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Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Eastern Conference Draft Preview

The NHL Entry Draft is just days away and as a follow up to my post from Monday: North East Division Draft Preview, it's time to preview the Eastern Conference for the upcoming draft. Some of the players from teams I wrote about on Monday will change teams, while others will stay the same.

So without further a due my Eastern Conference Draft Preview:

*Please note, I am not mixing trades into this preview. Several teams are considering trading up or down in the draft. So each pick is based on the team drafting a player their team needs at their current draft spot*

Montreal Canadiens- 3rd overall pick will select Alex Galchenyuk
If not for a season plagued by injuries Galchenyuk could have seriously challenged Sarnia Sting teammate Nail Yakupov for the first overall pick. Despite his injuries many are pegging Galchenyuk to be the best long term solution for a team in the draft. He possess all the skill to be a first overall draft choice and could turn out big for the Canadiens who need a much more positive season to save their franchises' image.

New York Islanders- 4th overall pick will select Ryan Murray
Ryan Murray is the best defenseman available in this years draft, yet he may fall out of the top 3 and if that happens the Islanders will be more than happy to give him a jersey and cap on stage in Pittsburgh. Murray has the potential to be a franchise player much like John Tavares and could be ready to step into the NHL as early as next season. He possess leadership and has experience playing against NHLers and which will help his transition to the NHL be as simple as possible. The Islanders need help on the back end which is why, if Murray is available they will draft him.

Toronto Maple Leafs- 5th overall pick will select Filip Forsberg
Brian Burke wants to get his hands on the first overall pick and has been in talks with Edmonton to acquire the pick. Edmonton wants a top notch defenseman, is Burke willing to give up what Edmonton is asking? The answer, probably not. So the Leafs will end up keeping and drafting with the 5th pick. The Leafs biggest need (outside of goaltending) is a number one centre (what team doesn't need one of those?) Forsberg is ranked as arguably the 2nd best forward in the draft behind Yakupov, so he may not be available at 5 but if he is the Leafs should snag him up.  He's a big tall forward who has the ability to play centre and could set up the Leafs for the long term.

Carolina Hurricans- 8th overall pick will select Teuvo Teravainen
Teravainen is a hit or miss player but right now the chance of him teaming up with Eric Staal and or Jeff Skinner is making the risk seem worthwhile to the Hurricanes. He's ranked 2nd out of all European players in the draft and excels on the bigger ice playing surfaces, so it will be interesting to see him adapt to the smaller ice.

Winnipeg Jets- 9th overall pick will select Jacob Trouba
The return of the Jets was a highlight for many hockey fans this season, and right now it doesn't matter what the Jets do they will still have the support of their fans. But if they want to have a better chance of making the playoffs they should select shutdown defenseman Jacob Trouba. But the Jets will have to wait at least 2 years before seeing Trouba in the NHL as he has committed to the University of Michigan. But if Trouba is given time to properly develop he could turn into a very solid player for the Jets.

Tampa Bay Lightning- 10th overall pick will select Griffen Reinhart
Reinhart was a part of the Edmonton Oil Kings who won the WHL Championship and next season he will be an even bigger part of the Oil Kings. He's a big (6'3" 207)tough defenseman who has hockey in his blood. Following in the footsteps of his older brother and father, many are saying Griffen could be the best Reinhart yet and he will likely be drafted highest.

Washington Capitals- 11th overall pick will select Radek Faksa
The Capitals don't need a defenseman, they need a big tall forward and Faksa fits the build. At 6'3" he fits the build of Jaromir Jagr, while he doesn't possess the same skill assets of Jagr, Faksa is still a solid pick. Faksa would fit in perfectly to fill the void as a 2nd line centre for the Caps.

Buffalo Sabres- 12th overall pick will select Cody Ceci
The Sabres are in a tricky place in the draft. On one hand they have 2 picks in the first round and 4 in the first 44, but on the other they sit just outside the top 10 and players they're looking at (Faksa, Reinhart) may be gone by the time Buffalo gets to the mic. Although the Sabres don't necessarily need a defenseman, if Ceci is available at 12 overall he should not be passed up.
Ceci of all players has flown up the draft charts, at the beginning of the season he wasn't even pegged to go in the first round, now he's pegged to go somewhere just outside of the top 10. Ceci would be a perfect fit on the back end matched with Tyler Myers and quarter backing the power play. Best part about Ceci is he could step into the NHL at the start of next season, which is what the Sabres are looking for.

