Tag Archives: Buffalo Sabres

St. Louis Blues 2014- 2015 Season Preview

Connor Keith returns to the Down the Frozen River scene with this season preview of the St. Louis Blues. This was written before final roster cuts were made, but the season came along quickly and I kind of failed as an editor when it came to posting things in a timely manner. But that shouldn’t make any of Connor’s analysis any less valuable! Enjoy.

St. Louis Blues (52-23-7, second in division, third in conference)

After yet another early exit from the playoffs (fourth time exiting the playoffs in the first or second round since 2008-‘09), the Blues look to do more than reclaim the division title taken from them by Colorado last season. Although GM Doug Armstrong resigned Head Coach Ken Hitchcock, Associate Coach Brad Shaw, & Assistant Coach Ray Bennett, he pulled the plug on Assistant Coach Gary Shaw & Goaltending Coach Corey Hirsch. In their place, he hired Kirk Muller (ex-head coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, amassing a record of 80-80-27) as Assistant Coach & Jim Corsi as Goaltending Coach.

One of the major turnovers from last year for the Blues is between the pipes. Last season’s leading goalie in games played & wins was Jaroslav Halak, who was traded to Buffalo with Chris Stewart, William Carrier, & two draft picks for Steve Ott & goalie Ryan Miller. Miller was acquired on the last season of his contract & has since signed with Vancouver, leaving the Blues with only Brian Elliot within their system with playing time last season. The Blues have called up Jake Allen from Chicago to be a second goalie for the Blues. Based on last season’s stats, I believe that this preseason could be a major factor in the decision for who is defending the crease against the Rangers on October 9.

Brian Elliot has the experience, playing 31 games last season (double Jake Allen’s career NHL appearances). He amassed a record of 18-6-2 last season. Of those 18 wins, four were shutouts (over 22% of wins were as a result of a shutout). He blocked 92.2% of all shots last season, allowing an average of 1.96 goals per game, .07 better than Allen’s 2013-’14 campaign.

On the other hand, Jake Allen played in 52 regular season games last season for the Chicago Wolves for a 33-16-3 record. Of those 33 wins, seven were shutouts (over 21% of wins were shutouts). He blocked 92.8% of all the shots he faced last season, .6% better than Elliot, allowing 2.03 goals per game. A main thing Allen has over Elliot is recent playoff experience. Although it was not for the Stanley Cup, Allen played nine games for Chicago, amassing a 3-6 record & allowing 3.29 goals against per game. His save percentage also dipped in the Wolves’ quest for the Calder to 87.9%, dropping almost 5%.

The Blues come into the season having lost some big names, most notably Vladimir Sobotka (signed with Avangard), Brenden Morrow (signed with Tampa Bay), & Derek Roy (signed with Nashville).

They lost two of the top 10 players with most regular season games with the Blues last season in Derek Roy & Roman Polak (traded to Toronto) both playing over 70 regular season games last year. Additionally, they lost five of the top 20 players with the most playoff games with the Blues last season in Vladimir Sobotka & Roman Polak (both played in all six playoff games), Adam Cracknell (five, signed with Los Angeles), Derek Roy (four), & Brenden Morrow (two). The Blues are adding players that can play most of a regular season, though, in Chris Butler (Calgary) & Carl Gunnarsson (traded from Toronto), who both played 80+ games last season.

The Notes are not bringing back three of their top 14 shot takers this year as Derek Roy (114), Vladimir Sobotka (102), & Roman Polak (83) are not returning. These three players accounted for over 12% of the Blues’ shots last regular season. Looking at only postseason numbers, five of last playoff’s shot-takers are not returning, as Vladimir Sobotka (13), Derek Roy (nine), Adam Cracknell (six), Roman Polak (five), & Brenden Morrow (one) are not returning. These shooters accounted for almost 16% of the shots taken in the postseason.

Over 5% of last season’s goals will not show up to training camp this season as Brenden Morrow (13) is with the Bolts. The Blues have added Paul Stastny (25, signed from Colorado) & Joakim Lindstrom (23, signed from Skellefteå) to almost quadruple his goal production.

