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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Mock draft results: More fantasy than reality, but fun

Participated in a seven-round mock NHL draft last month on Hockey's Future Boards, hosted by the member called "Cup" as the GM of the Boston Bruins. Cup does this every year and he tries to bring in as many informed folks as he can via invite to make the picks.

You can see the whole results here if you want to go through every pick and some of the conversations associated with some of them, but for the purpose of this post, we'll break down each pick made, talk about the decision that went into it, who we had targeted in each round who came off the board before Boston's turn came and in some cases, who we would take instead knowing what we do now.

Keeping in mind that Cup locked in the draft order in late January, the Toronto Maple Leafs were still in the tank then, and the Bruins had the fourth overall pick. Does not appear that will happen come June. Also- the draft was conducted before the Bruins traded their own 1st- and 2nd-round picks for Tomas Kaberle and Chris Kelly.

Here's the breakdown, and while this would be a nice draft for the Bruins, is not grounded in much reality given the way the picks are shaking out in the standings and the fact that Boston has lost a few from its stockpile. Still, it gives the opportunity to shed some light on some guys that you might not be overly familiar with.

So, read on and as always, welcome the comments.

Pick 1, Round 1, Choice #4: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C Red Deer (WHL)

Who targeted: Gabriel Landeskog, RW Kitchener (OHL); Rolled the dice that the Islanders would pick RNH instead of Landeskog and lost. Had thought about proposing a trade to move up 1 spot to guarantee selection of Landeskog when Larsson and Couturier went 1-2, but decided against it and the Isles GM snagged the Swedish power forward.
Player synopsis: Nugent-Hopkins is one of the most skilled offensive players in the draft, and with Marc Savard's uncertain future in Boston, it doesn't hurt to draft a center with the high pick this year. Being strong up the middle allows much flexibility. Concerns abound about RNH's slight frame and the fact that he's gotten much of his points on the PP and is not a producer at even strength. We look at his tremendous wheels, hands and head and say, he's going to be a legit scorer at the NHL level.
Did you know?: We tried like hell to trade back a few spots and acquire some extra assets, but couldn't get any reasonable trade offers that would keep the Bruins in the top-10 and get some assets in the process. Some offers were downright insulting (they know who they are), while others were more intriguing, but ultimately were deal-breakers because they came from teams who didn't own top-10 picks.

Ultimately, the B's held onto the 4th pick and used it on arguably the draft's top offensive player. Had we traded back a few spots and remained in the top-10, we were looking at any one of Ryan Strome, Jonathan Huberdeau, Ryan Murphy, Brandon Saad and Dougie Hamilton.

Also, must-see viewing is the Future Considerations video Aaron Vickers and his guys put together on him.

Pick 2, Round 1, Choice #17: Scott Mayfield, D Youngstown (USHL) (From San Jose)
Who targeted: Dougie Hamilton, D Niagara. Tried to trade all the way up to #10 from #25 when Hamilton was available there and was prepared to offer up a package of Blake Wheeler, Joe Colborne, #25, #41 and a conditional 2012 to get it done. Unfortunately, the Carolina GM was dead-set on Hamilton and made the pick before weI could even make the offer. Not sure that would have been enough to move him off the pick. Nathan Beaulieu, D Saint John was the next D on our board and he went 15th to Saint John. We traded for the 17th selection- moving up eight spots and giving up #25 and #41 (Minnesota pick) to grab our highest-ranked d-man left. David Musil was also in the mix, but we just liked Mayfield's offensive upside better even if his development has stalled at bit in the USHL this season. As far as forwards go, had Swede Mika Zibanejad been available, he was our guy at 17.
Player synopsis: Big (6-4), mobile two-way defenseman has a lot of room to grow/fill-out and plays with an edge. Can move the puck effectively, and if he works on his shot mechanics, could be a feared option from the point. Vision/hockey sense are a little questionable, but he has raw upside. Headed to Denver University next year, one of the best pro-developmental programs in the NCAA.
Did you know?: Mayfield formed a feared d-pairing with Kent School's Mike McKee at last August's NHL R&D development camp, turning scouts' heads with their sheer size/mobility combo. Both are very raw players with their flaws, but if they make some progression, there is some potentially high payoff with both.

Here's a nice interview with Scott Mayfield on USHL radio that's worth listening to.

Pick 3, Round 2, Choice #56: Kale Kessy, LW Medicine Hat (WHL)
Who targeted: Forward Lucas Lessio of Oshawa would have been the pick had he lasted- no way he slips to 47 in June, simply too talented. We also thought about taking Denver freshman Nick Shore with the pick. Finnish goalie Samu Perhonen was also a thought, and in retrospect, may have been a stronger organizational move with longer-term payoff.
Player synopsis: Another Milan Lucic-type success story of a local kid from Medicine Hat who was not drafted in the WHL, but didn't give up his dream and hung around the local rinks, skating hard and fighting- eventually attracting the attention of the Tigers and getting his shot by being listed. Although the numbers don't bear it out, Kessy has some good hands and scoring chops, and like Lucic, needs to improve his skating to make it at the next level. That said, he's legitimately tough- the classic "hockey player who fights" as opposed to the "fighter who plays hockey" and those guys are always valued higher by NHL teams than the traditional lists bear out. Would Kessy be considered a reach at 56? Probably. But then again, that's exactly what was said when the B's grabbed Lucic 50th five years ago. Who wouldn't want bookend wingers with real toughness and goalscoring ability on their team?
Did you know? Kessy led the Tigers in penalty minutes as a rookie with 123 PIMs in 2009-10. At 6-3, 185, he's lanky but naturally strong. When he gets to his playing weight of about 210-215, he'll be a real beast when the play gets physical.

