2008 NHL Draft

As if trying to produce a Mock Draft the First Round of the 2007 NHL Draft wasn’t hard enough, here is my longest of shots attempt at a Second Round Mock Draft.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), Central Scouting (CSS), Red Line report (RLR), McKeen’s (McK), Canada’s TSN (TSN) International Scouting Service (ISS). TSN and ISS each list a prospect’s comparable NHL player – if available. CSS divides their ratings between North Americans (NA) and Europeans (Euro). The draft positions used are as of June 15, 2008.

31. Florida Panthers – Colby Robak (D)
THN: #18 – CSS: #13 NA skater – RLR: #24 – McK: #38
ISS: #19 (Brent Burns) – TSN: #28 (Joni Pitkanen)
The Panthers should take the mobile offensive d-man with size (6-3/194), but they
might look to go for a netminder for the future.

32. Los Angeles Kings – Mitch Wahl (C)
THN: #37 – CSS: #64 NA skater – RLR: #64 – McK: #29
ISS: #39 (No player comparison) – TSN: #52 (Matt Stajan)
With three second round picks, the Kings will go for a bit of reach as they bring in the native Californian who plays well at both ends of the ice and is a strong playmaker backed with solid hockey sense.

33. St. Louis Blues – Aaron Ness (D)
THN: #43 – CSS: #27 NA skater – RLR: #23 – McK: #45
ISS: #29 (Brian Rafalski) – TSN: #40 (Phil Housely)
The winner of the 2008 Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey award, Ness is as strong an offensive d-man as there is in the draft. The one drawback is his size (5-10/162).

34. St. Louis Blues – Nicolas Deschamps (C)
THN: #35 – CSS: #57 NA skater – RLR: #17 – McK: #18
ISS: #25 (Jarret Stoll) – TSN: #25 (Patrice Bergeron)
The Blues continue to build for the future. Deschamps is a hard working two-way player who got better as the season wore on. He scored five points in six playoff games and then scored three goals in seven games as a checking center with Canada’s U-18 season following the QMJHL playoffs.

35. Phoenix Coyotes – Jimmy Hayes (RW)
THN: #65 – CSS: #63 NA skater – RLR: # Not Available – McK: #Not Available
ISS: #64 (No player comparison) – TSN: #Honorable mention list
Don Maloney has shown a willingness to take a shot with an American power forward type (see Hugh Jessiman). Hayes projects out as a prototypical NHL power forward. The Coyotes hope he can come close to the production of his second cousin – Keith Tkachuk.

36. New York Islanders – Cody Goloubef (D)
THN: #42 – CSS: #34 NA skater – RLR: #47 – McK: #40
ISS: #33 (No player comparison) – TSN: #48 (Josh Gorges)
The two-way d-man made his mark as a 17-year-old freshman with the University of Wisconsin. He showed well defensively and expects to improve his offensive game as he matures and gains more confidence in college.

37. Columbus Blue Jackets – Tyler Ennis (C)
THN: #41 – CSS: # 31 NA skater – RLR: #46 – McK: #43
ISS: #44 (No player comparison) – TSN: #33 (Cliff Ronning)
Ennis is another one of the smallish (5-9/146), but skilled forwards available in the draft. The Ronning comparison works because of his skating ability and his stick handling skills,

38. Phoenix Coyotes – Evgeny Grachev (C)
THN: #74 – CSS: #9 Euro skater – RLR: #34 – McK: #48
ISS: #24 (Todd Bertuzzi) – TSN: #55 (Michal Handzus)
With four picks in the second round, Maloney will look to trade up into the first round or take a couple of chances in the draft. Grachev impressed scouts at the U-18 tournament. Like Hayes, Grachev is a power forward and uses his size and skill to fend off defenders.

39. Phoenix Coyotes – Mikhail Stefanovich (C)
THN: #20 – CSS: #57 NA skater – RLR: #33 – McK: #39
ISS: #57 (No player comparison) – TSN: #38 (Frank Mahovlich)
Stefanovich is yet another forward with size (6-2/202). He left Belarus to start his career in North America as he played last season in the QMJHL. He has all the tools, but he must work on his consistency and work ethic.

40. Nashville Predators – Luke Adam (C)
THN: #64 – CSS: #42 NA skater – RLR: #83 – McK: #34
ISS: #51 – TSN: #34 (Steve Bernier)
Adam has the size (6-1/210), hands and scoring ability to find his way into the first round if not for his average speed. ISS selects him as one of their draft darkhorse candidates.

41. Vancouver Canucks – Yann Sauve (D)
THN: #23 – CSS: #29 NA skater – RLR: #65 – McK: #68
ISS: #53 (No player comparison) – TSN: #41 (Robyn Regehr)
New GM Mike Gillis selects Sauve to help overcome the loss of Luc Bourdon. Sauve is a solid and steady defensive blueliner. At 6-2/210, he is a physical presence who will improve his offensive game as he settles in and gains experience and maturity.

42. Ottawa Senators – Tyler Cuma (D)
THN: #28 – CSS: #19 NA skater – RLR: #18 – McK: #17
ISS: #36 (No player comparison) – TSN: #16 (Steve Staois)
With Wade Redden likely a free agent casualty, the Senators need to start building their blue line back up. Cuma is a strong skating two-way defenseman who does well skating the puck out of the zone or making the first pass.

43. Anaheim Ducks – Jake Gardiner (D)
THN: #39 – CSS: #23 NA skater – RLR: #29 – McK: #20
ISS: #31 (No player comparison) – TSN: #21 (Trevor Daley)
Anaheim might look to add depth in goaltending, but will settle on Gardiner – who is another of one of those strong skating offensive d-man. Gardiner is a converted forward. The former Mr. Minnesota finalist will be attending the University of Wisconsin.

44. Buffalo Sabres – Jyri Niemi (D)
THN: #44 – CSS: #25 NA skater – RLR: #19 – McK: #46
ISS: #65 (No player comparison) – TSN: #49 (Joe Corvo)
The key to Niemi’s game is his big booming shot and ability to move the puck. Both of these assets make him a big-time power play QB. His development was helped by playing in the WHL last season.

