June 25, 2010
2010 NHL Draft Tracker: First Round
1 Left wing Taylor Hall Windsor OHL 6-1 185
SI.com's Allan Muir says: The scouts are unanimous. Hall is considered the most NHL-ready player in his class and he has superstar written all over him. With the speed of Alexander Mogilny, the shot of Brett Hull, the fearless net drive of Cam Neely, he's going to be an impact player no matter where he lands. "He's a lot like Zach Parise, only he's more determined to get to the net," offered one scout. Hall's reckless abandon has some people worried that he'll suffer a physical toll once he matches up with bigger, smarter pros. (Check out the hit that Travis Hamonic laid on him in the opening game of this year's Memorial Cup tournament.) But others aren't so concerned. "He'll figure it out," says another scout. "He'll make some adjustments, but he won't lose what makes him special." PLAYER PROFILE
2 Center Tyler Seguin Plymouth OHL 6-1 172
Pick acquired from Toronto. SI.com's Allan Muir says: There was solid reasoning that led to Seguin being voted the top draft prospect in the OHL. "His hockey sense is off the charts," a Western Conference scout told SI.com. "He's the best in his class at creating something out of nothing." Seguin's game is described as "incredibly mature," which is noteworthy considering that he's been in the OHL just two years compared to three for Hall. "It's all about projection, about where you see a player down the road," said the scout. "He's not much younger than Hall, but he's less experienced. So when you see he scored 48 goals this year [eight more than Hall], you see the way he goes about his business...I believe [he'll be] the better player 10 years on." PLAYER PROFILE
3 Defenseman Erik Gudbranson Kingston OHL 6-4 195
SI.com's Allan Muir says: You'll hear experienced NHL bird dogs comparing him to Chris Pronger or Dion Phaneuf and a few viewings will reveal the nasty, physical play and hard-rock build that have many scouts pegging him as the next great shutdown defender. But there also have been whispers over the last several weeks that what you see with Gudbranson is what you get. "He's a mean S.O.B., that's for sure," said an Eastern Conference scout. "He hits hard and he'll drop [the gloves] to make a point." But, the scout continued, he was a disappointment at the Under-18 tournament in Minsk. "You have to love his character, his leadership, but that event reinforced my concerns about his decision making. He'll be a player, no doubt. But can he do as much for a team as, say, Gormley? He does some things better, but overall, I don't think so." PLAYER PROFILE
4 Center Ryan Johansen Portland WHL 6-2 192
Si.com's Allan Muir says: Johansen is a rare commodity: a big, rangy center with solid two-way ability. What really captured the imagination of scouts was his improvement level over the season. "Another year and he might catch up to Hall and Seguin," said one. Another compared his game to that of Eric Staal. "I won't say he'll score like Staal, but that's the thing with this kid. Things are just now starting to come together for him. That touch might be the next step in his evolution. We really haven't seen the best of him yet." PLAYER PROFILE
5 Right wing Nino Niederreiter Portland WHL 6-2 201
SI.com's Allan Muir says: Niederreiter is possibly the best prospect ever to come out of Swiss hockey. One of the youngest players in the draft (if he'd been born a week later, he'd be a 2011 selection), he made a name for himself with a standout performance at the 2010 World Juniors. "What you saw there is what you get," said a scout. "Great hands, a plus shot, tons of grit and passion. A knack for coming through in the clutch. A special player." PLAYER PROFILE
6 Right wing Brett Connolly Prince George WHL 6-2 181
SI.com's Allan Muir says: Connolly is a dazzling winger who might have challenged Seguin and Hall if hip injuries hadn't limited him to just 16 games on the season. Shades of Marian Gaborik? Maybe...no way of knowing for sure that the injuries aren't chronic, but Connolly is worth the risk. He scored 30 goals and won the CHL's rookie of the year in 2009, then scored 10 times in his 16 games this year. "He has great size [6-2, 181] and no one questions his touch," an Eastern Conference scout told SI.com. "He plays a mix of a finesse and a power game. He might have helped his case if he'd played better at the recent Under-18s, but it's hard to see him falling out of the top 10." PLAYER PROFILE
7 Right wing Jeff Skinner Kitchener OHL 5-10 187
