June 2010

The 2010 NHL Draft can be described as a “Tale of Two Forwards”. Everyone expects Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin to be the first two players selected on Friday night, June 25. However, the order of their selection is still up in the air. Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini is playing his cards very close to the vest – and possibly with good reason. According to James Murphy in his NESN blog, the top pick in the Draft might be in play.

“There was plenty of speculation – and there promises to be more – that the Bruins and Oilers may swap picks because the Bruins reportedly have their hearts set on Hall, but so far, all Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and Oilers GM Steve Tambellini have done is admitted to talking,” Murphy wrote on June 11. “Both Seguin and Hall (along with other prospects) visited Boston recently, but there is still no indication as to who will go first”.

While the Hall-Seguin Debate continues, the next Draft topic is the possible run on defense as Cam Fowler, Brandon Gormley and Erik Gudbranson could go three through five. Much as there is debate on Hall or Seguin, the same debate can be made among the three defensemen.

NHL Director of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire provided insight into his scouts providing a past or current NHL comparable for each of their Top 30 North American skaters.

“As unfair as it is to the NHL players in making these comparisons, we feel it provides the public a good idea what they could expect from these prospects,” McGuire explained to NHL.com. “It offers them a visual picture and recognizable name to associate with each of the players with. Keep in mind, these brainstorming comparisons could be something we see in the form of leadership, a specific shot, toughness, or skating ability.”

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), TSN.ca (TSN), NHL’s Central Scouting (CS), and International Scouting Service (ISS). CS breaks down their ratings by North American skaters, European skaters, North American goaltenders and European goaltenders. TSN ranked the Top 75 players and listed fine Honorable Mentions. In an exclusive to NHL.com, CS provided a prospects’ comparable NHL player for their Top 30 North American skaters – and is listed here when applicable. ISS also provided a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

The draft positions are as of June 23 and presume that no trades will have been made since then.

1. Edmonton Oilers – Taylor Hall – LW
THN: # 1 —– McK: # 1 —– TSN: # 1
CS: # 2NA (Zach Parise) —– ISS: # 1 (Pavel Bure)
Hall is the pick with the first overall selection based on his ability to score (three years of 40+ goals) and his success in the Memorial Cup and World Junior Championships – a plus for an Edmonton team looking to return to the heydays of the 1980s.

2. Boston Bruins – Tyler Seguin – C
THN: # 2 —– McK: # 2 —– TSN: # 2
CS: # 1NA (Steve Yzerman) —– ISS: # 1 (Steve Yzerman)
Seguin in a close second and an excellent “consolation prize” as the Bruins reap the benefits of Toronto signing Phil Kessel. While Hall might be the better scorer, Seguin might be the better overall player.

3. Florida Panthers — Erik Gudbranson – D
THN: # 5 —– McK: # 4 —– TSN: # 3
CS: # 4NA (Dion Phaneuf) —– ISS: # 7 (Chris Pronger)
Just like the Hall-Seguin decision was a tough call, so is the Gudbranson-Fowler-Gormley race. The Panthers should go with Gudbranson who brings size (6-4/195), a developing offensive game and solid skating for someone his size. However, new GM Dale Tallon could throw everyone for a loop and take Jack Campbell here.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets – Cam Fowler – D
THN: # 3 —– McK: # 6 —– TSN: # 5
CS: # 5NA (Mike Green) —– ISS: # 5 (Duncan Keith)
While the Blue Jackets could use some help at forward to team with captain Rick Nash, Fowler’s offensive ability and skating skills are already NHL-ready and are too much to pass on. While he still needs to be more physical, it should come as he matures.

5. New York Islanders – Brett Connolly – LW
THN: # 4 —– McK: # 7 —– TSN: # 8
CS: # 3NA (Peter Forsberg) —– ISS: # 13 (Chris Stewart)
While the Islanders could very well select Brandon Gormley, GM Garth Snow should go with one of the Draft’s most elite offensive players. There is a concern over his hip flexor injury, which limited him to 15 games. However, his upside is too much to pass on and he should form a deadly offensive pairing with John Tavares.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning – Brandon Gormley – D
THN: # 7 —– McK: # 5 —– TSN: # 4
CS: # 6NA (Chris Phillips) —– ISS: # 3 (Nicklas Lidstrom)
Steve Yzerman has the chance to set the tone for his administration in Tampa Bay. You can expect him to call on his experience in Detroit. While there are good forwards available, Gormley gets the call because blue chip blueliners are much harder to come by as Yzerman brings in a complement to Victor Hedman.

7. Carolina Hurricanes – Nino Niederreiter – RW
THN: # 8 —– McK: # 10 —– TSN: # 7
CS: # 12NA (Erik Cole) —– ISS: # 6 (Brendan Shanahan)
GM Jim Rutherford will be very busy in LA as the Hurricanes have 11 total draft picks (including three second rounders and a pair of third rounders). If Carolina does not move up, then Niederreiter brings in a solid power forward to team with Eric Staal.

8. Atlanta Thrashers – Jack Campbell – G
THN: # 13 —– McK: # 3 —– TSN: # 9
CS: # 2NA Goalie —– ISS: # 1 Goalie (No comparison)
With the Thrashers having dealt away their second 1st round pick, Atlanta will look to shore up their goaltending situation by drafting the netminder who backstopped the USA to the World Junior Championship. His decision to bypass the University of Michigan in order to play for Windsor (OHL) will speed up his path to the NHL.

9. Minnesota Wild – Ryan Johansen – C
THN: # 12 —– McK: # 8 —– TSN: # 6
CS: # 10NA (Jason Spezza) —– ISS: # 8 (Eric Staal)
The Wild will get some pressure from home to draft Duluth-born Derek Forbort, but Minnesota has not gone overboard to draft home town talent. Plus, the Wild need to add depth at forward and Johansen is a solid two-way center who can play in all situations. Johansen has been a fast rise as he continues to fill out physically which means the best is yet to come.

10. New York Rangers – Vladimir Tarasenko – RW
THN: # 14 —– McK: # 20 —– TSN: # 16
CS: # 2E —– ISS: # 4 (Ziggy Palffy)
The Rangers figure to be in the chase for Johansen, Niederreiter and Skinner. In the end, the Rangers should go for Tarasenko who has big-time scoring ability. The 18-year-old held his own in the KHL. The Rangers are one of the few teams who have the means (i.e. money) to get around the lack of a transfer agreement. They showed no fear when they drafted the late Alexei Cherepanov in 2007. GM Glen Sather could use this pick as “incentive” in a deal to move one of his bad contracts.

11. Dallas Stars – Derek Forbort – D
THN: # 11 —– McK: # 18 —– TSN: # —– TSN: # 11
CS: # 9NA (Erik Johnson) —– ISS: # 10 (Erik Johnson)
The 18-year-old combines size (6-5/200) and solid skating into a package that projects to a top three d-men at the very least. Teams will be looking for these type of blueliners hoping to follow the success of Buffalo’s Tyler Myers.

12. Anaheim Ducks – Mikael Granlund – C
THN: # 10 —– McK: # 9 —– TSN: # 13
CS: # 1E —– ISS: # 15 (Saku Koivu)
The time is coming when both Scott Niedermayer and Teemu Selanne will have to hang up their skates. At 18, Granlund is playing in Finland’s elite league and playing well (40 points in 47 games). The 5-10/180 center has excellent hockey sense and will be a perfect replacement for fellow Finn Saku Koivu.

13. Phoenix Coyotes – Nick Bjugstad – C
THN: # 9 —– McK: # 33 —– TSN: # 19
CS: # 13NA (Andrew Brunette) —– ISS: # 21 (David Backes)
Ownership problems didn’t hamper the franchise during the season, but might play a part in the Draft. GM Don Maloney might be willing to wait on a prospect like Bjugstad, whose uncle Scott played in the NHL. The 18-year-old Bjugstad has the size and skill, but he needs to find and maintain a consistent level of play.

14. St. Louis Blues – Alexander Burmistrov – C
THN: # 6—– McK: # 13 —— TSN: # 12
CS: # 11NA (Maxim Afinogenov) —– ISS: # 14 (Denis Savard)
With new goaltender Jaroslav Halak in hand, and having dealt Lars Eller, St. Louis should turn to Burmistrov. Alex is as skilled a playmaker as there is the Draft. However, he must bulk up on his slight frame (5-11/157 on a good day). He uses his speed and puckhandling skill to compensate for his lack of size. Concerns about the KHL should be lessened given that he played with Barrie in the OHL last season.

