We may already know who the top two picks will be and maybe even the top pick is but what I find interesting about this draft is that from picks 3-10 are unpredictable. Right now Mackinnon seems to be the number 1 guy with Seth Jones following very close behind him. In the 3-5 spots there is Jonathon Drouin, Aleksander Barkov, Darnell Nurse and Valeri Nichushkin. Some players that can sneak into the top 5 as well as round out the top 10 are players like Sean Monahan, Hunter Shinkaruk, Ryan Pulock, Max Domi, Rasmus Ristoleinan and Nikita Zadorov. Everyone has to keep in mind the possibility of trades to happen as Colorado is still listening to calls and will maybe take the right deal. The following is how I see the draft playing out based on what I’ve seen and read about these players over the course of the year. Will it be accurate? Definitely not, but here it is for your enjoyment.
Here is my top 10:
1. Colorado Avalanche- Nathan Mackinnon-Halifax Mooseheads-F- New GM Patrick Roy and Joe Sakic have been very public in saying the they are looking at a forward and that Mackinnon is one of the top candidates. Right now he is best forward in the draft. Quick, skilled, will eventually fit right in along with youngsters as Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly.
2. Florida Panthers- Seth Jones-Portland Winterhawks-D- Best D in this year’s draft. Had a very good World Junior Championships followed by a sub-par Memorial Cup but I feel that he and Mackinnon can easily be flipped. Big, tough and smart, Jones would simply be the best available player at number 2. Would compliment Florida core of youngs forwards such as Calder Trophy winner Jonathon Huberdeau.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning- Alexsander Barkov-Finland-F- This was a tough pick for me as I don’t know too much about Barkov and Jonathon Drouin being another worthy candidate but I don’t feel Drouin will be a good fit amidst Stamkos and an aging St.Louis. Barkov was voted the most complete player in the draft by NHL scouts via. Bob Mackenzie.
4. Nashville Predators- Jonathon Drouin-Halifax Mossheads-F- Would simply be the best player available at number 4. Voted by far the best playmaker and has the best hockey sense in the draft as well as puck handling. Beat both Mackinnon and Jones for CHL player of the year.
5. Carolina Hurricanes- Darnell Nurse-Sault Ste.Marie-D I can see Carolina picking a D as that was one of their biggest weak points last year. Big, smart and athletic; Nurse can be in the Canes lineup as early as next year.
6. Calgary Flames- Valeri Nichushkin-Russia-F Don’t know much about Nichushkin. Voted as one of the top wild-cards of the draft. Big body, tough, likes to hang around the net.
7. Edmonton Oilers- Rasmus Ristolainan-Finland-D After three consecutive 1st overall picks, all of whom were forwards, I would like to see them take a D. However, I am not convinced they will. Ristolainan is a big two-way defender who would fit nicely alongside Justin Schultz on the Oilers back end.
8. Buffalo Sabres- Sean Monahan-Ottawa 67’s-F- Monahan can do it all; on the powerplay, penalty kill, very strong on faceoffs and he puts up numbers as well. Monahan, playing on a last place team, still managed to put up 78 points in 58 games this year and can be a future leader on the Sabres. Would fit nicely alongside Cody Hodgson.
9. New Jersey Devils- Hunter Shinkaruk-Medicine Hat Tigers-F- Skilled, smart and explosive are some words used to describe Shinkaruk. Has the potential to score highlight reel goals, Shinkaruk would be a solid replacement for recently departed Zach Parise.
10. Dallas Stars- Nikita Zadorov-London Knights-D The Stars are in need of a defenseman and Zadorov could be there guy. Big 6’5 body, strong, physical and competes. Will add toughness to the Stars lineup.