Part 3 – The Entry Draft

Today we are going to break down the upcoming draft on June 24,25th in Minnesota. as it stands heading into the draft the Winnipeg NHL franchise holds the seventh overall pick. While we all know trades happen on draft day True North has stated they won’t trade that pick, but if a reasonable opportunity arises to move up I think they would take it.

The Edmonton Oilers GM Steve Tambellini is open to dealing the first overall pick. The consensus around the majority of sources I’ve looked is that C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer) will go first overall and while a player of that caliber is someone you want to add to your team the Oilers are stockpiled with good young players up front. It’s my belief that Tambellini wants to move the 1st overall pick for a slightly lower pick and quality player or defence prospect in return.

When you look at the pieces the Winnipeg team has, they become potential trade partners for the Oilers, especially since we know how weak the team is at the Center position. They could package together a player like Bogosian a former 3rd overall pick who still has lots of potential but hasn’t yet broken out for this team while they were in Atlanta with the seventh overall pick for the Oilers first overall selection and the 19th overall pick Edmonton acquired in the trade with St. Louis..

Granted there are many other trading partners the Oilers could have to move the number one pick, but I’m simply covering any speculation that would involve the Winnipeg side of things.

On paper it would make sense, the most likely other then Nugent-Hopkins to go first overall is C/LW Jonathan Huberdeau (Saint John), LW Gabriel Landeskog (Kitchener), D Adam Larsson (Sweden), D Dougie Hamilton (Niagara). So it’s anything but a crystal clear selection for the Oilers who may be more interested in selecting a young defenceman to go more with the team needs then the best player available and the rule of thumb in a draft is if you can get the player you want further down in the draft, trade down and get another asset.

The Winnipeg franchise would no doubt love to add a player like Nugent-Hopkins or Huberdeau that can play center to their collection of young players primarily suited for the wing. There are also two other Defenceman that are sure to go in the top ten that the Oilers could have their eyes on in D Nathan Beaulieu (Saint John) and D Ryan Murphy (Kitchener). The other players likely to go in the top ten are C Sean Couturier (Drummondville), C Ryan Strome (Niagara) and C Mika Zibanejad (Sweden).

With the possibility always there that Winnipeg could move up in the draft, and because there is not as much certainty going into the draft we’ll profile these top ten players in no particular order based on position. Our focus will be on the likeliness of them being drafted to the Winnipeg team and what interests Winnipeg would have in them.

C Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan (Red Deer)

Ht: 6′ Wt: 170
WHL GP: 69 G: 31 A: 75 PTS: 106 PIM: 51

Touted by scouts as the most complete player available in the draft he would no doubt help fill the hole in Winnipeg’s middle. A play-making center that would look great to start the 2011-12 season on the second line between Kane and Little and would instantly elevate their offensive potential and with the ability of Little to play centre could help Nugent-Hopkins transition into the NHL game.

The only knock on him heading into the draft is his size and he’ll need to hit the gym hard in the off season to avoid being bullied around by the much larger NHL players. That said most 18 year olds need to do the same thing to be able to play in the NHL.

The only way Winnipeg will be able to draft Nugent-Hopkins is if they are able to trade up so while there is potential to do so I wouldn’t hold my breath.

C Sean Couturier (Drummondville)

Ht: 6’4 Wt 195
QMJHL GP: 58 G: 36 A: 60 PTS: 96 PIM: 36

Couturier is another play making center and if he falls to 7th which is unlikely given that Ottawa seems pretty excited about him look for Winnipeg to snatch him up. He has great size and has already displayed a solid two-way game in junior so he should have a much easier time transitioning to the NHL then some of the other prospects that will need to focus on the defensive end first.

There’s still some work to be done and he may see another year in the Q before he has a chance to break into the NHL but it all depends on where he ends up. If he lands in Winnipeg don’t expect to see him rushed along.

C Ryan Strome (Niagara)

Ht: 5’11 Wt: 160
OHL GP: 65 G: 33 A: 73 PTS: 106 PIM 82

Strome is my odds on favorite to end up drafted by Winnipeg with the seventh overall selection, he should still be on the board when they get to make their selection and in a year or two will be able to help our Winnipeg down the middle. To be honest I’d be surprised if their first selection is anything but a centerman unless a player that is too good to pass on falls down to them like Landeskog.