Two of the leading 11 assisters will not be with the Blues this season as Derek Roy (28), & Vladimir Sobotka (24) are not returning. The Blues have profited by signing Joakim Lindstrom (40), Paul Stastny (35), & Jori Lehtera (32, signed from Sibir Novosibirsk). These new additions double the totals of Roy & Sobotka, hopefully providing even more opportunities for Alexander Steen (33 goals), David Backes (27 goals), Paul Stastny (25 goals), & Jaden Schwartz (25 goals).

Vladimir Sobotka (14), one of the top nine +/- guys in the 2013-’14 regular season, will not return for this one. Included in that, the Blues also lost three of the top seven +/- players during the playoffs. Without Vladimir Sobotka (two), Brenden Morrow (zero), & Adam Cracknell (zero), the Blues would have scored a lowly -27. To try to improve upon these numbers, St. Louis has signed Carl Gunnarsson (12), & Paul Stastny (nine). The two additions provide decent improvements that will hopefully continue their success in St. Louis.

The Blues lost one of the top six penalty minute earners in Brenden Morrow (76). Sadly, the Blues picked up Joakim Lindstrom, who had minutes (72) almost equal to Morrow’s, so no major improvements have been made in that regard. New hires Paul Stastny & Jori Lehtera only served 22 minutes in the sin bin last season each, which averaged out to a little less than 19 seconds per game for Stastny & 27.5 seconds per game for Lehtera.

Present roster consists of 32 forwards, 16 defensemen, & four goalies (52 men).

Pittsburgh Penguins 2014- 2015 Season Preview

Connor Keith returns to the Down the Frozen River scene with this season preview of the Pittsburgh Penguins. This was written before final roster cuts were made, but the season came along quickly and I kind of failed as an editor when it came to posting things in a timely manner. But that shouldn’t make any of Connor’s analysis any less valuable! Enjoy.

Pittsburgh Penguins (51-24-7, won division, second in conference)

After yet another early exit from the playoffs (fourth time kicked out of playoffs in first or second round of playoffs since winning the Cup in the 2008-’09 season), Mario Lemieux & Ronald Burkle have pulled the plug on the entire coaching staff & GM Ray Shero (2006-’14). Since then, the Penguins have hired Jim Rutherford to replace Shero, Mike Johnston to replace Dan Bylsma, & Rick Tocchet to replace Tony Granato & Tood Reirden.

Mike Johnston has yet to record a game in the NHL as a head coach, but he does have experience in head coaching. His first head coaching position was in the college ranks when he coached New Brunswick for five seasons (1989-’94). After being hired by the Canadian men’s team in 1994 as an associate coach, he took the head coaching job in 1998 for a season. He departed Team Canada for an assistant position with the Vancouver Canucks, followed by being an associate coach of the Los Angeles Kings. His most recent position is with the Portland Winterhawks (WHL), from 2008 until last season as coach & GM.

His first season witnessed the Winterhawks going 19-48-3-2, second to last in the league. The following season, Johnston’s Winterhawks (44-25-2-1) finished fourth in a competitive division for fifth in the conference, losing in the second round of the playoffs. In his third season, his team led the conference at 50-19-0-3 for third in the league. The Hawks made it all the way to the finals before losing to Kootenay. In 2011-’12, his team again made it to the finals, losing a deciding game seven.

Of course, the year the Winterhawks finally won their championship, Johnston was suspended for recruiting violations. As his violations were more connected to his GM position in a junior league, I don’t predict that he will have similar problems in Pittsburgh. He has proven that he can make rapid growth in only the course of one season, which may be exactly what the Pens need to cross the bridge between strong & elite.

Jim Rutherford is an ex-goalie (potential influence on future goalie signings, either this season or the near future?), playing for Pittsburgh from 1971 until traded to Detroit in the middle of January 1974. For the past 20 years, he has been the General Manager of the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes franchise, winning a division championship in 1998-’99, 2001-’02, & 2005-’06, a conference championship in 2001-’02 & 2005-’06, & winning the franchise’s only Stanley Cup in the 2005-’06 season. So far with the Penguins, he has signed six free agents & traded James Neal to the Nashville Predators for Patric Hornqvist & Nick Spaling.

