2009 mock draft (cont.)
16. Columbus Blue Jackets: David Rundblad, D, Skelleftea (SEL)
The Jackets may not have the league's worst power play by the time Rundblad shows up in Columbus, but he has the tools to ensure they become a more formidable opponent with the extra man long-term Rundblad worked the PP in the SEL as an underager, thanks to his slick playmaking, cannon shot and strong reads. And he's a right-handed shooter, a quality almost every team covets. Add in the fact that he should play at about 6-2, 210 and has more than a passing familiarity with his own zone, and he should become a bulwark of the Jackets' back end.
17. St. Louis Blues: Jacob Josefson, C, Djurgarden (SEL)
There's nothing in his game that particularly stands out, but that's not a bad thing. He's such a well-rounded performer that you simply roll him out every third shift and trust him to do the job at both ends of the ice. He won't dazzle anyone with his offense, and there is some frustration about him not shooting enough, but he's a smart playmaker who makes the most of his linemates. His safe play seems like an ideal fit for the growing pool of talent in St. Louis.
18. Montreal Canadiens: Zach Kassian, RW, Peterborough (OHL)
Montreal gets their armed response to Milan Lucic. Kassian is mean, has an NHL-ready body, and plays every shift with a chip on his shoulder. But, like Boston's Lucic, he's more than just a nuclear deterrent. Kassian has surprisingly deft hands in close and a cannon shot from distance. He's also a decent passer, and while he won't knock anyone out with his skill level, he's so fiercely competitive that he'll find a way to validate his ice time. Don't be surprised if someone trades up to take him earlier.
19. New York Rangers: Peter Holland, C, Guelph (OHL)
Other than "no draft," there's no more damning tag applied to a young player than "lazy." Once it's there, it's almost impossible to shake. Scouts hear it and then all it takes is a couple of soft shifts per night for it to stick. Holland's earned a rep as this year's Patrick Marleau -- a big, talented center who doesn't always compete hard -- and that's damaged his stock. So maybe he's not the centerpiece of your offense, but with his size (6-2, 185), dazzling foot speed and heavy shot, Holland can make a contribution. How much depends on his desire.
20. Calgary Flames: Landon Ferraro, RW, Red Deer (WHL)
As if the Sutters could pass on a big-bodied Western Canadian boy. Ferraro may not match the top end of some first-rounders, but his skill set and willingness to compete at both ends suggest he'll become a solid NHLer. He's fearless in the corners and down low, and as his 37 goals suggest, he's got a nose for the net.
21. Philadelphia Flyers: Nick Leddy, D, Eden Prairie (USHS)
Their biggest need is between the pipes, but whispers out of Philly suggest Paul Holmgren doesn't believe there are any stoppers worthy of spending this pick on. Does that mean they might move down? Possibly, but I suspect there's a skater they won't be able to pass on here. Kyle Palmieri is a possibility, but I think they'll go with Leddy. The winner of Minnesota's prestigious Mr. Hockey award, he's a smooth-skating offensive defender. He's small, but so explosive and so smart with the puck that his size (5-11, 180) won't impede his progress. He'll QB the power play someday.
22. Vancouver Canucks: Kyle Palmieri, RW, USNTDP
This is exactly the sort of kid the Canucks need. Palmieri's game is built on speed and hockey sense, but his tenacious play with or without the puck makes him so desirable. His compete level always is set on high and that helps earn him the space he needs to take advantage of his howitzer shot. And don't get too worked up about his lack of size (5-10, 191). Palmieri was a beast at the combine, finishing in the top three in the key strength tests.
23. New Jersey Devils: Louis Leblanc, C, Omaha (USHL)
Here's the funny thing about Leblanc. Scouts routinely praise his competitiveness, but this kid has played at least a level below his maximum for the past two seasons. Now that may be because he wanted to keep the college option open -- he's going to Harvard next year -- but at the same time, you have to wonder. Those willing to overlook his easy route will point to his soft hands and ability to create separation on the ice. He's that ideal center who's just as willing to shoot as pass, and with a projectable frame (currently 6-0, 178), he could become a second-line bulldog.
24. Washington Capitals: Carter Ashton, RiW, Lethbridge (WHL)
Everyone says they aim to take the Best Player Available, but sometimes you can't overlook a specific need. The Caps are shy of both right wings in the system and physical forwards who drive the net and score the ugly goals. Ashton's game often draws comparisons to Bill Guerin, and that's exactly the type of player their prospect pool lacks.
25. Boston Bruins: Calvin de Haan, D, Oshawa (OHL)
Ask around and it's surprising how many insiders think de Haan is destined for the Bruins. The B's could use some help on the wings, too, so they might consider Jeremy Morin or Jordan Caron, but the need to replenish their blueline stock makes de Haan the more likely selection. Scouts rave about his high panic threshold. The kid is always poised with the puck and that, combined with great on-ice vision, makes him a dangerous passer. Like Ryan Ellis, he also has an uncanny knack for getting his shot past blocks and onto the net. Seems like a simple skill, but it's one with a value that rises as defensive schemes become more successful at reducing shot opportunities from the point.
26. New York Islanders (via San Jose): Jeremy Morin, LW, USNTDP
With a safe bet in Tavares already in their pocket, the Isles can afford to reach a bit with their second first-rounder. Morin has size (6-1, 189) and smarts, but that sweet set of hands has him ranked as the best pure scorer after Tavares. Morin can, and will, shoot from anywhere, and his one-timer may be the best in the draft. So why is he available at 26? His skating leaves scouts wanting more and so does his work ethic. Both are skills that can be developed with effort and maturity, but the kid has raised memories of Jason Bonsignore . . .and that's hurt his stock.
27. Carolina Hurricanes: Jordan Caron, RW, Rimouski (QMJHL)
Jim Rutherford has stated a preference for drafting offense in the first round (too bad, because there are some very interesting blueliners available at this slot), so expect him to nab Caron. The 36-goal scorer has an NHL-ready body (6-2, 202) and is a bull on the cycle where his strength and hands make him particularly effective. He's not the greatest skater, but his work ethic and hockey sense should help him compensate.
28. Chicago Blackhawks: Zach Budish, C, Edina (USHS)
A number of safer picks could be made here (Simon Despres and Tim Erixon jump to mind), but I get a sense that someone's going to roll the dice on Budish. Why not the Hawks, a team that has several solid forward prospects but no real top-six candidates in their system? Budish missed the entire season with a torn ACL suffered while playing football, but eased most concerns with his performance at the draft combine. Scouts who watched him last year saw a power forward prospect in the Keith Tkachuk mold -- above-average marks in all the offensive categories and solid leadership skills. This could be the steal of the draft.
29. Detroit Red Wings: Dylan Olsen, D, Camrose (AJHL)
He'll never be a top pairing defender, but Olsen has the kind of innate understanding of the game that the Wings love. He's blessed with an NHL-ready body (6-2, 207) and plays the kind of smart, physical game that never goes out of style. He's reliable enough with the puck that he can play Detroit's system, but he'll be more of a boon to the penalty kill than the power play.
30. Pittsburgh Penguins: Stefan Elliott, D, Saskatoon (WHL)
Elliott is drawing plenty of comparisons to Mike Green (both are offensive defensemen who played for the Blades), but they're not really accurate. First, no one needs to leave a trail of bread crumbs for Elliott to find his own zone. At the same time, he'll never be a shooter of Green's caliber. Still, he should mature into a high-octane blueliner, thanks to his dexterity on the blades, poise with the puck and a knack for finding the seams to his teammates or straight to the net.
NHL Truth & Rumors