Round-by-round picks, team-by-team picks, analysis, player bios, more
Detroit Red Wings
The Little Ball of Hate, Pat Verbeek, played for the Wings and scouts for the club and now, the son of the Big Ball of Hate is also a Wing. For the sixth time in nine drafts, the Wings dealt their top pick, moving No. 29 overall to Tampa Bay for No. 32. Detroit utilized that latter pick to grab Red Deer (WHL) right-winger Landon Ferraro, the son of longtime NHLer Ray Ferraro. Zvolen center Tomas Tatar (No. 60) is another undersized skilled forward who was named Slovakia’s top forward at the world juniors. Rimouski (QMJHL) defenseman Gleason Fournier (No. 90) played in the Memorial Cup and is a high-skill type who can move the puck.
Scouts say that Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson is the fastest skater among the class of 2009. The product of a Finnish mother and Swedish father, he’s the youngest player ever to play for Sweden in the world juniors and has been compared in ability to Jere Lehtinen. The Timra left-winger, like John Tavares, has been on the NHL radar since he was 14 and tore it up in a nationally-televised youth tournament in his homeland. He already has his own web site, paajarvi.com. The Oilers may have gotten a steal in Ilves left-winger Toni Rajala (No. 101), who surprisingly slid all the way to the fourth round. A speedy, skilled forward, he was top player at the 2008 world under-18 championships. Timra center Anton Lander (No. 40) has been a captain at every level he’s played and led the Swedish team at the world under-18 championships.
With fears that he’s already signed with the Kontinental Hockey League, Drummondville (QMJHL) Dmitry Kulikov slid all the way to No. 14, where the Panthers grabbed him. There is an element of risk involved with all Russian players, but Kulikov was voted top defender in his league and insists he wants to play in the NHL. The jury is out on U.S. under-18 center Drew Shore. Some feel he should have been a first round pick, while others believe his inconsistency was the reason the Panthers got him at No. 44. The Panthers officially ended the Jay Bouwmeester era, dealing the NHL rights of the impending UFA to Calgary for fellow UFA defenseman Jordan Leopold and a third-round pick, with which they garnered Fargo (USHL) right-winger Josh Birkholz at 67th overall. Windsor (OHL) center Scott Timmins (No. 165) is a strong faceoff and checking type who played in the Memorial Cup final the past two seasons.
Los Angeles Kings
For the first time in NHL history, brothers went in the top five of the draft in successive years when the Kings opted for Brandon (WHL) center Brayden Schenn. Schenn’s brother Luke was selected fifth overall by Toronto in 2008. The younger Schenn has been compared to Philadelphia captain Mike Richards. He might not be the fastest skater, or the biggest player, but he does everything well. Barrie (OHL) left-winger Kyle Clifford (No. 35) is one of the toughest customers in the OHL, willing to take on all comers. Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) center Jordan Nolan (No. 186) is a big underachiever with potential whose father is former NHL player and coach Ted Nolan.
Undergoing a cultural metamorphosis from a trapping team to a club that will play wide-open hockey, the Wild opted for Mr. Hockey. No, not Gordie Howe, but Eden Prairie High School defenseman Nick Leddy, who was voted Mr. Hockey, the top play in Minnesota high school hockey. Even though they traded down from 12 to 16, it’s a bit of a reach to take a guy who was rated to go late in the opening round. Did the Wild take the best player, or the best player available with ties to Minnesota? Some feel that Plymouth (OHL) goalie Matt Hackett (No. 76) was the best netminder available in the draft. He’s the nephew of ex-NHL goaltender Jeff Hackett. Shattuck St. Mary’s left-winger Erik Haula (No. 182) hails from Finland and was supposed to be long gone before Round 7. He’ll play in the USHL next season, with plans to play NCAA hockey the following year. Wild GM Chuck Fletcher also acquired Edmonton center Kyle Brodziak for a pair of later-round picks.
Did they take the best player available, or pander to the hometown fans? Montreal selected center and native Quebecois Louis Leblanc with the 18th pick, a guy who has taken the road less travelled. Leblanc avoided the QMJHL to play for Omaha of the USHL, where he was named rookie of the year, and is destined for Harvard in the fall. He and his family had better be prepared for the scrutiny that comes with being French Canadian and Montreal’s top pick. Hotchkiss (R.I.) high school defenseman Mac Bennett (No. 79) comes from a rich hockey heritage. His uncles Curt and Harvey played in the NHL, as did his great uncle Harvey Sr., a Boston Bruins goalie who allowed the goal in 1945 that made Montreal’s Maurice (Rocket) Richard the NHL’s first 50-goal scorer. Espoo center Joonas Nattinen (No. 65) is a tweener. Teams are still uncertain whether he’s got the offensive upside to be a scorer in the NHL or whether he’s going to be a checker-energy guy.
Windsor (OHL) defenseman Ryan Ellis isn’t a bad pick - in fact he’s an outstanding choice - but is he the best bet for the Predators? Loaded with excellent blue-liners and with more on the way, Ellis, who may have the hardest shot in the draft and can already QB a powerplay better than some NHL rearguards, isn’t going to solve their lack of depth at forward. Edina H.S. right-winger Zach Budish (No. 41) was tabbed a probable first-rounder until he blew out his knee playing high school football. Shawinigan (QMJHL) defenseman Charles-Olivier Roussel (No. 42) was the youngest player taken in the draft. Were he born three days later, he’d have dropped into the 2010 draft.