The 2009 NHL entry draft will take place at the Bell Centre in Montreal on June 26 -27 and it is set to be an active one. With many teams in the top-10 holding multiple picks in the first and second round, it is almost unpredictable as to which teams will deal to move up or down.
The top-end talent in the 2009 draft is one of the best in years, so many teams are hungry to get in the race.
The list below is a preliminary and is subject to change as the draft approaches and teams narrow down their choices.
1. New York Islanders – John Tavares, C — London Knights (OHL)
Despite the talk of the Islanders trading down, New York will not do it. The Isles desperately need a new rink and the best way to do that is to grab a marquee player, similar to what Sidney Crosby did for the Penguins.
John Tavares may not be the best pick for the Islanders, but one thing is for sure — he will bring in the fans. Tavares is an offensive dynamo that is almost guaranteed to be a star. However, he plays a one-dimensional game and has struggled to produce for the Knights when it counts.
As Kyle Woodlief of the scouting service Red Line Report said, “Tavares may score 40 or 50 goals a season, but he’s one-dimensional. If he’s not scoring, he’s not helping.” And many teams would take that trade off.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning – Victor Hedman, D — Modo (Swe.)
The Lightning have made some curious moves in the last year, making their selection hard to predict. However silly a move may seem, don’t put it past Tampa. But the Lightning ownership and management, who have proved to be a laughing stock for the majority of the season, shoot for a “sure thing” in the draft and select 6-foot-6, 220 lbs. defenseman Victor Hedman.
The Lightning ranked 27th in team goals against with 3.28 and Hedman would be a legitimate shutdown blue liner, who can log a lot of minutes and play the point on the power play. Armed with Martin St. Louis, Vinnie Lecavalier and Steven Stamkos, offense isn’t a desperate need. Look for the Phoenix Coyotes to try and package the #6,#21 and a player, to move up to the #2 spot to grab Hedman.
3. Colorado Avalanche – Matt Duchene, C — Brampton (OHL)
Matt Duchene is the perfect player for a team that has an array of problems. Equivalent to baseball’s five-tool player, the Brampton center is not only one of the top speedsters in the draft, but can score and shut down the opposition’s scorers. He has unbelievable skating ability and possesses a great shot. Has captain potential written all over him.
The Avs may be doing some internal rebuilding, and Duchene is the perfect foundation to build on. Not to mention, Duchene was a fan of the Avs when he was growing up.
4. Atlanta Thrashers – Evander Kane, C — Vancouver (WHL)
If the Thrashers pass on Evander Kane, the Los Angeles Kings will pick him up. The kid is a marketing dream. Named after boxer Evander Holyfield, who was raised in Atlanta, Kane is a rough and tough power forward with good wheels and excellent hockey sense. He is a pure goal scorer and loves to be physical. Kane could turn out to be the most dangerous player taken in 2009.
“I like to bring an offensive part to the game,” Kane said. “I’m on the team to score goals and contribute offensively. I like to bring a physical element and you can’t be afraid to go into the corners and battle and I like to go hard.”
The Thrashers have needed a legitimate center for Ilya Kovalchuk for years and Kane could be just what the doctor ordered. Not to mention he might focus some much-needed attention to hockey in Georgia.
5. Los Angeles Kings — Brayden Schenn, C/LW — Brandon (WHL)
The Kings are loaded with young, defensive talent, so look for them to go forward. And with coach Terry Murray and assistant General Manager Ron Hextall in the organization, expect them to go for a tough forward. The toss up will be between Swedish power forward Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson or Brayden Schenn. Both players can play the left wing and both are prolific goal scorers. However, Schenn can play the rough game that the Kings love and will be less of a gamble than MSP, who battles inconsistency.
“I try to put pucks to the net, stay strong defensively and throw my weight around when I get the chance,” Schenn said, talking about his game.
Schenn, younger brother of Luke Schenn of the Toronto Maple Leafs, is adept at finishing, while also playing a very physical, gritty game and doesn’t shy away from a fight to stick up for teammates. He compares his game to Flyers’ captain Mike Richards and is similar in his leadership capabilities, while also being able to work the power player and man the penalty kill. Very complete, although not overpowering.
6. Phoenix Coyotes — Jared Cowen, D — Spokane (WHL)
If 6-foot-5, 226 lbs. Jared Cowen did not have injury questions, he would be a top five pick. But the rangy blue liner is coming off of major knee surgery, and it will drop him to sixth. He is expected to fully recover from the injury, however, it is a red flag in his draft file. The Coyotes have drafted a multitude of young fowards like Peter Mueller, Viktor Tikhonov, Kyle Turris and Mikkel Boedker, in the past couple drafts. With the addition of Scottie Upshall and Matthew Lombardi at the deadline, the last thing the ‘Yotes need is a green forward.