45. Carolina Hurricanes – David Toews (LW)
THN: #40 – CSS: #79 NA skater – RLR: #Not Available – McK: #Not Available
ISS: #27 (Dany Heatley) – TSN: #Not Available
Toews does not have his younger brother Jonathan’s offensive prowess. However, he is hard worker who will make his mark in the NHL as a two-way forward who will lean more to the checking side as opposed to the scoring side. David is following in his brother’s footsteps by attending the University of North Dakota after attending Shattuck-St. Mary’s.

46. Nashville Predators – Jamie Arniel (C)
THN: #46 – CSS: #20 NA skater – RLR: #74 – McK: #66
ISS: #45 (No player comparison) – TSN: #46 (Matt Stajan)
Jamie is the son of former NHLer Scott Arniel. He is in the same boat as David Toews in that he will make his mark in the NHL as a two-way center who favors a more defensive style of play. He is strong on face-offs and has good hockey sense.

47. Boston Bruins – Michael Stone (D)
THN: #33 – CSS: #39 NA skater – RLR: #Not Available – McK: #Not Available
ISS: #47 (No player comparison) – TSN: #Honorable Mention list
Stone has NHL size (6-3/206) and a game that NHL teams will like. He is equally comfortable in both ends of the ice. He will be a good two-way d-man who could get even better if his skating and mobility develop at an NHL level.

48. Los Angeles Kings – Jake Allen (G)
THN: #Not in Top 100 – CSS: # 8 NA goalie – RLR: #31 – McK: #30
ISS: #4 goalie (No player comparison) – TSN: #31 (Marty Turco)
The Kings struggled the last couple of years with their goaltending. While they do have young Jonathan Bernier, the Kings would be wise to invest one of their plethora of early picks on developing even more depth in goal. Allen led Canada to an U-18 gold medal and was named the tournament’s best goaltender. Allen is one of, if not the best, stickhandling goalies available in the draft. His international success very well could push him into the first round of the draft (possibly to Detroit?).

49. Phoenix Coyotes – Maxime Sauve (C)
THN: #45 – CSS: #26 NA skater – RLR: #30 – McK: #31
ISS: #35 – TSN: #37 (Simon Gagne)
Sauve is yet another prospect with a connection to a former NHLer – he is the son of Jean-Francois Sauve, nephew of goalie Bob Sauve and cousin of former goalie Philippe Sauve. Maxime’s game is built on speed and his creativity with the puck. He needs to find a consistency to his game and get a bit stronger to make up for his slight stature (5-11/170).

50. Colorado Avalanche – Patrice Cormier (C)
THN: #77 – CSS: #61 NA skater – RLR: #39 – McK: #37
ISS: #75 (No player comparison) – TSN: # 53 (No player comparison)
ISS considers Cormier a “potential draft day steal”. He has the size (6-2/201) and skill to succeed. He has good speed and plays an aggressive style of game. The problem is that injuries have limited his playing time the last two years. He stepped up during the playoffs by scoring four goals and five assists in nine games.

51. New York Rangers – Jared Staal (RW)
THN: #31 – CSS: #43 NA skater – RLR: #114 – McK: #79
ISS: #63 – TSN: #50 (Trent Hunter)
It is understandable as to why Ranger fans want their team to draft Jared – given brother Marc’s successful rookie season. The fourth and final Staal brother, Jared has the size (6-3/195) the Rangers can use on the wing. Staal does use his size well – especially when he drives to the net, but his skating is the one thing that might hold it out of the first round – even though some team might gamble on him in the first round based on his genes. He did show develop from his three points in limited time as a rookie to his 49 points in his second season.

52. New Jersey Devils – James Livingston (RW)
THN: #52 – CSS: #53 NA skater – RLR: #Not Available – McK: #Not Available
ISS: #38 (No player comparison) – TSN: #Honorable Mention list
Livingston is the kind of player that Lou Lamoriello likes, He has good size ((6-1/200) and is a pretty good skater. He is effective on the offensive end as a strong forechecker and cycling the puck down low. He is still developing and showed marked improvement from his seven point rookie season to his 44 point second season. At the very least, he projects out to being a good two-way forward.

53. New York Islanders – Vjateslav Voinov (D)
THN: #76 – CSS: #8 Euro skater – RLR: #53 – McK: #50
ISS: #37 (No player comparison) – TSN: #44 (Danny Markov)
Voinov is a physical defenseman who battles every shift as if it were overtime. Voinov is not just a defensive player because he shows the ability to join the rush or pinch in from the point. Even though he is only 18, he has already played in Russia’s Elite League. While he struggled in the World Junior Championship, he played well in the U-18 tournament.

54. Washington Capitals – Viktor Tikhonov (LW)
THN: #Not in Top 100 – CSS: #7 Euro skater – RLR: #Not Available
McK: #Not Available – ISS: #43 – TSN: #Honorable Mention list
Tikhonov is the4 grandson of legendary Soviet coach Viktor Tikhonov. The younger Tikhonov went undrafted in 2007 – something that will not happen this year. Another prospect who played in the Russian Elite League, Tikhonov is hard worker who translate that into offensive ability. Tikhonov was named the WJC’s best forward. He is another player who might sneak into the first round.

55. Minnesota Wild – Danny Kristo (RW)
THN: #80 – CSS: #37 NA skater – RLR: #122 – McK: #35
ISS: #56 (No player comparison) – TSN: #39 (Maxim Afinogenov)
The Minnesota native is one the better skaters available in 2008. He spent the season as a member of the USA National Team Development Program and played well in the U-18 tournament. While he is offensive player, Kristo is not afraid to mix it up despite his slight stature (6-0/172).

56. Montreal Canadiens – A.J. Jenks (C)
THN: #26 – CSS: #50 NA skater – RLR: #Not Available – McK: #Not Available
ISS: #82 (No player comparison) – TSN: #Honorable Mention list
The Habs are not strangers when it comes to drafting Americans – they have drafted three of them in the first round during the last two years. Jenks’ development as an NHL player depends on his ability to improve his skating. He has the size (6-1/206) and tools to succeed, but it his skating that will elevate him to the next level. He showed good improvement from his first year (23 points) to his second year (55 points).

