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NHL Draft Preview Part I

I've got the first 14 picks of my Mock NHL Draft ready, so I figured I'd post them. I'll post the remaining 16 picks sometime later this week, although that will probably be a complete crapshoot.

1. St Louis Blues- Erik Johnson, Defenseman, USA NTDP U18

Comment: The Blues could also use a talented scoring forward, but they need so much help right now that they have to take the best available player.

2. Pittsburgh Penguins- Jordan Staal, Forward, Peterborough(OHL)

Comment: The Staal's are like the Canadian version of the Kennedys. After seeing the way Eric has developed, and his impressive fitness tests, I think Jordan goes a little higher than most people think. If Johnson doesn't go first, he'll definitely be picked here.

3. Chicago Blackhawks- Jonathan Toews, Forward, North Dakota

Comment: Toews is a very good all-around player and should be a good NHLer for a very long time. Chicago has said that they want to sign their pick right away, so this is bad news for North Dakota fans.

4. Washington Capitals- Phil Kessel, Forward, Minnesota

Comment: The Caps want an elite offensive talent to play alongside of Alexander Ovechkin.

5. Boston Bruins- Nicklas Backstrom, Forward, Brynas(Sweden)

Comment: The Bruins would probably like to pick a defenseman, but there's no defenseman available worth picking this high. They may try to trade down. Backstrom would an incredible value for a 5th pick though.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets-Peter Mueller, Forward, Everett(WHL)

Comment: There seems to be a bit of a gap between the top 5 players, and the next group of 5 players, but Mueller seems to be considered the best of that next group.

7. New York Islanders-Derick Brassard, Forward, Drummondville(QMJHL)

Comment: The Islanders need scoring help, and Brassard should be able to help with that.

8. Phoenix Coyotes- Michael Frolik, Forward, Kladno(Czech Republic)

Comment: Frolik's stock has dropped a lot this year, but the Coyotes need a high-scoring forward, and while I don't think Frolik is a sure thing, he's got that potential.

9. Minnesota Wild-Jiri Tlusty, Forward, Kladno(Czech Republic)

Comment: The Wild could pick local kid Kyle Okposo, but they'll probably be more interested in picking the best two-way player available. There's also the possibility of the Wild trying to move up to take one of the top forwards, but I don't think they'll make the deal.

10. Florida Panthers- Nigel Williams, Defenseman, USA NTDP U18

Comment: Mike Keenan will be looking to add a defenseman, and while Williams might be a bit of a stretch this early, he has a better physical upside than Bobby Sanguinetti or Chris Summers.

11. Los Angeles Kings- Jonathan Bernier, Goalie, Lewiston(QMJHL)

Comment: Matt Zaba is rated as the best goalie in the Kings system. That's not good. They could also use a defenseman, but will decide to take the best goalie in the draft instead.

12. Atlanta Thrashers- James Sheppard, Forward, Cape Breton(QMJHL)

Comment: Atlanta could use a skilled center, and Sheppard could easily be a top 6 or 7 pick.

13. Toronto Maple Leafs- Kyle Okposo, Forward, Des Moines(USHL)

Comment: The three things Hockey's Future feels the Leafs need: 1. A goal scorer to play with their finishers. 2. Young guys to play on the wings 3. A player with speed and toughness. That describes Okposo perfectly.

14. Vancouver Canucks- Bryan Little, Forward, Barrie(OHL)

Comment: Little has the potential to go much earlier in the draft, but with the number of quality forwards available, I'm guessing he gets shuffled to the bottom.