SI.com's Allan Muir says: Skinner's dazzling offensive game is a safe bet. He's often knocked for his skating -- odd, considering that he was once a nationally-ranked figure skater -- but there's no debate about his touch after he scored 70 goals in 84 regular and playoff games. "He's a game-breaker, pure and simple," said one scout. "He may not look good on the way, but he gets to where he needs to be to finish plays." The scout also noted that while Skinner isn't the strongest kid, his legs are surprisingly sturdy, making him tough to knock off the puck. PLAYER PROFILE
8 Center Alexander Burmistrov Barrie OHL 5-11 157
SI.com's Allan Muir says: A player who's been compared to both Igor Larionov and Pavel Datsyuk. Burmistrov plays the classic Russian style, all speed and jaw-dropping dekes, but he's also great on the draw and a reliable enough defensive presence that he should mature into as much of an asset on the penalty kill as on the power play. The one knock on him: his size. He's about 5-11, but doesn't yet top 160, so he needs a year, probably two, to build up his weight and strength before he can contribute. While all Russians come with an asterisk these days, there's a sense that Burmistrov is committed to playing in the NHL. PLAYER PROFILE
9 Center Mikael Granlund HIFK Finland 5-10 180
SI.com's Allan Muir says: Granlund's size and skating have raised some concerns, but there's no arguing with his talent. He might have the best hockey sense in the entire class, and he excelled while playing against grown men in the Finnish Elite League, where he scored 40 points in just 43 games. The Saku Koivu comparisons seem a little too easy, but it's accurate. "He's got a lot of fight in him," offered one scout. PLAYER PROFILE
10 Defenseman Dylan McIlrath Moose Jaw WHL 6-4 212
SI.com's Allan Muir says: A team that's desperate for a nasty physical presence on the back end simply can't ask for more than McIlrath. "He doesn't have the puck skills to project as a top pairing guy," said a scout. "But he is easily the most intimidating player in the draft. He'll keep the opposition honest." McIlrath had 19 fighting majors on the season. He'll need another year or two to work on his skating and filling out his 6-4, 215-pound frame. PLAYER PROFILE
11 Goaltender Jack Campbell USA U-18 USDP 6-3 175
SI.com's Allan Muir says: Goalies have proven to be a high-risk proposition in the first round in recent years, but Campbell's performance in big games over the past season has scouts raving about his potential to emerge as a franchise goalie...and possibly one of the best players in this draft -- one who led the U.S. to gold medals at both the U-18 and the World Juniors. "I could see someone using a top-five pick to snag him," said one scout. "He really is that good. He's got the size, the athleticism and his compete level is off the charts. He's as intense at practice as at game time. A great leader and a great teammate. He's the real deal." PLAYER PROFILE
12 Defenseman Cam Fowler Windsor OHL 6-1 190
SI.com's Allan Muir says: Fowler's taken a lot of heat during the last few months over his lack of physicality, but it's not like the guy's a kitten. It's clearly the least appealing part of his game, but it's also the sort of deficiency that can easily be covered by a more malevolently-inclined partner. He has well-developed offensive tools and can key a transition game from the moment he steps on the ice. He makes excellent decisions with the puck and his passing is the most accurate of any player in the draft. PLAYER PROFILE
13 Defenseman Brandon Gormley Moncton QMJHL 6-2 185
Pick acquired from Calgary in the Olli Jokinen trade. SI.com's Allan Muir says: There's a Duncan Keith-quality to the 6-2, 180-pound defender's game and puck skills are his standout talent. "He makes a great breakout pass," said one scout. "He can read the play as well as anyone, and his positioning is textbook. You can rely on him in any situation." PLAYER PROFILE
14 Center Jaden Schwartz Tri-City USHL 5-10 180
SI.com's Allan Muir says: A Canadian version of Mikael Granlund, Schwartz is short on size (5-10, 180) but long on talent. He led the USHL in scoring last season (33-50-83 in 60 games), thanks to a great set of hands and tremendous vision that makes him the league's top playmaker. He needs to improve his skating -- he's shifty but lacks overall speed -- but that could develop while he matriculates at Colorado College. He may need all four years, though. PLAYER PROFILE
15 Defenseman Derek Forbort USA U-18 USHL 6-5 198
