You may not agree with the order- I don't either- but get that pen and paper handy. It's time for another mock of a mock draft, Bugg Bytes-style.
16. Tampa Bay- Nikita Filatov, LW
Height/Weight: 5'10, 165
Team: CSKA Moscow, RSL
YTD Stats: 1 GP, 0-0-0, 0 PIM
Stat of the Day: from 1998 to 2001, the Tampa Bay Lightning drafted fifteen players out of Russia. Of that massive experiment, only one played 200+ career games in the NHL: Dmitry Afanasenkov. That maybe explains why the team hasn't selected a Russian any higher than the 7th round since (Denis Kazionov, 2006). However, a little something tells me the Lightning will be quick as... well, Lightning, if Nikita Filatov falls to the middle of the first round. Ranked fifth by the International Scouting Service and top ten by everyone else, Filatov has long been a name to watch in Russian hockey thanks to the best hands this side of Ilya Kovalchuk. With the creativity, patience and hand-eye coordination only the truly elite possess, the diminutive winger is already a YouTube star. However, if the RSL rookie goals record couldn't save Alexei Cherepanov from spiralling, the odds Filatov remains untouched are next to none. While much has been made of Tampa's Big Three and their Big Contracts, fortuitous drafting like this will keep the team competitive.
Potential: Superstar LW, 40-50-90
Comparison: Pavel Datsyuk
17. Los Angeles- Zach Bogosian, D
Height/Weight: 6'2, 200
Team: Peterborough, OHL
YTD Stats: 13 GP, 3-9-12, -1, 18 PIM
I still remember it clear as day. It was June 23rd, and there I was at Nationwide Arena, basking in the glory of predicting the first two picks of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. Then Wayne Gretzky stepped up and grabbed Kyle Turris, when I thought (foolishly) they'd look elsewhere. Still, two for three wasn't bad. Surely the LA Kings wouldn't do anything crazazy. Well, the rest is history. You think the fans were shocked? Try the NHL execs I talked to. Anyways, here's betting that the Kings stick to grabbing criminally underrated players instead of shocking everyone's pants off. OHL standout Zach Bogosian is one such underrated player. A July birthdate and thus a younger member of the '08 draft class, Bogosian has nevertheless earned himself top billing with a near-PPG performance as a major junior sophomore. In fact, the New York native has been so good, he has many points this year as Thomas Hickey, LA's aforementioned shocker at fourth overall. The Kings have shown a clear preference for highly intelligent players who can go both ways, and Bogosian fits that profile. Clearly an outstanding offensive defenseman, the 18 year-old nevertheless does things away from the puck many vets don't have down.
Potential: Top-three defenseman, 5-35-40
Comparison: Kim Johnsson
18. Boston- Tyler Myers, D
Height/Weight: 6'6, 195
Team: Kelowna Rockets, WHL
YTD Stats: 14 GP, 0-1-1, -7, 25 PIM
Bobby Orr hasn't been a Bruin longer than I've been alive, but he's still having an effect on the organization. Perhaps in the hopes of finding the next #4, the Boston Bruins draft blueliners more than any other position- and any other team. Since 1998, the Bs have used a league-leading eight first rounders on defensemen. Relatively toned-down in this regard since 2002, Boston went back to the backend in '07, drafting rearguards with four straight picks (35, 130, 159, 169). With that in mind, would it be any wonder to see the Bruins fall head over heels for 6'7 monster Tyler Myers? Surprisingly mobile for his size, the DeWinton, Alberta (I'm from Alberta and even I've never heard of it) native has come such a long way on more just height. However, he's got a long way to go yet. With the toolkit to be a truly special player, Myers would have the perfect mentor in Zdeno Chara.
Potential: Top-four shutdown blueliner, 5-20-25
Comparison: Take a wild guess
19. Dallas- Cody Hodgson, C
Height/Weight: 6'0, 185
Team: Brampton Battalion, OHL
YTD Stats: 16 GP, 9-14-23, 12 PIM
Hint: If you're going to focus on one country to produce all your players, you should maybe pick a country that produces more than one type of player. For some reason or another, Finland has, for the longest time, been a source of safe defensive players. Goalies, blueliners, shutdown forwards... you name the safe job, a Finn can probably do it. All that is well and good, except when you go about trying to build an offensive attack. Suddenly, you find yourself gambling on Janos Vas and Raymond Sawada, to say nothing of Marius Holtet and Vojtech Polak. However, since realizing cryogenic technology hadn't advanced far enough to allow them to play Mike Modano for 100 years, the Stars have done a complete 360. Cody Hodgson would put an exclamation mark on such a rebuilding effort. A dynamic forward with all manner of high-end abilities, the still 17 year-old
sits tied for tenth in the OHL in points with 23. Blessed with high-end vision, hands and speed, Hodgson is a future star perfectly suited for the Stars.
