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NHL Draft Wrap-Up (06/27)
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June 27, 2011
NHL Draft Wrap-Up
Southeast Division

by Corey Pronman

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Carolina Hurricanes

Player 			Position	Selection #	HP Rank 1-100 
Ryan Murphy		Defense		12		6
Victor Rask		Center		42		41
Keegan Lowe		Defense		73		N/A
Gregory Hofmann		Center		103		45
Matt Mahalak		Goaltender	163		N/A
Brody Sutter		Right Wing 	193 		N/A

Day 1: "Wow" is all I can really say about getting Ryan Murphy at #12. I thought I saw a little hop in Carolina's step as they went up to the podium to make this pick. Murphy has top-end upside and while he has risk, Carolina's system is so loaded they can live with some risk. If he pans out, Murphy and Justin Faulk will terrorize opposing penalty killers for many years.

The Rest: The Canes followed a big upside pick in Murphy with a home run shot in Victor Rask. Rask was seen as a top ten pick last summer and I thought he even had the look of a top five player, but really fell off as the year went on and what I originally thought were true plus possession tools showed some gaping holes. He has some major weaknesses that could keep him from making it, but conversely, he has the ability to be a really good one too. I'm not a real Keegan Lowe fan, but scouts in the WHL I've talked to think he's a decent, hard-working defenseman who looks like a fine lower-tier prospect. Gregory Hofmann likely fell due to transfer questions, but most scouts I've talked with think his talent level is at the least in the top 60. Matt Mahalak came into the season as one of the top goalie prospects but was plainly average in the OHL.

Summary: There's a healthy amount of risk to this class and there is a decent possibility the class could underwhelm. However the Canes system is stocked and they have the security to take the kind of shots they did here and if a couple of things go right, we could look back at the 2011 class as what pushed their organization over the top.

Florida Panthers

Player 			Position	Selection #	HP Rank 1-100 
Jonathan Huberdeau	Center		3		4
Rocco Grimaldi		Center		33		10
Rasmus Bengtsson	Defense		59		48
Vincent Trocheck	Center		64		63
Logan Shaw		Right Wing	76		N/A
Jonathan Racine		Defense		87 		N/A
Kyle Rau		Center		91 		N/A
Yaroslav Kosov		Left Wing	124 		N/A
Eddit Wittchow		Defense		154 		N/A
Iiro Pakarinen		Right Wing	184 		N/A

Day 1: This is what the organization needed, and they got it without going out of draft range. Jonathan Huberdeau is a scoring forward with top, top-end potential and great possession skills.

The Rest: The Panthers followed the very high upside of Huberdeau with another upside but risky pick in Rocco Grimaldi. The size issue will always haunt him, but he has true upside to be a first line center in a perfect world scenario. Rasmus Bengstsson is a prospect I really like, and while he's not a dynamic player, he's the kind of player who does a little bit of everything. If he smoothes out his skating tool, he could be something. Vincent Trocheck is an average prospect who is somewhat safe and I could see him as a depth player in the league. Some scouts like Logan Shaw, but I'm not a fan of his and it's hard to see his skill set and poor skating in the league despite the frame. Jonathan Racine has some decent tools, but is a project pick. I really like Kyle Rau and he was right outside my Top 100. He's got a great skill set and the intangibles andwork ethic to possibly overcome his short stature. Yaroslav Kosov I haven't heard much on—he's a big forward who is an okay goal-scorer.

Summary: The Panthers did pretty well at this draft and got talent into the system without some of the heavy risks they took last summer, Grimaldi notwithstanding. There's a good mix of projection and upside on top of quantity here.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Player 			Position	Selection #	HP Rank 1-100 
Vladislav Namestnikov	Center		27		23
Nikita Kucherov		Left Wing	58		19
Nikita Nesterov		Defense		148		93
Adam Wilcox		Goaltender	178		N/A
Matthew Peca		Center		201		N/A
Ondrej Palat		Left Wing	208		N/A

Day 1: Tampa went with the first Russian in this class, but Vladislav Namestnikov isn't a traditional Russian pick, considering the fact that he played in the OHL. He has above-average skating and puck skills, but no real plus offensive tool. He's a fine two-way player who can project to have a decent physical game and will be able to play the center position at the pro level. There was some upside to this pick, but not a significant amount of risk.

The Rest: Nikita Kucherov is a top 20 talent and likely just fell here due to transfer questions, especially since he's already stated he wants to stay in Russia for at least two more years. Tampa gambled here, but there is a huge payoff factor if the gamble comes through. Nikita Nesterov wasn't my favorite defenseman to take if they were going to stay in Russia—he has decent tools, but is an unfinished product.

Summary: Tampa didn't have many picks, but with the ones they did have they went for talent. This draft class looks very dangerous to that organization's pipeline, but all they need is for Kucherov to declare he intends to stay in North America in the future and this class likely becomes a good one.

Washington Capitals

Player 			Position	Selection #	HP Rank 1-100 
Steffen Kent Soberg	Goaltender	117		N/A
Patrick Koudys		Defense		147		N/A
Travis Boyd		Left Wing	177		N/A
Garrett Haar		Defense		207		N/A

Day 1 Pick: No pick.

The Rest: Patrick Koudys got some praise for his physical tools, but he's a real low-ceiling type and I'm not confident that he has the tools to make it. The only pick I kind of liked from Washington was Travis Boyd. He went under the radar with the USNTDP but showed decent offensive potential and possession ability. I don't know if his pure skills are enough to outweigh his size deficiency but he's got a chance. I got a tip on Garrett Haar leading up to the draft as a raw, athletic defenseman who someone might want to gamble on.

Summary: Washington said they weren't thrilled with what was out there this year and how they handled their draft picks showed that. They more or less punted on this draft; if they get 25 NHL games from this class, consider it a success.

Winnipeg Jets

Player 			Position	Selection #	HP Rank 1-100 
Mark Scheifele		Center		7		29
Adam Lowry		Left Wing	66		75
Brennan Serveille	Defense		78		N/A
Zachary Yuen		Defense		119		N/A
Austen Brassard		Right Wing	149		N/A
Jason Kasdorf		Goaltender	157		N/A
Aaron Harstad		Defense		187		N/A

Day 1: I wasn't a fan of the Mark Scheifele pick and while I can see the physical tools and how he did towards the end of the season and at the Under-18's, I haven't seen from his play or heard from scouts any indication that Scheifele has the upside to warrant such a high selection. He has commonly been seen as a safe pick, not a below-average first to above-average second line type.

The Rest: I like Adam Lowry's physical tools and hockey sense and he's a good safe/bottom-six type prospect. Zach Yuen wasn't on my top 100 mainly due to my lack of viewings of Tri-City but he's a good skater with a fair amount of muscle for a player his age that plays a fine physical game, but doesn't look to have a pro-level offensive upside. Austen Brassard is a physical tools gamble as I really didn't hear much positives about him in the OHL this year.

Summary: The first draft class of the Winnipeg Jets v 2.0 was underwhelming and while it's possible that one or two NHL regulars will come from here, I doubt you'll be getting significant production from this class. Their system really lacks upside amongst their top prospects aside from Paul Postma so you would have liked to see a little more gambling here.

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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