If 2007 and 2008 offered the richest discussion regarding this practice, I’d say that 2009 (and 2010) offer the most ambiguity. It certainly speaks more to the 2010 draft than 2009, but there are a number of players still working through their respective team’s development ladder from these two drafts. That makes things difficult as the value of those players hasn’t really been established yet.
So bear that in mind as there are a few names that may seem out of place given their current impact on the league. Also feel free to share thoughts on picks that you don’t see as accurate. These posts are meant to spur discussion, not serve as a gospel. The 2009 draft will serve as the final one I examine as the 2010 draft is still fresh enough to have a great many picks still in limbo.
1. New York Islanders: John Tavares
2. Tampa Bay Lightning: Victor Hedman
3. Colorado Avalanche: Matt Duchene
I don’t see any scenario in which these three teams have any interest in swapping their first selection. Each player has developed into a vital cog for each club and are showing nothing but promise moving forward.
4. Atlanta/Winnipeg: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (PHX, 6) – Original Pick: Evander Kane
OEL has evolved into a mobile, shutdown force who eats massive minutes for the Coyotes. He doesn’t get a ton of attention playing in the desert, but he’s continued to grown on an annual basis.
5. Los Angeles Kings: Ryan O’Reilly (COL, 33) – Original Pick: Brayden Schenn
O’Reilly is set to hit a massive payday this offseason after cashing in on a big offer sheet from Calgary last season. While he’s overshadowed by some of Colordao’s other stars he is growing into a phenomenal talent in his own right.
6. Phoenix Coyotes: Evander Kane (ATL, 4) – Original Pick: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
7. Toronto Maple Leafs: Brayden Schenn (LA, 5) – Original Pick: Nazem Kadri
It’s six to a half-dozen with this pair of selections. Both are energetic forwards with quality offensive upside. While Schenn served as ultra-valuable trade fodder in the seasons after this draft, Kane jumped right in with the Thrashers organization. Things seem to have stabilized a bit for Schenn in Philadelphia while Kane is now struggling with bad press in Winnipeg. An easy swap if Schenn’s value is considered to be higher than that of Kane, but both still remain as phenomenal talents.
8. Dallas Stars: Chris Kreider (NYR, 19) – Original Pick: Scott Glennie
Kreider is still considered a rookie despite cameos in each of the last three seasons. He’s jumped into a vital role on one of the Rangers’ top lines and to qualify his speed at anything other than blinding would be an insult. There’s still some room to grow in the goal scoring department, but I’m sure he’ll get there.
9. Ottawa Senators: Nazem Kadri (TOR, 7) – Original Pick: Jared Cowen
Kadri has caught a lot of heat in Toronto despite displaying an impressive skill set. He’s a supremely talented offensive weapon who would offer quality scoring support to the Senators.
10. Edmonton Oilers: Tomas Tatar (DET, 60) – Original Pick: Magnus Paajarvi
The Oilers missed the first time around on this pick but would be served quite well had Tatar been their pick. The Detroit model has served him well as he’s showing the traits of a slick playmaker with solid finishing skills.
11. Nashville Predators: Jakob Silfverberg (OTT, 39) – Original Pick: Ryan Ellis
A dynamic offensive forward for the team that’s continually searching for goal scorers. Silfverberg’s overall value has yet to be determined as we wait to see him take on a full NHL work load, but his time in the show thus far has shown him as a quality threat.
12. New York Islanders (from MIN): Dmitri Kulikov (FLA, 14) – Original Pick: Calvin de Haan
Full disclosure: there’s a very good chance that de Haan becomes a solid NHL defenseman. However, Kulikov has fit into the NHL almost from day one, making him a more valuable selection today.
13. Buffalo Sabres: Marcus Johansson (WSH, 24) – Original Pick: Zack Kassian
Buffalo’s desire for a quality power forward led them to Zack Kassian. He was gone and out of the organization quite shortly after while Johansson could have brought another layer of talent down the middle for the Sabres.
