Even though it's seven days away, the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, has brought plenty of intrigue and mystery. For much of the 2013-14 season, Barrie Colts' defenseman Aaron Ekblad, Kingston Frontenacs' forward Sam Bennett and Kootenay Ice forward Sam Reinhart topped various scouts' lists as the best player in their respective rankings.
Come June 27-28, all eyes on the hockey world will be on Philadelphia as the draft will be held at the Wells Fargo Center. It's Graduation Day for these rising stars as their names will be called and dreams of walking to the podium and wearing their future employers' hat and jersey. Which team will
take "which player" you ask? Give the following mock draft a look and
have an opinion.
1. Florida Panthers: Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie Colts (OHL)-By far, Ekblad is not only the best defenseman by a large margin, but he's the best player on the board. He's this year's Seth Jones as he'll step in right away. He is a team captain in the making.
2. Buffalo Sabres: Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay Ice (WHL)-One of the few standouts for Team Canada at the World Juniors, Reinhart should help the Sabres' anemic offense, which produced 1.85 goals per game in 13-14. Thrives on playing in all situations in the Jonathan Toews mold.
3. Edmonton Oilers: Leon Draisaitl, C, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)-The Oilers are in desperate need of a forward who plays the puck possession game, which Draisaitl does. Already have NHL size, the "German Gretzky" should be in the NHL this October.
4. Calgary Flames: Sam Bennett, LW, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)-Forget pushup game, Bennett is the best player on the board. He was the engine or the Frontenacs' offensive brigade in a season were he posted an OHL season-high 25 consecutive-game point-scoring streak.
5. New York Islanders: Michael Dal Colle, C, Oshawa Generals-An under the radar player of out of this year's fab five draftees, Dal Colle almost doubled his point production in his draft year. He would provide a nice one-two punch up the middle with John Tavares.
6. Vancouver Canucks: Jake Virtanen, LW, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)-Despite his recent shoulder surgery and missing the recent NHL combine, Virtanen is a goal scorer with a mean streak in the Milan Lucic mold. He should fit in with the Western Conerence just fine.
7. Carolina Hurricanes: William Nylander, C, Modo (Sweden)-An offensive-minded player, Nylander held his own agains men this past season. Also played along side his father and former NHLer, Michael Nylander. Would provide a nice one-two punch with Jeff Skinner.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs: Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagara IceDogs (OHL)-Perlini's draft stock went through the roof in 2013-14 with his 34-goal, 37-assist performance. He has a nose for the net and has an uncanny shot to match.
9. Winnipeg Jets: Nikolai Ehlers, LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)-The first year junior player picked up where Nathan MacKinnon left off and tore up the "Q" with 49 goals 104 points in 63 games to lead all rookies in the "Q." Provided excellent chemistry with Jonathan Drouin in Halifax.
10. Anaheim Ducks (via Ottawa Senators): Nick Ritchie, LW, Peterborough Petes (OHL)-Arguably the toughest player in this year's draft class, Ritchie raised his power forward game last season, but it's a matter of consistency. Brother of Dallas Star Brett Ritchie.
11. Nashville Predators: Kasperi Kapanen, RW, KalPa (Finland)-The Predators have shored up their blueline so it's now the Predators' turn to selecting a winger. The son of former NHLer Sami Kapanen is a solid two-way player with a solid set of wheels.
12. Phoenix Coyotes: Kevin Fiala, LW, HV71 (Sweden)-Fiala's on-ice abiliy draws comparisons to William Nylander, but he has to work on his defensive game. If he were a few inches taller, he'd be taken higher, but he has room to grow physically.
13. Washington Capitals: Haydn Fleury, D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)-The Capitals are set on offense, but it's the for the Capitals to groom their next star defenseman. Fleury is a nice-building block for the blueline.
14. Dallas Stars: Sonny Milano, LW, U.S. NTDP (USHL)-An offensive dynamo, Milano is a skating highlight reel. Though he racked up 39 points in 25 games, Milano needs to work on his defense. Perhaps playing for Boston College should help him become a complete player.