With Ed Jovanovski coming into the twilight of his career, the Coyotes need young size on the blue line, along with someone who can man the power play. Cowen uses his size extremely well and will play the body. He plays a defensive style, but has potential to be a serious point contributor. Cowen could be the steal of the draft if he can stay healthy.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs –Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson, LW — Timra (Swe.)
If General Manager Brian Burke doesn’t move up to grab Taveres or Hedman. And Kane, Schenn and Cowen are all taken, he may trade down and try to grab gutsy power forwards Zack Kassian or Carter Ashton. Burke is quoted as saying he was sick of seeing his forwards being pushed around and a big, gritty forward would do the trick. But since this is a mock draft, the Leafs select the best player still available in Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson.
The 6-foot-1, 190 lbs. forward, is an offensive power house and may be in the top-3 as most offensively gifted player taken in 2009. Not as physical as Burke would probably like, MPS is an above-average passer and possesses a goal-scorer’s touch. One scouting service compared him to Markus Naslund in his prime, however MPS has suffered some consistency problems, but could easily be a huge steal at seven.
8. Dallas Stars — Jordan Schroeder, RW — USA U-18
The Stars are in a tricky position. With no glaring needs, but close to reaching the post season, they could trade down and still manage to snag the player of their choosing. But that is no guarantee. With Schroeder still on the board, the Stars feel like they have a steal in the crafty American and let him learn from fellow American, Mike Modano.
Although he is just 5-foot-8, many scouts believe he has the smarts and skills to not only beat bigger and stronger opposition, but absolutely undress them. Compared to New Jersey’s Zach Parise and Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Schroeder is projected to be a very good top-six forward and could provide Dallas the right winger they need for the future.
9. Ottawa Senators –Oliver Ekman-Larsson, D — Leksand (Swe.)
Another team with a ton of second round picks, the Sens may try and move up. However, if they don’t, the Sens could use some potency from the defense and General Manager Bryan Murray does not shy away from Swedes. Larsson has skyrocketed up many scout’s lists because more people are noticing that he is the total package. He owns very good passing ability and has an accurate shot, while being a very fluid skater. He could be an excellent power play contributor, considering his skills, mixed with his smarts with the puck.
Some scouts have said he has the potential to be a Nicklas Lidstrom-type. At 6-foot-2, 170 lbs., OEL will need to put on some muscle and learn the North American style before it will truly be known if his high ceiling can be reached.
10. Edmonton Oilers — Scott Glennie, C/RW — Brandon (WHL)
The Oilers need some size and scoring down the middle and they get exactly that in 6-foot-1, Scott Glennie. Consistent and very speedy, Glennie can keep up with the young, fast Oilers, while also being able to finish and play comfortably in his own zone. Not the toughest of the tough like he linemate Schenn, Glennie will do what it takes to compete, but may need to put on some weight.
He’s extremely teachable and projects to be a consistent producer and good complimentary player, but may not be a hands-down game breaker. Glennie gets the nod over Nazem Kadri simply because he is bigger and more of a sure thing. The Oilers may also target talented defenseman Dmitry Kullikov.
11. Nashville Predators — Nazem Kadri, C — London (OHL)
The Preds are set on defense for years to come. But with an aging captain in center Jason Arnott, Nashville looks to solidify the middle with Nazem Kadri. With center Colin Wilson ready to enter the NHL, Kadri could take his time and develop, while giving the Preds a nasty one-two punch for the future. Kadri is an offensive force and a highlight reel type of player. He has above average puck control and good speed. With a competitive streak and good skills, he does have the tendency to try to do too much. But that’s what coaching is for.
12. Minnesota Wild — Carter Ashton, RW — Lethbridge (WHL)
With a plethora of smallish playmakers, the Wild could use a big, physical goal scorer. Ashton is a character guy with grit, great work ethic and a knack for scoring goals. Son of former NHLer Brent Ashton, Carter has a good shot and is very versatile. Not a particularly good skater, he could be a good complimentary player aside a small playmaker, to which the Wild have many options. The Wild’s new General Manager Chuck Fletcher, stated that he wanted to make the team more aggressive with a more upbeat style. And Ashton can bring just that.
