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Who Will Be The Biggest Steal of the 2010 Draft?
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1. Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall, LW (Windsor, OHL)
Strengths:*Fantastic Speed, Offensive Instincts
Weaknesses:*Must improve strength to make the jump to the NHL *
Really not a surprise the Oilers begin a new era with an outstanding player.
Hall and Eberle should form a very deadly scoring duo in Edmonton for years to come.
2. Boston Bruins (From Toronto)
Tyler Seguin, C (Plymouth, OHL)
Strengths: Hockey Smarts
Weaknesses: Defensive Play (is improving though)
As a Leafs fan I may shed a tear when Boston selects Seguin and for good reason.
Seguin could be the better player out of Hall and himself in a few years, just because it does look like he could be*the better all-around player (someone you'd want to build a franchise around eh Leafs?).
In the end only time will tell but either way the Bruins are going to be getting a very special player.
3. Florida Panthers
Erik Gudbranson, D (Kingston, OHL)
Strengths: Size and Cannon Shot
Weaknesses: Use of Size
Gudbranson has really separated himself as the third overall pick, when Florida makes this selection they will surely*be choosing their future captain.
Gudbranson oozes character and could develop into one of the most elite two-way defensemen in the game.
The Panthers will have the makings of a dynamic D duo in Kulikov and Gudbranson.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets
Brandon Gormley, D (Moncton, QMJHL)
Strengths: Shutdown Abilities
This could be the first surprise in the 2010 draft.
Although Cam Fowler does look to have some impressive offensive abilities, I think*Columbus*goes with the potential shutdown stud in Gormley (who does*have some offensive potential himself).
The Blue Jackets already have a group of young offensive defensemen in Anton Stralman, 2009 first round pick John Moore, and 2008 second round pick Cody Goloubef so adding another in Fowler wouldn't make a whole lot of sense.
5. New York Islanders
Cam Fowler, D (Windsor, OHL)
Strengths: Offensive upside
Weaknesses: Physical play
The Islanders will continue their rebuilding process by adding yet another top prospect in Fowler.
With their offense starting to take shape, Fowler will join 2009 first round pick Calvin De Haan and*2008 second round pick Travis Hamonic as the framework for a solid*D core.
6. Tampa Bay Lightning
Nino Niederreiter, LW (Portland,*WHL)
Strengths: Compete level, Puck Control
El Nino will be added to the impressive depth of forwards in the Tampa organization, and be rookie GM Steve Yzerman's first ever draft pick.
Nino stole the show at the past World Junior Championship and the Bolts will hope he can continue that at the NHL level.
Also of note is that Nino should become the highest Swiss player ever taken in the NHL draft.
7. Carolina Hurricanes
Brett Connolly, RW (Prince George, WHL)
Strengths: Willingness to Make the Tough Plays
Weaknesses: Injury problems
If Brett Connolly had played a full season in the WHL, he very well could have challanged with Hall and Seguin for the top pick.
Injuries unfortunately limited him to only 16 games but scouts agree that if he can get past his injury problems, he could become a very special player for the Hurricanes.
They would love to see him develop into a winger who could also elevate*captain Eric Staal's game.
8. Atlanta Thrashers
Jeff Skinner,*C (Kitchener, OHL)
Strengths: Goal Scoring Ability
Jeff Skinner has seen his stock rise greatly the last year.**
A 50-goal*campaign and a 33 point playoff run has sky-rocketed Skinner from*a projected second rounder to a legitimate top ten pick.
Although size is an issue*based on*what he did this year, Skinner could develop into a talented top six forward for Atlanta.
The*Thrashers*have to pick up the pieces from a season that saw them trade away former first and second overall*selections in Ilya Kovalchuk and Kari Lehtonen.
Skinner should become the first pick in a*new build for*the Thrashers.**
9. Minnesota Wild
Ryan Johansen, C (Portland, WHL)
Strengths: Playmaking Ability
Weaknesses: Physical Play
Johansen should become the second player from Portland's top line selected in the top ten.
Johansen could stand to add some more weight to his lanky frame but there is no doubt he possesses the playmaking abilities to become at least a second line center at the NHL level.
For a team starving for scoring such as the Wild, he should come as a breathe of fresh air to Wild fans.
10. New York Rangers
Alexander Burmistrov, C (Barrie, OHL)
Strengths: All-Around Offensive Talent
Weaknesses: Strength (Weighed in at Under 160lbs on a 6ft Frame*at the Combine)
Rounding out the top ten should be*Russia native*Alexander Burmistrov.