15. Detroit Red Wings: Robby Fabbri, C, Guelph Storm, (OHL)-The age of the Red Wings' offensive unit has aged another year, but Fabbri has game-breaking talent. He'd be a nice addition alongside Anthony Mantha, Tomas Jurco, Martin Frk and Teemu Pulkkinen in a couple of years.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets: Julius Honka, D, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)-After using their three first-round picks on offense, the Blue Jackets have to address the need at their own end. Honka adjusted well to the North American game this past season.
17. Philadelphia Flyers: Jared McCann, C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)-A strong two way player with a great work ethic, McCann will be an instant hit with the Flyers and their fan base. His release is lethal, probably the best shot in the OHL.
18. Minnesota Wild: Thatcher Demko, G, Boston College (Hockey East)-With Josh Harding's health issues and Niklas Backstrom's age and frequent trips to the Mash unit, Demko is a slam dunk as the Wild's future franchise netminder.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning: Dylan Larkin, LW, U.S. NTDP (USHL)-A player who leads by example, Larkin plays in all situations. One of the standouts at the USA Hockey All-American Prospects game, Larkin will continue to hone his craft at the University of Michigan this fall.
20. San Jose Sharks: Alex Tuch, RW, U.S. NTDP (USHL)-Tuch thrived playing alongside Sonny Milano and 2015 draft-eligible forward Jack Eichel this season. This power forward, who will reunite with Milano at Boston College this fall, has untapped potential
21. St. Louis Blues: Ivan Barbashev, LW, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)-Barbashev hasn't been phased to the North American game in his two seasons in the "Q". He was the youngest member of Russian's bronze-medal winning team at this year's World Juniors.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins: Nikolay Goldobin, RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)-A great value pick at the 22-spot. Goldobin finished one point behind Michael Dal Colle in goals and points leading all OHL draft eligible forwards. Has game-changing potential.
23. Colorado Avalanche: David Pastrnak, LW, Sodertalje (Sweden)-Pastrnak was snagged with the injury bug in his draft year, but made the most of the situation. His offensive game and speed are dazzling, but needs to add some muscle for the NHL grind.
24. Anaheim Ducks: Nikita Scherbak, RW, Saskatoon Blades (WHL)-What he lacks in skating, Scherbak makes up for is what's between the ears. Has a great hockey sense. The first-year WHLer led all rookies in scoring with 78 points in 65 games.
25. Boston Bruins: Anthony DeAngelo, D, Sarnia Sting (OHL)-DeAngelo could scare some teams because of character issues, but the Bruins can afford to take a gamble. An offensive talent, DeAngelo still needs to work on his defensive game. Playing on an improved Sting team should help him improve.
26. Montreal Canadiens: Josh Ho-Sang, RW, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)-A player with breath-taking talent, Ho-Sang nearly doubled his point production and did a 180 on his defensive game, but has a tendency to hold on to the puck too long. The Habs are a team that can work with him on becoming an complete player.
27. Chicago Blackhawks: Travis Sanheim, D, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)-The prospect cupboard is just about full, but the Blackhawks need to start grooming defenseman. Sanheim's overall play improved as the season progressed.
28. Tampa Bay Lightning (via New York Rangers): Roland McKeown, D, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)-After using their first first round pick on some offense, the Lightning goes to defense and picking McKeown would bring a nice addition to the blueline.
29. Los Angeles Kings: Jack Dougherty, D, U.S. NTDP (USHL)-Nice luxury pick by the Stanley Cup Champions. Dougherty became a better all-around player during the season as his offensive game caught up with his play behind the blueline.
30. New Jersey Devils: Brendan Lemieux, LW, Barrie Colts (OHL)-Lemieux is a chip off the old block, but he has the potential to be a better NHLer than his old man. He's the player you hate to play against, but
you'd love him on your team.