No 'high-end players' available at this weekend's NHL Draft
Some NHL Entry Drafts forever flip the fortunes of several franchises. The upcoming one probably is not going to deliver an Alex Ovechkin and an Evgeni Malkin.
“Talented imperfections is a good way to describe this draft,” said Phil Myre of International Scouting Service.
“It's a deep draft. You're going to get some good players in the first couple of rounds, but there's no high-end players.”
Pity the Florida Panthers, who won a lottery to gain the first overall pick at the 2014 draft, which opens with Round 1 on Friday night at Philadelphia's Wells Fargo Center.
A year ago, Colorado had to choose between a projected franchise center (Nathan MacKinnon), winger (Jonathan Drouin) and defenseman (Seth Jones) with the first overall pick. MacKinnon went No. 1, his Avalanche won their division, and he was selected as the NHL's top rookie.
The prospects available to Florida at No. 1 this year do not match the potential of center Aleksander Barkov, whom the Panthers selected second overall last season, said Kyle Woodlief of Red Line Report.
“It's a good top-four grouping, but it's not great,” Woodlief said. “I don't see a superstar on the horizon.”
There is no consensus top prospect, either — leaving Florida in no better position than Buffalo, Edmonton and Calgary with the respective Nos. 2-4 picks. Defenseman Aaron Ekblad is an attractive option for Panthers, but their reported willingness to trade the pick is a strong indication Ekblad is not evaluated as a franchise-flipping choice.
Red Line Report has tabbed center Sam Bennett as its No. 1 prospect. International Scouting Service has distinguished center Sam Reinhart as its top choice. Bennett and Reinhart rated second and third behind Ekblad, the best prospect as projected by Jesse Marshall, co-founder of the website Faceoff Factor.
Almost every draft guru believes a franchise player is coming to the NHL from the junior circuit. That player, though, is center Connor McDavid — the presumptive No. 1 overall pick for the 2015 draft.
“I can't see any way this guy falls off,” Woodlief said. “McDavid is No. 1 and will be No. 1 next June. It's a very good draft year, and guys right behind him would be No. 1 overall candidates this year.
“But McDavid is the best player to come out of the draft since (Sidney) Crosby, Malkin and Ovechkin.”
Ovechkin and Malkin went first and second overall in the 2004 draft. Crosby was the top pick a year later.
Almost a decade later, the draft class consists of “fair balance between forwards and defensemen,” said Randy Sexton, the Penguins co-director of amateur scouting.
“It's a tad light on goaltending,” Sexton said. “Without giving away any state secrets, there are some good centers, and there are also some good wingers in the top 35.”
Still, the 2014 draft lacks the buzz of the ones that produced so many stars over the past decade. This draft is not about a “Next One,” but rather it is viewed as just another one.
Florida may trade its top pick. Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford might move his at No. 22.
“I'd like to be on the draft floor; there's going to be some great conversations,” Myre said. “This is one of those drafts where it's going to be in the eye of the beholder.”
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @RobRossi_Trib.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Penguins notebook: Crosby sits, could be out ‘couple days’
- Penguins’ Rutherford hopes to raise Cup again
- Inside the glass: Sutter takes puck to face
- Finally healthy, Letang looking to make his presence felt as a leader
- Penguins’ new 3rd jersey similar to early 1990s version
- Inside the glass: Johnston’s opening practice grueling
- Rossi: At start, are Pens already finished?
- Crosby, Malkin to miss start of Penguins camp
- Penguins notebook: Crosby practices, feels better
- Penguins notebook: Hornqvist, Spaling will lead by example
- Penguins goalie prospects push each other amid friendly competition