My Early 2014 NHL Mock Draft

  1. Reinhart (C)
  2. Ekblad (D)
  3. Dal Colle (C/LW)
  4. Bennett (LW)
  5. Nylander (C)
  6. Draisaitl (C)
  7. Ehlers (LW)
  8. McKeown (D)
  9. Karlsson (LW)
  10. Ritchie (F)
  11. Virtanen (LW)
  12. Kapanen (RW)
  13. Barbashev (F)
  14. Ho-sang (RW)
  15. Fleury (D)
  16. Perlini (LW)
  17. Schmaltz (RW)
  18. McCann (C)
  19. Lindblom (RW)
  20. Demko (G)
  21. Larkin (LW)
  22. Vrana (RW)
  23. Kempe (C)
  24. Bleackley (C/RW)
  25. Tuch (RW)
  26. Nedeljkovic (G)
  27. Glover (D)
  28. Clarke (C)
  29. Middleton (D)
  30. Jacobs (D)

Future NHL Winter Classic, Heritage Classic, and Stadium Series Ideas

2015 
So we all know Washington is hosting the 2015 Winter Classic, but we do not yet know who the visiting team will be… I’m going with Tampa Bay as their opponents. Sounds crazy but I think it’s possible, and besides, which of their “rivals” haven’t been in a Classic yet? Philadelphia, NYR, Boston, Pittsburgh – they’ve all been there. Stamkos vs. Ovechkin would be the main attraction. But if it’s not the Bolts then I’ll say maybe Vancouver or San Jose; they’re such successful franchises and would bring in big bucks for the NHL.
The next Heritage Classic (2015) in my opinion should be a little different. I think it should be an epic showdown between the Oilers and the Flames, a Battle of Alberta, but the twist is that it should take place in Banff, Alberta. Imagine how cool that would be, a game at a makeshift arena in the mountains. It would truly bring the meaning of the Heritage Classic to life, taking place in the heart of the Alberta wilderness. I think it would be great to see next season.
If the Stadium Series is successful enough to continue beyond this year, I’m going out on a limb here by saying I think they will extend it to a Canadian team. Toronto seems to fit the best description in terms of a “stadium series,” and I envision the Maple Leafs hosting either their cross-province rival Senators or their neighboring Quebec rivals, the Canadiens, in one of the matchups. In another game, I imagine the Blues could host a game against Chicago (division rival) or even their recent, frequent playoff rival, the LA Kings. And in keeping with the playoff rival theme, I can also see San Jose possibly hosting Vancouver.
2016
I think the 2016 Winter Classic should be in Minnesota and should feature the Wild hosting the Colorado Avalanche. Minnesota is the State of Hockey, where kids grow up on ice skates. Additionally, the late 90′s and early 2000′s Avalanche team that featured Sakic, Foote, Forsberg, Roy, etc. made Colorado crazy about the sport. By 2016, both teams should be serious contenders and the support behind the franchises would make for an epic marquee matchup.
The 2016 Heritage Classic should feature Winnipeg hosting either Toronto or Montreal. The passion in Manitoba for hockey is overwhelming and although small in population, Winnipeggers would fill up whatever outdoor venue the event takes place in to its maximum capacity. If Winnipeg is deemed to “small” for such an event though, I could totally see them hosting one in unfamiliar territory, away from the big markets – Halifax, Nova Scotia would be an interesting place to host such an event, maybe between the Canadiens and the Senators or the Maple Leafs.
Much like my proposed Halifax Heritage Classic, the NHL should look into hosting the Stadium Series in new, unfamiliar markets by 2016. They should think about possible games in Seattle (VAN-SJS), Quebec City (MTL-BOS), and maybe even Salt Lake City (COL-DET), all to gauge the possibility of future franchise locations based on attendance of each game – that is, if the NHL is willing to take the risk. 