Of course, the biggest question Penguins have is their goaltending. Based on moves made so far, Marc-Andre Fleury is still Pittsburgh’s starting goalie. He had a save percentage of 91.5% for the regular season, averaging 2.47 goals against per game. As much as everyone likes to get on Fleury during the playoffs, he didn’t have the meltdown people like to associate with him. In fact, in his 13 playoff games, he matched his regular season save percentage exactly, as well as giving up .07 less goals in those playoff games. He also had two shutouts over the postseason (almost 29% of playoff wins were shutouts), in addition to the five he had in the regular season (13% of his wins were shutouts), tied for fourth in the league.

The Pens also retained Jeff Zatkoff, who played in 20 regular season games last year for a 20-12-6, including a shutout. His save percentage in those games was 91.2% & he allowed 2.29 goals per game.

In addition, the Penguins also signed Arizona’s backup of a season ago in Thomas Greiss. In 25 games last season, he amassed a record of 10-8-5 (two shutouts, equaling Fleury’s eight percent of games played where the opponent was held scoreless) with a save percentage of 92% (better than both Penguin goalies, but with a smaller sample than Fleury), allowing only 2.29 goals per game (lower than both Pittsburgh goalies). Based on last year’s stats alone, he may take the backup position from Zatkoff.

The Pens come into the season having lost some big names, most notably Jussi Jokinen (signed with Florida), James Neal (traded to Nashville), & Matt Niskanen (signed with Washington).

They lost two of the top four players with most regular season games with the Penguins last season in Matt Niskanen & Jussi Jokinen both playing 81 regular season games last year. Additionally, they lost seven of the top 19 players with the most playoff games with the Penguins last season in James Neal, Jussi Jokinen, Matt Niskanen, Lee Stempniak (signed with the Rangers), Joe Vitale (signed with Arizona) (all played in all 13 games), Brian Gibbons (signed with Columbus), & Tanner Glass (signed with the Rangers) (both played eight games). The Penguins are adding players that can play most of a regular season, though, in Christian Erhoff (Buffalo) & Patric Hornqvist (Nashville), who both played 75 games last season.

The Penguins are not bringing back half of their top six shot takers this year as James Neal (238), Jussi Jokinen (172), & Matt Niskanen (162, led defensemen) are not returning. These three players accounted for over 23% of the Penguins’ shots last regular season. Looking at only postseason numbers, eight of the top 19 shot-takers are not returning, as James Neal (49, led team), Jussi Jokinen (31), Matt Niskanen (24), Lee Stempniak (22), Joe Vitale (13), Brian Gibbons (11), Tanner Glass (10), & Brooks Orpik (eight, signed with Washington) are not returning. These shooters accounted for over 38% of the shots taken in the postseason.

Almost 20% of last season’s goals will not show up to training camp this season as James Neal (27) & Jussi Jokinen (21) are with other teams. The Penguins have added Patric Hornqvist (22) to try to make up for the missing goals, but he only makes up for Jokinen’s, meaning other players including new addition Nick Spaling (13 last season, acquired from Nashville) & returner Brandon Sutter (13) will need to step up their goal scoring.

Three of the leading five assisters will not be with the Penguins this season as Jussi Jokinen (36), Matt Niskanen (36, led defensemen), & James Neal (34) are not returning. To make up for this, the Pens have signed Patric Hornqvist (31), Christian Erhoff (27), & Steve Downie (20, signed from Philadelphia). These new additions don’t match the talent lost in this stat column, but they also didn’t have Sidney Crosby (36 goals), Chris Kunitz (35 goals), James Neal (27 goals), & Evgeni Malkin (23 goals) on their team.

Six of the top 11 +/- guys in the regular season have been lost, including Matt Niskanen (33, led team), James Neal (15), Jussi Jokinen (12), Brian Gibbons (five), & Lee Stempniak (five). Included in that, the Penguins also lost eight of the top 17 +/- players during the playoffs. Combined, Brooks Orpik (six), Jussi Jokinen (five), James Neal (two), Brian Gibbons (two), Tanner Glass (zero), Joe Vitale (zero), & Matt Niskanen (negative two) all total to 13, greater than the rest of the remaining team’s score of 12. To make up for these lost numbers, Pittsburgh has signed Nick Spaling (two), Patric Hornqvist (one), & Steve Downie (one). The three of them, though, only rival Jussi Jokinen’s contributions last season, so they will need to improve in that aspect.

