So the 2014 NHL Draft is on Friday, and many teams are already having an idea on who they might draft. This year’s draft will be known for its energetic offense as well as toughness. Here is a look at what the to teams in the top 10 spots (as it stands right now) should be looking for in Philadelphia on Friday.
1. Florida Panthers
With Roberto Luongo in net and a respectable young defense corps coming up, the Panthers need to boost their offense. Although the middle looks secure with youngsters Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, and Vincent Trochek, the sides are fairly weak. Brad Boyes and Scottie Upshall, despite both only scoring thirty-something points, were the team’s highest-scoring wingers. However, none of the top few picks in the draft are wingers, so they will have to settle on a center like Sam Reinhart or Sam Bennett. If they believe, though, in the philosophy of picking the best player available, they will probably pick Aaron Ekblad and build their team from a strong defense up.
Most probable pick: Aaron Ekblad
2. Buffalo Sabres
Although it may look like the Sabres should just get the best player available judging by their ugly depth everywhere in the lineup, one should consider their wealth of prospects that they have acquired in the past couple drafts. The team’s defense in the future will have top prospects Rasmus Ristolainen, Nikita Zadorov, and Mark Pysyk on it, however, adding a player like Ekblad to the mix will help too. Also, their centers look good with Cody Hodgson, Mikhail Grigorenko, and Zemgus Girgensons. But with lack of wingers in the top 10, they will likely have to go with another center.
Most probable pick: Sam Bennett
3. Edmonton Oilers
The Oilers definitely need a strong power forward after picking snipers like Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov recently. They could use a defenceman, too, but Aaron Ekblad has a good chance of getting picked earlier.
Most probable pick: Leon Draisaitl
4. Calgary Flames
The Flames are in a great position to pick up one of the top 3 forwards in the draft-Draisaitl, Reinhart, or Bennett- and should be happy about that because they need a top forward. They can use some more offense to complement future power-play members Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.
Most probable pick: Sam Reinhart
5. New York Islanders
They decided to give Buffalo next year’s pick instead of this one, so this needs to be a good pick. The team’s prospects list is loaded with defenders like Calvin de Haan, Griffin Reinhart, Ryan Pulock, and Ville Pokka, so getting a forward is essential.
Most probable pick: Michael Dal Colle
6. Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks are lucky that this year’s draft has many top forwards in it, because they need some more high scoring. They have had problems with depth up front the past couple years, so selecting a forward like Willie Nylander, Jake Virtanen, or Kasperi Kapanen will be a good decision.
Most probable pick: Jake Virtanen
7. Carolina Hurricanes
Yet another team that needs more offense, but at the same time they need some toughness and grit. Brendan Perlini and Nick Ritchie are both big players who can score, but if a top forward falls who isn’t as big, then they will be wise to take him.
Most probable pick: Nick Ritchie
8. Toronto Maple Leafs
After falling off the cliff last season, it is hard to determine what exactly the Leafs need. Nick Ritchie would be the most ideal pick, but if the Hurricanes pick him, then they should go with either Perlini, or Nikolaj Ehlers, who plays bigger than his frame.
Most probable pick: Nikolaj Ehlers
9. Winnipeg Jets
The Jets are pretty much balanced out everywhere when it comes to young skill, so they should go for the best player available, something they haven’t done too much recently.
Most probable pick: Willie Nylander
10. Anaheim Ducks
Unlike most of the teams in the top 10 slots, the Ducks need some more defense prospects. Haydn Fleury will hopefully fall into their hands. If he doesn’t, then there is a big gap between the next best defenseman, so they will probably go after a scorer like Kasperi Kapanen.
Most probable pick: Haydn Fleury