WHO'LL GO FIRST?
published 06/17/14 7:39am
Niagara's Brenden Perlini's offering is all about size and scoring.
Photo: Steven Alkok / Icon SMI
The first round of the 2014 NHL Entry Draft is set for Friday, June 27 in Philadelphia. The Florida Panthers hold the first pick after winning the Draft Lottery, while the New Jersey Devils pick last in Round 1 because of violations stemming from the Ilya Kovalchuk signing in 2010. Only two teams, the Ottawa Senators and New York Rangers, won't make a selection in the first round.

Will there be more trades leading up to the first round? Who goes first? This is our annual NHL Mock Draft

1. FLORIDA PANTHERS

Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie (OHL)
Will Florida keep the pick? There are several teams looking to move into the top spot this year, and the Panthers seem interested in more immediate talent in return. They might also trade down a few spots and add an asset or two. Ekblad should be picked first, regardless.

2. BUFFALO SABRES

Sam Bennett, C, Kingston (OHL)
The Sabres have needs everywhere, but their choice will probably come down to one of the two Sam's here: Bennett or Reinhart. There isn't a gap between them so it will come down to preference. Bennett is similar to former Sabre Doug Gilmour, Kingston's GM.

3. EDMONTON OILERS

Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay (WHL)
In all likelihood, the Oilers will pick the Sam that Buffalo passes on. However, there is also an outside chance Edmonton takes power forward Nick Ritchie here. With Calgary picking right behind them, the Oilers should be a team to watch on draft day. There is intrigue here.

4. CALGARY FLAMES

Nick Ritchie, LW, Peterborough (WHL)
There is little doubt the Flames will look for a player with imposing size with the fourth pick. Their choice may come down to a power forward (Ritchie), a scoring winger with size (Michael Dal Colle) or a big center (Leon Draisaitl). They may need Ritchie the most.

5. NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa (OHL)
The Islanders got lucky with former Oshawa Generals such as John Tavares and Calvin De Haan in 2009, so perhaps another Gen will make his way to Long Island five years later. Dal Colle can score and may be ready enough to step into the lineup.

6. VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
The Canucks have been pleased with the plight of their current Danish wingers Jannik Hansen and Nicklas Jensen). Ehlers may have more skill than either, though he lacks a bit of size. This would be a way to start planning for the eventual post-Sedin era.

7. CAROLINA HURRICANES

Leon Draisaitl, C, Prince Albert (WHL)
New GM Ron Francis was a big center and he has already inherited two of those in Eric Staal and Jordan Staal with the big club. Elias Lindholm was drafted last year, but more building blocks are required. Big pivot Draisaitl should fit in nicely.

8. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Haydn Fleury, D, Red Deer (WHL)
The Leafs may buck the early trend of non-Ekblad forward picks in the top 10 by grabbing Fleury, a solid all-round blueliner with good size. Fleury might even crack Toronto's sub-par blueline brigade right away. If they choose a forward it may be Brendan Perlini.

9. WINNIPEG JETS

Alex Tuch, RW, USNTDP (USHL)
Winnipeg was successful with the selection of American defenseman Jacob Trouba from the USNTDP in 2012, so perhaps they'll be tempted to go back to the well. Tuch has the size the Jets covet, and his upside may enable the team to trade Evander Kane.

10. ANAHEIM DUCKS (from Ottawa)

Jake Virtanen, LW/RW, Calgary (WHL)
Ironically, Virtanen could become another Bobby Ryan for the Ducks--who traded Ryan to Ottawa in order to acquire this pick. Like Ryan, Virtanen can score goals and play either wing, and he has good size. Virtanen may even be a first liner.

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11. NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagara (OHL)
The Predators want to get bigger and more dynamic on offense. They have a decent group of playmakers but lack a true power forward prospect like Perlini, who would instantly get a shot at cracking Nashville's lineup. The Preds need goals and Perlini is a scorer.

12. ARIZONA COYOTES

William Nylander, RW/C, MODO (SHL)
New name. Same draft position in Round 1. After taking Max Domi in last year's draft, the Coyotes need to continue to build their future offensive core. Like Domi, Nylander is a very dynamic playmaker who can play either center or wing. He would fill a need.

13. WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Robby Fabbri, C, Guelph (OHL)
Fabbri is one of the big risers up the draft charts, after his terrific performance at the 2014 Memorial Cup. Therefore, he may not make it to Washington's pick here. If he does, the new regime may decide he's too good to pass up. They may want a D-man, though.

14. DALLAS STARS

Julius Honka, D, Swift Current (WHL).
The Stars could use a future power-play quarterback in their system, and the organization has been very good with Finnish talent. Therefore, adding Honka to the mix would make a lot of sense. They would be able to bring him along slowly. There's no rush.

