11. Colorado Avalanche: Nathan Beaulieu, D – St. John (OHL) – This toolsy defenseman has been ranked all over the board, from top five all the way to outside the top-thirty. Big but not huge defender stands 6’3” and plays with a definite edge. He will drop the gloves readily if aggravated. He’s a solid point producer, tallying 12-33-45 totals in each of the last two seasons. Beaulieu owns a booming point shot and is a plus passer with outstanding vision. He plays a solid defensive game with physicality but he definitely needs refining. Scored 33 playoff points in two postseasons (and only 40 games) with the Seadogs. Colorado will not pass on him if he falls out of the top-10 (which is by no means assured). A lefty shot, Avs fans will look toward a future Johnson-Beaulieu top pairing.
Projects at Prime as: 15-30-45 (Best-Case 20-35-55) (Worst-Case 10-20-30)
Playstyle Compares to: Dustin Byfuglien, Alex Edler, P.K. Subban
ETA: 2 years
Wild Card Selection – Brandon Saad – Avs could go with a power winger with some tremendous offensive upside to fill the hole left by Chris Stewart when he left in the trade that brought Erik Johnson to Colorado.
12. Carolina Hurricanes: Mark McNeill, C – Prince Albert (WHL) – The power center might be one of the most NHL-ready players in the draft. At the combine he was one of the true standouts, at 6’2” and 210 lbs., his great performances in grip strength and push-pull strength only heightened his already high profile going into the draft. He has the physique of a NHL-veteran. His skills are not world-class at this point but he has a plus-shot with a great release, above average passing ability, and good puck handling skills. McNeill possesses plus-speed but his agility and acceleration are only slightly above average. He’s one of the more talented pugilists in this year’s draft but he doesn’t have great technique. Very intense, but prone to being lackadaisical at intervals. Carolina picks him up to add to their already handsome list of skilled young players, and to add some more sandpaper to their franchise.
Projects at Prime as: 27-28-55 (Best-Case 30-35-65) (Worst-Case 15-25-40)
Playstyle Compares to: Milan Lucic with better skating and less size; Andrew Ladd
Wild Card Selection – Oscar Klefbom – Sublimely talented Swedish defender could be groomed to replace the probably-exiting Pitkanen.
13. Calgary Flames: Sven Bartschi, LW – Portland (WHL) – The shifty and talented winger from Switzerland will have a lot of suitors heading into the 2011 NHL draft. In his first season with the Portland Winterhawks, Sven established himself as a premier prospect. With a plus shot (and one of the fastest releases I’ve ever seen), plus passing and vision (in my opinion, vision second only to RNH in this draft class), and above average speed, Bartschi will challenge for a top-10 slot in the upcoming draft. His size might be the only thing holding him back: If he were 6’2 and closer to 200, he’d be a surefire top-five pick. His defensive game is unrefined at this point and while he gets to the dirty areas and shows some grit, he’s not an overtly physical player. The Flames grab Bartschi because he’s got the potential to be the best all-around scorer left on the draft board – and if he bulks up and can handle the men’s game at the NHL level, he’s a safe 25+ goal scorer with great hockey sense.
Projects at Prime as: 25-30-55 (Best Case 35-40-75) (Worst Case 15-30-45)
Playstyle Compares to: Mike Cammalleri, Martin Havlat
Wild Card Selection – Matt Puempel – Puempel has the chops to be just as good as Bartschi if not better as a pure-scorer. I could easily see a team like the Flames sold on Puempel’s tremendous upside.
14. Dallas Stars: Mark Scheifele, C – Barrie (OHL) – The Kingston, Ont. native has the potential to be a first-line playmaking center. His offensive acumen is quite excellent, and he projects to be one of the least risky players in the 2011 draft. He’s got extremely solid vision, and always seems to find the open man. He’s the type of guy who makes his linemates better through his skating, dexterous puck handling and crisp setup passes. Scheifele is a tall young man (at 6’3”) but he needs to add pounds to his frame and strength if he wants to become the power-forward/playmaker hybrid like Joe Thornton. His shot is mediocre and he’s just an above average skater. If the Stars indeed lose Brad Richards to free agency (and it appears all but sure they will) then Scheifele would be an adequate replacement in their system.