13. Buffalo Sabres — Zack Kassian, RW — Peterborough (OHL)
The Sabres have a boatload of young defenseman in the system and not a lot of size at forward. Thus, enter 6-foot-3, 210 lbs. and mean as hell, Zack Kassian. The big forward has raw offensive skills, but throws his body around and creates a ton of room. He brings that taste of blood-style hockey that Buffalo lacked all last season. Kassian has similar numbers in juniors to Boston forward Milan Lucic and plays a similar style of game. Kassian will take some time to develop, but if done right, he could become a very nasty power forward, of Lucic’s similar ilk.
14. Florida Panthers — Simon Despres, D — Saint John (QMJHL)
Defenseman Ryan Ellis is a consideration, but after losing big, rangy defenseman Jay Bouwmeester to free agency, the Panthers select the closest possible replacement. Despres is 6-foot-3, 210 lbs., can skate, can man the power play and is strong in his own zone. Not a physical player, Despres is very steady and may fly under the radar for some, but could pan out to be a really good pickup.
15. Anaheim Ducks — Dmitry Kulikov, D — Drummondville (QMJHL)
Although the Ducks may have their eye on a speedy winger, they can not pass up QMJHL Rookie of the Year Kulikov. With an aging blue line, the Ducks get an offensive, power play quarterback in the making. Kulikov is smooth on his skates and is an adept passer. Unlike many Russians, Kulikov left his home country to play the North American game at the age of 17. And he has excelled, shrinking the potential time it would normally take to season a Russian defender for the NHL. Kulikov may be NHL ready without a couple years and has the potential to be a real powerhouse on the Duck’s blue line.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets — Ryan Ellis, D — Windsor (OHL)
The Blue Jackets have a desperate need for a power play quarterback and if Ellis can do one thing better than most, it’s man the special teams. Despite being just 5’11, he is a smart player, making up for lack of size with skill and cunning. One report states that if Ellis was three inches taller, he would be a top-10 pick.
17. St. Louis Blues — Chris Kreider, C — Andover, MA (H.S.)
The Blues need a big force at center and Kreider is just that. He is also blessed with phenomenal skating ability and good puck sense around the net. The downside is his commitment to college, which will keep him out of the NHL for years. However, the NCAA training regiment is not a bad thing for players who will rely on size at a higher level.
18. Montreal Canadiens — Louis Leblanc, C — Omaha (USHL)
The Habs go with a francophone, but that’s not all the brainy Leblanc brings to the table. He is a hardworking, two-way player with decent speed and good hands. He planned on going to college and majoring in economics, but he may stay in juniors, depending on his decision. Smart, defensively sound and from Quebec, just up Montreal and Jacques Martin’s alley isn’t it? Anyone selecting Leblanc is hoping to get a player in the similar mold of Flyers’ forward Simon Gagne, who was drafted 22nd overall in 1998.
19. New York Rangers — Kyle Palmieri, C — USA U-18
The Rangers need a forward with character and talent and Palmieri is just that. He’s also a North Jersey kid, who grew up a Rangers’ fan. Palmieri is small in stature (5’11), but is a bulldog around the net and loves to crash. He’s very quick on his skates and has an A+ personality. He has captain potential written all over him. Many reports compare him with Chris Drury.
20. Calgary Flames –John Moore, D –Chicago (USHL)
At 6’2, 190 lbs., Moore has a great frame for defense, matched with an unrivaled skating ability. He is a two-way defender with a knack for scoring goals and racking up points from the blue line. Moore idolizes Ducks defenseman Scott Niedermeyer, but according to the head of Central Scouting, E.J. McGuire, Moore may play more like Jay Bouwmeester. Moore is headed to college in Colorado.
21. Philadelphia Flyers — David Rundblad, D — Skelleftea (Swe JE)
The Flyers are indoubtadly going to select a puck-moving defenseman if they keep their position. General Manager Paul Holmgren can’t get enough of defenseman that can move the puck quickly out of the zone and has mentioned it on more than one occasion that the team needs defense and goalie depth. If Palmieri or Ashton falls, the Flyers may take a hard look. But with both players taken, the Flyers select Swedish defender David Rundblad. Rundblad is a right-handed, offensive defenseman that patterns his game after Capitals’ defenseman Mike Green. He has a good shot, is very capable of carrying the puck into the opposing zone. Rundblad has incredible passing skills and can move the puck out of his own zone quickly and with accuracy. On the downside, he’s got size at 6’2, 195 lbs., but he doesn’t use it to his advantage. Rundblad’s defensive game is also a work in progress, but with his offensive skill and potential deadly right-handed shot on the power play, faults can be overlooked.
