The 2011 draft is one of the most difficult in years to project, so doing a mock draft would not be the wisest decision. But hey, everyone else is doing it, and if everyone else jumped off a cliff, weâ€™re going to assume itâ€™s perfectly safe with no harmful consequences.
As a team, we couldnâ€™t agree on a few of these picks, so weâ€™ve provided both picks in some places and some of the conversation. Enjoy.
1. Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, C, Red Deer (WHL). A future front line of Eberle-RNH-Hall is sick. SICK.
2. Colorado Avalance: Gabriel Landeskog, W, Kitchener (OHL). From the makers of Sakic-Forsberg comes Duchene-Landeskog. Lethal combination of skill and character.
3. Florida Panthers: Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Saint John (QMJHL). You build from the net out and down the middle. The Panthers have good pieces in place, though they still regret letting Grabner go for nothing.
4. New Jersey Devils: Adam Larsson, D, Skelleftea (SEL). Arguably the second best player in the draft falls at Louâ€™s feet.
5. New York Islanders: Ryan Strome, C, Niagara (OHL). I trust Isles know-it-all Chris Botta, who said the Isles are likely to take Strome over Couturier today. Botta gave the edge to Strome because of his speed. In Botta We Trust.
6. Ottawa Senators: Sean Couturier, C, Drummondville (QMJHL). If Couturier wouldnâ€™t have hit the hockey scene so much so soon, he likely would be a top-3 pick. Heâ€™s â€œold newsâ€ now, but Ottawa will say â€œthank you/merciâ€ and walk away from the podium with another franchise centerman.
7. Winnipeg TBDs: Mika Zibanejad, C, Djurgarden Jr. The team Rick Dudley will eventually claim to have built considers Hamilton, but keeps the momentum and excitement going with the fan base and takes an entertaining, rugged point producer that will fit in well in the Prairies. Itâ€™s hard to put all your trust in Alex Burmistrov as a franchise center and this could allow him to slot into the No.2 center spot where he better fits. (Edit: TBD has been D; itâ€™s the Jets)
Pete: Doug Hamilton, D, Niagara (OHL) -- The Winnipeg Thrashers need to go BPA, and that's one of the defensemen, and I think they need to be greatly concerned about the slow development of Bogosian.
8. Philadelphia Flyers: Doug Hamilton, D, Niagara (OHL). This potential star from Niagara falls (see what I did there?) to the Flyers, who gladly take the two-way minute eater.
Pete: Mika Zibanejad, C, Djurgarden Jr. I think Philly goes with a forward now after the trades. They pretty much have to. Zibanejad is the best forward there, but I could totally see them taking the Carter-type late bloomer in Schiefele at that pick.
9. Boston Bruins: Ryan Murphy, D, Kitchener (OHL). The rich get richer. Murphy may only be a power play specialist when all is said and done, but heâ€™ll be a great one.
10. Minnesota Wild: Joel Armia, W, Assat (FIN). The Wild go for more size and goal scoring with the pick. Granlund-Koivu-Armia as a future line will be popular in Helsinki.
11. Colorado Avalanche: Duncan Siemens, D, Saskatoon (WHL). Having taken their Forsberg-lite earlier, they go for a possible future Adam Foote in Siemens, who was partnered with Avs prospect Stefan Elliot this season and thrived.
12. Carolina Hurricanes: Sven Baertschi, W, Portland (WHL). Rutherford isnâ€™t a fan of defensemen in the first round, so he takes the projected highest scorer. Does anyone want to try to defend a future line of Skinner-Staal-Baertschi? They consider a center, but Staal and Sutter are both young core pieces.
Pete: Nathan Beaulieu, D, St. John (QMJHL). Pitkanen is a UFA, and they haven't taken a defenseman in forever. I see Beaulieu as a fit there.
13. Calgary Flames: Jamie Oleksiak, D, Northeastern (NCAA). A bit of a reach here, but teams tend to fall in love with â€œthe next Charaâ€ and former Lightning GM Jay Feaster loved the big blueliners with the Lightning â€“ of course, he had trouble finding the right ones. There are a lot of consistent opinions on Oleksiak that heâ€™ll be more boom than bust.
