|NHL Mock Draft: Who’s No. 3?||06.14.10 at 5:01 pm ET|
If there is one thing you should know about me, it’s that I live for draft projections. We had some moderate success mocking the NFL draft this season (the good: called Rob Gronkowski and Brandon Spikes to Patriots; the bad: had Ricky Sapp about 100 picks too high), so after years of doing NHL mocks elsewhere, it’s time I bring my projections to the Big Bad Blog. There’s been enough chatter about this draft (what the first two picks mean, whether the Bruins will move around with all their picks, etc.) that Bruins fans should be as prepared as possible before the 25th day of the month rolls around.
The Oilers can’t lose with this pick and quite frankly, neither can the Bruins in the No. 2 slot. Both guys are can’t-miss prospects with no visible flaws in their game and measure/weigh in the . They both figure to be up their among the league leaders in goals by the time they hit their prime, and they’ll at least be difference-makers at rookies. The fans in Edmonton prefer Hall, so it could be the difference in a remarkably close race.
Boo hoo, the Bruins don’t get the guy at the position at which they need the most help. Isn’t their biggest need a goal-scorer? Just because they’re loaded up the middle and don’t have impact scorers on the wing, doesn’t mean they won’t gladly take the guy who scored eight more goals than Hall this past season (48 G). As for the talk of trading up, the difference between these two guys isn’t big enough to warrant moving the 15th or 32nd pick.
3. Florida Panthers (77 points) Cam Fowler, D, Windsor (OHL)
Much like the top two forwards in this draft, there is a bit of uncertainty as to who the first defenseman off the board will be. Many feel that Erik Gudbranson will be the guy who goes third, but the Panthers might prefer the American-born goal-scoring blue-liner in Fowler.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets (79 points) Brett Connolly, LW, Prince George (WHL)
The Blue Jackets are one of the teams rumored to be interested in trading for Senators center Jason Spezza, and unlike many of the other teams reportedly involved in talks, they actually make sense as a landing spot. As a result, don’t be surprised if Columbus doesn’t end up selecting with this pick. If they stay put, however, they’ll try to add offense after recently signing 2009 first-round defenseman David Savard.
5. New York Islanders (79 points) Erik Gudbranson, D, Kingston (OHL)
Gudbranson would be a beyond solid pick for the Islanders because he, along with Blake Kessel once he signs, will help build a versatile stable of young defensemen. Gudbranson uses what size he has (6-foot-3, 195 pounds) and is your more hard-nosed defenseman, while Kessel is more offensive-minded and will help on the power play.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning (80 points) Brandon Gormley, D, Moncton (QMJHL)
The bad news for Lightning GM Steve Yzerman is that he won’t be able to get Seguin, who has been compared to the Hall of Famer by many, with the sixth pick. The good news is that the Lightning can’t get much worse than they were in ’09-’10 and that adding Gormley to a good young nucleus can only help. Gormley, who is more like Fowler than Gudbranson, is a good puck-moving defenseman who figures to be a top-four defenseman for years to come.
7. Carolina Hurricanes (80 points) Nino Niederreiter, LW, Portland (WHL)
The team could very well be on the verge of losing left wing Ray Whitney to free agency, and while the NHL is different from the NBA and NFL in that teams generally can’t plug in draft picks to replace lost talent, Niederreiter is the best left winger in this draft not named Hall or Connolly.
8. Atlanta Thrashers (83 points) Ryan Johansen, C, Portland (WHL)
Don’t be surprised if four of the first eight picks are Windsor Spitfires and Portland Winterhawks, as is the case here. Windsor’s Hall isn’t the only one to boost his stock with an outstanding showing in the playoffs, as Johansen racked up 18 points in 13 games in the postseason for Portland.