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NHL 2014 Draft-How will it play out? (Mock draft and analysis)

Hamhuis2

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Well, the NHL regular season is winding down, and the Canucks currently sit 20th overall in the league. While there are still 10 games to play, the Canucks are not going to make the playoffs this year. There are too many teams ahead of us with games in hand, and our quality of competition is too great.

That being said, this isn't a bad thing. Many fans, myself included, believe that it's time to get younger and start bringing in young players who can lead the next generation of Canuck players. What better way to do this than through the draft?

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These are the current standings, looking only at the bottom 15 teams in the league:

16.) Phoenix: GP=71 PTS=79

17.) Washington: GP=72 PTS=79

18.) Columbus: GP=71 PTS=78

19.) Dallas: GP=70 PTS=77

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20.) Vancouver: GP=72 PTS=74

21.) New Jersey: GP=71 PTS=73

22.) Winnipeg: GP=72 PTS=73

23.) Carolina: GP=71 PTS=71

24.) Nashville: GP=71 PTS=70

25.) Ottawa: GP=70 PTS 69 (1st round pick owned by Anaheim).

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26.) Calgary: GP=71 PTS=65

27.) NYI: GP=71 PTS=63

28.) Florida: GP=71 PTS=60

29.) Edmonton: GP=72 PTS=59

30.) Buffalo: GP=70 PTS=48

I've divided these teams into 3 groups. These groups represent the range in where I believe these teams will finish overall by the end of the year.

Looking specifically at the Canucks, I believe they will finish somewhere in the 20-25th range, which would land us the 6-11th overall pick. To make a more educated guess on where the Canucks will finish, let's examine the quality of competition for all the teams in our group (20-25).

Vancouver(20th) plays: Buffalo(30th), Minnesota(12th), Colorado X2(7th), Anaheim X2(4th), NYR(13th), L.A.(8th), Calgary(26th), Edmonton(29th). I predict they finish 4-4-2 leaving them with 84 points.

New Jersey(21st) plays: Toronto(14th), Phoenix(16th), NYI X2 (27th), Florida(28th), Buffalo(30th), Washington(17th), Carolina(23rd) Calgary(26th), Ottawa(25th), Boston(1st). I predict they finish 6-3-2 leaving them with 87 points.

Winnipeg(22nd) plays: Dallas(19th), San Jose(3rd), L.A.(8th), Anaheim(4th), Phoenix(16th), Pittsburgh(5th), Toronto(14th), Minnesota(12th), Boston(1st), Calgary(26th). I predict they will finish 3-5-2 leaving them with 81 points.

Carolina(23rd) plays: NYI(27th), Florida(28th), Columbus(18th), Ottawa(25th), Pittsburgh(5th), Dallas(19th), New Jersey(21st), NYR(13th), Washington(17th), Detroit(15th), Philadelphia(11th). I predict they will finish 3-6-2 leaving them with 79 points.

Nashville(24th) plays: Chicago X2(6th), Colorado(7th), Buffalo(30th), Dallas X2(19th), Washington(17th), Anaheim(4th), San Jose(3rd), Phoenix(16th), Minnesota(12th). I predict they will finish 4-4-3 leaving them with 81 points.

Ottawa(25th) plays: Tampa Bay(9th), Florida(28th), Chicago(6th), Calgary(26th), Carolina(23rd), Montreal(10th), NYI X2(27th), NYR(13th), New Jersey(21st), Toronto(14th), Pittsburgh(5th). I predict they will finish 2-5-5 leaving them with 78 points.

Therefore, our bracket by the end of the season will likely look something like this:

20.) New Jersey: GP=82 PTS=87

21.) Vancouver: GP=82 PTS=84

22.) Winnipeg: GP=82 PTS=81

23.) Nashville: GP=82 PTS=81

24.) Carolina: GP=82 PTS=79

25.) Ottawa: GP=82 PTS 78

NOT taking draft lottery into account, the Canucks would finish with the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft.

