NHL Mock Draft: No surprise with top two picks



TORONTO — A breakdown at how The Sports Network sees this week's NHL Draft:

1. Edmonton: Taylor Hall (LW), Windsor, OHL

Forget the Taylor versus Tyler debate; Hall will be donning the Blue and Orange come June 25. He is an explosive and powerful skater with slick hands and a great shot. It also doesn't hurt that he led the Spitfires to back-to-back Memorial Cup championships while picking up the MVP both times.

Comparable skill set: Zach Parise

2. Boston (from Toronto): Tyler Seguin (C), Plymouth, OHL

Netting Seguin with the second overall pick is a great consolation prize, and should help Bruins fans quickly forget about the loss of Phil Kessel. Seguin is a complete, two-way, playmaking center who has a nose for the net. He isn't as flashy as Hall but is equally productive.

Comparable skill set: Steve Yzerman

3. Florida: Erik Gudbranson (D), Kingston, OHL

The 6'4" blue-liner is a physical, nasty defenceman with a booming shot from the point. He is not a major offensive threat, but possesses a strong all- around game coupled with great character and leadership abilities.

Comparable skill set: Dion Phaneuf

4. Columbus: Cam Fowler (D), Windsor, OHL

While many had his name up there with Hall and Seguin at the start of the season, Fowler dipped a little at the end of the 2009-10 campaign despite helping the Spitfires win a second consecutive Memorial Cup. He is a prototypical "offensive defenceman" with great vision and a pass-first mentality.

Comparable skill set: Tomas Kaberle

5. New York Islanders: Brett Connolly (RW), Prince George, WHL

A nagging hip flexor injury limited Connolly to only 16 games for the Cougars, which speaks volumes about his upside considering he finished the season as the third-ranked prospect by NHL Central Scouting. He is a well-rounded player with good size (6'2"), above-average puck control and great on-ice vision. A perfect complement for John Tavares on the top line.

Comparable skill set: Rick Nash

6. Tampa Bay: Brandon Gormley (D), Moncton, QMJHL

Gormley is a smooth-skating, fluid defenceman who contributes at both ends of the ice. He isn't overly physical, but he has great awareness away from the puck and plenty of poise with it. The Lightning could use a defenceman of his pedigree to pair with last year's selection, Victor Hedman, for many years to come.

Comparable skill set: Nicklas Lidstrom

7. Carolina: Nino Niederreiter (RW), Portland, WHL

The Swiss sensation had a successful rookie season in Portland, where he finished with 36 goals, but it was his performance at the World Junior Championship that piqued the attention of scouts. He is a big, gritty forward with plenty of skill.

Comparable skill set: Erik Cole

8. Atlanta: Derek Forbort (D), USNTDP

At 6'5", Forbort is a towering defenceman with great mobility and offensive prowess. Atlanta could use another premier blue-liner in the pipeline, although he could still be a few years away after committing to the University of North Dakota.

Comparable skill set: Erik Johnson

9. Minnesota: Ryan Johansen (C), Portland, WHL

After opting to play in the WHL instead of going the college route, Johansen had tremendous success his first year in the league playing on a line with Nino Niederreiter. He is your typical big play-making center (6'2") with great vision and good puck protection skills.

Comparable skill set: Jason Spezza

10. New York Rangers: Vladimir Tarasenko (RW), KHL

While the KHL factor might scare off certain teams, Rangers GM Glen Sather has never shied away from taking high-end Russian talent. Tarasenko is arguably one of the most talented players in the draft and will be hard to pass up based on his tremendous upside.

Comparable skill set: Alexander Radulov

11. Dallas: Jack Campbell (G), USNTDP

Selecting a goalie in the first round can be a risky venture, but fortunately for Dallas this isn't the case with Campbell. Campbell backstopped the U.S. to gold medals at the World Junior Championship and the Under-18 Championship. He is big and athletic and the Stars could desperately use a goaltending prospect in their system.

Comparable skill set: Cam Ward

12. Anaheim: Emerson Etem (RW), Medicine Hat, WHL

The Long Beach, California native might not have to move very far if the Ducks call his name on Friday. Etem led all rookies in goals (37) this past season and has tremendous speed and a good shot. His combination of skill and California roots might be too tempting to pass up.

Comparable skill set: Marian Gaborik

13. Phoenix (from Calgary): Jeff Skinner (RW/C), Kitchener, OHL

Skinner lit up the OHL this past season, scoring 70 goals in the regular season and playoffs combined. He is a pure sniper, but his skating and size have been criticized and is likely the reason he is not projected to go in the top ten. If the Coyotes take Skinner at 13, it could very well be the steal of the draft.

Comparable skill set: Mark Recchi

14. St. Louis: Mikael Granlund (C), HIFK, Finland

Granlund is another player who has top ten (if not top five) talent, but will be passed up because of his size (5'10"). He is a relentless playmaking center with great hands and a shifty defiance. The Blues could use some more forward prospects after trading away Lars Eller and Ian Schultz to Montreal for Jarolslav Halak last week.

Comparable skill set: Saku Koivu

15. Boston: Mark Pysyk (D), Edmonton, WHL

With their second pick of the first round, the Bruins will look to shore up the defence. Pysyk finished the season as the seventh-ranked skater by NHL Central Scouting and combines a great attitude with phenomenal skating and deft puck- moving abilities, despite playing on one of the worst teams in the WHL.

