In the month and a half since the Montreal Canadiens were eliminated from the playoffs, it has become fairly clear that Robert Rice and myself have quite different draft lists, especially after the top 10 picks. As a result, we thought it would be a useful exercise to combine for a mock draft, rather than publish individual ones as is the case with some websites. Robert decided to take the even numbered picks, leaving me with the odd numbers. It is important to note that these are our predictions of what the various teams will do, rather than our opinions of what would best serve their interests. It is also useful to note that this mock draft was conducted before reports emerged that the Colorado Avalanche would likely take a forward with the number one overall pick, and doesn't include any potential trade scenarios we might see. With that, the Avalanche are on the clock, and Gary Bettman is getting booed. Enjoy.
1. Colorado Avalanche: C Nathan MacKinnon, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
6'0", 180 lbs, shoots right. 44 GP, 32 G, 43 A, 75 PTS, 45 PIM.
"Having coached against him in the QMJHL, new Avs coach Patrick Roy has seen first hand what the Halifax native can do. Tough to ignore the Denver/connection, but with forwards easier to project, MacKinnon is the right pick." - Arik
2. Florida Panthers: D Seth Jones, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
6'4", 205 lbs, shoots right. 61 GP, 14 G, 42 A, 56 PTS, 33 PIM.
"Recruiting an elite defencemen is something a team can spend years at but never manage. Florida eagerly picks up the two-way defender who picked up a Gold Medal at the World Juniors and a WHL Championship over the course of the year." - Robert
3. Tampa Bay Lightning: RW Valeri Nichushkin, Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)
6'4", 200 lbs, shoots left. 18 GP, 4 G, 2 A, 6 PTS, 0 PIM.
"In recent weeks, the perceived top-3 has molded into a top-4, and reports are that Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is intrigued by the big power forward. Considering his past willingness to make the bold pick and a system already littered with Russians, he sticks with his gut here. A trade down is also possible." - Arik
4. Nashville Predators: LW Jonathan Drouin, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
5'11", 175 lbs, shoots left. 49 GP, 41 G, 64 A, 105 PTS, 32 PIM.
"Nashville has spent many years lacking a dynamic element to their offence. Aside from a brief time with Alex Radulov, they have never seen anything like a consistent game breaker on their roster. Jonathan Drouin more than fits the bill here, after tearing through the QMJHL like he was still playing minor midget." - Robert
5. Carolina Hurricanes: C Aleksander Barkov, Tappara (SM-Liiga)
6'2", 205 lbs, shoots left. 53 GP, 21 G, 27 A, 48 PTS, 8 PIM.
"GM Jim Rutherford sticks with his organization philosophy of drafting forwards early, and lands the Finnish sensation that just produced one of the greatest draft eligible seasons in SM-liiga history. Could be a staple behind Eric Staal for the decade to come." - Arik
6. Calgary Flames: C Elias Lindholm, Brynas (Elitserien)
6'0", 195 lbs, shoots right. 48 GP, 11 G, 19 A, 30 PTS, 2 PIM.
"Calgary has needs at about every position, but the organization has been bereft of centre talent for over a decade and Lindholm fits the bill. The 2-way centre was the highest-scoring Under-20 player in the Swedish Elite League this past season and picked up a Silver Medal at the World Junior Championships." - Robert
7. Edmonton Oilers: C Sean Monahan, Ottawa 67s (OHL)
6'2", 205 lbs, shoots left. 58 GP, 31 G, 47 A, 78 PTS, 24 PIM.
"While defense is the Oilers' biggest need, depth at centre is not far behind. Monahan's stock fell this year as a combination of the emergence of other top talents and the wretched team he was forced to play with in Ottawa, but he is a fairly safe pick and will likely be an effective top-6 two-way player with offensive production at the NHL level." - Arik
8. Buffalo Sabres: C/LW Max Domi, London Knights (OHL)
5'10", 195 lbs, shoots left. 64 GP, 39 G, 48 A, 87 PTS, 71 PIM.
"A Depletion of offensive talent means Buffalo is in no shape to turn down a smaller forward, especially one with broad offensive talent. Max Domi offers an excellent skills package and could mean the difference for a team looking to regain an offensive punch." - Robert
9. New Jersey Devils: D Darnell Nurse, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
6'5", 200 lbs, shoots left. 68 GP, 12 G, 29 A, 41 PTS, 116 PIM.
