Florida Panthers – Aaron Ekblad
The Florida Panthers will be drafting by far the best defensive prospect in the draft. After passing on Seth Jones in last year’s draft, it is time for the Panthers to bolster their blue line. Ekblad has it all when it comes to size and speed, plus the ideal mix of both offense and defense. Ekblad is NHL ready, and will benefit from playing alongside veterans in Brian Campbell and Ed Jovanovski.
Buffalo Sabres – Sam Reinhart
The Sabres will have the option of choosing one of the top three forwards in the draft, and ultimately will select Sam Reinhart. After taking two towering D-men in the first round of last year’s draft, it’s time for the Sabres to put their focus up front. Reinhart has solid size, and was an offensive machine, recording 105 points in 60 games with Kootenay (WHL) this past season. Reinhart will join Mikhail Grigorenko, Joel Armia, and Johan Larsson as players who represent the future for the Sabres. Reinhart is the perfect piece to build your team around.
Edmonton Oilers – Trade or Leon Draisaitle
The Oilers are in desperate need of an NHL ready defenseman, which puts them in a difficult position drafting third. They would love to get their hands on D-man Aaron Ekblad; however, that most likely won’t be possible. If the Edmonton Oilers are unable to trade the third overall pick, they will select Leon Draisaitle. Aside from lighting up the 2013 WHL season, Draisaitle had a very strong showing in the world juniors. Draisaitle adds size upfront and will be yet another offensive addition to the young Oilers team.
Calgary Flames – Sam Bennett
The Calgary Flames would love to get their hands on winger Sam Bennett. Bennett has solid size and put up great numbers as he recorded 91 points in 57 games this past season with Kingston in the OHL. Bennett’s competitiveness will be enough for Brian Burke to pull the trigger on Bennett at four.
New York Islanders – Michael Dal Colle
The Islanders have their fare share of young D-men, and with the trade of Thomas Vanek, the Islanders have a great need for offensive production. With the selection of Michael Dal Colle, the Islanders are bringing in a big winger who recorded 95 points in Oshawa this past season. Dal Colle isn’t afraid to take a hit, or go into the dirty areas, to win a battle, which is why he will be a top five pick.
Vancouver Canucks – William Nylander
With an aging group of forwards, and past success with drafting Swedish born players, the Vancouver Canucks will draft William Nylander with the sixth pick. Although Nylander is slightly undersized, that shouldn’t stop him from being a consistent point producer in the NHL. Nylander lit up the world under 18s, recording 16 points in 7 games, and also impressed during multiple stints with Swedish leagues.
Carolina Hurricanes – Nick Ritchie
The Hurricanes lack depth with their prospects, so with the seventh pick, the Hurricanes will select Nick Ritchie. The Hurricanes lack physicality at times, so Ritchie will be an ideal addition, as he offers excellent size. Classified as a power forward, if Ritchie can bring his best game every night, the Hurricanes will be getting a steal at number seven.
Toronto Maple Leafs – Hayden Fleury
There are still many questions to be answered when it comes to the blue line for the Leafs. With some key pieces ready to become RFAs, the Leafs will snag the second best Dman in the draft. Fleury has ideal size and is a great skater. As he continues to develop, his offense will continue to improve as well.
Winnipeg Jets – Jake Virtanen
As has been the case the past couple of seasons, the Winnipeg Jets have lacked scoring up front. What better way to fix that, than by adding pure goal scorer Jake Virtanen. In 71 games with Calgary (WHL), Virtanen notched 45 goals and 71 points adding 100 PIMs as well. With good size and arguably one of the best shots in the draft, Virtanen will be a great addition for the Jets.
Anaheim Ducks – Nikolaj Ehlers
The Anaheim Ducks enter the 2014 NHL draft in a great position. Not only do they have one of the best teams in hockey, they also have two first round picks. Although they could take a Dman at 10, the Ducks won’t be able to pass up on Danish forward Nikolaj Ehlers. In his first season in the QMJHL, Ehlers recorded an astounding 104 points in 63 games. With great vision and dynamic speed, Ehlers could amass into a highly skilled top-line player.
Nashville Predators – Brendan Perlini
The Predators lack scoring up front, and although they could take a Dman, I believe they will take pure goal scorer Brendan Perlini. The only knock on Perlini is that he can be inconsistent at times; however, when he is playing his best, it’s difficult to contain him. With great size and solid speed, Perlini could turn out to be a steal at number 11.
Phoenix Coyotes – Alex Tuch
Although the Phoenix Coyotes could easily draft a D-man here, I see them taking power forward Alex Tuch. The first thing that stands out about Tuch is his size. At 6’3”, 212 lbs, Tuch possesses all of the tools to be a dominant power forward. Another asset Tuch has going for him is his shot, as he has one of the hardest, most accurate shots in the draft. It will be very hard for the Coyotes to pass on Tuch.
Washington Capitals – Kasperi Kapanen
The Capitols will be tempted to take the best available goalie at 13, but ultimately they won’t be able to pass on Kasperi Kapanen. Since trading away top prospect Filip Forsberg, the Capitols are missing a dynamic prospect in their organization. Kapanen possesses a very high hockey IQ, and is an excellent passer. A true team player, Kapanen will be a solid two-way player in the NHL.
Dallas Stars – Dylan Larkin
The Stars will land one of the best skaters in the draft in Dylan Larkin. The University of Michigan commit, was a point per game player in the USHL, and has very solid size. Larkin is the type of player that will thrive in Lindy Ruff’s system, as his work ethic and two-way ability will bode well with the Stars.