15. Florida Panthers Jeffrey Skinner – C
THN: # 25 —– McK: # 12 —– TSN: # 10
CS: # 34NA —– ISS: # 9 (Steve Shutt)
If Jack Campbell should happen to drop to this spot, GM Tallon would be wise to draft him. If not then Skinner gets the call from Florida in an attempt to replace the production loss with the trade of Nathan Horton. Skinner scored 70 goals last season – including 20 in the playoffs

16. Ottawa Senators – Jonathan Merrill – D
THN: # 31 —– McK: # 23 —– TSN: # 22
CS: # 21NA (Jordan Leopold) —– ISS: # 11 (Rob Blake)
One scout told the THN that Merrill was in the same class as Forbort and Gormley. He combines size (6-3/200), skill and hockey sense – although he still has some maturing to do based on his suspension by the USNTDP for violating team rules. However as ISS wrote, “Merrill has Norris Trophy potential”.

17. Colorado Avalanche Austin Watson – RW
THN: # 15 —– McK: # 19 —– TSN: # 14
CS: # 14NA (Kris Draper) —– ISS: # 12 (Jordan Staal)
Watson is a solid two-way forward who competes hard and works every shift and projects out to be a team leader. Watson is an excellent complement to Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny, and might be a future captain of the Avs.

18. Nashville Predators – Quinton Howden – C/LW
THN: # 23 —– McK: # 37 —– TSN: # 26
CS: # 19NA (Todd Bertuzzi) —– ISS: # 16 (Jamie Langenbrunner)
With Jason Arnott and Dan Hamhuis traded in the days leading up to the Draft, the Predators are a bit of a wildcard when it comes to figuring out their selection. Howden is the solid two-way player Nashville likes. He averaged a point a game in Juniors and was used as a checker by Canada in international play. Howden has outstanding hockey sense combined with a hard shot that is accurate (he won the accuracy contest in the Prospects Game). At 6-2/180, he will add some size to Nashville’s forward corps – especially as he matures and gets bigger.

19. Los Angeles Kings – Emerson Etem – C/RW
THN: # 17 —– McK: # 14 —– TSN: # 17
CS: # 8NA (Glenn Anderson) —– ISS: # 18 (Martin Havlat)
Etem and the Kings are a natural fit given that the forward was born in Long Beach, CA. His game is keyed by his speed – which might have been helped by his inline skating when he was younger. He uses his speed to key his offensive game. He needs to gain consistency and learn to be less of a perimeter player.

20. Pittsburgh Penguins – Jarred Tinordi – D
THN: # 22 —– McK: # 25 —– TSN: # 23
CS: # 38NA —– ISS: # 25 (Robyn Regehr)
Tinordi is a chip off the old block as he is a physical defensive d-man like his father Mark who played in the NHL. The Penguins showed that they missed the size and physical play of Hal Gill so Tinordi is a perfect replacement. Despite his size (6-6/205), Tinordi is a good skater and passer. The best part is that he will get bigger – and better.

21. Detroit Red Wings – Evgeny Kuznetsov – C
THN: # 18 —– McK: # 11 —– TSN: # 24
CS: # 3E —– ISS: # 19 (Slava Kozlov)
Detroit has a long history of success with Russian players so they might not be scared off – even though Kuznetsov played in the KHL as a 17-year-old. He as skilled an offensive player in the Draft and he is not afraid to mix it up despite his size (6-0/172). He has represented Russia in various tournaments with mixed results, but when he was on he was head-and-shoulders above the rest of the players.

22. Phoenix Coyotes – Dylan McIlrath – D
THN: # 26 —– McK: # 15 —– TSN: # 15
CS: # 17NA (Ed Jovanovski) —– ISS: # 31 (Boris Valabik)
You have to love a player who is given the nickname “The Undertaker” as one scout did when talking to THN. As you might expect, McIlrath is a physical player who uses his size extremely well (6-4/212). McIlrath really made his bones when he beat Alex Petrovic in the Prospects Game. While he still needs work handling the puck, he has a big-time shot from the point that will allow him to see some tine on the power play.

23. Buffalo Sabres – Riley Sheahan – C
THN: # 19 —– McK: # 26 —– TSN: # 21
CS: # 22NA (Jordan Staal) —– ISS: # 22 (Keith Tkachuk)
Sheahan played as a top six forward at the University of Notre Dame and showed his versatility by filling on defense for a few games due to injuries. At 6-2/200, Sheahan adds much-needed size to Buffalo’s forwards as he projects as a power forward who is more playmaker than scorer at this point in his career.

24. Chicago Blackhawks – Calvin Pickard – G
THN: # 27 —– McK: # 32 —– TSN: # 31
CS: # 1 NA Goalie —– ISS: # 2 Goalie (No comparison)
Pickard, whose brother Chet was a first round pick by Nashville in 2008. Pickard relies on technique as opposed to physical attributes. He is a poised goaltender who is mentally strong – traits that he needed with a poor Seattle (WHL) team where he saw almost 500 more shots than the next WHL goalie.

25. Vancouver Canucks – Mark Pysyk – D
THN: # 16 —– McK: # 16 —– TSN: # 20
CS: # 7NA (Duncan Keith) —– ISS: # 17 (Kris Letang)
With three d-men going into the final year of their contract, and combined with the tragic death of Luc Bourdon in May 2008, the Canucks need to look at adding depth to the blue line. Pysyk is a top pairing d-man whose game is based on hockey sense, strong skating and passing. While his game is an offensive one, Pysyk is a very good defender who has some room to grow (6-1/175).

26. Washington Capitals – Tyler Pitlick – C
THN: # 21 —– McK: # 35 —– TSN: # 25
CS: # 18NA (Mark Parrish) —– ISS: # 20 (Travis Zajac)
There is some talk that Minnesota State-Mankato center might leave college for Medicine Hat (WHL). Tyler’s uncle Lance played defense in the NHL. Pitlick will fill out beyond his 6-2/195 frame and add to his ability to be both a finesse and power player. His has the skill sets to be a fine number two center behind Nicklas Backstrom.

27. Montreal Canadiens – Brock Nelson – C
THN: # 29 —– McK: # 62 —– TSN: # 34
CS: # 25NA (David Backes) —– ISS: # 26 (James Sheppard)
As the Canadiens decide what they are going to do with their goaltending, the Habs have concerns on defense (thanks to expiring contracts) and size at forward. Nelson has the size (6-3/205) and puck skills that teams want and he is a strong two-way player. There is some concern that he excelled against lesser talent at Warroad High School. Nelson does have hockey in his genes – his uncle is Dave Christian (1980 Olympian) and his grandfather is Bill Christian (1960 Olympian).

28. San Jose Sharks – Ludvig Rensfeldt – LW
THN: # 32—– McK: # 29 —– TSN: # 37
CS: # 5E —– ISS: # 27 (Johan Franzen)
The 6-3/195 LW put up dazzling numbers with Brynas Jr. in Sweden (21-29-50 in 39 games), but scouts were still uncertain about his ability to play at a high level on a consistent basis. While inconsistency might be his middle name, the 18-year-old’s ability to produce offense makes him a potential linemate for Joe Thornton down the road.

29. Anaheim Ducks – Jaden Schwartz – C
THN: # 30 —– McK: # 22 —– TSN: # 29
CS: # 28NA (Derek Roy) —– ISS: # 23 (Daniel Briere)
Schwartz was an offensive machine in the USHL with Tri-City his 83 points were the most since Thomas Vanek scored 91 points in 2001-2002 as he played apart in almost 50% of the Storm’s goals. While he does have size (5-10/180) or flashy speed, Schwartz relies on outstanding hockey sense and puckhandling ability.

30. Chicago Blackhawks – Charlie Coyle – C/RW
THN: # 33 —– McK: # 30 —– TSN: # 32
CS: # 24NA (Bob Sweeney) —– ISS: # 28 (Patrick Marleau)
The Stanley Cup champions are faced with salary cap problems that could strip the team of its winning assets. They could look at a goaltender, but the value is not there at this point in the Draft. While still battling some inconsistency, the 18-year-old cousin of Tony Amonte uses his size (6-2/200), vision and hockey sense to power his game. Like his cousin Tony, Coyle will be attending Boston University.

First Round Draft Pick Transactions

1. Pick # 2 – Boston Bruins receive Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2010 1st and 2nd Round Picks, and a 2011 1st Round Pick for Phil Kessel.
2. Pick # 13 – Phoenix Coyotes receive Calgary Flames’ 2010 1st Round Pick, C Matthew Lombardi, and Brandon Prust from Calgary for Olli Jokinen and 2009 3rd Round Pick.
3. Pick # 15 – Florida Panthers receive Boston’s second 1st Round Pick (#15), a 2011 3rd Round Pick and Dennis Wideman for Nathan Horton and Gregory Campbell.
4. Pick # 24 – Chicago Blackhawks receive Atlanta Thrashers’ 2010 1st Round Pick (#24), 2010 2nd Round Pick (#54), Marty Reasoner, Jeremy Morin and Joey Crabb for Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel, and Akim Aliu. Atlanta previously acquired New Jersey’s 2010 1st round pick, Johnny Oduya, Nicklas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier for Ilya Kovalchuk and Anssi Samela. Teams are also swapping 2010 2nd round picks.
5. Pick # 29 – Anaheim Ducks receive Philadelphia Flyers’ 2010 1st Round Pick, 2009 1st Round Pick, Luca Sbisa, Joffrey Lupul and a conditional 2010 or 2012 3rd Round Pick for Chris Pronger and Ryan Dingle.