Projects at Prime as: 15-45-60 (Best Case 25-50-75) (Worst Case 10-40-50)
Playstyle Compares to: Joe Thornton-lite, David Krejci with size
Wild Card Selection – Boone Jenner – The not especially talented but profoundly hardworking two way player who has a nose for the net and might be one of those “glue” guys who can be a clutch leader for a team. It’s doubtful that he could ever be a first-line player, but he’ll be in the NHL before long and he’s a guy who will help from day one.
15. New York Rangers: Tomas Jurco, RW – St. John (QMJHL) – The wizard of Station Street, Tomas Jurco is a magician with the puck. His deking and dangling has made him a Youtube sensation within and without the hockey community. He’s got the size (6’2”, 195 lbs.) and skating ability to match his amazing skills with the puck. The only problem is putting everything together on a consistent basis. He’s prone to streaky play and disappearing for shifts at a time. There’s no doubt he’s not a finished product, but the allure of his massive talent is enough to trigger some team in the teens to take a flyer on him. The Rangers are a team overflowing with forwards with grit, but only a few real toolsy players. If Jurco pans out, he could be even more than an excellent dangler – he could put butts in the seats.
Projects at Prime as: 30-20-50 (Best-Case 45-30-75) (Worst-case 20-15-35)
Playtyle Compares to: Alex Kovalev, Rob Schremp (but a better goal scorer)
Wild Card Selection –Vladimir Namestnikov– Excellent playmaking Russian center with intangibles out the wazoo who needs to gain some mass to be able to compete at the NHL level but is definitely a guy on everyone’s radar from 15-30.
16. Buffalo Sabres: Oscar Klefbom, D – Farjestads (SEL) – Anyone looking to pick up Klefbom in the early second round (as a B’s fan you can probably hear the sound of my weeping from across the continent) has missed the boat. Klefbom is going to go in the first-round unless something truly unexpected happens. As a solid skater and physical defender with size (6’3”, 200+ lbs.) he will not struggle to make the NHL. The big question is his upside, which some scouts see as mediocre, while others are optimistic. Bill Ladd of Bruins 2011 Draft Watch (B2011DW) in ranking Klefbom the #14 overall prospect: “He has NHL star written all over him, but even if he doesn’t reach his impressive possible ceiling, we see Klefbom as a middle-pairing guy and PP specialist at the absolute worst. He’s only scratching the surface of what he could become.” If his powerful shot’s accuracy is improved and his puck movement skills increase, he’s going to be a dynamic top-pairing defenseman. The Sabres envision a dominating top pairing of Meyers and Klefbom anchoring their defense for years to come and snatch up this talented Swedish youngster.
Projects at Prime as: 15-35-50 (Best-Case 25-35-60) (Worst Case 15-30-40)
Playstyle Compares to: Marc Staal, Mike Green (but more physical), Shea Weber-Lite
Wild Card Selection –Jamie Oleksiak – Just imagining the towering Oleksiak and Meyers defending Miller for the next decade is enough to make any Sabres fan drool. Over thirteen feet of D-man between them would make passing within their lengthy wingspans a nearly impossible task.
17. Montreal Canadiens: Brandon Saad, LW – Saginaw (OHL) – Montreal uses their pick to add size and power to their admittedly small forward corps. While Saad started the year as an early candidate for a top-five pick, his lack of progress has contributed towards his stock dropping significantly… some have suggested he may not even be selected in the first round. While I agree the luster has worn off and he’s been passed by other power forwards (McNeill, Zibanejad and Landeskog) he still possesses the skillset and physical traits to be a top-line power forward in the NHL. He’s got great north-south speed for a player his size and excellent hands. While not possessing as chiseled a frame as McNeill, he is very strong and uses that strength effectively to shield the puck with the best of them. His shot is very close to the tops in this draft class, and is very heavy. He could be a bit of a project, and his work ethic needs improving, but he’s a relatively safe bet to make it to the Bigs, and if Montreal takes him, it could really pay off big for Les Habitants.
Projects at Prime as: 25-30-55 (Best-Case 35-40-75) (Worst-Case 20-20-40)
Playstyle Compares to: Nathan Horton (albeit less skilled and more north-south); Faster Eric Cole
Wild Card Selection – J.T. Miller – Patrick Kearns of the Hockey Writers suggested that American JT could by Ryan Kesler-lite—exactly the type of player that would give the Canadiens an added gritty, powerful dimension.