The Penguins lost five of the top nine penalty minute earners in Tanner Glass (90, “led” the Penguins last season), Deryk Engelland (58, signed with Calgary), James Neal (55), Matt Niskanen (51), & Brooks Orpik (46). Sadly, the Pens picked up Steve Downie, who had minutes (106) equal to Neal & Niskanen combined. New hire Nick Spaling only served 14 minutes in the sin bin last season, which averaged out to almost 12 seconds per game. This will be a huge asset to keep the Penguins from defending the power play.

Present roster consists of 12 forwards, six defensemen, & three goalies (21 men).

Buffalo Sabres 2014- 2015 Season Preview

Colby Kephart joins Down the Frozen River as a contributing writer with his season preview for the Buffalo Sabres. His short, but direct, writing style is sure to please those readers looking for something quick to cover all the bases. This was written before final roster cuts were made, but the season came along quickly and I kind of failed as an editor when it came to posting things in a timely manner. But that shouldn’t make any of Colby’s analysis any less valuable! Enjoy.

Additions: D Josh Gorges, D Andrej Meszaros, D Andre Benoit, D Tyson Strachan, RW Brian Gionta, LW *Matt Moulson, C *Cody McCormick, C Sam Reinhart. *=Returned

Subtractions: D Henrik Tallinder, D Jamie McBain, D Christian Ehrhoff, D Alex Sulzer, LW Ville Leino , LW Linus Omark, RW Matt D’Agostini.

Expectation: The Sabres are very hopeful this season, the players are excited to start and I truly believe that they will try and push for the playoffs. This is contradictory to popular belief, because most people think they will tank again to have a chance for Connor McDavid or Jack Eichel. The New additions of veteran leadership to a very young team could make them a contender for playoffs. I’m not suggesting “Look for the Cup”, but getting a 6th-8th seed could be possible. There’s only two options for the Sabres Playoffs or tank anywhere in between and this season was a failure.

2014 NHL Free Agency Recap

Recapping all of the signings from the entire day. Updated as necessary when newer deals are signed. Everything that is known is shown.

Christian Ehrhoff signed a 1 year deal worth $4 million with PIT.

Manny Malhotra signed a 1 year deal worth $850,000 with MTL.

Jori Lehtera signed a 2 year deal with STL.

Mark Fayne signed a 4 year deal worth $3.625 million a year with EDM.

Benoit Pouliot signed a 5 year deal worth $4 million a year with EDM.

Chad Johnson signed a 2 year deal worth $1.3 million a year with the NYI.

Milan Michalek signed a 3 year deal worth $4 million a year with OTT. (Resigned)

Petr Mrazek signed a 1 year deal with DET. (Resigned)

Paul Stastny signed a 4 year deal worth $7 million a year with STL.

Mike Camalleri signed a 5 year a deal worth $5 million a year with NJ.

Justin Peters signed a 2 year deal with WSH.

Tom Gilbert signed a 2 year deal worth $2.8 million a year with MTL.

Brad Malone signed a 2 year deal with CAR.

Jussi Jokinen signed a 4 year deal worth $4 million a year with FLA.

Mason Raymond signed a 3 year deal worth $3.167 million a year with CGY.

Dan Boyle signed a 2 year deal worth $4.5 a year with NYR.

Jiri Sekac signed a 2 year deal worth with MTL.

Dave Bolland signed a 5 year deal worth $5.5 million a year with FLA.

Clayton Stoner signed a 4 year deal worth $3.25 million a year with ANA.

Mike Weaver signed a 1 year deal worth $1.75 million with MTL. (Resigned)

Joe Vitale signed a 3 year deal worth $1.117 million a year with ARI.

Ryan Miller signed a 3 year deal worth $6 million a year with VAN.

Al Montoya signed a 2 year deal worth $1.050 million a year with FLA.

Anders Lindback signed a 1 year deal with DAL.

Ales Hemsky signed a 3 year deal worth $4 million a year with DAL.

Blake Comeau signed a 1 year deal worth $700K with PIT.

Thomas Greiss signed a 1 year deal worth $1 million with PIT.

Jeremy Gregoire signed a 3 year deal with MTL.

Brian Gionta signed a 3 year deal worth $4.25 million a year with BUF.