Comparable skill set: Jordan Leopold

16. Ottawa: Austin Watson (W), Peterborough, OHL

If there is one glaring weakness in the Senators' system, it is depth on the wing. Watson not only fills a positional void for the Sens, but his tenacity, penalty-killing ability and superb two-way play will be a welcome addition as well.

Comparable skill set: Ryan Kesler

17. Colorado: Jon Merrill (D), USNTDP

Merrill is another big, American-born defenceman who brings a smart, athletic game at both ends of the ice. He's not overly physical but thinks the game well and rarely puts himself out of position.

Comparable skill set: Jay Bouwmeester

18. Nashville: Nick Bjugstad (C), Blaine High, MN

Standing 6'4", Bjugstad has great size and uses it effectively. For a player still growing into his frame, Bjugstad is an impressive skater with a good shot who sees the ice well. Nashville has plenty of defensive prospects and will look to add some more muscle down the middle.

Comparable skill set: Ryan Getzlaf

19. Los Angeles: Alexander Burmistrov (C), Barrie, OHL

While his offensive instincts are among the best in this year's draft class, his slight frame (157 pounds) and Russian roots might hurt his value, despite his clear commitment to play in the NHL. He is more of a playmaker than a scorer, but it's his strong defensive play that separates him from some of the other skilled players in the draft.

Comparable skill set: Pavel Datsyuk

20. Pittsburgh: Quinton Howden (C), Moose Jaw, WHL

Howden brings a lot of intangibles to the ice, but it's his blazing speed that opens eyes around rinks in Western Canada. He's got promising offensive potential and should develop into a top-six forward who can also help out on the penalty kill.

Comparable skill set: Patrick Marleau

21. Detroit: Dylan McIlrath (D), Moose Jaw, WHL

There is perhaps no player in the draft as intimidating as McIlrath - his nickname "Big Mack Truck" should indicate the attributes he brings to the ice. Not only is he a crushing shut-down defenceman; he skates well and has the potential to develop a two-way game as well.

Comparable skill set: Ed Jovanovski

22. Phoenix: Calvin Pickard (G), Seattle, WHL

Phoenix has done a good job stocking their farm system with great talent in every position, except in goal. They will have the chance to take a skater with the 13th pick and can afford to draft a goalie with their second choice. Pickard is positionally sound and posted impressive numbers despite playing on a bottom-dwelling team.

Comparable skill set: Evgeni Nabokov

23. Buffalo: Tyler Pitlick (C), Minnesota State

By taking Pitlick, the Sabres add a big, highly-skilled center to a system that has its fair share of small pivots. The 6'2" Minnesota native is a gritty player with good offensive upside and isn't afraid to cause havoc in front of opposing goalies.

Comparable skill set: Mark Parrish

24. Atlanta (From New Jersey): Riley Sheahan (C), Notre Dame

Sheahan is one of many players in this year's draft who has carved an identity as a high-energy, two-way forward. Although he did have some off-ice issues coupled with a disappointing freshman campaign with the Fighting Irish, he could develop into a formidable shutdown center upon his development.

Comparable skill set: Jordan Staal

25. Vancouver: Jarred Tinordi (D), USNTDP

The former son of NHLer Mark Tinordi captained the NTDP team last season en route to a U-18 gold medal in Belarus. He's a hard-nosed stay-at-home defenceman much like his father, and the Canucks could certainly use a player of his ilk coming through the ranks.

Comparable skill set: Brooks Orpik

26. Washington: Jaden Schwartz (C), Tri-City, USHL

Schwartz became the youngest player since 1982-83 to lead the league in scoring (33-50-83). Much like fellow prospect Jeff Skinner, he is a bit on the small side and needs to improve his skating. Four years at Colorado College should help him fine-tune his game, because the raw skill is there.

Comparable skill set: Derek Roy

27. Montreal: John McFarland (LW), Sudbury, OHL

The enigmatic Sudbury forward came into the 2009-10 campaign as one of the top ranked prospects, but a subpar season coupled with a questionable work ethic make him one of the most interesting players heading into the draft. If he indeed drops to the bottom of the first round, Montreal would benefit greatly from McFarland's immense offensive talent and sheer athleticism.

Comparable skill set: Brendan Morrow

28. San Jose: Charlie Coyle (C/RW), South Shore, EJHL

He is a relative unknown due to spending his draft year in tier III junior hockey. The nephew of former NHLer Tony Amonte, Coyle plays a complete game that combines power and finesse. San Jose is light on the wing and can afford to let Coyle develop at Boston University starting next season.

Comparable skill set: Bob Sweeney

29. Anaheim (from Philadelphia): Alexander Petrovic (D), Red Deer, WHL

Petrovic brings a simple and safe defensive presence. He is not the most physical of the big blue-liners, or the most fleet-footed, but he is reliable and rarely makes mistakes. Taking Petrovic late in the round would be a safe bet for the Ducks.

Comparable skill set: Brent Seabrook

30. Chicago: Brock Nelson (C), Warroad High, MN

On top of winning the Stanley Cup, the Hawks also boast a solid group of prospects, and they will be sure to add one more to the mix in 2010. Nelson, who is committed to North Dakota next season, is another player with NHL bloodlines, as both his uncle and grandfather are tied to the U.S. hockey program. He projects to be a physical, hard-hitting power forward.

Comparable skill set: David Backes

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