Potential: #1 C, 30-55-85
Comparison: Doug Gilmour
20. St. Louis- David Toews, C
Height/Weight: 5'10, 180
Team: Shattuck-St. Mary's, USHS
YTD Stats: 18 GP, 21-24-45, 10 PIM
It's rare that one's bloodlines makes scouts more cautious. But that's been exactly the case with David Toews, whose older brother scored a couple goals for Team Canada at some point. Smaller, slower, less skilled, less intelligent... you name it, it wasn't as good as Jonathan. The problem? Not only had very few actually seen him play, but as a July-born player, the fact David managed to even hold his head above water with players six months older should have counted for something. Nevertheless, once yours truly actually saw him drag Team Manitoba along at the Canada Winter Games, he became an instant favorite. A visible leader and presence on the ice, David may not have the skillset of his brother, but his vision and shot are right on par. Especially the shot. So what's he been up to lately? Well, try 45 points in 18 games and a renewed respect for a player that has 'come out of nowhere'. The Blues love character, and probably would have drafted him in the second round or later and looked like geniuses anyway. After his breakout, though, stealing him will no longer be possible. With that said, David is a first-round talent. His exceptional two-way game is the missing ingredient a lot of teams pay a first round pick to acquire at the deadline.
Potential: Elite #3 C, 25-35-60
Comparison: Butch Goring
21. Toronto- Chris Doyle, C
Height/Weight: 6'0, 195
Team: Prince Edward Island, QMJHL
YTD Stats: 19 GP, 12-10-22, 28 PIM
Oh, horror of horrors: Toronto native Andrew Cogliano was skipped by the Maple Leafs at the '05 draft table, and has scored more points as a 20 year-old NHL rook than Darcy Tucker and Bryan McCabe. While Chris Doyle may not be a native of the Center of the Universe, he may allow the Leafs faithful to forget about 'Cogs'. A speedster on the same level as some of the best world- yes, even Cogliano- Doyle does something even better: score. 7th in the QMJHL in goals with 12, the fair-sized pivot is an expert at using his speed to drive defenders wide. From there, his great hands and massive slapshot take over. With Mats Sundin approaching retirement, Doyle is the perfect player to compliment crafty forward Jiri Tlusty.
Potential: #1 C, 40-40-80
Comparison: Mike Gartner
22. Calgary- Jordan Eberle, C
Height/Weight: 5'11, 170
Team: Regina Pats, WHL
YTD Stats: 17 GP, 16-10-26, 0 PIM
The Calgary Flames have unusual philosophy. Despite priding themselves in having some of the toughest good 'ole Canadian boys in the league, smallish forwards Kristian Huselius, Alex Tanguay, Matt Lombardi and Daymond Langkow make up the attack. So the Flames would likely be without haste if good 'ole Canadian boy smallish forward Jordan Eberle dropped into the lower third of the top thirty. The WHL's leading goal-getter with a terrific 16 in 17 games, Eberle's determination, speed and shot arsenal make him a wicked threat. If the Flames can find a playmaker for him, the team's goal worries would be a non-issue.
Potential: First-line winger, 35-40-75
Comparison: Justin Williams
23. Columbus- Yann Sauve, D
Height/Weight: 6'3, 212
Team: Saint John, QMJHL
YTD Stats: 16 GP, 1-5-6, 14 PIM
Why mess with a good thing? The Columbus Blue Jackets are on a tear thanks to a lockdown trap system, one that takes maximum advantage of a ragtag group of blueliners that can all do one thing well: block shots. Even Kris Russell has gotten in on the act. As long as it keeps working, expect rookie GM Scott Howson to provide head coach Ken Hitchcock with the same type of player. At the top of one such list for the '08 Draft would be blueline stalwart Yann Sauve. A true man among boys, Sauve's pro-level strength, endurance and positioning have drawn rave reviews. Still to come is an offensive game, but that would be the quintessential gravy.
Potential: #2 Shutdown D, 5-20-25
Comparison: Kyle McLaren
24. Colorado- Eric Mestery, D
Height/Weight: 6'5, 195
Team: Tri-City Americans, WHL
YTD Stats: 17 GP, 0-5-5, 20 PIM
Sometimes in this business, you just have a really good feeling about a team's draft list. Eric Mestery is one such player that screams perfect fit. A towering 6'5, Mestery has, pardon the pun, flown under the radar. That won't happen for long. On a team that boasts an astonishing seventeen 2008-eligible players- including all but two defensemen and both goalies- scouts will be all over Tri-City. Still, as a large player with too much safe in his game and very little risk, a fall is possible. And that'd be a mistake. Mestery's hockey IQ is so good that once he grows into his massive frame, not only will be an NHLer relatively quickly- but he just may have some offense in those giant hands.
