The 2014 entry draft has been considered average by many experts. That said, there are many prospects in this draft that could end up being considered ‘steals’. Obviously we are familiar with ‘the big 2’ in Ekblad and Reinhart, but I’ll dig a bit deeper and a couple of tidbits on the top 30 skaters and maybe a couple of goaltenders.
Once again this draft features a lot of second generation hockey players. There are several players who are draft eligible that have fathers who were NHLers. This year’s proud poppas include: Paul Reinhart, Michael Nylander, Sami Kapanen, Claude Lemieux, Donald Audette, and Al MacInnis to name a few.
The Canucks organization will most likely be picking in the 6-12 range this year barring a return to form over the next 20 games. Alternately, if the team goes 0-20 I still don’t think we can slide beyond #6 without having the winning ping pong ball. I’d prefer not to get into this as a discussion; I’m here to talk about the prospects in this year’s draft!
Here is a brief synopsis of the top 10 as outlined by the International Scouting Service’s top 30 rankings.
1) Aaron Ekblad (D): Played for Canada’s WJ team, one of the most NHL ready players in the draft. Ekblad was given exceptional status as a 15 year old, and is already in his 3rd year in the OHL. He’s frequently compared to Chris Pronger because of his size, strength and booming shot. He’s long gone by the time we get to the podium.
2) Sam Reinhart (C): Solid 2 way player who is also sitting in the top 5 in WHL scoring which is impressive considering the time he missed at Christmas at the WJ’s. Reinhart has been compared to several current NHLers like Patrice Bergeron and Henrik Zetterberg. Is not available by the time we take our first pick.
3) Sam Bennett (W): Known mostly for his defensive skills, Bennett is not exactly a slouch when it comes to the offense as he has put up a healthy 1.63 points per game for Kingston of the OHL. Bennett will most likely be a solid top 6 forward who is often considered to be the rebirth of Leafs legend Doug Gilmour.
4) Michael Dal Colle (C): Dal Colle is 6’2", and likes to play the game with the puck on his stick. Dal Colle is a fairly quiet person off the ice, but that doesn’t translate to his on ice performance. Dal Colle is a top 5 scorer in the OHL and has been considered in the same style as Ryan Getzlaf.
5) William Nylander (C): Dynamic, flashy and slick are terms used to describe the younger Nylander’s game. William is considered an offensive game changer who has been plying his trade in the SHL for Modo. His numbers may not indicate this description, but we need to remember that he’s a 17 year old playing in the top professional league in Sweden. If Nylander can address his defensive weaknesses, he could end up becoming a player similar to Jeff Skinner.
6) Brandon Perlini (W): Perlini has been a rising prospect for the past couple of years. He’s gradually become part of the top 10 conversation. As result of his steadily improving play for Niagra, he has drawn comparisons to Bobby Ryan and Jeff Carter. Perlini will most likely be a 50 point player at the next level. Perlini is currently wedged between former Canuck 1st round picks Bo Horvat and Brendan Gaunce in OHL league scoring .
7) Jake Virtanen (F): The versatile Virtanen has a knack for the net. The Hitmen standout has been a goal machine potting over 40 goals already this season. Virtanen is not just a 1 trick pony, he has a bit of an edge and isn’t afraid to get into the rough areas on the ice. Once Virtanen fills out he will be able to better use his sizeable frame (6’1" 208 lbs) and should be able to be a top 6 forward similar to Joffrey Lupul.
8) Haydn Fleury (D): Fleury is a mobile 2 way defenseman. Fleury is amongst the leaders in defenseman scoring in the WHL which is impressive considering he plays for a very weak Red Deer squad. He’s often compared to Brent Seabrook and Jay Bouwmeester because of his size (6’3") and smooth skating abilities.
9) Joshua Ho-Sang (RW): Ho-Sang has all of the talent to be a phenomenal NHL talent. He has the puck skills and speed to be a star in the NHL. Unfortunately, he knows how much talent he has. He’s often compared to former OHL standout Nazem Kadri, but it should be noted that Ho-Sang is a better skater at this stage of development. Ho-Sang will be a high risk-high reward selection for any team who selects him.
10) Nick Ritchie (LW): Ritchie is listed at 6’3" and 230 pounds and plays the game at that size. As a power forward Ritchie uses his size effectively to hold off defenders and drive to the net. There are very few players with the skill and size in the OHL, which has resulted in Ritchie muscling his way to a point per game average this season. If Ritchie is able to be more consistent with his work ethic, he could become the next Milan Lucic.
That’s a wrap on the first 10 prospects. I will hold off on making my opinions about who I’d like to see in a Canucks jersey until we’ve explored more of the prospects available this year!