Thursday, June 27, 2013

NHL Draft Preview by a Swede

WWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWWW and I don't know much about hockey, but I have a swedish friend that does and he's put together a little NHL Draft preview.  The draft takes place this Sunday and the Wild have no first round pick so we have to wait until #46 for some action. 

Being that this is a swede, we had to convert this from borka-borka talk into English, so bear with us.  Oh, and the dumb/marginally funny photo comments are mine.  Much thanks to Charv for writing this!


The 2013 NHL Entry draft is coming up this weekend and unlike prior years, the top of the draft isn’t as certain, causing a lot of speculation online. The consensus top 3 picks, of Nathan McKinnon HALIFAX MOOSEHEADS (QMJHL), Seth Jones PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS (WHL), and Jonathan Drouin HALIFAX MOOSEHEADS (QMJHL) seems to be slightly ahead of the European skaters, but as always, team need should be the deciding factor.
This is not an article discussing which one of the players that should be ranked number 1, but rather where I feel each player should go. Each player has benefits, unique talents, drawbacks, and concerns, so as always, nothing is guaranteed.


Round 1 – Pick 1: Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax Moosehead – Colorado Avalanche
Most mock drafts and experts have listed Seth Jones as the consensus number 1 pick, and they may be right as far as his talent, but there are issues with listing him as the number 1. We have to look at the Avalanche needs, tendencies and talent pool to narrow it down further. (Note: Patrick Roy has indicated that the Avs are willing to trade out of this slot, and Joe Sakic has mentioned they are leaning Nathan MacKinnon.).
Even before the Sakic statement, which could be posturing, I was leaning MacKinnon as a good fit for the Avs. They have a good talent pool in the farm for defensemen, with the likes of Tyson Barrie (TOI leader for the last season), Stefan Elliot (who underachieved in the AHL and was decent when called up), and Duncan Siemens (still very young). Couple this with defender generally developing slower than forwards, and I think Sakic and Roy, who wants results quickly, will go with the more immediate need. Avs also have Matt Hunwick, Erik Johnson, Greg Zanon, Ryan Wilson and Jan Hejda playing.
So, should they go McKinnon or Drouin?
At the Center position (MacKinnon), they have Matt Duchene, who is their top center for years to come, Paul Stastny (who could be traded out, as his 6.6 million cap hit and UFA status in 14/15 doesn’t warrant the paycheck) and an underperforming Ryan O’Reilly, and letting McKinnon come up under them and threaten for 2nd line center duties is an interesting prospect. The pipeline also has Michael Sgarbossa, who’s not quite ready to shoulder bigger responsibilities.
At wing, they have PA Paranteau (RW), who while being the teams top point getter, isn’t a franchise player, Gabriel Landeskog (LW), Jamie McGinn (LW), Hejduk (RW, at 37 close to retiring I’m sure). RW is weak in the talent pipeline as well. I don’t think the Avs prefer the LW position here, and skips Drouin because of it, as I’m not sure he would shift well over to the right in their system.


Round 1 – Pick 2: Johnathan Drouin, LW, Halifax Moosehead – Florida Panthers
The Panthers really should go Seth Jones here, but I don’t think they will, because it’s Dave Tallon, and also because they severely lack scoring depth. The club needs to keep up with the high scoring divisional teams, and can’t afford to be left behind. I think it’s a mistake, but with a plethora of centers and right wings on the roster, and only 2 LWs in Fleischmann and Selleck, they need the depth. They are also in need of a defensive defenseman, and while Seth Jones is decent at his end, I would categorize him more as an offensive defenseman. Drouin is a nice fit for Tallon’s system, and should work well with Huberdeau, Skille, and others for years to come.

Popeye Jones' Kid!
Round 1 – Pick 3: Seth Jones, D, Portland Winterhawks – Tampa Bay Lightning
Lightning is the beneficiaries of the needs in front of them, and gets perhaps the best talent of the draft. Jones may not be ready for action next year, but Yzerman has a great prospect to make up a top pairing with Viktor Hedman, and an excellent future PP QB from the blue line for years and years. I think Tampa gets the steal of the draft here, maybe not immediately, but for sure long term.
Tampa still has some weaknesses, goal being the biggest, but has solid talent in the pipeline, and shoring up the defense here is the right move in my opinion.  (TRE Adds: I can't believe NBA All-Ugly Teamer Popeye Jones has a kid that's considered a top NHL prospect.  Blows my mind.)

