The 2014 NHL Entry Draft has a lot of intrigue at the top 3 picks. No one knows what Florida will do at #1, or if they will even keep the pick. Aaron Ekblad, Sam Reinhart, and Sam Bennett have been jockeying for top prospects for the last year. The other big factor will likely be the interest in American born or American university players. Many will likely go early as the quality of play has increased at this level over the years. (Here’s what we have our hometown Blackhawks doing on draft night)
To see a list of the top North American skaters, click here.
To see a list of the top European skaters, click here.
To see a list of the top North American goalies, click here.
To see a list of the top European goalies, click here.
To see the final 2014 NHL mock draft, click here.
So, without further ado, the Florida Panthers are on the clock…..
1. Florida Panthers
Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie (OHL)
23 G – 30 A – 53 Pts 91 PIM
While it’s tempting to go with offense here, this postseason has shown how important having a bonafide #1 defenseman who can eat up minutes every night. Ekblad gives the Panthers their first legit blueliner since Ed Jovanovski. Plus he can already grow a legit playoff beard.
2. Buffalo Sabres
Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay (WHL)
36 G – 69 A – 105 Pts 11 PIM
With a full rebuild going on in Buffalo, having a top flight center to be the face of the franchise is a pretty good thing. Reinhart gives the Sabres a playmaker that will bring fans back, and hopefully the Sabres back to respectability.
3. Edmonton Oilers
Sam Bennett, C, Kingston (OHL)
36 G – 55 A – 91 Pts 118 PIM
Bennett has been getting some heat since the Scouting Combine, where he was unable to complete a single pull up. That makes his stats maybe even more impressive. The Oilers will get another young weapon, one who might actually know how to play some defense.
4. Calgary Flames
Leon Draisaitl, C, Prince Albert (WHL)
38 G – 67 A – 105 Pts 24 PIM
Draisaitl gives Calgary someone who can play at the NHL level right away, and will be a player that President Brian Burke will really like. He can score and skate, and will be a key part in building a new Flames legacy, post Iginla.
5. New York Islanders
Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa (OHL)
39 G – 56 A – 95 Pts 34 PIM
While last season was disappointing after a thrilling playoff run, the Islanders believe they should be better this year. Drafting Dal Colle gives the Isles a skilled player who could become the Robin to John Tavares’ Batman.
6. Vancouver Canucks
William Nylander, C, MODO (SWE)
1 G – 6 A – 7 Pts 6 PIM
After a disaster of a move to the Pacific Division, the Canucks are deciding what to do throughout the organization. While separating, or even getting rid of the Sedin’s is not going to happen, adding a Swede center between them in the future could be a way to bring back the glory.
7. Carolina Hurricanes
Kasperi Kapanen, RW, Kalpa (FIN)
7 G – 7 A – 14 Pts 10 PIM
Going back to the future seems to be the trend these days in the NHL, and the Canes are definitely on board. New GM Ron Francis harkens back to the good days in Raleigh. Adding the son of former player Sami Kapanen will not only continue this logic, but will also add a quick, skilled winger who can be a new fan favorite.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs
Nicholas Ritchie, LW, Peterborough (OHL)
39 G – 35 A – 74 Pts 136 PIM
The Maple Leafs offense will always revolve around the stick of Phil Kessel. While he can’t make every single shot he takes, Toronto needs others to pick up the slack. Ritchie gives the Leafs another big winger who can clean up at the front of the net, and isn’t afraid to throw his body around.
Alex Tuch, RW, USNT (USHL)
29 G – 35 A – 64 Pts 70 PIM
The Jets have gone to the US Development Program before, and going back to the well again would be a good thing. Tuch is a big winger who should excel in the Central Division. Has good speed, and can play multiple positions.
10. Anaheim Ducks (from OTT)
Brandon Perlini, LW, Niagara (OHL)
34 G – 37 A – 71 Pts 36 PIM
Perlini is big and fast, and would give the Ducks another impressive forward to battle for the state of California. Perlini is at his best when he has the puck, and usually it ends up in the net because of it.