Here are some vids from HockeyFights plus, but don't forget- Kessy can play and score, so he isn't just a fighter.

Pick 4, Round 3, Choice #78: Alan Quine, C Peterborough (OHL) (From Minnesota)
Who targeted: We were hoping goaltender Samu Perhonen would slip, but he did not, taken with the second pick of the round. We also liked Swiss C Gregory Hofmann, even though the Bruins have never in their history taken a Swiss player. We would have broken that trend after watching him at the WJC, but Montreal snagged him just three picks earlier. Wisconsin forward Michael Mersch was another thought at 78.
Player synopsis: When looking at a player like Quine, you have to suspend disbelief in that the season he's had in his draft year is what he's going to do moving forward. At one time viewed as a first-round candidate for 2011, Quine's poor start with Kingston dropped him quickly, and being with Peterborough isn't the greatest thing for the offense, especially with Matt Puempel out. Quine has been a better player since the calendar moved to 2011, but as a smaller, skill guy (more of a playmaker than finisher) he's not managed to gain much headway in draft discussions. We feel that Quine's high-end skills and potential if he gets back on track after a tough year made him a solid value in the mid-third round. With speed, vision and a passing touch, Quine is someone who could rebound in a big way over the next couple years in the OHL. He's one-dimensional, but several NHL scouts we've talked to really like that dimension.
Did you know? Quine was traded to Peterborough in November as part of the deal that made Ryan Spooner a Frontenac.

Here's his first OHL goal, scored when still with Kingston last season.

Here's an interview courtesy of TV Cogeco on YouTube

Pick 5, Round 4, Choice #115: Andrey Pedan, D Guelph (OHL)
Who targeted: We saw two players we had pretty highly-rated go off the board just in front of us in Swedish goaltender Magnus Hellberg (109th to Colorado) and defenseman Mike McKee (106 to Montreal).
Player synopsis: The big, mobile Russian has been a disappointment this season given that he's shown no offensive upside after a strong performance at last year's Under-18s. That said, this pick was about getting value in a player who was thought of highly in some circles coming into the season. At 6-4, 200 pounds, he's got that nice size scouts look for and is pretty mobile. Unfortunately, he's managed just 10 assists on the season, so he projects more to be a shutdown guy at the NHL level if he gets there. Still, this was a player who had solid 2nd-round potential coming in, so 4th round isn't bad value.
Did you know?: Pedan was taken 18th overall in the 2010 KHL draft by Moscow Dynamo, so he had a pretty decent projection. He's been a disappointment as far as the offense goes, but the defensive play for the Storm has been strong. He could develop into more than the sum of his parts in time.

Her's a fight vid posted by JimKorn20 on YouTube: Pedan started slowly, but came on strong at the end as Josh Leivo found out the hard way.

Pick 6, Round 5, Choice #145: Rasmus Bengtsson, D Rogle (SWE-2)
Who targeted: We would have though about taking London C Seth Griffith, but he went off the board right before Boston's choice. There was nobody else, aside for Plymouth C Garrett Meurs, who would be a steal for the Islanders in the 6th round, to consider here.
Player synopsis: Possibly the steal of Boston's mock draft. Bengtsson had no business being on the board this late based on what we're hearing from various scouts. We actually thought about taking him in the 4th before opting for Pedan, so were tickled when he was still sitting there 30 picks later. This all-around defender has been playing against men in the Swedish Allsvenskan (second division) all season long. He's not a big name or high-end guy but does a lot of things well and has a big shot, meaning he could be a PP triggerman someday. He's intelligent and can play a physical game, though he's not consistent in throwing his weight around. He's just one of those players who could be a solid No. 3 but should be a sure No. 4 you win with because of his smarts and versatility.
Did you know?: Bengtsson attended an elite developmental camp in L.A. this past summer with fellow Swede Victor Rask, and has indicated that he very much wants to be an NHL player- no Carl Soderberg disease from this kid!

Here's a vid from the Ivan Hlinka in August- Bengtsson is #3 and has the primary assist on Oscar Klefbom's goal

Pick 7, Round 6 Choice #175: Sami Salminen, RW HIFK Helsinki (Finland- Jr.)
Who targeted: We would have thought hard about taking a developmental long-term goalie project here in Loomis-Chaffee star Steve Michalek, but the Flyers snagged him just one spot in front of Boston. Also considered: Edina HS (MIN) center Steven Fogarty, who is going to the Chicago Steel of the USHL next year.
Player synopsis: More intriguing late-round potential from Europe. This big (6-5) winger has soft hands and a scorer's touch. He has very heavy feet, which is why you haven't heard much about him, but the offensive hockey sense, shot and overall ability to put the puck in the net makes him the kind of player you take a flier on late. The skating may never improve enough to make him a legit NHL option, but if it does, look out.

Pick 8, Round 7, Choice #186: Andy Andreoff, LW Oshawa (OHL)
Who targeted: We thought about several other overagers here: Chase Balisy (who went to TOR at 196), Tomas Filippi of Quebec (who went one spot later at 187), and even Anton Burdasov (who wasn't picked). But in the end, we saw Andreoff in Oshawa on New Year's Day so defaulted simply to the one player we had seen live.
Player synopsis: What would be a Boston draft of late without at least one previously passed-over prospect, right? Andreoff has had a good season for the Generals offensively with more than 30 goals, so we figured he was as good a candidate as any other.

Well, that's a wrap on the mock draft. More fiction than fact, but it was a fun exercise and it would be cool to reprise this activity in early June when the Memorial Cup and draft combine are in the books and the latest player rankings are hot off the presses.

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