Ottawa Senators- 15th overall pick will select Sebastian Collberg
The Senators have had great success drafting Swedish players, and will likely take another swedish player in Collberg. Many are expecting Collberg to turn into a solid 2nd line scoring threat in the NHL.

Washington Capitals- 16th overall pick will select Derrick Pouliot
Pouliot is one of the most uncertain picks in the draft, some reports have him going inside the top 10 while others have him dropping to 20th-25th. So what better place to pick Pouliot then in the middle. The Capitals don't need a defenseman right now, but they will certainly need one in the future which is why they should select Pouliot who is likely 3 years away from a full time stint in the NHL. With the benefit of 2 picks in the first round the Capitals can use one of the picks to draft for the future or take a risk.

Tampa Bay Lightning- 19th overall pick will select Tom Wilson
Once teams start getting near the top 20 in drafting there is less planing behind the picks and more of a mindset of taking "the best player available". At the 19th pick (the Lightning's 2nd) the best player available may just be the beast Tom Wilson. Wilson comes in at 6'4" 200 pounds and has the size and skill to step right into the NHL, he's not afraid to steamroll over players and drop the mitts when he has too. He excels when he plays alongside top players (like Stamkos). He is being compared to Boston Bruins power forward and heavy hitter Milan Lucic. With his skill, size and grit it wouldn't be a shock to see him go just before the top 20.

Philadelphia Flyers- 20th overall pick will select Hampus Lindholm
Much like Cody Ceci, Lindholm has improved his draft ranking over the past season, he's made quite the push and is now expected to go in the top 20. He's a solid defenseman who has an offensive instinct but will need to "bulk up" before stepping in the NHL. He's a solid pick who should be ready to go in a couple of years.

Buffalo Sabres- 21st overall pick will select Zemgus Girgensons
With their first pick in round 1 the Sabres selected a defenseman so look for them to select a forward with their second pick. Girgensons is the type of player you want on your team, he's got a rock solid work ethic and is a two-way forward with a shot that leaves goalies guessing. Only draw back is his prior commitment to the University of Vermont which will keep him out of the Sabres line up for at least 2 years.

Pittsburgh Penguins- 22nd overall pick will select Colton Sissons
When looking at a first glance picking 22nd out of 30 teams kind of seems like getting the short straw, but when looking back in draft history several solid players (that have turned into household names) were taken with the 22nd pick. Edmonton Oilers Jordan Eberle and Flyers Claude Giroux are two of the more noteworthy 22nd picks. While the Penguins don't need anymore star players (Crosby, Malkin, Neal) and they don't need any defenseman (drafted 2 last year) they are in need of a solid role player. One of the players who is a boarder line superstar but falls back to a role player on the Penguins is Jordan Staal. But the Penguins are trying to trade Staal, so Sissons could come in and fill his spot.

Florida Panthers- 23rd overall pick will select Brady Skjei
One of the best parts about the draft is the opportunity to stifle an opposing teams draft pick. Teams that are drafting after the Panther really want to get their hands on Skjei, so it would be perfect for the Panther to pick him up and find out why other organisations want him. Skjei is ranked as the best skater in this years draft, put him with another smooth skating player and watch the two of them make some magic.

Boston Bruins- 24th overall pick will select Nicholas Kerdiles
Kerdiles is the wild card pick in the draft, some rankings have him in the top 20 while others don't even have him in the first round. But Kerdiles is a solid face-off man and has the potential to turn into a solid 2nd line player.

New York Rangers- 28th overall pick will select Dalton Thrower
Chances are we're not going to see Thrower in the NHL as a high scoring defenseman, thats just not the way he plays. He's more of a rugged tough player who plays bigger than his size indicates, at only 6 feet tall Thrower is small for a tough defenseman by NHL's standards today so he'll have to rely on his smooth skating and heavy hitting to land him a spot in the NHL.

New Jersey Devils- 29th overall pick will select Malcolm Subban 
Contrary to popular belief the Devils are deciding to keep their 29th pick in this years draft instead of forfeiting it. Subban is the younger brother of Canadiens P.K Subban.
While it is rare for a goalie to be taken in the first round Subban may be worth the pick as he is the best goalie in this years draft. The Devils may be in need of a goaltender in a couple years when the legendary Martin Brodeur retires. Subban will have some big shoes to fill but if he's anything like his brother he'll be up for the challenge.

So there you have it folks my Easter Conference Draft Preview. I don't have any magic potion nor do I profess to know exactly who will be drafted by each team, this is just a guess based on each teams needs and the players that are available. Don't agree with my picks leave a comment below.

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