The NHL Draft has descended on Philadelphia, and the City of Brotherly Love is sure to produce a lot of excitement on the draft floor, whether it’s with surprise picks or trades.
Too Many Men on the Site has you covered for the NHL Draft, as we’ll let you know about every draft pick and big trade as they happen over the next few hours.
The Florida Panthers have the first pick in this year’s draft, so Dale Tallon will have some decisions to make.
The top prospects are Barrie Colts defenceman Aaron Ekblad, Kootenay Ice forward Sam Reinhart (son of Paul Reinhart, 11-year NHL veteran), and Kingston Frontenacs forward Sam Bennett, who is seen as the next Doug Gilmour.
Of course, the Panthers could create some intrigue by trading the pick to another team. In a bit of a coincidence, the Panthers were the last team to trade the top pick, back in 2003. If Tallon gets the right offer, he just might pull the trigger on it.
Some pieces have already moved around in this year’s draft, as Ryan Kesler has been traded to the Anaheim Ducks for Nick Bonino, Luca Sbisa, and this year’s 24th overall pick. With other names like Ottawa Senators captain Jason Spezza also rumoured to be on the move, the drama should go well beyond the NHL Draft board.
Whose name will be called first? Who will be calling the name, Dale Tallon or someone else? Stay here with us as we take you into the NHL Draft.
2014 NHL DRAFT COVERAGE
NHL DRAFT UPDATE (7:04 P.M.) – According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, it looks like Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon will be keeping the first overall pick.
Gary Bettman takes the stage. Philadelphia’s not a fan of him, booing the heck out of him. He also confirms the Phoenix Coyotes’ name change to the Arizona Coyotes.
1. Florida Panthers – Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie Colts
Not much of a surprise here. The first defenseman ever granted OHL exceptional player status back in 2011, Aaron Ekblad is head, shoulders, and possibly even torso above any other defensive prospect in the draft. The Barrie Colts captain is a big guy at six-foot-four, 216 pounds, plays mean, and has a big shot from the point. He’s a smart player at both ends, and he made his OHL career shutting down the opposition’s top forwards. The Belle River, Ont., native is the kind of presence the Panthers can build a defense corps around, a Shea Weber-type player if and when he fills out, especially after Dale Tallon passed over Seth Jones last year.
2. Buffalo Sabres – Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay Ice
Sam Reinhart is one of many forwards you’ll see tonight with an NHL pedigree. His father, Paul Reinhart, played 11 NHL seasons, while his brothers, Max Reinhart and Griffin Reinhart, are also NHL prospects. In fact, Griffin, the fourth overall pick by the New York Islanders in 2012, just captained the Edmonton Oil Kings to the Memorial Cup. Sam Reinhart is a two-way forward who can really think his way around the ice, drawing comparisons to players like John Tavares, Henrik Zetterberg, and even Adam Oates.
3. Edmonton Oilers – Leon Draisaitl, C, Prince Albert Raiders
Not to be confused with Leon Sandcastle, the German first came to prominence at the 2012-13 World Junior Hockey Championships, posting six points in six games as a 17-year-old. The six-foot-two, 209-pound Draisaitl reminds some people of Jaromir Jagr with how he uses his body to protect the puck, though he’s also got a keen offensive awareness about him, with Craig MacTavish even dropping an Anze Kopitar comparison. Draisaitl becomes the highest-drafted German ever (Dany Heatley has German-Canadian dual citizenship), displacing Marcel Goc, drafted 20th overall in 2001.
4. Calgary Flames – Sam Bennett, C, Kingston Frontenacs
Though he’s not the biggest guy around, Sam Bennett is usually compared to Doug Gilmour, his general manager in Kingston. In fact, if you suspended disbelief in watching Bennett, you might even think it’s Gilmour, right down to the number 93 jersey on his back. Bennett is a complete player who’s very tenacious, and he’s a guy who could give the Flames a real spark in the lineup, whether it’s in October or somewhere down the road. There were some knocks on him for being unable to do a pull-up at the NHL Scouting Combine, but he has since proven he’s capable.