Brooks Orpik signed a 5 year deal worth $5.5 million a year with WSH.

Keith Aulie signed a 1 year deal worth $800,000 with EDM.

Mathieu Perreault signed a 3 year deal worth $3 million a year with WPG.

Shawn Thornton signed a 2 year deal worth $1.2 million a year with FLA.

Jonas Hiller signed a 2 year deal worth $4.5 million a year with CGY.

Adam Larsson signed a 1 year deal with NJ (Resigned).

Thomas Vanek signed a 3 year deal worth $6.5 million a year with MIN.

Stephane Robidas signed a 3 year deal worth $3 million a year with TOR.

Dominic Moore signed a 2 year deal worth $1.5 million a year with NYR. (Resigned)

Tanner Glass signed a 3 year deal worth $1.45 million a year with NYR.

Mike Kostka signed a deal with NYR.

Bruno Gervais signed a 1 year deal with COL.

Nick Holden signed a 3 year deal worth $1.65 million a year with COL. (Resigned)

Derek Mackenzie signed a deal with FLA.

Brett Sutter signed a two way deal with MIN.

Matt Moulson signed a 5 year deal worth $5 million a year with BUF.

Martin Havlat signed a 1 year deal worth $1.5 million with NJ.

Phil McRae signed a 1 year, two way, deal with STL.

Brett Regner signed a 1 year, two way, deal with STL.

Cody McCormick signed a 3 year deal worth $4.5 million with BUF. (Resigned)

Nick Drazenovic signed a 2 year deal worth $550K with PIT. (Resigned)

Marcus Foligno signed a 2 year deal with BUF. (Resigned)

Jarome Iginla signed a 3 year deal worth $5.333 million a year with COL.

Leo Komarov signed a 4 year, $2.95 million contract with TOR.

Jiri Tlusty signed a 1 year, $2.95 million deal with CAR. (Resigned)

Peter Regin signed a 1 year $650K deal with CHI.

Anton Stralman signed a 5 year deal worth $4.5 million per year with TB.

Steve Bernier signed a 1 year, $600K deal with NJ. (Resigned)

Mike Angelids signed a 1 year, two way, contract with TB. (Resigned)

Chris Mueller signed a deal with the NYR.

Deryk Engelland signed a 3 year deal, worth $2.9 million a year with CGY.

Cody Bass signed a 1 year contract with CHI.

Pierre-Cedric Labrie signed a 1 year deal with CHI.

Scott Darling signed a 1 year with CHI.

Steven Kampfer signed a two-way contract with the NYR.

Kevin Porter signed a two-way contract with DET.

Jesse Winchester signed a 2 year deal with COL.

Scott Clemmensen signed a 1 year, two-way, deal with NJ.

Mike Blunden signed a two-way deal, worth $600K, with TB.

Andrej Meszaros signed a 1 year, $4.125 million, contract with BUF.

Ray Emery signed a 1 year, $1 million, contract with PHI. (Resigned)

Ron Zepp signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with PHI.

Matt Hunwick signed a 1 year deal, worth $600K, with the NYR.

Devan Dubnyk signed a 1 year deal, worth $800K, with ARI.

Luke Gazdic signed a 2 year deal with EDM. (Resigned)

Adam Cracknell signed a 1 year contract with LA.

David Van Der Gulik signed a 1 year contract with LA.

Brad Richards signed a 1 year, $2 million, deal with CHI.

Cedrick Desjardins signed a contract with the NYR.

Matt Niskanen signed a 7 year contract worth $40.25 million ($5.75 million a year) with WSH.

Willie Mitchell signed a 2 year deal, worth $4.25 million a year, with FLA.

Patrick Eaves signed a 1 year deal with DAL.

Joey MacDonald signed a 1 year, two- way, contract with MTL.

Brian Boyle signed a 3 year contract, worth $2 million a year, with TB.

Jon Landry signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with WSH.

Mike Moore signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with WSH.

Chris Breen signed a 1 year, two-way, deal (worth $600K NHL/$175K AHL) with BOS.

Stu Bickel has signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with MIN.

Marcel Goc signed a 1 year, $1.2 million, deal with PIT. (Resigned)

Matt Frattin signed a 2 year deal with TOR. (Resigned)

Evgeny Nabokov signed a 1 year deal with TB.