Pick acquired from Florida via Boston for the 19th and 59th picks in this draft. SI.com's Allan Muir says: One scout told me that Forbort could be this year's Thomas Hickey, a defender regarded as a mid-first round prospect who eventually was drafted by the Kings fourth overall in 2007. Forbort has the size (6-5, 198) that teams covet, is quick on his feet, and he has both the poise and the smarts to bring something to the offensive end of the ice. There's a lot of projection involved with his still-maturing game, however. PLAYER PROFILE
16 Right wing Vladimir Tarasenko Novosibirsk Russia 5-11 202
Pick acquired from Ottawa for defenseman David Rundblad. SI.com's Allan Muir says: It wouldn't have been a surprise to hear his name called in the top 10, but the Russian factor seems likely to have prolonged his stay on the draft board. As one scout for a club drafting in the bottom third of the round told me, if his team were picking in the 5-7 range, he'd push hard for Tarasenko. "A top-five talent, no doubt," the scout said. "Has a tremendous shot and has a knack for finding the dead areas down low." He's no banger, but at 5-11, 202, the son of former Russian Olympian Andrei Tarasenko is already sturdier than his father. Witnesses at the scouting combine gave him high marks for a physique that's allowed him to battle two years already in the KHL, where he's likely to remain for another couple years. PLAYER PROFILE
17 Center Joey Hishon Owen Sound OHL 5-10 170
CENTRAL SCOUTING says: "He's a high-energy, hustle bug. He's got pretty good skill. He's one of those guys that is really noticeable when you see him play because of his work ethic and the energy he brings every night." PLAYER PROFILE
18 Left wing Austin Watson Peterborough OHL 6-3 185
SI.com's Allan Muir says: Watson is considered a lock to become an NHL player solely on the basis of his defensive skill set. "He battles as hard as anyone," said a scout. "He plays with a lot of desire. He'll pay the price at both ends...blocking shots, battling for position. Whatever it takes." The question is: can Watson develop the offensive game to become a top-six forward? Word is that several NHL teams saw it in him, and that could've lead to his name being called sooner. I'm not sold. I see him as more of a Kris Draper-type in the NHL. PLAYER PROFILE
19 Center Nick Bjugstad Blaine Minn-High School 6-4 188
Pick acquired from Los Angeles for the 15th pick. SI.com's Allan Muir says: Minnesota's Mr. Hockey is a massive 6-4, 188-pound slab of beef who absolutely dominated the high school ranks. "He's still growing...he's going to be a real horse in a couple of years," said one scout, who also applauded Bjugstad's leadership and work ethic both on and off the ice. Bjugstad scored 29 goals in 25 games this year, but he'll benefit from playing a higher brand of competition at the University of Minnesota. PLAYER PROFILE
20 Right wing Beau Bennett Penticton BCHL 6-1 173
SI.com's Allan Muir says: Two scouts suggested Bennett could slide to the second round, but others say he's a mid-first lock, with one scout comparing his dynamic finishing touch to that of Dany Heatley. In 56 games with the Vees, Bennett scored 41 goals (25 on the power play) and added 79 assists for 120 points. "There are elements of his game that need work, but they're all things that can be addressed," said a scout. "The one thing you can't teach is touch and Bennett has that in spades." PLAYER PROFILE
21 Center Riley Sheahan Notre Dame CCHA 6-2 202
SI.com's Allan Muir says: Sheahan has the build, but there are questions about his offensive upside after he scored just six goals as a freshman at Notre Dame. Still, scouts see him finding a way to contribute once he hits the pros. "He's a high energy player," said one, who compared him to a poor man's Jordan Staal. "Even if the hands don't come around, he has the [will and the skill] to be an effective shutdown center." PLAYER PROFILE
22 Defenseman Jarred Tinordi USA U-18 USHL 6-6 205
Pick acquired from Phoenix with No. 113 for No. 27 and 57. SI.com's Allan Muir says: Call him a chunk off the old block. Already 6-6 and 205 pounds, the son of long-time NHL banger Mark Tinordi projects as a bigger, meaner version of his father -- exactly the sort of hold 'em accountable defender the Habs will need. "You don't want to spend too much time around the crease when he's on the ice," said a scout. He also earns praise for his leadership and character. His dad has said he sees more of an offensive touch to his son's game than he himself had, but beyond a smart first pass, don't count on too much. PLAYER PROFILE
23 Defenseman Mark Pysyk Edmonton WHL 6-1 174
