2014 NHL Mock Draft – June Edition

Depending on what expert you talk to, there’s any one of four players that could go first overall in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft.

In year where the top of the draft appears to be wide open, there is a number of intriguing players and storylines.

Not only does there seem to be a split opinion on the top selections, but the team picking first, the Florida Panthers, also appear open for business in terms of dealing the top pick. Of course that could all be posturing, but even so, it makes for rampant speculation.

Here’s a look at a potential scenario for June 27 and a 2014 mock version of the draft, barring any draft day trades.

1. Florida Panthers – Aaron Ekblad

Barrie Colts (OHL)

Defense – 6’5″, 216lbs

The Panthers would be foolish to pass on Ekblad who has future top pairing defenseman written all over him.

Total package of size, speed and skill. Ekblad can contribute on the power play or play a shutdown role and is effective in all areas. Eklbad was also named the OHL’s Most Outstanding Defenseman for the 2013-14 season to add to his impressive resume.

The Panthers have young star forwards Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad and pairing Eklbad on defense with Erik Gudbranson makes for a very impressive young core going forward.

He has also drawn comparisons to Shea Weber and Brent Seabrook in terms of style of play.

2. Buffalo Sabres – Sam Reinhart

Kootenay Ice (WHL)

Centre – 6’1″, 186lbs

This could conceivably be Reinhart or Sam Bennett, however Reinhart is the more polished player at this point and is coming off an outstanding MVP season where he was named WHL Player of the Year after putting up 105 points for the Ice.

He’s got a very high hockey IQ and his on-ice awareness is off the charts. Could be the No. 1 centre for the Sabres for years to come. He also got some exposure participating in Canada’s World Championship pre-tournament camp which can only help his development.

3. Edmonton Oilers – Leon Draisaitl

Prince Albert Rainders (WHL)

Centre – 6’2″, 210lbs

Bennett may be rated higher on some boards than Draisaitl, but he fills the need better for the Oilers. Draisaitl can play wing or centre and has the size up front Edmonton is looking for. He has excellent hockey sense and puck skills and is a tantalizing blend of skill and power.

Like Reinhart he put up 105 points this season in the WHL and was also named a WHL Eastern Conference First Team All-star.

4. Calgary Flames – Sam Bennett

Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

Centre – 6’1″, 180lbs

The Flames would be thrilled if Bennett fell to them at #4. Even though they have Sean Monahan in the fold from last year’s draft, they will not pass on Bennett. He is strong in all three zones and sees the game extremely well. I addition to his top level offensive talent, Bennett also plays with an edge and a competitive fire that few in the draft can match.

 5. New York Islanders – Michael Dal Colle

Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Left Wing – 6’1″, 190lbs

Possesses an excellent combination of size and speed. Uses his body well and is adept at creating space for himself and teammates. Quick release and a heavy shot, he’s one of the better finishers in the draft.

There is a gap between Dal Colle and the top four, but it’s not that big and the Islanders will be glad they kept their 2014 pick and could envision Dal Colle riding shotgun with John Tavares in a couple of years.

6. Vancouver Canucks – Nikolaj Ehlers

Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Left Wing – 5’11”, 163lbs

A player who’s draft stock has skyrocketed over the course of the past season. The Danish product does everything at high speed. Small in stature but with big skill, he’s an exceptional puckhandler and adept as both a passer and a finisher, as evidenced by his 49 goals and 104 points in his QMJHL rookie season.

He has already drawn lofty comparisons to teammate Jonathan Drouin and the Blackhawks Patrick Kane for his slick hands. 

7. Carolina Hurricanes – Jake Virtanen

Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

Right Wing – 6’1″, 215lbs

A dynamic player with good size and hands, it is his skating that sets him apart. A powerful and explosive skater, with his size he is hard to control on the rush for defenders.

He underwent shoulder surgery in May which will keep him on the shelf for 4-6 months, however it’s doubt it will drastically affect his draft status.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs – Nick Ritchie

Peterborough Petes (OHL)

Left Wing – 6’2″, 220lbs

Ritchie comes in the mold of a prototypical power forward. He’s a good skater with the ability to go around or through an opponent. He drives the puck hard to the net and creates a lot of space for himself and teammates.

The knock on Ritchie has been consistency, as he can be completely dominant on some nights and invisible on some. If he can put it together, he will be the next great power forward.