Taylor Chorney signed a 1 year, two- way, contract with PIT.

Drew MacIntyre signed a 1 year, two-way, (worth $600K if in the NHL) contract with CAR.

Harry Zolnierczyk signed a 1 year, two-way, $600K deal with the NYI.

Guillaume Gelinas signed an entry level contract with MIN.

Cory Conacher signed a 1 year contract with the NYI.

Jason LaBarbera signed a 1 year contract with ANA.

Zach Redmond signed a 2 year deal with COL.

Ben Street signed a 2 year deal with COL.

Kyle Quincey signed a 2 year, $4.25 per year, deal with DET. (Resigned)

Jack Skille signed a two-way deal with the NYI.

Chris Conner signed a 1 year, two-way, contract with WSH.

For a complete and official list of Free Agent signings, check out this.

The First Round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft

                                  2014 NHL Entry Draft

  1. Florida Panthers                                  D Aaron Ekblad
  2. Buffalo Sabres                                    C Sam Reinhart
  3. Edmonton Oilers                                 C Leon Draisaitl
  4. Calgary Flames                                   C Sam Bennett
  5. New York Islanders                             LW Michael Dal Colle
  6. Vancouver Canucks                            LW Jake Virtanen
  7. Carolina Hurricanes                             D Haydn Fleury
  8. Toronto Maple Leafs                            C/LW/RW William Nylander
  9. Winnipeg Jets                                      LW Nikolaj Ehlers
  10. Anaheim Ducks (from OTT)                 LW Nick Ritchie
  11. Nashville Predators                             C/RW Kevin Fiala
  12. Arizona Coyotes                                  LW Brendan Perlini
  13. Washington Capitals                           C Jakub Vrana
  14. Dallas Stars                                         D Julius Honka
  15. Detroit Red Wings                               C Dylan Larkin
  16. Columbus Blue Jackets                       LW Sonny Milano
  17. Philadelphia Flyers                               D Travis Sanheim
  18. Minnesota Wild                                    C/RW Alex Tuch
  19. Tampa Bay Lightning                           D Anthony DeAngelo
  20. Chicago Blackhawks (from SJ)            C Nick Schmaltz
  21. St. Louis Blues                                     C Rob Fabbri
  22. Pittsburgh Penguins                             RW Kasperi Kapanen
  23. Colorado Avalanche                             C Conner Bleakley
  24. Vancouver Canucks (from ANA)           C Jared McCann
  25. Boston Bruins                                       RW David Pastrnak
  26. Montreal Canadiens                             LW Nikita Scherbak
  27. San Jose Sharks (from CHI)                 LW Nikolay Goldobin
  28. New York Islanders (from TB via NYR) C/RW Josh Ho-Sang
  29. Los Angeles Kings                                LW Adrian Kempe
  30. New Jersey Devils                                C John Quenneville

Trades Made

(Pre Draft)

– VAN traded Ryan Kesler and a 2015 3rd round pick to ANA for Luca Sbisa, Nick Bonino, and this year’s 1st and 3rd round picks (24th and 85th overall).

– VAN traded Jason Garrison, the rights to Jeff Costello, and a 2015 7th round pick to TB for this years 2nd round pick (50th overall).

– VAN traded this year’s 3rd round pick (85th overall) to the NYR for Derek Dorsett.

(During the Draft)

– PIT traded James Neal to NSH for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.

– SJ traded the 20th overall pick and the 179th overall pick to CHI for the 27th overall pick and the 62nd overall pick.

– TB traded the 28th overall pick to the NYI for the 35th overall pick and 57th overall pick.

Congrats to all the players selected in the first round of this year’s draft! Tune into NHL Network tomorrow at 10 AM EST for rounds 2 through 7. Good luck to all of those being drafted in their future careers and endeavors.

2014 Mock NHL Entry Draft

1. Florida Panthers      D Aaron Ekblad          Barrie (OHL)

Florida needs what Florida needs- defense. Sign a few free agent forwards, or make a good trade, and they have the potential to do a lot more now that they have a solidified goaltender in net.

2. Buffalo Sabres                     C Sam Reinhart            Kootenay (WHL)

Sabres have some good depth on defense with young players and whatnot, but they need to focus on growing offensively with Grigorenko and Girgensons.