18. Chicago Blackhawks: Duncan Siemens, D – Saskatoon (WHL) – The big and strong young d-man would be an excellent pick for the Blackhawks who already own the rights to several big and mobile defenders. Siemens is a guy with minimal risk because of his size and excellent skating ability, but also possesses decent offensive upside and has better-than-adequate puck-moving skills. He’s not expected to be a dynamic player, but has great intangibles and will very likely wear and additional “A” or “C” on his jersey at some point in his NHL career. However, scouts have pointed out that he’s not a guy with big upside and his point totals may be misleading. Additionally, despite his penchant for dropping the gloves, he’s not an overtly dominating pugilist. Any team that selects Siemens after the top 15 is getting good value and teams picking after 25 who have a shot at him should not think twice about snatching him up.
Projects at Prime as: 10-20-30 (Best-Case 15-25-40) (Worst-Case 5-15-20)
Playstyle Compares to: A mobile and more talented Johnny Boychuk
Wild Card Selection – Jamie Oleksiak – The bigger mobile defensive d-man from the college ranks might be a more tempting prospect given the similarities to Siemens combined with the greater size.
19. Edmonton Oilers: Jamie Oleksiak, D – Northeastern U. (NCAA) – Standing 6’7” and weighing in at a massive 244 lbs., the Husky Huskie will be a hot commodity on draft day. In addition to his size, Jamie has good skating ability and a very heavy shot. His awareness in the defensive end is good, but like nearly all young defenders he could benefit from some significant coaching. He will need to be more patient with the puck and learn to make some better decisions in the offensive end, but its’ easy to see why teams want this guy. The Oilers gladly pick him up at nineteen, especially if they took a center at #1.
Projects at Prime as: 10-20-30 (Best-Case 20-25-45) (Worst-Case 10-10-20)
Playstyle Compares to: Zdeno Chara-lite; Tyler Myers
Wild Card Selection – Alexander Khokhlachev – The Oilers would do well to consider the supremely talented Russian center with their nineteenth selection if they fail to take a center first overall. Khoklachev has some of the highest offensive acumen/skill combination in this draft class, and should he put it all together – he’d be one heck of a player.
20. Phoenix Coyotes: Alex Khokhlachev, C – Windsor (OHL) – The speedy Russian import wowed OHL fans with an exceptional rookie year in which he tallied 76 points and consistently wowed us with his high-end puck skills. His diminutive size might be the only thing holding him back from greatness. As Andrew Weiss of the Scouting Report stated: “it seems as if the 5’10” forward plays much smaller with the puck on his stick. Khokhlachev was frequently seen not coming out of the corners with the puck and struggling to fight through checks along the wall.” The so-called “Russian Factor” would seem to not apply to Khokhlachev, who spurned a second year in the Russian juniors for a chance to play in the CHL and perhaps earn a spot as a high draft pick this year. In this analyst’s estimation, the rewards outweigh the risks, and Alex should be looking at a top-30 selection this year.
Projects at Prime as: 30-35-65 (Best-Case 35-40-75) (Worst-Case 15-20-35)
Playstyle Compares to: Michael Grabner, Alex Burmistrov
Wild Card Selection – John Gibson – With the departure of Ilya Bryzgalov to Philadelphia/free agency, the Coyotes might try to snag the best netminder in the draft to be their goaltender of the future, and that’s John Gibson of the U.S.
21. Ottawa Senators: Rocco Grimaldi, C – USNDT (USHL) – Perhaps the most all-around skilled player in the 2011 NHL draft comes in a neat little package! All kidding aside, the 5’6” 160 lbs., forward from the U.S. National Development Team might be the next Brian Gionta or Martin St. Louis. With outstanding talent and drive to match. Grimaldi is an explosive skater, extremely shifty in tight places and owns a quick, powerful shot for a young man of his dimensions. He’s a guy with great offensive acumen and who will outwork opponents for the puck. Put it this way – if Rocco was three inches taller and 10-20 pounds heavier, he’d be a no-brainer for a top-10 pick. If he possessed Couturier’s dimensions, you’re probably looking at the consensus #1 overall. That being said, you can’t teach “size” and as a result some team like the Senators will be happy to take a chance and hope the little guy from Auburn Hills, Michigan will play big in the future.
Projects at Prime as: 30-25-55 (Best-Case 45-35-80) (Worst-Case 15-20-35)
Playstyle Compares to: Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri
Wild Card Selection – Jonas Brodin – An intelligent two-way PMD, might be the safest value pick at this point in the draft. Despite having one of the best and most dynamic young offensive defensemen in Erik Karlsson, Brodin might be an appropriate future partner for him with his patience and conservative play.