"The consensus seems to be that Nurse will go ahead of this, but should he fall, the Devils will have no problem scooping up the big bodied defenseman and letting him develop for a few more years, with an infusion of youth in the system on the blue-line needed." - Arik
10. Dallas Stars: LW Hunter Shinkaruk, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
5'11", 175 lbs, shoots left. 64 GP, 37 G, 49 A, 86 PTS, 44 PIM.
"Every team in the NHL needs help scoring and Dallas is no stranger to that group. Shinkaruk has been one of the most productive goal scorers in the WHL for the past two seasons and would be a welcome addition to a team looking to get back on it's feet." - Robert
11. Philadelphia Flyers: D Rasmus Ristolainen, TPS (SM-Liiga)
6'3", 205 lbs, shoots right. 52 GP, 3 G, 12 A, 15 PTS, 32 PIM.
"It's no secret that the Flyers need defense, and surprised many by selecting forward Scott Laughton in the first round last year. This time around, they go with the tall, mobile, possibly NHL-ready Finn, who may not have the upside of a Pronger but should be a top-4 minute-eating D for a long time." - Arik
12. Phoenix Coyotes: D Nikita Zadorov, London Knights (OHL)
6'5", 225 lbs, shoots left. 63 GP, 6 G, 19 A, 25 PTS, 54 PIM.
"While he has not producing eye-popping offence, Zadorov offers great size and a matching mean streak and has had many favourable projections for a future offensive jump. Coyotes will bet on his offence growing while guaranteeing a growth in the size and aggression of their defensive depth." - Robert
13. Winnipeg Jets: C Bo Horvat, London Knights (OHL)
6'0", 205 lbs, shoots left. 67 GP, 33 G, 28 A, 61 PTS, 29 PIM.
"In his third draft at the helm of the Jets, GM Kevin Cheveldayoff goes back to Ontario and picks London's last-second hero in the OHL playoffs. Horvat is an enticing all-around presence, but it's unclear how much offense he'll provide at the NHL level." - Arik
14. Columbus Blue Jackets: C Alexander Wennberg, Djurgarden (Allsvenskan)
6'0", 175 lbs, shoots left. 46 GP, 14 G, 18 A, 32 PTS, 14 PIM.
"Newcomer Columbus GM Jarmo Kekelainen is no stranger to Europe and eagerly scoops up one of the most talented players left on the board. One of the most universally-ranked players at this area of the draft, Wennberg's 200-foot play and solid offensive skills make him an easy choice." - Robert
15. New York Islanders: D Mirco Mueller, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
6'4", 190 lbs, shoots left. 63 GP, 6 G, 25 A, 31 PTS, 57 PIM.
"Islanders GM Garth Snow has a history of going a little bit off the board with mid-first round picks, and this is no exception. With guys like Pulock and Morrissey still available, Snow goes with the Swiss-born defenseman out of the WHL, who has been rising up draft boards of late." - Arik
16. Buffalo Sabres: D Ryan Pulock, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
6'1", 210 lbs, shoots right. 61 GP, 14 G, 31 A, 45 PTS, 22 PIM.
"One of the top offensive defencmen in the draft, Buffalo GM Darcy Regier will get to work restocking his defensive depth with the prospect packing likely the most explosive slap shot in the draft. Pulock's quick hands and cerebral game project well for a pro career." - Robert
17. Ottawa Senators: LW Andre Burakowsky, Malmo (Allsvenskan)
6'1", 175 lbs, shoots left. 43 GP, 4 G, 7 A, 11 PTS, 8 PIM.
"It's not a stretch to suggest that one of the two teams with the largest history of success in Sweden, Ottawa and Detroit (picking back-to-back) will select Burakowsky, a skilled winger that scouts have ranked anywhere from the early teens to the early second round." - Arik
6'1", 215 lbs, shoots right. 67 GP, 40 G, 35 A, 75 PTS, 60 PIM.
"Detroit is eager to add skill to their system with an aging core, leaving Zykov an easy decision for GM Ken Holland. Zykov's solid skills package and impressive first season playing in North America compliments a system that has recently added talents like Martin Frk and Tomas Jurco." - Robert
19. Columbus Blue Jackets: D Josh Morrissey, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL) - see profile
6'0", 185 lbs, shoots left. 70 GP, 15 G, 32 A, 47 PTS, 91 PIM.
"Kekelainen dips into the WHL to select Prince Albert's offensive blue-liner Morrissey, who packs a physical punch in a slightly undersized package. He could be an exciting powerplay quarterback and top-4 contributor in a few years." - Arik
20. San Jose Sharks: D Robert Hagg, Modo (Eliteserien)
6'2", 205 lbs, shoots left. 27 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 PT, 2 PIM.
