Cullen: NHL Mock Draft and Saturday Sleepers

Scott Cullen

6/24/2010 4:43:23 PM

While TSN runs a Mock Draft on air Thursday night, starting at 7pm ET, here's my attempt, answering the Taylor-Tyler debate, along with some late-surging prospects and sleepers to consider on Saturday.

NHL Mock Draft:
1. Edmonton Oilers - Taylor Hall, LW, Windsor - Even if the Oilers are chock full of talented young wing prospects, and need a centre, barring a deal with the Bruins, they have to go with the best available talent and, right now, that's the finisher from Windsor.

2. Boston Bruins - Tyler Seguin, C, Plymouth - Given Boston's depth down the middle, adding Seguin to the mix only prompts speculation of a deal to clear the logjam, though Seguin probably has the size to handle duty on the wing if necessary.

3. Florida Panthers - Erik Gudbranson, D, Kingston - Florida's not in the position to turn away quality at any position and Gudranson seems a safe option and can join last year's first-rounder Dmitry Kulikov as the future of Florida's defence.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets - Cam Fowler, D, Windsor - Who knows how soon Fowler will be ready to help the Blue Jackets, but a workhorse puckhandling defenceman who can run a power play sure has some appeal in these parts.

5. New York Islanders - Brett Connolly, RW, Prince George - So long as Connolly's hip injury checks out, he has the talent to upgrade the Islanders' scoring, possibly as soon as next season.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning - Jack Campbell, G, U.S. U-18 - With new management, the Lightning can afford to take some time to build and Campbell is being touted as the one franchise goaltender available.  He'll play for Windsor in the OHL next year and may be ready to push for an NHL job shortly thereafter.

7. Carolina Hurricanes - Brandon Gormley, D, Moncton - A well-rounded defenceman for a team lacking blue-chip bluelnie prospects now that Jamie McBain has jumped to the NHL.

8. Atlanta Thrashers - Ryan Johansen, C, Portland - Growing into a sizeable 6-foot-3 frame, Johansen has potential to be a strong two-way centre; a nice building block to join Atlanta's growing cast of young forwards.

9. Minnesota Wild - Jeff Skinner, C, Kitchener - 70 goals is difficult to overlook and while Skinner may have been underrated by Central Scouting, his exceptional playoff should assure that the sniper isn't going to have to wait long before his name is called and, though he may not be ready yet, Skinner would fit an immediate need.

10. New York Rangers - Nino Niederreiter, LW, Portland - Potential power forward scored 36 goals in the WHL.  Might like him better with more than 60 points, but could dominate junior (with Johansen) next season.
11. Dallas Stars -  Mikael Granlund, LW, HIFK - Will have to overcome lack of size, but after 40 points and a plus-12 rating in 43 games against men in the Finnish League, there's enough reason to believe he'll be a top-six forward in the NHL.

12. Anaheim Ducks - Derek Forbort, D, U.S. U-18 - A big blueliner who can handle the puck, Forbort will go to the University of North Dakota and could emerge as an impact defenceman.

13. Phoenix Coyotes - Alexander Burmistrov, C, Barrie - He'll need to get stronger, but that ought to come for the talented and competitive playmaker.  With two first-round picks, the Coyotes can take a shot on a talented Russian, particularly one that has insisted he has no intention of playing in the KHL.

14. St. Louis Blues - Vladimir Tarasenko, LW, Sibir - Solid as a rock, this stocky winger is skilled and likely ready for the pro game now.  Perhaps he's looking at a few more years of KHL duty, but worth a look in the middle of the first round.

15. Florida Panthers - Nick Bjugstad, C, Blaine H.S. - Towering pivot who was Minnesota's Mr. Hockey and will play for the University of Minnesota next season.  Harder to judge against high school competition, but a risk-reward selection that could pay off down the road.

