Dobber's out of town for a week, and he left El Buggo in charge. So what's my first act of mischief? Why, an obscenely early 2008 mock draft using this week's standings, of course! Usual Thursday contributor Jim Gunther is on the IR, so enjoy a weekday edition of Bugg Bytes.
As mentioned, it's stupidly early- but also stupidly fun, the kind of thing to get one through a drowsy Thursday afternoon. Using Monday's standings, here's an entertaining yet edumucational look at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, mock-draft style.
1. Atlanta- Drew Doughty, D
Height/Weight: 6'0, 213
Team: Guelph Storm, OHL
YTD Stats: 15 GP, 4-17-21, 24 PIM
With the first overall pick, the Thrashers have the option of filling any number of holes- and that's the problem. The team needs about four first rounders to adequately patch a pipeline decimated by several ill-advised deadline deals. But alas, they only have one.Waddell and Co. could give Kovalchuk and Hossa some more support up front in the form of Mike Modano clone Steve Stamkos , but every time the Thrashers have had the option to grab a horse of a rearguard with monster potential in the first round, they've done it. So long as they don't trade him for AlexeiZhitnik, workhorse defenseman Drew Doughty may very well be the franchise defender the franchise so desperately needs.
Potential: Franchise defenseman, 20-35-55
Comparison: Rob Blake
2. Phoenix- Alex Pietrangelo, D
Height/Weight: 6'4, 210
Team: Niagara Ice Dogs, OHL
YTD Stats: 16 GP, 6-11-17, 29 PIM, +9
Another team with a tough choice to make, the Coyotes need an elite player at two positions where elite players don't come along often. They could finally end the three (four?) ring circus that is Phoenix's goal, or they could opt for Alex 'Lidstrom-Lite' Pietrangelo. If they have the choice, here's betting the Desert Dogs go for the latter in a league ruled by a fast transition game.
Potential: Franchise defenseman, 15-50-65
Comparison: Nick Lidstrom
3. New Jersey- Steve Stamkos, C
Height/Weight: 6'1, 180
Team: Sarnia Sting, OHL
YTD Stats: 16 GP, 13-11-24
A team with Martin Brodeur finishing in the cellar? That'd be like Martin Brodeur getting with his sister-in-la... never mind. Allow Devils fans to dream about drafting Stamkos, a high-octane sniper with the best shot arsenal since Brett Hull. Jersey and Stamkos are an even better fit than they first appear; besides being able to ice a killer top line of Elias-Stamkos-Gionta, it's almost gotten boring watching Stamkos wire one-timer after one-timer past bewildered goaltenders... while it's definitely gotten boring watching the Devils.
Potential: Top-line forward, elite sniper; 50-50-100
Comparison: Mike Modano
4. New York Rangers- Joe Colborne, C
Height/Weight: 6'4, 195
Team: Camrose Kodiaks, AJHL
YTD Stats: 18 GP, 15-21-36, 11 PIM, +23
A long time ago, in a land far away, a 17 year-old phenom playing in a provincial Junior A league began putting up mad points. But, alas, he still came in towards the bottom of the first round- if at all- on many early rankings. Nine months later, that same player was a top five draft choice. With that little story in mind, remember the name Joe Colborne . Playing out of the Alberta Junior Hockey League in order to preserve his NCAA eligibility, the 6'4 forward popped home 20 goals and 48 points in 2006/07 as a 16 year-old rook. One year later, and Colborne may very well hit that total before Christmas. The AJHL's points leader with a mind-boggling 36 points in 18 games, Colborne's strength is his extraordinary touch around the net. The Rangers, for there part, have largely avoided forwards in the first round despite an aging offensive core. That needs to change, and Colborne is the right man for the job. Unlike their previous attempt at acquiring a big pivot who can dominate in the slot, however, they won't need to trade Brad Park and Jean Ratelle for him.
Potential: #1 Power Center, 40-45-85
Comparison: Phil Esposito
5. Washington- Mike Del Zotto, D
Height/Weight: 6'0, 190
Team: Oshawa Generals, OHL
YTD Stats: 14 GP, 1-6-7, 20 PIM, +2
Semen Varlamov's painfully televised evisceration would have probably hurt more if he weren't playing for them damn pinkos. Overrated at one point, dare I sayVarlamov is underrated now? Toss in Czech goaltending phenom Michal Neuvirth and the Caps can safely ignore the goaltending position with a top-five pick in '08. Besides, on a team boasting Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Nick Backstrom, Francois Bouchard and Eric Fehr, it's simply not right that Washington's best PP quarterback is Olaf Kolzig. Michael Del Zotto is the clear answer here. Just shy of 60 points as an OHL rookie defenseman in 2006-07, the offensive dynamo has amassed 'only' seven points in fourteen games to start this year. Here's betting Del Zotto picks that up, and here's betting the Capitals draft him.
