Last week's mock draft by Huw certainly raised a couple of eyebrows and kicked off some interesting debate, but it's tough to blame him for the conclusion he made. This year's NHL Entry Draft is exceptionally tough to pin down and there's guaranteed to be some fairly intense drama as the first round unfolds.
This draft is being compared to the 2003 draft that yielded what could be considered the talent backbone of the league right now, and there are many who feel that there isn't a talent drop-off until well around the No. 12 pick or so, with another top level progressing well into the late first round. This means the chances of selecting elite talent, even at No. 10, is certainly very high -- but it all depends on how the draft shakes out and the strategy that Jim Nill and Les Jackson will have in the first round.
The Dallas Stars have shown an aversion to top offensive talent in the first round in favor of size, as well as playing the dangerous game of "drafting for need." When you're in the top ten of the draft, logic says to go to the very next player on your board regardless of position -- and it's debatable whether that's the strategy the Stars followed under Nieuwendyk.
That being said, this draft is deep that even if a player like Darnell Nurse falls to the Stars at No. 10 -- that doesn't mean the team absolutely must pick him. Which centers are available? Are the Stars locked into taking a center this draft, after doing the same in 2012?
This mock draft is just my preliminary picks, although it's more of a scenario-driven mock draft than a true draft board. We'll have more extensive mocks in the coming weeks, as well as analysis of what the teams ahead of the Stars could choose to do with their individual selections.
|1||Colorado Avalanche||Seth Jones, D||WHL||This one was a no-brainer. Best player in the draft and he's a "hometown kid," at least according to the latest narrative.|
|2||Florida Panthers||Nathan MacKinnon, C||QMJHL||The Panthers need a center and MacKinnon could have gone No. 1 overall.|
|3||Tampa Bay Lightning||Jonathan Drouin, LW||QMJHL||The Lightning also need help at center but at No. 3 you have to take the best player on the board. Drouin isn't a bad consolation prize.|
|4||Nashville Predators||Aleksander Barkov, C||Finland||I kept trying to think of ways Barkov would fall past Nashville and couldn't.|
|5||Carolina Hurricanes||Valeri Nichushkin, LW/RW||Russia||Nichushkin is a tough study. Logic says he's a top 3 talent, but the KHL cloud remains.|
|6||Calgary Flames||Sean Monahan, C||OHL||The Flames are in desperate help at center and Monahan is the best the OHL has to offer.|
|7||Edmonton Oilers||Darnell Nurse., D||OHL||This is a no-brainer.|
|8||Buffalo Sabres||Elias Lindholm, C/RW||Sweden||Lindholm is the most intriguing player in the draft, in my eyes, and he could go anywhere from No. 4 to No. 10.|
|9||New Jersey Devils||Rasmus Ristolainen, D||Finland||The Devils need help on offense as well as defense and Ristolainen should be at the top of their board at No. 9.|
|10||Dallas Stars||Hunter Shinkaruk, C||WHL||Shinkaruk's size might be of concern, but he's exceptionally sturdy and has elite playmaking skills. He's tried and tested in the physical WHL, where the Stars are most successful at finding talent.|
|11||Philadelphia Flyers||Ryan Pulock, D||WHL||Pulock will help aid a struggling Flyers defense corps and instantly becomes their top prospect.|
|12||Phoenix Coyotes||Alexander Wennberg, C||Sweden||Might be a bit of a reach for Wennberg here, but the Coyotes need top offensive talent up the middle.|
|13||Winnipeg Jets||Robert Hagg, D||Sweden||Most underrated defenseman in the draft.|
|14||Columbus Blue Jackets||Max Domi, C||OHL||Truculence and skill.|