14. Florida Panthers: Kyle Palmieri (ANA, 26) – Original Pick: Dmitri Kulikov
Toss the speedy winger in the Sunshine State to help fill some of the holes in the Florida lineup.
15. Anaheim Ducks: Sami Vatanen (ANA, 106) – Original Pick: Peter Holland
Vatanen has shown that he’s a steady, quality defender despite his late pick status. There’s quality blueline depth remaining in this draft and each of those players line up quite close to Vatanen in skill as I give him the edge.
16. Minnesota Wild (from CBJ via NYI): Craig Smith (NSH, 98) – Original Pick: Nick Leddy
Smith is a terrific forward who has shown signs of continued improvement over each of the last few seasons. He has offensive prowess and defends well. He’s a perfect fit in Nashville and he’s a perfect fit in Minnesota.
17. St. Louis Blues: Cody Eakin (DAL, 85) – Original Pick: David Rundblad
Eakin’s style fits the Blues blueprint very well and he’s found a solid niche from where he’s contributing in the NHL. He’s a quality professional who moves up from the third round here.
18. Montreal Canadiens: Anders Lee (NYI, 152) – Original Pick: Louis LeBlanc
Lee is still an unknown at this point but seems to have the abilities to be a quality middle six forward for a number of teams.
19. New York Rangers: Nick Leddy (MIN, 16) – Original Pick; Chris Kreider
Leddy has shown quality offensive traits in his brief time in the league. His gaffe on the WCF game winner won’t easily be forgotten, but it doesn’t mean he’s any less of a player skill wise.
20. New Jersey Devils (from CGY): Simon Despres (PIT, 30) – Original Pick: Jacob Josefson
Despres wouldn’t solve every issue the Devils have on the blueline. He can lug the puck and produce points, which is something the Devils could use these.
21. Columbus Blues Jackets (from PHI via ANA): Zack Kassian (BUF, 13) – Original Pick: John Moore
While I don’t necessarily think that Kassian would be the final piece for any team’s push, adding him to the Jackets would help to provide toughness and some offensive flair to their lineup.
22. Vancouver Canucks: Ty Barrie (COL, 64) – Original Pick: Jordan Schroeder
Schroeder is another prospect who hasn’t made it through a full season at the NHL level. While his size may be working against him, it seems safe to say that there are better options available at this point. A sound, mobile blueliner fits that area of need perfectly for the Canucks.
23. Calgary Flames (from NJD): John Moore (CBJ, 21) – Original Pick: Tim Erixon
Slot in a quality two-way defender for the Flames here. Moore can play top four minutes and do it well after finding a comfortable home with the Ragners. He’d be a tremendous addition for the Flames.
24. Washington Capitals: Marcus Kruger (CHI, 149) – Original Pick: Marcus Johnasson
Finding a bit more responsibility in their own zone appears to be a serious mission for the Capitals and Kruger’s two-way abilities would be a great addition in DC.
25. Boston Bruins: Jared Cowen (OTT, 9) – Original Pick: Jordan Caron
Allowing a big bodied defenseman to tutor under the eye of Zdeno Chara seems like an ideal circumstance for any team. Coming away with Cowen would have given the Bruins yet another solid defenseman for the future.
26. Anaheim Ducks (from SJ, via TB, OTT, NYI & CBJ): Erik Haula (MIN, 182) – Original Pick: Kyle Palmieri
27. Carolina Hurricanes: Darcy Kuemper (MIN, 161) – Original Pick: Philippe Paradis
A pair of later round discoveries from the Wild slot into these two spots. Haula’s value certainly may be inflated after having a solid showing in the postseason and he is just as likely to fade out than continue to progress. Kuemper appears to be the heir apparent in Minnesota after taking another developmental step this year.
28. Chicago Blackhawks: Alex Chiasson (DAL, 38) – Original Pick: Dylan Olsen
29. Tampa Bay Lightning (from Detroit): Calvin de Haan (NYI, 12) – Original Pick: Carter Ashton
30. Pittsburgh Penguins: Linden Vey (LA, 96) – Original Pick: Simon Despres