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When the New York Rangers make the 10th overall selection in the 2010 NHL Draft it will mark the highest draft pick they have since 2004 when they selected goaltender Al Montoya with the first of two first round draft picks. The Blueshirts would later draft Lauri Korpikoski with the 19th pick. The Montoya pick compounded their horrific mistake a year earlier when they drafted Hugh Jessiman 12th overall.

In an April 18, 2010 USA Today article, Kyle Woodlief of Red Line report described the state of flux in the 2010 NHL Draft after Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin.

“There’s a big dropoff after the top two, and that leads to some widely divergent opinions on the next tier of talent,” Woodlief wrote. “Really, we can’t remember a year like this where no clear pecking order has been established this late in the season. If you told us that the player ranked No. 15 on our board would go third in June, and our No. 3 ranked player would go at 15, it would be no shock at all.”

Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark spoke with reporters in a June 16 conference call and gave an indication of just how bunched this year’s Draft class at the top.

In response to a question about “A-rated” players in the Draft, Clark responded “For us I would think you’re right, sometimes there are four, five, maybe seven guys and then it falls off. I would say that there are two guys [Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin] clearly better than everyone else and then depending on who you’re talking to … there is another 10 guys that you could probably throw a blanket over that each team would probably think a little bit differently but have the same 10 guys in a little bit different order.”

With all of this flux, the Rangers brain trust will have to bring their “A” game so that they can be prepared with the twists and turns that might come this year. Depending on how the Rangers draw up their draft chart, it is very possible that the team might be willing to move down in the first round in attempt to, at the very least, replace the third round draft pick that President/GM Glen Sather sent to the Los Angeles Kings last year in the Brian Boyle trade.

“Those decisions really are (made on the floor). We have talked to Glen (Sather), and that is who takes care of that once we get going,” Clark said during the conference call. “We have always been up for trading up or trading back. It will really depend on how the first five or six picks go.”

The one position the Rangers do not need to address in the first round is defense. The team has an abundance of young blueliners who are waiting for space to clear up at Madison Square Garden. While I love the idea of drafting rugged physical defensive d-man Dylan McIlrath, I believe the Rangers need to seek out offensive firepower and address the need to find help to take some of the offensive load off of Marian Gaborik.

With that said, I have targeted six forwards the Rangers should have on their radar. Odds are that a couple of them should be available for the Rangers at the 10th spot.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), TSN.ca (TSN), NHL’s Central Scouting (CS), and International Scouting Service (ISS). CS breaks down their ratings by North American skaters, European skaters, North American goaltenders and European goaltenders. TSN ranked the Top 75 players and listed fine Honorable Mentions. In an exclusive to NHL.com, CS provided a prospects’ comparable NHL player for their Top 30 North American skaters – and is listed here when applicable. ISS also provided a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

Alexander Burmistrov – C –THN: # 6—– McK: # 13 —– TSN: # 12
CS: # 11NA (Maxim Afinogenov) —– ISS: # 14 (Denis Savard)
The Russian teen alleviated a lot of fear about his future when he decided to come to North America and play for Barrie (OHL) where he averaged better than a point a game (22 goals and 43 assists in 63 games). In describing Burmistrov, ISS wrote “His speed and agility in open ice make him an immediate danger whenever he touches the puck…. He makes plays that some just don’t make at this level.

McKeen’s was just as effusive in their praise of Burmistrov’s skill level. “Burmistrov has all the tools to become a quality NHLer. He is fast – possibly the quickest in the draft – instinctive and a clever playmaker. Burmistrov has levels of speed that were unrivalled by his peers and the opposition.”

ISS: “Burmistrov is very skilled with the puck and able to make plays while at top speed, and does not panic when under pressure…. A calm and calculated player during zone play, Burmistrov has outstanding edge control and balance and can change his pace before defenders can even think to adjust.”

There is no question that Alex has NHL talent. The one thing Burmistrov does not have is NHL size (6-0/159). One scout expressed concern about his size when talking to THN. “I don’t care how dynamic you are, he’s 146 pounds (listed at 159) and he’s built like Gilligan. But I love his compete level.”

Another scout told THN, “Every time you watch this kid playing you say, ‘Wow, does he ever work hard. He works his butt off. He has lots of speed and talent, he has great hockey sense and he’s competitive. He needs to put some weight on, but he’ll do that.”

Mikael Granlund – C –THN: # 10 —– McK: # 9 —– TSN: # 13
CS: # 1E —– ISS: # 15 (Saku Koivu)
When you are a sleek playmaking center from Finland, the comparisons to Saku Koivu are inevitable. “There’s no doubt he has the same intangibles as Koivu,” a scout told THN. “He defies the odds every time. You go to watch him play and you want to not like him, but then he’s one of the best players in the game.”

McKeen’s: “Granlund has excellent play making ability and outstanding vision. His patience with the puck and vast array of stick-handling moves mesmerizes defenders as he can flat out embarrass them…. Despite his size issues, Granlund embraces the physical play and plays with jam.”

The 5-10/180 18-year-old stepped up and played in the top Finnish League scoring 13 goals and 27 assists in 43 games and added a goal and seven assists in the World Junior Championships (WJC). While he is small in stature, he does not shy away from the physical game. His dazzling ability with the puck and innate hockey sense helps to avoid hits lesser players would absorb.

ISS: “[He] has overcome doubts about his size to become one of the most electrifying prospects available this year. His ability to run an offence is beyond impressive. Granlund is a highlight reel of pure offensive skill who continues to develop into an even better all around player.”

Ryan Johansen – C –THN: # 12 —– McK: # 8 —– TSN: # 6
CS: # 10NA (Jason Spezza) —– ISS: # 8 (Eric Staal)
Johansen is a late bloomer when it comes to being a top prospect – he was a 7th round pick in the WHL Bantam Draft. He grew three inches in the past year and the 6-3/190 center still has some physical maturing before he is ready for the NHL. In his rookie WHL season Portland, Ryan scored 25 goals and 44 assists in 71 games while playing on a line with Nino Niederreiter.

“His ‘A’ game reminds me a lot of Eric Staal, but he doesn’t compete consistently anywhere near the way Eric did at the same time,” one scout reported to THN. “This is a very underdeveloped kid who has put up big numbers. I think he has the potential to be a real solid No. 2 center in the NHL.”

Johansen is a strong two –way player who plays in all situations (PK and PP) as well as protecting leads late in games.

McKeen’s: “What sets him apart is his vision and puck skills down low. He finds opening in seams and is very strong on the puck. He uses his reach well not only in offensive situations, but also to strip players off it thus creating a healthy transition game.”

ISS: “He has strong offensive skills and can prove to be an un-hittable target at times when he controls the puck. Johansen has a very good frame and still has lots of room to build on it, add to this the fact that Johansen can be very crafty with the puck and really challenge opposing defenders to contain him and you begin to see his NHL appeal.”

Nino Niederreiter – RW –THN: # 8 —– McK: # 10 —– TSN: # 7
CS: # 12NA (Erik Cole) —– ISS: # 6 (Brendan Shanahan)
Niederreiter’s coming out party occurred during the WJC when he scored the tying and overtime winning goal to help Switzerland defeat Russia in their quarterfinal matchup. In the process, El Nino scored six goals and four assists in 7 WJC games and added 36 goals and 24 assists in 65 games with Portland.

THN: “He has become Superman,” one scout told THN. “You keep going back over your list and you say, ‘Holy cow, look where Nino is.’” Another scout offered this comment, “Everyone has questioned whether he can do it. But guess what? He’s done it.”

Of the 6-2/205 right winger ISS writes, “Niederreiter works hard and competes in every situation to give his team a chance to win. He forechecks extremely well and can capitalize out of contested areas or using his very good shot off the rush. [He] has good hands and can react quickly and effectively to open space and teammates.

“Niederreiter is a big time player and performs at his best when games matter the most. He wants the puck in all situations and is a difference-maker. [He] is one of the most physically developed players available for the draft,” McKeen’s reports. “He is equipped with good speed as there is quickness in his stride and he eagerly tries to beat the defenseman wide.”

