NHL Mock Draft III: Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall Swap Spots in Top Two

NHL Mock Draft III: Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall Swap Spots in Top Two Welcome to the third of five NESN.com 2010 NHL mock drafts leading up to the June 25 NHL draft in Los Angeles.

The big question is still who will be picked first overall, and this year is especially puzzling. The top two prospects — Plymouth Whalers center Tyler Seguin and Windsor Spitfires winger Taylor Hall — are practically even in the minds of NHL teams and draft experts.

There was plenty of speculation — and there promises to be more — that the Bruins and the Oilers may swap picks because the Bruins reportedly have their hearts set on Hall, but so far, all Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli and Oilers GM Steve Tambellini have done is admitted to talking. Both Seguin and Hall (along with other prospects) visited Boston recently, but there is still no clear indication as to who will go first overall.

All of that being said, I flipped Hall and Seguin at the top of this draft, as there were some indications from Edmonton sources this week that the Oilers are leaning slightly more toward the Spitfires sniper and Memorial Cup MVP. There was also some other movement in the top five, as defenseman Erik Gudbranson moved into the third pick, switching spots with Brandon Gormley, who drops down to the sixth slot.

Also of note is that the talented but controversial Russian prospect Kirill Kabonov has fallen out of the first round. The Moncton Wildcats winger, who seemed to regain the favor of media and team brass alike at the combines, was dropped by his agent J.P. Barry this past week, and that will be another knock on his character.

1. Edmonton Oilers
2009-10 record:
27-47-8, 62 points
The pick: Taylor Hall, left wing, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Analysis: The Oilers may be sending smoke screens with word that Hall is their guy in an effort to up the ante in a potential trade with the Bruins, or they simply may want the full package of skill, grit and star power the Spitfires winger will bring to a rebuilding project in Edmonton.

2. Boston Bruins (from Toronto)

2009-10 record: 39-30-13, 91 points
The pick: Tyler Seguin, center, Plymouth Whalers (OHL)
Analysis: If the Oilers are to take Hall, the Bruins will be just fine taking Seguin with this pick. He was tied with Hall for the OHL scoring title and may just be a more well-rounded player, therefore giving the Bruins confidence that he could switch to wing, a position at which the organization has little depth.

3. Florida Panthers
2009-10 record: 32-37-13, 77 points
The pick: Erik Gudbranson, defenseman, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Analysis: Gudbranson’s stock rises as the Panthers not only need a solid puck mover on the blue line but also size and grit. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Gudbranson provides both.

4. Columbus Blue Jackets
2009-10 record: 32-35-15, 79 points
The pick: Cam Fowler, defenseman, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Analysis: The Blue Jackets are reportedly interested in acquiring Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who, according to Toronto GM Brian Burke, is available for a high draft pick or young player that could jump into their lineup in 2010-11. If the Blue Jackets don’t strike a deal for Kaberle, they’ll decide to use this pick on a younger version in Fowler.

5. New York Islanders
2009-10 record: 34-37-11, 79 points
The pick: Brett Connolly, left wing, Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Analysis: Connolly is said by many to have some of the best hands in the draft and is a lethal weapon on the power play. Isles GM Garth Snow wouldn’t mind a future power-play unit with last year’s top overall pick, John Taveres, plus Connolly.

6. Tampa Bay Lightning
2009-10 record: 34-36-12, 80 points
The pick: Brandon Gormley, defenseman, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
Analysis: The Lightning just hired Guy Boucher, the former Hamilton Bulldogs (AHL) bench boss, as their new head coach. Two seasons ago, Boucher was head coach of the Drummondville Voltigeurs, where he and his team faced Gormley and the Moncton Wildcats. New GM Steve Yzerman has made it known he’d like to add another young stud defenseman, and with Boucher’s firsthand knowledge of Gormley, he might just be the pick here.

