On Friday at 7 PM, the 2008 NHL Entry Draft will take place from Ottawa, Ontario. With multiple teams in the top 10 talking trades, it has the potential to be an interesting day. Here is my (guess) prediction of how the top ten will go, and I will most likely be eating lots of crow come Friday night.
1 — Tampa Bay Lightning
Steven Stamkos, C – Sarnia Sting.
Dead last in the league in goals against (3.24) and 16th in goals per game (2.70), it is no doubt that Tampa desperately needs defense. An obvious move would be to trade down with LA — a team that needs a franchise center but owns a large amount of upcoming defensive prospects — and still be able to grab a top defensive prospect that would be NHL ready right out of the gate. Tampa however has been reported to dismiss most team’s attempts to take the number one spot, leaving the Lightning in the position to take the best player available in Stamkos.
2 — Los Angeles Kings
Drew Doughty, D – Guelph Storm.
It is not a secret that the Kings have been doing everything they can to use their 15 total picks in the 2008 draft to move up to the number one overall slot to snag Stamkos. 13th in goals per game with 2.76 and 28th in goals against per game with 3.21, the Kings have a plethora of defensive prospects who aren’t developed enough for the NHL but might be on the cusp. They also have a young talented offense that may be a solid center away from becoming a scoring juggernaut. Look for LA to either trade down and grab a center or draft the most NHL ready defenseman on the board, which would be Doughty.
3 — Atlanta Thrashers
Zach Bogosian, D – Peterborough Petes.
Much like the Kings moving up, it is no secret around the league that the Thrashers are ready and willing to trade down. Atlanta needs help primarily on defense as they were 29th in the league in goals against with 3.24, but also could use a bump on offense after finishing 22nd in the league in goals per game with 2.52. The Thrashers need an NHL ready playmaking center to play along side Ilya Kovalchuk and any help they can get on defense. If the thrashers can not trade down they may have to decide between Russian phenom Nikita Filatov and the most NHL ready dman on the board. Filatov would be a safe move, but Atlanta just needs defense too badly.
4 — St. Louis Blues
Nikita Filatov, LW – Moscow.
26th in the league in goals per game with 2.46, the Blues need more fire power. Loaded with young playmakers, a finisher is desperately needed since Brad Boyes can’t do all the work. Many have the Blues taking defensemen Luke Schenn or Alex Pietrangelo in this position, but Filatov is too nice of a gem to pass up.
5 — New York Islanders
Luke Schenn, D – Kelowna.
Dead last in the league in offense with 2.30 goals per game, the Isles had their hearts set on Filatov. Now that he’s off the board the Isles will go defense or trade down. Pietrangelo will be an option, but his lack of physicality won’t sit well in the Atlantic division. Either way Schenn is not a bad consolation prize.
6 — Columbus Bluejackets
Alex Pietrangelo, D – Niagara.
Columbus lacks top-end depth at forward and does not have a stand out defensive prospect. 8th in the league in goals against, and second to last in goals per game, the Bluejackets need offense and may surprise and take a forward with the sixth pick or trade down a few spots. However if Ken Hitchcock’s defensive minded squad doesn’t move down, they will pass on their offensive needs and grab the last top-tier defensive prospect on the board in Pietrangelo.
7 — Toronto Maple Leafs
Mikkel Boedker, LW – Kitchener
The Leafs have no room for error with this pick but could very well get silly and try to make a big splash with someone surprising like Tyler Myers. But being realistic and sensible, Toronto was one of the worst defensive teams in the league last season and with Pietrangelo off the board, Toronto goes with flashy Boedker, although he may not be the best fit.
8 — Phoenix Coyotes
Mattias Tedenby, LW – Sweden.
With the loss of forward prospect Blake Wheeler for strange reasons, the Coyotes are suddenly relatively thin on the wing. Replacing the hole left by Wheeler, the Coyotes take the quick and sure handed Swede Tedenby with a surprise pick.
9 — Nashville Predators
Cody Hodgson, C – Brampton.
Secure on defense, the Preds have been vocal about needing a big reliable forward to lend help to the scoring ranks. Kyle Beach will be an option but concussion issues and baggage may push the pick to the smaller Hodgson. Colin Wilson may also be a choice.
10 — Vancouver Canucks
Zach Boychuk, C – Lethbridge.
23rd in the league in goals per game means the Canucks need some offense and Boychuk brings just that. He is small but makes up for it with speed and a scorers touch. Again Beach may be an option but his baggage will be a reason he drops out of the top 10.