Jeffrey Skinner – C –THN: # 25 —– McK: # 12 —– TSN: # 10
CS: # 34NA —– ISS: # 9 (Steve Shutt)
THN wrote about the conundrum Skinner is. The 5-10/187 center was a figure skater who was once nationally rated in Canada, yet there are concerns about his skating. “His ability to get open and finish puts him with Taylor Hall, but he doesn’t skate like Hall,” a scout told THN. “He’s definitely a game-breaker, if he gets another step, he could be a (Mike) Cammalleri.”

While there might be concerns about his skating, there is no debating his ability to put the biscuit in the basket. He led all of Junior Hockey in goals as he netted 70 during the year (50 in 64 regular season games with Kitchener (OHL) and 20 more in the 20 post-season contests).

“He has great hands and can be considered a pure scorer with a fantastic quick release. He is smart away from the puck and is always finding lanes to get open and receive passes,” offered ISS in their scouting report. “Not the fastest skater on the sheet, but [he is] a smart player who works hard ….”

In a report to the THN, another scout offered up a caution to NHL teams who overlook Skinner.

“I love him. I think people are going to wonder like they did with Mike Richards and Jeff Carter how this guy fell the way he did. He’s completely underrated and he should be a top 15 pick at worst. He might end up being the steal of the draft.”

McKeen’s: “Skinner is small in stature, but is thick and plays with sandpaper as he will battle for loose pucks. Skinner plays with cockiness to him and at times likes to show off just how good he is by beating the same guy twice on a shift.”

Vladimir Tarasenko – RW –THN: # 14 —– McK: # 20 —–TSN: # 16
CS: # 2E —– ISS: # 4 (Ziggy Palffy)
The biggest question is will the 5-11/202 Russian stay home and play in the KHL or does he won’t come to play in the NHL? The Blueshirts have shown a willingness to draft a Russian in the first round despite the lack of a transfer agreement as they did in 2007 when they drafted Alexei Cherepanov as the late forward dropped in the Draft.

According to Steve Zipay in a June 16 Newsday Blog entry, the Rangers are conducting their due diligence in respect to Tarasenko’s intentions. The team sent their Russian scout Vladimir Lutchenko to talk to Tarasenko and his father (Andrei) – who is coach in Novosibirsk. Zipay wrote that his father wants him to play in the NHL, but would like to see him stay in the KHL for at least another season.

[Lutchenko] has been right on [Artem] Anisimov and [Evgeny] Grachev and unfortunately, [Alexei] Cherepanov, on whether they would come over,” Clark told Zipay.

A couple of pluses on the Rangers side are that Tarasenko will have fellow Russian in the organization and that Tarasenko and Anisimov were both born in Yaroslavl.

Kyle Woodlief of Red Line Report also said that indications are that Tarasenko will play in the NHL.

“But he was telling teams at the just-concluded NHL Scouting Combine that his father (who’s his coach in the KHL) always dreamed of him playing in the NHL one day, so he might be headed across the pond sooner than we think,” Woodlief wrote in the USA Today.

Of Vladimir, ISS wrote, “Tarasenko is an explosive offensive talent who really can be compared to a poor-man’s Ovechkin. Tarasenko loves to hit and love to score and can do it extremely well both off the rush and with his lightning quick release. Tarasenko has proven during ISS viewings to be an incredibly effective transitional player, scoring several goals after directly causing a turnover.”

“Tarasenko produced modestly this season and did not look at of sorts due to his highly competitive nature and work ethic. He works well in traffic, as his strength on his skates helps him in the trenches,” McKeen’s writes in their scouting report.

Tarasenko, who turns 19 in December, scored 13 goals and 11 assists in 42 KHL games as an 18-year-old. In six WJC games, he added four goals and an assist.

If it were my call, Nino Niederreiter would be my first choice based on his ability to be a power forward/goal scorer who has the speed to beat d-men. THN wrote, “There is every indication Niederreiter is willing to do what it takes to become an NHL player and [he] has the tools to become a power forward. I was also impressed at how he stepped up his game during the WJC. That gives some insight into how he could step up once he gets to the NHL.

However, it is likely that El Nino will go in the Draft before Vladimir Tarasenko. All indications point to him eventually playing in the NHL – even if it takes a couple of years. Given his offensive ability, he would definitely be worth the wait.

As for the remaining players, my preference would be Mikael Granlund, Ryan Johansen, Jeffrey Skinner and Burmistrov. I like the idea of Granlund being the playmaking center that Marian Gaborik needs. Johansen would give the Rangers the big physical center they could use in the Atlantic Division. Skinner adds the goal scoring firepower that would go hand-in-hand with Gaborik’s scoring. Burmistrov is also a solid player who might be the furthest away of all of my selections because of the need for him to mature physically.

During my research for this Draft Preview, I came across some information Woodlief had in reference to one of the newest Rangers, Mats Zuccarello-Aasen. Here is what Woodlief wrote in the USA Today about MZA.

“Two seasons ago it was Fabian Brunnström. Last year it was Jonas “the Monster” Gustavsson. And this year’s most chased European free agent is Norwegian puck wizard Mats Zuccarello-Aasen.

He checks in at a tiny 5-7, 161 pounds, which is obviously far from the ideal prototype for an NHL player. But he has continued to develop and impress during his second season with MoDo in the Swedish league. The slick 22-year-old left wing won the league scoring title with 23-41—64 totals in 55 games, and was one of the few bright spots for a team that underachieved a great deal.

Zuccarello-Aasen also played very well for Norway at the Olympics as the hype really started to grow, and has continued on a torrid pace ever since.
Already there are rumored to be as many as six to seven NHL teams involved in negotiations for Mighty-Mite, who reminds some of a poor man’s Mats Naslund.”

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Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), TSN.ca (TSN), NHL’s Central Scouting (CS), and International Scouting Service (ISS). CS breaks down their ratings by North American skaters, European skaters, North American goaltenders and European goaltenders. TSN ranked the Top 75 players and listed fine Honorable Mentions. In an exclusive to NHL.com, CS provided a prospects’ comparable NHL player for their Top 30 North American skaters – and is listed here when applicable. ISS also provided a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

The draft positions for the Second Round are as of June 23, 2010 and presume that no trades will have been made since then.

31. Edmonton Oilers – Patrik Nemeth – D –
THN: # 61 —– McK: # 51 —– TSN: # 42
CS: # 11E —– ISS: # 37 (Pavel Kubina)
The 6-3/200 blueliner plays a physical game and takes hits as well as he gives them. He has the ability to develop into a top four d-man and has the potential to contribute offensively.

32. Boston Bruins – Kevin Hayes – RW –
THN: # 44 —– McK: # 42 —– TSN: # 44
CS: # 26 NA (Eric Staal) —– ISS: # 47 (Drew Stafford)
Hayes joins brother Jimmy (Toronto draftee) at Boston College. Kevin projects out as a power forward (6-2/201) who is more playmaker than goal scorer at this point in his development.

33. Florida Panthers – Alexander Petrovic — D
THN: # 24 —– McK: # 28 —– TSN: # 36
CS: # 29NA (Brent Seabrook) —– ISS: # 42 (Dion Phaneuf)
At 6-4/195, Petrovic has plenty of room to grow as he develops his all-around game. He needs to cut down on mistakes which are caused by his willingness to try and make the risky play.

34. Columbus Blue Jackets – John McFarland – C
THN: # 20 —– McK: # 24 —– TSN: # 28
CS: # 15NA (Brendan Morrow) —– ISS: # 39 (Sergei Berezin)
McFarland has all of the offensive tools to be mentioned in the same sentence as Taylor all and Tyler Seguin. However, he regressed in his second year with a weak Sudbury team. I he can maintain a consistency to his game, he will return to the expectations that made him the first overall pick in the 2008 OHL draft.

35. New York Islanders – Beau Bennett – RW –
THN: # 35—– McK: # 17 —– TSN: # 18
CS: # 32NA—– ISS: # 34 (Jason Pominville)
Bennett led the British Columbia Junior League in scoring with 120 points while scoring 25 of 41 goals on the PP. The key to his PP work is his strong hockey sense and superb shot from the point. Despite his goal scoring prowess, he is more of a playmaker than scorer.

36. Florida Panthers – Calle Jarnkrok – C –
THN: # 28—– McK: # 36 —– TSN: # 33
CS: # 4E—– ISS: # 44 (Derek Roy)
Jarnkrok played in the Swedish Elite League as an 18-year-old. After a slow start, Jarnkrok had a strong second half. At 5-11/156, it is easy to see how he could fly under the radar, but his skill and hockey sense has made everyone sit up and take notice.