3. Edmonton Oilers                 C Leon Draisaitl          Prince Albert (WHL)

6’1”, 208 pound, center that beefs up the Oilers down the middle. Just might be the miracle that Edmonton needs, or is that said every year? It’s time to develop a real plan and get active in the trade market if free agency isn’t going to work out for the Edmonton Oilers.

4. Calgary Flames                   C Sam Bennett            Kingston (OHL)

Calgary steals a good one that’ll do well alongside Sean Monahan.  He’s a two way center that everyone has had their eye on in the Sam and Sam battle between this year.

5. New York Islanders            LW Michael Dal Colle            Oshawa (OHL)

This power forward seems like he could be the key alongside Tavares. Then again, these days anyone could be the key with the Islanders because of the revolving door management has made so attractive. Their youth will improve, but they need a solid veteran that actually wants to be there. Doug Weight would you consider playing again, Gordie Howe or Chris Chelios style?

6. Vancouver Canucks            LW Jake Virtanen       Calgary (WHL)

In the expected aftermath, Kesler goes and Virtanen arrives. Vancouver’s got to find a goaltender as well. Hello Cam Ward? Or if the right moves are made, Ryan Miller? Anyone? Anyone?

7. Carolina Hurricanes            LW Nicholas Ritchie   Peterborough (OHL)

Carolina needs size in their lineup and at 6’2”, 226lbs, Ritchie packs a punch. What they also need is a new third jersey, but I’ll reserve that for another time.

8. Toronto Maple Leafs         C Jared McCann         Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

If they can’t acquire a good center, why not draft one? Either that or defense! Honestly, though, how can anyone in management focus in Toronto with all that is surrounding Dion Phaneuf, Nazim Kadri, Dave Bolland, and anyone else that I might have missed.

9. Winnipeg Jets                     RW Kasperi Kapanen KalPa (Finland)

Jets resolve some issues (Evander Kane) and work on building around Mark Scheifele. Better goalie needed- this is the market to get someone.

10. Anaheim Ducks (from OTT) LW Brendan Perlini           Niagara (OHL)

Talent runs deep in Anaheim, as noted by their season and GM of the year, Bob Murray. Another power forward drafted in the first round and another reason why the Ducks will improve their physicality to take on their rivaling California teams.

11. Nashville Predators           RW William Nylander            Sodertalje (SWE-2)

Seth Jones and Shea Weber need someone to score- they can’t do everything people. Nashville is going to be going through an interesting time now without Legwand and based on their last couple of seasons. This year will be a test as to whether or not they need a shakeup or something else.

12. Arizona Coyotes              D Haydn Fleury                     Red Deer (WHL)

Unsure of whether or not Keith Yandle may be trade bait the Coyotes pick a defenseman just in case. Also, another case for a new third jersey, only it should be retro and classy.

13. Washington Capitals         D Anthony DeAngelo                        Sarnia (OHL)

Washington takes a D-man because he’s an offensive defenseman (& offense wins, right Ovi). This year the Capitals learned that you can have the leading scorer and the worst plus minus in one player. Regardless, the Winter Classic will look cool in DC, right?

14. Dallas Stars                       C/RW Alex Tuch                    USA U18 (USHL)

He’s no Mike Modano, but he’s big (6’4”, 213) and can play a Western Conference style game. Youth movement continues in Dallas, and maybe they can land a big Star or two in a trade or free agent signing (oh and, yes, that pun was completely intended).

15. Detroit Red Wings            D Julius Honka                       Swift Current (WHL)

Defense wins championships. That’s been the mantra since, forever, for the Red Wings.

16. Columbus Blue Jackets     D Jack Dougherty                   USA U18 (USHL)

Columbus adds youth to their blue line and make moves this summer to become a contender. Bet on it. Admit it, you didn’t think they would be as competitive as they were against the Penguins. A healthy Nathan Horton and a leader in the locker room in the form of Scott Hartnell are the kind of veterans that you need and want to be involved with not only the team, but the surrounding community as well.

