As is my annual tradition here on the blog, I make completely outlandish predictions as to what will happen at the NHL Entry Draft in my role as the blog’s NHL Outsider. Let’s face it, the experts are just making an educated guess as to what happen based on logic. Fans of many teams will know that logic and common sense are a very, very small part of the decision making process of your typical NHL GM.
Hit the jump for my predicted top ten in this year’s NHL draft.
#1 Edmonton Oilers – Nail Yakupov (RW)
The Oilers already have plenty of young scoring talent under contract for next season and an unenviable cap situation as these players’ entry-level contracts expire in quick succession. So, naturally, Tambo does the Tambo logical thing and add more scoring. He should trade down to #4 with the Islanders for a goalie not named Rick DiPietro. Immediately after making the pick, Craig McTavish quits his position as Senior VP of Hockey Operations muttering “Tambo’s got no fucking idea.”
#2 Columbus Blue Jackets – Filip Forsberg (C)
The Blue Jackets have completely failed at finding a centre to pair with Rick Nash. Picking a centre who can take some heat off Nash and bolster the top line makes sense. Of course, it’s equally as likely that Columbus is so depressed over giving away Jeff Carter to the Kings that they completely ignore the clock and let Montreal sneak up to the second pick. For now, let’s hope they assume that nobody in the CBJ front office drinks themselves under the table at the draft over the fact that Jack Johnson’s contract runs through the 2017-18 season and they make a pick.
#3 Montreal Canadiens – Mikhail Grigoenko (C)
The one thing that the Habs need above anything else is to get rid of Scott Gomez. Unfortunately, that contract would be crippling regardless of what they do to get rid of him. Buying him out would be the best option but it would mean cap hits of $3.5M and $4.5M over the next two years. They’d have to move their 1st round pick for the next three years to trade his $7.35M cap hit for the next two seasons. So they’ll probably try sending him to Hamilton and eat the rest of the contract. Replacing Gomez is Mikhail Grigorenko. The Habs get someone to try to replace Gomez at centre while saving $3.5M over what they would have paid Gomez this year. Maybe Bulldogs fans can take over didgomezscore.com.
#4 New York Islanders – Ryan Murray (D)
The Isles aren’t the first team with a need for a blueliner but if the Oilers are the Oilers and everyone else drafts to their needs, Murray falls to Long Island. Apart from Mark Streit, can you name any defencemen on the Isles roster? If you said anyone other than Steve Staios, you looked it up. That includes Isles fans. The Islanders need help on the back-end and Murray makes too much sense for New York not to draft if he’s available here. This being the Islanders, try not to be too surprised when they draft goalie Malcolm Subban.
To New York Islanders – Tim Thomas (G), 2012 2nd Round Draft Pick, 2013 Conditional Draft Pick
To Boston Bruins – 2012 4th Round Draft Pick, Lifetime supply of aspirin
As you know, Tim Thomas is taking a year’s sabbatical which currently rules him out of the 2012-13 season. As he was over 35 when he signed his current contract, his cap hit counts against the cap regardless of whether he plays or not. The Isles have cap room to spare and Charles Wang has never met a goalie he didn’t want to collect. It works for both teams. And I’m sure Claude Julien and Peter Chiarelli could’ve used the aspirin much sooner.
To Toronto Maple Leafs – Roberto Luongo (G), A 2012-13 playoff spot at the expense of a first-round exit
To Vancouver Canucks – Mike Komisarek (D), 2012 1st Round Draft Pick (5th overall)
A pretty straight trade. The Canucks don’t want Luongo and the Leafs need a goalie. Komisarek gets moved to help all the cap numbers work on both sides but mostly because the Leafs would rather part with this expense failure. The only thing that makes this deal work is that draft pick. I don’t think any combination of Leafs for Luongo would make this deal make sense for the Canuckleheads.
#5 Vancouver Canucks – Teuvo Teravainen (LW)
With Burkie mortgaging the future to get a starting goalie in LOLuongo, the Canucks get the fifth pick in the draft. They take Teravainen to play the wing alongside the Sedins when Burrows’ contract expires or he gets suspended for doing something stupid. This being Burrow, the latter will happen first. Also, with Kesler out for the start of the season, a top prospect on the wing will help fill the gap on the 2nd line and top PP unit.
#6 Anaheim Ducks – Matt Dumba (D)
The Ducks have scoring and goaltending. The missing piece is on the blueline. Depending on which experts you read, Dumba could be every bit as good as Ryan Murray. He has a big shot and a physical game which isn’t exactly what the Ducks need. Anaheim needs a puck mover but sometimes it’s best to take the best player available at the position you need.
#7 Minnesota Wild – Alex Galchenyuk (C)
When I think of teams that need complete rebuilds, Minnesota is always near the top of the list. They have two great goalies in Backstrom and Harding (assuming he re-signs). Apart from that, the team needs to be rebuilt. While a defenseman would also make sense, having Dany Heatly and Mikko Koivu leading the offense hasn’t done the team a damn bit of good. They need some talent up front and Galchenyuk is the best forward left in this mock draft.
#8 Carolina Hurricanes – Morgan Rielly (D)
The Canes aren’t a team I would immediately cite as a team lacking talent but they’re missing depth everywhere. The most glaring need is on the blueline. Fortunately, this seems to be a deep draft for defensemen. Rielly was out for most of last season with an ACL injury but he did get three assists in five playoff games upon his return. Even coming back from injury, he was still a good puck-moving defenseman. I wouldn’t be shocked if Anaheim scoops him at #6 and Dumba goes here. Either way, the Canes go with a defenseman.
#9 Winnipeg Jets – Radek Faksa (C)
The Jets aren’t a horrible team overall. They were the middle of seven Canadian teams last season. Mind you, that also means that four of the Canadian teams finished in the bottom ten last season. It’s not as big a crisis as the Canadian media makes it out to be. It just means that the Canadian teams are poorly managed right now. Anyway, the Jets could use a little more scoring so they draft the high-scoring Czech forward. Pavelic could use a buddy from home.
#10 Tampa Bay Lightning – Jacob Trouba (D)
The Lightning really need a goalie to have a shot at making the playoffs. There isn’t a top ten draftable goalie in the draft. They do have the 19th pick in the first round as well (from the Red Wings in the Kyle Quincey trade which worked out well for Detroit, apart from the playoffs) so they can still wait on a goalie or trade the pick for one. So they go with the best American defenceman in the draft in Trouba. He’s said to have good leadership skills which will help when St. Louis and Lecavalier retire. His offensive skill doesn’t hurt, either.
The New Jersey Devils forfeit their 1st round pick to complete their punishment for the illegal Kovalchuk contract. The Montreal Canadiens ask for the NHL to retroactively deem Scott Gomez’s contract illegal per the CBA and have it voided. The NHL punishes the Habs by ruling the contract legal.