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So lets take a look at the top 15 prospects in this years draft class (data based on mock drafts, pre-draft rankings, etc. Rankings are my interpretation of the data. Sources provided at the bottom):

#1- Aaron Ekblad

#2- Sam Reinhart

#3- Sam Bennett

#4- Michael Del Colle

#5- Leon Draisaitl

#6- Brendan Perlini

#7- William Nylander

#8- Nikolaj Ehlers

#9- Haydn Fleury

#10- Jake Virtanen

#11- Nick Ritchie

#12- Kasperi Kapanen

#13- Jared McCann

#14- Alex Tuch

#15- Joshua Ho-Sang

http://www.mynhldraft.com/2014-nhl-draft-prospect-rankings/

Outside of the top-5 prospects, there are no real guaranteed stars. However, you have many big bodies with skill (Perlini, Ritchie, etc.), some gritty snipers (Virtanen, McCann), and some riskier players with high-end skill (Nylander, Ehlers, Ho-Sang).

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Finally, it's time for my NHL 2014 Mock Entry Draft. Since this article has a greater focus on the Canucks, I will only be going through the first 15 selections. The draft lottery will not be taken into account, and I will give a brief analysis for each pick (best player available, team needs, etc.).

#1- The Buffalo Sabres draft Sam Reinhart. Although they have many centers in their organization, many of them such as Grigerenko and Ennis can play wing. They pass up on Myers because they believe that Myers can still develop to be that big franchise d man.

#2- The Edmonton Oilers draft Aaron Ekblad. Finally, the Oilers luck out and grab the big, two-way defender. This guy is a complete d man, and will help the Oilers both now and in the future. Ekblad, Nurse, Schultz, and Klefbom should develop into a nice top-4 for the Oilers to complement their abundance of skilled forwards.

#3- The Florida Panthers draft Sam Bennett. You want versatility? Then you draft Bennett. He's probably the most complete player in the draft, and can play both wing and center. He will provide solid offensive production for the Panthers as well as play well in the defensive end. He is most definitely NHL ready.

#4- The New York Islanders draft Michael Del Colle. Now this could be scary. You put someone as big and skilled as Del Colle is alongside someone with the creativity of Tavares, and you could have the next deadliest duo in the NHL.

#5- The Calgary Flames draft Leon Draisaitl. Yes, the Flames don't go off the board on this one (for once). Draisaitl by all accounts is an absolute gem. He is strong on the puck, powerful in front of the net, and relentless on the forecheck. He's got great offensive abilities, coupled with a solid two-way game. The future in Calgary is starting to look alright with Monahan, Draisaitl, and Baertschi leading the way offensively.

#6- The Anaheim Ducks (pick from Ottawa) draft William Nylander. While Nylander is a bit of a risk due to his lack of size and his invisibility in the defensive zone, there is no doubt he is one of the most skilled players in this draft. Size matters less if you're fast and shifty, which Nylander is, and defensive awareness can be taught. The Ducks have many sizeable wingers, it's time for them to add a smaller, but more skilled piece.

#7- The Carolina Hurricanes draft Brendan Perlini. Perlini is a solid player with no real flaws in his game. He's big, strong, and can dominate the offensive zone. That being said, he's risen the draft rankings pretty quickly, so be I'd be wary. However, it's hard to pass up on a guy as big and skilled as him, so the Hurricanes grab him to compliment strong playmaking prospect Lindholm. However, Perlini, as with most power forwards, could be a ways away from NHL action. They could work very well together in 2-4 years.

#8- The Nashville Predators draft Kasperi Kapanen. Well, the Predators love their two-way players, and Kapanen is just that. While he might not put up the best offensive numbers in the draft, he is a very reliable player at both ends of the ice. Don't get me wrong, he still will probably be a 50-60 point player in the NHL, just don't expect the 70-80 points you might get out of the previously drafted forwards.

#9- The Winnipeg Jets draft Nick Ritchie. This pick is not at all about picking the best player available, but rather one who fits an organizations needs. Instead of telling you why they do pick Ritchie (I could go on and on about his size and skill), I will tell you why they don't pick alternative players. They pass on Fleury because they are set with young d men, they pass on Virtanen because they have a similar player in Evander Kane, and they pass on Ehjers because they already have a smaller skilled player in Petan. With all this in mind, Ritchie becomes the most sensible player for the Jets to pick, as he has tremendous upside, and size that is needed in the West.

