The hopes and dreams of every franchise start with the NHL draft. Whether you draft #1 or #30, you’re always looking for the next big star that can carry your team to the next level. The New York Islanders have the first pick in this year’s draft and are desperate to rebound from an embarrassing 2008-09 campaign. Heading into the draft, no one by Isles management knew who the #1 pick would be. Would they take scoring machine John Tavares, defensive giant Victor Hedman, or character player Matt Duchesne?
1. New York Islanders – John Tavares (C) (London)
Chuck and Garth kept the whole world guessing until they announced it. Tavares was the logical choice though. Despite concerns about his skating, he is an offensive dynamo. He’s dominated every level of hockey he’s been in so he should produce nicely in the NHL. Also, Tavares has been in the OHL for four seasons so he and his game have matured enough to make the jump into the lineup next season. The Isles need to get something going in the right direction, so picking Johnny T or Vic Hedman was the right way to go.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning – Victor Hedman (D) (MoDo)
The weak link for the Lightning is their ownership. Unfortunately for GM Brian Lawton, you can’t draft owners so he drafted Hedman instead. The big, offence-first Swedish defenseman was the only choice that the Bolts had. Their blueline was decimated by the Dan Boyle trade so rebuilding that was the only thing they could really do. Hedman, though, could be damaged goods. When Lawton was asked in an interview who he would have picked at #1, he said, sitting right next to Hedman, “We’ll never know.” That’s a hell of a way to welcome your new star.
3. Colorado Avalanche – Matt Duchesne (C) (Brampton)
Like I said in the mock draft, this was the easiest place to pick. Wait for the guy that falls to you. Duchesne is called a two-way player and a character guy that compares to Joe Sakic. That’s noteworthy because Sakic is deciding whether to retire or return for one more season. I doubt it would matter to Duchese. He’s a good player but I think he could benefit from another season in juniors.
4. Atlanta Thrashers – Evander Kane (C) (Vancouver)
Rough and tumble and competitive, Evander Kane should bring a killer instinct that is lacking in Atlanta. His strong physical play is matched by a solid scoring touch which might be needed if Kovulchuk skips town. If his style game is going to succeed at this level, he needs to bulk up because he will be physically outmatched by most of the league.
5. Los Angeles Kings – Brayden Schenn (C) (Brandon)
Try as he might, Burke couldn’t get his hands on the younger of the brothers Schenn. He is expected to complement Dustin Brown perfectly when he makes the jump to the pros. Schenn is also considered a character player which is a nice analyst buzzword. The Kings had been drafting defensemen for years before this pick so they had to go with a forward here.
6. Phoenix Coyotes – Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D) (Leksand)
To a chant of “Hamilton,” the Coyotes made what could be their last first round pick while based in Phoenix. And they filled that gaping defensive hole I mentioned in my mock draft. OEL is considered the best two-way defenseman in the draft and that includes Victor Hedman. He doesn’t have the size or physical play of Hedman, though. He has been favourable compared to Nick Lidstrom. Though I’m not sure if “poor man’s Nick Lidstrom,” as Bob McKenzie put it, is a good comparison.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs – Nazem Kadri (C) (London)
GM Brian Burke describes him as explosive, creative, and intense. He is that and fast and gifted offensively. He’s also small which, combined with a late-season jaw injury, saw his draft stock tumble from a potential top five pick to out of the top ten. I figured that someone a little more physical like Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson would be Burke’s choice. Still, I wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t have an ace or two up his sleeve.
8. Dallas Stars – Scott Glennie (RW) (Brandon)
The second Brandon Wheat King drafted in the top eight. Unlike Schenn, Glennie is often described as a finesse player. Whether that’s code for “Lady Bynger” or not, I don’t know. I do know that he’s better used as a playmaker than finisher. That should work nicely playing alongside scorers like Brunnstrom and Morrow.
