Tomorrow night is the first night of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. There is a lot of hype and speculation as to what player Edmonton will take. Will they take OHL superstars Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin? Will they shock everyone and go European with Mikael Granlund? This draft looks very deep at all positions. This means teams at the top to middle of the draft will have the opportunity to draft players who can contribute to the big clubs in the near future. Here’s a ranking of the top players at each position, as well as some information on them.
Goalie: Jack Campbell
09-10 team: US NTDP
Info: Campbell was ranked as the #2 North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting (NHLCS) going into the draft. I think of him higher than Calvin Pickard because of the resume he has put together the last two seasons. He won the best goalkeeper award at the 2010 World U18 Championships, as well as winning the 2009 and 2010 World U18 Championship. He also backstopped Team USA when they defeated Canada in the 2010 World Junior Championships.
Draft Projection: Middle first round. Expect him to be first goalie taken.
Defense: Cam Fowler
09-10 team: Windsor Spitfires
Info: Fowler has had the opportunity to spend a lot of time in the Windsor-Detroit area. He was born in Windsor, but moved to the Detroit suburbs as a child. He was also the first overall pick in the OHL Priority Draft two consecutive seasons. The first was in 2007 when Kitchener drafted him. He was debating between the OHL or college hockey with Notre Dame, but decided to play in the USNTDP. He was picked the following year by Windsor and signed with the Spits. Like Campbell, Fowler is decorated with gold medals in international competition. He is ranked #5 in North America and the top American forward by NHLCS.
Draft Projection: Top-Five. It’s unlikely, but if he slips to Tampa at #6, expect the first pick of the Steve Yzerman era to start at the blue line.
Defense: Erik Gudbranson
09-10 team: Kingston Frontenacs
Info: Rated fourth overall in North American skaters by the NHLSC, this 6’3″, 201 lbs hard hitting defenseman didn’t put up the best numbers last season because he missed nearly half of last season battling Mono. But when he did play, he contributed with 23 points in 41 games. Scouts report that if his offense matched his hard-hitting ability, he would be a star for years to come. In Kingston’s first round series with Brampton, he recorded one goal and two assists in a seven-game series defeat. He has the smarts needed to play defense at the NHL level, as he won the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year this past season.
Draft projection: 3rd-4th. He draws comparisons to Chris Pronger and Dion Phaneuf. He’s perhaps the best player in the draft who’s first name doesnt begin with Taylor or Tyler.
Right Wing: Brett Connolly
09-10 team: Prince George Cougars
Info: The only player from outside the USNTDP or the OHL, Connolly first appeared on scout’s radar in 2008-09 when he won the WHL and CHL’s Rookie of the Year honors when he scored 30 goals, 30 assists in 65 games. His stock dropped this season because of a nagging hip injury that kept him out most of the season. When he did return for the Cougars, he scored 19 points in 16 games.
Draft projection: He can go as early as third to Florida or as late as sixth to Tampa. Don’t the surprised if the NY Islanders try to form a Kane-Toews combination with Connolly and Tavares.
Center: Tyler Seguin
09-10 team: Plymouth Whalers
Info: Just like the Twilight diehards who are torn between Team Jacob or Team Edward, hockey geeks like myself are torn between Team Tyler or Team Taylor for the #1 overall pick. Who will Edmonton take? Here’s why they should take Seguin: He won awards for highest scorer (alongside Hall) and Most Outstanding Player in the OHL over Hall. Scoring 106 points in a 63-game season is nothing to laugh at. Those numbers are more like along the lines of NHL 10 for the XBox. His style has been compared by scouts as a young Steve Yzerman, so no matter if the Oilers or Bruins take him, they are in the drivers seat for having a franchise-type player for years to come.
Draft projection: Toronto fans are shooting themselves. They could of had the #2 pick but they sent that to Boston in the Phil Kessel . Boston, already a playoff-caliber team can only be better with the pick of Seguin. I’m thinking (and so are mock draft experts) that the Oilers are leaning towards Hall, so Boston will land Seguin at #2.
Left Wing: Taylor Hall
09-10 team: Windsor Spitfires
Info: Consider Hall to be just as good as Seguin, but only on a better team. Hall was on the best team in the OHL for the last two seasons, as well as the best junior team in all of Canada as the Spits won the Memorial Cup the last two seasons. Hall is such a hot commodity, he was drafted last season by a team in the KHL. His odds are very slim of playing there as they draft age is 1 year prior to the NHL. More decorated than Seguin, Hall starred on the Canadian World Junior Championship team last season when he recorded 12 points in six games in route to the silver medal.
Draft projection: #1. There’s no way Edmonton won’t pass up on an Alberta-born player that has the superstar potential as Hall.
The 2010 NHL Entry Draft will be held at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Hockey fans can watch the action tomorrow night at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on Versus.