5. New York Islanders – Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa Generals
Michael Dal Colle and his family have overcome a lot over the last few years off the ice. On the ice, Dal Colle has made his mark in Oshawa as a power forward with a big frame, though at 180 pounds, he’ll be even more effective once he fills out his six-foot-two frame. Though he’s improved after on a line skating with Philadelphia Flyers prospect Scott Laughton, Dal Colle could use some more work in his own end, though his scoring touch is too good to ignore. Dan Marr, the NHL’s Director of Central Scouting, has compared Dal Colle to Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, so the Islanders should consider themselves lucky to have him.
6. Vancouver Canucks – Jake Virtanen, RW, Calgary Hitmen
Jake Virtanen only knows one gear, and that’s fast, which is trouble for those in his way. In addition to being six-foot-one, 190 pounds (with room to grow), Virtanen won fastest skater honours at the CHL Top Prospects Game, so you know he’s got a motor. Virtanen has also put his scoring touch on display, jumping from 16 goals in his first season with Calgary to 45 last season, drawing comparisons to Joffrey Lupul in the process. He was a key player in Canada’s gold-medal performance in the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and he put up six points in seven games at this year’s World Under-18 Championships, where Canada won bronze.
7. Carolina Hurricanes – Haydn Fleury, D, Red Deer Rebels
The best defenseman in the draft after Ekblad, Haydn Fleury could be the beneficiary of a draft class where elite defenseman are few and far between. Fleury is another physical, shutdown-type defenseman who can log minutes against the other team’s top forwards, and his exposure likely grew after becoming a focal point when Mathew Dumba was traded to Portland. He’s also a mobile defender who can contribute offensively, scoring 46 points in 70 games for Brent Sutter‘s club this season. Though he likely won’t make the jump to the NHL next season, he could be a Brent Seabrook-type player if given the proper development time.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs – William Nylander, C/RW, MoDo (Sweden)
Another player with NHL lineage, William played with his father, Michael Nylander, for Swedish second division team Rogle BK before jumping to MoDo, becoming the latest in a long line of NHL prospects out of the MoDo system. He’s not a big player at five-foot-11, 169 pounds, but he is considered a puck handling wizard on the ice. Some think Nylander is the most skilled player in the draft, but his size and defensive play are areas of concern. Hurricanes young gun Jeff Skinner is frequently mentioned as Nylander’s NHL comparable, and you could bet Toronto would be pleased if he could replicate Skinner’s success.
TRADE – THE NASHVILLE PREDATORS HAVE ACQUIRED JAMES NEAL FROM THE PITTSBURGH PENGUINS IN EXCHANGE FOR PATRIC HORNQVIST AND NICK SPALING.
9. Winnipeg Jets – Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax Mooseheads
Winnipeg just might be getting a Jet here. The biggest beneficiary of Lightning prospect Jonathan Drouin’s return to Halifax, Nikolaj Ehlers is another player with a world of skill at his disposal. The dynamite Dane was a strong replacement for Nathan MacKinnon, carving up the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season after coming over from EHC Biel in Switzerland, scoring 49 goals and 55 assists in 63 games, adding another 28 points in 16 playoff games. Ehlers has drawn some lofty comparisons, with some seeing him as a hybrid of MacKinnon and Drouin, though names like Markus Naslund and Pavel Bure have popped up as well. He also got to learn from Tyler Seguin and Patrick Kane when they went to Biel during the 2012-13 NHL lockout.
10. Anaheim Ducks (via Ottawa) – Nick Ritchie, RW, Peterborough Petes
Nick Ritchie is a mountain of a man, checking in at six-foot-two, 230 pounds. He’s improved in each of his three years in Peterborough under former NHLers Mike Pelino and Jody Hull, though injuries limited him to 41 games in his second season. His older brother, Brett Ritchie, was a second-round pick in Dallas in 2011, and just won a Calder Cup with the Texas Stars. As for Nick, he’s another big power forward who can take over a game and protect pucks with the best of them, and his offensive tendencies remind some folks, including Dan Marr of NHL Central Scouting, of Nashville sniper James Neal.