DWG-Approved Celebration
Round 1 – Pick 4: Alexander Barkov, C, Tappara – Nashville Predators 
So, that means Nashville wins the lottery as well! This is one of my favorite players in this draft. He’s a young kid, but he can play! He has already shown he can play with men in the SM-Liiga, which isn’t a top league, but good enough to prepare him for the NHL. I don’t think Nashville will try to rush him, but I think his camp will force them to play him immediately. His size and grit is a perfect fit for the Preds, and I’m excited to see what he can do with some experience and adjustment to the smaller rink.


A lot of unfortunate facial hair in this draft.

Round 1 – Pick 5: Elias Lindholm, C/RW, Brynas – Carolina Hurricanes
I like the options for the Canes at number 5 as well. They can afford to grab best player available, with youngsters already breaking the big club roster, and a solid depth below. For me, this is about potential, and 2 players stick out, Lindholm and Valeri Nishuchkin. Either one would be a fit here in my opinion, but Lindholm is the safer option, as Nishuchkin like all Russians could be a risk to stay in the KHL. I don’t think either player makes the club next season, but Canes can afford to wait.
Lindholm logged high minutes for Brynas in the SEL, and he did very well holding his own against much older opponents. I like his size and speed for the Canes as well, and feel he would be a good fit.

Not sure what's happening here.
Round 1 – Pick 6: Valeri Nishushkin, LW/RW, Chelyabinsk – Calgary Flames 
Nishushkin could be a wild card pick here, as he has the size and skill to be an impact player in the NHL. At 6’3”, 196lbs, he has the size for sure. He is also a very skilled player, both off the puck and with it, but I have some concerns with his production as a junior, compared to the other players ranked above him. The Flames need help everywhere, and won’t be competing next season anyway, so why not take a chance on some excellent potential.

Nats Fan
Round 1 – Pick 7: Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS – Edmonton Oilers
Oilers are desperate for D help, having spent the last 50 (feels like it) years #1 picks on offensive talents. RIstolainen might not be the top European defender left available, but he might be able to play now, having already logged heavy minutes for 2 years in the SM-Liiga.

Born without a soul.
Round 1 – Pick 8: Hunter Shinkaruk, C/RW, Medicine Hat – Buffalo Sabres
Sabres need a good solid RW with upside in this draft, and are probably hoping Lindholm or Nishuchkin falls to them. Like outlined above, I don’t think that will happen, and I think the Sabres will reach a little to grab Shinkaruk. He has the scoring ability and hockey sense that sometimes was missing on the team, and while I’m not thrilled with his size or speed, I think the team will grab him, in a first “upset” of the draft.
Round 1 – Pick 9: Max Domi, C, London – New Jersey Devils
Undersized, but good build and I think the Devils get a steal here. He is the son of Tie Domi, but very different in style. I think he fits well into the system, with very high work ethic, and he doesn’t shy away from physical play.
Round 1 – Pick 10: Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa – Dallas Stars
Dallas has a lot of needs, but with the D in decent shape, and the goaltending situation settled I think they build from Center out next. Monahan is a very talented player, and could be a solid 2nd line contributor from the pivot. Good size, speed and strength, and can play a physical game if asked. He gives Dallas a lot of options.

