) costs him a few draft spots. However, by the time he gets to #8, the Coyotes can’t afford to let him slip any further. Boedker is a great skater with offensive skill to burn, and he could certainly do worse than ride shotgun with the likes of Peter Mueller , Martin Hanzal and Kyle Turris for the foreseeable future. In addition, the possible/probable loss of Blake Wheeler to free agency leaves an extra hole for a skilled forward.

#9 – Nashville Predators (via trade with Florida)


Colin Wilson has proven to be a workout warrior, and emerged as a star of the scouting combine. The Preds could certainly use a big strong center like him to shore up their prospect pool. Wilson isn’t necessarily a true power forward and there are concerns about his skating prowess, but he’s a capable scoring center who has shown a high level of fitness and seems to really key the performance of his teams as a whole.

#10 – Vancouver Canucks


I will admit, this pick is tempered at least in part by the untimely passing of Luc Bourdon. Without him, Vancouver suddenly has very little defensive depth in their system. After the graduation of Edler, the only prospect in the Canucks system that looks to have top 4 potential is Taylor Ellington, and even that is far from a sure thing. Because of this, Michael Del Zotto makes a lot of sense. He’s a capable defenceman with some offensive upside, and although he isn’t in the tier of Doughty/Bogosian/Pietrangleo/Schenn, he is still a very good prospect. He somewhat reminds me of Logan Couture, in that he started as a high end prospect and fell down the ladder a bit from a combination of being passed by surging players and his own lack of advancement in that same time period.

#11 – Chicago Blackhawks

ZACH BOYCHUK – C – (Lethbridge/WHL)

Chicago is in a good spot, loaded with plenty of young talent especially on the top lines and the blueline of the big club. Zach Boychuk represents a swift-skating, high IQ scorer who could provide the kind of secondary attack that good teams always have. THN’s draft preview had a scout compare him to Martin Gelinas. I don’t think many teams wouldn’t want a Gelinas-type player on their roster. Size might be a concern (his 5-9 listing is possibly a big generous), but Boychuk plays big.

#12 – Anaheim Mighty Ducks (via Edmonton RFA compensation)

KYLE BEACH – C – (Everett/WHL)

This seems like a match made in heaven. It’s no secret that Brian Burke likes big burly players with an edge. Beach is exactly that kind of guy. In fact he could be looked as another Todd Bertuzzi, and everyone knows that Burke is a huge Bertuzzi fan. A good skater with good hands and natural scoring ability, Anaheim would hope that it can reign in Beach’s intensity a bit and harness his talents as a top 6 forward. They’ve had success with such players in the past, and won a cup with a mean and nasty team, so why not go back to the well?

#13 – Buffalo Sabres

TYLER MYERS – D – (Kelowna/WHL)

Buffalo’s defensive unit has taken some hits in the past and could take some more in the near future. Brian Campbell is gone. Dmitri Kalinin looks to be allowed to walk as a free agent. Teppo Numminen is approaching the end of the line. All this means that the Sabres must push some of their defensive prospects to the NHL in order to fill holes and in doing so will create new holes in the developmental system. Though the Sabres have made their mark on the NHL playing quick skating hockey, Myers is intriguing for them. He’s a mountain of a man, and considered a pretty solid skater for someone his size. It might not be prototypical Sabres hockey, but Myers could potentially turn into that imposing defensive d-man that anchors a unit for years to come.

#14 – Nashville Predators

JOE COLBORNE – C – (Camrose/Alta Jr A)

Nashville comes up for the second time in the round, and while last time gave them their pick of a handful of high end prospects, now’s the time where they have to roll the dice a bit more. Some people have called Colborne a poor man’s Joe Thornton. He’s a tall kid with a good stride and some natural offensive talent. What’s left for him is to fill out and prove that he can play as hard against NCAA level opponents as he does tearing apart Jr. A lineups in Alberta. Some people might also question his drive because of his home situation. Money is not a concern for the Colborne family, as Joe’s father is an oil executive who allegedly had an income of $90 million last year. While it’s certainly no crime to be in a successful family, there’s always the stigma that being born into a privileged situation such as this can have an adverse effect on internal motivation. However, with the Preds able to gamble a bit more after having had a pick in the round, Colborne is a nice home-run type of prospect who could reward them with a big strong power forward if his development goes well.