37. Carolina Hurricanes – Stephen Johns – D –
THN: # 48—– McK: # 76 —– TSN: # 41
CS: # 35NA —– ISS: # 43 (Brent Seabrook)
Johns has good skating skills for someone with his size (6-3/215). He uses that skating ability to jump into the play late. Johns was overshadowed on the U.S. Under-18 team by his partner Jonathan Merrill. He is expected to join fellow U-18 teammate Jarred Tinordi at the University of Notre Dame.

38. New Jersey Devils – Johan Larsson – LW
THN: # N/R (in Top 100) —– McK: # 34 —– TSN: # 45
CS: # 34E —– ISS: # 29 (Doug Gilmour)
Thought of as a defensive player first, Larsson’s play at the U-18 (2nd in scoring) opened some eyes. He is prototypical player than President/GM Lou Lamoriello wants on his team. He is a solid two-way player who will do whatever it takes to win.

39. Minnesota Wild – Brad Ross – LW
THN: # 42—– McK: # 45 —– TSN: # 35
CS: # 59NA —– ISS: # 35 (Dustin Brown)
Ross was the only player in Canadian Juniors to score 25+ goals and rack up 200+ PIM. He played on a line with Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter so his job to clear the way instead of scoring. In THN, one scout complimented him by calling him a “dirt bag”. When talking about Ross, people mention the names Daniel Carcillo, Matt Cooke, Steve Downie, Steve Ott, and Darcy Tucker.

40. New York Rangers – Brock Beukeboom – D
THN: # 49 —– McK: # 81 —– TSN: # 54
CS: # 41NA —– ISS: # 79
The Rangers should give consideration to trading down in the second round in an attempt to recoup the 3rd round pick they sent to Los Angeles for Brian Boyle. It might be a bit of a reach to draft Brock this high, but the Rangers have been searching for a physical defensive d-man since his father Jeff was forced to retire as a result of post-concussion syndrome. Papa Jeff convinced Brock to switch from forward to defense during the last couple of years so his skating is better than one would expect from a defensive d-man. The Blueshirts might also look at Kirill Kabanov or Petr Strake with this pick.

41. Dallas Stars – Tyler Toffoli – RW –
THN: # 40 —– McK: # 27 —– TSN: # 27
CS: # 16NA (Tim Connolly) —– ISS: # 38 (Scott Pearson)
Toffoli is as solid a goal scorer as there is in the Draft. While Toffoli is on the slight side (6-0/180), it is his skating that keeps him from being mentioned with the elite prospects. Played on a line with Tyler Seguin and John McFarland in last summer’s Hlinka Tournament and skated with fellow draftees Ryan Martindale and Dalton Smith with Ottawa.

42. Anaheim Ducks – Teemu Pulkkinen – RW
THN: # 50—– McK: # 21 —– TSN: # 46
CS: # 17E—– ISS: # 48 (Niclas Bergfors)
Pulkkinen was a linemate of Mikael Granlund during international play, so it makes sense for the Ducks to reunite them. Teemu suffered with various injuries during the season, but he hit his stride by leading the U-18 tournament in scoring. While he still needs to work on defense and developing a bit of a physical game, Pulkkinen is a big-time finisher.

43. Chicago Blackhawks – Kirill Kabanov – LW
THN: # 38 —– McK: # 31 —– TSN: # 43
CS: # 31NA —– ISS: # 45 (Alexander Radulov)
When you are the Stanley Cup champions, you are more inclined to gamble in the Draft. There are no doubts about Kabanov’s hockey abilities on ice – they are that good. However, there are concerns about his off-ice makeup. After some internal problems with Moncton that led to a playoff benching, Kabanov was given permission to return to Russia for the U-18 Tournament – where he ended up being taken off the roster.

44. St. Louis Blues – Petr Straka C/RW –
THN: # 52 —– McK: # 38 —– TSN: # 38
CS: # 23NA (Pavol Demitra)—– ISS: # 36 (Petr Sykora)
Straka led all QMJHL rookies in scoring (62-28-36-64) during the regular season and continued his strong play in the playoffs (12-5-9-14). While he has nice size (6-1/185), he still needs to get stronger and develop a little more consistency to his game because he tends to get his goals and points in bunches.

45. Boston Bruins – Martin Marincin – D –
THN: # 34 —– McK: # 63 —– TSN: # 71
CS: # 10E —– ISS: # 40 (Milan Jurcina)
At 6-4/190, the Slovakian-born Marincin draws comparisons to Zdeno Chara so it makes sense for the Bruins to draft Marincin – especially considering they also drafted fellow Slovak Jurcina as well. Marincin is used to playing against better players as he has been a staple for Slovakia in various international tournaments. He still needs to develop physically and improve his skating, but he projects out down the road as someone who could give them a similar type of play they get from Chara.

46. Carolina Hurricanes – Jordan Weal – C
THN: # 41 —– McK: # 40 —– TSN: # 48
CS: # 30NA (Jason Blake) —– ISS: # 32 (Steve Sullivan)
While Weal is short in stature (5-10/160) he is long on skating and talent. Weal uses his strong skating ability to keep moving into open space. While he might not be a top line player, he will be someone who runs up impressive PP numbers. He finished 3rd in the WHL in scoring (72-35-67-102) as he played on a line with Edmonton’s 2008 1st rounder Jordan Eberle.

47. Colorado Avalanche – Jason Zucker – LW
THN: # 54 —– McK: # 49—– TSN: # 44
CS: # 51NA —– ISS: # 30 (Steve Ott)
Zucker played for the U.S. at the WJC and the U-18 as well last season as a member of the US National team Development Program. Zucker’s game is powered by his outstanding speed which makes him a forechecking demon. He still needs to harness that speed so that he can improve his offensive game. While not the biggest player (5-11.175), Zucker is a willing hitter. The Las Vegas native is worth a gamble based on his speed and leadership ability.

48. Edmonton Oilers – Phillip Grubauer – G –
THN: # 47 —– McK: # 87 —– TSN: #69
CS: # 15NA Goalie—– ISS: # 3rd Goalie
Grubauer overcame a benching during the OHL playoffs to lead Windsor to their second straight Memorial Cup victory. The German-born netminder then backstopped Germany into the 2011 WJC during their qualification at the Division I Group A WJC. At 6-0.180, he doesn’t have classic NHL goalie size, but is very athletic and plays his angles well.

49. Los Angeles Kings – Connor Brickley (LW) –
THN: # 75 —– McK: # 59 —– TSN: # 47
CS: # 58NA —– ISS: # 98
Connor, whose second cousin is former NHLer Andy Brickley, plays like a power forward even if he does not have classic power forward size (6-0/190). He is able to do that because of his strong skating ability, aggressive style of play and a high work ethic. The Kings have some talent at forward so they can let him develop at the University of Vermont.

50. Florida Panthers – Kent Simpson – G –
THN: # 82 —– McK: # 60 —– TSN: # 62
CS: # 4NA Goalie—– ISS: # 11th Goalie
The 6-3/185 netminder makes good use of his size by utilizing the butterfly style, which is supplemented by his agility. Simpson finished second in the WHL in goals against average and save percentage.

51. Detroit Red Wings – Justin Faulk – D –
THN: # 45—– McK: # 44—– TSN: # 30
CS: # 56NA —– ISS: # 67
Faulk is an offensive defenseman who is equally adept at moving the puck or joining the offense for a shot from the high slot – which is a plus because he gets rid off the puck co quickly. While he is not that big (6-0/195), he is solidly built and is willing to get involved in physical play.

52. Phoenix Coyotes – Mark Visentin – G –
THN: # N/R (in Top 100) —– McK: # 52 —– TSN: # 60
CS: # 4NA Goalie —– ISS: # 18th Goalie
Only five other Canadian Junior goalies played more than Visentin’s 55 games. Visentin has a solid work ethic and makes good use of his size (6-2/190) and combines that with quickness and agility in net,

53. Carolina Hurricanes – Matt MacKenzie – D –
THN: # 55—– McK: # 56—– TSN: # 73
CS: # 74NA —– ISS: # 33 (Marc Staal)
MacKenzie is a reliable defenseman who does not stand out in any one aspect of the game, but is continuing to develop as a blueliner. Originally seen as a defensive d-man, MacKenzie scored 40 points in 64 regular season games and added 16 more points in 23 games in the post-season as he helped lead Calgary to their Memorial Cup appearance.

54. Chicago Blackhawks – Ryan Martindale – C –
THN: # 46—– McK: # 43 —– TSN: # 58
CS: # 27NA (Steve Bernier) —– ISS: # 61
Chicago might look to add some help at defense, but the 6-3/185 Martindale will help add some size down the middle. Martindale is blessed with size (6-3/185) and hockey ability/sense, but he needs to be more consistent in his play.

