This season’s draft has four outstanding players, a second group of 10 players and then you can flip a coin from positions 15-40 as a lot will depend on team needs or who the individual teams really like.
As always, a special thanks to Gus Katsaros and David Burstyn of McKeen’s Hockey who helped immensely in preparing this mock draft. Their Draft Guide is outstanding and you can read in depth about their top 120 players available in the 2014 Draft as well as a look ahead to the 2015 and 2016 drafts. Click here to read more and get everything you need from McKeen's.
The team needs are as of now. Most of these prospects are at least a few years away so most teams will take the best player available regardless of position unless there is a dire need as the needs may change a few years from now.
Be prepared for some trades on the draft floor as it always happens.
1. Florida – Aaron Ekblad (D) Barrie
The Panthers could be looking to trade down but if they keep the pick they will take the top rated defenseman. Ekblad had 23 goals and 53 points in the OHL this season and is the most physically ready player in this year’s draft as he is six foot four and 225 pounds. Ekblad is a right hand shot and that is a benefit to the Panthers. He will eventually be a top-two defenseman and play plenty of minutes although he could struggle on the blueline in his rookie as most defensemen do.
Florida needs – Scoring winger, size on the wings.
2. Buffalo – Sam Bennett (C) Kingston
Bennett is a strong two-way center who has been compared to Doug Gilmour and that will be fine with the Sabres as Gilmour was the best player in the NHL for a couple of years. He was ninth in OHL scoring with 36 goals and 91 points and missed 11 games via injuries. Bennett is an excellent passer and can also score as he is not afraid to go to the net. The Sabres finally get their number one center after possibly missing out a couple of years ago with Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons.
Buffalo needs – Scoring center and wingers as well as getting bigger up front.
3. Edmonton – Sam Reinhart (C) Kootenay
The Oilers are hoping to trade up to get Ekblad or even better, if he falls to them at number three. They could move down if Ekblad is gone as they really want a defenseman but will choose Sam Reinhart if they remain here. Reinhart is ranked number one overall at McKeens. He finished in a tie for fourth in scoring in the WHL with 36 goals and 105 points and was outstanding in the post-season with six goals and 23 points in 17 games as Kootenay upset Calgary in the first round of the WHL playdowns. He is strong with his on-ice knowledge as he seems to be always in the right place at the right time. Reinhart, like most 18-year-olds, needs to fill out physically.
Edmonton needs – Defensive help on the blueline, scoring centers, size.
4. Calgary – Leon Draisaitl (C) Prince Albert
Draisaitl is perhaps the most exciting player in the draft as the German-born center is quite a goal scorer. Draisaitl is ranked as having the fourth best hockey sense by McKeen’s and the second best playmaker. He gives the Flames a star forward to go with Sean Monahan. Draisaitl had 38 goals and 105 points in 64 games.
Calgary needs- Scoring wingers and centers.
5. New York Islanders – Michael Dal Colle (LW) Oshawa
The Islanders are looking to trade out of this spot and grab a veteran defenseman or left winger for the John Tavares-Kyle Okposo line. If they are unable to get what they want, expect them to take Michael Dal Colle who went from a successful rookie season with Oshawa with 15 goals and 48 points to 39 goals and 95 points. Dal Colle has the best shot in the draft, especially his wrist shot. Dal Colle is a prototypical power forward with the great release and hands.
New York Islanders needs – Everywhere including a scoring center/winger (size would be ideal).
6. Vancouver - Jake Virtanen (RW) Calgary
Virtanen is another power forward who managed 45 goals and 71 points with Calgary of the WHL. Virtanen is an outstanding skater and was rated by McKeen’s as the third best bodychecker in the draft. Power forwards usually take a couple of extra years to make it in the NHL so do not be surprised or disheartened if he struggles early on.
Vancouver needs - Size and scoring wingers, a puck moving defenseman.
7. Carolina – Haydn Fleury (D) Red Deer
The Hurricanes really need help on the blueline so they will take the next best defenseman available and that is Haydn Fleury. Fleury is an offensive defenseman who will eventually quarterback the Carolina power play. He has great hands and is a very good skater so he has no problem joining the rush. Fleury has the capabilities of being a dominant NHL point producing defenseman. He had eight goals and 46 points in 2013-14.
Carolina needs – Puck moving defenseman, Playmakers on the wing.
8. Toronto - William Nylander (C) Sodertalje-Rogle
The Maple Leafs are trying to move up in the draft as they apparently love Sam Bennett but will take William Nylander here if they are unable to trade up. Nylander was McKeen’s top rated player in this draft heading into the season and one reason he may drop is that he is committed to playing for MoDo in 2014-15. He led the World U18 championships with 16 points including six goals in seven games. He has Patrick Kane like skills in the way he is able to play with the puck.
Toronto needs – Scoring center, depth wingers.
9. Winnipeg – Nick Ritchie (LW) Peterborough
Ritchie is another power forward who is a good skater. He has an excellent shot and managed to score 39 times in the regular season with 35 assists. Ritchie is likely the most ready NHL forward available in the draft as he is six foot two, 225 pounds. He is a huge high risk/high reward player. Ritchie will be a nice replacement for Evander Kane if the Jets deal him to help out another weakness.
Winnipeg needs - A skilled center.
10. Anaheim - (via Ottawa) Nikolaj Ehlers (LW) Halifax
If the Ducks do not trade this pick (rumors include back to Ottawa with other parts for Jason Spezza or to St. Louis or Vancouver as part of a Patrik Berglund or Ryan Kesler deal), they would be thrilled to see the ultra-offensive minded Nikolaj Ehlers available at this spot. Ehlers is ranked as the best skater, the best stickhandler and has the fifth best hockey sense in the draft. He had 49 goals and 104 points in his first season in the QMJHL. His major drawback is his size as he is 5’11”, and only 165 pounds.
Anaheim needs – Scoring wingers, Solid defensive defensemen.