2014 NHL Mock Draft Part One (Picks 1-15)

Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players.  Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2014 NHL Draft.  Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports!  Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2014 Draft Articles Click here.

TopShelfProspectsNow that the order of 28 of the first 30 picks have been determined, I will be releasing my 3rd annual NHL mock draft.

For those who haven’t read the LWOS mock before here are the rules.

1) No trades except for those that have already been made by NHL teams.
2) A two-round Mock draft will be done in four parts.  The first two parts (ie the first round) will be done today and tomorrow.  The next two parts (ie the second round) will be done next week.3) Since the final two positions in the draft (this year picks 28 and 29) will be determined by the Stanley Cup Final, as always we will be assuming that the the team with home-ice advantage in the Cup Final will win the cup.  (This is not a slight to the New York Rangers, its just a fact that we need some way of determining draft order).
3) Clicking the Player’s name will bring you to a full scouting report.

So with that out of the way, I present.

The LWOS 2014 NHL Mock Draft

Part 1 (Picks 1-15)

1) Florida Panthers – Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie Colts, OHL: Normally, I always say that the team picking first overall should take the best player available. This year is no different, and with the Florida Panthers I believe they will take Aaron Ekblad, who is number one on our draft board. That said, the Panthers are also in good shape at forward with Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov as recent top 3 draft picks who have done well at the NHL level. Adding a defender to the cupboard, especially one as talented as Ekblad, would be ideal.

2) Buffalo Sabres – Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay Ice, WHL: The Sabres were the worst team in the NHL this season, but then lost the NHL Draft Lottery to the Panthers. Despite that Buffalo will still get the player they covet in this draft class, taking the youngest (and best) of the Reinhart brothers. With Reinhart in the number one slot, Cody Hodgson as the number two, and Zemgus Girgensons as a number three centre, the Sabres will be extremely strong down the middle when they develop. If they also get Mikhail Grigorenko to develop to his potential, it will be an embarrassment of riches.

3) Edmonton Oilers – Sam Bennett, C, Kingston Frontenacs, OHL: The Oilers get another high draft pick, after another disappointing season. Obviously, the Oilers would love Ekblad to be available, but with him off the board they take Sam Bennett. Many blame the Oilers’ defence for the teams struggles, but the reality is that some defensive help from the forwards would also help their team, and Bennett has that two-way game that they have lacked in the middle of the ice. With Bennett in the fold look for the Oilers to try to move Sam Gagner to try and get some help on their blueline.

4) Calgary Flames – Nick Ritchie, LW, Peterborough Petes, OHL: Its the first pick that doesn’t follow the order of my draft rankings, as the Flames take Nick Ritchie. When I look at this draft though I see clear tiers, there is little difference from 1-3, and little difference from 4-8, so its not really a reach. Here I think that Brian Burke has promised Flames fans a big, tough (dare I say truculent), as well as talented team. Ritchie can score goals, he can hit hard, and he can win fights; that’s a combination that Brian Burke will find attractive.

5) New York Islanders – Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa Generals, OHL: The Islanders are set down the middle with John Tavares and Ryan Strome, so they take Dal Colle who is a big, powerful, and extremely talented left wing who will soon be playing with one of those centres in their top six. The possibilities of having Dal Colle on one wing, and Kyle Okposo on the other are extremely intriguing.

6) Vancouver Canucks – Leon Draisaitl, C, Prince Albert Raiders, WHL: Its the first draft for the new Canucks GM, Jim Benning, who will be extremely pleased to see Leon Draisaitl fall to the sixth spot. The Canucks need an injection of young talent right now as the team got old in a hurry under Mike Gillis, and taking the best player available is a no-brainer. He may play the same position as prospects Bo Horvat and Brendan Gaunce who the Canucks have taken recently, but with one of the highest picks the Canucks have had since the Sedins were drafted, this is all about getting a potential elite player in the fold.

7) Carolina Hurricanes – William Nylander, C/RW, Modo, SHL: Like the Canucks, the Hurricanes also have a GM in his first draft, Ron Francis, but since he came up through the Hurricanes front office, he doesn’t bring quite the same radical organizational change that Benning does. The Hurricanes took Elias Lindholm last year, and go back to Sweden to take William Nylander this year. He was incredible at the Under 18s and his versatility to play both centre and the wing is something that the Carolina organization has always liked in their forwards.

