The Stanley Cup Playoffs are over. There will be no NHL hockey being played until September. Now, the NHL off-season really begins, with all thirty teams now looking towards next season.
It begins with the 2014 NHL Draft, starting on June 27th and ending on June 28th. All the NHL teams will be looking to improve their future. It will be easier for some teams. For others, not so much. This is where a team’s scouting staff really shows their stuff.
With that being said, here is Editor in Leaf’s final mock draft. This mock will not predict trades, even though it is almost inevitable that some teams will move up and others will choose to move down to pick up additional assets.
1. Florida Panthers- Aaron Ekblad, Defenseman
If the Panthers don’t trade the pick, it’s pretty much been assured that they will be picking Ekblad.
2. Buffalo Sabres- Sam Reinhart, Center
Reinhart has the talent and heart to be one of the Sabres’ next great players.
3. Edmonton Oilers- Leon Draisaitl, Center/Left Wing
They might want a defenseman more, but if they don’t trade up or down, their interest in Draisaitl has been heard time and time again.
4. Calgary Flames- Sam Bennett, Center
You might call this a steal as Bennett has the talent to be the best player in the draft. An injury and an early playoff exit affected his chances to go No. 1.
5. New York Islanders- Michael Dal Colle, Center/Left Wing
It’s still hard to believe that the Islanders kept this pick. If they don’t move it, they will take the best player available in Dal Colle.
6. Vancouver Canucks- Nikolaj Ehlers, Left Wing
Ehlers might end up being one of the best players coming out of the draft just based on what team he has been playing with: the Halifax Mooseheads.
7. Carolina Hurricanes- Kasperi Kapanen, Left Wing
Seems too good to pass up the chance to draft your alumni’s son and still get a great prospect out of it.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs- Jake Virtanen, Center/Left Wing
He might be injured at the moment and out for quite a while, but the Leafs should take him for his mix of skill and grittiness.
9. Winnipeg Jets- William Nylander, Center/Left Wing
Another former NHLer’s son, Nylander is the No. 2 ranked European skater in the draft, behind Kapanen.
10. Anaheim Ducks- Brendan Perlini, Left Wing
The Ducks could trade this pick. Perlini could end up being a great fit on their second line one day.
11. Nashville Predators- Kevin Fiala, Right Wing
Fiala has shot up the draft rankings and has the potential to be a top scorer in the NHL. The Predators need that type of offense.
12. Arizona Coyotes- Nick Ritchie, Right Wing
The newly-named Arizona Coyotes have some offensive talent in the pipeline. Ritchie could add some toughness to the next line of Coyotes. A lot has been said about him possibly being NHL-ready.
13. Washington Capitals- Haydn Fleury, Defense
As the second-best defenseman in the draft behind Ekblad, Fleury will be coveted by any team that needs defense and are not lucky enough to draft Ekblad.
14. Dallas Stars- Robby Fabbri, Center/Left Wing
With Vernon Fiddler on the way out, it would be wise for the Stars to pick up some offense for the future. Fabbri has the chance to be a perfect second-liner behind the Stars excellent first-line duo of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn.
15. Detroit Red Wings- Jared McCann, Center
I don’t know what it is, but I just have an innate feeling that McCann is the prototypical Red Wings pick.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets- Dylan Larkin, Left Wing
Last season, the Blue Jackets had three first-round picks and used them primarily to pick offensive players. Larkin is a heart-and-soul forward that will fit in perfectly behind them.
17. Philadelphia Flyers- Alex Tuch, Center/Right Wing
Big? Check. Power Forward? Check. Sounds like a Flyers pick to me.
18. Minnesota Wild- Thatcher Demko, Goalie
Even though the Wild have Darcy Kuemper ready, they could probably use a back-up plan. Demko is the best goalie in the draft and is the obvious pick.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning- Jakub Vrana, Center/Right Wing
The Lightning already have one pretty good Czech in Ondrej Palat. Why not add another one in Vrana?
20. San Jose Sharks- Roland McKeown, Defense
The Sharks are going to need reinforcements on defense both now and in the future. They are definitely going to pick a defenseman here.
21. St. Louis Blues- Adrian Kempe, Center/Left Wing
The Blues have a history of taking safer players that will always help a team. Kempe fits into that mold perfectly.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins- Josh Ho-Sang, Right Wing
23. Colorado Avalanche- David Pastrnak, Left Wing/Right Wing
Like Vrana, Pastrnak is part of the next line of Czech players. Having a glut of centers around, the Avalanche will probably target a winger and Pastrnak could look good beside any of Colorado’s middlemen.
24. Anaheim Ducks- Sonny Milano, Left Wing
When you get this deep in the draft and you already have made a selection, you can afford to take the best player available. You can also afford to wait for him to develop as long as he needs. Milano will need it.
25. Boston Bruins- Nick Schmaltz, Right Wing
Yet another player in this draft with NHL bloodlines, Nick’s brother Jordan was drafted by St. Louis two years ago. Nick hopes to follow that same path.
26. Montreal Canadiens- Ivan Barbashev, Left Wing
“The Russian factor” has become more and more prevalent these days. Barbashev will be the first Russian drafted this year and could become a talented scorer for the Habs one day.
27. Chicago Blackhawks- Conner Bleakley, Center
The Blackhawks have been looking for a player to take over the second-line centre spot behind Jonathan Toews. Bleakley has the potential to be that with a little development.
28. Tampa Bay Lightning- Julius Honka, Defense
Last year, some questioned the Lightning’s decision to draft Jonathan Drouin over Seth Jones. This year, they will take the defenseman they need.
29. Los Angeles Kings- Nikita Scherbak, Right Wing
There are some teams that don’t fear “The Russian Factor”. Los Angeles is one of those teams. Scherbak could be a bit more of a risk since he has only played one season in North America, but the lure of a Stanley Cup Champion can be strong.
30. New Jersey Devils- Brendan Lemieux, Left Wing
The Devils are lucky to even have this pick. They will end the first round with another feel-good pick by picking Brendan Lemieux, the son of former Devil Claude Lemieux.