Pete: Zack Phillips, C, St. John (QMJHL). Feaster's going to do what his scouts tell him, and Calgary's scouts like funky picks. I could see Phillips going here.
14. Dallas Stars: Nathan Beaulieu, D, St. John (QMJHL). The Stars traded for Alex Goligoski last season, so they have at least one puck-mover for the next half-decade, though Beaulieu has the best value here for them. Their backline depth on the farm is a little weak, and Beaulieu helps.
Pete: Sven Baertschi, W, Portland (WHL). Dallas goes BPA at that spot, like you said.
15. New York Rangers: Rocco Grimaldi, F, USNTDP (USHL). The Rangers look at Brodin, but with the recent addition of Tim Erixon and good depth throughout the farm, they take a chance at a future fan favorite. Remember how much John Tortorella loved/loves Martin St. Louis ?
Pete: Mark Scheifele, C, Barrie (OHL). The Rangers adore size. I just can't see them taking Grimaldi. They reached like crazy for McIlrath last year.
16. Buffalo Sabres: Mark McNeill, C, Prince Albert (WHL). Stocked on the wings, the Sabres go to the middle and get a fine two-way center capable of putting up big points. McNeillâ€™s grit seals the pick for Buffalo over other centers available.
17. Montreal Canadiens: Jonas Brodin, D, Farjestad (SEL). The Habs find a nice future compliment for P.K. Subban in this smooth-as-Swedish-butter defenseman. He may not have the flair that other players have, but the Montreal fanbase will appreciate him. At least for a little while.
18. Chicago Blackhawks: Brendan Saad, W, Saginaw (OHL). The Blackhawks consider a defenseman, but with Leddy, Lalonde, Olsen, and company set to be Hawks for years to come, they add more size and grit to their front lines that was lost with the departures of Andrew Ladd and Dustin Byfuglien. Prospect Kyle Beach is no sure thing as a reliable power forward.
19. Edmonton Oilers: Scott Mayfield, D, Youngstown (USHL). The Oil considers Klefbom, but opts for the bigger, more physical two-way presence of Mayfield.
Pete: Oscar Klefbom, D, Farjestad (SEL). Edmonton has a strong Swedish contingent already. Can't see them bypassing Klefbom for Mayfield.
20. Phoenix Coyotes: Tyler Biggs, W, USNTDP (USHL). The Coyotes look at John Gibson with this pick, but theyâ€™re not doing badly with WJC vets Visentin and Lee on the goaltender farm. Biggs provides grit and entertainment to a club that has good depth around their farm.
Pete: Nicklas Jensen, W, Oshawa (WHL). 20. Phoenix already has 1 Dane in Boedker. Why not 2?
21. Ottawa Senators: Boone Jenner, C, Oshawa (OHL). With the departure of Mike Fisher to Nash-Vegas, the Sens replace him with a high character two-way player in Jenner. A great compliment to Couturier and Spezza who could play the wing if needed.
Pete: John Gibson, G, USNTDP (USHL). Ottawa needs a goaltender of the future badly. (Chad Edit: Robin Lehner had his 2011 Calder Cup ring in his ear so he couldnâ€™t hear that. Luckily.)
22. Anaheim Ducks: John Gibson, G, USNTDP (USHL). The Ducks have Bobkov and Pielmeier on the farm, but apt for more of a sure thing in Gibson, who plays similarly to J.S. Giguere in his prime.
Pete: Ty Rattie, W, Portland (WHL). Rattie's not a great fit for Anaheim, but he's BPA here.
23. Pittsburgh Penguins: Oscar Klefbom, D, Farjestad (SEL). The Pens consider a center, but ultimately choose a backliner to join Simon Despres on the farm.
Pete: JT Miller, F, USNTDP (USHL). Miller's got Pittsburgh roots. I don't think he goes past the Pens.