Potential: Elite PP QB, top-pairing defenseman, 15-40-55
Comparison: Wade Redden
6. Nashville- Kevin Poulin, G
Height/Weight: 6'1, 202
Team: Victoriaville Tigres, QMJHL
YTD Stats: 11 GP, 3.86 GAA, 0.891 Sv%
"In Mason We Trust". LOL. Let the Nashville/Hamilton/KC Predators shock and awe the NHL by not drafting a defenseman with their first rounder. They may also make history... as the first team to draft a goalie with a GAA of 4 over higher in the top 30. But if it weren't for 18 year-old Kevin Poulin's heroics, the Victoriaville Tigres would look less like the Belarus National Team and more like the Japanese Selects. Poulin is also a notable prospect for the fact he could get to the NHL quickly, as the Preds will want to get him the HELL out of Victoriaville. A franchise goaltender in the making, Poulin will shine behind a D of Suter, Weber, Hamhuis and 800 others.
Potential: Franchise goaltender, 40+ wins.
Comparison: Olaf Kolzig
7. Anaheim (from Edmonton)- Luke Schenn, D
Height/Weight: 6'3, 209
Team: Kelowna Rockets, WHL
YTD Stats: 13 GP, 1-3-4, 36 PIM, +7
Does Brian Burke really have everyone fooled? Tsk tsk. Okay, sure, his Stanley Cup Champion Ducks were lead by 5'10 Andy McDonald in Game 7 and poetry-on-skates defenseman Scott Niedermayer won the Conn Smythe. But come on! The man will not use his '08 first rounder on a small player. But maybe Luke Schenn will finally make him shut up about Dustin Penner. A commanding 6'3 and 209 pounds at age 18, the Kelowna Rockets stalwart may still have an inch or three left in him. Besides dwarfing everybody on the ice and winning his fair share of fights, Schenn can outskate and outpass peers both big and small. That puddle you see forming is Burke's spit... I hope.
Potential: Elite top-pairing shutdown defenseman with long-shot offensive potential.
Comparison: Pronger without the points.
8. Nashville (from Florida)- Zach Boychuk, C
Height/Weight: 5'9, 176
Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes
YTD Stats: 18 GP, 8-11-19, 20 PIM
Way back in June, there was palpable debate among WHL followers: would 91-point wunderkind Zach Hamill get his fair shake at the draft table, or fall out of sight? As it turned out, the Boston Bruins scooped up thepuckhandling wizard 8th overall. Such a fate is plausible for 5'9 pivot Zach Boychuk. The Dub's leading scorer at the tender age of 17, someone will profit from a truly bizarre aversion to small players that continues to persist at the NHL level. ThePreds, for their part, will take Boychuk and run-and-gun. He's simply the type of shifty forward the team's offense is built on.
Potential: #1 center, 25-60-85
Comparison: Mike Ribeiro
9. Edmonton (from Anaheim)- Colten Teubert, D
Height/Weight: 6'4, 181
Team: Regina Pats, WHL
YTD Stats: 15 GP, 2-3-5, 49 PIM, -2
Oh! Doom and gloom!11!11 While the Oilers would still drop in the draft order as a result of the coincidental switch of first rounders they performed with Anaheim in thePronger and Penner transactions, it's not nearly as bad as what most predicted. To wit: one month ago, 90% of the NHL had the engraving tools out for the Ducks- and the shovel out for the Oilers. While this could very well change even next month, Oilers fans would be simply ecstatic with anything approaching this outcome. And what of the actual player they could draft? They just might like that, too. A Robyn Regehr clone at 6'4, 181, Colten Teubert is the type of stay-at-home beast Edmonton needs to offset the likes of Joni Pitkanen and Sheldon Souray.
Potential: #1 defensive stalwart; may never hit 25 points.
Comparison: Bigger Anton Volchenkov
10. Vancouver- Mikhail Stefanovich, RW
Height/Weight: 6'2, 202
Team: Quebec Remparts, QMJHL
YTD Stats: 15 GP, 5-10-15, 2 PIM
In two years, the Vancouver Canucks have used nine of eleven draft picks on forwards- good forwards. The era of "Sedin-Sedin-Luongo" jokes is about to come to an end. Belarussian star Mikhail Stefanovich would put the final nail in that particular comedic coffin. A sensational stickhandler and shooter, the 17 year-old has made a seamless transition to the North American game. In 15 games, Stefanovich's 15 points are more than much-maligned first round pick Angelo Esposito's. The Quebec Remparts will take it- and so will the Nucks. Stefanovich's finishing ability is perfectly suited to the open spot on the right of Daniel and Henrik.