11. Nashville Predators – Kevin Fiala, LW, HV 71 (Sweden)
The Swiss forward has impressed wherever he’s gone, and he’s been an offensive star. Pierre McGuire made a comparison between Fiala and Maxim Afinogenov, and said he’s the kind of player who can blow you away. Fiala won’t make an immediate impact in the Music City, but he’s the kind of player the Predators need. They’ve never been a great offensive team, so for them to get a speedy game-breaker like Fiala is a step in the right direction to give Peter Laviolette some weapons to work with.
12. Arizona Coyotes – Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagara IceDogs
At six-foot-three, 205 pounds, Brendan Perlini already has NHL size, so imagine him when he fills out to between 215 and 220 pounds as a professional. Perlini’s huge, he’s fast, and he can finish, and what team wouldn’t want someone with those qualities? 2013-14 was Perlini’s only full OHL season, but he sure made an impact in Niagara, with 71 points in 58 games. He’s also a player who can make things happen regardless of where he is on the ice, and he has drawn comparisons to Ottawa Senators forward Bobby Ryan.
13. Washington Capitals – Jakub Vrana, C/RW, Linkoping (Sweden)
The first Czech taken in this year’s draft, Jakub Vrana adds yet another offensive weapon to the Capitals arsenal. He’s not a guy the Capitals will need right away, so it gives him time to develop improved defensive awareness and become a more complete player. Vrana also has a great offensive mind, and an ability to see the game as well as just about any prospect in the draft. He’s got a quick release, and he’s got great foot speed, not unlike a fellow Czech in Jakub Voracek.
14. Dallas Stars – Julius Honka, D, Swift Current Broncos
Another great Finnish offensive defenceman following Olli Maatta and Sami Vatanen, Julius Honka can bring an offensive dimension to the Dallas blue line not seen since Sergei Zubov in his prime. He’s easily the most mobile defenseman in this year’s draft class, and he thinks the game as well as any other prospect. He may be a smaller defenseman, but his speed and positioning on the ice can compensate for what he lacks in size. It wouldn’t be a stretch to compare Honka to a former Norris Trophy winner in Erik Karlsson.
15. Detroit Red Wings – Dylan Larkin, C, U.S. Under-18 National Development Team
Another player who could be a big, fast forward in the league one day, the Red Wings won’t rush Larkin along. He’s committed to the University of Michigan, but he could one day emerge as a future leader for an NHL team, whether it’s Detroit or another team. Larkin is a strong goal scorer, but he needs to further develop the physical dimension of his game if he wants to take the next step after leaving the Wolverines. His ability to score, combined with how he thinks the game, will remind some people of Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets – Sonny Milano, U.S. Under-18 National Development Team
If you’ve got a name like Sonny Milano, you’d better have some swagger to back it up, and the Boston College commit has that in spades. Milano can handle a puck with the best of them, and he’s got the kind of speed that will make him a handful for opposing defenders to handle, even before you think of his offensive skill sets, especially when it comes to keeping the puck on his stick. He’s been playing with potential 2015 first-overall pick Jack Eichel, but if you want a comparison (even in looks, to an extent), you’re looking at St. Louis Blues forward T.J. Oshie.
17. Philadelphia Flyers – Travis Sanheim, D, Calgary Hitmen
Broad Street might have hit big on this offensive defenseman, with Craig Button comparing him to Ryan McDonagh. Sanheim is a big boy at six-foot-four, and he could easily fill out to about 220 to 230 pounds from his current 205 pounds. He’s a big guy, but he also plays a smart game. He’s got the offense-first mentality and a good stride, but he could be a scary proposition for opponents if he ever develops a mean streak. The pick itself might be a bit of a reach, but if he turns out anything like Johnny Boychuk has in Boston, the Flyers should consider themselves fortunate.
