For each of the past two drafts, I've tried to put my money where my mouth was and make my own set of draft picks, as the draft was going on, meaning I would have no idea who would be picked afterwards. You can view my picks for the 2009 Draft and 2010 Draft. Some of the picks have been pure genius (Sami Vatanen, Patrik Cehlin, Corban Knight, Mike Connolly, Jerry D'Amigo for a while) while others have been regrettable failures (Danny Mattson, Toni Rajala, Jerry D'Amigo)
That brings us to this year's draft. Since I was actually at the draft this year rather than sitting at my computer sifting through notes, I wasn't able to make picks, at least after the first round. But I can try to approximate what I would have done.
Also, as a bit of housekeeping, I had selected Aaron Harstad in the fifth round of last year's draft, and he ended up getting selected this year in the 7th round by Winnipeg, making me 2 for 2 on selecting players a year before they get selected in the draft.
On to the picks...
Pick 1-Gabriel Landeskog, F, Kitchener Rangers(Actually selected: 2nd overall)
Pick 15-Rocco Grimaldi, F, US NTDP (Actually selected: 33rd overall)
Pick 30- Brandon Saad, F, Saginaw Spirit (Actually selected: 43rd overall)
This is the first year my first overall pick differed from the actual number one. Nugent-Hopkins size and lack of goal-scoring made me think he was a little too risky. I love what Landeskog brings to the table both on and off the ice. I felt like he'd be a great player to build a team around.
I've been pretty adamant all year that I would take Grimaldi in the top ten in the draft. Saad's weak second half of the OHL season didn't scare me away the way it did for some teams. He'll be able to score at the NHL, something that is tough to find by the time you get to late in the first round.
Pick 31-Scott Mayfield, D, Youngstown Phantoms(Actually selected: 34th overall)
Pick 45-Mario Lucia, F, Wayzata HS (Actually selected: 60th overall)
Pick 60- Michael Mersch, F, Wisconsin(Actually selected: 110th overall)
Mayfield is 6'4" and a very good skater. That's a pretty rare combination to find. The middle of the second round was the point for me where Lucia's potential outweighed the risks of him not reaching it. I really liked Mersch this year, even if his skating isn't the greatest. Not many players in this draft could have put up the year like he did in college hockey this past season.
Pick 62-Andy Welinski, D, Green Bay Gamblers(Actually selected: 83rd overall)
Pick 76-Seth Ambroz, F, Omaha Lancers(Actually selected: 128th overall)
Pick 91-Robbie Russo, D, US NTDP (Actually selected: 95th overall)
I, like everyone else, was surprised at how long Ambroz had to wait to be called. The odds of missing out on a future all-star to draft him in the third round is pretty slim, so it's not like there's a huge risk, and there's still some talent there. Welinski and Russo are very nice depth prospects; Welinski for his defensive toughness and Russo for his puck control.
Pick 92-Josiah Didier, D, Cedar Rapids Rough Riders(Actually selected: 97th overall)
Pick 106- Shane McColgan, F, Kelowna Rockets (Actually selected: 134th overall)
Pick 121-Chase Balisy, F, Western Michigan (Actually selected: 170th overall)
Didier was a player that I really liked throughout the year, even though he didn't draw a lot of attention. McColgan was similar to Ambroz, though didn't get the same attention because he wasn't a local kid. He's small, but I like that he brings some nastiness to his game. Balisy had a fantastic year with Western Michigan to earn a draft pick in his second year of eligibility.
Pick 122-Eddie Wittchow, D, Burnsville High School(Actually selected: 154th overall)
Pick 136-Max Everson, D, Edina High School (Actually selected: 203rd)
Pick 151- Zac Larraza, F, US NTDP (Actually selected: 196th overall)
Wittchow is a project, but tons of upside. Everson is a solid player, and Larraza really improved over his two years with the NTDP. If he continues to develop, he could be a nice player.
Pick 152-Cason Hohmann, F, Cedar Rapids Rough Riders(Actually selected: Unselected)
Pick 166-Sam Windle, D, Chicago Steel (Actually selected: Unselected)
Pick 181-Jonny Brodzinski, F, Blaine High School (Actually selected: Unselected)
Hohmann has a huge hill to climb in terms of his size, but his skill is fantastic. Windle and Brodzinski are two players I watched a lot two years ago and they did nothing for me, but really turned things around this past season and impressed me.
Pick 182- Ryan Walters, F, Nebraska-Omaha (Actually selected: Unselected)
Pick 196-Destry Straight, F, Coquitlam Express (Actually selected: Unselected)
Pick 211-Michael Zajac, F, Eagan High School (Actually selected: Unselected)
There's some pretty glaring holes in all these prospects, but I thought they were worth taking a flier on, because of their home run type potential.