8) Toronto Maple Leafs – Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax Mooseheads, QMJHL: Obviously the Leafs are hoping to get their hands on a centre with this pick, but the reality is that with the way this mock has broken down taking a centre here would be a real reach. There isn’t a centre who is near as talented as Ehlers, and so the Leafs go Best Player Available here and take the skilled forward from the Halifax Mooseheads. Look for the “Electric Ehl” to be playing with Nazem Kadri in the near future, likely by the start of the 2015-16 season.

9) Winnipeg Jets – Jake Virtanen, RW, Calgary Hitmen, WHL: The Jets had their run at a playoff spot derailed by an injury to Mark Scheifele (SIA Profile) who was looking every bit the part of a future number one centre in his rookie season.  The team now looks to put a future winger with Scheifele, and the powerful Jake Virtanen looks like a natural fit.  A line of Evander Kane – Schiefele – Virtanen would provide a lot of headaches for Central Division and Western Conference opponents down the road.  Fast, skilled, powerful, great stickhandling and passing, gritty, the line would have it all.

10) Anaheim Ducks (from Ottawa) – Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagara Ice Dogs, OHLThe Ducks have a lot of young talent in the system and have been a regular in the top of our annual prospect rankings.  The seem to be well built going forward in nearly all positions, as Bob Murray has done a fantastic job.  Getting a top 10 pick included in the Bobby Ryan trade was an unexpected surprise, but now that they have it, the Ducks have the luxury of going best player available in the spot.  Brendan Perlini is a big and skilled winger who will only add to the Ducks roster that is already full of size and skill.

11) Nashville Predators – Jared McCann, C, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHLIf there is one thing we know about GM David Poile, he just loves to build the blue line.  The Predators draft philosophy is usually defence, defence, defence, and what do you know?  There is a good one on the board here if the Preds want him.  However, there comes a time when you need to draft a forward, and the Predators do that with Jared McCann a two-way centre who has a ton of speed.

12) Phoenix Coyotes – Haydn Fleury, D, Red Deer Rebels, WHL: The Phoenix Coyotes have gone with forwards with their top two picks in 2012, and their top 3 picks in 2013 after spending three straight years going defence. With the top two players left in my rankings both being defencemen, and Haydn Fleury as the clear best player available they get another big, two-way defenceman which is important in the western conference.

13) Washington Capitals – Alex Tuch, RW/C, USNTDP, USHL: The Capitals look to take the big and talented power forward prospect out of the US National Team Development Program. His combination of size, power, and skill is something the Capitals have always been big on come draft day, and even with a new GM, he’s an internal hire, so I don’t see that changing.

14) Dallas Stars – Julius Honka, D, Swift Current Broncos, WHL: Jim Nill did a masterful job with Dallas last year, picking up a steal in Nichushkin in the draft, making a fantastic deal to get Tyler Seguin out of Boston, and taking the Stars back to the NHL playoffs.  This year he goes and drafts a mobile two-way defender who can play top line minutes and quarterback the powerplay going forward.  Honka may be undersized, but he plays bigger and has high end skill.

15) Detroit Red Wings – Kasperi Kapanen, RW, Kalpa, Sm-Liiga: This year showed the talented forwards in the Red Wings system with Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, and Tomas Tatar making NHL impacts, while Anthony Mantha was the CHL player of the year.  On defence players like Ryan Sproul and Xavier Ouellet had solid seasons on defence in the AHL.  As such the Wings can go best player available again.  That is Kapanen, the son of former NHLer Sami Kapanen, and a speedy winger with two-way ability.

For Part Two and the rest of the first round, click here.


For a listing of NHL Mock drafts around the internet, please check out our friends at the NHL mock database.

