1. New York Islanders-John Tavares
Why: They’ll maybe consider the other two players in the top three, and probably entertain some interesting trade offers, but when it comes time to pick, there’s no way they can’t select Tavares. The Islanders need offense, and their franchise probably can’t afford to pass on what most people view as the best player available in the draft.
2. Tampa Bay Lightning- Victor Hedman
Why: This seems like an easy pick for the Lightning. Matt Duchene is a nice player, but he seems similar to what Tampa got last year in Steve Stamkos. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay’s defense was so thin last year that they were dressing guys like Kevin Quick and Geoff Kinrade. Hedman potentially gives them a fixture on the blueline for a very long time.
3. Colorado Avalanche-Matt Duchene
Why: In a weaker year, Duchene may have drawn consideration for the number one pick. Colorado is lucky that he’ll likely fall here. Duchene has the potential to become a nice replacement for Joe Sakic some day.
4. Atlanta Thrashers- Evander Kane
Why: The Thrashers aren’t known for their drafting ability, but have done fairly well with their high first round picks. They’ll have a lot of nice forward options to choose from, but it sounds like they’re leaning towards Evander Kane or Brayden Schenn.
5. Los Angeles Kings- Brayden Schenn
Why: The Kings aren’t above going off the board with this pick. They threw everyone for a loop in 2007 when they took Thomas Hickey way earlier than anyone expected. They’re loaded with good young defensemen, and I think the opportunity to take Schenn here will be too good to pass.
6. Phoenix(?) Coyotes- Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson
Why: This is going to be odd draft for the Coyotes since they’re troubles aren’t likely to be resolved by mid-June. They could maybe use a top defenseman, but I think they’ll go with the best player available here.
7. Toronto Maple Leafs- Jared Cowen
Why: A lot of attention will be placed on the Leafs since this is Brian Burke’s first draft in Toronto. The Leafs selected Luke Schenn last year, but selecting Cowen gives them two big, solid defensemen to build around.
8. Dallas Stars- Scott Glennie
Why: The Stars are in rebuilding mode for the first time in a long while, and could go in any number of ways. Glennie is probably the best player available in this position.
9. Ottawa Senators- Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Why: Sens GM Bryan Murray somewhat famously proclaimed that the Sens were looking at a European defenseman better than Victor Hedman, which most assumed was Ekman-Larsson. Murray should get the opportunity to put his money where his mouth is. Ekman-Larsson has a ton of potential, and I don’t think Ottawa will pass on him.
10. Edmonton Oilers-Zach Kassian
Why: Edmonton has been debating between taking the best player available or adding some size to their team. If Kassian falls this far, they’ll get the opportunity to select both.
11. Nashville Predators-Jordan Schroeder
Why: Nashville selected Colin Wilson after one year of NCAA hockey last year, and that pick really paid off. They’ll have an opportunity to do the same with Schroeder here, with the added bonus of adding a great offensive talent that is ready to step into their lineup as early as next season.
12. Minnesota Wild-John Moore
Why: This is the first selection of the Chuck Fletcher era in Minnesota, and if they go with Moore, it will mark a big change in the direction and style of the Wild. The Wild need offense, but their prospect pool is very thin after some day drafts and would benefit by adding the smooth-skating defenseman.
13. Buffalo Sabres-Ryan Ellis
Why: Buffalo drafted defense in the first round last year with the gargantuan Tyler Myers. This time, they’ll have the opportunity to pick a smaller, more offensively-gifted defenseman that can lead their powerplay in the future.
14. Florida Panthers-Jacob Josefson
Why: Josefson has a ton of raw talent and could be a home-run type pick.
15. Anaheim Ducks- Dmitry Kulikov
Why: Anaheim could always use a big, rugged defenseman.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets- Nazem Kadri
Why: Columbus is an up-and-coming team, and they’ll add another exciting offensive prospect.
17. St. Louis Blues-Louis Leblanc
Why: St. Louis has a pretty talented group of young forwards for next season. Leblanc is going to Harvard, so the Blues can let him develop for a couple years for free and don’t need to rush him into the pros.
18. Montreal Canadiens-Zach Budish
Why: You’d almost expect Montreal to take Nick Leddy here, since the organization has grown a reputation for selecting defensemen out of the Minnesota HS ranks. They’ll stick in Minnesota for this pick, but instead take the big power forward.
19. New York Rangers-Simon Despres
Why: This is a quite a bit lower than some people had Despres projected, and the Rangers will be happy if they can get a player ranked this high this late in the first round.
20. Calgary Flames-Dylan Olsen
Why: Olsen flew under some people’s radar this season, but is a first round talent and would be a great pick at 20th.
21. Philadelphia Flyers- Landon Ferraro
Why: Philadelphia is in desperate need of centers among their prospect ranks, and they’d be adding a nice center that can play both ends of the ice.
22. Vancouver Canucks-David Rundblad
Why: The Canucks need some talent on defense, and Rundblad gives them a potentially very good offensive defenseman.
23. New JerseyDevils-Chris Kreider
Why: New Jersey is the type of organization that would be willing to take a chance on a talented player from the US prep school ranks.
24. Washington Capitals-Carter Ashton
Why: It would be a steal if the big power forward is available this late. The Capitals would be adding a big power forward to their talented offensive corps.
25. Boston Bruins-Nick Leddy
Why: Leddy is too good of a prospect for the Bruins to pass up.
26. New York Islanders- Jeremy Morin
Why: After already selecting John Tavares, the Islanders add another elite scoring threat, and a player that is pretty close to being ready to enter the NHL.
27. Carolina Hurricanes- Peter Holland
Why: The Hurricanes don’t have as many electrifying scorers in their prospect pool, and Holland could potentially bring that.
28. Pittsburgh Penguins-Jordan Caron
Why: Things are pretty good for the Penguins right now, but they don’t have a lot in the way of prospects, so they’ll select the best player available.
29. Chicago Blackhawks-Calvin DeHaan
Why: The Blackhawks would be adding an offensive defenseman that has the opportunity to put up a lot of points in the right situation.
30. Detroit Red Wings-Tim Erixon
Why: The Red Wings have had great success drafting Swedes and Erixon could potentially turn into a very good offensive defenseman.