Alex could be come a very pleasant surprise for the Blueshirts as he does seem to have the tools to become an elite two-way player.
His size is very much an issue as he would have to gain almost 30lbs to really become effective at the NHL level.
11. Dallas Stars
Jack Campbell, G (US NTDP)
Strengths: Big, Technically Sound Goalie
Weaknesses: Must Add Weight to His "6'3 Frame
Although he couldn't crack the top ten, Campbell will be the first goalie taken in 2010 and rightfully so.
Campbell is one of the best goalie prospects in years and could become a future All-Star*in* big "D." He's set to join the Windsor Spitfires next year and could be the piece that allows Windsor to challenge for a third straight Memorial Cup.
12. Anaheim Ducks
Mikael Granlund, LW (HIFK, Finland)
Strengths: Playmaking Ability
Weaknesses: Size and Strength
Granlund has been a top Finnish prospect for a couple years now and is a bit of a risk/reward player.
If the Ducks can resign Teemu Selanne for a couple more seasons, Granlund could learn from a fellow Fin*and turn into a star himself.
There is also the chance that Granlund just can't handle the size and speed of NHL defensemen and becomes another draft flop.
13. Phoenix Coyotes* (From Calgary)
Derek Forbort, D (US NTDP)
Strengths: First Pass
Weaknesses:*Not as*Hard Nosed as his*6'5" Frame Would Suggest
Derek Forbort could very well be the most underrated defensemen in the draft.
At 6'5" you'd expect him to be a crushing defensemen yet he is more of an offensive talent.
Phoenix has two picks in the first round, so it is*likely that they'll add Forbort as*another top defense prospect*to go along with 2009 first round pick Oliver*Ekman-Larsson.
14. St.Louis Blues
Emerson*Etem, LW (Medicine Hat, WHL)
Strengths: Fastest*Skater*in the Draft
Weaknesses: Defensive Play
Although it would be nice to see California native Emerson Etem*go to a California-based team at the*draft in L.A., it is more likely that he will end up in Missouri as he is too good to be passed up on.
In recent drafts the Blues have worked on improving their defense but with*their backend starting to take form they'll probably opt for a forward this time around.
15. Florida Panthers* (From Boston) *
Austin Watson, RW (Peterborough, OHL)
Strengths: Two-Way Player
With the Panthers second first round pick it wouldn't be surprising to see them draft a player with a similar style as the player they dealt for the pick in Nathan Horton.
Austin Watson is an American power forward who does the little things that make coaches happy.
He's one of the top two-way players available and would be a valuable asset to the Panthers.***
16. Ottawa Senators
Vladimir Tarasenko, RW (Novosibirsk, KHL)
Strengths: Offensive Smarts
Weaknesses: "The Russian Factor"
With it looking more and more likely that Jason Spezza will be wearing a new uniform next season, Ottawa will be wanting to make a big splash when it comes to offense.
Vlad is definitely a offensive threat, scoring 24 points in the KHL this past season.
With*Tarasenko comes the "Russian Factor." Will he be willing to leave*Russia and come play in the NHL?
If so Ottawa*will have made a very wise choice.
17. Colorado Avalanche
Mark Pysyk, D (Edmonton, WHL)
Weaknesses: No Glaring Weaknesses
A surprising Colorado team will pick 17th, look for them to*select defenseman Mark Pysyk from the Edmonton Oil Kings.
Pysyk is*a safe pick for a growing Avs team, he is solid at both ends of the ice and*should develop into a reliable third or fourth defenseman.
18. Nashville Predators
Nick Bjugstad, C (Blaine HS, USHS)
A Nashville team starved for*offense will likely focus on forwards this draft and Nick Bjugstad*is a good starting point.
He may be a few years*away from playing in the NHL but he has all the right tools to make him an effective player for the Preds.
19. L.A. Kings
Beau Bennett, RW (Penticton, BCHL)
Weaknesses: Game*Away*From the Puck
I really see L.A. moving this pick for help right now, but if they*do pick*there is a very strong chance thay select the hometown boy Bennett.*
Although they would have loved to get the other California native in Etem, they do get another solid prospect in Bennett.
I think Bennett moves up because of the California connection (see: Louis Leblanc, 2009 draft in Montreal).
20. Pittsburgh Penguins
Dylan Mcilrath, D (Moose Jaw, WHL)
Strengths: Physical Game
Weaknesses: Skating Ability
Pittsburgh has a solid core of prospects, so they'll likely pick the best player availible in Mcilrath.
