2011 MOCK NHL ENTRY DRAFT (Draft Day Edition)
The day is finally here! The 2011 NHL Entry Draft is tonight, live from the Xcel Energy Center in the heart of St. Paul, Minnesota. Thursday saw the start of what could be the first of many big time deals to come, when the Philadelphia Flyers made multiple trades to reshape their roster and create cap space to sign Ilya Bryzgalov to a huge contract. I will be on hand to see all the picks go down, as well as all the deals that will go down while teams are on the clock. Who will go where? Who else will make a bold move like the Flyers, Kings, and Blue Jackets? Find out with the final mock NHL draft from The Sports Bank. For all the first round picks, click on through past the jump.
The NHL draft is a little different than most other drafts, as the draft is based on age and not where you’re coming from. Teams retain a player’s rights until the draft the following season, allowing a team and player to sign anytime in between. While this year’s draft doesn’t have the name power that last year’s debate over the top pick, it might be deeper in terms of overall talent pool. This year’s draft should have something for everyone. To view earlier interpretations of the draft, click here, here, or here. The numbers next to the draft pick names represent change in draft position from last mock draft.
Let’s not waste time and get right into the action from the podium and everyone’s favorite commissioner Gary Bettman. “With the first pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, the Edmonton Oilers select………”
1. Edmonton Oilers
– Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer (WHL)
There isn’t the intrigue of last year’s draft as to who the Oilers will take, as Nugent-Hopkins appears to be the best player available in this draft. N-H is a playmaking center who will slot in with last year’s first overall pick Taylor Hall, giving Edmonton a dynamic first line duo for years to come.
2. Colorado Avalanche
– Gabriel Landeskog, LW, Kitchener (OHL)
While it might be tempting to take the big Swedish defenseman Larsson here, the Avalanche have another first round pick where they can add another defenseman in a deep blue liner draft. Taking Landeskog gives Colorado something that you can’t teach a player: scoring mentality. His speed and ability to pressure in the offensive zone will help create scoring opportunities for his linemates.
3. Florida Panthers
– Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Saint John (QMJHL)
The Panthers also could take the big Larsson, but have done a good job rebuilding their defensive corps throughout the last few drafts. The Panthers have a much greater need of a scorer, and Huberdeau is proving himself to be quite skilled at accumulating goals. Huberdeau made a great impression during St. Johns’ run to the Memorial Cup, and the championship momentum has helped him climb way up the draft charts.
4. New Jersey Devils
– Adam Larsson, D, Skelleftea (SWE)
Larsson finally comes off the board to the Devils, who will appreciate his size and scoring ability possibly as soon as next season. Larsson gives the Devils something to get the puck up ice to the high priced talent, while also chipping in a few points of his own. Big body will bode will in the grinding Atlantic Division.
5. New York Islanders
– Dougie Hamilton, D, Niagra (OHL)
After acquiring the skill players over the last few drafts, it’s time for the Islanders to add a possible franchise blueliner. Another big defenseman (6′ 4″), Hamilton averaged nearly a point a game last season, and wasn’t afraid of contact, amassing 77 penalty minutes. And with a name like Dougie Hamilton, he sound like he belongs on the Islanders of yore.
6. Ottawa Senators
– Sean Couturier, C, Drummondville (QMJHL)
The Senators are unveiling new jerseys and remodeling their look, and Couturier will go a long way in giving the team some offensive burst up the middle. Couturier is big, good in the face off circle, and disciplined enough to play both ends of the ice. Add in the offensive touch, and Ottawa might be in for a Daniel Alfredsson like career for Couturier.
7. Winnipeg Jets
– Ryan Strome, C, Niagara (OHL)
Since the team is unlikely to have a name, logo, or jersey by the time they make their draft pick, I’ve decided to start calling them the Winnipeg Whatevers until a name is announced. Update: The team name, Winnipeg Jets, is expected to be announced before the team makes their first draft pick tonight. Thanks to a great source for news on the reincarnation hockey in Winnipeg, Illegal Curve Hockey. They’ve got all the latest news and a great podcast. Strome gives the team another young, fast forward who will be given the chance to thrive now that the team is in a hockey friendly environment. Strome will add a lot of offensive flair, as well as a grinding work ethic.