#15 – Carolina Hurricanes


Teubert is an interesting pick for Carolina. They have some decent defensive prospects like Jamie McBain, and could probably use a few more good forwards in the pipeline. However, Teubert would be a good pickup at this point in the draft, and adds a big nasty defensive defenceman to a group of prospects that has some offence (McBain), some two-way play (Carson), and another stay-at-home man (Borer). No doubt Carolina will take a long hard look at some of the forwards available, but several of them have question marks or look to top out as good 3rd liners. Given the choice between them and a fairly highly regarded d-man, it might be in the Canes’ best interest to take the kid who was at one point a couple years ago was considered one of the better players in this class.

#16 – Boston Bruins

GREG NEMISZ – C – (Windsor/OHL)

Boston’s system has quite a few talented forwards, but many of them are a bit on the small side, or look like they’ll be energy players. However, the team could use a burly offensive weapon moving forward, which leads us to the selection of Greg Nemisz. A potential power forward, Nemisz could be the kind of strong goal-scorer who works well with some of Boston’s smaller skilled playmakers (Bergeron, Hamill, etc). Of course, it all hinges on him adding the muscle to his frame and getting over 200 lbs.

#17 – Calgary Flames


Calgary’s draft history with forwards is pretty predictable over the last few years. Sutter and Co. like to pick character/energy/grinding forwards like Kris Chucko, Matt Pelech, and Eric Nystrom. Last year things changed with the selection of Mikael Backlund, and this year the trend continues in order to stock up the skill level of the Flames system. Mattias Tedenby may be small, but he has tremendous skill and a nose for the net. That’s the kind of skill that the Flames would like to have in the coming years.

#18 – Ottawa Senators


With Ray Emery on the outs, Martin Gerber in his 30s, and no guarantee that any of the Sens goalie prospects are looking like bonafide NHL starter material, it makes sense to grab Pickard, a highly regarded WHL goalie out of the same organization that gave Carey Price to the NHL. No one is claiming that Pickard is another Price, but like Price, he has good focus and puckhandling skills, and is of a similar size.

#19 – Columbus Blue Jackets (via trade with Colorado)

JOSH BAILEY – C – (Windsor/OHL)

A lot of people are high on Bailey. THN has him at #14, and ISS ranks him as the 11th skater. However, reading over his scouting reports, I wonder why. One scout compares him to Matt Stajan. He’s supposed to be a low-maintenance checking line forward with some offensive potential and leadership abilities. To me, that’s not the kind of player you take early in the 1st round, and so by this time he is picked as sort of a best player available mentality. Also, I’m not really sure what else to do with this pick, because I feel that if the Jackets like (and get) Schenn, this pick will be traded elsewhere.

#20 – New York Rangers

ZAC DELPE – C – (Penticton/BC Jr A)

Though he lacks strength (not surprising for a player in Jr. A), Dalpe has good offensive abilities, which should serve the Rangers well to bring up alongside Cherepanov and Anisimov. Plus, it doesn’t hurt now to draft a player with a longer development cycle, as the team can afford to wait for its prospects to develop without rushing them to the NHL.

#21 – New Jersey Devils


John Carlson projects as a good offensive defenceman who will have plenty of time to develop once he heads to UMass. That works out just great for New Jersey, who a) have endured the losses of Scott Neidermayer and Brian Rafalski without having any significant offensive defencemen in the system, and b) have shown an affinity for collegiate or college bound players, taking a player in or headed to the college ranks with at least one of their first two picks in 5 out of the last 6 drafts (confusing enough? Safe to say the Devils like NCAA picks). So Carlson makes sense here considering that the system is stocked with two-way defenders (Corrente, Fayne) or stay-at-home guys (Fraser). Plus, it’s certainly an added benefit that Carlson is from New Jersey.

#22 – Edmonton Oilers (via trade with Anaheim)


Edmonton would probably have liked to pick in their assigned slot of 12th overall, but that’s the price they paid by signing Dustin Penner. So instead they sit at 22nd with the pick they got from the Chris Pronger trade combined with Anaheim making the finals last year. Luckily for the Oilers, there’s still talent left for them to take. Eberle isn’t necessarily the biggest player or the flashiest talent, but he puts pucks in the net with regularity. As the Oilers progress and bring up their young talent, you can never have enough capable goal-scorers waiting in the wings.

