The 2014 NHL Entry Draft might very well turn out to be a draft that would bring a smile to Monty Hall’s face. The conventional wisdom among hockey writers is that the 2014 NHL draft will be “Let’s Make a Deal” than “Wheel of Fortune”.

As a quick aside for those who don’t know, Hall spent the 1959-60 season as the radio analyst of the New York Rangers.

Unlike previous drafts where there was a bona fide unanimous first overall pick, the 2014 Draft has what The Hockey News called “The Big Four”: Sam Bennett, Leon Draisaitl, Aaron Ekblad, and Sam Reinhart. The Hockey News featured all four of these players on the cover of their 2014 Draft Preview under the headline “Fantastic Four”.

In his “Editor’s Notebook” column, Brian Costello drew a comparison between this year’s draft and a couple of other drafts that featured four players who were grouped at the top and how the best laid plans of mice, men and GMs can go astray.

Three years ago the talk was all about Sean Couturier, Gabriel Landeskog, Adam Larsson, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins being the top four players of the draft. As it turned out, Couturier fell to number eight and Jonathan Huberdeau jumped into the top four in 2011.

In 1990, Costello points out, the big four consisted Petr Nedved, Owen Nolan, Keith Primeau, and Mike Ricci. While those players were taken as the top four picks, it was pick number five who turned out to be the star/steal of the draft, Jaromir Jagr – unless you consider Martin Brodeur at number 20 to be the star/steal of 1990.

Costello even admitted that THN’s fifth (Michael Dal Colle) and sixth (William Nylander, son of former NHLer Michael Nylander) rated player could find their way into the big four.

It is the lack of a Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin at the top of the draft that has the trade lines buzzing. It doesn’t hurt that GMs have been freely admitting that they expect a lot of movement in this year’s draft, with Florida’s Dale Tallon being at the head of the list.

With the Panthers owning the first overall pick, Tallon has the power to set the trade winds in motion and conceded as far back as May 21 that he was being contacted by other teams.

“I’ve already had a few guys kicking tires,” Tallon relayed to Kevin Allen of USA Today. “We’re going to get more calls.”

Allen speculated that Tallon could simply keep the first overall pick, trade down in the first round for a combination of players/prospects/picks, or deal the #1 pick as part of blockbuster deal to acquire a star player.

On June 19, TSN’s Darren Dreger tweeted that Tallon had heard from eight teams interested in making a deal – with Calgary, Edmonton, Toronto, and Vancouver among the teams showing interest.

New Flames GM Brad Treliving thinks the balance of the draft could be the driving factor in deal making.

“This draft does set up where I could make the statement that we may see more movement in the top end of the draft than maybe we have seen in the last few years,” Treliving offered to Allen.

“I think there is probably a consensus on the top five, but I think there might be 30 different lists of what order.”

Nashville’s David Poile, owner of the 11th overall pick, admitted that he is getting heavy interest from teams wanting to make a deal.

“I’ve already been approached and … it’s a possibility,” Poile told Josh Cooper of USA Today on June 17. “There’s always that possibility I would trade that first-round pick — I’ve made that open to some people I’ve talked to. It would be for a top forward if we could do that.
“I’m not predicting that will happen, but if someone had that top-six forward, I would certainly consider trading that first-round pick.”

Draft day deals in Philadelphia on the weekend of June 27 may not necessarily come strictly out of on-ice necessity. Dallas GM Jim Nill believes economics and the salary cap may drive some deals.

“Some teams are going to be looking to move some salaries, and I just have a feeling there could be a lot of moves,” the Stars boss told Allen.

The most logical trade would between Florida and Edmonton. The Oilers would get the stud defenseman they need in Aaron Ekblad while the Panthers would end up with the second best forward in the draft. The question is what else would the Panthers want in order to switch places – NHL-proven player, draft picks or a combination of both?

The other team to watch is Philadelphia. With the Flyers hosting the draft, they might want to make a splash in front of the hometown fans by moving up into the top five or so of the draft.

In this Mock Draft, each player has ratings for the following scouting services: NHL’s Central Scouting (CS), The Hockey News (THN), and International Scouting Service (ISS). CS breaks down their ratings by North American skaters (NAS), European skaters (ES), North American goaltenders (NAG) and European goaltenders (EG). THN lists each prospect’s NHL Translation while ranking skaters and goaltenders together. ISS provides a prospects’ comparable NHL player and has separate rankings for skaters and goaltenders.