8. Philadelphia Flyers (via Columbus)
– Mika Zibanejad, C, Djurgarden (SWE)
The Flyers made it be known yesterday that they plan to compete for the Stanley Cup year after year. Shipping away veteran leaders and scorers (even if they were having communication problems between players and coaches) leaves holes in the lineup, but Zibanejad helps fill up the center for Philadelphia, and brings dynamic touch and speed that would compliment the other young forwards like Claude Giroux and James van Riemsdyk. In a few years, Zibanejad might make Philly fans forget about Mike Richards.
9. Boston Bruins (via Toronto)
– Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener (OHL)
Murphy led OHL defenseman in goals, and second in points scored by a defenseman. Murphy can make the pass, or move the puck all by himself all the way into the net. Most importantly, Murphy can possibly cure probably the only thing that a Bruin’s fan could complain about: the power play. Murphy is also fast, and possesses a rocket of a slap shot from the blue line.
10. Minnesota Wild
– Sven Baertschi, LW, Portland (WHL)
Baertschi was the WHL Rookie of the Year this past season, and gives Minnesota another young player who the franchise can build and market around. Baertschi has great vision and passing skills, and is willing to put in the hard work it takes to be the best. Unlike much of the Wild roster, Baertschi isn’t afraid to actually shoot the puck on net. As an added bonus (at least from my perspective), according to the NHL website, his “pump up song” is “Juicy” by Biggie Smalls.
“Juicy” Notorious BIG
11. Colorado Avalanche (via St Louis)
– Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
Siemens is a smart player who can play full strength, power play, and the penalty kill. Strong in his own zone, as well as smart enough to know when to jump up into the rush. Not afraid to get physical, or even throw a few punches. A leader by action, he could be a future captain in Denver.
12. Carolina Hurricanes
– Vladimir Namestnikov, C, London (OHL)
Carolina got an immediate impact player in Jeff Skinner last year, and could get the same thing in Namestnikov in this year’s draft. Namestnikov plays a strong two way game, and is committed to playing defense. Both the defensive first mentality and ability to bury the puck in the net will make him another young, fan favorite down in the Research Triangle.
13. Calgary Flames
– Jamieson Oleksiak, D, Northeastern (HE)
Oleksiak will be a sophomore at Northeastern University this coming fall, but made an impact during his freshman year in Hockey East. The 6′ 7″ lefty made his way up through the competitive Toronto youth hockey circuit, and obviously is a comparison to Zdeno Chara waiting to happen due to his size. The Flames get a potential top blueliner for years to come.
14. Dallas Stars
– Mark McNeill, C, Prince Albert (WHL)
McNeill has a wide, strong body that is ready for the NHL, and helps the Stars fill a soon to be glaring need. Has great hands and vision, and can move the puck to where it needs to go. His physical, blue collar style will go over well in Dallas, and give the Stars the big body they need in front of the crease.
15. New York Rangers
– Zack Phillips, C, Saint John (QMJHL)
Phillips stock has been helped by his team’s run to the Memorial Cup this postseason. Phillips gives the Rangers a center with good hands who isn’t afraid to handle the puck below the dots. For a team swirling with rumors of possible change in the forward corps, Phillips will be another good young centerman for the Blueshirts.
16. Buffalo Sabres
– Mark Scheifele, C, Barrie (OHL)
Scheifele put up more than a point a game for an underwhelming Barrie team. The Sabres get a strong defensive player who will also score goals and set up his teammates around the net. Possibly paired up with Thomas Vanek in the future, Scheifele will be another key piece for coach Lindy Ruff’s team first mentality.
17. Montreal Canadiens
– Tomas Jurco, RW, Saint John (QMJHL)
Jurco led the Memorial Cup in goals scored, helping lead the Sea Dogs to the title recently. Jurco is strong on the puck, and isn’t afraid to show off with some moves if it means he can score a goal. Some may seem him as cocky, others see a drive and skill level that few possess. Jurco could become another of the keen draft picks made by the Canadiens over the years.
18. Chicago Blackhawks
– Joel Armia, RW, Assat (FIN)
Armia has size and skill, and has already proven he can play with the men while excelling in the Finnish Elite League. Armia has great size for a forward, and will give the Blackhawks some size to screen and crash the opposing net. Armia will likely play in Finland for a year or two before coming to the States.