6 Thoughts

  1. You have to think about the Matt Moulson situation – his wife just had a kid two weeks ago and he also has a 14 month old daughter. His friends and family are all in Long Island, more than 7 hours away from his new home in Buffalo. You have to think at this stage in his life, he may take a paycut to sign with the Isles again in the offseason. That is, of course, if the Isles even want him back. But I think he has a good enough reputation with management as well as with his former teammates that something can be ironed out, even if it’s only a one-year deal just to cope with the transformation into living farther away from his family. Eventually money will take priority, but for now I think he’ll do what’s best for him and his family.
  2. Not much to do with the current NHL, but for those of you who are avid NHL draft fans like me, you’ve obviously all heard of 2014 prospects Sam Reinhart and Aaron Ekblad, as well as 2015 prospects Connor McDavid, Travis Konecny and Dylan Strome. Some other names to look out for are William Nylander, Sam Bennett, Michael DalColle, Leon Draisaitl, Jakub Vrana, Roland McKeown, and Jake Virtanen (2014). Additionally, watch for Matthew Barzal in 2015 (he will be an unexpected force to reckon with by the time the draft comes around in two years). If you’re looking really far ahead, you’d know that Sean Day and Tyler Benson are already projected to be top prospects in the 2016 draft. The one prospect I don’t know much about (maybe my Moosehead followers can help me out here??) is Nikolaj Ehlers. I am not sure what year he is eligible, as I cannot find much about him online, but I have heard rave reviews about him. The future is bright for the NHL, especially when McDavid comes into the league - he will be not only a franchise-changer, but a league-changer as well – a generational talent, much like a Cole Harbour native who came into the league eight years ago and goes by the number 87...
  3. As far as current prospects/unestablished players are concerned, the Colorado Avalanche have another hyped Cole Harbour native and future-star-in-the-making in Nathan MacKinnon. The kid will (and seemingly already has) help the Avs become among the elite in the NHL once again. Others, including Seth Jones, Sean Monahan, and Aleksandr (Sacha) Barkov have already emerged as game breakers. The peculiar decision to send Jonathan Drouin back to the QMJHL was actually a smart one by the Lightning, and there is little doubt that once he breaks into the NHL he will absolutely dominate (especially next to Stamkos). Other prospects, such as Anthony Mantha (DET) and Connor Brown (TOR) are absolutely taking their respective junior leagues by storm right now. Emilie Poirier - Calgary’s surprising second of three 1st round choices in the past draft - also seems to be having a breakout season in the QMJHL right now. Speaking of Calgary prospects, Mark Jankowski is beginning to validate the oddest draft selection of the past few years, pulling off two amazing moves in his NCAA games recently. He is really coming into his own and may turn out to be the biggest steal of the 2012 draft in terms of where his potential was believed to be at the time he was drafted.
  4. On an unbiased note (I am a Rangers fan after all), Chris Kreider seems to finally be becoming the player everyone expected him to be. I’m not saying this because he scored his first goal of the season the other night, but I’m saying it because his presence on the ice is finally being felt on both ends of the ice. His speed and size are being put to good use, and he is excelling at his new Ryan Kesler-like role AV has aspired to place him in on the power play. That big body presence in front of the net is going to do wonders for the often dreadful power play the Rangers have put out the past few seasons. Two PP goals in the last game? Things are looking up for the Rangers right now.
  5. What is going on with Semyon Varlamov?? Brutally beating his girlfriend and turning himself in the next day, this seems far worse than what Roy did back in 2001 to his wife. We don’t have all the details yet, however the Avs play tomorrow and are going to need to figure out who their backup goalie will be if Varlamov is not available to play. Giguere will most likely be the starter in goal but you always need a reliable backup. Then again, with goalies like Ryan Miller on the market for what seems like forever, Colorado may want to look at him as a rental until they figure out what they will do long-term in goal (seeing as how Varlamov may face up to 6 years in prison, according to a few sources). They would be smart to act sooner than later because the Oilers, NY Islanders, and (surprisingly) even the St Louis Blues may be expressing some interest in the veteran UFA-to-be. While the first two are desperate, St Louis may be interested because they’re all in to win this year.
  6. Call me insane for suggesting the following but I really think the Rangers should trade Lundqvist now. Not in a month, not at the deadline, not before or at free agency, but RIGHT NOW. Reason is this: Lundqvist has had a so-so year so far. The injury, the 9-2 and 6-0 games, and the rumors that the new equipment may be forcing him to play deeper in his net don’t help his trade value, however he is known to be one of the elite goaltenders of today. If the Rangers can take advantage of the Varlamov situation, they can get a great return by shipping Lundqvist to Denver. I’m not talking about game-changing players for now, but rather a great return in the form of picks. They can secure at least two first-round picks in the deal, and although Colorado’s prospect pool is extremely shallow, they may be able to grab one in a package. My thinking is that with AV coming in, now would be a great time to tank and draft an elite offensive player (which we sorely lack). Nash is hurt, Callahan is hurt, but even when they return, I do not believe that much is going to change. The truth of the matter is that this is a mediocre team at best, one that will never stand up to the big guns of San Jose, St Louis, Boston, or Pittsburgh in the playoffs. I’m sick of watching a team that struggles year after year when I know what the issue is: lack of offensive talent. Even with Lundqvist gone, goaltending shouldn’t be too much of a problem, and there are plenty of UFA goalie options if Talbot falters. Plus the NYR defense is one of the best defensive cores in the league today. The time is now to turn this team into a true elite powerhouse, not the fluke of an elite team we saw in the 2012 playoffs. That was a desperate team, but what I want to see for once is a highly-skilled, high-flying team that nets more than 4 goals a week (okay maybe I’m exaggerating). A team like Toronto, Vancouver, or Washington, just with better defense. A team with offensive production like that of Chicago’s or Pittsburgh’s. A defense that maintains its consistency. Maybe I sound naïve, maybe I’m being unrealistic. But one can dream, right? The time is now – trade Lundqvist before he walks this summer!