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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Big Mac's 2011 1st Round NHL Mock Draft - Picks 1 through 20

Alas, my new job is keeping me insanely busy, and my final exam Friday night doesn't help. As a result, here is the rest of my mock draft!

With the 1st overall selection, the Edmonton Oilers select, from the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, Ryan Nugent Hopkins.

This is a dead lock in my mind. While other centreman have great stature in the top 10 (think Couturier, Huberdeau, and Zibanejad), the Oilers would be foolish not to take a guy like RNH. The guy has incredible vision and playmaking abilities, and is going to be their franchise centreman while Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle fly on the flanks. A wicked, wicked line for years to come.

With the 2nd overall selection, the Colorado Avalanche select, from Skelleftea of the SEL, Adam Larsson

While some scouts and analysts have Larsson falling lower in the top 10, I can't see it. The guy has all the tools to be a dominant defenceman, and has been playing against MEN in Sweden and certainly holding his own. Defencemen, particularly all-around defencemen, typically take longer to develop by this guy will be the anchor for the Avs for years to come.

With the 3rd overall selection, the Florida Panthers select, from the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL, Gabriel Landeskog.

The guy has captain written all over him, and he is going to be a cornerstone for the Panthers. They need heart and soul guys, as it is something they have lacked for a long time. They tried filling it with expensive veterans well past their prime in free agency (see Gary Roberts), but nothing can replace having a future captain and role model come in who plays the game as fiercely as he does.

With the 4th overall selection, The New Jersey Devils select, from the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL, Jonathon Huberdeau.

A kid whose stock had some scouts and analysts considering him a potential 1st overall selection after an incredible showing at the Memorial Cup, the Devils really did win the lottery in getting this guy after their late season surge. Huberdeau is a potential franchise centreman, and he will be a very, very solid addition to a team in need of dynamic offensive prospects.

With the 5th overall selection, the New York Islanders select, from the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, Sean Couturier.

A guy who was long thought to be a 1st overall selection, the Islanders fortify their centreice position with a big body in Couturier. Boasting Tavares and Bailey in the system already, the Isles are now stacked well with great prospects at the most key forward position, and add a potential power forward with neither Tavares and Bailey are.

With the 6th overall selection, the Ottawa Senators select, from Djurgarden of the SEL, Mika Zibanejad

Few prospects have seen their stock rise like Zibanejads, who wasn't even considered a 1st round choice at the beginning of the season. However his incredible showings at both the World Juniors and back home in Djurgarden have Sens scouts drooling to add a guy who plays a crash and bang style that oozes skill. He'll add well to the growin group of Swedes in Ottawa like Lehner, Rundblad, and Karlsson.

With the 7th overall selection, the Winnipeg (we'll say JETS) select, from the Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL, Ryan Strome.

What the Thrasher have long missed, and their current prospect pool lacks, is a centre ice man who looks like he can lock down a spot on the top line. His playmaking ability will compliment the likes of Evander Kane, Bryan Little, and Andrew Ladd, and will be an important piece for the future of the new Canadian franchise.

With the 8th overall selection, the Columbus Blue Jackets select, from the Niagara Ice Dogs of the OHL, Dougie Hamilton.

A kid some would argue is the best defenceman in the draft with huge size and great skill, as well as incredible academic achievements, the Jackets go for Best Player Available and are very happy to see a player of Hamilton's ilk fall to them at the 8 spot. They'd prefer a winger with scoring upside, but this guy fits the bill with pure talent.

With the 9th overall selection, the Boston Bruins select, from the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL, Ryan Murphy.

The Bruins win big here, as they have been long searching for a bona fide offensive defenceman to quarterback their powerplay. Murphy is collectively thought as the best pure offensive rearguard in the draft, and the Bruins fill a gaping team need with a prospect who seems fully capable to fill that role.

With the 10th overall selection, the Minnesota Wild select, from Assat Pori of the Finnish SM-Liiga, Joel Armia.

I've seen so many mocks that have Minnesota taking Armia, so I really tried to find a reasonable alternative. However, I couldn't - the Wild have a ton of Finnish players and prospects, and a dearth of prospects at right wing who can score. Armia fits all of these characteristics, so one cannot deny the strong likelihood that if available, the Wild will be taking him.