#23 – Washington Capitals

ERIK KARLSSON – D – (Frolunda/SWE)

The Caps have such a good young team that they have the luxury of being able to play the field without worrying too much about holes in the system. So here they pounce on Karlsson, the slick puck-moving defenceman who has drawn some comparisons to Atlanta’s Tobias Enstrom and Philly’s Kimmo Timonen. The Caps already have a good young offence defenceman in Mike Green, but teams like Detroit show that mobile puck movers are key to successful defensive units.

#24 – Minnesota Wild

TYLER CUMA – D – (Ottawa/OHL)

Cuma brings responsible two-way play to the Wild system, and it will certainly be beneficial for them. The Wild have had plenty of high picks, and have turned out quality players like Nick Schultz and Brent Burns. However, currently the development system’s top defenders are Clayton Stoner and Shawn Belle, both of whom have a few question marks surrounding them. Cuma may not be an elite offensive or defensive blueliner, but he plays a well rounded game and having leadership abilities attributed to him shows that scouts think highly of his maturity.

#25 – Montreal Canadiens


Montreal showed themselves to be one of the best teams in the NHL last year, and have built that on the back of solid drafted players like the Kostitsyn brothers, Tomas Plekanec, and Chris Higgins. Now that trend continues by selecting Anton Gustaffson. His bloodlines are strong with both NHL and international experience courtesy of his dad, plus he has a history of playing a responsible game and an understanding of the defensive aspects as well as the offensive ones. Injuries are a concern, but the Habs’ good young core lets them worry a little less than most teams

#26 – Buffalo Sabres (via trade with San Jose)

AARON NESS – D – (Roseau/USHS)

Still hungry to shore up their defensive pipeline, Buffalo takes a chance on the supremely talented but dramatically undersized Ness. The consensus is that Ness has the quickness and the smarts to be a good NHLer, but the fact that he is juts 5’10 causes concern about how he’ll handle the bigger and rougher pro game. However, the Sabres have already gone to the opposite end of the spectrum with the gargantuan Tyler Myers, so size on the blueline may not be as much of a concern. I also feel that someone of Ness’ skill might be too tempting to pass up, especially given the history of success with other smaller blueliners (Keith Ballard, J-M Liles, etc)

#27 – Philadelphia Flyers

JACOB MARKSTROM – G – (Medicine Hat/WHL)

Philly might have solved their need in net for the now with Martin Biron, but in the future things are far less clear. None of the guys they have look like they’re going to pan out as NHL starters, so it’s time for the Flyers to take another crack at a tender with Markstrom from Sweden. His size and athleticism are certainly enticing tools, and while he has some technical kinks in his game, it’s easier to coach those out of a prospect than it is to try and compensate for the skills that Markstrom has that other goalies lack.

#28 – Los Angeles Kings (via trade with Dallas)


Deschamps has come a long way since being undrafted in the QMJHL draft. He plays a good game in most aspects, although he doesn’t necessarily have any talent that stands out. Some analysts have compared him to Minnesota’s Mikko Koivu, and the Kings would certainly like to add a good responsible young player to a stable rife with offence in Anze Kopitar and Patrick O’Sullivan. A lot of people think Deschamps could go a little higher, but perhaps his quick rise scares off teams who wonder if he can maintain that pace of growth, especially since he has some consistency questions.

#29 – Atlanta Thrashers (via trade with Pittsburgh)


Having already taken the dynamic Filatov with the 3rd overall pick, the Thrashers pay attention to the blueline here with Suave. There was a time when he was projected as a superstar in the making in his early QMJHL career. Unfortunately that talk has tailed off as Sauve failed to live up to lofty expectations. That’s not to say that he doesn’t have some NHL upside though. Sauve still has size, and a bit of a rugged streak which should serve him well if he can rediscover even a portion of his offensive touch.

#30 – Detroit Red Wings

LUCA SBISA – D – (Lethbridge/WHL)

The first round closes out with the Stanley Cup champs. Sbisa has been touted as a higher 1st round pick, but I somehow get the feeling that he could fall down the list a fair ways. However, the Wings have crafted their legacy on shrewd drafting, and Sbisa’s Swiss heritage (which has produced many players who don’t pan out or who end up preferring to stay in the lucrative Swiss league) isn’t going to spook them. What Sbisa gives the Wings is yet another capable puck-moving defenceman who isn’t necessarily prone to panic.


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