Strome is small at only 5’11 he could have a hard time winning draws against the likes of Joe Thornton etc. but he is a pure scorer and works extremely hard. Offensively he’s ready for the NHL but he will likely need another year in the OHL and possibly one in the AHL before we’ll see him in a Winnipeg jersey full time. If Winnipeg can’t make a move to get Nugent-Hopkins or Couturier doesn’t fall to them, Strome is a very nice consolation prize that could develop into a Danny Briere type of player in the NHL

C Mike Zibanejad (Sweden)

Ht: 6’1 Wt: 183
SEL GP: 26 G: 5 A: 4 PTS: 9 PIM:2

As a centerman Zibanejad will get some attention from Winnipeg’s Dynamic Duo of Chevy and Heis but unless five of the top six picks are Nugent-Hopkins, courtier, Strome, Landeskog and Huberdeau he won’t be on their draft radar as one of those five players will all be above him on their list and with strong defense prospects available for teams like Edmonton, New Jersey and New York who all might be looking to add a Blue-Chip Defenseman I’d say the odds are better we’ll get a chance to draft Nugent-Hopkins then we will Zibanejad.

That being said he is a solid body with good skating ability and soft hands. He’ll take longer to develop but could be a breakout player in five years. He’s not afraid to play physical, he could develop into a Mike Fisher type of player in time.

C/LW Jonathan Huberdeau (Saint John)

Ht: 6’1 Wt: 170
QMJHL GP 67: G: 43 A: 62: PTS 105 PIM 88

His stock has continued to rise all season and strong play and leadership during his teams Memorial Cup run will no doubt get a lot of teams interested. His 30 points in 19 playoff games and MVP performance will almost ensure he doesn’t fall down to Winnipeg at number seven but if Winnipeg can pull off a trade to land him they will. He’s the only player I have ranked below Nugent-Hopkins and only by a fraction of an inch.

His strongest selling point aside from his playoff success is his two-way game, which ever team he ends up on next year will likely have to find room for him on their NHL roster and he would likely slot into the Second line with Kane and Little with either Little or Huberdeau being able to center the line.

I think Colorado and Florida will be hard pressed to trade their picks so the only way Winnipeg will land Huberdeau is if they like him more then Nugent-Hopkins and can land the Oiler’s pick or the GM’s don’t think as highly of him as I do.

LW Gabriel Landeskog (Kitchener)

Ht: 6′ Wt: 207
OHL GP: 53 G: 36 A: 30 PTS: 66 PIM: 61

Landeskog will likely get picked as high as 2nd and as low as 6th so it’s unlikely he’ll be there when Winnipeg draft’s 7th but if he does and Coutrier and Strome are off the board he’ll be a no brainer for Chevy and Heis.

He doesn’t have the same offensive upside as some of the other forwards in the top ten but he does have some of the intangibles that can not be taught, leadership and intensity. He will be a captain one day in the NHL and would fit extremely well into a system like New Jersey that prides defence first because he is arguably the most NHL ready in the draft when it comes to the two-way game.

D Adam Larsson (Sweden)

Ht: 6’2 Wt: 200
SEL GP: 37 G: 1 A: 8 PTS: 9 PIM: 41

I don’t see Winnipeg using their top pick on a defencman so I won’t spend too much time on the top four in the draft. They will most likely go between 2nd and 9th which is why I believe strongly that Edmonton will trade down to be able to select one and get something else out of the deal instead of using there first overall pick to choose a player they could get at 4,5,6 or 7.

Larsson is one of those players that will be interesting to see where he goes on draft day. He is the top ranked European Skater in the draft and is arguably the best defenceman available. For a while he had potential of going first overall and he still might if Edmonton decides to not trade the pick and still select a defenceman but he’s also been projected to go as low as 6th overall by some.

One thing we know is that he’ll go in the top 10 and should be one of the top 3 defenceman drafted.

D Nathan Beaulieu (Saint John)

Ht: 6’3 Wt: 191
QMJHL GP: 65 G: 12 A: 33 PTS: 45 PIM: 52

Beaulieu is a player that should be there when Winnipeg makes there selection and could be a player the Oilers are targeting if they trade down with Winnipeg or any other team. He is fresh off a Memorial Cup championship with Johnathon Huberdeau which will help his ranking come draft day. Still a year or two away from regular action in the NHL but that shouldn’t scare away teams looking for a puck moving d-man.

He’s got good size and good puck moving ability and can get the puck up the ice in a hurry which would suit the type of team the Oilers are looking to build. His main asset will be his skills on the power play, as he has Mike Green potential there. If the Oilers trade down look for them to select Beaulieu. Winnipeg may consider him but given the depth they have of Defence currently and the role Byfuglien and Entstrom already play on the power play the organization would be better suited at getting help at center then adding another puck moving defenceman.

