The 2005 NHL Entry Draft is almost upon us, and anticipation is almost off the charts, with Sidney Crosby poised to go to Pittsburgh. After that though, all the questions begin, who’s going to go where? There is cause for optimism for Montreal Canadien fans, as the team has the 5th overall pick in the draft. The following mock draft is the consensus of several HabsWorld staff members. Each pick is listed, as well as a brief scouting report, and each team’s draft history, with their top pick in each of the last 3 years. Biographical details are from the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau (CSB).
1st Overall – Pittsburgh Penguins – Sidney Crosby, Centre, Rimouski (QMJHL) 5’11, 193 lbs
Obvious #1 choice, Crosby creates some wicked depth down the middle for the Pens. Lemieux, Malkin, and Crosby? Watch out East. Now if only they had a few wingers and d-men.
2nd Overall – Anaheim Ducks – Jack Johnson, Defenceman, UTDP (USA INTL), 6’1, 201 lbs
Johnson is a typical Brian Burke player, hard-nosed, with a strong skill set for a defenceman. Has a knack for the net, despite playing against team’s top lines. Future #1 for sure.
3rd Overall – Carolina Hurricanes – Benoit Pouliot, Left Wing, Sudbury (OHL), 6’3, 179 lbs
Pouliot fits the typical Carolina pick, good size and versatility. GM Jim Rutherford has only good things to say about this kid, which makes it hard to believe he’ll pass him up.
4th Overall – Minnesota Wild – Bobby Ryan, Right Wing, Owen Sound (OHL), 6’1, 213 lbs
Can anyone name me another RW in Minnesota not named Gaborik? Not many can. This pick would give the Wild another legit scoring threat in the coming years, with good size to boot.
5th Overall – Montreal Canadiens – Gilbert Brule, Centre, Vancouver (WHL), 5’10, 175 lbs
Brule is a feisty centreman who has no qualms about mixing it up, and also has a strong nose for the net. With the team moving Higgins and Hossa to the wing, another C won’t hurt.
6th Overall – Columbus Blue Jackets – Anze Kopitar, Centre, Sodertalje Jr. (SWE), 6’3, 202 lbs
Let’s cut to the chase here, GM Doug MacLean said he wants Anze Kopitar to centre Nash and Zherdev for years to come. We put him here, but expect Columbus to trade up to get him.
7th Overall – Chicago Blackhawks – Carey Price, Goalie, Tri-City (WHL), 6’2.5, 222 lbs
A bit of a reach here, but the Blackhawks don’t have a strong goaltending prospect to their credit. Given all the goalies they’ve used, Price should move up quickly on the depth chart.
8th Overall – Atlanta Thrashers – Marc Staal, Defenceman, Sudbury (OHL), 6’3.5, 196 lbs
The Thrashers are beginning to regret last year’s selection of Valabik, and this is an opportunity to make up for it. And with the new NHL encouraging mobile d-men, Staal’s stock will rise.
9th Overall – Ottawa Senators – Martin Hanzal, Budejovice Jr. (CZE), 6’4, 198 lbs
Another reach here, but a fair comparison of Hanzal is that he has the size of Marian Hossa, and the skill and shiftiness of Martin Havlat. What isn’t there to like if you’re the Sens?
10th Overall – Vancouver Canucks – Jack Skille, Right Wing, UTDP (USA INTL), 6’1, 198 lbs
With the teams ahead drafting for need, Skille is a gift at #10. He has good size and speed, and an above average shot to boot. Heading to US collegiate level next season.
11th Overall – Los Angeles Kings – Tuukka Rask, Goalie, Ilves Jr. (FIN), 6’2, 183 lbs
Another reach for a goalie here, but do they ever need one. They’ll be gambling with Garon and Hauser between the pipes next year, and have no real strong goalie in their system.
12th Overall – San Jose Sharks – Ryan O’Marra, Centre, Erie (OHL), 6’1.5, 193 lbs
What do the Sharks need? Something other than a RW. O’Marra is one of the most consistent players in the draft, and exudes strong leadership skills, another need for San Jose.
13th Overall – Buffalo Sabres – Luc Bourdon, Defenceman, Val d’Or (QMJHL), 6’2.5, 199 lbs
The Sabres always seem to be short on defensive depth, and this year is no exception. He is reliable in his own end, and also has a bullet shot at the point. Likely a steal here at #13.
14th Overall – Washington Capitals – Ryan Parent, Defenceman, Guelph (OHL), 6’2, 183 lbs
Ranked by some as better than Bourdon, Parent is a nice consolation price for the Caps. There’s nothing flashy about his game, and stability is something Washington really needs.