22. Vancouver Canucks –Stefan Elliot, D — Saskatoon (WHL)
The Canucks need a power play quarterback of the future and Elliot can fill just that role. The offensive blueliner with a rare right-handed shot, was also selected WHL scholastic player of the year, an accolade that will endear himself to General Manager Mike Gillis. Born in North Vancouver, Elliot has all the offensive skills needed to be a successful pro, but his best asset may be his smarts with the puck. His downside is his lack of physicality and play in his own end.
23. New Jersey Devils –Jacob Josefson, C — Djurgarden (Swe JE)
Josefson is an adept passer and a very strong skater with a mature game and high aspirations to play in the NHL. He plays a solid two-way game and will fit right into place in the Atlantic Division with his tough, physical game. The Devils are the oldest team in the league and will need some strong-willed talent to eventually replace the departing forward corp.
24. Washington Capitals –Drew Shore, C — USA U-18
Washington owner Ted Leonsis expressed the team’s need for youth and size down the middle, particularly, a future second-line center. Although defense is also a concern for the Caps, there are simply more big centers at this point than stay-at-home defensemen, and Shore is the perfect pickup at this stage. At 6’2, Shore has the build to be a power forward, but his game is actually somewhat finesse. He has impeccable hands and vision to match. Shore will take time to develop in college, but it will just make him a stronger player in the long run. He’s good on the boards and finds the open man, wherever he may be. The perfect set up man for the Caps’ skilled wingers.
25. Boston Bruins — Zach Budish, C — Edina H.S (Minn.)
Zach Budish is a monster. at 6’4, 225 lbs., the power forward is built like a rock with a knack for scoring goals. Playing linebacker in high school, Budish tore his ACL, which, along with some raw ability, has dropped him to the end of the first round. However, doctors say Budish’s knee is fine. The Bruins want to bulk up front and Budish will help them do just that in 2-4 years. Budish will go to college to refine his game, but he is the typical medium risk, high reward selection.
26. New York Islanders — Calvin De Haan, D — Oshawa (OHL)
After taking a high-powered forward with their first pick, the Isles take a legit puck-moving defenseman with their second. De Haan is a very good puck handling defenseman. He is decent in his own end, but is known more for his puck moving and carrying skills. He lacks the physicality needed out of the gate, but a higher level of aggression is something he’s working on.
27. Carolina Hurricanes — Landon Ferraro, RW — Red Deer (WHL)
The Hurricanes select Ferraro for his natural gifts, two-way play and great speed. But his biggest asset may be his relationship in Raleigh. Landon’s dad, former NHL star Ray Ferraro, played 442 games with Carolina’s former team, the Hartford Whalers. There, Ray played alongside current Carolina assistant coach Ron Francis. Landon also played at Red Deer with current Hurricanes’ center Brandon Sutter.
28. Chicago Blackhawks — Brayden McNabb, D — Kootenay (WHL)
The Hawks are loaded with young, talented defenseman, but they lack that true monster presence on the back end that won’t also be a liability. McNabb is just that. At 6’3, 200 lbs., he is a straight-up defensive defenseman. He has a physical edge and a mean streak that causes him to drop his gloves when needed. He can move the puck, but at the NHL level, he will never be mistaken for a two-way guy. McNabb is not a great skater, but his reach and positioning make up for it, along with his consuming defensive play down low. Dylan Olsen is an option here, but his commitment to college means he won’t be available for 2-3 years.
29. Detroit Red Wings — Tim Erixon, D — Skelleftea (Swe.)
The devastating defeat at the hands of the Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals proved that the Wings will need some new blood on defense in the near future. Son of former NHLer Jan Erixon, Tim was coached at a young age and that maturity and smarts is the calling card of his game. He has excellent hockey sense and makes very smart, safe plays. Aside from his strong defensive play, Erixon has an offensive game. He has a good shot from the point and the ability to carry the puck. Erixon gives up some potency from the back line in exchange for reliability and consistency.
30. Pittsburgh Penguins — Peter Holland, F — Guelph (OHL)
Holland has mid first-round talent but has dropped in the eyes of many scouts who question his passion. But that flaw does not change the opinion of the Penguins, who were the same team that drafted Angelo Esposito, 20th overall in 2007, because he was the best available talent, ignoring a similar reputation. Holland is a big body at 6’2, 195 lbs., and is known for his two-way play. He’s a good skater with topside offensive ability and is very smooth with the puck. However, Holland lacks can lack intensity at times and is seen as somewhat inconsistent.