57. Washington Capitals – Justin Schultz (D)
THN: #Not in Top 100 – CSS: #:38 NA skater – RLR: #55 – McK: #57
ISS: #42 (No player comparison) – TSN: #58 (No player comparison)
Schultz is the cousin of former Capital first round draft pick Kris Beech. Justin is an offensive blueliner who uses his speed to jump into the rush, and the best part is that he has the hockey sense to know when to do it. However, he does need to work on defensive game and he needs to add some muscle to his frame (6-1/163)

58. Washington Capitals – Geordie Wudrick (LW)
THN: #53 – CSS: #71 NA skater – RLR: #Not Available – McK: #Not Available
ISS: #40 (No player comparison) – TSN: #Honorable Mention list
Another one of the ISS darkhorses entering the draft, Wudrick has all the tools to be your prototypical power forward: good size (6-3/204), skates well and can handle the puck. According to scouts who talked to THN, there are concerns about his hockey sense. Given his potential, he should have done better than 20 goals and 24 assists in 66 games with Swift Current (WHL).

59. Dallas Stars – Shawn Lalonde (D)
THN: #62 – CSS: #32 NA skater – RLR: #61 – McK: #67
ISS: #49 – TSN: #45 (Andrew Ference)
Lalonde is another one of those mobile offensive defensemen who has the ability to join the rush and create offense. Lalonde needs to work on finding a consistency to his game and he needs to add some muscle to his frame (6-0/175).

60. Toronto Maple Leafs – Roman Josi (D)
THN: #49 – CSS: #6 Euro skater – RLR: #19 – McK: #46
ISS: #41 – TSN: #47 (Tomas Kaberle)
Josi does a lot of little things well. He has some offensive ability, good size (6-1/187) and has the ability to play well at both ends of the ice. He was a member of the Swiss U-20 team and captained their U-178 squad.

61. Los Angeles Kings – Brandon Burlon (D)
THN: #58 – CSS: #41 NA skater – RLR: #21 – McK: #59
ISS: #52 – TSN: #42 (Adrian Aucoin)
Burlon will be making the transition from Jr. A to the University of Michigan in the fall. He is offensive defenseman who, like many of the d-men in the second round, jump in and join the rush. He may be a QB on the power play at the NHL level because he has a good shot and handles the puck well. He needs to work on his defensive responsibilities and learn to pick his spots in the physical game because he is not that big physically (6-0/190).

Second Round Draft Pick Transactions

* Pick 31 (Tampa Bay to Florida): Florida traded Chris Gratton to Tampa Bay in exchange for the Lightning’s 2008 2nd round draft pick (June 13, 2007).
* Pick 33 (Atlanta to St. Louis): St. Louis traded Keith Tkachuk to Atlanta in exchange for Glen Metropolit, the Thrashers 2007 1st and 3rd round picks and their 2008 2nd round pick (February 25, 2007).
* Pick 35 (Phoenix): The NHL awarded a compensatory draft pick (#35) to the Coyotes because Blake Wheeler rejected a contract offer – thus becoming an unrestricted free agent (June 2008).
* Pick 38 (Toronto to Phoenix): Phoenix traded Yanic Perreault and their 2008 5th round draft pick to Toronto for the Maple Leafs 2008 2nd round draft pick (February 27, 2007).
* Pick 42 (Chicago to Ottawa): Ottawa traded Martin Havlat and Bryan Smolinski to Chicago in exchange for Tom Preissing, Josh Hennessy, Michal Barinka and the Blackhawks 2008 2nd round draft pick (July 9, 2006).
* Pick 46 (Florida to Nashville): Nashville traded Tomas Vokoun to Florida for the Panthers 2007 2nd round draft pick, 2008 1st round draft pick and 2008 2nd round draft pick (June 2007).
* Pick 43 (Edmonton to Anaheim): Edmonton’s 2008 1st, 2nd and 3rd round draft picks are transferred to Anaheim for the Ducks decision not to match the Oilers offer sheet to restricted free agent Dustin Penner (August 2, 2007).
* Pick 48 (Calgary to Los Angeles); Los Angeles traded Craig Conroy to Calgary in exchange for Jamie Lundmark, the Kings 2007 4th round draft pick and their 2008 2nd round draft pick (January 29, 2007).
* Pick 49 (Ottawa to Phoenix): Phoenix traded Oleg Saprykin and the Coyotes 2007 7th round draft pick to Ottawa for the Senators 2008 2nd round draft pick (February 27, 2007).
* Pick 53 (Anaheim to NY Islanders): On July 3, 2006, Edmonton traded Chris Pronger to Anaheim in exchange for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid and draft picks. The Oilers then traded the acquired Ducks 2nd round pick to the Islanders for Allan Rourke and the Islanders 2008 3rd round draft pick (July 5, 2007).
* Pick 57 (san Jose to Washington): San Jose’s 2008 2nd round draft pick goes to Washington due to a 2007 Draft day trade that sent a Capitals 2007 1st round draft pick to San Jose for the Sharks 2007 and 2008 2nd round draft picks.
* Pick 58 (Philadelphia to Washington): Philadelphia’s 2008 2nd round draft pick goes to Washington due to a 2007 Draft day trade that sent a Capitals 2007 2nd round draft pick to the Flyers for their 2007 3rd round draft pick and their 2008 2nd round draft pick.
* Pick 60 (Pittsburgh to Toronto): Toronto traded Hal Gill to Pittsburgh for the Penguins 2008 2nd round draft pick and 2009 5th round draft pick (February 26, 2008).
* Pick 61 (Detroit to Los Angeles): Los Angeles traded Brad Stuart to Detroit in exchange for the red wings 2008 2nd round draft pick and their 2009 4th round draft pick (February 26, 2008).

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The New York Rangers own the 20th selection in the first round of the NHL Draft. 2008 marks the second time in their history that they will make the 20th selection in the first round. In 1989 the Rangers drafted Steven Rice. The Kitchener RW played just 11 of his 329 NHL games with the Rangers. He best remembered as being a part of the package that Neil smith sent to Edmonton in exchange for Neil Smith.