D Dougie Hamilton (Niagara)

Ht: 6’4 Wt: 193
OHL GP: 67: G: 12 A: 46 PTS: 58 PIM: 77

Hamilton is more well rounded then Beaulieu and could still be available for Winnipeg at seven. He’s got good size already and could play in the NHL if the right team picks him and needs him right away. He plays the game like Ryan Whitney which could help or hurt him in the appearance of the Oilers if they look to make a move down because Whitney’s style worked well for Edmonton last year but do you need two of them? Or do you take him to replace Whitney in a year or two?

Either way Hamilton will not likely be selected by Winnipeg for the same reasons as Beaulieu so the only way he factors into Winnipeg’s plan is if another team wants to make a trade to select him.

D Ryan Murphy (Kitchener)

Ht: 5’10 Wt: 160
OHL GP: 63 G: 26 A: 53 PTS: 79 PIM: 36

The last player featured in the top ten is perhaps the most interesting study. At 5’10 he’s small for an NHL forward let alone an NHL defenceman but he is also likely the most skilled blueliner available in the draft. He can skate like the wind and put up more then a point a game for Kitchner last year so scoring is not a problem. The biggest knock on Murphy is play in his own end especialy when it comes to lining up against NHL sized forwards like Homstrom in front of the net. Can you imagine if he had to try to move Chara from in front of the net when his team played the Bruins? Ironically enough that’s the team he could end up being drafted by as Murphy will likely go in the top ten but will most likely go somewhere 8-10 and be the last defenceman selected out of the top four.

While his upside is great there’s too many questions regarding his size and defensive abilities and the chance he could turn into a Marc-Andre Bergeron instead of a Kris Letang.

2011 Mock Draft

This draft starts off with a bang, Gary Bettman announces that a trade has been made between The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg.

Edmonton receives Zach Bogosian, Winnipeg’s 1st round pick in 2011 (7th overall) and a conditional pick from Winnipeg in 2012.
Winnipeg receives Edmonton’s 1st round pick in 2011 (1st overall) and Los Angeles 1st round pick in 2011 (19th overall)

Winnipeg (Draft Day Trade with Edmonton) #1 – C Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (Red Deer)

Winnipeg needs a legitimate number one center and there’s no better pure centre option available in the draft then Nugent-Hopkins. He won’t step in on the first line right away but he’ll be groomed to be there #1 over the next couple of years playing in between former first rounders Kane and Little.

Colorado Avalanche #2 – D Adam Larsson (Sweden)

The Av’s defence let them down last year and they’ve needed a shut down defenceman since Adam Foote retired. They get one here in Larsson and possibly more.

Florida Panthers #3 – C/LW Jonathan Huberdeau (Saint John)

The Panthers need a player they can build around and Huberdeau is the best player available with leadership abilities to boot.

New Jersey Devils #4 – LW Gabriel Landeskog (Kitchener)

The Devils were hoping for Larsson to fall to them but when he was taken off the board their sites switched to Landeskog who will be groomed to be their future captain. His two-way game will fit in perfectly with New Jersey’s style of play.

New York Islanders #5 – D Dougie Hamilton (Niagara)

The Isles need someone that can get the puck up the ice to their skilled young forwards while also playing solid D and helping out on the back end. They consider Murphy but go for the safer option in Hamilton.

Ottawa Senators #6 – C Sean Couturier (Drummondville)

The Sens are ecstatic that Couturier was still available and grab him quickly to fill the void left on their second line with the Fisher trade and to focus their rebuild around.

Edmonton Oilers (Draft Day Trade with Winnipeg) #7 – D Nathan Beaulieu (Saint John)

After Larsson and Hamilton went off the board the trade almost backfired but in the end the Oilers get their man in Beaulieu who they feel can step into the line up if not this year then the next and help quarterback a power play that will have lots of young weapons available. Combined with the acquisition of Bogosian the Oilers have bolstered their Defence with out giving up a single prospect.

Columbus Blue Jackets #8 – C Ryan Strome (Niagara)

The Blue Jackets have finally found their set up man for Rick Nash and Strome will be given every chance to make the team out of camp.

Boston Bruins (From Toronto) #9 – D Ryan Murphy (Kitchener)

The Bruins tried to find a defenceman to quarterback their power play in Kaberle and that failed so using Toronto’s pick they’ll take a gamble on Murphy and hope he’s their man.

Minnesota Wild #10 – D Duncan Siemens (Saskatoon)

The Wild wanted Murphy and are looking to add a defencman so they take the next best one a solid stay at home guy in Siemens.

Colorado Avalanche (From St. Louis) #11 – C Mika Zibanejad (Sweden)

The Av’s second pick goes on a center from Sweden in hopes that he can develop into a former Swedish center they used to employ.

Carolina Huricanes #12 – D Jamieson Oleksiak (Northeaster)

The Canes live by the motto go big or go home so they grab the biggest player available in 6’7 Oleksiak to give all star goalie Cam Ward some defensive help.