Dylan is a classic WHL defenseman who loves to play the physical game.
Pittsburgh's defense has been thinning out the last couple of years so Dylan Mcilrath should be a nice shot in the arm for them.
21. Detroit Red Wings
Riley Sheahan, C (Notre Dame, CCHA)
Strengths: Defensive Play
It is fitting that Detriot drafts Riley Sheahan as his play has been compared to that of Kris Draper.
Although his point production did fall*when making the jump between the St. Catharines Falcons and Notre Dame University, he still looks to be a strong prospect.
Also noteworthy is the fact that he could become the second St. Catharines product taken in the first round in the last three years.
The other being Daultan Leveille who was selected 29th*overall by Atlanta in 2008.
The*Falcons are a*Jr. B level team located in*the same city as the*OHL's*Niagara Ice Dogs.
22. Phoenix Coyotes
Quinton Howden, LW (Moose Jaw, WHL)
Strengths: Two-Way Game
Weaknesses: No Glaring*Weaknesses
The*Coyotes won't be swinging for the fences with their second pick but they do get a safe pick in Howden.
Although he likely won't develop*into a dangerous offensive threat he will become an effective third*line winger.
23. Buffalo Sabres
John McFarland, C (Sudbury, OHL)
Strengths:*Good Speed and Strength
Weaknesses:*Consistency and Work Ethic
Few*players have seen their stock fall as much as John McFarland.
Once favoured to be the first overall pick, McFarland could fall to the second round.
Buffalo is also in a position of risk/reward here.
If McFarland can return to his old self they will have found themselves a steal, but if he continues to play the way he has, he may be another draft day flop.
24. Chicago Blackhawks* (From Atlanta via New Jersey)
Jon Merrill, D (US NTDP)
Strengths: Good Defensive*Zone Coverage
Weaknesses:*Weak Shooting Ability
With the newly acquired 24th overall selection look for Chicago to improve their*backend by taking Jon Merrill.
Merrill is yet*another reliable*American defenseman.
You can really start to see why*Team USA won the Gold at the WJC.
Jon*Merrill should get plenty of time to develop and that time should benefit him greatly.
25. Vancouver Canucks
Jarred Tinordi, D (US NTDP)
Strengths: Size and First Pass
Weaknesses: Holds on to the puck too much
After another disappointing playoff exit, the Canucks need to add more depth to their farm system.
The backend needs special attention.
Tinordi is once again another solid American defenseman who is a safe pick for the Canucks.
26. Washington Capitals
Kirill Kabanov, LW (Moncton, QMJHL)
Strengths: Could be the best offensive player in the draft
Weaknesses: Commitment to Play in North America
Kabanov could very well be the biggest story in this year's draft.
There is no doubt he has the abilities to match Hall and Seguin and maybe even surpass them, but the question marks surrounding him will turn most teams off.
If there is one team that will take the risk on Kabanov, it has to be Washington.
With three Russian players on their roster already, they should be able to get Kabanov to commit to playing in the NHL.
27. Montreal Canadians
Evgeni Kuznetsov, C (C.Traktor, KHL)
Strengths: Puck Control, Shooting
The Canadians are becoming shorter and shorter on quality prospects so they may have to take the risk on Evgeni Kuznetsov and pray it pays off.
If it does they'll get a very promising young player who will develop into a top six forward.
28. San Jose Sharks
Calvin Pickard, G (Seattle, WHL)
Strengths: Positionally Sound Goalie
Weaknesses: Doesn't Dominate as Much as He Could
With San Jose announcing they will not be bringing back Nabakov, a huge hole has opened up in their roster.
Pickard, whose older brother Chet was also a first round pick, seems to have the makings of an NHL goalie and should get a good shot at it in a couple of years if drafted by San Jose.
29. Anaheim Ducks* (From Philadelphia)
Alex Petrovic, D (Red Deer, WHL)
Strengths: Hockey Smarts
Weaknesses: Physical Play
Although Petrovic is a big guy who can throw the body, scouts would like to see him do it more often.
Anaheim uses their second first round pick to select a defenseman to shore up their depth after the retirement of Scott Niedermayer.
30. Chicago Blackhawks
Tyler Pitlick, C (Minn. State, WCHA)
Strengths: Willing to Grind for the Puck
Weaknesses: Acceleration Could Use Improvement
With this pick the Blackhawks essentially replace Akim Aliu who was traded to Atlanta with a safer pick who maybe doesn't have as much upside.
In the long run it may pay off as Pitlick is far more predictable and not as much of a wild card as Aliu.