7. Carolina Hurricanes

2009-10 record: 35-37-10, 80 points
The pick: Ryan Johansen, center, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Analysis: The Hurricanes made it known that if the deal is there, they would move up, but they’re also fine staying at the seventh pick, and the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Johansen is just the guy to accelerate the youth movement. He has shown with his rapid progress at the junior level that he is a quick learner who could reach the NHL faster than some expect.

8. Atlanta Thrashers

2009-10 record: 35-34-13, 83 points
The pick: Jack Campbell, goaltender, USA U-18 (USHL)
Analysis: With Johan Hedberg and Ondrej Pavalec as their current NHL tandem and not much help on the way, the Thrashers may be looking to add a goalie through free agency, but they can also do so through the draft. If Campbell is still here at No. 8, then new GM Rick Dudley may decide to start building for the future from the goal out.

9. Minnesota Wild
2009-10 record: 38-36-8, 84 points
The pick: Mikael Granlund, center, HIFK Finland
Analysis: Reports out of Minnesota are that they are looking to improve via the trade market. Would they be willing to deal this pick? If not, expect them to take this electric playmaker from Finland who had 40 points in 43 games last season.

10. New York Rangers
2009-10 record: 38-33-11, 87 points
The pick: Nino Niederreiter, right wing, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Analysis: The Rangers need to start building toward the future, and Niederreiter, a future power forward, may be just the guy. His name and his play will ignite the Madison Square Garden crowd.

11. Dallas Stars
2009-10 record: 37-31-14, 88 points
The pick: Alexander Burmistrov, center, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Analysis: Out of all the Russian prospects available in the first two rounds, Burmistrov is the safest bet in terms of whether he will remain in North America to play rather than head home to make a career in the tax-free KHL. He has already acclimated himself playing with Barrie in the OHL, and the Stars will factor this in if they can get him at No. 11.

12. Anaheim Ducks

2009-10 record: 39-32-11, 89 points
The pick: Jeffrey Skinner, center, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Analysis: The Ducks could get another pure scorer to go with Bobby Ryan, as Skinner has one of the most lethal shots and hands in the draft.

13. Phoenix Coyotes (from Calgary)

2009-10 record: 50-25-7, 107 points
The pick: Vladimir Tarasenko, right wing, Novisibirsk, Russia
Analysis: There are plenty of question marks on Tarasenko in terms of whether he will eventually leap over to North America and try to get the development he needs here instead of in Russia. But his talent is too high to pass on if he falls to this spot.

14. St. Louis Blues

2009-10 record: 40-32-10, 90 points
The pick: Nick Bjugstad, center, Blaine High School (Minn.)
Analysis: Bjugstad’s stock is moving up and down a lot these days. It’s not a question of his talent or raw skill, but of how far away this Minnesota native is from seeing the pro ranks.

15. Boston Bruins
2009-10 record: 39-30-13, 91 points
The pick: Dylan McIlrath, defenseman, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
Analysis: McIlrath returns to the 15th spot after he was one prospect to visit Boston last weekend. His style is definitely “Big Bad Bruins” to the bone, but the question remains: Will the Bruins trade this pick for a higher rated defenseman, or maybe Tomas Kaberle?

16. Ottawa Senators
2009-10 record: 44-32-6, 94 points
The pick: Beau Bennett, right wing, Penticton (BCHL)
Analysis: Bennett will head to the University of Denver next season, but eventually, his raw talent will get seasoned and be able to help the Senators offense.

17. Colorado Avalanche
2009-10 record: 43-30-9, 95 points
The pick: Derek Forbot, defenseman, USA U-18 (USHL)
Analysis: The Avalanche need some retooling on the blue line. They have plenty of depth up front in terms of young talent, and now it’s time to add some defensive depth with a very skilled rear guard like Forbot.

18. Nashville Predators
2009-10 record: 47-29-6, 100 points
The pick: Austin Watson, left wing, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
Analysis: Watson is a solid two-way player who fits into the mold of head coach Barry Trotz. He’s also a natural leader, and building depth in that department never hurts.