Calgary Flames #13 – C Zach Phillips (Saint John)

The Flames need to add depth at centre, grit, offensive upside and ability to win. They get all of that in Phillips.

Dallas Stars #14 – LW Sven Bartschi (Portland)

The Stars have a lot of holes to fill so they take the best player available in Bartschi.

New York Rangers #15 – C Mark McNeill (Prince Albert)

In the middle of the draft it starts to become a crap shoot and the Rangers roll the dice on the big body kid out of Prince Albert with a lot of hockey sense and the ability to shut down the opposing teams stars. Something that the Rangers have been unable to do in the playoffs the past two years.

Buffalo Sabres #16 – RW Try Rattie (Portland)

The Sabres add a talented passer would good vision and hope that he can fill out his frame as he develops.

Montreal Canadiens #17 – D Joseph Morrow (Portland)

The Winter Hawk players go back to back and three out of the last four. Montreal adds some depth on defence in puck moving defensman Joseph Morrow.

Chicago Blackhawks #18 – D Jonas Brodin (Sweden)

The Blackhawks add a solid prospect in shut down defender Brodin and adds to the stock piling of young role players to surround their expensive core players.

Winnipeg (Draft Day Trade with Edmonton)(From Los Angeles) #19 – RW Joel Armia (Finland)

With no immediate need to rush a player along Chevy and Heis take a Finnish Winger that has already drawn comparisons to a former Winnipeg Rookie of the Year, Teemu Selanne.

Phoenix Coyotes #20 – C Boone Jenner (Oshawa)

The Coyotes get a solid two-way centre that can really help their team in a few years when they’re likely in another city.

Ottawa Senators (From Nashville) #21 – RW Vladislav Namestnikov (London)

Usually drafting Russians can be a bit risky these days but Namestnikov has been playing under Dale Hunter in London and will be easy for GM Bryan Murray to keep tabs on is development.

Anaheim Ducks #22 – RW Tomas Jurco (Saint John)

A very talented player offensively Jurco will have the time to develop his skills in the Q and AHL before he’s required to take a roster spot on a Ducks team that has a good top 6 at least until the 2nd line retires.

Pittsburgh Penguins #23 – LW Matt Puempel (Peterborough)

A player with good offensive upside and potential top 6 winger on a team that needs to get more offense out of its wingers.

Detroit Red Wings #24 – RW Tyler Biggs (US National Team)

The Red Wings have a knack for finding sleeper picks late in the draft and they grab a winger with 20/20 potential and solid two-way play.

Toronto Maple Leafs (From Philadelphia) #25 – C Jonathan Miller (US National Team)

Burke decides to grab a player that struggled last season but has tremendous upside. The fact he plays for the US National Development team means that with Burke’s ties to the US team he can keep good tabs on his prospect before bringing him into the AHL to polish off.

Washington Capitals #26 – D Stuart Percy (Mississauga)

He lacks size for a defenceman but his speed and hockey sense should help him develop into a solid defenceman for the Caps in a couple of years.

Tampa Bay Lightning #27 – LW Brandon Saad (Saginaw)

The Bolts grab Saad here who was once projected in the top 20 and is an outright steal at 27.

San Jose Sharks #28 – LW Nicklas Jensen (Oshawa)

The Sharks get a winger that has some potential but should turn into a solid two way checking forward with some offensive potential.

Toronto Maple Leafs (From Boston) #29/30 – C Mark Scheifele (Barrie)

With their 2nd first round pick the Leafs grab another center in Scheifele who with only one year in the OHL notched 75 points.

Vancouver Canucks #29/30 – D Ryan Sproul (Sault Ste. Marie)

The Nucks proved you can never have too many defenceman this past season so it’s little surprise they grab the best one still available at their pick in Sproul who has size and some offensive skill but needs to fill into his frame like most players his age.

So obviously I went a little off the board with projecting the trade of the first overall pick in the draft but the Oiler’s are taking offers and Winnipeg has the pieces to make the trade and while Bogosian may still turn into an elite defenceman in this league the one area of depth the Winnipeg team has is on defence.

We’ll find out in a few short weeks how accurate my projections are and I will re-post this mock draft with the actual results at that time. tomorrow I’ll go over the Unrestricted free agents that Chevy and Heis might target and how they’d fit into the team.

Until then who do you think Winnipeg will select with the seventh overall pick? Do you think they’ll trade up? Let’s hear your thoughts.

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Jeff Stevenson is a co-founder of and co-host of the popular Jets Hockey Podcast. He grew up in Winnipeg, MB and became very passionate about sports, hockey and the Jets. Now Jeff is proud and honored to help bring news and information about the Winnipeg Jets to fans around the world.