Starting in 2009, I began an annual project where I make my own selections during the NHL Draft--and thus, not knowing where certain players might fall to-- as a way of providing some sort of record when it comes to draft analysis. Lots of people talk about certain players they like and don't like when it comes to the draft. This forces a bit of accountability on me.
This year, I felt like I came out pretty well. The list ends up pretty NCAA-heavy as you might--including six Minnesota recruits and five Michigan recruits--though I felt like there was an extremely crop of kids to choose from this year, so I feel pretty comfortable taking a chance on those kids.
I'm also proud to say that this year continued my trend of players I selected in a previous year actually being selected in a following year. I took Jonny Brodzinski in the 6th round 181st overall in 2011, and he was selected in the 5th round at 148th overall yesterday.
I made three picks per round, with one at the beginning, middle, and end of each round. I didn't factor in compensatory picks, but I don't think there were any instances where it would have made a difference.
Without further ado, here were my picks.
Pick 1- Nathan MacKinnon, F, Halifax(QMJHL)(Actually selected: 1st overall)
Pick 15- Nikita Zadorov, D, London(OHL)(Actually selected: 16th overall)
Pick 30- Ian McCoshen, D, Waterloo(USHL) (Actually selected 31st overall)
I was one of the few people that had MacKinnon at number one all year long. Maybe it's bias from having seen him so much at Shattuck-St. Mary's, but I really believe he's a special talent and will be a great pro. For what it's worth, I've had the same number one pick as the NHL team twice(John Tavares and Taylor Hall), and gone in a different direction twice(Landeskog over Nugent-Hopkins, and Galchenyuk over Yakupov).
I absolutely loved what I saw of Zadorov this year, and would have felt comfortable taking him in the top10 of the draft. He's got a ways to go, but I feel like he could be the next Zdeno Chara. If Zadorov wasn't there, I probably would have taken Hunter Shinkaruk.
I went with MacKinnon's former teammate Ian McCoshen with the last pick of the first round. I've always been a huge fan of McCoshen, and still think he's got another level he can reach.
Pick 31- JT Compher, F, NTDP U18(Actually selected: 35th overall)
Pick 45- Tommy Vannelli, D, Minnetonka(MN) HS(Actually selected: 47th overall)
Pick 60- Tyler Motte, F, NTDP U18(Actually selected: 121st overall)
I remained pretty close to the actual draft board with the first two picks. I had a pretty good idea that I had Motte way higher on my list than he was actually going to be selected, but he was a player I really liked this year, and was willing to reach on.
Pick 61- Taylor Cammarata, F, Waterloo(USHL)(Actually selected: 76th overall)
Pick 75- Michael Downing, D, Dubuque(USHL)(Actually selected: 97th overall)
Pick 90- Aidan Muir, F, Victory Honda(AAA)(Actually selected 113th overall)
This is the fun/challenge of trying to pick when you don't know exactly what other teams are going to do. Cammarata was another player that I figured was way higher on my list than most teams, and I wanted to select him, because I think he'll be effective at the next level. I made that pick thinking he might not go until a couple rounds later, when in fact, he was selected later that round.
I probably had Downing a little too high, after he slipped a bit this year. Muir was a bit unknown to many, but was a player I really targeted. 6'4" with a really high compete level will have a place on any team, and Edmonton seemed to agree, taking him not too much later on.
Pick 91- Andrew Copp, F, Michigan(CCHA)(Actually selected: 104th overall)
Pick 105- Hudson Fasching, F, NTDP U18(Actually selected: 118th overall)
Pick 120- Blake Heinrich, D, Sioux City(USHL)(Actually selected: 144th overall)
I thought Copp was a steal at 91, and an even bigger steal at 104. I expected Fasching to slip a little on draft day, which he ended up doing. What I like about all three is that they're all really high-character kids.
Pick 121- Michael Brodzinski, D, Muskegon(USHL)(Actually selected: 141st overall)
Pick 135- Gabe Guertler, F, Fargo(USHL)(Actually selected: Unselected)
Pick 150- Vinni Lettieri, F, Lincoln(USHL)(Actually selected: Unselected)
I guess this was the point in the draft when I started loading up on Gopher recruits. I really like Brodzinski's upside, and his ability to put the puck in the net from the blue line kind of reminds me Justin Faulk.
It was an overall bear market on under-sized forwards from the USHL with Guertler, Lettieri, Brendan Harms, and Justin Kloos all going unselected. I stand by the fact that Guertler may be small, but plays bigger than many of the 6'+ players selected yesterday. I believe Lettieri has the athleticism to make up for his shortfalls in size.
Pick 151- Evan Allen, F, NTDP U18(Actually selected: Unselected)
Pick 165- Avery Peterson, F, Grand Rapids(MN) HS(Actually selected: 167th overall)
Pick 180- Kalle Kossila, F, St. Cloud(WCHA)(Actually selected: Unselected)
I was a little surprised somebody didn't take a stab at Allen, who had to have one of the hardest shots in the draft. If he can find the right situation, he could be a very valuable player. I didn't think there was a chance I'd end up with Peterson since I had him listed so much lower than Central Scouting, but felt he was worth the risk that late. Kossila displayed some sweet hands at St. Cloud this year, and young guys that prove they can score at the NCAA level usually end up as solid free agent targets down the road.
Pick 181- Ross Olsson, F, Cedar RapidsUSHL)(Actually selected: Unselected)
Pick 195- Neal Pionk, D, Hermantown(MN) HS(Actually selected: Unselected)
Pick 210- Frederik Tiffels, F, Muskegon(USHL)(Actually selected: Unselected)
Three shots in the dark here. Olsson struggled with the adjustment to the USHL this year, but started to pick things up later in the year, and I really like his hands for a big guy. Pionk impressed me with his solid play all season. I'm a little surprised Tiffels wasn't pick at all. I think he's got some great speed and puck skills. If he becomes a little more aggressive and assertive, I think he's got a lot of upside.