What to Expect at the Draft?
How much activity will we see at the upcoming NHL draft? My guess is we see plenty of action especially with this year’s draft class considered “just ok”.
Teams already showed they weren’t afraid to dangle first round picks at the trade deadline and the talent in this draft probably has something to do with that.
The 2012 draft class is considered very strong especially on defense where we could see as many as 15 D-men taken in the opening round. You may see some clubs looking to acquire additional 2012 first round picks.
Red Deer Rebels forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins seems primed to be taken first overall by Edmonton. Somebody needs to be able to get Taylor Hall the puck and Hopkins playmaking ability looks to be a good match for the Oilers. According to various amateur scouts, Hopkins offensive upside sets him apart from the rest of the top forwards available.
Saint John Sea Dogs standout Johnathan Huberdeau was considered the top forward over the second half of the season and has certainly garnered plenty of attention along with Swedish D-man Adam Larsson and Kitchener Captain Garbriel Landeskog.
The star factor seems to be missing from this draft compared to years past. There is depth however with as many as 45 players being discussed as possible first round picks before ISS made their final list. One amateur scout tells me there is very little separation between picks 10-50.
This is another reason why Blues fans shouldn’t fret about not having a first round pick. At the end of the day, their first pick in the second round (32) could be considered a first round selection. How much difference is there between the 28th pick and the 32nd? St. Louis is an interesting team to watch as they’ll be willing to package picks if it means getting a NHL player off of another roster. They could always move up if there’s a player they truly target.
The Blues have hired longtime NHL player and Stanley Cup champion Tim “Tool Man” Taylor to help in their player development. Taylor will be another good addition. Welcome to St. Louis Tim!
Edmonton may look to add a D-man at the draft as the ongoing Zach Bogosian talk won’t go away. Winnipeg should be careful looking to move this kid as he’s still very young. Obviously the addition of Dustin Byfuglien took away some valuable power play time away from Bogosian.
Whether or not a team like New Jersey looks to slide down or an Ottawa looks to jump up remains to be seen. There is plenty of discussion that leads me to believe this is a good possibility.
Don’t be surprised to learn Mark Reeds has been hired by Ottawa to work under Paul MacLean. As I recently wrote, he and MacLean go way back. It looks like Mississauga St. Michaels Head Coach Dave Cameron will be joining the staff as well.
Don’t expect any goaltenders to go early as one scout refers to this as a “terrible year for goaltenders”. USA U-18 goalie John Gibson is considered the top player available at this position.
There are always plenty of sleepers every year and the 2011 draft is no different. North Dakota recruit Rocco Grimaldi is rated as the 15th overall prospect by ISS but his small 5’6 frame could scare some teams off. The kid is a dynamic talent offensively who has drawn obviously comparisons to Nathan Gerbe as well as Martin St. Louis. Grimaldi played this last season with the U.S. development team in Ann Arbor. He has a ton of international experience and has thrived on the big stage.
Another guy is Western Michigan forward Chasen Balisy who went undrafted last June. Scouts questioned whether or not he lost his focus and passion for the game as he dealt with some personal family issues. He seems to have gotten both his personal life and hockey career back on track as he put together a solid freshman season. He was once considered a can’t-miss prospect teaming up with the likes of Jeff Skinner as a minor hockey player where they dominated the Greater Toronto Hockey League. He’s listed 83rd overall by ISS but has been completely left off of the NHL Central Scouting list.
Local product Scott Mayfield stocked dipped just a tad this past season as his offensive production dropped off. He could still go in the first round after surprisingly being left off the invitation list to attend USA’s world junior development camp in Lake Placid, New York.
Mayfield had a good showing at the recent NHL combine finishing in the top 10 in eight out of the 20 categories including first overall in leg power. Having known Mayfield for several years, his rise to stardom has been impressive. Here’s a guy that played one year of AAA hockey (St. Louis Amateur Blues) before moving on to the USHL. He really made a name for himself at the U-16 Nationals a few years ago before showing nicely in the U-17 Ivan Hlinka tournament overseas. He was named MVP of the World Junior A challenge this past season in Penticton, British Columbia.
Mayfield is an intense, focused athlete who interviewed with 22 NHL teams at the combine. He has good composure with the puck who won’t hesitate to jump up into the play. His projects to be more of a shot blocking stay at home D-man who uses his 6’4 size to his advantage. Scouts shouldn’t be too caught up with his point total from this past season as his play inside his own end continues to improve. He played a ton this past year seeing 30-35 minutes a game with Youngstown in the USHL and may have been fighting some fatigue down the stretch. I can tell you whoever grabs him is getting a first class kid who will only get better as he heads off to Denver University.
Russian Mikhail Grigoenko is considered the top prospect in the 2012 draft. Word is he is seriously considering coming over to play in the CHL next season. Many expect him to go first overall in the upcoming CHL import Draft.
Be up to date with the draft…
Besides following the draft on www.truehockey.com you can also do so on your phone.
Draft Pik 2011 - Hockey iTunes link: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/draft-pik-2011-hockey/id436946692?mt=8
The app also has a website at http://draftpik.com
I’ll have more NHL news for you later on the site….stay tuned.
More to come,
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