16. Ottawa Senators - Austin Watson, C, Peterborough - Solid two-way player with good size, could go higher if a team believes his finish in Peterborough (20 points in 10 games) indicates real offensive potential.

17. Colorado Avalanche - Dylan McIlrath, D, Moose Jaw - Hands down the toughest dude in the draft, he improved his production in the second half of the season (17 points, plus-7 in last 30 games) and could be a nice complement to the mobile puck-movers on the blueline that the Avs have been stockpiling.

18. Nashville Predators - Emerson Etem, C, Medicine Hat - Great wheels and a 37-goal season in WHL indicates that he could be a finisher with further development and the Predators aren't overrun with scoring prospects.

19. Los Angeles Kings - Quinton Howden, LW, Moose Jaw - A solid player, who may still have some more offensive upside, with good combination of size and speed. 

20. Pittsburgh Penguins - Jarred Tinordi, D, U.S. U-18 - It may take little time for him to fill out his 6-foot-6 frame, but the son of former NHLer Mark Tinordi is huge and was captain for the U.S. Under-18 team.  He's headed to the University of Notre Dame next season.

21. Detroit Red Wings - Mark Pysyk, D, Edmonton - Playing for a miserable Edmonton team, Pysyk is considered a safe pick; the type that could play in the league, unspectacularly, for many years.

22. Phoenix Coyotes - Jonathon Merrill, D, U.S. U-18 - Despite scoring one goal in 22 games, Merrill is considered an offensive defenceman with good size, but will need time to mature and should have a chance to do that at the University of Michigan.

23. Buffalo Sabres - Riley Sheahan, C, Notre Dame - Already built like a pro winger, Sheahan needs to improve his offensive game if he's going to be something more than a depth forward at the next level.
24. Chicago Blackhawks - Evgeny Kuznetsov, LW, Chelyabinsk - Defending champs will need to insert some forward prospects into the lineup, so it wouldn't hurt to add this talent to the pipeline, with the understanding that Kuznetsov can take a few years to further round out his game.
25. Vancouver Canucks - Tyler Pitlick, C, Minnesota St. - Like Sheahan, Pitlick is a pro-sized forward who needs to prove he can score after uninspiring numbers (11 G, 8 A, 19 PTS in 38 GP) as a freshman.  Will play for Medicine Hat in the WHL next season.

26. Washington Capitals - Kirill Kabanov, LW, Moncton - The ultimate draft wildcard, Kabanov is a talented player that needs to be reigned in and the Caps can afford to swing for the fences at this stage of the first round.

27. Montreal Canadiens - Tyler Toffoli, RW, Ottawa - Needs to work on his skating, but 37 goals and 79 points indicates that he knows what to do when gets around the net and he plays a good two-way game. Worth a shot before the Sharks get him.

28. San Jose Sharks - Beau Bennett, RW, Penticton - Headed to the University of Denver after scoring 120 points in the BCHL, Bennett is a California kid who needs time to develop, but could pay off in the long run.

29. Anaheim Ducks - Jaden Schwartz, C, Tri-City - The leading scorer in the USHL, with 83 points in 60 games, Schwartz is heading to Colorado College.
30. Chicago Blackhawks - Justin Faulk, D, U.S. U-18 - Big shot from the blueline helped him score nine goals in 21 games.  With some seasoning at Minnesota-Duluth, he could eventually help the Blackhawks.

CHL Players that increased their value in the playoffs:
Jeff Skinner, C, Kitchener Rangers
Regular Season: 50-40-90,+7, 64 GP
Playoffs: 20-13-33,+3, 20 GP
CS Ranking: #34 NA Skater

Ryan Johansen, C, Portland Winterhawks
Regular Season: 25-44-69,+17, 71 GP
Playoffs: 6-12-18,+3, 13 GP
CS Ranking: #10 NA Skater 

Jared Knight, C, London Knights
Regular Season: 36-21-57,+16, 63 GP
Playoffs: 10-7-17,+6, 12 GP
CS Ranking: #82 NA Skater