What most people don’t remember is that you will not find the name of the man who drafted Rice among the list of New York Ranger GMs. The 1989 Draft fell in between the tenures of the fired Phil Esposito (fired 5/24/89) and his replacement Neil Smith (hired 7/17/89). The draft was run by Esposito’s right-hand man Joe Bucchino.

While Rice was the lone player the team drafted 20th overall in the first round, the Rangers have made two other selections that were the 20th pick in an NHL Draft.

In 1966, the Rangers drafted Jack Egers 20th overall – in the fourth round. The LW played 284 NHL games, 111 of them with the Rangers covering two stints.

In 1963, the first of the NHL Draft, the Rangers selected defenseman Cam Allison with the 20th pick – also in the fourth round. If you have never heard of Allison don’t feel too bad because his entire professional career consisted of 3 IHL games with the Saginaw Gears during the 1972-73 season.

As you can see, Rangers Director of Player Personnel Gordie Clark really has nowhere to go but up when you look at Ranger history with the 20th overall section.

As I mentioned in my previous Rangers draft column, Kyle Woodleif believes it makes “no sense trying to draft for need based on a strictly positional breakdown” because of the time it takes for a player to develop.

Whether or not you agree with Woodleif, there is one thing that everyone can agree on – the Rangers need a physical defensive defenseman. The team has never addressed this shortfall since Jeff Beukeboom retired. That is why Ranger fans should hope Colton Teubert (6-3/185) finds his way to Broadway.

In their annual Draft Preview, The Hockey News (THN) describes him as “a classic defensive defenseman who excels in the shutdown aspect of the game and plays with a pretty wide mean streak.” While THN quoted one scout who questioned his “pretty average hockey sense”, E.J. McGuire, Director of Central Scouting (CS), offered a different opinion, “I like Colten for a lot of reasons, but most of all for his ability to take charge of the game.”

International Scouting Service (ISS) writes, “Teubert has the uncanny ability to play the shut down game and he has a mean streak. Played in all situations and logged lots of minutes against the oppositions top forward units.”

Bob McKenzie and TSN offered even higher praise on Teubert’s physical game.
“The hard-rock defenceman, who draws comparisons to Shea Weber and Adam Foote, is as competitive and feisty a player as there is in the draft. What he lacks in offensive upside, he makes up for with his ferocity and defensive prowess.”

The best reason to consider Teubert comes from the blue liner himself.

“I consider myself a punishing defenseman. I’m the guy that you put out against your top players and tell me to shut them down. I think I have a great shot from the point and get it through.”

Another blueliner along the lies of Teubert is defenseman John Carlson (6-2/215), who played in the USHL last year. Carlson passed on attending the University of Massachusetts (Thomas Pock’s alma mater) in order to join the OHL’s London Knights.

“This guy might be popular on draft day,” a scout told THN. He’s a tough one to call because of the perception of the USHL and high school isn’t that good.”

Central Scouting’s Jack Barzee was more enthusiastic in his scouting assessment.

“John Carlson is a big burly defensemen, he is a real good skater and a strong skater. He runs the power-play from the top of the umbrella and he has a very heavy shot. He’s a very self-assured kid and rightfully so — he’s a boy, yet in a man’s body and very physically strong . . . I knew when I first saw him that he was a first-round pick. He was a guy I had seen before as an under-ager. He had all the tools – size, skill, physical presence and charisma.”

ISS writes, “Carlson is a big defenseman, who skates well and possess a heavy shot from the point …. With good physic cal strength, John utilizes his size well during battles for loose pucks and position in all three zones.”

There are two centers that should draw interest from the Rangers.

Greg Nemisz (6-3/197) is projected to be a power forward at the NHL level. He showed solid progress between his first and second year in the OHL – going from 11 goals and 34 points to 34 goals and 67 points.

ISS writes, “With his huge frame, Nemisz is a prototypical power forward who works hard and is very effective when battling for positioning front of the opposition net and on the offensive cycle, but was also reliable in defensive situations.”

Central Scouting’s Chris Edwards offered this scouting report.

“Greg is a big player that goes to the net, he’s not overly physical but he doesn’t get knocked around either. He is good on the power-play, in the sense that he sets himself at the front of the net, he’s hard to move and he bangs in a lot of rebounds from there. He has a good shot, especially his one-timers. At his best, he is a power-forward type of a guy, a team guy, a two-way guy who plays on the top two lines in Windsor as well as the power-play and penalty kill.”

Jordan Eberle (5-10/174) would be a cinch to be drafted before the Rangers pick if he were just a bit bigger. He is big-time scorer who netted 42 goals last season – nearly 20% of the goals his Regina squad scored.

“Jordan is a slippery scorer with great hands. He has NHL hands and the skating to get him into good shooting position. Jordan is an up-and-down the wing ‘tease’ in the sense that sometimes he’ll look like he’s just going up and down the wing and you have him slotted as a checker and then he’ll cut in off the wing and use that shot to put his team up by a goal,” McGuire reported.

ISS calls him “a highly skilled goal scorer – has all of the offensive tools; great touch – very good hockey sense – quick release and soft hands …. Despite not having a large frame, he does a nice job battling along the boards and using his body to protect the puck.”

There a pair of European wingers who should draw the Rangers – one who might be available at #20 and one who might not be available.

Mattias Tedenby (5-10/176) would certainly be a top five or 10 draft pick if he were just a little bigger. However, he will prove to be the steal of 2008 if he is drafted in the middle of the first round.

ISS calls him “one of the best possession players available in the draft – can weave, cut, change pace. Blow past, deke or go right through defenders while handling the puck …. Makes plays out of nothing and can run the power play with the best of them.”

CS Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb reported, “Mattias is excellent on every shift. He has outstanding speed, stick work and work ethic. He is small but fearless – he takes hits and always comes back. He looks like a young Saku Koivu, he creates scoring chances with his outstanding skating and is very difficult to stop when he is at full speed. He has excellent balance and quick, smooth hands, but needs to improve on his defensive awareness.”

The other forward is LW Kirill Petrov, and given the lack of a transfer agreement, should be available when the Rangers draft.

