Just for fun, and out of a sense of curiousity, I decided to try and make this year's draft a more interactive experience to see just how difficult it is to select players by selecting some of my own.
I basically made picks for three "teams" in each round of the draft. Team 1 always drafted with the first pick in each round, Team 2 always drafted from the 15th slot, and Team 3 always drafted from the 30th slot. It's also important to keep in mind that I made these picks as the draft was happening, so if I wanted Player X, I had to pick him before he went in the real draft. I couldn't wait until he was picked in 6th round, and then go back and say I picked him in the 5th. A player also couldn't be picked by more than one of my teams, which is to say, if I picked a player in the third round, and he still hadn't been picked by round 5, another of my teams couldn't have picked him.
Here's the results:
Team 1-First pick in each round of the draft
Round 1: John Tavares, F, London Knights: Tavares actually went with the first overall pick. This was a no-brainer in my mind.
Round 2: Ryan O'Reilly, F, Erie Otters: O'Reilly actually went two picks later at 33rd overall. In doing the mock draft, I really fell in love with the idea of pairing the best scorer in the draft in Tavares with one of the best playmakers in the draft with O'Reilly.
Round 3: Sami Vatanen, D, Finland: Vatanen wasn't selected until the 15th pick of the fourth round, so I could have waited a round to get him, but there's nobody between those two spots that I'm kicking myself for missing--at least as of now--and I really like what Vatanen has to offer. Vatanen has incredible poise, strength, can run a powerplay and captained his country's team at the World U18s. The only reason he fell is because he lacks size, but I feel like he has the potential to pan out almost as well as some offensive defenseman that were taken in the first round of the draft.
Round 4: Jeff Costello, F, Cedar Rapids Roughriders: Again, Costello didn't go until the latter part of the fifth, but I was happy not risking him being taken in the fourth. The three first picks were guys that could contribute fairly quickly, whereas Costello is many years away from making the NHL, but I really like his combination of skill and toughness.
Round 5: Corban Knight, F, Okotoks Oilers: Knight only went 13 picks after I selected him. I have some concerns about Knight really only having the one good year of junior hockey, but the similarities between him and Tyler Bozak really intrigued me, and if I could get a Tyler Bozak this late in the draft, that's a really good pick.
Round 6: Brodie Melnychuk, D, Brandon Wheat Kings: Melnychuk went undrafted, but he's a big defensive defenseman. Maybe not a great pick because he was watched pretty closely in Brandon this year, but who knows.
Round 7: Andrej Statsny, F, Slovakia: Statsny went undrafted too, but his size and play intrigued me at the World U18s. Just a shot in the dark here.
How'd I do compared to the actual picks?: Not too bad here. I was pretty much dead on with the two easiest ones in Tavares and O'Reilly, about a round late on my third and fourth picks, and very close with Knight. My last two went undrafted, but those rounds are complete crapshoots.
How do I feel about my team: I really like this group. It's not hard not to when you end up with arguably the best team in the draft. One concern is not none of these guys are regarded as great skaters, but there's a lot of guys that know how to make plays and put the puck in the net.
Team 2-15th pick in each round
Round 1: Jordan Schroeder, F, Minnesota: I have no idea how Schroeder slipped this far, but I was absolutely thrilled to get him. It's insane that he fell out of the top 10, let alone all the way to 21. I have a feeling that a lot of teams will really regret passing on him some day.
Round 2: Mike Lee, G, Fargo Force: Lee wasn't taken until the last pick of the third round, so I could have waited another round to get him, but I feel like he could a number one goalie at the NHL level some day.
Round 3: Jimmy Bubnick, F, Kamloops Blazers: Bubnick dropped all the way to the early 6th round. This is another WHL kid I may have missed the boat on because I haven't seen him play. He's a bit of an early-bloomer, but hopefully he can have a resurgence and make the NHL.
Round 4: Patrik Cehlin, F, Sweden: Another one where I missed the boat. Cehlin wasn't drafted at all. He's a little guy and I imagine that size played a factor, but I really liked how he looked at the U18s. He's tough for his size, a decent skater and has a really low center of gravity that makes him hard to knock off the puck. Not a ton of upside, but a nice player.
Round 5: Jerry D'Amigo, F, NTDP: D'Amigo was taken less than a round later, early in the 6th round. I was surprised he fell this far, as I thought he'd be long gone by the fifth round. Dropping like that is a little concerning, but I don't think I could have found another pick in the 5th round that I felt more confident in.
Round 6: Lee Moffie, D, Waterloo Blackhawks: Moffie didn't get selected, but I think he had a nice year in the USHL, which is a really nice sign. I'm a little surprised he didn't get picked.
Round 7: Mike Connolly, F, Minnesota-Duluth: Connolly doesn't have much size, but he's a really skilled offensive player and really tough. If you can score in the WCHA, which Connolly has proven he can do, you're not too far away from doing it in the NHL. Somebody will want this guy as a free agent some day, so I figure it's worth picking up his rights.
How'd I do compared to the actual picks? Really poorly. I was close with Schroeder and D'Amigo, but way off on some others, including my 4th round pick that didn't get drafted. I didn't draft a lot of size, or get much on defense, but I think there's some real toughness and some real skill in this group.
How do I feel about my team? I really, really like the Schroeder pick. After that, I don't feel all that great about it. Lee is a nice player, but picking a goalie is always super risky. The rest of the players could be longshots to make the NHL.
Team 3-30th pick in each round
Round 1: Zach Budish, F, Edina HS: I still feel like he would have been a solid first rounder if he had been healthy this year. Budish may take some time to get to the NHL, but I love the way he plays, and how he can just take over a game in the offensive zone. He ended up going 12 picks after this.
Round 2: Mac Bennett, D, Hotchkiss Prep: Bennett went about 18 picks later. Again, a very long time before he's NHL ready, but I love smooth-skating defenseman, and Bennett handles pressure about as well as any player I've seen.
Round 3: Toni Rajala, F, Finland: This is funny, because I'm a person that thought Rajala was really overrated all along, and I ended up selecting him. He ended up being selected with the 10th pick of the fourth round. Definite bust potential here, but I felt like it was worth taking a chance because the reward could be huge.
Round 4: Danny Mattson, F, Holy Angels: Mattson didn't get drafted at all, which still confuses the hell out of me. I felt like I was getting a bargain taking him late in the fourth round. Like Rajala, his size is a huge concern, but this kid has big league offensive talent.
Round 5: Collin Bowman, D, Kelowna Rockets: Bowman wasn't drafted either. After picking a couple smaller guys, I decided to go with a bigger, stay-at-home defenseman. I thought Bowman was one of the better D at the Select 17s last summer, so there is definitely some talent there.
Round 6: John Henrion, F, NTDP: Henrion didn't get drafted, but he can skate and he can shoot the puck. Hopefully he'll figure the rest of it out at New Hampshire and develop into a nice player.
Round 7: Sam Lofquist, D, University of Minnesota: I wasn't a huge fan of Lofquist's play at Minnesota last season, but he certainly has all the physical tools to be a pro player. If he gets the mental side down, he'll be a nice player.
How'd I do compared to the actual picks: I was great for the first three rounds, and then absolutely awful after that.
How do I feel about my team: It's tougher drafting late in the first round because you can't draft a player that can help your team right away, but I still feel like I got a potential first line player in Budish. After that, I took a couple chances on smaller guys that I feel like could pay huge dividends.
If I had to rank the three teams, I'd say Team 1 came out looking the best, followed by Team 3, with Team 2 not having a very good draft. What do you think?