The Draft positions utilized are those as of June 26, 2014.

1. FLORIDA PANTHERS – Aaron Ekblad – D
CS: # 2NAS —– THN: # 2 (Cornerstone d-man)
ISS: # 2 (Rob Blake)
If the Panthers have their sights set on one of the top forwards, then they should try and trade out of the 1st overall pick and look to add other assets. Lacking a trade, look for GM Dale Tallon to adhere to the idea of when in doubt, build from the back out and add Ekblad to Erik Gudbranson as looks to replicate his success with the Blackhawks.
2. BUFFALO SABRES – Sam Bennett – C
CS: # 1NAS —– THN: # 1 (Heart-and-soul forward)
ISS: # 4 (Logan Couture)
Much was made about Bennett’s inability to do a pull-up, but that is something that can be taken care off. What can’t be ignored is his superb hockey sense and skills. He is good enough, talent-wise, to succeed in a finesse game and he is still strong enough physically to succeed in a chippy game.

3. EDMONTON OILERS – Leon Draisaitl – C
CS: # 4NAS —– THN: # 4 (Top-line center)
ISS: # 6 (Anze Kopitar)
The Oilers should be prime contenders to move up for Ekblad or down to position themselves for a run at Haydn Fleury. They could still take Fleury, but if they stay at #3, the pick should be Draisaitl. His size and playmaking abilities draw comparisons to Kopitar and Joe Thornton – and he has a mean streak as seen by his 52 PIMs and suspensions at the WJC.

4. CALGARY FLAMES – Sam Reinhart – C
CS: # 3 NAS —– THN: # 3 (Two-way center)
ISS: # 1 (Patrice Bergeron)
Sam’s father, Paul, was the 12th overall pick by the Atlanta Flames in 1979. Sam has two brothers who are NHL bound: Max (Calgary 3rd round 2010) and Griffin (Islanders 1st round 2012). If Reinhart is gone, the Flames could very well draft Bennett. He is a solid player in all three zones and his family pedigree should help him make that next step to the NHL.

5. NEW YORK ISLANDERS – Michael Dal Colle – RW
CS: # 5NAS —– THN: # 5 (Dynamic point producer)
ISS: # 3 (Patrick Marleau)
The Isles chose to keep this pick and send their 2015 1st rounder to Buffalo as part of the Thomas Vanek trade. Dal Colle’s shot; size and offensive ability could prove to be the perfect running mate for John Tavares. Dal Colle should the type of progress from his first year (48 points) to his second year (95 points) that you want to see in a top prospect. The Islanders have shown a penchant for bringing in Oshawa Generals (first round draft picks John Tavares and Calvin de Haan and trading for Cal Clutterbuck).

6. VANCOUVER CANUCKS – Nikolaj Ehlers – LW
CS: # 13NAS —– THN: # 7 (Dynamic point producer)
ISS: # 11 (Matt Duchene)
Ehlers’ dad, Heinz, was the a 9th round draft pick by the Rangers in 1984. While he has a slight build (5-11/162), Ehlers is ahead of the typical European player because he spent last season with Halifax of the QMJHL, scoring 49 goals and 55 assists in 63 games. Ehlers is equally comfortable in traffic or taking on, and beating, defenders wide.

7. CAROLINA HURRICANES – Nick Ritchie – LW
CS: # 7 NAS —– THN: # 9 (Power forward)
ISS: # 10 (Milan Lucic)
At 6-2/226, Ritchie brings size and scoring touch to an offensive forwards corps that is more finesse than physical. Ritchie is the prototypical power forward that all teams crave. THN says that his best he can project out as a Jamie Benn type of player, but he also could project out as an Anthony Stewart type of player. Ritchie just needs to find a consistency to his game to take the next step.

8. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS – Brendan Perlini – LW
CS: # 8 NAS —– THN: # 12 (Pure goal scorer)
ISS: # 9 (Jeff Carter)
Brendan’s father Fred was an 8th round pick of Toronto in 1980. Brendan is sure to surpass his dad’s total of eight NHL games based on his size (6-2/205) and natural goal scoring talents. Last season was his breakout year in the OHL scoring 71 points (34-37) after registering just 12 in his first year.