15. DETROIT RED WINGS

Kasperi Kapanen, RW, KalPa (Liiga)
Kapanen would be considered a best-player-available selection here, but his dynamic offensive game and European training are perfect for Detroit's system. Whoever gets picked here will be several years away, since Detroit has a strong pipeline at the moment.

16. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

Dylan Larkin, C, USNTDP (USHL)
The Jackets may go in a number of ways, but expect them to select a long-range prospect here. That's because they've recently graduated several young players to the big-league squad, with a few more on the way. Larkin is headed to the NCAA, anyway.

17. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Kevin Fiala, LW, HV71 (SHL)
There is always a bit of buzz whenever the hometown team makes its first pick in any draft, so this selection should be no different. Fiala would represent the best player available at this point. He's a dynamic and skilled offensive dynamo who will need a little time.

18. MINNESOTA WILD

Jack Dougherty, D, USNTDP (USHL)
The Wild are always on the lookout for local talent, so Dougherty--a native of College Grove, Minnesota--makes sense here. They'll be able to groom him slowly, since Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon and Matt Dumba are already in the mix.

19. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Nikita Scherbak, RW, Saskatoon (WHL)
Tampa Bay holds two first rounders this year, and they will probably look for a defenseman with one of their choices. That said, the Lightning have been very successful picking Russian talent in recent years, so adding Scherbak could continue that trend.

20. SAN JOSE SHARKS

Jared McCann, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
The Sharks are probably going to embark on a slight retool this off-season (if not a massive rebuild). As a result, center Joe Thornton could be sacrificed for younger help. McCann is a fairly mature two-way center who may not need much time to be ready.

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21. ST. LOUIS BLUES

Ryan Macinnis, C, Kitchener (OHL)
The Blues will likely look at the center position for their first rounder this year, with McCann, MacInnis and Swede Adrian Kempe all fairly solid possibilities. In the end, the Blues may want to go for the son of one of their legends, Hall-of-Fame defenseman Al MacInnis.

22. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Ivan Barbashev, LW, Moncton (QMJHL)
New Penguins GM Jim Rutherford is expected to take a forward in Round 1, and Barbashev has the type of all-round ability to reach the big leagues quickly. The Russian may even get a shot with the big club right away. OHLer Josh Ho-Sang is another fit here.

23. COLORADO AVALANCHE

Roland McKeown, D, Kingston (OHL)
The Avs have needs on defense, so McKeown may be too good to pass up at pick No. 23. He is a sound defender with projectable size who would probably end up in the right situation in Denver, since the Avalanche lack high-end quality defensemen.

24. ANAHEIM DUCKS

Travis Sanheim, D, Calgary (WHL)
With the second of two first rounders, the Ducks may continue to build up their forward ranks but are more likely to opt for a defenseman here. Coincidentally, Sanheim would likely represent the best player available here. He would be brought along very slowly, though.

25. BOSTON BRUINS

Johnathan Macleod, D, USNTDP (USHL)
The Bruins love size. The Bruins love toughness. The Bruins love Massachusetts products. MacLeod fits all of those categories, so he makes sense at pick No. 25. Boston's blueline may eventually be lacking a true bruising shutdown type, which is what he is.

26. MONTREAL CANADIENS

Brendan Lemieux, LW, Barrie (OHL)
The Canadiens have been very successful at the draft table in recent years, but still need to get bigger, stronger and tougher to play against. Lemieux's father Claude was just that for Montreal, so perhaps the Habs will be tempted for a sequel here.

27. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Jack Glover, D, USNTDP (USHL)
Eventually, the Blackhawks will need to start replenishing their stellar blueline. Glover could be a solid choice as a long-range prospect with upside. The Minnesotan will head to the University of Minnesota, where Chicago can monitor his progress closely.

28. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING (from NY Rangers)

Marcus Pettersson, D, Skelleftea (SHL)
The Lightning need more help along their blueline, and their preference is for puck-moving defensemen. Pettersson has a ton of upside but is rather thin at present time. He would be a project for Tampa Bay. Or, they may opt to go off the board.

29. LOS ANGELES KINGS

Sonny Milano, LW, USNTDP (USHL)
The Kings don't need help right away, as they are probably the best team in the NHL heading into 2014-15. Milano would represent a long-range winger who will need to add more strength. His offensive instincts are solid, so he fits the bill for what LA needs more of.

30. NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Jakub Vrana, RW, Linkoping (SHL)
The Devils have new-found interest in the Czech Republic, since the arrival of Jaromir Jagr last year. Patrik Elias and Marek Zidlicky are also around to potentially show Vrana the ropes, though he won't be ready to step in right away. They need his goals.

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