ISS writes, “Petrov is a power forward that can set the tone of the game with a big hit or big goal. His aggressive style and forecheck are difficult for any players to defend against. He knows how to create space down low and consistently punishes players.”

Stubb offered the following report on Petrov.

“I’m impressed with Kirill’s excellent skating and mobility as well as his work ethic playing on Russia’s (Under-18) top line. He displays toughness in one-on-one situations and delivers smart passes creating a lot of scoring chances. He is also very physically strong; he was successful in one-on-one situations along the boards and in the corners.”

One wild card is LW Joe Colborne (6-5/190) who will be making the jump from Junior A to the University of Denver. Some scouts are concerned about his playing at a lower level and other scouts, according to THN, worry about his drive because of his family’s well-off financial position. Colborne showed good progress, going from 20 goals and 48 points in his first year in Junior A to 33 goals and 90 points last season

ISS writes, “He is a very strong skater with excellent hockey sense and puck skills. Has excellent strength and reach and is very hard to get the puck from.”

THN writes, “He has good vision and is a strong skater who will be difficult to knock off the puck when he fills out.”

While Colborne is an intriguing package, it would be difficult for the Rangers to take on another risky project with Hugh Jessiman struggling to justify his first round selection. Besides, it is very possible Colborne will be gone by the time the Rangers draft.

In a perfect world, Teubert would available to the Rangers when they draft at #20. However, it is unlikely that he will be available. Carlson would make a good secondary choice, but I would be more inclined to go after Tedenby if he were available.

Using my mock draft as a guide, the Rangers choices would come down to Petrov and Eberle. In a very close decision, I would go with Petrov and his size over Eberle because there is more of need now (and a couple of years down the road) for a winger with size and ability.

The Rangers will be making six selections during the seven round draft. In addition to the 20th overall pick, the Rangers will pick 51st (second round), 75th (third round), 114th (fifth round), 171st (sixth round), and 201st (seventh round).

The Rangers third round selection is from Carolina as part of the matt Cullen trade. The rangers own third round pick (#81) goes to Los Angeles as part of the Sean Avery deal. That pick was a conditional pick if the Kings did not sign Jan Marek – which they didn’t.

New York’s fourth round pick was sent to St. Louis in the Christian Backman trade.

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The 2008 NHL Draft might lack the big name star potential of a Sidney Crosby or an Alexander Ovechkin, but it stands to be one of the deepest drafts since 2003. The one specter looming over the draft is the state of the NHL-IIHL transfer agreement situation – especially the explosive situation involving Russia and the development of their Continental Hockey League – which the Russians hope will rival that of the NHL.

While the Russians have only been able to “steal away” NHLers like John Grahame and Chris Simon, they have rattled their hockey abers about luring away free agents like Jaromir Jagr and other Europeans. The biggest impact will be felt in the draft in the status of Nikita Filatov.

Last year, the hockey world watched Alexei Cherepanov fall to the New York Rangers at #17. Granted, Filatov does not have as many on-ice questions as Cherepanov had, but one has to wonder if the lack of transfer agreement will hurt his – and other Europeans – chances of being drafted as high as they should be.

It is a decision that all NHL teams will be facing. In the past, teams took the stance that the New Jersey Devils and Director of Scouting David Conte took.

“We draft for personality, not nationality,” Conte told Everett J. Merrill of the Hockey Digest back in November 2000 – obviously well before the NHL-IIHL tiff.

As expected, teams have changed their thinking in reference to European players in general, and Russian players specifically, in the light of the transfer agreement problems.

“Draft the North American because you know he will play or at least try to play,” Edmonton Oilers scout Kevin Prendergast told Alan Adams in The Hockey News’ (THN) Draft Preview.

Adams also detailed the drop in the number of Russian players drafted since the start of the new millennium. In 2007 only nine Russian players were drafted – as opposed to 44 in the 2000 Draft.

Each player has ratings for the following scouting services: The Hockey News (THN), Central Scouting (CSS), Red Line Report (RLR), McKeen’s (McK), Canada’s TSN (TSN) International Scouting Service (ISS). TSN and ISS each list a prospect’s comparable NHL player. CSS divides their ratings between North Americans (NA) and Europeans (Euro). The draft positions used are as of June 15, 2008.

1. Tampa Bay Lightning – Steven Stamkos (C)
THN: #1 – CSS: #1 NA skater – RLR: #1 – McK: #1
ISS: #1 (Joe Sakic) – TSN: #1 (Steve Yzerman)
The consensus number one player in the draft provides an excellent replacement for the traded Brad Richards. ISS has had rated the number one 2008 draftee since November 2006. Given the success of Patrick Kane and Sam Gagner, Stamkos should make the jump to the NHL as a 19-year-old. With comparisons to Sakic and Yzerman, you now know why Barry Melrose is looking forward to joining new owner Oren Koules.

2. Los Angeles Kings – Drew Doughty (D)
THN: #2 – CSS: #3 NA skater – RLR: #3 – McK: #4
ISS: #4 (Brian Campbell) – TSN: #2 (Raymond Bourque)
The potential run on defensemen begins with the Kings adding a potential partner for Jack Johnson as L.A. goes for a Can-Am connection on the blue line. Doughty is used to playing with top rearguards as he was partnered with 2007 first round draft pick Karl Alzner.

3. Atlanta Thrashers – Zack Bogosian (D)
THN: #3 – CSS: #2 NA skater – RLR: #4 – McK: #2
ISS: #2 (Dion Phaneuf) – TSN: #3 (Rob Blake)
The Thrashers could use some help for Ilya Kovalchuk, but they can address that need later in the first round. Like Doughty, Bogosian is a solid two-way blueliner who needs to fill out his frame a bit (6-2/197) before making the jump to elite defenseman in the NHL.

4. St. Louis Blues – Alex Pietrangelo (D)
THN: #5 – CSS: #6 NA skater – RLR: #7 – McK: #3
ISS: #5 (Jay Bouwmeester) – TSN: #4 (Sergei Zubov)
While the Blues have Erik Johnson, they have used high draft picks on forwards in the past couple of years so John Davidson and company will draft Pietrangelo who will add offense to their defense and be a future QB of their power play.

