Dan Di Sciullo, NHL Editor
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
The overwhelming consensus is that the first two picks of the 2009 NHL Entry Draft will be John Tavares and Victor Hedman. Predicting who will be the first to go is another story all together.
Here is a look at who could go where, although it only takes a few trades to make a mockery of this exercise.
Team: NY Islanders
Player: John Tavares (London)
Notes: This Ontario native has been a household name in Canada for several years thanks to his ability to put the puck in the net. The Isles need players who can make an impact right away and nobody fits that bill better than Tavares.
Team: Tampa Bay
Player: Victor Hedman (MoDo)
Notes: At 6-6, 220 pounds, Hedman combines immense size and strong play in his own end with solid offensive skills. The late-blooming Swede would be a welcome addition to a Tampa Bay blueline that lacks a standout defenseman.
Player: Matt Duchene (Brampton)
Notes: This smooth-skating prospect plays an all-around game and could step in soon as Colorado's No. 2 center behind Paul Stastny.
Player: Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson (Timra)
Notes: Superstar winger Ilya Kovalchuk is entering the final year of a contract with Atlanta and is not expected to re-sign with the club. The Thrashers could reload with Paajarvi-Svensson, who is expected to create havoc at the NHL level with his blend of size and speed.
Team: Los Angeles
Player: Evander Kane (Vancouver)
Notes: Rumors are swirling that the Kings may trade this pick, but Kane and his goal-scoring touch would be an excellent addition to a franchise already stocked with young talent.
Player: Jared Cowen (Spokane)
Notes: A knee injury in February cut his season with Spokane of the WHL short and that ailment could stop Cowen from being a top-five pick. But, Cowen has the size (6-5, 218 pounds), speed and skill to be a top defenseman in the NHL and Phoenix is short on talent at the back end.
Player: Brayden Schenn (Brandon)
Notes: The Leafs selected defenseman Luke Schenn fifth overall last year and will likely take his brother Brayden, a centerman, if he is still available at No. 7. Brayden Schenn is an excellent two-way player with a smooth stride and a penchant for playmaking.
Player: David Rundblad (Skelleftea)
Notes: New Stars GM Joe Nieuwendyk will have Dallas' first top-10 pick since 1996 to work with and he'll likely select a European defenseman. Rundblad boasts a better offensive game than his countryman Hedman and has decent size at 6-2, 190 pounds.
Player: Nazem Kadri (London)
Notes: The Sens will jump on Paajarvi-Svensson if he's still available at nine, but Kadri's blend of speed and stickhandling make him a good value at this spot as well. Ottawa needs new blood at the forward positions and the fact that Kadri can play either center or wing should make him even more desirable to the Sens.
Player: Jordan Schroeder (University of Minnesota)
Notes: The Oilers are already deep at center, but need to generate more scoring from the wings. The undersized Schroeder fits the bill as he led the NCAA in rookie scoring last year during his freshman campaign at the University of Minnesota. Wherever he winds up going, Schroeder is likely to be the first American taken in this year's draft.
Player: Scott Glennie (Brandon)
Notes: A broken elbow sidelined this Manitoba native for a chunk of his 2008-09 season with Brandon (WHL), but Glennie returned with a strong performance in the playoffs. He can play either wing or center, although Nashville would likely use him as a pivot as the club needs help down the middle.
Player: Jacob Josefson (Djurgarden)
Notes: Minnesota is in transition. The Wild are likely going to lose star winger Marian Gaborik to free agency and the club has a new GM (Chuck Fletcher) and head coach (Todd Richards). The team needs to add offensive punch, and, while Josefson lacks explosiveness, he is considered to be a solid all-around talent.
Player: Zack Kassian (Peterborough)
Notes: The Sabres desperately need size up front, and at 6-3, 205 pounds, Kassian is considered to be the best power forward available this year. He turned in a solid second season in 2008-09 for Peterborough (OHL), displaying a knack for both scoring and physical play.
Player: Oliver Ekman-Larsson (Leksand)
Notes: With Jay Bouwmeester likely leaving for free agency, the Panthers could reload at the blueline position with Ekman-Larsson, a classic puck-moving Swedish defenseman.
Player: Carter Ashton (Lethbridge)
Notes: When the Ducks pick at No. 15, the draft will likely be deeper at the defensive position, but Anaheim already has a handful of blueline prospects and will almost certainly go with a forward at this spot. Ashton, whose father Brett played in 998 career NHL games, projects as a power forward with a knack for scoring goals and could help Anaheim a few years down the line.
