Top five draft predictions for the NHL 2011
Based on the current standings in the NHL, and assuming that the teams draft in the current order (Remember, there is a lottery in the NHL and some teams could move up or down in the rankings - check back here for an explanation of the NHL lottery system), here are my predictions of the 2011 draft held on June 24th.
1. Edmonton Oilers - Adam Larsson- The Oilers are likely feeling confident about their future offense with the likes of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi. Linus Omark and Sam Gagner line up the middle and there are some future reserves in Curtis Hamilton, Ryan Martindale and Tyler Pitlick. While the Oilers have long been coveting a true number #1 center and ideally someone who can play with their young stars, they should feel somewhat confident that one of these players will fill that roll. That said, I do believe that the Oilers brass will be debating over taking Ryan Nugent-Hopkins or Adam Larsson with the first overall pick. Why Hopkins? Because this kid can play! The debate here is that you don't want to be looking back at Hopkins and wondering what he could do with Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. But the shelves are stocked aren't they? " %&*#$@" "Dammit", says GM Steve Tambellini. Oh well, I'll take Adam Larsson, darn!. This kid has the potential to be the anchor on defense that the Oilers don't have. A potential Norris stalworth that can get the puck to the young Oiler forwards and start working on keeping the puck out of the Oilers net. I think the only way they pass on Larsson is if they make a move to draft some other d-man like Ryan Murphy or Dougie Hamilton. I also feel some downside here as he could be just really good, not great (like Hopkins) The Oilers do have L.A.'s pick at 20 combined with other picks or players and its not unreasonable.
2. Colorado Avalanche - Gabriel Landeskog - Why not Nugent-Hopkins? Because they have a Hopkins type player in Matt Duchene and with Paul Stastny up the middle, they are great at center. Landeskog figures to be a power winger and with the recent trade of power forward Chris Stewart at the deadline, they have a perfect replacement here. I do feel they have an abundance of "medium" forwards but with the recent acquisition of Erik Johnson, I find it highly unlikely that they draft another defense-men. If they did, it would be Ryan Murphy and the thought of having "that" on your power play. Still, Hejduk only has so many years left and you want somebody for your star centers to convert with.
3. Ottawas Senators - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - The Senators need offense, PERIOD! Lets pretend that you have nothing at this point and then pick the best player in the draft. Not a tough job even for the numskulls in Ottawa. After dismantling a contender, I'm still shocked that Spezza is still in Canada...although, for how long?
4. New York Islanders - Ryan Murphy - Here I get a little fuzzy. The Islanders have a crop of young defensman in Harmonic and De Haan but could add some offensive power here with the likes of Ryan Murphy. With the emergence of Michael Grabner, they have a solid front six going forward with Tavares, Okposo, Moulson, Bailey and Comeau, not too mention their latest draft Niedereiter or Kirill Kabanov (I think he is a player). The still add to the offense with this pick and it all starts to look pretty good. Besides, have you seen Tavaras skate, somebody has to get the puck into the other end so that he can work his magic.
5. Florida Panthers - Sean Couturier - GM Dave Tallon (Formerly of Chicago) loves big centers and will find one here in Couturier. Already defensively responsible, he will jump immediately. In Kulikov and Gubrannson, the cats have a defense set for the next ten years. Remember Seabrook and Keith? The front is stocked with potential in Nick Bjustad, Quinton Howden and John Mcfarland not to mention the current roster of Weiss, Booth and Bergfors. Tallon hasn't given up on Jack Skille either who I think can play. Look for Tallon to make one or two more pitches at the draft, This team is going to get better soon as the shelves are just about stocked.
Who might break the top five. Huberdeau
This years Fowler, Tyler Biggs.
Biggest Bust, Strome
Hidden Gem, Puempel
Hidden Gem 2, Zibanejad
MORE TO COME!
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