NHL Mock Draft Top Picks – 2011 NHL Draft Preview
The NHL and NBA are really working in tandem these days. They concluded their seasons just days apart last week and, now, they’ll have their drafts days apart. The NHL Entry Draft goes this Friday night.
The 2011 class is considered one of the weakest in recent memory but also one of the deepest.
The names being hyped as early first-rounders in the 2011 NHL draft.
Adam Larsson, defenseman (Skelleftea HC, Swedish Elite League)
It’s funny that, in a draft considered weak by so many, the projected first pick is being compared to one of the greatest ever to play the game.
Some scouts say that Larsson, believe it or not, is the next Nicklas Lidstrom. I’ve even heard some people dare to say he’s “better than Lidstrom was at the same age.” He’s big, smart, and the puck-moving defenseman Edmonton needs. The Oilers have drafted enough forwards.
Time to change it up with the first overall pick.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, center (Red Deer Rebels, WHL)
Assuming Edmonton takes Larsson, will Colorado take another center at No. 2 overall even though they already have Paul Stastny and Matt Duchene? Taking Ryan Nugent-Hopkins would be applying the “best available” principle and would render Stastny very tradable.
Most scouts view Nugent-Hopkins as the most talented offensive player in the draft. He can play at both ends of the ice, has great vision and isn’t afraid to get physical.
Gabriel Landeskog, left wing (Kitchener Rangers, OHL)
Landeskog projects as a top-three pick according to most scouts and thus could wind up in a Florida Panthers uniform. The Swedish sniper truly shatters the European stereotype, as he came to Canada for the last two years of junior and even took over as captain of Kitchener.
As a tough Swede who can shoot and dish, I wonder if he projects to be a smaller Mats Sundin.
Jonathan Huberdeau, center (Saint John Sea Dogs, QMJHL)
Is Huberdeau the “sexiest” talent in this year’s draft class? The smooth-handed French Canadian center has some filling out to do but there’s no doubting the considerable offensive flare the Memorial Cup MVP possesses. He’s a wizard with the puck at high speeds and seems to play his best hockey in the clutch.
He could go anywhere from third to 10th; rumor has it Ottawa wants him at No. 6. [ad-4437448]
Sean Couturier, center (Drummondville Voltigeurs, QMJHL)
Couturier is one of the more polarizing prospects in this year’s draft. He’s big, good stick handler, and a solid setup man. However, he was prone to cold spells and didn’t seem to improve from his third year of junior to his fourth.
He could turn into a powerhouse center like Joe Thornton but he could also be a bust.
Dougie Hamilton, defenseman (Niagara IceDogs, OHL)
I’d be shocked to see Hamilton last past the Islanders at fifth overall. He has that Dion Phaneuf, Shea Weber type of build and skill set that makes teams drool. He’s 6’4” and can hammer the puck. Once he fills out, he could be a force.
Also known as a great leader, Hamilton projects as a future NHL captain.
Ryan Strome, center (Niagara IceDogs, OHL)
It seems like there’s a Ryan Strome-type player in the draft every year – a dynamic, skilled guy with amazing hands and the ability to make the Sportscenter Top 10 on any given night.
Some go on to great careers and others never mature enough to succeed at the NHL level. Strome still has a lot of physical growing up to do if he wants to light NHL-defensemen up without getting shoved off the puck.
Many scouts believe he’ll be the new Winnipeg team’s first pick. But is he a guy you build a franchise around? I’m not totally convinced yet.
If you like betting on drafts next weeks NHL Entry Draft may be just what you’re looking for. Not only is it considered one of the deepest drafts in recent memory, but there’s also plenty of mystery surrounding the top picks.