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17 Responses You are logged in as Test

  1. As another Flames fan


    It’s too easy for a mock drafter to just use the “Brian Burke likes truculence” adage to help fill the mock draft quota for “off the board picks”. But if you didn’t do this, then there would be no reason to read the mock draft, it would just be a copy of the draft rankings. Burke likes truculence, but he isn’t dumb. He’s taken Kadri, Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, the Sedins and traded for Kessel (to name a few non-truculent players he’s targeted). He’ll be smart enough to know that spending a 4th on Nick Ritchie is terrible asset management.

    1. I think you highly, highly underrate Nick Ritchie.

      He was my #6 ranked prospect. Taking him at #4 is not as off the board as you might think.

      To me the difference between Draisatl, Dal Colle, Ritchie, Ehlers, and Nylander is razor thin.

      Its not like I have the Flames reaching for someone I ranked outside the top 10.

      1. Vomit for a 3rd time?

        I think you overvalue Ritchie, especially at #4.

        When you read scouts’ most likely busts in the top 15, Ritchie seems to be the consensus pick. High risk / high reward…not the sort of asset management I see happening from a rebuilding Flames team with the highest pick in their history. Also, although he is a Burke player, don’t assume that Burke is the only making the decision. I really can’t see Ritchie @ 4 flying with Treliving.

        The only way I see Calgary grabbing Ritchie is if they trade down. And given that the potential players falling to 4 all fill an organizational need, I really don’t see them trading the pick unless another team wants to offer ridiculous value.

        1. How many times have you actually seen Ritchie play? Live?
          How many NHL scouts have you talked to inside arenas?

          I’ve done both… I’ve even interviewed Ritchie himself.

          The kid is talented. I really don’t see him busting. And in a draft like this…. where guys at 15 are no where near as talented as the top 8, I don’t see how anyone could say he’s the most likely bust in the top 15. Do you have an actual quote from a scout saying he is a “most likely bust”… just one?

  2. Not a fan of the Flames picking Ritchie 4th as a Flames fan. Respect him as a player and prospect but I’d be disappointed using the 4th pick on him in this draft class.

    If they want him trade down a couple spots with the teams that want Draisaitl and Dal Colle. I haven’t seen any other scouting publications/mocks putting Ritchie ahead of those two.

  3. Would much prefer the Canes take Ehlers ahead of Nylander if they go for a skill guy, or go with a power forward in Virtanen or Ritchie. Nylander has to much of a pretty boy aspect about him that would scare me off from using to high a pick on him.

    As much of a critic as I am of David Poile in Nashville (you nailed it about his defense, defense, defense mentality, which is why his teams can’t score), I think he clearly has seen some light stemming from his recent failures (Trotz and Laviolette are night and day when it comes to coaching philosophy) and will take a high skill guy or power winger at #11, something McCann is clearly not. Poile knows he can’t take another Watson type kid over a Bjugstad again like he did in 2010. I’d suspect he takes whichever of Perlini, Fiala or Tuch is still on the board after the higher tier forwards are already taken.

  4. About Ritchie:
    His 0.44 even-strength goals-per-game place him sixth in an elite group of OHL forwards the past 12 years who have broken 0.40: Patrick Kane, Tyler Seguin, John Tavares, Steven Stamkos, Gabriel Landeskog, Ritchie, Bennett, Jeff Skinner, Nail Yakupov, and Michael Grabner. (Tanner Pearson also cleared it, but he was over-age, so unfair to compare…. Regardless Pearson turned out alright.)… Ennis (0.40), Hall (0.39), EKane (0.39), and Draisaitl (0.39) were close.

    Ritchie has already cleared 6’2″ and 220 lbs. There have been four OHL/WHL forwards over 6’2″ selected top-10 in the NHL draft since 2003. Each of the four has been selected higher than his pre-draft scoring would indicate, and each has been successful at the NHL level: Eric Staal (2nd overall), Jordan Staal (2nd), Andrew Ladd (4th), and Ryan Johansen (4th). Of the four, only Eric Staal achieved more points-per-game than Ritchie his pre-draft season.