18. Minnesota Wild – Alex Tuch, U.S. Under-18 National Development Team
First of all, Alex Tuch is already huge at six-foot-four, 219 pounds. He’s already a nightmare matchup for players his age, but can you picture him if he gets to 230, or even 240? You’re talking Milan Lucic territory, possibly with better hands. He plays with Jack Eichel and newly-drafted Columbus prospect Sonny Milano, and the combination of a big frame with above-average speed means the Wild have a player who can control the puck almost at will. Like Milano, Tuch is likely to attend Boston College and continue the tradition of great Terrier products.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning – Anthony DeAngelo, D, Sarnia Sting
Of all the offensive defensemen available in the 2014 NHL Draft, Anthony DeAngelo might have the most pure skill of all of them, though he comes with personality questions because of multiple suspensions incurred in the OHL. He may still be a few years away, but his offensive game screams Mike Green. DeAngelo was the highest-scoring offensive defenseman among draft-eligibles with 71 points, a full 15 points clear of Julis Honka, and 18 up on top pick Aaron Ekblad. He’s quick, and he plays with an edge, but he’ll have to prevent himself from going over the edge if he wants to have continued success.
TRADE: THE SAN JOSE SHARKS TRADE PICKS #20 AND #179 TO THE CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS FOR PICKS #27 AND #62.
20. Chicago Blackhawks (via San Jose) – Nick Schmaltz, C, Green Bay, USHL
Nick Schmaltz might be a smaller player, but he’s another guy who can think his way around the game pretty well, with Craig Button comparing him to Jason Spezza, who may or may not be traded tonight. He can play any role asked of him, whether it’s as a playmaker (45 assists last season) or a goal scorer (24 points in 27 games with Chicago Mission in 2010-11). Another small speedster, Schmaltz could work on his defensive game, along with being more consistent on the ice. Luckily for him, the Blackhawks don’t need to rush him through the system, so he can further develop his game at the University of North Dakota with his older brother, Jordan, a first-round pick of the St. Louis Blues.
21. St. Louis Blues – Robby Fabbri, C/LW, Guelph Storm
No prospect has risen in hype more than Robby Fabbri. An offensive dynamo, Fabbri was the most valuable player in the OHL playoffs, tallying 28 points in 16 games en route to an OHL title and an appearance in the Memorial Cup final. Fabbri rocketed up the chart with a 45-goal season in Guelph, way up from 10 the previous season. Once again, he’s not the biggest player, but Fabbri’s the type to leave it all on the ice with his speed, and he’s not afraid to go where others won’t. Fabbri sees a lot of Mike Richards in himself, and he’s made scouts agree with him with his play.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins – Kasperi Kapanen, RW, KalPa (Finland)
When you think of a Kapanen, you think of a player with great speed and a nose for the net. For over 10 years, we’d have been talking about Sami Kapanen. Now, it’s his son who’s getting the attention. Kasperi Kapanen is one of the most dangerous players in this year’s draft, bringing Sami’s offensive presence and elite puck control, though Kasperi doesn’t have speed to burn like his father did. The top-rated European skater in the NHL’s final Central Scouting rankings, Kapanen has skated against men in his native Finland, but like so many others, he could definitely do with a bit more weight on his frame to become a more solid player.
23. Colorado Avalanche – Conner Bleackley, C, Red Deer Rebels
Bleackley is another Red Deer product who has a strong 200-foot game with obvious leadership skills, as evidenced by him being the Rebels captain. He’s willing to work to get wherever he needs to go, and that’s the kind of player who can really influence the culture in the Avalanche once he arrives. He doesn’t stop when he’s on the ice, and he’s become much more productive, jumping to 68 points this season from 18 just a year earlier. Bleackley could draw comparisons to players like Derek Stepan and Patrice Bergeron.