11. Nashville Predators
Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
49 G – 55 A – 104 Pts 51 PIM
After being in defensive lockdown mode through the entire history of the franchise, the Predators will have their second head coach in history, and will look to turn up the tempo a bit. Ehlers gives the Preds a burst of speed and scoring, something fans in Nashville have rarely seen on their roster.
12. Phoenix Coyotes
Jake Virtanen, RW, Calgary (WHL)
45 G – 26 A – 71 Pts 100 PIM
While Shane Doan is the godfather of the Coyotes, drafting Virtanen gives them an opportunity to groom a new don. Virtanen is big, physical, and has a big shot that finds the back of the net quite often. Having an apprentice beneath Doan could make Virtanen a very special player in the future.
13. Washington Capitals
Haydn Fleury, D, Red Deer (WHL)
8 G – 38 A – 46 Pts 46 PIM
The Capitals have spent years trying to learn to play defense around the rocket ship of Alex Ovechkin. And have failed miserably. New coach Barry Trotz will help, as will drafting Fleury. Fleury will help shore up the blue line, and likely a good contributor on the power play.
14. Dallas Stars
Jared McCann, C, Sault Ste Marie (OHL)
27 G – 35 A – 62 Pts 51 PIM
The Stars have a good core of young skilled players, and McCann will give Dallas a strong two way player that will contribute in all facets of the game. Has a high hockey IQ that will fit in well with what is developing into a very strong organization in Texas.
15. Detroit Red Wings
Nick Schmaltz, C, Green Bay (USHL)
18 G – 45 A – 63 Pts 19 PIM
The Red Wings develop players right, and the Wisconsin native Schmaltz should fit right into the Detroit system. Schmaltz is responsible with the puck, and plays hard at both ends of the ice. Will be one of many drafted players going to college. Next year, Schmaltz will skate for the North Dakota
16. Columbus Blue Jackets
Dylan Larkin, C, USNT (USHL)
31 G – 25 A – 56 Pts 56 PIM
A prototypical power forward, Larkin loves to go to the net and score. The American prospect will be another piece in the rise of the Blue Jackets. The only downside to Columbus’ fans is that Larkin is going to ANN ARBOR in the fall.
17. Philadelphia Flyers
Julius Honka, D, Swift Current (WHL)
16 G – 40 A – 56 Pts 52 PIM
The Flyers are constantly looking for defensemen, and Honka would give Philadelphia an offensive threat from the point, both even strength, and on the power play. The Finnish Honka excelled in his first year in North America, ranking 11th overall in defensemen scoring.
18. Minnesota Wild
Thatcher Demko, G, Boston College (HE)
2.24 GAA .919 SV% 24 W
The San Diego native was a stud for the Eagles last season, leading BC into the postseason. Demko is a tall, butterfly goalie who covers the entire net. Minnesota’s season was almost derailed by goaltending instability, and Demko gives the Wild a huge piece towards their goal of a future Stanley Cup.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning
Nikita Sherbak, RW, Saskatoon (WHL)
26 G – 43 A – 69 Pts 28 PIM
After trading away Martin St. Louis, the Lightning are in the market for a skilled forward to put alongside Steven Stamkos. Scherbak is a big Russian who came over and held his own in the rough and tumble Western Hockey League.
20. San Jose Sharks
Anthony DeAngelo, D, Sarnia (OHL)
15 G – 56 A – 71 Pts 90 PIM
The Sharks have said they will make changes to try and shake out of their rut. The blue line needs an overhaul, and the skilled DeAngelo brings the speed and passing that will help the transition into the baby Sharks becoming the big fish in San Jose.