9. WINNIPEG JETS – Jake Virtanen – RW
CS: # 6 NAS —– THN: # 11 (Pure goal scorer)
ISS: # 7 (James Neal)
Virtanen might be the best pure sniper in the draft this year thanks to his big-time shot and a willingness to use his size (6-0/208) – as seen by his 100 PIMs. Virtanen nearly tripled his goal scoring output from his first year in the WHL to last year (16 to 45).

10. ANAHEIM DUCKS – William Nylander – C/RW
CS: # 2 ES —– THN: # 6 (Dynamic point producer)
ISS: # 5 (Henrik Zetterberg)
Nylander, son of former NHLer Michael, has all of the offensive tools to be a star: puck handling, speed and hockey sense. The one concern is his size (5-11/169) and lack of strength. Nylander dominated the World U-18 Tournament with six goals and 10 assists in seven games.

11. NASHVILLE PREDATORS – Kasperi Kapanen – RW
CS: # 1 ES —– THN: # 10 (Two-way forward)
ISS: # 13 (Tomas Plekanec)
Kapanen (Sami) makes it back-to-back sons of NHL players. Kasperi missed out on Finland’s WJC gold due to a shoulder injury. While his numbers in Finland might not be gaudy, the blame lies in a poor KalPa team that looked to the teenager to be its leader. His strong skating is the key to his ability to produce offensively and in controlling the puck.

12. ARIZONA COYOTES – Dylan Larkin – C
CS: # 17 NAS —– THN: # 14 (Heart-and-soul forward)
ISS: # 15 (Ryan O’Reilly)
Larkin is a product of the US National Team Development Program and will continue his development at the University of Michigan. Larkin is an on-ice leader who combines size (6-1/190) and solid skating skills. Unlike a lot of prospects, Larkin has excellent hockey sense and is always ready to compete.

13. WASHINGTON CAPITALS – Haydn Fleury – D
CS: # 9 NAS —– THN: # 8 (Cornerstone d-man)
ISS: # 12 (Ryan McDonagh)
One scout told THN that Fleury has the “S’s – size (6-2/203), skating and sense.” Fleury partnered with Roland McKeown on Canada’s bronze medal U-18 team, where Fleury was named the tourney’s best defenseman. He uses his hockey sense well as is solid in all three zones and can play in all situations equally well.

14. DALLAS STARS – Julius Honka – D
CS: # 11 NAS —– THN: # 16 (Offensive defenseman)
ISS: # 40 (Torrey Krug)
While Honka is going to have to work to overcome his lack of size (5-10/180), he took the first step by playing this season with Swift Current in the WHL. While Honka is still a work in progress defensively, there is no questioning his offensive ability. Honka features a good shot and the ability to use his skating and vision to create plays.

15. DETROIT RED WINGS – Alex Tuch – RW
CS: # 12 NAS —– THN: # 17 (Power forward)
ISS: # 14 (Keith Primeau)
The Red Wings are an organization that knows the value of not rushing prospects and that is good given that Tuch is enrolled at Boston College. Tuch (as in truck) already has an NHL body (6-3/213). Tuch came up through the USNTDP and played on a line with Sonny Milano and Jack Eichel in the U-18 Tournament. Tuch always comes to compete every night and can be an extra special player if he develops an offensive game to go with his heavy shot.

16. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS – Roland McKeown – D
CS: # 27 NAS —– THN: # 26 (Top-four defenseman)
ISS: # 23 (Brent Seabrook)
The Blue Jackets drafted three forwards in the 1st in 2013, so they need to look at upgrading the blue line this time around. McKeown does not stand out as an offensive or defensive d-man. He is a good two-way defender with excellent hockey sense and leadership ability as he served as Canada’s captain in the U-18.

17. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS – Sonny Milano – LW
CS: # 16 NAS —– THN: # 24 (dynamic point producer)
ISS: # 16 (T.J. Oshie)
The Flyers might look defense with this pick, but will decide their value is better with Milano. Usually you think of big, physical players when you think of Philly. Milano has average size (6-0/183) but well above average skating ability with an uncanny elusiveness when handling the puck. While he needs time to develop his game and to harness his ability, he will get that chance at Boston College.