19. Los Angeles Kings
2009-10 record:
46-27-9, 101 points
The pick: Emerson Etem, right wing, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
Analysis: We had Watson here in this spot the last two weeks, but the Kings don’t mind the California native Etem falling to them here as they get to announce his name in front of the hometown fans at the Staples Center.

20. Pittsburgh Penguins
2009-10 record: 47-28-7, 101 points
The pick: Jonathon Merrill, defenseman, USA U-18 (USHL)
Analysis: Merrill brings size at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds, and a cannon shot from the point. Sounds like a guy the Penguins are struggling to sign this offseason in veteran UFA-to-be Sergei Gonchar. So why not add a similar player on the depth chart?

21. Detroit Red Wings
2009-10 record: 44-24-14, 102 points
The pick: Mark Pysk, defenseman, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
Analysis: The Red Wings need to prepare for the eventual exodus of veteran talent on the blue line, and Pysk is a good player with whom to start building toward the future.

22. Phoenix Coyotes
2009-10 record: 50-25-7, 107 points
The pick: Teemu Pulkkinen, left wing, Jokerit, Finland
Analysis: Pulkkinen could have the best vision and passing skills in the draft. As the top forward at the under-18 tournament (15 points in six games), he could become an electric player who is already loaded with talent.

23. Buffalo Sabres

2009-10 record: 45-27-10, 100 points
The pick: Jaden Schwartz, center, Tri-City Storm (USHL)
Analysis: With a 76-point showing in his rookie season in the USHL and 83 points this past season, Schwartz just keeps getting better. He could eventually be the creative pivot a Sabres team with talented wingers needs.

24. Atlanta Thrashers (from New Jersey)
2009-10 record: 35-34-13, 83 points
The pick: Tyler Toffoli, right wing, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Analysis:  Toffoli could eventually become the scoring threat the Thrashers need on the wing, and he is a joy to coach from all accounts.

25. Vancouver Canucks
2009-10 record: 49-28-5, 103 points
The pick: Jarred Tinordi, defenseman, USA U-18 USHL
Analysis: The one thing the Canucks seemed to be missing in the playoffs the past two seasons is a monster presence on the blue line. At 6-foot-6, 205 pounds, Tinordi could very well be the solution.

26. Washington Capitals
2009-10 record:
54-15-13, 121 points
The pick: Evgeny Kuznetsov, center, Chelyabinsk, Russia
Analysis: The Red Wings dynasty of the mid-to-late-90s had plenty of Russians on the roster. Are the Capitals going to follow that strategy?

27. Montreal Canadiens
2009-10 record: 39-33-10, 88 points
The pick:
Tyler Pitlick, center, Minnesota State (WCHA)
Analysis: The Habs have long coveted a big center to go with their skilled and speedy wingers, and at 6-foot-2, 195 pounds, Pitlick can play that role. Montreal also tends to draft NCAA players, and while there are rumors that Pitlick may jump over to the WHA, he has been a great player at Minnesota State.

28. San Jose Sharks
2009-10 record: 51-20-11, 113 points
The pick: Connor Brickley, center, Des Moines Buccaneers (USHL)
Analysis: More and more it appears the Sharks are very interested in Brickley, and that makes sense considering their director of scouting is also a Massachusetts native who has seen Brickley’s development firsthand.

29. Anaheim Ducks (from Philadelphia)
2009-10 record: 39-32-11, 89 points
The pick: Alexandre Petrovic, defenseman, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
Analysis: The Ducks like grit on their blue line, and Petrovic showed plenty when he dropped the gloves with McIlrath at the top prospects game.

30. Chicago Blackhawks
2009-10 record: 52-22-8, 112 points
The pick: Charlie Coyle, center, South Shore Kings (EJHL)
Analysis: Coyle could go higher, as there is plenty of chatter regarding the future Terrier, but the Hawks won’t mind if he falls to this spot.

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