This time of year pretty much everyone is doing a mock draft of some sort.Â So, with one week to go until the Entry Draft, I figure it’s time I chip in with my two cents on what may or may not unfold with the top 10 picks come June 26.
Note that the draft projections listed here are made based on current draft positions, and are not reflective of any possible trades involving the top 10 picks.
1. New York Islanders
Pick:Â John Tavares, C
How can they not make this selection?Â If GM Garth Snow is true to his word on building a contender through the draft, he has to take the best player on the board.Â Â Although Hedman is a sexy sleeper in this spot, he is simply not as marketable a star for a team that desperately needs to cultivate fan support.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning
Pick: Victor Hedman, D
Unless the New York Islanders stun everyone, Hedman will be wearing a Lightning jersey next fall.Â Â The team is desperate for a star-calibre defenseman, and Hedman is by far the best blueliner in this draft.
3.Â Colorado Avalanche
Pick: Matt Duchene, C
Even if Joe Sakic does come back next season, it will probably be his swansong.Â Â As the second-best forward in this draft (and some have argued he may be even better than Tavares in the long run), Duchene would be an ideal replacement for Sakic and with Paul Stastny could form a deadly 1-2 punch down the middle for the Avs for years to come.
4. Atlanta Thrashers
Pick: Brayden Schenn, C/W
The Thrashers need help everywhere.Â Their most glaring need, however, is a lack of leadership, physicality and two-way play up front … all attributes that Schenn brings to the rink.
5. Los Angeles Kings
Pick: Evander Kane, C/W
The Kings have a glut of young talent down the middle, on the blueline, and in net.Â However, they are lacking depth on the wings.Â Â Kane’s size and scoring ability would be a perfect fit for the Kings run-and-gun style of play.Â Â In many respects, he is similar to team leader Dustin Brown.
6.Â Phoenix Coyotes
Pick:Â Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D
After having drafted several young forwards in previous years (Turris, Mueller, Hanzel), the Coyotes need to focus on their blueline.Â Â While they do possess enough physicality on the blueline, their greatest weakness is a lack of mobility and puck movement on the back end. The steadily rising Ekman-Larsson is arguably the most talented defender in the draft, in both those departments.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs
Pick: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, W
The Maple Leafs need offense, and Paajarvi-Svensson’s offensive potential is as high as anyone’s outside the top three picks.Â Â The swift-skating Swede would inject some much needed speed and scoring ability into Toronto’s top-six forwards.
8. Dallas Stars
Pick: Jared Cowan, D
The Stars need to get younger on the blueline.Â Â Cowan fits the physical, shutdown style of game the Stars are known for playing, and has decent offensive upside to go along with his stellar defensive play.Â His recovery from knee surgery will likely be complete come training camp, so the injury should not affect his draft standing too greatly.
9. Ottawa Senators
Pick: Ryan Ellis, D
Similar to Phoenix, Ottawa’s greatest needs are mobility and offensive skill on the blueline. Â Although there are size concerns present with Ellis, the Senators have enough big bodies on the blueline to pair him with that his small stature should not be a detriment.Â Â The prospect of Ellis’ puck control and shot on the PP will ultimately prove to be too enticing for Bryan Murray to pass up.
10. Edmonton Oilers
Pick: Jordan Schroeder, W
Deep at centre but thin on the wings, the Oilers will look to draft the best available winger.Â Â Schroeder’s speed and offensive smarts will make him a nice fit among a young crop of Edmonton forwards which features the likes of Hemsky, Gagner, Cogliano, Nilsson, and Eberle.Â Â Not a bad top six to build around.
Unlike many, I don’t foresee there being a large amount of movement at the top end of the draft.Â Â With the salary cap putting the focus squarely on building through the draft, there is a high premium on first round picks as evidenced by the trade deadline.Â Â That said, there are a couple of teams who may be looking to move out of their current draft position.
Trade scenario #1:Â Toronto Maple Leafs
Atlanta trades its #4 pick to Toronto for the #7, #58, and Pavel Kubina
In terms of the Maple Leafs trade possibilities, Atlanta is likely the most-willing trade partner given their team needs at every position.Â Â It seems like a lot to give up, but remember that last year the cost of the Leafs swapping two spots was a 2nd and a 3rd, and given the depth of this year’s draft the cost can be expected to have gone up. Â Â Toronto gets the player they covet (there is little chance Schenn will last until #7), whileÂ Atlanta is able to draft a top forward (probably MPS), picks up an additional pick (late 2nd), and fills a need by adding a veteran defender.
Trade scenario #2: Dallas Stars
Dallas trades out of the top 10, picks up additional picks
If the Stars are confident they can land Cowan outside of the top 10 (other GMs may be apt to draft Dmitri Kulikov over Cowan due to concerns about the injury), they will attempt to do so in order to recoup additional draft picks.Â Â Â Nashville (#11), Minnesota (#12) and Buffalo (#13) are possible trade partners for this scenario (Cowan likely won’t last past the 13th pick).
Trade scenario #3: Minnesota Wild
Minnesota trades into the top 10, gives up additional picks
So long as Marian Gaborik’s situation remains unclear, the Wild will attempt to move into the top 10 to land a highly-skilled winger such as Pajaarvi-Svensson or Schroeder, at the cost of additional draft picks (e.g. 2009 3rd round pick + 2010 2nd round pick, same deal the Leafs made last year to get Schenn).Â Â Possible trade partners include Phoenix, Toronto, Dallas, Ottawa, and Edmonton.
How do you think the top 10 picks will shake out?Â What are your projections for next Friday?