9. Ottawa Senators – Jared Cowan (D) (Spokane)
This kid is, to quote Pierre McGuire, a monster. Not because Pierre has seen him make a play (the sole qualification to make you a “monster”). Rather, it’s because he’s 6’5″ and 220 lbs. If I saw him, I’d turn tail and run for my life. Championship winning experience and big physical play combine to make him a force for the Sens. Now it remains to be seen how well he works into Cory Clouston’s offence-first system.
10. Edmonton Oilers – Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (LW) (Timra)
MPS will be every Oilers fan’s dream and every announcer’s nightmare. Like many current Oilers, MPS has speed to burn. In fact, he’s considered the fastest player available in the draft. Edmonton and GM Kevin Lowe have been trying to craft a speed team that can skate circles around the opposition. MPS certainly fills the bill. He is apparently also willing to play physical.
11. Nashville Predators – Ryan Ellis (D) (Windsor)
12. New York Islanders* – Calvin DeHaan (D) (Oshawa)
13. Buffalo Sabres – Zack Kassian (RW) (Peterborough)
14. Florida Panthers – Dmitri Kulikov (D) (Drummondville)
15. Anaheim Ducks – Peter Holland (C) (Guelph)
16. Minnesota Wild* – Nick Leddy (D) (Eden Prairie)
17. St. Louis Blues – David Rundblad (D) (Skelleftea)
18. Montreal Canadians – Louis Leblanc (C) (Omaha)
19. New York Rangers – Chris Kreider (C) (Andover)
20. New Jersey Devils* – Jacob Josefson (C) (Djurgarden)
21. Columbus Blue Jackets* – John Moore (D) (Chicago)
22. Vancouver Canucks – Jordan Schroeder (C) (Minnesota)
23. Calgary Flames* – Tim Erixon (D) (Skelleftea)
24. Washington Capitals – Marcus Johansson (C) (Farjestad)
25. Boston Bruins – Jordan Caron (RW) (Rimouski)
26. Anaheim Ducks* – Kyle Palmieri (C) (USA Under-18)
27. Carolina Hurricanes – Philippe Paradis (C) (Shawinigan)
28. Chicago Blackhawks – Dylan Olsen (D) (Camrose)
29. Tampa Bay Lightning* – Carter Ashton (RW) (Lethbridge)
30. Pittsburgh Penguins – Simon Despres (D) (Saint John)
* denotes a pick acquired through a draft day trade.
To Philadelphia – Chris Pronger, Ryan Dingle
To Anaheim – Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, 2009 1st Round Pick (21st), 2010 1st Round Pick, Conditional 3rd Round Pick in 2010 or 2011
They couldn’t get their hands on Jay Bo, so they did the next best thing. Trading Pronger frees up cap space for the Ducks and they aren’t doing much damage to an already deep defensive core. The Flyers are in serious cap troubles. They have less than $5 million under the cap with only 11 forwards, 6 defensemen, and no goalies officially signed.
To Columbus – 2009 1st Round Pick (26th), 2009 2nd Round Pick (37th), 2009 3rd Round Pick (64th), 2009 4th Round Pick (92nd)
To NY Islanders – 2009 1st Round Pick (16th), 2009 3rd Round Pick (77th)
To Minnesota – 2009 1st Round Pick (16th), 2009 3rd Round Pick (77th), 2009 7th Round Pick (182nd)
To NY Islanders – 2009 1st Round Pick (12th)
To New Jersey – 2009 1st Round Pick (20th)
To Calgary – 2009 1st Round Pick (23rd), 2009 3rd Round Pick (84th)
To Columbus – 2009 1st Round Pick (21st)
To Anaheim – 2009 1st Round Pick (26th), 2009 2nd Round Pick (37th), 2009 7th Round Pick (182nd)
To Tampa Bay – 2009 1st Round Pick (29th)
To Detroit – 2009 2nd Round Pick (32nd), 2009 3rd Round Pick (75th)