19. Edmonton Oilers (via Los Angeles)
– Joseph Morrow, D, Portland (WHL)
Morrow was second among all defenseman in the WHL during this past season’s playoffs. Morrow comes from a hockey bloodline (his brother and father both played at least collegitely) and was adept at distributing the puck up the ice. Could become a future quarterback for the Oilers’ power play unit.
20. Phoenix Coyotes
– Christopher Gibson, G, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)
The Coyotes may have tipped their hand by trading away the rights to goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov before he becomes a free agent, and goalie is a significant need for Phoenix. Gibson posted four shutouts last year in the QMJHL, and is very smooth and composed between the pipes. Expect him to be a #1 goaltender in the NHL for quite a few years.
21. Ottawa Senators (via Nashville)
– Boone Jenner, C, Oshawa (OHL)
Jenner is a big body who can also move around with the puck in tight spaces in front of the net. A member of the OHL All Rookie team, Jenner is a hard worker who will play both ends of the ice. Jenner gives the Senators some size to their very small roster, and will make a home finishing off rebounds from in front of the net.
22. Anaheim Ducks
– Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestad (Sweden)
Brodin is very young, but played with the men in Sweden this past year. Although he didn’t score a goal, he showed great promise, something in the mold of recent high draft pick Victor Hedman. Brodin gives the Ducks a puck moving defenseman who can control the power play and get the skilled forwards in Anaheim open ice space.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins
– Brandon Saad, LW, Saginaw (OHL)
A Pittsburgh product gets to come home to the Penguins, as Saad will get a chance to join one of the best franchises in hockey. Saad might finally be the player that they slide next to Crosby, as long as he’s healthy, and be the finisher for Sid. Saad plays a defense first style of hockey that will put him instantly into coach Dan Bylsma’s good graces.
24. Detroit Red Wings
– Scott Mayfield, D, Youngstown (USHL)
Mayfield is a big, physical defenseman who controls the ice like a veteran. He is calm and collected on the ice, which makes everything he does seem smooth. The Red Wings get a smart player, Mayfield will head to college at Denver in the fall, who will also be a superb special teams player with his great passing and vision.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs (via Philadelphia)
– Jonathan Miller, C, USA U-18 (USHL)
The Ohio native led Team USA in scoring during the most recent World Juniors. Miller will play for North Dakota this coming fall, and will bring the fire, intensity, and grittiness that GM Brian Burke loves. Guaranteed to be another strong performer in the WCHA, and will likely see a good, strong NHL career after college.
26. Washington Capitals
– Connor Murphy, D, USA U-18 (USHL)
Murphy will go to Miami (OH) this fall to play, but he has already proven he can play in the toughest situations. Murphy scored the gold medal winning goal at the World Juniors for Team USA, and has a father who played in the NHL for over a decade and is a coach in the league. His size, lineage, and experience should make for a quality NHL career.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning
– Phillip Danault, LW, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
Danault was the captain for Victoriaville, and led the team both with leadership and points. He averaged more than a point per game during the regular season, and led the team in playoff scoring this past postseason. For a team that has a few aging veterans, Danault will bring some fire and determination to the roster.
28. San Jose Sharks
– Nicklas Jensen, LW/RW, Oshawa (OHL)
The slick skating Dane scored 29 goals and 29 assists this past year, his first in the OHL. Jensen is strong with the puck, both protecting it in the offense zone and stickhandling, and has a quick, deceptive wrist shot that he isn’t afraid to release. Able to play either wing, the Sharks get another young scorer to slot into the top lines.
29. Vancouver Canucks
– Shane Prince, C, Ottawa (OHL)
Prince has shown his skills and speed in both the OHL and in international competitions. In a best case scenario, they get a Ryan Kesler clone who will contribute quickly on both offense and defense. Also brings some intensity and determination to a shell shocked Canucks team.
30. Toronto Maple Leafs (via Boston)
– Alexander Khokhlachev, C, Windsor (OHL)
Khoklachev is small, fast, and extremely gifted with the puck. He has a flair for the dramatic on the ice like some of his fellow countrymen, and even some of the same finishing abilities. Khokhlachev is an offensive weapon who has proven his scoring ability in Russia and the OHL.
Enjoy the 2011 NHL Entry Draft live on Versus, and I will enjoy the fast and frenzied roster changes right up close. Check back early next week for a recap of the draft and team by team grades of the draft picks.
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 all year long. Look for new articles throughout the week. 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 email@example.com .