55. Columbus Blue Jackets – Stanislav Galiev – RW
THN: # 37 —– McK: # 47—– TSN: # 40
CS: # 20NA (Alexander Frolov) —– ISS: # 24 (Pavol Demitra)
There are no questions about this Russian’s wish to play in the NHL. He played in the USHL in 2008-2009 and spent last season with Saint John (QMJHL). Galiev proved to be more of a playmaker than goal scorer last season (67-15-45-60), leaving some scouts wanting more goal production. That will come as he continues to refine his game and add some muscle on to his 6-0/178 frame.

56. Minnesota Wild – Brandon Archibald – D
THN: # 63 —– McK: # 68 —– TSN: # N/R (in Top 80)
CS: # 64NA —– ISS: # 59 (Doug Murray)
The 6-4/200 rearguard uses his size and reach well when he works in front of the net or along the boards. Archibald has worked at developing an offensive component to his game and makes good use of a quick release with his shots from the point.

57. Montreal Canadiens – Mathieu Corbeil-Theriault – G
THN: # N/R (in Top 100) —– McK: # 80 —– TSN: # 69
CS: # 7NA Goalie —– ISS: # 20th Goalie
Corbeil-Theriault has the size (6-6/190) that NHL teams have come to look for in young goaltenders. Despite the size, he has good quickness for someone his size. Corbeil-Theriault had the chance to work on his game as he played for a poor Halifax (QMJHL) team as he faced 1,466 shots in 50 games.

58. New York Islanders – Patrick McNally – D – THN: # N/R (in Top 100) —– McK: # 71 —– TSN: # N/R (in Top 80)
CS: # 40NA —– ISS: # 57 (Alex Goligoski)
McNally is puck-moving blueliner with size (6-2/180) who is not afraid to use it. The Harvard-bound d-man uses excellent puck skills to make up for his average speed, but he those puck skills do allow him to make rink-long rushes.

59. Los Angeles Kings – Ryan Spooner – C – THN: # 36 —– McK: # 48 —– TSN: # 39
CS: # 39 NA —– ISS: # 64
Spooner was on pace to top his rookie season number in Peterborough (62-30-28-58) until he broke his collarbone and finished the season with 19 goals and 35 assists in 47 games. He is a strong offensive player thanks to his outstanding skating and solid puck handling ability.

60. Chicago Blackhawks – Justin Holl – D –
THN: #: 74 —– McK: #: 79 —– TSN: #: 56
CS: # 47NA —– ISS: # 71
Holl is an offensive blueliner who is equally adept at running the PP and joining the rush. His game is powered by strong skating and passing skills, which is supplemented with a big-time slap shot. The young d-man will play for Omaha (USHL) next season where he needs to bulk up (6-2/170) and work on developing a physical portion to his game.

Second Round Draft Pick Transactions
1. Pick # 32 – The Toronto Maple Leafs pick will go to the Boston Bruins as the result of a trade on September 18, 2009 that sent Phil Kessel to Toronto in exchange for first-round picks in 2010 and 2011 and this pick. Toronto previously re-acquired their own second-round pick as the result of a trade on September 5, 2009 that sent Calgary’s second-round pick in 2011 and Toronto’s own third-round pick in 2011 to the Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for this pick. Chicago previously acquired the pick as the result of a trade on September 12, 2008 that sent Robert Lang to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for this pick. Montreal previously acquired the pick as the result of a trade on July 3, 2008 that sent Mikhail Grabovski to Toronto in exchange for Greg Pateryn and this pick.
2. Pick # 36 – The Tampa Bay Lightning’s second-round pick will go to the Florida Panthers as the result of a trade on March 3, 2010 that sent Dennis Seidenberg and Matthew Bartkowski to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Craig Weller, Byron Bitz and this pick. Boston previously acquired the pick as the result of a trade on March 4, 2009 that sent Matt Lashoff and Martins Karsums to Tampa Bay in exchange for Mark Recchi and this pick.
3. Pick # 38 – The Atlanta Thrashers’ second-round pick will go to the New Jersey Devils as the result of a trade on February 4, 2010 that sent Niclas Bergfors, Johnny Oduya, Patrice Cormier, a first-round pick in 2010 and a second-round pick in 2010 to Atlanta in exchange for Ilya Kovalchuk, Anssi Salmela and this pick.
4. Pick # 43 – The Calgary Flames’ second-round pick will go to the Chicago Blackhawks as the result of a trade on July 1, 2008 that sent Rene Bourque to Calgary in exchange for this pick (being conditional at the time of the trade). The condition – Calgary chooses to trade a pick in either 2009 or 2010 – was converted on March 4, 2009 when Calgary traded the 2009 pick in question to the Colorado Avalanche.
5. Pick # 46 – The Ottawa Senators’ second-round pick will go to the Carolina Hurricanes as the result of a trade on February 12, 2010 that sent Matt Cullen to Ottawa in exchange for Alexandre R. Picard and this pick.
6. Pick # 48 – The Nashville Predators’ second-round pick will go to the Edmonton Oilers as the result of a trade on March 1, 2010 that sent Denis Grebeshkov to Nashville in exchange for this pick.
7. Pick # 50 – The Pittsburgh Penguins’ second-round pick will go to the Florida Panthers as the result of a trade on March 1, 2010 that sent Jordan Leopold to Pittsburgh in exchange for this pick.
8. Pick # 53 – The Buffalo Sabres’ second-round pick will go to the Carolina Hurricanes as the result of a trade on February 7, 2010 that sent Niclas Wallin and a fifth-round pick in 2010 to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for this pick. San Jose previously acquired the pick as the result of a trade on July 4, 2008 that sent Craig Rivet and a seventh-round pick in 2010 to Buffalo in exchange for a second-round pick in 2009 and this pick.
9. Pick # 54 – The Chicago Blackhawks receive Atlanta Thrashers’ 2010 1st Round Pick (#24), 2010 2nd Round Pick (#54), Marty Reasoner, Jeremy Morin and Joey Crabb for Dustin Byfuglien, Ben Eager, Brent Sopel, and Akim Aliu. Atlanta previously acquired New Jersey’s 2010 1st round pick, Johnny Oduya, Niclas Bergfors, Patrice Cormier for Ilya Kovalchuk and Anssi Salmela. Teams are also swapping 2010 2nd round picks.
10. Pick # 55 – The Vancouver Canucks’ second-round pick will go to the Columbus Blue Jackets as the result of a trade on March 3, 2010 that sent Raffi Torres to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for Nathan Paetsch and this pick. Buffalo previously acquired the pick as the result of a trade on July 4, 2008 that sent Steve Bernier to Vancouver in exchange for Los Angeles Kings’ third-round pick in 2009 and this pick.
11. Pick # 56 – The Washington Capitals’ second-round pick will go to the Minnesota Wild as the result of a trade on March 3, 2010 that sent Eric Belanger to Washington in exchange for this pick.
12. Pick # 58 – The San Jose Sharks’ second-round pick will go to the New York Islanders as the result of a trade on March 2, 2010 that sent Andy Sutton to the Ottawa Senators in exchange for this pick. Ottawa previously acquired the pick in a trade on September 12, 2009 that sent Dany Heatley and a fifth-round pick in 2010 to San Jose in exchange for Milan Michalek, Jonathan Cheechoo, and this pick.
13. Pick # 59 – The Philadelphia Flyers’ second-round pick will go to the Los Angeles Kings as the result of a trade on July 1, 2008 that sent Patrick Hersley and Ned Lukacevic to Philadelphia in exchange for Denis Gauthier and this pick.

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The New York Rangers are scheduled to make the 40th overall pick in Los Angeles on Saturday, June 26. However, it is very possible that the Blueshirts will be trading out of their spot in the second round. President/GM Glen Sather should be looking to get the Rangers back into the third round or, at the very least, add an additional fourth round pick. You might even see Slats look to recoup the sixth round pick he sent to the New York Islanders in the Jyri Niemi trade.

Of course, everything boils down to how the Draft shapes up. The later you get in the Draft; there are more variables to factor into making a selection. In some cases, it might be better to move down to a position where a player is a better value pick – especially if you can add additional draft picks.

Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark addressed the depth of the draft in a conference call with reporters on June 16. “I think the best way to characterize it is it may not be deep in real top-end players, but it’s very deep in players that will end up playing in the NHL and maybe top-three lines,” he explained. “Usually, the impact guys we talk of are the first- and second-line guys or real top-4 D. There are a lot of guys that are going to play in the top three lines or the top six D.”

If the Draft goes as I have predicted in my First and Second Round Mock Drafts, the Rangers are faced with a problem of looking a lot of “nice players”, but not too many that would fit into Clark’s idea of an “impact player”.