    Ritchie also came in at 0.87 even-strength points-per-game this past season. That’s better than BRyan (0.85), Stamkos (0.84), and Tavares (0.82) had their pre-draft seasons. (Though Tavares was better a previous season, I believe.) The only two OHLers, I believe, with more than 0.87 to slip past 2nd overall in the draft: Strome (0.98) and Gagner (0.89)… but Gagner had PKane and couple other excellent scorers helping him tally points that season– he did slip to 6th overall, after all. Gagner’s team scored 311 goals, Ritchie’s 233, Strome’s 273.

    I think it’s very possible Ritchie goes 4th or 5th this draft.

      1. Welcome. I was interested to read once I saw you had Ritchie at 4th. The top 8 or 10 players available this draft seem abnormally close in value. I could see 2 or 3 trades being made within the top-10.

        There is a chart I posted at the end of this article with EV goals-per-game of OHL/WHL forwards selected top-10. (Below in the comments, you’ll find players selected 11th-30th: Pearson, Grabner, Ennis, Jensen, Eberle, Shinkaruk. LINK

        And not sure if this is accurately recorded into scoring books, but Ritchie has an abnormally high number of primary assists to secondary assists:
        EV: 27G, 20A1, 6A2
        PP: 11G, 06A1, 2A2
        SH: 02G, 01A1, 0A2

        Because if this his “primary” EV points-per-game is remarkable:
        0.90 PKane
        0.87 Seguin
        0.84 Draisaitl
        0.82 Hall
        0.79 Bennett
        0.77 Tavares
        0.77 Strome
        0.77 Gagner
        0.77 Ritchie
        0.75 Stamkos
        0.74 Yakupov
        074 EStaal
        0.72 SReinhart
        0.67 Dal Colle (and had identical rate in playoffs, which is impressive)
        0.66 BRyan
        0.64 Bailey

        0.60 and under: Duchene, Monahan, Kadri, Skinner, Couture, Virtanen

    1. To add:
      Strome went 5th in a draft with a perceived very strong top-4: RNH, Landeskog, Huberdeau, and Larsson (Even though Larsson has been slow to develop since the draft.)

      And Gagner had 0.26 EV goals per game to Ritchie’s 0.44… one a team that scored a lot more goals.

      As an Isles fan, I would be very happy with Draisaitl, Dal Colle, or Ritchie. (The smaller forwards from the OHL/WHL seem to either have a good first post-draft season in the NHL or bust: Hamill, Brule, Yakupov, Duchene, Skinner. I like that these three options are all on the larger side. And all seem to skate well for their size.)

      The only time I saw Draisaitl play was in WCs against USA. I was very impressed. (He had one goal, primary assist, and a secondary assist, plus another assist waived off after a long video review.) Some scouts seem to think skating is an issue for Draisaitl, but it’s only his first couple strides. Once he got moving, he actually looked like a good skater, against a USA team with near-NHL quality, at least as far as skating ability goes. (WC, not WJC)… And man, does Draisaitl have a nifty backhand for passing the puck!… I think he just needs to work on core strength to improve his first couple strides and balance.

  5. Okay, time to beat Mr. Kerr at this Mock Draft thing………

    1) Panthers – Ekblad
    (I think the Panthers will swap picks with the Oilers and get either Yakupov or Perron as part of the deal, but either way, Ekblad goes 1st).
    2) Sabres – Reinhardt
    3) Oilers – Draisaitl
    4) Flames – Bennett
    5) Islanders – Dall Colle makes sense here but Snow gets enthralled with Nylander and takes him instead.
    6) Canucks – Ehlers. His skill is too much for Vancouver to pass up.
    7) Hurricanes – Dal Colle falls into their laps here (I’m really hoping this happens!)
    8) Leafs – They want a center but can’t pass up on Ritchie.
    9) Jets – Virtanen makes sense at #8 for the Jets.
    10) Ducks – Perlini makes sense for the Ducks here.
    11) Predators – Though I think they want a really high end skill guy, Tuch’s size and potential is too much for the Preds to pass up here, and besides, Poile and Laviolette love those American born players.
    12) Coyotes – They need offense but take the best available player in Fleury here.
    13) Capitols – Caps go for Fiala at this spot.
    14) Stars – They go Russian again and take Barbashev.
    15 Wings – Kapanen seems like good value at this spot for Detroit.

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