#10- The Vancouver Canucks draft Jake Virtanen. The Canucks get lucky and draft the Vancouver native. Not only is he from B.C., but he's exactly what the Canucks need. He's fast, average-large sized, and skilled. He also probably has a top-3 wrist shot in his draft class, and is a prolific goal scorer, as well as playing with grit. A Canucks future featuring Horvat, Virtanen, Shinkaruk, Kassian, Jensen, and Gaunce/Cassels up from is one I'd love to live in.

#11- The New Jersey Devils draft Alex Tuch. Tuch is another big skilled forward. The Devils usually like to make safer selections, and Tuch would be the perfect choice in this position to take over for Jagr in the future.

#12- The Dallas Stars draft Haydn Fleury. With the dominance of the Stars top line this year, they take the opportunity to bolster their blue line. Fleury is a great two-way d man would should be able to anchor their blue line for years.

#13- The Columbus Bluejackets draft Nikolaj Ehlers. The Danish phenom falls all the way to 13th due to concerns over his size. The Bluejackets are more than happy to take him however, and who could blame them? This kid has amazing hands and speed, and could very well turn out to be the most explosive offensive player in the draft. While he is a bit of a risk, the reward is far worth it.

#14- The Washington Capitals draft Ivan Barbashev. The Capitals go outside of the top-15 (I had him ranked 16th) and grab the Russian Barbashev. Barbashev is the perfect fit in Washinton, as he plays a very complete, physical game, while still being able to provide solid offensive production. One of the best two-way players in the draft, the Caps grab their future 2nd line center, and yet another Russian.

#15- The Phoenix Coyotes draft Jared McCann. The Coyotes choose to take the safer option in McCann over Ho-Sang. McCann, while maybe not possessing the same upside as Ho-Sang, is still a very solid prospect. Phoenix, with so many young d-men in the system, take a solid forward in the 15th slot.

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Finally, let's look at the Canucks future after this draft.

Our young prospects in the system all of sudden (with the last two drafts) look very promising:

Shinkaruk-Horvat-Virtanen

Jensen-Gaunce-Kassian (Jensen plays both wings, can play 1RW)

Archibald-Cassels-Grenier

Corrado-Tanev

Subban-Stanton

Anderson-Tommernes

Our top-6 would be set assuming they pan out, with 2C being our weakest slot. Cassels might be able to help in that regard, as I see him becoming a Higgins type player, while Gaunce as a Stoll type player.

in the next draft, assuming we are not a high pick (for McDavid), we definitely need to focus on grabbing a d man, as while our forwards will be solid, our defensive prospects need bolstering.

Furthermore if we end up trading Kesler or/and Edler at the draft this year I would expect a 1st round pick (15-25th) coming back in any package. If we take Detroit for example, we could get the 16th overall pick and draft someone like McKeown for example, which would help bolster our defensive prospects.

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If you read the entire thing, congratulations and thank you, I know it was a bit of a long read! I appreciate any and all feedback, and also let me know how your 2014 NHL draft would go, and who you have the Canucks picking! Thanks!

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I'll jump off a bridge if the Canucks pass on Ehlers in that scenario for the one player I don't want in Virtanen. You just outlined my nightmare drafty scenario. Let's hope you are wrong.

I like your over all analysis though. Good job!

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Great analysis on prospects and teams, very good article. Would be nice/lucky to draft Virtanen, great player with an ideal mix of size and skill that could make him quite the offensive threat in a couple years, but i think with gillis looking to deal kesler he'll want to draft his replacement immediately with a guy like alex tuch (big strong center/winger that forechecks well) that may have lower upside but looks like the safer pick. Fingers crossed for Virtanen though.

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^Good call, I completely forgot about that when I wrote this. I'm not gonna edit the blog post, but thanks for pointing that out.

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Ehlers is a midget we dont need more smurfs like schroeder its like throwing away a pick. Six foot four 225 is right sized players we need not 5'9 buck 60

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Wow I was way off! The Canucks ended up in the best possible position that they could.

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I dont understand how your analysis of Nylander at #6 but those same concerns drop Ehlers down to 13 ?

You wont convince people that Nylander is 7 spots better offensively than Ehlers. In fact, Ehlers proved his mettle on NA size ice, while Nylander has not.

Anyways, the Canucks are picking sixth instead of 10th so now you have to roll up your sleeves and spin why Virtanen should move up to 6th.

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