18. MINNESOTA WILD – Kevin Fiala – LW
CS: # 3 ES —– THN: # 13 (Dynamic point producer)
ISS: # 20 (Henrik Zetterberg)
Fiala plays with an edge that belies his size (5-10/180). The Swiss native played in Sweden this year – playing in both the Junior and Senior leagues and did not look out of place playing against Sweden’s best. In between, the elusive and crafty Fiala represented the Swiss at the WJC and the U-18.

19. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING – Robby Fabbri – C
CS: # 21 NAS —– THN: # 20 (Dynamic point producer)
ISS: # 8 (Doug Gilmour)
Fabbri (5-10/170) doesn’t have ideal NHL size, but neither did Martin St. Louis. Fabbri makes up for stature with an excellent combination of skating, stick skills, hockey sense, and compete level. He also showed the ability to mix it up and get dirty with a 10-game suspension for a check to the head in November. However, karma did bite Fabbri as he missed four playoff games after suffering a headshot. Fabbri bounced back well with 28 points in 16 games.

20. SAN JOSE SHARKS – Ivan Barbashev – C/LW
CS: # 18 NAS —– THN: # 22 (Two-way forward)
ISS: # 19 (Brayden Schenn)
Russian by birth, Barbashev plays a North American style of play – which was enhanced by spending the last two years with Moncton of the QMJHL. While an offensive players in Juniors, Barbashev played a checking role at the WJC. One plus is his ability to play the point on the power play.

21. ST. LOUIS BLUES (4) – Jared McCann – C
CS: # 10NAS —– THN: # 15 (Two-way center)
ISS: # 17 (Steve Yzerman)
This pick could still wind up with the Sabres if the Blues trade the rights to goalie Ryan Miller before the draft. For our purposes, we are working on the theory that the Blues will keep the pick. McCann is a solid two-way center who is strong defensively and can contribute offensively – as well as see time on both special teams thanks to his high compete level.

22. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS – Jakub Vrana – LW/RW
CS: # 4 ES —– THN: # 19 (Dynamic point producer)
ISS: # 21 (Alex Steen)
The Penguins continue their search to find viable linemates for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Like Fiala, Vrana left his home (Czech Republic) to play In Sweden’s Junior and Senior leagues while representing his country at the WJC and U-18 (where he had eight goals in seven games). He has a big-time shot that gives him the potential to be a game-changer on offense.

23. COLORADO AVALANCHE – Travis Sanheim – D
CS: # 53 NAS —– THN: # 21 (Offensive defenseman)
ISS: # 30 (Tyler Myers)
The Avalanche are loaded with young star forwards so help on the blue line would not be a bad thing. Sanheim got better as the season progressed and topped it off with a strong showing at the U-18 where his six points (all assists) led all d-men in scoring. He has the size (6-3/181) and strength to develop into a two-way blueliner.

24. ANAHEIM DUCKS – David Pastrnak – RW
CS: # 5 ES —– THN: # 23 (Dynamic point producer)
ISS: # 33 (Zach Parise)
Pastrnak left the Czech Republic and spent his non-WJC and non-U-18 time in the Swedish Elite League – the second consecutive year he spent in the SEL. He utilizes speed and elusiveness to keep defenders at bay. He needs to bulk up a bit (6-0/168), but his overall offensive ability by his hockey sense and ice vision.

25. BOSTON BRUINS – Connor Bleackley – C
CS: # 35 NAS —– THN: # 30 (Heart-and-soul forward)
ISS: # 26 (Jonathan Toews)
You just get the feeling that Bleackley is a Bruins type of player. As a 17-year-old, he captained his Junior team (Red Deer-WHL) and is a hard-nosed, hard-worker who plays in all situations. He will easily be a third-line player in the NHL, but if he works on his skating he could become an impact second-line center who is solid on faceoffs.

26. MONTREAL CANADIENS – Joshua Ho-Sang – C/RW
CS: # 22 NAS —– THN: # 27 (Enigmatic scorer)
ISS: # 18 (Nazem Kadri)
When THN asks for a one word evaluation from a scout, and that word is “Yikes”, bells and whistles go off. It has nothing to do with his offensive ability which is powered by outstanding skating and puck skills. It has to do with him not being that physical (5-11/175) and mostly for being immature. Ho-Sang was hit with a 15-game suspension for a hit in his last playoff game. The OHL later reduced the suspension to six games. If he can harness his game and become more of a team player, his speed makes him an ideal member of the Flying Frenchmen.

27. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS – Adrian Kempe – LW
CS: # 6 ES —– THN: # 29 (Top-nine forward)
ISS: # 22 (Gabriel Landeskog)
Kempe has good size (6-1/187) and uses it to play a good, solid physical game. He is not afraid to go into the high-contact areas of the ice and he comes to play every night. His offensive game might develop as he matures and develops. He did not look out of place playing in the SEL with Modo for 45 games.

28. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING – Anthony DeAngelo – D
CS: # 14 NAS —– THN: # 50 (Offensive defenseman)
ISS: # 32 (Phil Housely)
When you have extra 1st round picks, you can take a gamble on high-risk, high-reward players like DeAngelo. In his 3rd year at Sarnia, the 5-10/170 d-man tallied 15 goals and 56 assist in 51 games. His offensive game is predicated on his skating and puck skills, but he needs work in the defensive zone and in getting stronger. Perhaps the biggest red flag could be the two suspensions he served for breaking the OHL’s policy on harassment, abuse and diversity. Incredibly, his second suspension was for comments he made towards a teammate. As I said, when you have extra 1st round picks you are more likely to gamble.

29. LOS ANGELES KINGS – Marcus Pettersson – D
CS: # 7 ES —– THN: # 39 (Two-way defenseman)
ISS: # 43 (John Carlson)
Speaking of gambling, using a 1st round pick on Pettersson might be a bit of a reach, but the 6-4/165 blueliner might be well worth it – especially when you are a multiple Stanley Cup winner. While he still has to mature and grow into his body physically, skills wise Pettersson has all of the tools to be a top four defenseman. He has a heavy shot and his surprisingly mobile for someone of his stature.

30. NEW JERSEY DEVILS – Nikita Scherbak – RW
CS: # 15 NAS —– THN: # 18 (Dynamic point producer)
ISS: # 27 (Martin Havlat)
The Devils are just happy to have a seat at the dance in the first round after having to give up their original 1st round pick as punishment for the Ilya Kovalchuk contract kerfuffle. However, thanks to Lou Lamoriello’s pull with the NHL and Gary Bettman, the Devils sneak back into the first round. More playmaker than pure goal scorer, Scherbak did not look out of place in his first year in the WHL. In 54 games, he scored 69 points (26-43). His offensive game is built on his skating and puck skills. Because of his skating skills, Scherbak is an effective forechecker.

First Round Draft Pick Transactions
1. The Ottawa Senators’ first-round pick will go to the Anaheim Ducks as the result of trade on July 5, 2013, that sent Bobby Ryan to Ottawa in exchange for Jakob Silfverberg, Stefan Noesen and this pick.
2. The New York Rangers’ first-round pick will go to the Tampa Bay Lightning as the result of a trade on March 5, 2014 that sent Martin St. Louis to New York in exchange for Ryan Callahan, a first-round pick in 2015 and this pick (being conditional at the time of the trade). The condition — Tampa Bay will receive a first-round pick in 2014 if the Rangers advance to the 2014 Eastern Conference Final — was converted on May 13, 2014.
3. The New Jersey Devils will pick 30th overall in the first round. The Devils were expected to forfeit their first-round pick in 2014 (they elected to keep their first-round picks in 2011, 2012 and 2013) as the result of a penalty sanction due to cap circumvention when signing Ilya Kovalchuk. The penalty also included a fine of $3 million and the forfeit of the Devils’ third round pick in 2011. The NHL partially rescinded the penalty keeping all of the penalties, except for modifying the first-round pick and reducing the fine to $1.5 million.
4. Buffalo receives St. Louis’ 2014 1st round pick if the Blues re-sign Ryan Miller or if they trade his rights before the draft. If Miller signs or is traded after the draft, it becomes a 2016 2nd round pick. St. Louis receives Ryan Miller and Steve Ott for a conditional 2014 first round pick, a 2015 1st round pick, Jaroslav Halak, Chris Stewart and William Carrier.

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