"San Jose's defensive depth runs a bit thin, leading them to address an organizational need more than they might in another year. Hagg's skating, offensive skills and physical nature make him a well-rounded choice for GM Doug Wilson." - Robert
6'3", 200 lbs, shoots left. 67 GP, 50 G, 39 A, 89 PTS, 71 PIM.
"GM Dave Nonis jumps at the chance to select a 50-goal scorer from the QMJHL who combines a power-forward's body with a sniper's shot and mentality. If Mantha drops this low I could also see teams itching to trade up and select him." - Arik
22. Calgary Flames: RW Adam Erne, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
6'1", 200 lbs, shoots left. 68 GP, 28 G, 44 A, 72 PTS, 67 PIM.
"Calgary decides to add power by picking up Adam Erne. The speedy power body who led the Remparts in points this past season has no problem going hard to the net or throwing a hit and can play defence as well." -Robert
23. Washington Capitals: D Steve Santini, US NTDP
6'1", 210 lbs, shoots right. 65 GP, 0 G, 15 A, 15 PTS, 46 PIM.
"GM George McPhee looks to add grit and depth on the backend with a guy who won best defenseman at this year's U18 championships, a feat accomplished in the last five years by the likes of Erik Karlsson and Cam Fowler." - Arik
24. Vancouver Canucks: RW Ryan Hartman, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
5'11", 190 lbs, shoots right. 56 GP, 23 G, 37 A, 60 PTS, 120 PIM.
"Sometimes the best player left is also the player you need the most, as Vancouver has an ongoing struggle with secondary scoring. Hartman is the best player available to address such concerns and GM Mike Gillis selects a power forward with a quick stride and quick hands to boost the team's scoring depth." - Robert
25. Montreal Canadiens: D Samuel Morin, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL) - see profile
6'6", 205 lbs, shoots left. 46 GP, 4 G, 12 A, 16 PTS, 117 PIM.
"The Canadiens draft the big mobile defenseman to fill both an organizational need - size - and as the best player available at this spot. Morin shined at the U-18s for Canada, and some scouts have him ranked as high as 10th, believing in his budding offensive potential." - Arik
Note: Robert wasn't so thrilled about this pick.
26. Anaheim Ducks: D Madison Bowey, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
6'1", 195 lbs, shoots right. 69 GP, 12 G, 18 A, 30 PTS, 75 PIM.
"With a respectable core of offensive talent, Anaheim looks to bolster a defensive depth that has been badly depleted by the losses of Jake Gardiner and Justin Schultz. Madison Bowey will add a mobile two-way prescence to the Anaheim system that is desperately needed." - Robert
27. Columbus Blue Jackets: C Curtis Lazar, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
6'0", 200 lbs, shoots right. 72 GP, 28 G, 23 A, 61 PTS, 47 PIM.
"With their third pick of the round, the Blue Jackets snatch up a hard-working two-way centre who has been projected by some to go in the early teens. His offensive potential may not be as vast as some other picks, but he's about as much of a lock as there is to make the NHL." - Arik
28. Calgary Flames: D Chris Bigras, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
6'1", 190 lbs, shoots left. 68 GP, 8 G, 30 A, 38 PTS, 34 PIM.
"Calgary could use a boost to their defensive depth and Bigras is one of the best defencemen left on the board. The all-situation player projects to a top-4 defensive spot in the NHL, making him a very respectable choice for a team rebuilding all aspects of their organization." - Robert
29 (or 30). Dallas Stars: C Frederik Gauthier, Rimouski Oceanic (QMJHL)
6'4", 215 lbs, shoots left. 62 GP, 22 G, 38 A, 60 PTS, 26 PIM
"New GM Jim Nill goes with a mammoth two-way centre who has scouts raving about his compete level, defensive awareness, and ability to use his size to score timely goals. While he will never be a top scorer at the NHL level, he could well be a good second or third line guy." - Arik
30 (or 29). Chicago Blackhawks: LW Morgan Klimchuk, Regina Pats (WHL)
5'11", 180 lbs, shoots left. 72 GP, 36 G, 40 A, 76 PTS, 20 PIM
"Chicago's push to stay as one of the most skilled teams in the NHL is well served by adding the lightning-quick Klimchuk. Klimchuk's quick feet and hands, mixed with a fearless attitude make him a well-suited addition to a team that is built to outskate their opposition." - Robert
Check back soon for Round 2 of our mock draft, where we see if Robert gets his revenge by selecting players I don't like with the 34th and 36th overall picks. You can also check out Robert's Intro and my Intro to the NHL draft. More intrigue to come.