With the 11th overall selection, the Colorado Avalanche select, from the Portland Winter Hawks of the WHL, Sven Bartschi.

Taking Larsson with their 2nd overall, the Avs can focus on their forward ranks. With Duchene, Hishon, and O'Reilly filling the top 3 centre ice positions for years to come, Bartschi becomes that dynamic offensive winger the Avs could definitely use.

With the 12th overall selection, the Carolina Hurricanes select, from the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL, Mark McNeill.

This is a guy the Leafs would love to get, but they won't even be able to trade high enough to get him. While I think the 'Canes need a defenceman here, they are notorious for never drafting blueliners in the 1st round. Given this fact, they get a poor man's Ryan Getzlaf in McNeill who will be an absolute beast in front of the net, and will learn from one of the best in Eric Staal.

With the 13th overall selection, the Calgary Flames select, from the Oshawa Generals of the OHL, Nicklas Jensen

A little high for most I'm sure, but I think Jensen will bring exactly what the Flames like in a player. He's strong on the puck, has great skills and hockey sense, and very soft hands with solid offensive upside. He's a fairly safe pick to play a top 6 role in his career, and he goes to the ugly places. Given the low number of quality prospects in Calgary's system, they can't afford to gamble.

With the 14th overall selection, the Dallas Stars select, from the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL, Duncan Siemens.

A lot of scouts have Siemens going in the top 10, but I think he drops and the Stars are thrilled with it. He has all the tools to become a solid shut-down defenceman on a team that could definitely use one in their system, and has enough offensive upside to perhaps see time at some point on a 2nd power play unit. A great get for a team that needs it on their back end.

With the 15th overall selection, the New York Rangers select, from the Saint John Sea Dogs, Nathan Beaulieu.

A premier offensive talent on the blueline and a power play QB is what the Rangers could use at this point - Michael Del Zotto has regressed substantially since the first half of his rookie season, and after trading Bobby Sanguinetti to the Hurricanes at the draft last year, they could use an offensive guy on the back end. Worst case? Del Zotto finds his form, and you have two high calibre puck movers.

With the 16th overall selection, the Buffalo Sabres select, from the Barrie Colts of the OHL, Mark Schiefele.

A centre iceman with size and net presence in the mold of Schiefele has got to make Sabres fans happy. Combined with the speed and skill of Gerbe, with the size of a guy like Kassian, the Sabres could now have the speed and the size to take on any opponent. Possible captain material at some point down the line.

With the 17th overall selection, the Montreal Canadiens select, from the US Under-18 program, Tyler Biggs

The Habs need some character guys who can grind out games, but still possess the skill to chip in offensively. Biggs will do that. While he will never be a front line offensive threat, he will throw the big hits and stand in front of the net creating havok for opposing goalies.

With the 18th overall selection, the Chicago Blackhawks select, from the Saint John Sea Dogs, Tomas Jurco.

A boom or bust pick, because Jurco will either be dazzling or will fizzle out. His YouTube moves are famous, and his hands are possibly the softest and most dazzling in the draft. That said, his drive has been questioned, as has his compete level. If he matures and develops that competitive edge, this could be an incredible steal for the Hawks who could use a high-ceiling right winger.

With the 19th overall selection, the Edmonton Oilers select, from Northeastern High School, Jamieson Oleksiak.

He's 6'7" and 244 pounds. And he's not even 19 yet. He has the wingspan of a condor. He could be another Zdeno Chara or Tyler Myers. How does Edmonton not take him? He's the BPA at this point and his potential is immense. Best part? Usually huge defencemen don't skate well - and he's actually not that bad at all.

With the 20th overall selection, the Phoenix Coyotes select, from the US Under-18 program, JT Miller.

Miller is one of those guys who brings not just skill, but character. His skating needs work, but few work harder than he does, and he inspires that in his teammates. He can make the big hit, and he always seems to find the open space. While he may not be a front line scorer, Phoenix already boasts Kyle Turris, Mikkel Boedker, Martin Hanzal, and Viktor Tikhonov - Miller is the kind of kid they need.

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