9. Winnipeg Jets – William Nylander

Rogle BK (Sweden)

Centre – 5’11”, 170lbs

The son of former NHLer Michael Nylander, William is a chip off the old block. An exceptional playmaker, Nylander has tremendous poise with the puck and sees the ice extremely well. He has been ranked anywhere from 3rd to 10th on various rankings, but the Jets would be fortunate if he was there at #9 for them.

For a Jets team looking for more strength up the middle, a future one-two punch of Mark Scheifele and Nylander looks very promising.

10. Anaheim Ducks (from Ottawa) – Jared McCann

Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)

Centre – 6’0″, 175lbs

The best two way forward in the draft, McCann is a complete 200 ft player. He’s an excellent skater and strong on his feet. He has an elite wrist shot with a quick release. He’s excellent in all three zones and proficient in the faceoff circle. He will be this year’s Bo Horvat.

11. Nashville Predators – Kasperi Kapanen

KalPa (Finland)

Right Wing – 5’11”, 172lbs

Son of former NHLer Sami Kapanen, you just know he’s going to be able to skate. An excellent skater who plays a well rounded game, Kapanen tremendous hockey sense and very good offensive instincts. Plays with a competitive edge and should fit in well in the Nashville system. 

12. Phoenix Coyotes – Brendan Perlini

Niagara IceDogs (OHL)

Left Wing – 6’3″, 205lbs

A winger with good size, poise and scoring touch, Perlini deepens the prospect pool for the Coyotes. A good puck possession player who shields the puck well, he also has a quick release and can finish in close.

The knock on him is consistency as well. Had he been able to show that, he would likely be taken higher than 12th.

13. Washington Capitals – Haydn Fleury

Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

Defense – 6’3″, 200lbs

Exceptional skater and puck-mover from the back end, Fleury has drawn comparisons to the Blues Jay Bouwmeester. He also get some of the same critiscms as Bouwmeester in terms of not playing overly physical and using his size more effectively.

Next to Ekblad he is the best defenseman available and his combination of speed, size and ability to create offense will be hard to pass up for the Capitals.

14. Dallas Stars – Julius Honka

Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

Defense – 5’11”, 180lbs

Another puck-moving defenseman, Honka doesn’t have the size Fleury does but he certainly has the offence. He put up 56 point in 62 games for the Broncos in his first WHL season.

The Stars currently have a similar player in Alex Goligoski on the blueline, but Honka would either be an ideal successor or be able to learn from playing behind Goligoski.

15. Detroit Red Wings – Adrian Kempe

MoDo (Sweden)

Left Wing – 6’2″, 187lbs

It seems fitting to see another Swedish player donning the Red Wings sweater, but Kempe is also a good fit. He’s an exceptional skater with a good shot and quick release. He’s a sniper by trade and will follow the path of other Wings prospects like Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar and Tomas Jurco.

16. Columbus Blue Jackets – Ivan Barbashev

Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)

Centre – 6’1″, 190lbs

Barbashev is a complete player who brings size, skill and grit to the table. He also plays a strong two way game and is an intense competitor.

He joins an increasingly impressive group of prospect forwards in the Columbus system that also includes Kerby Rychel, Alexander Wennberg and Marko Dano.

Ivan Barbashev
Ivan Barbashev (Photo: Brad Watson)

17. Philadelphia Flyers – Travis Sanheim

Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

Defense – 6’3″, 190lbs

Size, skill and the ability to play both ways, Sanheim fills a need for the Flyers. Philadelphia’s strength is in it’s young NHL forwards, however their defense is aging and aside from 2013 pick Samuel Morin, there isn’t much in the system coming soon.

18. Minnesota Wild – Robby Fabbri

Guelph Storm (OHL)

Right Wing – 5’9″, 160lbs

A dynamic offensive talent, Fabbri can be electric on the ice. He has exceptional quickess and hands and is tough to contain for defenders. Put up 45 goals in 58 games for the Storm and another 16 in their playoff run.

His size will be a factor, although not enough to keep him out of the first round.

19. Tampa Bay Lightning – Roland McKeown

Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

Defense – 6’1″, 186lbs

There has been much discussion about where in the first round McKeown should fit. Some see him as a top 15 pick while other scouts view him more as a 25-30 selection.

The fact is, he’s an excellent skater with an effortless stride. He plays a sound positional game and moves the puck well. He also shows intangibles like leadership and maturity that belies his age. Is exactly what Tampa Bay needs in their prospect system.

20. San Jose Sharks -Kevin Fiala

 HV71 Jonkoping (Sweden)

Left Wing – 5’10”, 175lbs

Best described as an elite playmaker, Fiala has the ability to make those around him better. A shifty forward with good acceleration and great puck skills he’s one of the better pure offensive players in the draft.