21. St Louis Blues
Ryan MacInnis, C, Kitchener (OHL)
16 G – 21 A – 37 Pts
The son of legendary slap shot launcher Al MacInnis, the youngster has size and a huge shot, and was also born in the STL. Having depth behind the Blues’ top line is key, and MacInnis could fit that role very nicely.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins
Ivan Barbashev, C/LW, Moncton (QMJHL)
25 G – 43 A – 68 Pts 27 PIM
Barbashev is a winger who will shoot the puck, and could slot in well onto the Penguins second line in the future. Barbashev has been in North America for two years, and put up more points in fewer games this past season. New GM Jim Rutherford isn’t afraid to gamble on a skilled Russian.
23. Colorado Avalanche
Kevin Fiala, LW, HV71 (SWE)
10 G – 15 A – 25 Pts 40 PIM
Fiala has spent the last couple years playing at the elite level in Sweden, as well as leading Sweden at the international level. Fiala is offensive weapon who knows how to find the net. Lots of potential to become another playmaker on the Avalanche roster.
24. Anaheim Ducks
Marcus Pettersson, D, Skelleftea (SWE)
4 G – 14 A – 18 Pts 38 PIM
The hulking Pettersson has spent two years in the Swedish Elite League, and has proven himself a man. Having a second first round pick, and organizational depth, allows the Ducks to let Pettersson stay in Sweden a little longer before bringing him to North America.
25. Boston Bruins
Jakub Vrana, LW/RW, Linkoping (SWE)
14 G – 11 A – 25 Pts 26 PIM
The Czech winger has been playing with the men in Sweden, and brings the strong two way performance that the Boston front office likes. Responsible with the puck, and willing to play near the blue pain at both ends.
26. Montreal Canadiens
Roland McKeown, D, Kingston (OHL)
11 G – 32 A – 43 Pts 61 PIM
The Canadiens function best when they’re locking down their own zone and attacking on the break. McKeown is smart with the puck, and has a big shot that can be utilized on the power play. Could give Montreal an insurance policy if PK Subban somehow isn’t signed.
27. Chicago Blackhawks
Robby Fabbri, C, Guelph, (OHL)
45 G – 42 A – 87 Pts 55 PIM
Although small, Fabbri is a hard worker who is one of the best skaters in the draft. Has playmaking ability, and isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas on the ice. The Blackhawks have always struggled to find a second line center, Fabbri might finally be the one.
28. Tampa Bay Lightning (from NYR)
Brycen Martin, D, Swift Current (WHL)
6 G – 31 A – 37 Pts 42 PIM
Martin is big, smooth, and carries the puck up the ice well. He could make a good pairing with Victor Hedman in the future. A second first round pick gives Tampa a chance to take a good power play point man who can join a rush with Stamkos.
29. Los Angeles Kings
Nikolay Goldolbin, RW, Sarnia (OHL)
38 G – 56 A – 94 Pts 21 PIM
While he isn’t the strongest or biggest player, Goldolbin is still adjusting to the North American style. yet he still managed to put up nearly 100 points this season. If the Kings don’t resign Marian Gaborik, Goldolbin could be a good insurance policy for a skilled sniper.
30. New Jersey Devils
Josh Ho-Sang, C/RW, Windsor (OHL)
32 G – 53 A – 85 Pts 44 PIM
Since losing Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, the Devils haven’t had an offensive threat as good as Ho-Sang. Not bad for a team who, as of just a couple of months ago, didn’t even think they’d have a first round pick this year thanks to the sanctions around the Kovalchuk contract debacle.
There’s all thirty picks for the first round of the NHL Entry draft. Only time will tell who of these kids will one day etch their name onto the Stanley Cup.
Bryan Vickroy has an addiction to hockey, and is willing to partake in all its forms. He is skating extra shifts for The Sports Bank, covering the Minnesota Wild, the NHL, and NCAA hockey, including the NHL Entry Draft. His last NHL mock draft was the most accurate mock draft created by a Non- Canadian media outlet. He can be followed on Twitter at @bryanvickroy. If you’d prefer to speak in more than 140 characters at a time to him, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow paulmbanks