Player: Dmitry Kulikov (Drummondville)
Notes: Fresh off the franchise's first-ever playoff berth, the Blue Jackets are also picking outside of the top-10 for the first time in their brief history. Kulikov, who played as a junior last season in North America, could be the dynamic offensive defenseman that Columbus has been trying to land for years.
Team: St. Louis
Player: Jeremy Morin (U.S. NTDP)
Notes: This American centerman is expected to head to the NCAA and projects as a sniper with superb goal-scoring instincts. Morin would be an excellent addition to a St. Louis club that is already stacked with blossoming talent.
Player: Chris Kreider (Andover Academy - H.S.)
Notes: With another year of high school ahead of him, Massachusetts native Chris Kreider has one of the biggest upsides in this year's draft and is considered by many to be the best skater available. At 6-2, 201 pounds, Kreider already boasts enough size to play at the NHL level, but he isn't likely to reach the big stage for a few years. Montreal needs size and scoring help up front and could consider Kreider to be worth the wait.
Team: NY Rangers
Player: Peter Holland (Guelph)
Notes: The Rangers need overall scoring help and Holland has shown the ability to light the lamp, especially from in close where his hands are an asset. Consistency has been a problem for the Ontario native, but his size and scoring touch make him a bargain at this spot.
Player: Ryan Ellis (Windsor)
Notes: The Flames always seem to be trying to add offense and could do so this year with the addition of Ellis, an undersized but highly skilled defenseman. He skates very well, but stickhandling is this Ontario native's biggest asset.
Player: Simon Despres (Saint John)
Notes: Despres may not be available this late, but if he is it would be shocking if Philadelphia didn't snatch him up. At 6-4, 214 pounds, Despres has the size the Flyers currently lack on the blue line.
Player: Louis Leblanc (Omaha)
Notes: This Quebec native played in the USHL last year and could be headed to Harvard this fall if he decides once again to spurn the advances of multiple Canadian junior teams. His speed and size could help bolster a Vancouver organization that lacks a top-end forward prospect after Cody Hodgson, the 10th overall pick in last years's draft.
Team: New Jersey
Player: Kyle Palmieri (U.S. NTDP)
Notes: Palmieri was kicked off the U.S. under-18 national team for unspecified reasons, but he is headed to play college hockey at Notre Dame. He is a native of New Jersey and the Devils could use his scoring knack.
Player: John Moore (Chicago)
Notes: Even with the prolific Mike Green on the blueline, the Capitals could still use another offensive-minded defenseman and Moore fits the bill as one of the best skaters available in the draft. He is likely headed to Colorado College next season, but there is still a chance that this Illinois native may opt to play in Canadian juniors instead.
Player: Landon Ferraro (Red Deer)
Notes: The son of former NHLer Ray Ferraro, Landon took a big step forward with 37 goals for Red Deer. His speed and scoring ability will be welcome in Boston when the time comes.
Team: NY Islanders (from Ottawa)
Player: Stefan Elliott (Saskatoon)
Notes: Assuming the Isles go with Tavares at No. 1, they would do well to also add this puck-moving defenseman from the WHL. According to some scouts, Elliott has to improve in his own zone and also needs to increase his strength to compete at the NHL level.
Player: Drew Shore (U.S. NTDP)
Notes: The Hurricanes need to add depth at forward but won't likely be able to add an impact player at this spot. Most scouts project Shore as a third or fourth-line center, but he does have the size and speed to be better than that.
Player: Carl Klingberg (Frolunda)
Notes: Klingberg is a gritty forward with a love for the physical side of the game. He makes sense for Chicago, as the Blackhawks are short on prospects at left wing and could also use a boost in the physical game.
Player: Olivier Roy (Cape Breton)
Notes: It's never easy trying to predict what GM Ken Holland and Detroit's front office are going to do in any draft, but, with Chris Osgood advancing in age, the Red Wings may want to go with a goaltender this year. Roy lacks size, but his quickness, consistency and winning ways would make him a good fit in Hockeytown.
Player: Tim Erixon (Skelleftea)
Notes: The defending champions will likely go with the best available player at this spot and Erixon, son of former NHLer Jan Erixon, projects as a solid, two-way defenseman at the NHL level.