Michael Finewax

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2014 NHL Draft: First Round

Friday, June 27, 2014


 

21. St. Louis - Robby Fabbri - (C) Guelph Storm

Fabbri is a small player with a big heart. The 5'10", 170 pound center attacks relentlessly and consistently sparks the offense with his lightening speed and special hands. Fabbri often takes initiative on offense, as he plays hard and physical, willing to chase down loose pucks while using vision and creativity to produce goals. The reigning OHL playoffs MVP posted 115 points in 74 games during Guelph’s championship run this season, while adding another six points in the Memorial Cup. Fabbri shot up draft boards this season and once he adds more muscle, he can be an energetic NHL center who stimulates the offense and heightens the pace of the game. He could develop into a top-six forward and although he still needs plenty of seasoning, the Blues can afford to take it slow with him.


22. Pittsburgh - Kasperi Kapanen - (RW) KalPa Kuopio


Kapanen is the fast, intelligent, and the offensively gifted son of former NHLer of Sami Kapanen. Kapanen could break into the NHL as a productive playmaker. Kapanen is a dangerous sniper who is lethal off the rush by virtue of his great agility, soft hands and slick stickhandling creativity.  He is not a very big or physical player, but his hockey sense and vision should help him develop into a game-breaker if he bulks up and can withstand the challenges from bigger, stronger defenders.  His stats were not impressive playing among men in the Finnish Elite League, but Kapanen has a knack for reading the game well and making the right decision, which could help him land a coveted spot alongside Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin down the line.

 

23. Colorado -  Conner Bleakley - (C) Red Deer Rebels

 

Bleackley is a high-character forward who plays a strong-two way game. A natural leader, Bleackley was the captain of WHL’s Red Deer Rebels at 17. He tallied 29 goals and 39 assists this past season as an 18-year-old, but his offensive upside won’t be his calling card. He’s a gritty, high-motor player who will battle in all zones. Bleackley is the type of glue guy all teams need because he brings energy and maturity to the lineup. He’s a versatile forward, capable of playing in the top six, but it’s more likely he fits in as a strong third-liner because he’s defensively responsible and smart in all three zones.

 

24. Vancouver (via Anaheim) - Jared McCann - (C)  Sault. Ste Marie Greyhounds

 

Jared McCann is an energetic, sharpshooting center who plays responsible defense and is on the ice in all situations. He compiled 62 points in 64 games for Sault Ste. Marie of the OHL this season, but was quite sporadic with his production. The six-foot, 175 pound forward posted 16 multi-point games for the Greyhounds, but was held off the scoresheet 27 times. Nevertheless, McCann is a strong character who has a dedicated work ethic, and can play a vital role for his team when he’s not scoring, similar to Red Wings’ center David Legwand. McCann should grow into a two-way NHL center with the ability to put up good numbers due to his speed and lethal shot. McCann will likely spend another season in junior hockey but could make his NHL debut in the 2015-16 campaign.


25. Boston - David Pastrnak - (RW) Sodertalje

 

David Pastrnak is a brash, dazzling forward blessed with gifted hands and shifty feet that make him a dangerous offensive weapon. He has a bullet shot and his fluid mobility make him an outstanding finisher, while his awareness, skating and work ethic all torment opposing defenders. The 5'10", 165-pound forward has plenty of bulking up to do and must work on his defensive game, but should get good experience playing in the Swedish elite league with grown men. Pastrnak has the potential to be an Ales Hemsky type player after a few years of fine-tuning in Sweden. That should suit the Bruins fine as they have the depth necessarily to afford to wait for him.


26. Montreal - Nikita Scherbak -(RW) Saskatoon Blades


Scherbak was the runner-up for WHL's 2014 rookie of the year after bringing his game to Saskatoon and posting 28 goals and 78 points in 65 games, twenty more points than the eventual winner. The six-foot Russian winger has proven to be a very coachable player who has improved by leaps and bounds throughout the season, especially in his defensive zone play. Scherbak is most dangerous in the offensive zone as he is a fast skater, great puckhandler and has a bomb of a shot. Scherbak also puts some sandpaper to his game, as he is willing to engage physically and pour on the pressure towards opposing defenses. Scherbak will grow and put on some more weight to his 172-pound frame, and if he continues to improve as much as he did in the WHL, he should be a gritty, highly productive NHL winger.


27. San Jose (via Chicago) -  Nikolay Goldobin - (RW) Sarnia Sting


Goldobin oozes offensive ability, with high-end creativity and a plus wrist shot. The Russian winger has the rare ability to take over a game, as evidenced by his 38 goals and 94 points with the Sarnia Sting of the OHL. He has poise and confidence with the puck and has tremendous IQ on that end of the ice. While there aren’t questions about that side of his game, his play away from the puck and in the defensive zone are suspect. There are also questions about his work ethic and effort level. That being said, he has clear top-six upside, so if the Sharks get him to focus, the upside for him is exceptional.


28. New York Islanders (via Tampa Bay and New York Rangers) - Joshua Ho-Sang (C) Windsor Spitfires


Ho-Sang is one of the most dynamic offensive players available in the draft with exceptional skills. A creative player with a great set of hands, Ho-Sang projects as a top six forward. He led the Spitfires in scoring with 32 goals and 85 points in 2013-14 and would have been a top five pick but for behaviorial issues. Ho-Sang has been criticized about his attitude which has been described as selfish and immature by some. That said, he seems to have acknowledged his shortcomings and is looking for a fresh start. Ho-Sang is a high-risk high reward type of player. The Islanders could have a star on their hands or a problem. Time will tell.


29. Los Angeles - Adrian Kempe - (LW) MoDo


Kempe is an aggressive power forward who fiercely forechecks, engages in puck battles and plays a strong defensive game. The 6'1", 178 pound Swede is an excellent skater who plays a physical, north-south game and handles the puck well under pressure. Kempe has a heavy shot and well-rounded skillset, making him an impact player at all ends of the ice. Kempe plays a similar style to Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky, and once he fills his big frame he can become a solid depth player with offensive upside in the NHL. The Kings weren't expected to get a gem with the late first rounder and they didn't, but that's what comes with winning the Stanley Cup.


30. New Jersey - John Quenneville - (C) Brandon Wheat Kings

 

The Devils originally didn't have a pick in the first round because of the Ilya Kovalchuk contract issue, but they ended up being awarded the last pick in the opening round of the 2014 draft. With it they picked the second cousin of Chicago coach and former Devil Joel Quenneville. He's a hard-working, two-way player who has good all round skills. He is capable of chipping in offensively, he projects to be a serviceable bottom-six forward at the NHL level.




Michael Finewax is entering his 10th season as the Senior Hockey Writer and Editor for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @mfinewaxhockey.
Email :Michael Finewax



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