24. Vancouver Canucks – Jared McCann, C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds
Vancouver’s second pick of the first round, Jared McCann is yet another player who can play a 200-foot game effectively. He’s another thinker on the ice, and he can see the game like Boston Bruins pivot David Krejci, though names like Ryan Kesler and David Legwand wouldn’t be out of place. Though he doesn’t have the offensive numbers of some of the other centres drafted already, McCann has a complete game, and he’s another guy who just won’t stop until he does what he’s supposed to do.
25. Boston Bruins – David Pastrnak, Sodertalje (Sweden)
The second Czech player taken in the first round, David Pastrnak has a well-rounded game that will just get better with more development time. Part of a growing wave of young Czech talent, Pastrnak is another player who can think his way around the ice, using a relentless forecheck and great agility to accomplish what he sets out to do. He’s a creative player who can make things happen on the ice, and he’ll only get better once he becomes more physical and willing to get a bit dirty, sort of like fellow Czech Ales Hemsky.
26. Montreal Canadiens – Nikita Scherbak, LW, Saskatoon Blades
As it is right now, Nikita Scherbak is much more productive in the other team’s end than he is in his own. He still needs to develop that defensive awareness and skill set to become a more complete player, but he will give Montreal a bigger body once he cracks the lineup. He’s only played one season in North America, but it was a good one, as he put up 78 points in 65 games. If he can get stronger, continue his solid adjustment to the North American game, and improve his defensive presence, he’s potentially a Marian Gaborik-type player, though he’s still a couple years away.
27. San Jose Sharks (via Chicago) – Nikolay Goldobin, LW, Sarnia Sting
Nikolay Goldobin is a player who could have gone higher, but he may have been a victim of other teams having different needs. Goldobin can flat-out play, as he put up 94 points in 67 games in his first season in North America. Sarnia wasn’t very good, so Goldobin was a bright spot. He’s also occasionally a blur because of his speed on the ice, and he’s an elusive player who can slide into scoring areas undetected. However, Goldobin’s neutralizer so far has been playing against bigger players. If he can get stronger, the Sharks could have another golden player on their hands, something in the vein of Hurricanes sniper and fellow Russian Alexander Semin.
TRADE: TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING TRADES PICK #28 TO THE NEW YORK ISLANDERS FOR PICKS #35 AND #57.
28. New York Islanders (via Tampa Bay via New York Rangers) – Joshua Ho-Sang, C/RW, Windsor Spitfires
Joshua Ho-Sang has skill to burn. The trouble a lot of teams have had with him is that the skill has largely been individual with him so far, and people wonder if he can play a team game in the professional ranks. He is an incredibly agile player, but he’s a bit on the light side at 165 pounds. He’s a fast player who can shoot and pass, and he’s not afraid to go into the tough places to get on the board. However, he needs to be more consistent, and much more willing to play with teammates if he wants his skill to translate to the next level. If it does, the Islanders may have themselves a future star to build with John Tavares. Imagine him with a player like another former Spitfire in Taylor Hall? Yikes.
29. Los Angeles Kings – Adrian Kempe, LW, MoDo (Sweden)
Adrian Kempe is another MoDo product, the second to go tonight after William Nylander. Kempe plays a physical game, and simply put, he’s the kind of player you win with. There’s an unbridled tenacity in Kempe’s game, and it could get even better if he put on a few more pounds to get around the 200 mark. He’s a strong skater, not afraid to get in and screen a goaltender, and he can grind through just about anything. Some people may question whether or not he can develop the offensive skills to succeed as a top-six forward, but as a third-line forward, you may not find a better fit than Kempe.
30. New Jersey Devils – John Quenneville, C, Brandon Wheat Kings
A cousin of Chicago Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville, John Quenneville is a smart player who has good instincts in the offensive zone. He might not be the flashiest selection in this NHL Draft, but he is the kind of player who can be effective as a professional. He will have to get faster to be more effective, and he has to be more effective at even strength if he wants to fit into a New Jersey system. Quenneville could be compared to a current Devil in Adam Henrique, or even someone like new Vancouver Canuck Nick Bonino.