Round 1 – 10th overall
New York Rangers –
6’2″, 212 lbs – Defenseman, Moose Jaw (WHL)
The Rangers went with the meanest player in the draft, a big and towering defenseman who loves to punish anyone who comes near the net and is easily the most intimidating player in the draft. He’ll certainly fit on the Rangers, and the fans will instantly love seeing a player like McIlrath hitting forwards at MSG.
Unfortunately, he’s a turnover machine and there was no way I’d put him as high as #10. Glen Sather strikes again.
Round 1 – 8th overall
Atlanta Thrashers – Alexander Burmistrov
Center, Barrie (OHL)
The Thrashers went with the smallest player in the draft (5-11, 147) but one has perhaps the rawest talent in the draft. He is somehow able to avoid the physicality of the OHL defensemen, avoid the big hits and do nothing but score goal after goal after goal.
He’s going to spend a few more seasons in the OHL however, but will quickly become the top prospect in the Thrashers’ system.
Round 1 – 7th overall
Carolina Hurricanes – Jeff Skinner
5′ 10″, 187 lbs – Right Wing, Kitchener (OHL)
Some teams were afraid of his size, but not the Hurricanes. They liked Skinners incredible scoring ability and insane production in the OHL. After a few more years in the OHL, he has the potential to develop into the purest scorer in the draft.
All that stands in his way is putting on some strength before taking his game to the next level, but with his work ethic and makeup that shouldn’t be an issue.
Round 1 – 5th overall
New York Islanders – Nino Niederreiter
6′ 1″ 201 lbs – Right Wing, Portland (WHL)
With Cam Fowler there for the taking, the Islanders stuck with their guns and picked the guy they had wanted all along – Nino Niederreiter.
The dynamic playmaker had seen his stock skyrocket the past few months and the Islanders were locked into taking him no matter what pick they ended up with. Fowler was there after the Blue Jackets picked Ryan Johanson, and was the one player that many felt would be the guy that could take Niederreiter’s spot for the Islanders if he was available.
Instead, they stuck with their guns and nabbed Niederreiter, who was certainly a worthy top-5 pick and comparable in skill to Hall and Seguin.
Round 1 – 4th overall
Columbus Blue Jackets – Ryan Johanson
6′ 2″, 190 lbs, Portland (WHL)
The Columbus Blue Jackets didn’t want to make this pick, but after taking several calls on the draft floor they never got the offer they so desperately wanted.
So instead of taking Cam Fowler they throw a curveball into the proceedings and select center Ryan Johanson from Portland of the WHL.
Johanson is a great playmaker and a great skater who is about as pure a goal scorer as there is in the draft. I doubt anyone decided he was a top 5 pick, and he’s going to need a few more seasons in the WHL to put on some muscle as he’s a bit of a tall, lanky player.