Nino Niederreiter, LW, Portland Winterhawks
Regular Season: 36-24-60,+11, 65 GP
Playoffs: 8-8-16,+1, 13 GP
CS Ranking: #12 NA Skater

Brendan Gallagher, RW, Vancouver Giants
Giants Regular Season: 41-40-81,+9, 72 GP
Playoffs: 11-10-21,+10, 16 GP
CS Ranking: #174 NA Skater

Taylor Aronson, D, Portland Winterhawks
Regular Season: 5-25-30,+13, 71 GP
Playoffs: 2-7-9,-2, 11 GP
CS Ranking: #88 NA Skater

Alex Emond, LW, Rimouski Oceanic
Regular Season: 25-22-47,-12, 67 GP
Playoffs: 5-5-10,-1, 11 GP
CS Ranking: #102 NA Skater  

Petr Mrazek, G, Ottawa 67s
Regular Season: 12-9-1, 3.00 GAA, .905 SVPCT, 30 GP
Playoffs: 4-4, 2.39 GAA, .928 SVPCT, 8 GP
CS Ranking: #25 NA Goaltender

Cody Sylvester, C, Calgary Hitmen
Regular Season: 10-15-25,+13, 68 GP
Playoffs: 11-4-15,+13, 23 GP
CS Ranking: Not listed.

Austin Madaisky, D, Kamloops Blazers
Regular Season: 7-20-27,-4, 65 GP
Playoffs: 3-3-6,-3, 4 GP
CS Ranking: #57 NA Skater 

Antonin Honejsek, LW, Moose Jaw Warriors
Regular Season: 16-24-40,+6, 66 GP
Playoffs: 4-2-6, even, 7 GP
CS Ranking: #124 NA Skater

Some additional productive sleepers ranked lower than 50th in Central Scouting's final rankings:
Greg McKegg, C, Erie Otters
37-48-85,+18, 67 GP
CS Ranking: #66 NA Skater

Joey Hishon, C, Owen Sound Attack
16-24-40,+10, 36 GP
CS Ranking: #55 NA Skater

Radko Gudas, D, Everett Silvertips
7-30-37,+45,151 PIM, 65 GP
CS Ranking: #91 NA Skater 

Justin Shugg, LW, Windsor Spitfires
39-40-79,+19, 67 GP
CS Ranking: #53 NA Skater

Matt MacKenzie, D, Calgary Hitmen
6-34-40,+16, 64 GP
CS Ranking: #74 NA Skater

Brandon Hynes, RW, Victoriaville Tigres
41-34-75,+15, 68 GP
CS Ranking: #122 NA Skater

Justin Dowling, C, Swift Current Broncos
32-46-78,+1, 72 GP
CS Ranking: #167 NA Skater

Christian Thomas, RW, Oshawa Generals
41-25-66,-10, 64 GP
CS Ranking: #69 NA Skater

Brandon Herrod, RW Prince Albert Raiders
37-28-65,+10, 70 GP
CS Ranking: #137 NA Skater

Brandon Archibald, D, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
5-28-33,-11, 68 GP
CS Ranking: #64 NA Skater

Adam Janosik, D, Gatineau Olympiques
9-26-35,+14, 63 GP
CS Ranking: #176 NA Skater

Yasin Cisse, F, Des Moines Buccaneers
13-6-19,+3, 18 GP
CS Ranking: #107 NA Skater

Jess Tanguy, RW, Lewiston Maineiacs
14-12-26,-5, 29 GP
CS Ranking: #191 NA Skater

Trevor Parkes, RW, Montreal Juniors
27-20-47,+19, 66 GP
CS Ranking: #197 NA Skater

Jordan DePape, RW, Kamloops Blazers
17-21-38,-9, 57 GP
(13-17-30,-5 in 35 GP after joining Kamloops)
CS Ranking: #207 NA Skater

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