Potential: Star winger, 35-50-85
Comparison: Marian Hossa
11. Chicago- Robert Mayer, G
Height/Weight: 6'1, 190
Team: Saint John Sea Dogs
YTD Stats: 8 GP, 2.51 GAA, 0.907 SV%
Sometimes the hardest draft picks are the ones you don't need to make. Such is life for the Chicago Blackhawks. Blessed with at least one top-end prospect at every position, the Hawks had the room to gamble at the '07 Draft, and can afford to do the same in Ottawa this summer. Fast fact: Chicago has not selected a goaltender above the third round for three straight years, and has not drafted one in the first round since 2001. With that in mind, it's about damn time. Swiss native Robert Mayer has been so deadly as aQMJHL rookie in 2007-08 that he's endangering his home country's status of neutrality. Top ten in the league in both GAA and Sv% and tied for second in shutouts, Mayer would have been a top-ten pick last season had he been eligible.
Potential: Starting goaltender
Comparison: Tim Thomas
12. Buffalo- Colin Wilson, C
Height/Weight: 6'1, 215
Team: Boston University Terriers
YTD Stats: 5 GP, 0-3-3, 4 PIM
The NCAA has been the Kyle Turris Show, and it's tough not to get caught up in the crazy. But if one were to step back, they'd see the 2008 NCAA class has something to offer. Chief among them is Boston Terriers star Colin Wilson. A consensus top ten pick by other scouting services, Wilson nevertheless stands a good chance of falling out of that illustrious group. But the odds thePPG college rookie drops any further are remote. A highly intelligent pivot with a quick release and great vision, Wilson has all the assets to replace ChrisDrury in Sabreville.
Potential: #1B Center, 30-35-65
Comparison: Chris Drury
13. NY Islanders- Kyle Beach, C
Height/Weight: 6'3, 203
Team: Everett Silvetips
YTD Stats: 14 GP, 9-13-22, 66 PIM
Even if the Isles didn't love big men with tantalizing skill, it'd be a crime against humanity for them to allow Kyle Beach to drop to the Sharks or Pens. However, from the way the Fishsticks handled Todd Bertuzzi (re: traded), Zdeno Chara (re: traded), Tim Connolly and Taylor Pyatt (re: traded and re: traded), San Jose may acquire him anyway. The meanest, most skilled power forward prospect since Eric Lindros, the Everett Silvertips stud rang up 196 PIM and almost 1 PPG last season as a Dub rookie. Already this young season, the 6'3 forward has 66 PIM and 22 points in just fourteen games. Broad Street Bullies? Try Okposo-Beach-Hunter, the Long Island Lunatics.
Potential: #1 Center, 35-45-80, 200+ PIM
Comparison: Rick Tocchet
14. San Jose- Johan Motin, D
Height/Weight: 6'2, 190
Team: Färjestads BK, SEL
YTD Stats: 13 GP, 0-1-1, 4 PIM, -7
Call it their Sixth Sense- the San Jose Sharks see future stars, despite their initial pedigrees. The geniuses that brought you Joe Pavelski, ME Vlasic, Matt Carle and Evgeni Nabokov likely have one name on their list for '08: severely underrated Swedish rearguard Johan Motin. Solidly built at 6'2, 200 lbs, the 18 year-old SEL rookie has largely escaped notice thanks to a lack of razzle-dazzle. A future anchor for whatever team drafts him, Motin may not produce a lot of offense, but he'll prevent a lot of it from happening. The Sharks have a couple forward options still on the board here, but history shows they'll take a player they like, regardless of organizational needs. Cases-in-point: in 2005, San Jose skipped out on Paul Stastny for Marc Vlasic; In 2006, they went for Ty Wishart instead of Patrik Berglund, Trevor Lewis or Claude Giroux. And who can blame them? With a top six of Cheechoo, Thornton, Marleau, Pavelski, Michalek and Setoguchi, the team can afford such a pick.
Potential: Top-pairing stay-at-home defenseman, 35 points.
Comparison: Chris Phillips
15. Pittsburgh- Jimmy Hayes, RW
Height/Weight: 6'3, 203
Team: USNTDP U18
YTD Stats: 5 GP, 0-1-1
Wahhhhh! New rule: if the Pittsburgh Penguins draft Jimmy Hayes, they aren't allowed to draft anybody for like a decade. That's looking more and more like a possibility if Hayes continues his early struggles. Regardless, it'd be simply redonkulous. A 6'3 power winger with feet and hands like a 5'10 pivot, Hayes was a potential 35-goal player before Sidney Crosby entered the picture. However, if the big man ends up on #87's wing, there's no telling what dastardly deeds a line of Malkin-Crosby-Hayes could perform. Excuse me will I change my pants.
Potential: Top-line winger, 40-40-80
Comparison: John LeClair
Coming Saturday: Part II of the 2008 Mock. Oh, and if you missed it, there's a new entry in my blog that deals with the John Tavares situation. Check it out in the forum.