As for the rest of the draft, and where does the Wild fit in?
This draft is very deep with talent. It may lack the absolute super stars, ready to play, no worries, plug straight into the lineup type of guys, but I think we’ll see quite a few guys contributing for a while in the NHL. I view this as a draft where you can pick up very solid depth, and some potential role players for the 2nd and 3rd line, and it would benefit most teams to have plenty of picks.
Darnell Nurse could be a solid defender for years for whoever picks him up, and I like Zadorov and Wennberg too. Many more are worth mentions, but with limited time I’ll just stick with this.
So, where does Minnesota Wild fit in? Well, sadly, the first round pick went to Buffalo in the Pominville trade, and while that was needed to beef up scoring, it could hurt them depth wise. I don’t like the trade because they gave up Hackett and Larsson, which means talent needs to be stocked up again.
Mikko Koivu – 1st line
Mikael Granlund – 2nd line (future 1st line center)
Kyle Brodziak – 3rd line
Charlie Coyle – 4th line (future 2nd line center)
Zenon Konopka
Torrey Mitchell
Jake Dowell
Mike Rupp
Zack Phillips (top prospect in farm)
Chad Rau
Pierre-Marc Bouchard – UFA this summer, and won’t be back.
Matt Cullen – UFA this summer, and doubtful to be back, unless they can free up cap space quickly.
At the center position I expect PMB and Cullen to be gone, with their contracts expired, and more pressing needs to address with the $3.3 million remaining under the cap. Center depth is not an issue for the Wild, and I really see no need for them to address center in the draft, free agency, or trade market. It may not be flashy and consistent scoring remains an issue, but they should be fine.
Left Wing:
Zach Parise – 1st line
Dany Heatley – 2nd line (Heatley is a UFA after the upcoming season, and could be traded out, or even bought out if he is healthy, since his production for the $7.5 million cap hit isn’t close to giving Wild value)
Jason Zucker
Wild has a huge hole to fill on the left side of the offense, especially considering Heatley’s poor performance, and his upcoming UFA status. Wild can’t afford to resign him, and quite honestly, they shouldn’t. Wild are in a world of hurt on the wings, and MUST find scoring here. Zucker needs to be able to take another step forward this year, and provide some scoring. Wild must address the left wing in the draft, and hope someone pans out. Erik Haula could grow into a decent player, but I don’t think he’s ready to fill a larger role yet.
Right Wing:
Jason Pominville – 1st line (1yr left until UFA, but a good value at $4.5 million. The Wild gave up a lot of future to acquire him, and I would expect they want to resign him, but won’t be able to unless he goes for cheap.)
Devin Setoguchi – 2nd line (UFA after the upcoming season, and doubtful to be given a new contract. Could be dangled as trade bait, since he could have some value on the market.)
Cal Clutterbuck – (RFA and unless he gives a big discount, he is on his way out)
As bad as the left side is, the right isn’t in much better shape. Salary cap issues, lack of talent in the farm, and expiring contracts make this the weakest position on the team. Wild MUST address this in the draft, FA, or trades as well, or they might be forced having to push one of their pivots over to the side just to field a team.
Ryan Suter – 1st pair
Jared Spurgeon (RFA and need to be resigned for cheap, or replaced.)
Tom Gilbert – (1yr left with a $4 million/yr contract. He has not produced to his numbers, and is unlikely to be resigned. I can even see him being bought up to free up some cap room.)
Jonas Brodin
Clayton Stoner (1yr left, but cheap at $1 million.)
Justin Falk (RFA)
Brett Clark (UFA and likely gone)
Marco Scandella
Nate Prosser (UFA after the upcoming season, and an unlikely re-signing candidate)
Wild has some depth at defense, but that depth is still needing to develop, and develop quickly. Suter is obviously a great piece, Brodin is good, and Dumba should be ready to step up after some seasoning. Defense need to be shored up, and in an ideal world it should be addressed this draft to ensure the future is there. I don’t think they can afford to though.
Darcy Kuemper
Niklas Backstrom
Josh Harding
Johan Gustafsson
The goalie situation was dire last season, due to injuries, but if Backs can stay healthy, and Harding continues to be ok, they should be fine. Johan Gustafsson that played last season in Sweden for Lulea is a good prospect that should be able to step in and help if needed. I think Wild should bring him over this year, and if not backing up Backs, at least let him get some time in AHL.
So, with all this said, what could possibly be available to the Wild when they make their first pick at #46? The trend for the Wild is to focus on QMJHL and Minnesota high school players, but I feel they have to step away from that to address the glaring needs.
(The other picks for the Wild, trades pending, are #70, #81, #107, #137, #167, #197, and #200.)
Possible player that could be available at #46:
Goaltender: Juuse Saros, HPK Jr. A smaller goalkeeper by today’s standards, but very fast and has a great glove. Very athletic, but will need a lot more core strength to cope with the rigors of the NHL. His biggest weakness, besides the size, is his rebound control. I think it’s very possible Juuse could be available at #107 and possibly #137.

Unorthodox Slapshot

Wing: Anton Slepyshev, Ufa. Risky pick, being Russian, with experience in the KHL, but has a lot of upside should he decide to come over. Has a nasty streak, getting under the skin of opponents, but also possess a good finishing ability, decent hands and great speed. With the Wild’s holes at wing, he could step right in and contribute. He still needs more strength, but he could be a good top 6 player, and should be available at #70 and possibly #81.. Here's a preview of Slepy at  (TRE: This is the guy I want based on his name alone.  Big fan of Slepy)

Center: Peter Quenneville, Dubuque. While center isn’t a need, if Quenneville is available around #81, Wild would do good to draft him, and obviously even later. He needs size, but he is an excellent goal scorer.
Wing: Andre Burakovsky, Malmo. I doubt Burakovky will be there at #46, but if he is, he’s a no-brainer, and might even be worth trading up for (around the end of the first round). Great shot, great hands and a knack for scoring.
Other notables:
Jason Dickinson, LW
Emile Poirier, LW
Morgan Klimchuk, LW

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great write-up. Barkov will be a beast, Popeye Jr also with a bright future.