This is the second annual installment of trying to make draft picks in real time at the draft. Basically, I make a selection with the first pick of each round, the 15th pick of each round, and 30th pick of each round, and see what it ends up looking like. It's a way for me to put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, in terms of scouting and assessing a draft class.
With 21 picks and a lot of other notes and such, this gets really long, so I'll put it all after the jump.
Round 1 Pick 1-Taylor Hall, F, Windsor Spitfires.(Actually picked: 1st overall) Pretty much a no-brainer. Even if Seguin ends up being the better pro, I don't think any team could afford to pass on taking a chance on a player like Hall.
Round 2 Pick 31-Jon Merrill, D, NTDP(Actually picked: 38th overall)-Merrill rose up everybody's board with his play at the U18s, and then down everyone's board with the Combine interviews. I say that if talking mattered in hockey, Chris Hepp wouldn't be awful. I made it known before the draft that I had Fowler, Gudbranson, Gormley, Forbort, and Merrill grouped fairly close together in the early first round on my board, so I was happy to get one in the second round.
Round 3 Pick 61-Jordan Weal, F, Regina Pats(Actually picked:70th overall) -He dropped quite a bit, likely due to concerns about his size, but I think he's got offensive abilities that few players have. I had him at around #30 on my draft board, so getting him in the third round seemed like a nice value.
Round 4 Pick 91-Bill Arnold, F, NTDP(Actually picked: 108th overall)-I like the way Arnold plays.
Round 5 Pick 121-Kevin Gravel, D, Sioux City Musketeers(Actually picked: 148th overall)-I didn't really like Gravel as a third or fourth round pick, where some people had him rated, but I think it's great value for a fifth round pick.
Round 6 Pick 151-Brendan Woods, F, Chicago Steel-(Actually picked: Unselected)-I'm a little surprised he didn't go. I think once he gets past the injury problems he had this year, he's due for a huge year in the USHL.
Round 7 Pick 181-Adam Krause, F, Hermantown HS(Actually picked: Unselected)-Maybe a bit of bias but I saw Krause a few times this year and was always impressed. He was worth a late round shot in the dark.
I really like this group. After the first round, I was surprised every pick here was still available when I picked them. It's got the makings of a dynamic offense with Hall and Weal, and a solid defense starting with Merrill and Gravel. All of the first five picks were picked within the round I selected them too, so I don't think I reached too much.
Round 1 Pick 15-Derek Forbort, D, NTDP(Actually picked: 15th overall)-I mentioned this on Friday night, but coming in, it was going to take something special to sway me from picking Tyler Pitlick at 15th, and I think Forbort qualified. I can see why Los Angeles wanted to trade up to snag him.
Round 2 Pick 45-Teemu Pulkkinen, F, Jokerit(Actually picked: 111th overall)-This was a really hard decision because I was shocked that Tyler Toffoli lasted that long, but I had to take the home run swing. I'm shocked Pulkkinen lasted as long as he did. Maybe I'll look foolish in a couple of years, but I had Pulkkinen in the mid-first round on my board, and ahead of Finnish teammate Mikael Granlund. There weren't many offensive players of that caliber in the draft.
Round 3 Pick 75-Stanislav Galiev, F, St. Johns Sea Dogs(Actually picked: 86th overall)-Another risky pick that could have a huge reward. He wasn't a guy I was specifically targeting before the draft, but it down to the middle of the third round and he was still available, which seemed like a great value pick.
Round 4 Pick 105-Patrick McNally, D, Milton Academy(Actually picked: 115th overall)-Lots of risky picks from this group. McNally is a serious project, but he's got some great tools, and given time, he might develop into a solid player.
Round 5 Pick 135-Aaron Harstad, D, Green Bay Gamblers(Actually picked: Unselected)-Harstad really dropped this year, in part because his offensive numbers weren't very good, but he was playing solid hockey on a very good, well-coached team, and I felt he had great potential.
Round 6 Pick 165-Zach Trotman, D, Lake Superior(Actually picked: 210th overall)-Trotman was the very last pick of the draft, and I don't understand why he lasted that long. He's the type of college free agent that teams usually fight over to sign, and by drafting him, a team gets to let him develop for free for a couple extra years.
