FanPost

Looking Ahead: The 2011 NHL Draft

As the playoffs wind down and we edge closer and closer to crowning another Stanley Cup champion, the NHL draft is right around the corner. I figured this year I would take the initiative and cover some of the NHL draft. After the jump, I give you the lowdown on the upcoming draft.

This years draft will take place from June 24-25 at the Xcel Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, which will be the first time Minnesota has hosted the draft since the North Stars hosted the 1989 draft. 

This is how the top 14 order looks:

1. Edmonton Oilers

2. Colorado Avalanche

3. Florida Panthers

4. New Jersey Devils

5. New York Islanders

6. Ottawa Senators

7. Atlanta Thrashers

8. Columbus Blue Jackets

9. Boston Bruins (from Toronto)

10. Minnesota Wild

11. Colorado Avalanche (from St. Louis)

12. Carolina Hurricanes

13. Calgary Flames

14. Dallas Stars

The order, for those who don't know, is based on regular season point totals and playoff finishes. The 30th place team receives the first overall pick. However, since 1985, when the penguins "supposedly" intentionally lost games in order to secure the first pick to select Mario Lemieux, there has been a draft lottery. The lottery is between the 14 teams that did not make the playoffs and the winner gets to move up four spots. The 30th place team has a 25% chance of winning, with the odds diminishing to .5% for the 16th place team. This year, the New Jersey Devils won the lottery, moving up from the 8th pick to the 4th pick. The rest of the spots are determined by playoff finishes, which I will wait until the playoffs are over to talk about them.

Now for the prospects...

This years debate does not roll off the tongue so easily as last years. Instead of Taylor or Tyler, we have Nugent-Hopkins or Larsson or Landeskog or Couturier. Keep in mind, take the NHL comparisons with a grain of salt. It is just comparing their playing styles, not talent ceiling. Here are some of the top prospects...

Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C: Red Deer (WHL)- Comparable: Joe Sakic, Pavel Datsyuk

Ryannugenthopkinsrebels_medium

Photo courtesy of Canada Hky, via Wikimedia Commons

RNH is probably one of the most talented playmakers to come along in recent years. He has incredible passing abilities and some scouts have been comparing his on-ice vision to that of Wayne Gretzky. His 1-on-1 play is also outstanding and he has a very accurate shot. Also, to go along with his incredible offensive ability, he is also very responsible defensively. To go along with his on-ice abilities, he has very good intangibles. He has a great work ethic and a compete level that is off the charts. Only knock on him is he could stand to bulk up and add more strength To sum up, RNH is a complete player who would look good on any team that drafted him.

Adam Larsson, D: Skelleftea (Swedish Elite League)- Comparable: Victor Hedman, Niklas Lidstrom

Adamlarsson_medium

Photo courtesy of Canada Hky, via Wikimedia Commons


Larsson has been called one of the best skaters in this year's draft with very smooth skating ability and excellent mobility while having a large 6'3" 200lb frame. Thiis shy kid from northern Sweden is very good at distributing and handling the puck and is a great outlet passer. At the point, he is calm and patient, and has a cannon shot. Although he is not known for his physical play, he does not shy away from delivering an occasional big hit. He is very intelligent in his own end and has very good recoverability. The fact he has been playing in Sweden's top league against bigger and stronger competition suggests he could make an immediate impact in the NHL.

Gabriel Landeskog, RW: Kitchener (OHL)- Comparable: Mike Richards, Jarome Iginla

Gabriellandeskogsweden_medium 

Photo courtesy of bridgetds on Flickr, via Wikimedia Commons

The stereotype about European players is that they are soft. Not this one. A power forward by trade from Stockholm, Landeskog is probably the most complete player in this year's draft. One of his best qualities is his natural goal scoring ability, that can not be taught. He has a large frame along with great skating ability, and he plays with a strong physical edge. Although he on-ice qualities are great, his intangibles are off the charts. He is the captain of his team, the Kitchener Rangers, which is unheard of for an import player, showing he is a strong leader. Landeskog has an incredible work ethic and never takes a shift off.

Sean Couturier, C: Drummondville (QMJHL)- Comparable: Jason Arnott, Evgeni Malkin

 Sean-couturier1_medium

Photo courtesy of dansallows.com

The son of former career LA Kings minor-leaguer Sylvain Couturier,  few expect the same career from Sean as his father. He is considered to be the best player to come out of the Q since our own Sid the Kid. Couturier has all the tools that are coveted in the NHL. A playmaker by trade, he is also, like Landeskog, a very complete player. He has size, speed, strength, puck skills, a good shot, soft hands, work ethic, and intangibles. Basically everything an NHL team could want from its #1 center.

All of these guys have a good argument to go number one overall. Which one will go first overall? I will be debuting my first mock draft  (1-10) some time soon.
  

The content expressed in fanposts does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the staff here at Pensburgh.com. FanPosts are opinions expressed by fans of various teams throughout the league but may be more Pittsburgh-centric for obvious reasons.

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