Defense is still a work in progress at best and he will still need to add muscle, but his offensive talent and potential is undeniable.

21. St. Louis Blues – Nick Schmaltz

Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)

Centre – 6’0″, 172lbs

There will be connections made and will no doubt be a story as the Blues drafted his brother Jordan two years ago, however Nick is also the best pick for St. Louis in this spot.

He has a well rounded offensive skill set and his game keeps improving. He has excellent on-ice awarenes and reads the play well.

22. Pittsburgh Penguins – Dylan Larkin

USA National U-18 Team

Centre – 6’1″, 190lbs

A complete player who excels in all three zones, Larkin is a well rounded forward that also brings a competitive drive and grit to his game. Profiles as a third line centre down the road, but is the type of player every winning team needs.

23. Colorado Avalanche – Anthony DeAngelo

Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Defense – 5’11”, 165lbs

Seen as somewhat one-dimensional, DeAngelo is a pure offensive defenseman. He has the ability to put up points and be a power play quarterback, something the Avalanche could use. They have Tyson Barrie, but not many others with his offensive potential.

His defense is a work in progress and he struggles in his own end, but defensemen with his skills are hard to find. While his size is also a factor, he did put up 71 points in 51 games from the back end on a weak Sarnia team.

24. Anaheim Ducks – Jakub Vrana

Linkoping (SHL)

Right Wing – 6’0″, 180lbs

Vrana is a player that has the whole offensive toolbox. He has the game-breaking ability all teams are looking for.  His attention to detail and defensive game need some work, but he has the ability to put up points at any level.

25. Boston Bruins – Alex Tuch

USA National U-18 Team

Left Wing – 6’4″, 215lbs

Perhaps a stretch to fall this far given his combination of size and skill. The Bruins would be thrilled if he was still there on draft day.

Still needs to learn how to use his body more effectively and he is still very raw, but there are few prospects with his size that have his offensive potential. Could be the next coming of Milan Lucic if he develops a mean streak.

26. Montreal Canadiens – Brendan Lemieux

Barrie Colts (OHL)

Right Wing – 6’0″, 186lbs

The Canadiens know all about Brendan’s father, Claude Lemieux, as the four time Stanley Cup winner made life difficult for any opponent when he played in Montreal. Brendan models his game after his father and loves to get under opponents skin and disrupt the other team’s top players.

He also plays a complete game and can put the puck in the net as well. Adding him to the roster that already has Brendan Gallagher could make the Habs a team that no one wants to play.

27. Chicago Blackhawks – Sonny Milano

USA National U-18 Team

Left Wing – 6’0″, 185lbs

The rich keep getting richer. Despite traditionally picking near the end of the first round, the Blackhawks have put together a very deep system of prospects. Add to the mix Milano, a pure offensive forward, and the cupboard remains well stocked.

Milano has exceptional puck skills and can create offensive from anywhere. He also has great quickness which makes him hard to control for defenders. Defensive game is a weakness right now and will need to improve.

28. Tampa Bay Lightning (from New York) – Nikita Scherbak

Saskatoon Blades (WHL)

Right Wing – 6’2″, 175lbs

Another player who’s draft stock has risen, when Scherbak made the move from Russia to North America, his game took off. He put up 28 goals and 78 points in his first WHL season.

Plays a gritty game and possess a big frame that is still filling out, Scherbak could be a potential steal. He still has a developing offensive game, but all the pieces are there.

29. Los Angeles Kings – Connor Bleackley

Red Deer Rebels (WHL)

Centre/Wing – 5’11”, 195lbs

Bleackley’s game went to another level this season in the WHL as he improved his goal total from 9 last season to 29 this season. A versatile forward who plays a well-rounded game, he will fit in perfectly with the LA Kings system.

A player with good offensive upside, he’s also sound defensively and shows excellent leadership skills to boot.

30. New Jersey Devils – Nikolay Goldobin

Sarnia Sting (OHL)

Right Wing – 6’0″, 185lbs

Another Russian forward plying his trade in North America, Goldobin has done nothing but put up points in his two seasons in Sarnia.

Similarly to others on this list, there are few concerns with Goldobin’s offensive game and there is no doubt he has the ability to score at any level. There do remain concerns about his consistency and defensive game.

Other Possibles to Go in the First Round:

Joshua Ho-Sang – Forward – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

David Pastrnak – Forward – Sodertalje (Sweden)

Jack Dougherty – Defense – US National Development Team

Eric Cornel – Forward – Peterborough Petes (OHL)

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