SI.com's Allan Muir says: The broken foot that cost him the last 24 games of the season hurt Pysyk more than the minus-19 rating he picked up playing for the woeful Oil Kings. "He lacks the high-end quality that everyone wants in a first rounder, but he's the sort of kid you can throw out there every other shift and feel confident that he'll make the right play." Pysyk makes a good first pass, and has the skating ability to lead the rush and the smarts to know when to take the chance. He comes up a little short in the physical game, however, and that likely will push him towards the end of the round. PLAYER PROFILE
24 Right wing Kevin Hayes Nobles High-MA 6-2 201
Pick acquired from New Jersey via Atlanta. CENTRAL SCOUTING says: "Kevin is a skilled power forward who plays with enthusiasm and drive. He has very good hands and is an excellent playmaker. He's a strong skater with a long stride, and uses his long reach and puck protection to beat defenders. An excellent wrist shot with a sneaky quick release, and will shoot from any angle. He controls the puck very well in traffic, sees the ice very well, and finds the open man. He has a very good knack of playing the puck in his skates for a big player, often moving the puck from skates to stick without losing speed." PLAYER PROFILE
25 Center Quinton Howden Moose Jaw WHL 6-2 182
Pick acquired from Vancouver for defenseman Keith Ballard and right wing Victor Oreskovich. Florida also received right wing Steve Bernier and right wing Michael Grabner. SI.com's Allan Muir says: The Panthers add some size and strength with the 6-2, 182-pound Howden. "I see a bit of Ryan Kesler in him," said one scout. "Great skater, reads the play well, and he's strong on both sides of the puck. [I'm} not sure he'll ever have the touch [to play] a top-six role, but he's a player who will find a way to make an impact with his minutes." At worst, he's seen as a strong penalty-killer. PLAYER PROFILE
26 Center Evgeny Kuznetsov Chelyabinsk Russia 6-0 172
SI.com's Allan Muir says: If it wasn't for the Nikita Filatov factor, a player as talented as Kuznetsov would earn consideration as a top-10 choice. "He's inconsistent, but when he's on his game, he can be the most dominant player on the ice," a scout suggested. "But how many Russians have you heard that about?" While his detractors point to a non-descript performance at the WJC and question his desire to play in North America, Kuznetsov has an apparent skill level that has to appeal. It's a risky pick, but a potential payoff of a top-six forward. PLAYER PROFILE
27 Goaltender Mark Visentin Niagara OHL 6-2 187
Pick acquired from Montreal with No. 57 for No. 22 and 113. CENTRAL SCOUTING says: "He's got good size, moves very well, got great quickness, he's just very determined, got great butterfly, great net coverage. His push-offs are very strong and very quick. He's square to the puck, his glove hand is good. His confidence level is real high. Very technically sound, as well." PLAYER PROFILE
28 Right wing/center Charlie Coyle South Shore EJHL 6-2 202
SI.com's Allan Muir says: Coyle is "a bit of a project" according to one scout, but he should be worth the wait. The Boston University-bound winger has all the physical attributes -- he's 6-2, 207 and ranked in the top-five in the key fitness tests at the combine -- but his game is still a work in progress. "He's strong and he skates and is terrific at protecting the puck," said the scout. "But you want to see if he can score against high-end competition." If Coyle takes after cousin Tony Amonte, that shouldn't be a problem. PLAYER PROFILE
29 Right wing Emerson Etem Medicine Hat WHL 6-0 190
Pick acquired from Philadelphia. SI.com's Allan Muir says: It's not a surprise that Etem went the Ducks. The SoCal native is one of the fastest players in the draft and also has some of the best hands. Etem's 37 goals led all CHL rookies and he could be a Patrick Kane-lite. "He's got a bit of Marian Gaborik in him," suggested one scout. "He gets into high gear in a hurry and he can really let it go on the fly. He has a really heavy shot." Etem also impressed scouts by adding to his arsenal of moves this season. "He has that desire to improve his game. He's a very coachable kid," said another. PLAYER PROFILE
30 Center Brock Nelson Warroad High-MN 6-3 205
Pick acquired from Chicago for No. 33 and No. 58. SI.com's Allan Muir says: The nephew of 1980 Olympic Miracle on Ice star Dave Christian is projected as a hard-hitting power forward. Scouts are praising his smarts and his considerable work ethic. "He's already a solid player, but you can tell how badly he wants to be more," said one. "He's a very coachable kid." PLAYER PROFILE

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