Detroit Red Wings – Julius Honka
The Detroit Red Wings are in need of a young Dman who can move the puck and produce offensively in the coming years. Enter Julius Honka. In his first season in North America, Honka recorded 56 points in 62 games in the WHL. Although he does not have ideal size, Honka can develop into a top four Dman, with tons of offensive upside.
Columbus Blue Jackets – Sonny Milano
The Jackets get a point producer in Sonny Milano with the 16th pick. Milano is an offensive weapon, as he lit up the USHL recording 39 points in 25 games. The Boston College commit has solid size and speed, and may very well have the best hands in the entire draft.
Philadelphia Flyers – Jared McCann
Jared McCann has progressed rather nicely in his first two OHL seasons. He has solid size and will continue to fill out. McCann’s best asset is that he is a solid player in all ends of the ice. He is great in the face-off circle and has a very quick release. The Flyers will be getting a centre who can play in any situation at any time.
Minnesota Wild – Kevin Fiala
The Minnesota Wild drafts not only a dynamic point producer in Kevin Fiala, but also a game changer. Fiala excelled in both the World Juniors and the under 18s, but also had an intriguing showing in the Swedish League recording 11 points in 17 games. The only knock on Fiala is his size; however, the Wild will be getting great value at 18.
Tampa Bay Lightening – Ivan Barbashev
The Lightening get a player in Ivan Barbashev, who plays a complete game, and has excellent hockey vision. Barbashev improved offensively this past season in the QMJHL, as he recorded 68 point in 48 games. The Lightening will be getting a two-way forward who has the potential to put up top-line numbers on a night to night basis.
San Jose Sharks – Robby Fabbri
Many would assume the Sharks would take Dman, but with Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau possibly on the move, the Sharks will have to replace their offense, hence Robby Fabbri. Fabbri proved that size isn’t a factor as he recorded an impressive 87 points in 58 games with Guelph this past season. Fabbri will be a big piece that could represent the future of the Sharks.
St. Louis Blues – Nikita Scherbak
After an extremely disappointing showing in the playoffs by the Blues, one thing was evident, and that was their lack of scoring. With Carlo Colaiacovo the only UFA Dman for the Blues, they will most likely draft a forward. The Blues will select winger Nikita Scherbak. With good size, Scherbak produced 69 points in 54 games this past season in the WHL, on a poor team. Scherbak will be a top 6 forward who will produce his share of points in the NHL.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Josh Ho-Sang
The Penguins have many forwards set to become UFA’s come July 1st. At 22 the Penguins will take forward Josh Ho-Sang. Although he is a talented player, he isn’t the smartest player on the ice. Ho-Sang recorded 85 points in 67 games this past season in the OHL. This may be a risk/reward pick for the Penguins, with potential upside.
Colorado Avalanche – Nick Schmaltz
The Colorado Avalanche are in desperate need of a top line right winger. Nick Schmaltz will fill the void. Schmaltz is one of the most skilled players in the draft. The North Dakota commit tore apart the USHL, recording 63 points in 55 games. Schmaltz lacks size, but his ability to produce offensively definitely makes up for that.
Anaheim Ducks – Adrian Kempe
The Anaheim Ducks will take Swedish forward Adrian Kempe at number 24. Kempe played exceptionally well this past season in the Swedish Elite league. With good size and blazing speed, Kempe has the potential to be a top 6 forward in the coming years.
Bostin Bruins – Conner Bleackley
The Boston Bruins are all about heart and soul players who will do anything to win. Conner Bleackley fits that description perfectly. At the age of just 18, Bleackley was named captain of Red Deer in the WHL. Bleackley was a point per game player, and should thrive under Coach Claude Julien.
Montreal Canadians – Roland Mckeown
The Montreal Canadians have many UFA’s on the blue line, so at 26 they will select Roland McKeown. McKeown has solid size and had an impressive season with Kingston in the OHL, recording 43 points in 62 games. McKeown can develop into a top 4 NHL Dman.
Chicago Blackhawks – Jack Dougherty
The Chicago Blackhawks have an aging backend, so what better way to fix that then adding American Jack Dougherty. Dougherty already has good size, and has the skating ability to make it at the next level. The University of Wisconsin recruit was solid offensively in the USHL and World under 18s, and with the right coaching, could amass into a solid top 4 NHL Dman.
Tampa Bay Lightening (from NYR) – Travis Sanheim
With their second pick in the first round, the Tampa Bay Lightening will take Dman Travis Sanheim. With ideal size and great vision, Sanheim will bring an offensive game and power play help to the Lightening. In the World under 18s, Sanheim led all defenseman in scoring, and many scouts believe he’s just finding his confidence right now. There is no doubt Sanheim can be a top 4 Dman with lots of offensive potential.
LA Kings – Jakub Vrana
With the 29th pick, the LA Kings will select Jakub Vrana. There are three words to describe Vrana: pure goal scorer. In the World under 18s, Vrana scored 8 goals in 7 games, and was a game changer. Although Vrana doesn’t have the size that almost all King’s forwards have, he has the speed to make up for it. Vrana will continue to develop his game in the Swedish League this year, and will eventually be a top 6 forward with the Kings.
New Jersey Devils – David Pastrnak
With the last pick in the first round, the New Jersey Devils will select David Pastrnak. With one of the best players of all time in Jaromir Jagr in the lineup, it will be hard for the Devils to pass on Pastrnak, who along with Jagr, is Czech. Pastrnak has good size and will continue to fill out. He definitely has all of the tools to be a top scorer, and will continue to develop his skills in the Swedish league next season. Pastrnak will greatly benefit by learning from a legend in Jagr.