Hello all! It’s the greatest part of the NHL offseason – the NHL Entry Draft (Ok maybe just to me). I’ve said multiple times what the CBJ need so I’m not going to waste any time – let’s get drafting. Here are my predictions for this year’s draft that will occur this weekend in Philadelphia.
NAME: Ivan Barbashev
TEAM: Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
HEIGHT: 6’0″ WEIGHT: 181
HOMETOWN: Moscow, Russia
RANKING: 18TH North American Skater
Yes folks, you read that hometown right – but before you throw me out of town I give you a quote from The Hockey News Draft Preview issue “I don’t think he’s Russian, He plays a North American game. He finishes his checks, plays a complete game and makes plays off the wall. Great vision.”…everyone still here? Unlike our previous Russian problem children, Barbashev, as you can see, is already over in North America playing for the QMJHL’s Moncton Wildcats. Bill Dandy of the Edmonton Oilers says (in a feature that includes other NHL scouts talking about him) Ivan plays a “punishing game and is a hard hard guy to play against.” The scouts in that video all rave about his compete level and that sounds like a Jarmo/JD guy to me. Now, despite scoring 43 goals over the last two season, the writers at hockeyprospect.com see him as more of a playmaker despite the fact that he has a quick release on his deadly wrist shot off the rush.
2ND ROUND-38 (If the Ducks give it to us)
NAME: Travis Sanheim
TEAM: Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
HEIGHT: 6’3″ WEIGHT: 181
HOMETOWN: Elkhorn, Manitoba
RANKING: 53RD North American Skater
Despite an NHL scout thinking he’ll be a top 30 pick, I hope if the Jackets get the Ducks pick they get to use it on the big blueliner who’s risen in the rankings from 167th at the midterm to 53rd in the final rankings. This season Sanheim developed from a fringe player to a impact player both with the Hitmen and Canada’s U18 team where he was the team’s most dependable defenseman. As he got more comfortable knowing his D partner would be there, Sanheim grew more confident in his abilities and by the end of the season was automatically making the right play. Defensively he struggles with consistency and the decision making skills that make him so good with the puck can fail him when he is on defence. In the hockeyprospect black book two NHL scouts commented on his combine interview. One claimed it was one of their best. HP head scout Mark Edwards said in a conversation with their Calgary based scout that it wouldn’t surprise him if Sanheim became a better long-term player than Hadyn Fleury (9th ranked North American Skater).
NAME: Nicolas Aube-Kubel
TEAM: Val-D’Or Foreurs (QMJHL)
HEIGHT: 5’11” WEIGHT: 187
HOMETOWN: Slave Lake, Alberta
RANKING: 40TH North American Skater
” We have to play faster.” That is a quote from Todd Richards after the 2013-14 season ended and that somewhat explains this pick as Aube-Kubel is the third best pure skater according to the Red Line Report. They compared him to the Millennium Falcon making the jump to light speed. Aube-Kubel nearly doubled his point total going from 27 points to 53 this season while playing for the QMJHL champs. One of his best qualities is his ability to get open for his teammates, along with being a tremendous dangler. Nicolas is a hard worker on both ends and he is not afraid to hit and will battle along the walls. Despite spending most of the season on the wing, he’s expected to move back to his natural position of center next season. One NHL scout stated “Not much worthy of making trips to the Q this year but this kid is a solid player.” Nicolas mauls players when in pursuit of the puck especially skill players and really makes it difficult for them to protect the puck.
NAME: Ryan Collins
TEAM: USNTDP (Committed to Minnesota)
HEIGHT: 6’5″ WEIGHT: 202
HOMETOWN: Bloomington, Minnesota
RANKING: 57TH North American Skater
Ryan is the biggest of a quartet of D-men coming from the US Development Program who are expected to go in the high in the draft. Collins made massive strides this season with one scout saying that from the beginning to the end, there might not have been a player whose game improved more than Collins. Being so big so young, Collins shows no awkwardness or lack of body control on the ice. He impressed scouts with how well he moves and the quickness of his feet. More of a stay at home type, he does possess a powerful slap it just lacks accuracy and control. He uses his stick and reach to force opponents wide with the Red Line Report claiming that “getting around him is like circumnavigating the globe.”
NAME: Edgars Kulda
TEAM: Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
HEIGHT: 5’11” WEIGHT: 179
POSITION: Left Wing
HOMETOWN: Riga, Latvia
RANKING: 145TH North American Skater
This is a bit of an odd pick as Edgars is a re-entry player meaning he wasn’t selected in last year’s draft. Given that, it’s fair to wonder what has happened to make him worth drafting now? Well he improved his point total by 43 points along with being named MVP of the Memorial Cup in which he had seven points in five games which went a long way towards the Oil Kings winning the tournament. The black book claims that his shot is among the most dangerous in the draft with a lot of power and that it is also quite accurate. Kulda thinks the game at a high level and is often able to make quick decisions that creates space for his teammates.
NAME: Cody Donaghey
TEAM: Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
HEIGHT: 6’1″ WEIGHT: 182
HOMETOWN: St. John’s Newfoundland
RANKING: 150TH North American Skater
Donaghey is a offensive defenseman that led the Remparts defense in scoring. He has an above -average shot and slick hands which allow him to carry the puck up ice through defenders. Cody’s puck play is more hit than miss but he has shown great patience allowing lanes to open so that he can make a smart accurate pass. Cody is a physical player who battles hard in the corners. Cody is effective on the power play as both a distributor and triggerman with a solid slapshot. He could stand to be even more patient and let the play come to him, however hockeyprospect.com did see improvement over the season. HP scout Jean Francois Dore thinks Donaghey will be a key player on the Memorial Cup hosting Remparts.
NAME: Leon Bristedt
TEAM: Linkoping J20 (Commited to Minnesota)
HEIGHT: 5’8″ WEIGHT: 167
POSITION: Left Wing
HOMETOWN: Stockholm, Sweden
RANKNG: 24th European Skater
When the draft gets into crapshoot territory why not take a flyer on someone? Here’s that guy for me. Bristedt is a another re-entry player and if you’re curious why, look at his height. Bristedt never gives up on a play and is built like a block. He is very creative offensively and has a powerful shot. On defense he gets all over players and that forces turnovers. Leon is heading to Minnesota next season – he even turned down a chance to play on the Linkoping SHL club to keep his eligibility. Here’s a quote from Hockeyprospects founder Mark Edwards “I love this kid. He’s loaded with skill and his compete level is off the charts…he has some Brendan Gallagher in him but his skating is average at best. He has a high motor, and is a never say die-relentless player.”
There you have it folks – me throwing darts at who the CBJ will select. We’re just days away from the draft and with this being a pretty wide open one, most writers I follow expect it to be a wild one with lots of trading of picks by teams to get the player they want.
Stay tuned – check me out on twitter for my real time reactions, and stay tuned for post-draft reactions from the tUB team.