As a result, I have come up with a list of six players who I think might be able to develop into impact players – and at the very least – make a solid contribution game-in and game-out. There are three “finesse-type” forwards, an agitating forward who can score and a physical defensive blueliner – something the Rangers organization lacks.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), McKeen’s (McK), TSN.ca (TSN), NHL’s Central Scouting (CS), and International Scouting Service (ISS). CS breaks down their ratings by North American skaters, European skaters, North American goaltenders and European goaltenders. TSN ranked the Top 75 players and listed fine Honorable Mentions. In an exclusive to NHL.com, CS provided a prospects’ comparable NHL player for their Top 30 North American skaters – and is listed here when applicable. ISS also provided a prospects’ comparable NHL player.

Brock Beukeboom – D –
THN: # 49 —– McK: # 81 —–TSN: # 54
CS: # 41NA —– ISS: # 79 (Not Available)
The Rangers have spent years trying to replace the physical presence Jeff Beukeboom brought to the team. Brock offers the Rangers a chance to get a chip off the old block. Believe it or not, the 6-1/200 blueliner began his hockey career as a forward before his father urged him to take on the family position. As a result, Brock – who scored seven goals and 19 assists in 66 games with Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) – is a much better skater than his father was.

THN: “He has good size, plays hard, [and] keeps it simple. He knows who he is and he plays that well,” one scout said to THN. Another scout offered, “I saw some highs and lows. He’s got decent offensive upside and there were times when he showed more than I thought he had. There are a lot of positives and he showed good improvement.”
ISS: “[Brock is] a two way d-man who can be very intimidating to play against…. Brock has very good anticipation skills and will step up to throw big hits quite often.”

McKeen’s: “Brock is a throwback player who has the innate ability to change the complexion of the game with a timely placed hit. He showed much more composure in the defensive zone this year staying inside the box and letting plays come to him. [He] is an accomplished skater with a nice stride…. He can absorb hits just as equally as he can deliver them. He is a great complementary partner for a more offensive-minded defenseman.”

Stanislav Galiev – RW –
THN: # 37 —– McK: # 47—– TSN: # 40
CS: # 20NA (Alexander Frolov) —– ISS: # 24 (Pavol Demitra)
Unlike most Russian-born players, there is less of a concern with Galiev choosing the KHL over the NHL because he spent the 2008-2009 season playing in the USHL with Indiana (69-29-35-64) and spent last season in the QMJHL with Saint John (67-15-45-60).

THN: One scout said, “He scored all right, but you wish he would have scored a little more. But next year he could wake up and just tear the Quebec League apart.” Another scout offered a more muted assessment. “You watch him play and you say, ‘Wow, is he ever talented,'” the scout stated. “But he only had 15 goals and that’s not a lot in the Quebec League for a guy who is supposed to be that talented and playing on the top line. It kind of makes you wonder.”

McKeen’s: “Galiev is a smart player whose distribution skills often surprised the opposition. He disguises his intentions well. His skating is a little choppy, but it doesn’t seem to hold him back, especially once he picks up speed. Galiev isn’t afraid of taking a hit to make a play and will play the body if the situation calls for it.”

Krill Kabanov – LW –THN: # 38 —– McK: # 31 —– TSN: # 43
CS: # 31NA —– ISS: # 45 (Alexander Radio)
There is no questioning that Kabanov has All-Star NHL-type talent. However, there is also no questioning that Kabanov has issues – so much so that he went from being a sure-fire first round pick to someone who might drop well into the second round.

Here is how Kabanov’s 2009-2010 season went: After battling a contract squabble between the KHL and Moncton (QMJHL), a wrist injury then limited him to 22 games (10 goals and 13 assists) with Moncton, then a stretch of healthy scratches led to Moncton releasing him to play for Russia in the Under-18 Tournament, Kabanov finished up the year not playing for Russia because he was kicked off the team for disciplinary reasons. He missed the WJC because of the wrist injury.

THN: “He could be the best player in the draft if you ever figure out what’s going on,” a scout opined. “Somebody might get a bargain. If he goes to a team with a lot of good Russians, he might be fine.”

ISS: “At one time, Kabanov was regarded as one of the most elite players available for this year’s draft…. But falling in line has proven to be something very difficult for Kabanov…. ISS views Kabanov on the ice, much like he is off the ice, explosive but inconsistent. If he can keep his emotions in check he can dominate.”

McKeen’s: “When he is on the ice, Kabanov brings an intriguing mix of speed, puck-handling ability, vision and physical strength. He is a very explosive skater that manages to reach his top speed effortlessly. Kabanov is as good a passer as he is a shooter, and does both without warning. He showed a mean streak at times which gave him ample room to create.”

Brad Ross – LW –THN: # 42—– McK: # 45 —– TSN: # 35
CS: # 59NA —– ISS: # 35 (Dustin Brown)
You have to love a player who is referred to as a “dirt bag” (as one scout did in a positive tone). In speaking with THN scouts compared the rambunctious 6-0/175 LW’s style of play to that of Daniel Carcillo, Matt Cooke, Steve Ott and Darcy Tucker. He was the only player in Canadian Juniors to tally 25+ goals and 200+ PIM (71 games, 27 goals, 41 assists and 203 PIM. Ross played on the same line as sure-fire first round draft picks Ryan Johansen and Nino Niederreiter. Older brother Nick Ross was drafted by Phoenix in the 2007 first round draft (30th overall).

McKeen’s: “He was the agitator of the line and his hardnosed approach to the game often opened up room for him to execute a pass to either of his talented line-mates. He did an admirable job in improving his overall puck and stick skills and showed he could contribute with two high-profile players on his line…. Ross is a healthy skater and does bring a dynamic to the table, but needs to be more selective in terms of his decision-making on the ice.”

THN: “He’s one of my favorite players in the draft,” a scout told THN. “He’s a WHL version of Steve Downie without some of the initial immaturity. He has NHL skills, but he can also fight and he’s impossible to play against.”

Petr Straka – C/RW –THN: # 52—– McK: # 38 —– TSN: 38
CS: # 23NA —– ISS: # 36 (Petr Sykora)
Straka took a positive step to acclimating himself to North American hockey by joining Rimouski (QMJHL) where he was named Rookie of the Year for leading all Quebec League rookies in scoring (28 goals and 36 assists in 62 games). The 6-1/185 forward stepped his play up in 12 playoff games (5-9-14).

THN: One scout said, “He’s a tall, lanky kid who competes hard. He’s a bit week, but he competes hard. He has good hockey sense and is dangerous with the puck. Another scout offered measured caution in respect to Straka. “I worry a little about smallish Europeans who put up big numbers in the Quebec League because sometimes they don’t translate to the next level,” the scout warned THN. “But he’s skilled offensively and he’s shown in the Quebec League he can put up points.”

McKeen’s: “Straka shows ability in the offensive zone as he prefers to shoot more than he likes to pass. His game is dependent on using his speed and hockey sense to slither past defenders, beating them backdoor…. Straka needs to embrace the physical game as he can be intimidated early in contests as was evidenced in the Top Prospects Game as he was bullied out of the slot and made no effort to return.”

It will not surprise me in the least to see the Rangers move down in the second round with the thought of recouping the third round draft pick they dealt to Los Angeles in the Brian Boyle deal.

Moving down in the round fits in well with my preference for the Rangers to take a long look at Brock Beukeboom with their second round pick. I know the Rangers blue line corps is deep, but they do need to add a physical defensive defenseman. The 40th overall spot is a bit early to be drafting Beukeboom, so moving down and adding a draft pick would be the best way to go. However, that will require the Rangers to gauge how the Draft is progressing.

If the Rangers do remain at #40, then I would bite the bullet anyway and draft Beukeboom with their second round pick, although my second choice might be the better value.

As for the remaining players, I would roll the dice on Kirill Kabanov; the player McKeen’s calls “the ultimate high-risk, high-reward prospect”. His talent is just too much to pass on at this point in the Draft. With Artem Anisimov and Evgeny Grachev poised to make an impact with the Rangers, Kabanov would have fellow Russians on the team to help ease his transition to the NHL and provide some stability.

The Rangers could add in their attempt to bring out the best in Kabanov if they follow through with my advice and draft Vladimir Tarasenko in the first round. Both Kabanov and Tarasenko were linemates with the Russian U-18 Team in 2009.

Will the Rangers pull the trigger on two Russian players – one of whom has had issues? Rangers Assistant Director Player of Personnel Jeff Gorton addressed this idea during the June 16 conference call.

“There’s a lot of talent there, and like all kids here in the draft, we have to do our due diligence about their character,” Gorton offered. “I know with Russians we always hear about their character issues, but it’s the same for other kids, too, in this draft. For sure, Kabanov has some issues. You better do your homework before pulling the trigger on drafting a guy like that.”