24. Detroit Red Wings: Joseph Morrow, D, Portland (WHL). The Wings have a lot of prospects at forward, but few high end guys on defense. Morrow could be in the NHL in two years to help provide solid offensive contributions.
Pete: Rocco Grimaldi, F, USNTDP (USHL). Detroit has Grimaldi fall in their laps a la Hudler many moons ago.
25. Toronto Maple Leafs: Mark Scheifele, C, Barrie (OHL). Burke goes for skill at center and takes a player that slid down the draft a bit in Scheifele, who would have had monster numbers if not for a sub-par supporting cast in Barrie last season. Scheifele should have gone earlier, but teams were looking for unique player types.
Pete: Tyler Biggs, W, USNTDP (USHL). Brian Burke probably has Biggs Underoos. Leafs Nation will love him.
26. Washington Capitals: JT Miller, F, USNTDP (USHL). With Biggs off the board, the Caps go for the next best thing in energetic forward JT Miller. He will be a thorn in Southeast Division opponentsâ€™ sides for the next few years. The Caps are not in need of more skill on their farm, so they increase the teamâ€™s compete level.
Pete: Joseph Morrow, D, Portland (WHL). Washington takes the BPA in Morrow.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning: Zack Phillips, C, St. John (QMJHL). Donâ€™t discount the chances of Tampa Bay trading down here to obtain an extra second round pick. But if they are picking here, Phillips is a fine choice. He is an offensive dynamo who improved his two-way game for the Memorial Cup champs this season. Director of Scouting Al Murray stresses tomorrow over today, and Phillips has the raw skills to be a superb No.2 center down the line. If there isnâ€™t room there, he could play the No.3 role with a high level of success. Although Phillipsâ€™ skating isnâ€™t considered a strength, his head coach and former Steve Yzerman teammate Gerard Gallant raves about Phillipsâ€™ all-around play and potential to be an impact player at the NHL level. He can bring many things to the future Lightning, including deft stickhandling and good vision. He thinks the game extremely well, which is a prerequisite for an Yzerman draftee. Ryan Sproul is a darkhorse name to watch here if they go defense. He may be able to be had later, and would be a prime target if the Bolts trade down.
Pete: Ryan Sproul, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL). Sproul's the highest guy on our board  left for Tampa Bay.
28. San Jose Sharks: Nicklas Jensen, W, Oshawa (WHL). The Sharks add a future linemate for Logan Couture in this great Dane. Jensen has sick skills and good size and will be a great fit on the Sharks roster.
Pete: Shane Prince, W, Ottawa (OHL). San Jose wants skill at that pick so they take Prince.
29. Vancouver Canucks: Brett Ritchie, W, Sarnia (OHL). The Canucks lost out on Biggs and Miller, so they go for the next character power forward on their board in Ritchie. Like the Lightning, the Canucks had their lack of size and grit on the front lines exposed by the Bruins. Ritchie is at his best along the wall and in traffic and can create space for his linemates. They consider another skilled forward or a big defenseman, but instead go with the hard-to-find power forward.
Pete: Rickard Rackell, W, Plymouth (OHL). With the Swedes they have, Rakell seems like a good fit if Vancouver wants lower line grit. (Edit: Chad Edit: A good pick, and one I may have overlooked. However, Ritchie is bigger and more physical.)
30. Toronto Maple Leafs: Ty Rattie, W, Portland (WHL). The Leafs add a future linemate for Scheifele, Kadri, and company in Winterhawks point machine, Ty Rattie. Although undersized for what Burke normally likes, Rattie has a high hockey IQ and is worth the gamble with the teamâ€™s second first rounder.
Pete: Jamie Oleksiak, D, Northeastern (NCAA). Oleksiak's huge, from Toronto, and trained in the US. Brian Burke probably believes he's a dreamboat. (Chad Edit: Big defensemen like Oleksiak always go early. It just takes one team to fall in love with a big man. Plus, I canâ€™t see Toronto going into Saturday with no skill picks.)