Let’s face it: Everyone has a mock draft.
Put the words ‘2014 NHL Mock Draft’ into Google, and you get endless results. There’s the informed opinion, the semi-informed opinion, and the team-first fan who slants the board and has players with a seventh-round rating going in the top-10, just so that prized prospect falls to his favourite squad.
The great thing about it, is that none of them ultimately matter. Trades and releases, behind the scenes info on prospects, and publicly perceived needs that aren’t viewed the same internally as externally are all reasons why mocks can fall flat on their face.
But there are those who are informed when it comes to the world of draft eligibles, and they’re the ones who have the mocks that may just fall as close as possible to the real thing. So with OHL interest in mind, we’ve taken a look at a handful of mock drafts to see where this year’s crop of OHLers may end up. Here’s who made the cut:
Sam Cosentino, Sportsnet: One of the voices of Sportsnet’s CHL coverage, Cosentino has just nine OHLers going in his first round mock. That ties for the fewest in any first round mock up.
Patrick King, Sportsnet: King has one more OHLer coming off the board in the first round than Cosentino, but that’s not the only difference they have. King has five players going one spot before or after where Cosentino has them coming off the board.
From NHL.com Adam Kimelman, Mike Morreale, and Steven Hoffner: Kimelman sees the OHL having a strong influence on the first round with a mock-high 12 players going in the first round. Both Kimelman and Hoffner have an identical order for the first three OHLers off the board to Cosentino, while Hoffner’s first four is in sync with Cosentino. Kimelman sees the OHL having a late impact, with 6 players going after pick number 18.
Craig Button, Director of Scouting for TSN: Button sees 11 OHLers going in the first round of the draft, but is the only mocker to have the OHL represented with the first two selections (Florida and Buffalo). He also has a pretty even dispersal of Ontario talent through the draft. Like Hoffner, Button has four in the top 10, four from 11-20, and three from 21-30.
Hockey’s Future Staff Mock: The staff over at HF don’t see the draft as being as OHL-centered as some of the others. Like Cosentino, they only have nine players from the OHL going in the first 30 picks, with just two coming off the board after the 20th pick.
HockeyProspect.com: An influencial voice in the hockey community, the important thing to note here, is that this is not a mock draft, but a ranking of the top 30 overall players available in the draft. Of the 30 they deem the best, nine from the OHL make the grade.
Now that we’ve introduced those eight, let’s take a look at some trends that have started to emerge from these mock drafts.
Ekblad the Consensus Number One: Only one player found himself in a consensus across the mocks, and that was Aaron Ekblad of the Barrie Colts. Ekblad’s three seasons of OHL dominance have certainly earned him that top spot on draft boards, and despite all the trade rumours surrounding that pick, it seems that whoever walks to the podium at number one will be taking the 6’4″, 217 lbs blueliner. The only place Ekblad wasn’t rated number one was on HockeyProspect.com’s rankings, where he came in third and Kingston Frontenacs forward Sam Bennett was number one.
Bennett Bouncing Amongst Top Four: Speaking of Bennett, the Fronts forward is all over the top four. One mock has him going second overall to Buffalo (Button), three mocks have him at number three to the Edmonton Oilers (Morreale, HF, King), and the final three have him going at number four. Bennett had 91 points in 57 games this year, but it’s his style of play that’s really turned heads. As we move towards the draft it’s almost a guarantee that he’ll go somewhere in the top four.
Big Dreams on Long Island for MDC? Michael Dal Colle of the Oshawa Generals was a near-consensus pick at number five, as King was the only one who had him going elsewhere (number four to Calgary). Rated 7th overall by HockeyProspect.com, Dal Colle is a big forward who made it impossible to keep him off Oshawa’s top line in his rookie year and has only gotten better. Dal Colle could join Ryan Strome (2011), as well as John Tavares and Calvin de Haan (2009) as recent first round picks out of the OHL by the Isles.
Getting Ritch at Seven (or Eight): Peterborough’s Nick Ritchie, ranked fifth by HockeyProspect.com, has been a popular player when it comes to this draft, as not many players can offer his blend of size and skill. There are some that have reservations about him however. Both the Carolina Hurricanes (7th) and Toronto Maple Leafs (8th) had three mocks angling Ritchie into their laps, while one had him landing in Anaheim with the 10th overall pick.
Apples, Meet Tree: There are two players with the NHL in their blood that could end up as first round picks this weekend. Both Ryan MacInnis (Kitchener Rangers) and Brendan Lemieux (Barrie Colts) have famous fathers, and both of them are mocked to their former stomping grounds. MacInnis’ dad Al had one of the hardest shots ever and made many of his headlines with the St. Louis Blues. No surprise then that the only two mock drafts that have MacInnis going in the first round have him going to his hometown of St. Louis (It’s also worth noting that dear old dad is now V.P. of Hockey Operations with the Blues). For Lemieux, he plays an awful lot like his dad Claude, and if he goes to Colorado (two mocks), Montreal (two mocks), or New Jersey (three mocks), there’s going to be an awful lot of deja vu amongst fans.
Questions Abound: When it comes to Josh Ho-Sang and Anthony DeAngelo there’s no question about the talents that they possess. Unfortunately there are character and maturity concerns that have come to the surface for both of them, with DeAngelo’s being the most troublesome. So with both of those factors in mind, it then becomes a balancing act for teams: Do they go for potential, or do they shy away from potential headlines? Ho-Sang may be the smoothest player on the ice when it comes to this draft, and it earned him first round grades in two mocks (22 to Pittsburgh and 30 to New Jersey). Six of seven mockers had DeAngelo going in the first round (HF left him out and he didn’t crack HockeyProspect.com’s rankings), but then it comes down to character. Both mocks that mention character issues put DeAngelo at the back of the first round (27th to Chicago and 28th to Tampa Bay), while the ones that concentrate purely on skill have him at 13, 17, 19, and 23.
Odds and Ends: On many mocks, Brendan Perlini was the fifth OHLer off the board. He was coming off the board as high as 8th or as low as 13th… Two forwards who could be wild cards in terms of where they end up are Jared McCann and Robby Fabbri. McCann cracked the top ten on two mocks (seventh to Carolina and tenth to the Ducks), but then settled into the middle of the first round. No one had Fabbri going in the top half of round one, but then he went 15th, 16th, 17th, and 18th, along with 22nd, 27th and 28th…One other OHL defenceman who could sneak into the first round is Kingston’s Roland McKeown. He missed the cut on two mocks but settled in as a nice second-half option…If you’re looking for a late-round wild card, Nikolay Goldobin may be that guy. The Knight-killer crept into the back of the first round at 26 (Montreal) and 29 (Los Angeles).
Bryan Thiel is a freelance broadcaster who’s covered the OHL from rink side and the broadcast booth. He’s also filed feature reports on the OHL for the past three seasons. You can follow him on Twitter at BryanThiel_88.