5. New York Islanders – Nikita Filatov (LW)
THN: #4 – CSS: #1 Euro skater – RLR: #2 – McK: #7
ISS: #3 (Nikolai Zherdev) – TSN: #5 (Daniel Alfredsson)
Garth Snow could very easily continue the run on d-men by adding a physical d-man. However, look for the Islanders to make a splash and throw caution to the wind – even with the lack of a transfer agreement. ISS says Filatov “Could be the offensive cornerstone of a franchise. Rumors are swirling that the Rangers are looking to jump ahead of the Isles so they can draft Filatov and reunite him with his World Junior Championship (WJC) linemates Artem Anisimov and Alexei Cherepanov.

6. Columbus Blue Jackets – Luke Schenn (D)
THN: #6 – CSS: #5 NA skater – RLR: #6– McK: #5
ISS: #6 (Adam Foote) – TSN: #6 (Adam Foote)
The comparison to Foote is ironic given the fact the blue Jackets signed the veteran d-man before dealing at the trade deadline. Schenn is your prototypical hard-hitting defensive defenseman – with an added ability to make the first pass out of the zone.

7. Toronto Maple Leafs – Cody Hodgson (C)
THN: #8 – CSS: #9 NA skater – RLR: #9 – McK: #9
ISS: #9 (Daymond Langkow) – TSN: #9 (Chris Drury)
With Mats Sundin’s future up in the air, the Maple Leafs will be looking to find a future replacement. While Colin Wilson comes close second, Toronto will go with the captain of Canada’s Under-18 team. He scored 12 points in leading Canada to gold and added five goals in as many OHL playoff games for Brampton.

8. Phoenix Coyotes – Tyler Myers (D)
THN: #11 – CSS: #4 NA skater – RLR: #10 – McK: #19
ISS: #15 (Zdeno Chara) – TSN: #11 (Zdeno Chara)
GM Don Maloney kicks off six in the first three rounds by drafting the high-risk/high-reward Myers. Maloney has a history of drafting these types of players in the top half of the draft (see Hugh Jessiman). Myers has all the tools to be the next Zdeno Chara.

9. Nashville Predators – Colin Wilson (C)
THN: #7 – CSS: #10 NA skater – RLR: #11 – McK: #12
ISS: #8 (Mike Richards) – TSN: #8 (Ron Francis)
It will be interesting to see how potential ownership problems play out in reference to the draft. With the Predators having depth on defense, the son of former NHLer Carey Wilson helps David Poile build the same depth at forward. Wilson is a big-time two-way center who projects as a future NHL captain.

10. Vancouver Canucks – Kyle Beach (C)
THN: #10 – CSS: #7 NA skater – RLR: #14 – McK: #21
ISS: #13 (Terry Ryan) – TSN: #10 (Claude Lemieux)
The tragic death of Luc Bourdon could cause new GM Mike Gillis to look at Colton Teubert, but in the end the need for help for the Sedins wins out. One scout told THN that Beach (6-3/203) is a bigger version of Sean Avery. Beach is a physical player who has had discipline problems on and off the ice, but Vancouver could use his feisty style of play.

11. Chicago Blackhawks –Mikkel Boedker (LW)
THN: #9 – CSS: #11 NA skater – RLR: #5 – McK: #6
ISS: #7 (Marian Gaborik) – TSN: #7 (Milan Michalek)
The Blackhawks could have used Beach’s edgy play, but they missed out by one pick. They could look to trade down and select one of the top goaltending prospects. If they stay at #11, they should go for Boedker. The Danish playmaker made a fine transition to the OHL last season based on his outstanding skating and puck-handling ability.

12. Anaheim Ducks – Zach Boychuk (C)
THN: #12 – CSS: #8 NA skater – RLR: #13 – McK: #22
ISS: #12 (Paul Kariya) – TSN: #14 (Jason Blake)
The Ducks are looking at having to replaced Scott Niedermayer and/or Teemu Selanne. Anaheim owns Edmonton’s first, second and third round picks as compensation for losing Dustin Penner.

13. Buffalo Sabres – Joe Colborne (LW)
THN: #25 – CSS: #28 NA skater – RLR: #28 – McK: #27
ISS: #16 (Jason Arnott) – TSN: #19 (Joe Thornton)
Sabres THN beat writer John Vogl wrote that the team has speedy forwards without size. Colbourne put up big numbers in Junior A (33 goals and 57 assists in 55 games) and he will continue his development at the University of Denver. His game is keyed by strong skating ability, hockey sense, strength and size and good hockey sense. The key will be his ability to build on his Jr. A success.

14. Carolina Hurricanes – Colton Teubert (D)
THN: #13 – CSS: #18 NA skater – RLR: #14 – McK: #14
ISS: #18 (Robin Regehr) – TSN: #13 (Shea Weber)
Carolina needs to build up their resources on defense. It is a matter of whether they want a physical blueliner (Teubert) or an offensive defenseman (Aaron Ness or Michael Del Zotto). While scouts debate his hockey sense and offensive ability, there is no question that he is a defensive defenseman who is not only physical, but he can be downright mean and nasty.

15. Nashville Predators – Mattias Tedenby (LW)
THN: #16 – CSS: #3 Euro skater – RLR: #12 – McK: #23
ISS: #14 (Denis Savard) – TSN: #26 (Mats Naslund)
Poile continues to add to talent at forward when he drafts one of the best puck handlers in the draft – as well as one of the best skaters. The only thing that prevents him from being a top five draft pick is his size (5-10/176). ISS calls him a “strong two-way player with major offensive up side.”

16. Boston Bruins – John Carlson (D)
THN: #30 – CSS: #17 NA skater – RLR: #37 – McK: #16
ISS: #21 (Bryan McCabe) – TSN: #22 (Mike Komisarek)
The Bruins will want to add a defenseman who has some offensive ability. Del Zotto (5-11/211) will get a long look, but Carlson’s size (6-2/212) will win the day – even though Carlson played in the USHL. Carlson passed on a scholarship offer from the University of Massachusetts to join the London Knights (OHL).

