We are just about four weeks away from the 2014 NHL draft, so I thought I'd post up a mock draft. With the 5th pick I've gone for the player I believe who will be on the board that has the highest ceiling and will be the best player available when we pick at 5. For the rest of the draft it's just picking the skaters I believe will be on the board at our pick who best fit what we're looking for. Without further ado, here is my mock:
1st round (5)- William Nylander (18), (SWE) C/RW, Modo (SHL), 5'11, 181lbs: The player with the highest ceiling in the draft. Potential to be a superstar and the Islanders decide to take him at 5. Already putting up fantastic numbers against men in Sweden and someone the Islanders will be patient with. Highest point total for a u18 in the Allsvenskan ever (against men). Also now the most points scored ever by a Swede at a WJC-U18. Putting up better numbers than Backström did in Sweden at the same age, again, against men. Nylander was 17 the entire season in his draft year and Backström was 18 for all but one month. Backström got one extra season between TV-pucken and the draft. He also got to play as one of the oldest players on the Sweden teams all the way from U16 to U20 because of his late birthday.
A fantastic prospect and an unbelievable skater. Nylander finished the World u18's with 16 points (6 goals 10 assists) in 7 games. Here are a few highlights from the WJC-u18's. From 0:33-1:18 in the highlights video shows Nylander playing for Sweden against the USA, who went onto win Gold with a really strong team.
It shows some of Nylander's skating ability, his edge work is crazy and his great hands: Nylander World u18 highlights
2nd round (35)- Mason McDonald (18), (CAN) G, Charlottetown (QMJHL), 6'4, 195lbs: Could be the best goalie available in the entire draft and with him on the board at the top of the 2nd round the Isles select what they hope is their new stud goalie prospect. Looked very good at the World u18's.
2nd round (57)- Justin Kirkland (17), (CAN) LW, Kelowna Rockets (WHL), 6'3, 190lbs: Huge frame and body but only starting to get really understand how to use it to his advantage on the ice. Will have to be patient with the kid while he develops but with the right development but he had a great first season in the WHL. Big potential and could be a very good power forward in the future. Look for him to have a big 2014/15 season in the WHL.
3rd round (65)- Juho Lammikko (18), (FIN), LW, Ässät (Liiga), 6'2, 190lbs: A really solid 2 way forward who had a good World u18's for Finland. Played sheltered minutes for Assat in the SM-Liiga in 20 games as a 17 year old but next year he should start to produce points on a regular basis against men.
3rd round (78)- Beau Starrett (18), (USA), LW, Cornell Uni (NCAA), 6'4, 185lbs: From a hockey family producing at basically a PPG ratio. Has huge size but needs to use his body more to his advantage. Plays around the net and looks like he could really develop into something. Has plenty of time to develop in the NCAA.
4th round (95)- Axel Holmström (17), (SWE), C, Skellefteå (SHL), 6'0, 200lbs: Played centre for Sweden at the World u18's on the most dominant line in the tournament with Lindblom and Nylander. A great playmaker Holmstrom was scoring at over a PPG in the SuperElit (under 20 league) and has already played in the SHL for Skellefteå. Very talented, could be a steal in the middle rounds with his physical play and playmaking ability.
4th round (108)- Pierre Engvall (18), (SWE), LW/RW, Frölunda (SHL), 6'4, 190lbs: Another great Swedish prospect. Holmstrom is ranked the 90th overall Euro Skater, which is a joke of a ranking and Engvall is 91st which is crazy. NHL teams are sleeping on this giant winger and the Isles take advantage by drafting him early in the 4th round.
6th round (155)- Elvis Merzlikins (20), (LAT), G, Lugano (NLA), 6'3, 190lbs: Huge goalie who has played very well in the Swiss National League for Lugano. Made the breakthrough to get time in goal this season and seems to be getting better and better. Expect him to see more game time next season. Could be the next Kristers Gudlevskis, who was taken in the 5th round last year.
7th round (185)- Jeffrey Smith (18), (CAN), G, UMass (NCAA), 6'1, 190lbs:Was tipped off about this rising goalie prospect by a friend who is into his goalies. Starting to move up rankings after having a very good season for Powell River Kings. So the Isles take a late bet on another goalie.
*Updated Top-25 Prospect List(based on HF eligibility)*
Bolded = 2014 draft picks:
1. Ryan Strome, C
2. Calvin de Haan, D
3. William Nylander, C/RW
4. Griffin Reinhart, D
5. Anders Lee, LW
6. Ville Pokka, D
7. Sebastian Collberg, RW
8. Ryan Pulock, D
9. Mason McDonald, G
10. Scott Mayfield, D
11. Adam Pelech, D
12. Axel Holmström, C
13. Mikko Koskinen, G
14. Johan Sundstrom, C
15. Kevin Czuczman, D
16. Justin Kirkland, LW
17. Matt Donovan, D
18. Juho Lammikko, LW
19. Beau Starrett, LW
20. Mike Halmo, LW
21. Andrey Pedan, D
22. Pierre Engvall, LW/RW
23. Jesse Graham, D
24. Taylor Cammarata, LW
25. Elvis Merzlikins, G
Obviously the likes of Nelson is no longer classed a rookie so isn't on here so just to clarify I'm going by HockeysFuture eligibility criteria as to who is a prospect still and who isn't.
So in my 2014 mock draft we have selected 1 highly touted goalie and 2 late round low risk high reward goalies to help try and find a gem of a goalie prospect to add to our system. I drafted all big wingers who can play a good two way game apart from Nylander and Holmstrom. I think Holmstrom could be the steal of the entire draft. Ranked the 90th best Euro skater in the NHL draft rankings, he was fantastic for Sweden during the u18 Worlds playing centre on their first line with Nylander. He is the highest scoring U18 ppg in the entire Superelit, ahead of Fiala, Kempe, Vrana and Nylander. So you know this kid is extremely talented and his team clearly value him greatly having signed him to a 3 year pro contract. Would not surprise me at all if Holmstrom goes in the late 2nd round but going by the NHL draft rankings and current buzz, a hell of a lot of people are sleeping on Holmstrom.
Lots of wingers added with size to compliment our current skill wingers we have in the system and on the Isles roster.
Nylander would be a controversial pick to a lot of people but I believe he is a very talented player who is already producing points week in week out against men in Sweden which led to him suddenly playing in the World u18's and dominating. Still needs time to round off his game but he has a bright future in front of him.
Who would you pick with the 5th overall pick?
Would you want to trade up to go get someone like Bennett (who I personally love) or trade back to gain more assets?
Would you draft a goalie early, middle rounds or late or would you just not bother?
How about picking at 5 then trading back up into the first to select a guy using our extra draft picks?
I would love to hear your draft ideas and mocks because it's getting closer to draft time and it's going to be very interesting with all our extra picks we have this year. I fully expect us to be quite active around the draft.