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June 26, 2011
NHL Draft Wrap-Up
Northeast Division

by Corey Pronman

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Boston Bruins

Player 			Position	Selection #	HP Rank (1-100) 
Dougie Hamilton		Defense		9		12
Alexander Khokhlachev	Center		40		11
Anthony Camara		Left Wing	81		N/A
Brian Ferlin		Right Wing	121 		N/A
Rob O'Gara		Defense		151	 	N/A
Lars Volden		Goaltender	181 		N/A

Day 1: I would have preferred Murphy or even Beaulieu at #9, but can't really fault Boston for taking Dougie Hamilton. He's got great physical upside and while there have been questions about his decision-making, Hamilton switched to defense very recently and is an extremely bright kid. If his hockey IQ catches up to his true IQ, the kid can be a stud and if not he'll still be a very good player.

The Rest: Alexander Khokhlachev slid a little due to the Russian Factor but there really isn't a question in scouting circles about his top-end upside. This pick had a little risk, but there's a huge payoff factor here for the Bruins. Anthony Camara is a decent physical forward/go-to-the-net type of player, but there aren't a lot of tools there. Brian Ferlin had a good USHL season in his second year of draft eligibility and while I'm not crazy about him, I heard about progress he made on a skating tool that has in the past been criticized.

Summary: Boston got two extremely gifted players with their top two picks and those two alone give this draft class a ton of promise.

Buffalo Sabres

Player 			Position	Selection #	HP Rank (1-100) 
Joel Armia		Right Wing	16		15
Daniel Catenacci	Center		77		53
Colin Jacobs		Center		107		96
Alex Lepkowski		Defense		137 		N/A
Nathan Lieuwen		Goaltender	167 		N/A
Brad Navin		Center		197 		N/A

Day 1: I really liked this pick for Buffalo as Joel Armia is the kind of home-run swing their organization needed. They have a fair amount of decent to solid prospects throughout the pipelines, but Armia is the one with the best chance to be a top producer/first-line type player. He's got a couple of holes in his game and there is notable risk in the pick but he has top ten upside in this draft class.

The Rest: Daniel Catenacci is another upside pick with his near-elite level skating and impressive puck skills. His physical game and hockey sense are major hindrances, but this kid is so fun to watch and has the ability to do great things. I wasn't that high on Colin Jacobs coming into the draft and the NHL scouting world apparently shared that opinion. He's got some nice tools but his hockey sense is fringe and it's hard to see him really put it together. Alex Lepkowski didn't play much this year and when he did, he wasn't that impressive. This looks like a pick on the size and the hope something else comes. Nathan Lieuwen is a 1991 birthdate entering his third draft season and didn't really have a great season until a stellar playoff performance. I think it's nice to hope on the kid, but I don't see it.

Summary: Buffalo took a fair amount of risk in this draft and considering where their system is currently, it's the kind of draft I think they needed. They need first line players, even if it means risking a prospect flaming out. This draft has the potential to be a really good one, or it could look really bad.

Ottawa Senators

Player 			Position	Selection #	HP Rank (1-100) 
Mika Zibanejad		Left Wing	6		7
Stefan Noesen		Right Wing	21		47
Matt Puempel		Left Wing	24		33
Shane Prince		Left Wing	61		57
Jean-Gabriel Pageau	Right Wing	96 		N/A
Fredrik Claesson	Defense		126 		N/A
Darren Kramer		Center		156 		N/A
Max McCormick		Left Wing	171 		N/A
Jordan Fransoo		Defense		186 		N/A
Ryan Dzingel		Left Wing	204 		N/A

Day 1: I love Mika Zibanejad and it's really hard to go wrong with a player of his stature. He'll play on a first line and score at a normal pace there while working his tail off every shift and providing top-end two-way production. Conversely, the Stefan Noesen pick I didn't like just because it was way too safe a pick for a tough, hard-working forward who has okay offensive skills but likely won't be a top six in the league. Matt Puempel is a great goal-scorer and one of the best in the class but his possession skills might barely be average. Overall, I like the accumulation of talent that Ottawa got here and they didn't horribly botch it, but if you told me a team would have three first round picks I would have thought they'd leave day one with just a notch higher talent level in the basket.

The Rest: Some scouts really like Shane Prince and some think he's a guy who may have a hard time making it, while I'm somewhere in the middle. Size is an obvious hindrance, and his skill set is above-average but I don't see the plus tool that can really help cover up the physical liabilities. Jean-Gabriel Pageau I didn't have ranked mostly because I didn't get to watch him, but I heard from QMJHL scouts praise him so much lately that in a rerank, I would likely slide him into my top 100. His size isn't great, but there's very nice skill and intangibles there.

