Note: To keep things together and help out those yet to pick in our LHH Mock Draft, I've listed the first 12 picks (with links) at the end of this post.
The Carolina Hurricanes haven't used a first-round pick on a defenseman since selecting Jack Johnson third overall in 2005, a selection that ended bitterly. This year might just be the time to go back to the blueline well. Theirs is a blueline in transition, with a couple of average over-30 veterans, Tim Gleason approaching his 30s, and lone blueline stud Joni Pitkanen facing unrestricted free agency this summer. They have prospects in the pipeline, but it may be time to add an extraordinary fellow.
With Larsson, Hamilton, Murphy and even Siemens gobbled up by our mock drafters, what's left in this area of the first round is a trio of defenders who are all-around solid but lack any one characteristic that makes you think one day you'll wish you'd have had him.
Jamie Oleksiak, D
Oscar Klefbom and Nathan Beaulieu are both noted for their steady all-around games. Draft them and you likely get a solid NHLer and maybe much more. But Jamie Oleksiak -- though limited offensively -- possesses that "unteachable" trait that could make him a difference-maker for years to come: He can block out the sun.
With the 12th pick in the Lighthouse Hockey Mock Draft, the Carolina Hurricanes select Northeastern's Jamie Oleksiak.
This will be seen as a reach given Oleksiak's lower offensive ceiling -- he is at risk of being "more Hal Gill than Zdeno Chara" (although Chara was no offensive dynamo when he began on newborn deer legs, and some scouts do say Oleksiak's hands show promise). Nonetheless, his lateral movement and mobility and defensive instincts make him an enticing partner to pair with a more offensive-minded defenseman.
In short, even if Oleksiak never develops more dangerous hands and passing vision, his ability to prevent shots at his own net will create a myriad of pairing options for years to come. Pair him with an above-average defenseman and you have a lethal two-way pair. Pair him with an average joe and you still will have a shutdown pair that allows you to think about other matchups.
Everybody wants big defensemen -- the problem is you need big defensemen who can move. Oleksiak has that -- and a mean streak -- at an early age for a big man, so the rest of his development is gravy.
...Massive wingspan and long stick make it virtually impossible for opponents to beat him to the outside. Mobility makes it a challenge for them to go inside on him as well. With more work on his skating, could be even more mobile and difficult to beat. Working on his reads and progressions- still a work in progress who sometimes tries to do too much in his own end- needs to keep things simple...
Check OzzyFan's FanPost for a bunch of links on Oleksiak.
The Scouting Report:
After getting a few viewings of Oleksiak in the second half of the season, it became clear to us that all the talk about Oleksiak is justified. The thing that will jump out at you aside from likely being the biggest player on the ice in almost every game, is that he’s a pretty good skater for his size and moves well laterally as well.
LHH Mock Draft Picks So Far
1. Edmonton - Anarcurt chose Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C.
2. Colorado - mnroy33 chose Adam Larsson, D.
3. Florida - chrismc614 selected Gabriel Landeskog, W.
4. New Jersey - nyidangle17 chose Sean Couturier, C.
5. Long Island - Fabtraption took Dougie Hamilton, D.
6. Ottawa - OzzyFan grabs Jonathan Huberdeau, LW/C.
7. Atlantapeg - WebBard took Ryan Murphy, D.
8. Columbus - Jones79 grabbed Ryan Strome, C.
9. Bahston (from Toronto) - Empire39 went for Duncan Siemens, D.
10. Minnesota - risenrule selected Mika Zibanejad, C.
11. Colorado (from St. Louis) - mnroy33 chose Sven Bartschi, RW.
12. Carolina - Dominik selected Jamie Oleksiak, D.
Next Up: nyislanders93 is on the clock, picking for Calgary at #13.