Wednesday, June 17, 2009

NHL draft guide: draft thoughts and profiles

By Rick Morris

Since FDH began co-producing our draft guides with Sportsology and Card Corner Club last year, we have also been serializing the features that will be involved in it. By the end of this week, HOCKEY DRAFTOLOGY 2009 will be available for free download.

This overview of many of the top players in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft also comes courtesy of Russ Cohen at Sportsology. It serves as an excellent high-level analysis of many of the players who will be picked early at next week's event.

Draft Thoughts and Profiles
By Russ Cohen

This draft is pretty loaded, and if you hear otherwise, people just aren’t paying attention. I have interviewed some players that will go anywhere from the first round on down and have scouted others. Here are my thoughts on some of the top picks not in any particular order.

Ryan Ellis – 5-10, 180 - Defense – He has a great shot up the gut. He’s very advanced at all facets of the game. Size be dammed! He has terrific hockey sense. This blueliner will do anything he can to keep the puck in the zone and more. He is a clutch scorer. He was the OHL’s best postseason point producer from the blue line and he won the OHL Defenseman of the Year. He should be a top-ten pick.

Matt Duchene – 5-11, 200 – Center – This youngster has blazing speed, perfect body mechanics and a laser of a shot, but at his size he won’t be able to muscle in goals the same way that Tavares will be able to do. This kid plays in all situations and can outrun OHL defenseman, but let’s see how he does at the next level. He has a pro slapper and he should be a top scorer. He should go third overall.

John Tavares — 6-0, 198 – Center – He looked better than the previous times that I had seen him when he played in the last WJC. Lets face it, he wasn’t challenged enough in the OHL, and maybe getting traded to London helped that a bit, but in this tournament he was an absolute sniper. He was terrific at face-offs, and he scored in the clutch and played a very good two-way game. He was sensational around the net. I think he will be the top pick in this year’s draft and he will be a marketable player for the Islanders unless they make the mistake of trading the pick. Remember this: Luc Robitaille was once criticized for his skating and he is a future Hall of Famer.

Victor Hedman – 6-6, 212 – Defense - He is my choice for the second overall pick. He had a shoulder injury in the ’09 U-20 World Junior Championships, but he showed that he was still a precision passer. He moves extremely well for a big man. He wasn’t an offensive force, but you could see flashes, and he was the most impressive blueliner that I saw hit the ice. He had a cheap-shot punch that didn’t get him a penalty, which shows that he’s already getting the star treatment. I think he will take longer to develop than Tavares and the Canadian is a more marketable player. Generally speaking, teams near the bottom usually need some help in that area.

Magnus Pääjärvi-Svensson - 6-1, 201 – Left Wing – He has superior puck control and he attacks the offensive zone with amazing stick skills. He has some very flashy goals because of his great acceleration and drive to the net. He does lack some toughness and he will need that when he plays in the NHL. With that said, I think he will be picked somewhere in the 6-10 range rather than the top-five.

Evander Kane - 6-0, 185 – Left Wing – This was a big year for this kid in the WHL and the World Juniors. He’s a good skater and a good fighter. He has good puck skills and he has terrific on-ice awareness. A very important aspect of his game is the fact that he can win battles in the crease. This winger is an intelligent kid.

Brayden Schenn – 6-0- 195 – Center – His numbers keep going up. Schenn is now synonymous with tough thanks to Luke’s solid first year with the Leafs. This forward is good on both sides of the puck. He will improve his skating and he has good hockey sense. He will play in the crease and lay the big hit. Schenn is an excellent passer and he’s hard to cover. I’ll be surprised if he’s not a top-five pick.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson – 6-3, 180- Defense – This blueliner was a plus-44 this year in a men’s league and he’s a plus-55 for his career. That’s impressive no matter how you slice it. Even if his teams were solid, he still excelled and he will be an impressive NHLer after he learns the North American game.

Jared Cowen – 6-5, 220 – Defense – This big defenseman isn’t a great skater but he covers his area well. He can be a shutdown defenseman. He has great reach! I like the fact that he has a shot that he can get on net. The knee injury he suffered this past season shouldn’t hamper his draft position. He’s still a top-ten pick in my eyes.

Nazim Kadri – 6-0, 180 – Center – This talented forward trains with Matt Hackett (the #1 ranked Domestic goaltender). The netminder is faster on land! Kadri is an excellent skater who has terrific moves. He’s got great Memorial Cup experience. He has terrific hockey sense and he’s a very smart player. You notice him on the ice and he’s a player who can make a play in a pinch. His previous broken jaw shouldn’t set him back in this draft.

Scott Glennie – 6-1, 185 – Right Wing - He’s a ‘Pegger and there are a lot of them in the league. He has a solid two-way game. Glennie can win one-on-one battles to get to the net and score and that’s what I like the most about him. His excellent skating makes him a top 20 pick.

Zack Kassian – 6-3-211 – Right Wing – Kassian is very aware of where the puck is and he moves well without the puck. He can lay the smack down with the best of them.

John Moore – 6-3, 190 – Defense – This USHL standout had 28 interviews in 48 hours due to NCAA rules. He’s committed to Colorado College but will the organization that drafts him ask him to play in juniors? It’s the most compelling storyline outside of the draft. He’s a clutch goal scorer, and he possesses good puck skills. The rear guard is an excellent skater and he’s excellent on the power play. He plays a solid two-way game. He’s a good passer and a solid puck mover. Knows where to go on the ice and he’s a real wild card. He should go in the top 15.

Dmitry Kulikov – 6-0. 195 – Defense - He changed his hair style and I like it much better. That could move him up a few slots: ask Colton Gillies. He helped Russia win Bronze in ’09 WJC. He could drop if teams don’t think he will sign right away. He was the 08-09 Defensive Rookie of the Year, the Rookie of the Year, the Best Professional Prospect and Defenseman of the Year by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

David Rundblad – 6-3, 190 – Defense – The Swede is a good passer, a solid skater and he has terrific offensive instincts, plus he’s smooth. He’s got top-20 written all over him.

Jacob Josefson – 6-0, 190 - Center – He’s an excellent skater and he wore a letter in ’09 in the Swedish Elite League. He can take a hit, give a hit and he’s a great puckhandler with a solid shot.

Louis Leblanc – 6-1, 180 – Right Wing – He’s fast and he has an aerodynamic look to him. He’s a decisive player. He stays with the play, gets dirty, looks for his teammates first and can score as well.

Drew Shore – 6-3, 195– C/RW – This U.S. product is a big strong kid, he’s a good skater and a big part of the Gold Medal U-18 squad. He’s going to Denver University and his parents went there as well and are law school grads! Should make the top 20.

Tim Erixon – 6-3, 190 - Defense – Former NHLer Jan Erixon is his dad and he was known for his defense. The younger Erixon can be a terrific defensive stalwart in the league.

Dylan Olsen - 6-2.5, 207 - Defense – He will attend Minnesota-Duluth this fall. There's never been a defenseman from the Alberta Junior Hockey League taken in the first round of the NHL Draft and Dylan has the opportunity to be the first. He is an offensive defenseman.

Landon Ferraro – 5-11, 175 – Center – He’s a bit small, but so was his dad Ray who played 1,258 games in the NHL. Landon is a good skater who possesses great hockey sense and terrific speed. He should be a first-rounder.

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