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2014 NHL Mock Draft, No. 1: Aaron Ekblad & Sam Reinhart Round Out Underwhelming Top Ten

We present the first of three mock drafts we’ll have here on DBD over the next month, with Huw giving his own take on the first round later this week.

One thing that instantly jumps out about this draft is that this is perhaps one of the more underwhelming top five I’ve seen in quite some time for the NHL draft. These are all very talented players but isn’t nearly the level of talent we saw in last year’s first round, and the Top 30 overall in this draft are very, very fluid.

I think this will be one of the more impossible first rounds to accurately predict outside of the top three or so, and I expect there will be many picks in the latter half of the round where it was expected that player would be selected much later. This year will be at the whim of draft boards and in a year like this one, those boards will certainly vary drastically from team to team.

I’ve presented a comment on the top ten picks as as well as the Dallas Stars’ pick; we’ll have full commentary on each pick in the first round during our final mock draft later in June.

Pick Team Player League Explanation
1 Florida Panthers Aaron Ekblad (D) OHL We’ve seen how valuable top pairing defensemen have become. There’s no way Florida can pass up one with the top pick of the draft.
2 Buffalo Sabres Sam Reinhart (C) WHL The Sabres need a No. 1 playmaking center to rebuild the franchise around, and Reinhart will fill that role perfectly.
3 Edmonton Oilers Michael DalColle (C/LW) OHL Exactly what the Oilers need: A good two-way winger with great size and amazing hands.
4 Calgary Flames Leon Draisaitl (C/LW) WHL The Flames go with a skilled playmaking center in the first pick of the Brian Burke Brad Treliving era.
5 New York Islanders Sam Bennett (C/LW) OHL Bennett has great speed and a high motor; would not be surprising if he went higher.
6 Vancouver Canucks Nick Ritchie (RW) OHL Ritchie is a power forward with every tool needed to be a star in the NHL. Great size, speed and hands.
7 Carolina Hurricanes William Nylander (C/LW) SHL Talented yet undersized playmaking and versatile center and seems built to be a puck possession hound.
8 Toronto Maple Leafs Jake Vertanen (RW) WHL Big physical power forward with tremendous hands and an underrated shot.
9 Winnipeg Jets Nikolaj Ehlers (LW) QMJHL Ehlers will be one of those picks in the middle of the first round where five years later everyone wonders how he made it past No. 2.
10 Anaheim Ducks Kasperi Kapanen (LW) FIN Play. Maker.
11 Nashville Predators Brendan Perlini (RW) OHL
12 Arizona Coyotes Haydn Fleury (D) WHL
13 Washington Capitals Jared McCann (C) OHL
14 Dallas Stars Kevin Fiala (RW) SHL The Stars address a major need by selecting a game-breaking offensive talent in Fiala, a right wing with incredible speed out of Sweden.
15 Detroit Red Wings Robby Fabbri (C/LW) OHL
16 Columbus Blue Jackets Alex Tuch (RW) USHL
17 Philadelphia Flyers David Pastrnak (LW) SWE
18 Minnesota Wild Nikolay Goldobin (RW) OHL
19 Tampa Bay Lightning Ivan Barbashev (LW) QMJHL
20 San Jose Sharks Dylan Larkin (C) USHL
21 St. Louis Blues Sonny Milano (LW) USHL
22 Pittsburgh Penguins Aaron Irving (D) WHL
23 Colorada Avalanche Roland McKeown (D) OHL
24 Anaheim Ducks Josh Ho-Sang (C) OHL
25 Boston Bruins Anton Karlsson (LW) SHL
26 Montreal Canadiens Markus Pettersson (D) SHL
27 Chicago Blackhawks John Quenneville (C) WHL
28 Tampa Bay Lightning Nick Schmaltz (C) USHL
29 Los Angeles Kings Brycen Martin (D) WHL
30 New Jersey Devils Jack Dougherty (D) HS-MIN