22. Anaheim Ducks: Boone Jenner, C – Oshawa (OHL) – Driven player without first-round talent, Boone is the type of guy you love having on your team. While it’s a safe bet that he won’t break any records or win any scoring titles, Jenner will break opposing teams’ spirits with his determination and he will win the support and admiration of whoever he plays with. He’s a relatively big customer at 6’3”, 200+ lbs., and he’s strong on the puck, effective at board battles and a decent net-front presence. Jenner’s skating is still an issue (though improved) and he’s no magician with the puck, but he’s relatively low-risk and projects to be a solid 2-way player at the NHL level. Anaheim picks him up, and could see him in the League as soon as next year (though 2012 is more probable).
Projects at Prime as: 20-20-40 (Best-Case 25-25-50) (Worst-Case 15-15-30)
Playstyle Compares to: David Backes, Bigger Patrice Bergeron (with lesser puck skills)
Wild Card Selection – Jonas Brodin – With Scott Niedermayer retired and Lubomir Visnovsky fast approaching his twilight years, the Ducks are in need of an influx of two-way talent on the back end. If Fowler pans out, Brodin and he would make a dynamic powerplay pairing for years to come.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins: Matt Puempel, LW – Peterborough (OHL) – Perhaps the best pure sniper in the draft, possesses some amazing hands and the ability to create his own offense although I believe he’ll be a guy who relies on a quality distributer at the next level to fully effective. He’s capable of gritty play although he doesn’t always show it. He has decent pugilistic ability though he only dropped the gloves twice in two seasons. Injuries prematurely ended the 2010 OHL rookie of the year’s campaign. He didn’t improve as significantly as originally hoped after his promising 09-10 season, and his draft stock has suffered as a result. However, with his plus-plus shot, creativity and nose for the net, Puempel is a tremendous value pick anywhere outside the top-15, and at 23, he’s a downright steal. Pittsburgh snatches him up gladly to groom him to be a wingman to one of their elite centers.
Projects at Prime as: 30-25-55 (Best Case 40-30-70) (Worst case 20-20-40)
Style Compares to: Michael Ryder, Patrick Sharp
Wild Card Selection – Ty Rattie – Rattie will be one of the steals of this draft if he goes here or lower. He has great hands, solid vision and an underrated shot. While slightly undersized, Ty’s talent makes him a very hot commodity leading up to draft day.
24. Detroit Red Wings: Jonas Brodin D – Farjestad (SEL) – The yin to his teammate and sometime defensive partner Klefbom’s yang, Brodin is the thinking man’s defensive prospect. He’s got excellent puck skills and displays quite a bit of patience when setting up the break-out. He’s a plus skater with decent size and will be a solid player on the defensive end. He is not very risky, and projects to be a solid two-way player. Undoubtedly, the Wings have scouted Sweden and Brodin well given their track record. Jonas would be an excellent eventual replacement for Rafalski/Lidstrom.
Projects at Prime as: 10-40-50 (Best-Case 15-45-60) (Worst-Case 5-35-40)
Playstyle Compares to: Tobias Enstrom, Ryan Suter(at his best)
Wild Card Selection – Scott Mayfield – Mayfield is a big, talented defenseman whose stunted growth has dropped his once hefty draft stock this year. Perhaps the Wings take a chance on a guy whose upside might equal the best defenders in the draft?
25. Toronto Maple Leafs: Zack Phillips, C – St. John (QMJHL) – Phillips may not be the most talented skater on this list, but his awareness and vision and playmaking ability are right up there with Scheifele near the tops in this draft class. His size is not exceptional (6’1”, 190 lbs.) but Phillips has the offensive acumen to be a top-line player without a doubt. After scoring 38 goals and 95 points in his second full year in the Q, it would seem as though the doors to the first round would throw themselves open to Zack. However, his doubters point to his mediocre physical tools and the fact that he centered one of the most dynamic lines on the best team in the CHL this year as evidence that Phillips is merely a product of his environment. Don’t be fooled – Zack will be a very productive first-or-second line center in the NHL when he makes it, so expect the center-craving franchise from Toronto to make no mistake and pick up this talented pivot from New Brunswick.
Projects at Prime as: 15-45-60 (Best-Case 20-55-75) (Worst-Case 10-35-45)
Playstyle Compares to: Paul Stastny, David Krejci
Wild Card Selection – Vladimir Namestnikov – Vlad had another excellent year with London and has the all the physical attributes (save for size) and drive to be a first-class center at the NHL-level.