17. Calgary Flames – Greg Nemisz (C)
THN: #21 – CSS: #22 NA skater – RLR: #45 – McK: #32
ISS: #28 (Jason Allison) – TSN: #27 (John LeClair)
Nemisz (6-3/197) offers the potential to be a power forward with scoring ability. He showed good progress in his second IHL season – nearly doubling his point total. ISS says he is a “power forward with skill to contribute offensively”.

18. Ottawa Senators – Chet Pickard (G)
THN: #32 – CSS: #2 NA goalie – RLR: #25 – McK: #8
ISS: #1 goalie (No player comparison) – TSN: #18 (Olaf Kolzig)
The Senators need to address issues on defense, but their number one need is to find a number one goaltender. Carey Price’s success will pave the way for his former Tri City backup.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets – Joshua Bailey (C)
THN: #14 – CSS: #14 NA skater – RLR: #15 – McK: #11
ISS: #10 (Andrew Brunette) – TSN: #12 (Cory Stillman)
Columbus might look to trade this pick for someone who can step in and play now. If they keep the pick, they will draft a good two-way player like Bailey – who kept up a high level of play despite the death of teammate Mickey Renaud. THN wrote, “He’s regarded as a low-maintenance player who could be future captain material …”

20. New York Rangers – Kirill Petrov (LW)
THN: #100 – CSS: #2 Euro skater – RLR: #8 – McK: #36
ISS: #17 (Ryan Getzlaf) – TSN: #43 (Andrei Kostitsyn)
The Rangers might be the team most likely to explore a trade. They could look to move up for a Filatov or one of the top defensemen or they could look to move down in the first round and add additional draft picks. If they stay at #20, they should look to draft Petrov. The Blueshirts have the money to make any transfer problem go away. ISS praises him for his “excellent secondary scoring option” and for using his size “to protect the puck very well with his body”

21. New Jersey Devils – Thomas McCollum (G)
THN: #38 – CSS: #1 NA goalie – RLR: #43 – McK: #25
ISS: #2 goalie (No player comparison) – TSN: #24 (Ed Belfour)
Lou Lamoriello has never been shy about drafting talent despite size (Scott Gomez and Zach Parise) or about taking chances in the first round (Adrian Foster). The one facet where the Devils GM has failed is in finding a successor to Martin Brodeur. Two former first rounder draft picks (Jean-Francois Damphousse and Ari Ahonen) did not pan out. Look for the Devils to try again with the Guelph goaltender getting the call over Jacob Markstrom and Jake Allen. If they pass on a goalie, look for them to follow the Gomez/Parise route and draft Jordan Eberle.

22. Edmonton Oilers – Michael Del Zotto (D)
THN: #15 – CSS: #15 NA skater – RLR: #32 – McK: #28
ISS: #23 (Kris Letang) – TSN: #15 (Mathieu Schneider)
The Oilers could make it two goaltenders in a row but, in the end, they will not pass over the offensive ability Del Zotto offers on the blue line. ISS rated him the 7th best 2008 prospect just one year ago. Del Zotto’s stock dropped as he added just six points to his rookie total of 57. ISS calls him “an offensive style of defenseman who at times will play like a 4th forward.”

23. Washington Capitals – Jacob Markstrom (G)
THN: #19 – CSS: #1 Euro goalie – RLR: #35 – McK: #13
ISS: #3 goalie (No player comparison) – TSN: #23 (Kari Lehtonen)
Many people pencil Chet Pickard in for the Caps because of the success of fellow Tri-City netminder Carey Price and the fact that Olaf Kolzig is part owner of the Americans. However, with Washington parting ways with Kolzig and Ottawa and New Jersey beating them to Pickard and McCollum, the Caps will go for the young Swedish netminder. Washington has shown an ability to succeed with foreign born netminders (Kolzig and Cristobal Huet).

24. Minnesota Wild – Luca Sbisa (D)
THN: #17 – CSS: #12 NA skater – RLR: #20 – McK: #15
ISS: #11 (Wade Redden) – TSN: #15 (Tomas Kaberle)
The Wild were burned in 2004 when they drafted defenseman A.J. Thelen 12th overall, but they will return to the blue line with Sbisa. He has good size (6-2/190) and is projected as a two-way defenseman. The Swiss-born defender got a jump start on his North American career by joining Lethbridge (WHL). ISS calls him “a puck moving defenseman with mobility and good hockey sense.”

25. Montreal Canadiens – Zac Dalpe (C/RW)
THN: #29 – CSS: #16 NA skater – RLR: #27 – McK: #26
ISS: #20 (Mark Recchi) – TSN: #32 (Travis Zajac)
Dalpe draws comparisons to Travis Zajac because he will be going from Jr. A to collegiate hockey (Ohio State). Dalpe’s offensive ability does not come at the expense of playing defense. Until he fills out his frame, Dalpe (6-0/170) will have to rely on his skating and hockey sense.

26. Buffalo Sabres – Jordan Eberle (C )
THN: #22 – CSS: #33 NA skater – RLR: # – McK: #
ISS: #30 (Brad Boyes) – TSN: # 29 (Joe Mullen)
While Kirill Petrov and Evgeny Grachev have the size and skills Buffalo needs, ownership is not going to invest the money it might take to fight through the red tape the lack of a transfer agreement might present. As a result, the Sabres will go for Eberle’s goal scoring ability and offensive creativity.

27. Philadelphia Flyers – Erik Karlsson (D)
THN: #71 – CSS: #4 Euro skater – RLR: #22 – McK: #33
ISS: #22 (Niklas Kronwall) – TSN: # 20 (Kimmo Timonen)
With no picks in the second and third rounds, the Flyers have to be sure about their first pick. Karlsson packs a solid physical game despite his size (5-11/165) and is a skilled player who has the ability to use his playmaking ability to succeed in the transition game.

28. Los Angeles Kings – Daultan Leveille (C)
THN: #27 – CSS: #47 NA skater – RLR: #60 – McK: #53
ISS: #48 (No player comparison) – TSN: #55 (Phil Kessel)
With three picks in the top 32, the Kings are in a position to reach a bit at this point in the draft. Leveille is one of the strongest and fastest skaters available in the draft. He will be making the jump from Jr. B to Michigan State. He scored 30 points in 16 playoff games – overcoming a leg injury.