Summary: The Sens had a lot of picks in this draft and it's feasible to see at least four NHL regulars coming out of this class. Zibanejad isn't an elite player, but he has all the tools and intangibles to become one of the better two-way forwards in the league. This wasn't really an upside draft, but it should produce a fair amount of decent players.

Montreal Canadiens

Player 			Position	Selection #	HP Rank (1-100) 
Nathan Beaulieu		Defense		17		8
Josiah Didier		Defense		97 		N/A
Olivier Archambault	Center		108 		N/A
Magnus Nygren		Defense		113 		N/A
Darren Dietz		Defense		138 		N/A
Daniel Pribyl		Center		167 		N/A
Colin Sullivan 		Defense		198 		N/A

Day 1: I have not been a fan of the Habs prospect management the last few years, but they got great value here and I have nothing but praise for Montreal in this draft. Nathan Beaulieu has the raw tools to possibly be a first pairing defender and you usually don't get that at 17.

The Rest: Josiah Didier was a prospect I heard tagged as a potential sleeper prior to the draft with good physical tools and mobility but his hockey sense needs to come. Olivier Archambault is a former first overall pick in the QMJHL who's a fast skater but I don't see enough hockey sense or physical game to really like his pro prospects. Magnus Nygren was an interesting pick as a 1990 birthdate who showed impressive offensive abilities in limited SEL time this year though the defensive game needs to come somewhat. Daniel Pribyl took a step forward this season and showed an impressive skill set for a player his size. I heard praise on high schooler Colin Sullivan earlier in the year as an excellent skating blueliner who's decent defensively but doesn't have much offensive upside.

Summary: The Habs got some intriguing names after their first, but most likely this draft ends up simply being the Nathan Beaulieu class with his success or failure defining it although there's an decent chance for one of the sleepers to hit.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Player 			Position	Selection #	HP Rank (1-100) 
Tyler Biggs		Right Wing	22		78
Stuart Percy		Defense		25		58*
Josh Leivo		Left Wing	86 		N/A
Tom Nilsson		Defense		100 		N/A 
Tony Cameranesi		Center		130 		N/A
David Broll		Left Wing	152 		N/A
Dennis Robertson	Defense		173 		N/A
Garret Sparks		Goaltender	190 		N/A
Max Everson		Defense		203		50	

Day 1: *Percy was one of two prospects that I really came around on after my rankings went up originally based on film and conservations I've had since then. I'd push him up about 10-12 spots in a rerank. I understated his puck-moving skills as they're deceptively underrated and that his hockey sense allows him to create offense out of a skill set where you wouldn't think offense would come from. He's a safe prospect, but isn't a low-tier prospect either and with his physical game, hockey sense and decent puck-moving skills, it's easily to see him becoming a decent pro player. Now Tyler Biggs, on the other hand, is a pick I did not like at all. Never mind the fact that the Leafs traded up and dealt a high second to get him, in terms of the player himself there isn't much there to dream on. Yes, he has a plus physical game, decent mobility and a solid shot but his holes are major possession-skill holes that are hard to correct. In a perfect world, he ends up a good third line player who can spot in front of the net on a second unit power play, but likely ends up a decent to below-average bottom-six player who is a fan favorite for grinding it out and bringing a physical element but doesn't bring high-end quantifiable value to the table.

The Rest: I'm not really a Josh Leivo fan. He looked like a low-tier prospect and I have a hard time seeing his fringe skill set play in the league despite the good intangibles and physical game. Tom Nilsson didn't stick out much when I saw him at the Under-18's. Tony Cameranesi has the top-end speed you'd expect in a smaller forward and has above-average skill, but I don't think he has that next level skill a forward his size needs and he does at times show a perimeter game. Conversely, I'm a big Max Everson fan, and while I understand some may not like his skating, I love his smarts and possession game. He has the tools in my opinion to give him a chance to hit and if he hits, he won't simply a #6 or #7 defender.

Summary: I thought the Leafs could have done a bit better with the assets they had, and it's hard to see any true upside coming out of this class barring a huge development jump from Percy or Cameranesi. This is a safe class with some projection, but with two firsts and nine picks, I thought they could have gotten a little more talent. Sorry to say, but the Tyler Biggs selection is the one that really drags it down.

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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