A Look at the Top 10 Projected Picks of the 2014 Entry Draft

Michael Dal Colle #71 of the Oshawa Generals, Projected top 5 pick

Michael Dal Colle #71 of the Oshawa Generals, Projected top 5 pick

Habs fans, its a good time of the year. The playoffs are here and the Canadiens are off to a quick start after sweeping the Tampa Bay Lightning in 4 quick games. Although the series was quick, the nerves and tension were running high until the final whistle was blown and Le But began playing through the speakers at the Bell Centre. Habs players and fans can now rest up for 6 to 8 days before the second round begins, because its pretty much guaranteed there will be more stress and tension coming in the second round with the Boston Bruins potentially coming to town. No love lost there, that’s for sure.

Getting into things here, Bob McKenzie recently released his top 10 prospects list for the 2014 draft, and this article will discuss there playing styles and attributes . Its an interesting draft to look at, as there really isn’t a consensus number 1 pick. Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts is getting a lot of praise in the top spot, but Sam Reinhart of the Kootenay Ice and Sam Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs are also being considered in the top slot. Ekblad is a franchise like defenseman, with a great skillset, while Reinhart and Bennett play styles of games where if they both reach their potential they could be much coveted number one centers.

Here’s a list of Bob McKenzies top 10 Projected Picks and my analysis of each player:

1. Aaron Ekblad-Defenseman/Barrie Colts/6’4 216lbs

Aaron describes the kind of player that you want to build a defensive unit around. Ekblad is one of few young defenseman that will have the ability to jump right into an NHL lineup and make an immediate impact. A lot of young defenseman that enter the league have to be sheltered and play minimal minutes, but with Ekblad’s makeup, he’s one of few that could step in and not just handle, but excel with top 4 minutes. Ekblad is such a strong player and he really understands the game, which is very important for a defenseman. One of the best aspects of his game is his first pass, vision, and his ability to use his size effectively. Ekblad can quarterback a powerplay unit and effectively lead the first penalty kill unit with great stick work and hockey IQ . Ekblad was named the OHL Defenseman of the year during this season and was just the second player to be granted exceptional status in the OHL. 

2. Sam Reinhart-Center/Kootenay Ice/6’1 185lbs

Sam Reinhart comes from a very talented group of Reinhart hockey players. Starting from former flames defenseman and Dad Paul Reinhart, and being the youngest of sons Griffin and Max. Sam is known as a cerebral player that has an extremely high hockey IQ and is often seen as a great skater with an effortless stride. His vision and IQ are what scouts see that seperates him from his draft class. Sam is also seen as a mature leader which is important for someone who is trying to make the transition to the next level. Look for Sam to make the jump right away into the NHL and play top 9 minutes with power play time and potentially some work on the penalty kill.

3. Sam Bennett-Center/Kingston Frontenacs/6’0 178 lbs

Sam plays an energy game that goes along with his elite skillset. He need’s to fill out his frame more in order to get to his full potential, but he offers a skillset that involves quick feet and an elite stride. His quickness with his feet and his effort level are what make’s Sam a special player in the 2014 draft. You won’t see a lot of flare in Bennett’s game, but you will see an NHL quality shot and a great release. Like Reinhart, look for Bennett to jump right into the NHL next season.

4. Leon Draisaitl-Left Wing/Prince Albert Raiders/6’1 208lbs

Leon has a big frame and plays most effectively when he uses that to his advantage. Draisaitl has power forward like qualities, which seems to be what a lot more GM’s are valuing in today’s NHL. His ability to use his body to shield himself and the puck makes him a really highly sought after pick in the 2014 draft. Leon’s vision and ability to drive the net and create scoring chances makes him a good bet to be selected in the top 5 of the 2014 draft.

5. Michael Dal Colle-Left Wing/Oshawa Generals/6’2 171lbs

Michael is one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft class. He has a solid frame, and once he fills it our more will be able to impose a much more physical game on opponents. His 6’2 frame already sets him apart from a lot of players and with a skillset like his where he has the ability to play a solid two way game, Dal Colle projects to be a top 5 pick. His strength and his puck handling skills make him a good bet that his game will translate immediately at the NHL level. He plays a strong cycle game and has a really explosive shot. Look out for Dal Colle and don’t be surprised if he becomes an perennial all star.

6. Nick Ritchie-Left Wing/Peterborough Pete’s /6’2 218lbs

Ritchie is huge. He has the ideal mold of a power forward and plays like it too. Ritchie has size, speed and skill, and plays his best  hockey when he drives  to the net with his big frame and protects the puck. One of the most underrated assets of his game is his speed. He plays an effective role on the penalty kill as well, his big frame and active stick help control the amount of shots and scoring chances that reach the net. Ritchie’s drive to win and competitiveness are what makes him really special. Look for Ritchie to fill out his already huge 6’2 218lbs frame and end up somewhere along the lines of 6’3 235lbs. Look out NHL, there’s a monster about to be drafted. (Sorry Gustavsson)

7. Nikolaj Ehlers-Left Wing/Halifax Mooseheads/5’11 162lbs

Small, skilled, and explosive are 3 words that immediately come to mind when describing Ehlers. His speed is the best asset of his game, as he has the ability to blow by defenseman and create big match up problems for the opposition. His creative skating and drastic cuts often make covering him near impossible. What we haven’t even mentioned yet is how deadly of a shot he has. Ehler’s scored 49 Goals in 63 games this season and and his explosive shot is just one of the many reasons scouts see him as a top 10 pick.

8. Jake Virtanen-Right Wing/Calgary Hitmen/6’0 213lbs

Jake plays a really smart game, with a very high hockey IQ. He plays a well rounded game and is an effective player in the corners. His crafty hands and electric shot give him valuable tools that are highly sought after. His strong skating skills make him tough to defend along with his great mix of size, speed and crafty hands. Virtanen plays a really solid north-south game and this ultimately bolsters an already dynamic goal scorers draft stock.

9. Kasperi Kapanen-Right Wing/Kalpa Kuopia /5’11 172lbs

Kasperi plays in the Finish Elite League and is a small player with very silky hands that compliment his great shot and quick release. Kapanen needs to focus on bulking up and working on his backcheck, as well as making the safe play more often instead of trying the fancy one. Even though he is small statured, Kapanen does not shy away from making the big hit. His vision is also very strong, and from what I’ve heard, Jarmo Kekäläinen ranks him very highly.

10. Haydn Fleury-Defenseman/Red Deer Rebels /6’2 207lbs

The second ranked defenseman in the draft, behind Ekblad,offers a big, physical presence, with good offensive potential. Fleury is not a shy defenseman and understands the right times in the game to make a pinch or to give and take a hit. His strength and big stature make him difficult for opposing forwards to get by him. Fleury is a very smooth skater and has continued to raise his stock throughout the 2013/2014 season in Red Deer.

 

The 2014 NHL Entry draft has a lot of talent in the 1st round and you can look for these top 10 prospects to be taken off the board early and for them to be looked at as cornerstones for the franchises that draft them.

Thanks for reading.

 

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