Round 7 Pick 195-Brett Stern, D, Centennial(Actually picked: Unselected)-Pretty much a homer pick, but I didn't really have anyone left on my board that I felt like I had to get.
This group has a ton of talent, but I feel like there are a lot of very risky picks here. It could look genius in a couple of years, or it could look awful. But if at least one or two of Forbort, Pulkkinen, Galiev, and McNally develop as hoped, that will likely mean one or two top-line players, which is a pretty successful draft.
Round 1 Pick 30-Tyler Pitlick, F, Minnesota State University(Actually picked: 31st overall)-I said this on Twitter on Friday night, but I'll repeat it here, if Joey freakin' Hishon is a better pro than Pitlick, I'll eat at Arby's. With Pitlick heading to a pretty barren Edmonton team, he could end up like Ryan O'Reilly, who I took with the 31st pick last year, who played in the NHL right away and made a decent impact.
Round 2 Pick 60-Brandon Archibald, D, Soo Greyhounds(Actually picked: 94th overall)-I had Archibald rated in my top 30, way higher than most people. He's a kid with really nice potential that has flown under the radar a bit.
Round 3 Pick 90-Troy Rutkowski, D, Portland Winterhawks(Actually picked: 137th overall)-Rutkowski slipped quite a bit from pre-draft expectations, which is maybe more concerning than most, because obviously Portland was a heavily scouted team, with like eight players getting picked. His skating is pretty rough, but he's got size and can play on both ends. It's worth a gamble to hope his skating comes around.
Round 4 Pick 120-Freddie Hamilton, F, Niagara Ice Dogs(Actually picked: 129th overall)-Not quite the high-end upside of some other picks, but a good hard-worker that will play both ends of the ice.
Round 5 Pick 150-Tanner Kero, F, Marquette Rangers(Actually picked: Unselected)-Kero was a kid that I really liked coming into this draft, even though nobody really talked about him. He needs to fill out, but I was impressed with him leading the NAHL in goal-scoring at such a young age. Definitely a diamond-in-the-rough type.
Round 6 Pick 180-Charles Inglis, F, Saskatoon Blades(Actually picked: Unselected)-Inglis dropped a lot throughout the year, and ended up going unpicked, but I know there were some people up in Saskatoon that really liked him, and I figured it was worth a shot.
Round 7 Pick 210-Chris Casto, D, Hill-Murray(Actually picked: Unselected)-Casto was a player that really impressed me over the year, and I figured he was worth a shot.
Not a bad group. I don't think it's possible to get a better player at 30th overall, and then there's a lot of players that I like, but still have a very long ways to go.
As I mentioned, the two toughest picks of the day were choosing between Pitlick and Forbort at 15, and choosing between Pulkkinen and Toffoli at 45. Both were cases of choosing between a player I really had a good feeling on and a player that dropped farther than I expected. It's a very tough choice, and I think it helps explain why so many teams in the top ten ended up passing on Cam Fowler and Brandon Gormley. When you've spent days/weeks/months coming to a decision, it's hard to switch tracks in the course of thirty minutes to an hour.
Last year, I took Patrik Cehlin in the fourth round and Lee Moffie in the sixth round, and both got completely passed over. This year, I got some vindication when both were selected within thirty picks of where I had selected them last year. If I had to bet, I could see Woods and Kero having huge years in the USHL and getting selected next year.
There weren't too many players that I was disappointed not to get. Julian Melchiori was at the top of my list to be picked in spot 90 and he ended up going 87th. Max Gaede, Zach Hyman and Brendan O'Donnell were three players I had higher than most people, and I figured I'd end up getting, but all three went off the board about a round before I would have selected them.
I selected three of the five players Dean Lombardi selected, and was close to a fourth in Toffoli. I'm not proud of this.
On one hand, I felt like I was really reaching by the time we got down to the seventh round. Like I said, there was nobody left on my list that I felt like I had to have. But there were definitely a couple guys left on the list that I wouldn't have minded taking fliers on like: Victor Ohmann, Jose Delgadillo, Casey Thrush, Max McCormick, Garrett Allen, Steve Seigo, Nick Quinn, Andrew Huff, and Willie Corrin.