17. Philadelphia Flyers           LW Sonny Milano                  USA U18 (USHL)

The Flyers take a winger with good hands and hope to do better than this year. Isn’t that what everyone thinks every year? I’m not sure what else to say other than, Lecavalier. Irony comes in the form of Daniel Briere’s contract being bought out and then the same monstrosity being taken on by the Vincent Lecavalier signing, but you probably already knew that. Sorry to inflict pain.

18. Minnesota Wild                G Thatcher Demko                 Boston College (Hockey East)

We have the first goaltender of the draft! He had an impressive year at BC and is the best goalie in draft. Backstrom, Harding, Bryzgalov, Kuemper, someone make up their mind because Demko looks promising. In the meantime, hey BC, keep up with producing good goaltenders, okay?

19. Tampa Bay Lightning       LW Nikolaj Ehlers                  Halifax (QMJHL)

Ehlers falls unexpectedly but Tampa sticks to the Q (& Halifax- Jonathan Drouin last year, Ehlers this year) and gets a steal at 19th overall pick. 19 was also a good number for another reason, but I’m sure GM Steve Yzerman already knows.

20. San Jose Sharks                 C Dylan Larkin                       USNTDP (USHL)

Jumbo Joe or Marleau, which one will be the one to go? Larkin replaces them eventually. And I promise not to talk about the Kings in front of you, okay? Oh. Sorry.

21. St. Louis Blues                  C Ryan MacInnis                   Kitchener (OHL)

As in Al MacInnis’s son. Great skater that can play in any situation. Fits the Western Conference mold. By the way, are new jerseys on the way, because I bet they’d look awesome. St. Louis has a thing for making good looking jerseys.

22. Pittsburgh Penguins          LW Nikita Scherbak                Saskatoon (WHL)

Pittsburgh wanted Demko, but settles for a winger instead. He’s unselfish and great teammate. And the team needs a gold third jersey, but might I recommend one that is fresh and not a carbon copy of the nineties or eighties. I’m thinking rearranging the color palette on the home jersey and changing it to gold would look cool. But wear black helmets, because I’m not so sure gold helmets are a cool thing in hockey, unless you’re Notre Dame.

23. Colorado Avalanche          D Rolan McKeown                Kingston (OHL)

While Brendan Lemieux (Claude Lemieux’s son) drew interest from Jack Adams winner, Patrick Roy, the Av’s need another young defenseman to offset all of their young offense men from the last few seasons.

24. Anaheim Ducks                LW Brendan Lemieux             Barrie (OHL)

So the Ducks take him instead (see comment above). He’s scrappy and fits the rivalry with San Jose & Los Angeles. He compliments the Ducks roster nicely, especially if they do what everyone thinks they might do.

25. Boston Bruins                   C Nick Schmaltz                     Green Bay (USHL)

It was either a Swede, a Czech, or an American- and he’s good. At least, NHL Network told me he is. Either way, there’s no need to rush him in, the Bruins have enough down the middle for now.

26. Montreal Canadiens          LW Adrian Kempe                 Modo Jr. (SWE- JR)

So the Canadiens take the Swede I was thinking of instead (again, see the comment above). 6’1”, 187, finally brings some size to Montreal.

27. Chicago Blackhawks         C Brayden Point                     Moose Jaw (WHL)

If this guy turns out to be a gem, then somebody better start working on finding the Blackhawks horseshoe. I mean, really, Saad, Kane, Toews- they’ve stolen from the draft before and they’ll do it again if you’re not looking.

28. Tampa Bay Lightning (from NYR) LW Ivan Barbashev  Moncton (QMJHL)

This playmaker has hands, is Russian, and ushers in a new beginning for the Lightning.

29. Los Angeles Kings            C Jakub Vrana                         Linkoping (SWE-2)

Vrana slides down the ladder in the draft and the Kings get a steal. Skilled Czech= Cup clincher (if you need him to be). Oh and time for the obligatory congratulations to the 2014 Stanley Cup champions, maybe you can share the comeback wealth with everyone else next year, okay?

30. New Jersey Devils                        C Robert Fabbri                      Guelph (OHL)

I’m still unhappy with how the NHL handled the Kovalchuk contract, but anyway, Fabbri rounds out top 30.

*Barring any trades, this is how I see it progressing, but I’d like to see a lot of trades just to destroy my mock draft picks, like how someone always destroys my bracket during March madness.