15th Overall – New York Islanders – Niklas Bergfors, LW/RW, Sodertalje Jr. (SWE), 6’0, 198 lbs
Once again, Mike Milbury surprises everyone and takes a European higher than anyone expects. Bergfors is one of the most gifted offensive players in the draft, but must work on D.
16th Overall – New York Rangers – Alex Bourret, Centre, Lewiston (QMJHL), 5’9.5, 209 lbs
The size factor strikes again. Top-10 talent, but at only 5’9.5, he slips this far. The Rangers, who have recently went for size and less skill, do a 180 and get a strong, gritty scoring threat.
17th Overall – Phoenix Coyotes – Brian Lee, Defenceman, Lincoln (USHL), 6’2.5, 202 lbs
A typical riser, Lee brings a lot to the table, good size, mobility, and yes, he can play defence too! But because he wasn’t in a real competitive league, some teams will shy away.
18th Overall – Nashville Predators – Guillaume Latendresse, Right Wing, Drummondville (QMJHL), 6’1.5, 216 lbs
Don’t let the CSB rank (52) fool you, this kid is a power forward in the making. He has no troubles scoring, but there are a few deficiencies that need to be worked on. Could be a big steal.
19th Overall – Detroit Red Wings – Marek Zagrapan, Centre, Chicoutimi (QMJHL), 6’0.5, 195 lbs
The Wings have always had a history of drafting purely skill players (Datsyuk, Hudler, etc…). Just imagine, Zetterberg to Zagrapan, yipe! Needs a lot of polishing in his two-way game.
20th Overall – Philadelphia Flyers – Kenndal McArdle, Left Wing, Moose Jaw (WHL), 5’11, 190 lbs
McArdle fits most of GM Bob Clarke’s criteria. He has good speed, some grit, and can put the puck in the net every now and then too. Could be a future 2nd liner alongside Richards.
21st Overall – Toronto Maple Leafs – Devin Setoguchi, Right Wing, Saskatoon (WHL), 5’11.5, 186 lbs
The Leafs need help virtually everywhere, and this is a good place to start. Setoguchi will never be a front-end player, but he’ll be a quality 2nd liner, and the Leafs need some of them.
22nd Overall – Boston Bruins – Matt Lashoff, Defenceman, Kitchener (OHL), 6’1.5, 201 lbs
He didn’t have the greatest of years, but that was mostly due to mono. He’s not going to be a #1 or 2 guy, but he’ll be a steady #3 or 4, with a quality two-way game.
23rd Overall – New Jersey Devils – Jakub Kindl, Defenceman, Kitchener (OHL), 6’2.5, 199 lbs
Consistency was a significant issue for him this year, but no one can deny his skills. He’ll have plenty of time to develop and learn in a very strong Devils farm system.
24th Overall – St. Louis Blues – Brendan Mikkelson, Defenceman, Portland (WHL), 6’2, 180 lbs
St. Louis needs a lot of everything, but they need d-men most. Mikkelson is primarily a defensive defenceman, but his reliability makes him a very attractive commodity.
25th Overall – Edmonton Oilers – Ryan Stoa, Centre, UTDP (USA INTL), 6’3, 200 lbs
Edmonton’s biggest organizational need is at the pivot spot, as their flyer pick of Ninnimaki seems to be all but a flop now. Stoa has good size and skill, but will be several years away.
26th Overall – Calgary Flames – Andrew Cogliano, Centre, St. Mike’s (Jr. A), 5’9.5, 178 lbs
Cogliano is very adept offensively, but also is easily knocked off the puck, and that’s at the Jr. A level. If he can overcome his size issue though, he’ll be a sure steal here.
27th Overall – Colorado Avalanche – Jakub Vojta, Defenceman, Sparta Jr. (CZE), 6’0, 194 lbs
Colorado is another of those teams who need everything. They especially need defence, where only Liffiton is a legit prospect. Vojta’s a risky pick, but has top-end potential.
28th Overall – Dallas Stars – Dan Bertram, Right Wing, Boston College (HE), 5’11, 175 lbs
Had it not been for the U-18’s, he may have been a 3rd rounder. His speed is his greatest asset, but durability long-term will be a concern due to his in-your-face style of play.
29th Overall – Florida Panthers – Michael Blunden, Right Wing, Erie (OHL), 6’3, 213 lbs
Blunden is your typical Mike Keenan player, big and tough. He doesn’t have great finishing skills, but is decent defensively, and also helps fill Florida’s need for size and extra grit.
30th Overall – Tampa Bay Lightning – Ondrej Pavelec, Goalie, Kladno Jr. (CZE), 6’2, 180 lbs
Tampa has a decent crop of prospects, except in goal. Pavelec played exceptionally well for the Czechs in international competition, and is very strong positionally.