Of the remaining players, my preference would be Petr Straka, Brad Ross and Stanislav Galiev. Straka is still an inconsistent performer, but the recently turned 18-year-old has time to develop his game and get stronger to deal with the rigors of the NHL. Straka might be the safer pick that Kabanov because he is a more stable commodity.

Ross appears to be a younger version of Sean Avery and that might not play high in Coach John Tortorella’s book, but the Rangers cannot let them dissuade them from considering Ross. He would provide a physical component that will compliment the Rangers more finesse forwards.

Galiev might be ready to contribute faster than most European-born prospects because he will have three seasons in North America under his belt by the end of the 2010-2011 season. He has all the attributes to become a top six forward.

If Sather is able to acquire a third round pick, there is a player I would like to the team consider – Tom Kuehnhackl. I almost added him to my choices with the second round pick, but decided he might be a better value pick in the third round. Here is my original report that I had prepared on him.

Tom Kuehnhackl – RW –THN: # 59 —– McK: # 65 —– TSN: # 72
CS: # 8E—– ISS: # 41 (James Neal)
The 6-2/170 RW is the son of another famous hockey player. Father Erich is a member of the IIHF Hall of Fame and has a somewhat circuitous history with the Rangers. It is generally accepted that the Rangers (and Canadiens) offered an Erich an NHL contract during the 1970s, the he passed because he was making more playing in Germany. However, Tom will not follow his father as the younger Kuehnhackl will play this coming season in the OHL with Windsor.

Kuehnhackl’s season was limited to 38 games in the German second division (12 goals and 9 assists) due to an array of injuries (shoulder, thumb, hand and groin ailments).

THN: Some nights he doesn’t play very much and other nights he plays against bad teams so it’s hard to get a good read on him,” one scout commented. He’s got all the tools and he’s an intriguing player.”

McKeen’s: “He is a natural scorer with highly-tuned offensive instincts. His game is based around his ability to manufacture offence, but he also understands defensive concepts.”

ISS: Kuehnhackl is a tall and lanky and will only get better as he develops his strength and builds muscle. [He is a] Top 6 forward who could develop into a top scorer”

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It seems every season the New York Rangers miss the playoffs I end up writing the same thing during my Rangers Draft Preview – the Blueshirts were bad, but no bad enough. There last gasp at a playoff spot cost them a meaningful shot at moving up in the Draft. The highest the Rangers could have selected was sixth. Instead, they remained in the 10th spot – a position they have drafted at four times since the NHL changed their draft rules in 1969.

From 1963 through 1968, the NHL Draft was opened to any players 17 and older and who were not already sponsored by an NHL club. In 1969, the rules were changed the draft was open to all players over the age of 20 (which was since been lowered to 18).

As with everything else in Rangers history, their draft history with the 10th overall selection is spotty at best. Some of it is their fault and some of the blame rests with the hockey gods.

The Rangers struck gold the first time they selected 10th overall in the First Round. In 1971, Emile Francis drafted Toronto Marlies (OHA) LW Steve Vickers. The man they called “Sarge” played all 10 of his NHL seasons with the Rangers scoring 246 goals and adding 340 assists in 698 games – scoring 30 or more goals in his first four NHL seasons. Vickers won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in 1973. The highlight of his rookie season was becoming the NHL players ever to record hat tricks in back-to-back games.

Vickers was named the LW on the NHL’s Second All-Star Team thanks to career-highs in goals (41) and points (89). The following season he set set his career-high in assists with 53. His physical style of play and willingness to grind along the boards and take a pounding in front of the net made him the ideal replacement for Dave Balon as the LW on the Bulldog Line with Walt Tkaczuk and Bill Fairbairn.

Given the Rangers inconsistent power play, the Blueshirts could use another Vickers-type player setting screens in front of the net. He scored over a quarter of his goals (69) on the power play.

The Rangers returned to the 10th spot the very next year after drafting Vickers. However, they struck nothing as they drafted RW Al Blanchard. The closest Blanchard got to wearing a Rangers jersey was his Kitchener Rangers (OHL) jersey from his Junior days. Much like Hugh Jessiman, Blanchard never played a game in the NHL. Instead, he spent four years playing in the AHL and IHL (one game).

In selecting Blanchard, the Rangers passed on center George Ferguson (797 NHL games) and defensemen Phil Russell (1016 NHL games) and John Vanboxmeer (588 NHL games).

The Rangers next 10th overall selection was in 1987 when they drafted defenseman Jayson More from New Westminster (WHL). The blueliner made his NHL debut with the Rangers with one game during the 1988-89 season and would return in 196-97 and play 14 more games. His NHL career consisted of 406 games with 18 goals and 54 assists.

The Rangers dealt More to Minnesota for forward Dave Archibald on November 1, 1989. The team reacquired More from San Jose along with center Brian Swanson and future considerations in exchange for Marty McSorley on August 20, 1996. More’s Ranger tenure ended on February 6, 1997 when he was dealt to Phoenix in exchange for center Mike Eastwood and defenseman/forward Dallas Eakins.

While More had an okay NHL career, the Rangers passed on six players who had longer careers – including three other defensemen. The Blueshirts passed on Yves Racine (508 NHL games), Bryan Marchment (926 NHL games) and eventual Ranger blueliner Stephane Quintal (1037). In addition, the Rangers passed center Andrew Cassels (1015 NHL: games) and future Rangers RW Jody Hull (831 NHL games).

The final player on this list is eventual Hall of Famer Joe Sakic (1378 NHL games).

The Rangers last visit to the 10th spot was in 2001 when Glen Sather selected goaltender Dan Blackburn from Kootenay (WHL). Injuries limited Blackburn to just 63 NHL games as he posted a 20-34-4 record with one shutout and .894 save percentage and a goals against average of 3.22. As an 18-year-old, Blackburn was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie Team in 2002 as he backed up Mike Richter. The next season he stepped in for an injured Richter and played 17 consecutive games at one point. The toll of having to carry the team as a teenager wore down Blackburn. As a result of waiting too long Sather panicked and traded Tomas Kloucek, Rem Murray and Marek Zidlicky for Mike Dunham.

Blackburn’s career was derailed when he suffered a nerve injury to his left shoulder before reporting to training camp in 2003. After sitting out over a year and a half, Blackburn resumed his career in the ECHL with Victoria – despite the fact he had not regained full use of his left arm. To compensate, Blackburn tried to play with two blockers instead of a catching glove on his left hand.

Blackburn returned to the Rangers for the start of training camp in September 2005, but he injured the MCL on his left knee. Faced with the decision of continuing his career or risking the loss of his insurance payout, the young netminder retired on September 25 at the tender age of 22. It was the same decision that Rangers 1997 first round draft pick Stefan Cherneski faced in January 2001.

Prior to the rules change in 1969, the Rangers picked 10th overall twice – both picks coming in the second round during the Original Six Era.

In the very first Draft, the Rangers selected Terry Jones who played with Weston Midgets team. Little is known about Jones – not his height, weight or position according to HockeyDB.com. He played two seasons with the New Haven Blades of the EHL, two seasons with the Nelson Maple Leafs on the WIHL and one year with the Trail Smoke Eaters of the WIHL. Only Jim McKenny (604 NHL games) and Gerry Meehan (670 NHL games) were drafted after Jones and played in the NHL – both players were drafted by Toronto.

In 1965, 10 players were taken over two rounds. The Toronto Maple Leafs did not make a selection as they passed due to a lack of available talent. Interestingly enough, an 11th pick was made, but it was done by the Pittsburgh Hornets of the AHL.

The Maple Leafs might have had a point as the only draft picks to see action in the NHL were defenseman Pierre Bouchard (595 NHL games – Montreal drafted him with the fifth and last pick of the first round) and LW Michel Parizeau (taken with 10th and final pick of the draft) by the Rangers.

For what it is worth, for the first and only time in franchise history, the Rangers had the first overall pick and selected C Andre Veilleux from the Montreal Jr. B team. Veilleux never played a game in the pros and HockeyDB only lists him playing with the Trois Rivieres Reds of the QJAHL. He scored three goals and added 10 assists.

Parizeau spent three seasons with the Rangers Omaha Knights CHL affiliate before spending two season in the NHL with St. Louis and Philadelphia (58-3-14-17). Parizeau made a name for himself in the WHA playing seven seasons with the Quebec Nordiques, Indianapolis Racers and Cincinnati Stingers. In 509 WHA games, he scored 142 goals and 252 assists. In his final season 1978-79, Parizeau started the season with the Racers as a teammate of Wayne Gretzky and finished the season in with the Stingers as a teammate of Mark Messier.

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