Potential: Top-four defenseman, 10-25-35
Comparison: Marek Malik
25. Montreal- Kelsey Tessier, C
Height/Weight: 5'9, 172
Team: Quebec Remparts, QMJHL
YTD Stats: 19 GP, 12-10-22, 28 PIM
Could this finally be the year when the Canadiens satisfy the Quebecois clamoring for a French-Canadian draft pick? If Kelsey Tessier available here, then yes. Hyped since the age of 14- when he scored over 100 points for Shattuck-St. Mary's- Tessier had something of a disappointing 2006-07 season... if one can call not reaching Crosby-esqe hype disappointing. In 63 games, the Q rook scored a respectable 50 points. Overshadowed by Angelo Esposito, Tessier needed to do something outstanding to grab the spotlight back. And he has. After dominating the 2007 Canada Games with 27 points in just six games, the Fredericton native has amassed 20 points in 18 games, and had more points than the aforementioned Esposito until this weekend. An exhilarating talent with baby-soft hands, creativity and vision, Tessier will fall due to his size and the sheer prevalence of big, high-reward blueliners ahead of him.
Potential: #1 C, 30-65-95
Comparison: Mike Cammalleri
26. Philadelphia- Vyacheslav Voynov, D
Height/Weight: 5'11, 180
Team: Traktor Chelyabinsk, RSL
YTD Stats: 14 GP, 0-0-0, 8 PIM
Potential: PP QB, 15-30-45
Comparison: Nikolai Sologubov
27. Minnesota- Kirill Petrov, C
Height/Weight: 6'3, 198
Team: Ak Bars Kazan, RSL
YTD Stats: 20 GP, 0-3-3, 16 PIM
By now, if Notch's inbox isn't full of some nasty stuff- both text and photo- I will be disappointed. Let me say this: I think Petrov will go higher than this, but maybe not much more so. For the uninitiated, the big pivot has been the prime candidate in the "America's Next Ovechkin" search. Big- check. Fast- check. Good hands- check. The problem? He's got one move. Okay, maybe two. It's a serious problem that I've come to notice in my observations of an otherwise outstanding prospect. Due to hard forechecking, the brugeoning power forward creates myriad chances. But poor passing ability and creativity mean those chances disappear either through a fumbled pass, a low-percentage shot or an easily-predicted move. Admiteddly, Phil Kessel faced similar questions from myself in his draft year, and I'd say he's done okay for himself. If the transfer agreement weren't an issue, Petrov would likely be a top twelve pick. Whether he'll prove that he deserves such billing is yet to be seen.
Potential: Top-line power forward, 35-40-75, 120 PIM
Comparison: Raffi Torres
28. Carolina- Jared Staal, RW
Height/Weight: 6'2, 185
Team: Sudbury Wolves, OHL
YTD Stats: 17 GP, 8-7-15, 13 PIM
And so it begins. Let me get it out of the way now so I don't harp on it for the next year like everyone else will: Jared Staal blah blah Carolina blah blah Eric Staal. A PPG player with Sudbury a year after a disastrious season from an offensive standpoint, the youngest Staal has almost three times as many goals now as he did points all of 2006-07. A big, powerful winger with great puck protection skills, fears were abound that he wasn't going to be much more than a checking winger. That's still a possibility, but the Canes may not mind all that much; in addition to being the only team with two Staals, they get the perfect winger to compliment Brandon Sutter. The spawn of the two largest hockey families on the same team? It could happen.
Potential: Top-six power winger, 30-35-65
Comparison: Dustin Penner
29. Detroit- Mikkel Boedker, LW
Height/Weight: 5'11, 201
Team: Kitchener Rangers, OHL
YTD Stats: 16 GP, 7-13-20, 0 PIM
Much is made about how awesome Detroit's drafting is. And it truly is a thing of beauty. But it's not hard to look good when teams leave a lot of very good talent on the table for very good reasons, allowing the Wings to come along and scoop it up. Jakub Kindl, anyone? Oh well. The 2008 Draft is so deep that a potential star is going to fall into Detroit's lap regardless. The odds are low, but it just may be Mikkel Boedker. Seeking to become the best-ever Dane to play ice hockey, the solidly-built winger has come to North America to prove his skills- and it's worked. Fifth on the upstart Rangers in points and third in assists, the dazzling winger has had no trouble adapting to North America. A keen passer who nevertheless has the quick shot to score when left open, Boedker's game is to enter the zone with speed, dangle a defender onto his rear, and wait for the lane to open up. That lane could very well be onto the stick of Datsyuk or Zetterberg.
Potential: Star winger, 25-55-80
Comparison: Ales Hemsky
30. Ottawa- Philip Larsen, D
Height/Weight: 5'11, 172
Team: Frolunda Indians, SEL
YTD Stats: 11 GP, 0-0-0, 2 PIM
It's fitting that this mock of a mock draft finishes with a defenseman. One of the D-heaviest drafts of all-time, it would only make sense for the 30th team to close it out with such a selection. And for one franchise in particular, it makes Sens(e) (Boo!). While not flashy like many of the players left on the board at this point, fans at the Corel Centre should like this pick anyway. Another player of Danish descent who forged a path through Sweden, 17 year-old Philip Larsen has been a quiet revelation in a league full of men. An error-free defender who excels at angling out forechecker, Larsen's only area of major improvement is in his muscle mass.
Potential: Top-four shutdown defender, 5-15-20
Comparison: Josh Gorges