29. Atlanta Thrashers – Corey Trivino (C)
THN: #36 – CSS: #49 NA skater – RLR: #40 – McK: #24
ISS: #26 (Chris Higgins) – TSN: #36 (Stephen Weiss)
Trivino is a solid two-way player who saved his best play for the post-season. He scored 22 points in 15 OPJHL games. In addition, the playmaker tallied 7 points in 7 games for Canada’s U-18 team.

30. Detroit Red Wings – Anton Gustafsson (C)
THN: #24 – CSS: #5 Euro skater – RLR: #44– McK: #44
ISS: #34 (No player comparison) – TSN: #30 (Jordan Staal)
Gustafsson, son of former NHLer Bengt Gustafsson, is two-way type of player the Red Wings crave. Scouts have had a problem getting a handle on him because of injuries during junior tournaments. Gustafsson (6-2/194) is a potential power forward who plays a physical game and is tough to knock off the puck.

First Round Draft Pick Transactions

• Pick 9 (Florida to Nashville): Nashville traded G Tomas Vokoun to Florida for Detroit’s 2nd-round pick in the 2007 Entry Draft (pick 58, previously acquired) and Florida’s 1st- and 2nd-round picks in 2008 (June 22, 2007).
• Pick 12 (Edmonton to Anaheim): Edmonton transferred its 1st-, 2nd- and 3rd-round picks in the 2008 Entry Draft to Anaheim for the signing of Restricted Free Agent LW Dustin Penner (July 3, 2007).
• Pick 19 (Colorado to Columbus): Columbus traded D Adam Foote to Colorado for Colorado’s 1st-round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft and a conditional pick in 2009 (Feb. 26, 2008).
• Pick 22 (Anaheim to Edmonton): Edmonton traded D Chris Pronger to Anaheim for RW Joffrey Lupul, D Ladislav Smid, Anaheim’s 1st-round pick in the 2007 Entry Draft, and 1st- and 2nd-round picks in 2008 (July 3, 2006).
• Pick 26 (San Jose to Buffalo): Buffalo traded D Brian Campbell and its 7th-round pick in the 2008 Entry Draft to San Jose for RW Steve Bernier and its 1st-round pick in 2008 (Feb. 26, 2008).
• Pick 29 (Pittsburgh to Atlanta): Atlanta traded Marian Hossa and Pascal Dupuis to Pittsburgh for Colby Armstrong, Erik Christensen, Angelo Esposito and a 1st-round selection in 2008.

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The 2008 NHL Draft does not feature an immediate impact player along the lines of Sidney Crosby or Alexander Ovechkin. Instead, the strength of the Draft lies in its depth.

Prior to the start of this season, Red Line Report’s Kyle Woodleif wrote, “Usually about a month into the season you begin to get a feel for what type of draft crop it’s going to be, and we’re happy to report that all early indications are that 2008 is shaping up to be a solid, and quite deep, draft class. Perhaps the deepest crop since the great talent bonanza of 2003.”

One problem the Rangers face in the first round is how the organization’s depth stands up against the projected availability of players at the 20th pick in the draft. Of the top 30 prospects rated by NHL Central Scouting (CS), there are 15 blueliners, 12 centers, two LWs and one C/RW. The problem arises because the Rangers’ depth is in defensemen and centers.

Of course, the Rangers could look to Europe as they did last year with Alexei Cherepanov. Given the volatile nature of the NHL-IIHL transfer agreement situation, the Rangers could catch a break and watch Nikita Filatov drop them. The only problem is that Filatov does not carry the baggage that Cherepanov did in respects to effort and desire. With that said, it is not out of the realm of possibility that the Rangers could move up if Filatov dropped.

If Filatov does not drop, or if the Rangers are unable to move up, the organization faces a decision.

If the Rangers stick to a strategy of drafting strictly for need, then they might have to consider making a trade. If the Rangers target a specific need, they could use some of their organizational depth to move up. For example, if the Rangers want a high scoring winger, they could consider moving up for a Filatov, Mikkel Boedker or Mattias Tedenby. If they are in the market for a physical defensive defenseman, they could trade up for a Tyler Myers, Luke Schenn or Colton Teubert. It is possible that Tedenby or Teubert could fall to the 20th pick.

On the other hand, the Rangers could simply draft the best player available and disregard the idea of drafting for need – something Woodleif explained in a June 2000 USA Today column.

If the Rangers stand pat, expect them to draft the best player available – regardless of position or perceived need. In doing so, they would be taking a page out of Woodleif’s game plan.

“Most teams do not ‘draft for need’ in the traditional sense as fans understand the term,” Woodleif explains. “Since the NHL is drafting predominantly 18-year-olds who aren’t going to be playing in the league for another 4-5 years, a position of need right now may be well fortified for years down the road, so there’s no sense trying to draft for need based on a strictly positional breakdown.”

The Blueshirts could take advantage of the depth of the draft and look to trade down and garner extra picks. That would give them the option of concentrating on quantity in 2008 or speculate by acquiring extra 2009 draft picks. The Rangers could also use the draft’s depth, and their organizational depth, by trading up to draft quality.

The last option could see the Rangers trading their first round pick to fill a specific need – whether it be a scoring winger, a defenseman who can quarterback the power play, or a physical defensive defenseman. If the Rangers do go this route, the player acquired has to be in his mid-20s or the franchise runs the risk of repeating past mistakes by trading away the future for a false quick fix.

Back when he was the Rangers Director Player Personnel, Tom Renney offered some insight into his theory regarding the draft.
“Some teams are guilty of looking at spot and pimples rather than what skills are all about. Some teams have convinced themselves that the (prospect) can’t play, but maybe you just draft skill,” Renney told Alan Adams of nhl.com in June 2003. “It’s easy to go out to a game and see the players who can skate and shoot and so on. But you do not know what is in his heart and in his head. And you have to be lucky and you have to be fortunate.”

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