Draft

11 for 6: Mikael Granlund

Name: Mikael Granlund
Position: Center
Shoots: Left
Height: 5.10
Weight: 180
Born: 2/26/92, Oulu, Finland
Last Team: HIFK (FIN)
Rankings: CSS 1 (European Skaters), ISS 14 (Skaters), RLR 3 (Overall), THN 10 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
HIFK (FIN), 43 GP, 13-27-40, +11, 2 PIM
HIFK (FIN) Playoffs, 6 GP, 1-5-6, +1, 0 PIM
Finland (U20 WJC), 6 GP, 1-6-7, -4, 4 PIM
Finland (U18 WJC), 6 GP, 4-9-13, E, 4 PIM

Like Skinner, we at BoltProspects suspect there is a lot of late upward movement in the draft stock of Finland’s Mikael Granlund that isn’t being picked up by many in the media and we suspect he’s a solid top ten pick. Despite scoring an unheard of 40 points in 43 games in the SM-liiga at seventeen and eighteen years old, many teams downgraded Granlund because of a pedestrian performance at the U20 World Junior Championships where he had 1 goal and 7 points in 6 games. We find it hard to believe that an over point-a-game pace in a tournament where most of the other players are one to two years older could be considered pedestrian, but that was what was depressing Granlund’s value. All that changed at the U18 tournament in Belarus, though, where Granlund dominated to the tune of 4 goals and 13 points in 6 games. Evidently an over two points-a-game pace was more to the scouting community’s liking. Granlund has been universally compared to former Canadiens captain Saku Koivu in that he’s small and doesn’t have top end speed but he’s a fierce and smart competitor. Granlund’s hockey sense and vision are off the charts and he could go as high as third overall when all is said and done. He's a pure playmaker who might be a natural setup man to some of the Lightning's potential young finishers like Johan Harju and Carter Ashton. He’d be a good fit for the Lightning, which needs more playmakers in the system, and if the club could get around Granlund’s compulsory military commitments in Finland, they could try to start the forward’s pro development in Norfolk of the AHL right away.

Previous Prospect Profiles:
11 for 6: G, Jack Campbell
11 for 6: D, Cam Fowler
11 for 6: D, Erik Gudbranson
11 for 6: D, Brandon Gormley
11 for 6: C, Alex Burmistrov
11 for 6: RW, Brett Connolly
11 for 6: LW, Nino Neiderreiter
11 for 6: C/RW, Jeff Skinner
11 for 6: RW, Vladimir Tarasenko

11 for 6: Vladimir Tarasenko

Name: Vladimir Tarasenko
Position: Right Wing
Shoots: Left
Height: 5.11
Weight: 202
Born: 12/13/1991, Novosibirsk, Russia
Last Team: Novosibirsk (RUS)
Rankings: CSS 2 (European Skaters), ISS 4 (Skaters), RLR 4 (Overall), THN 14 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Novosibirsk (RUS), 42 GP, 13-11-24, 18 PIM
Russia (U20 WJC), 6 GP, 4-1-5, -1, 2 PIM

The same fears that surround fellow Russian-born prospect Alex Burmistrov swirl around Vladimir Tarasenko: what NHL team will have the guts to take a prospect in the top ten who, if he isn’t an NHL scoring liner after two or three years, may just leave for the KHL and never come back? If his name were Tyler O’Malley and he was from Brampton, Ontario, Tarasenko would likely be a top five pick. Despite his lack of height, Tarasenko is very strong on his skates and is a powerful skater with great finishing ability. He's quick and elusive with all of the puck skills you would expect from a Russian prospect with a quick release and an untiring work ethic. His hockey sense in all zones is outstanding and he's a master of pouncing on loose pucks and burying them in the back of the net in the blink of an eye. Some scouts have gone so far as to call him a pocket-sized version of fellow Russians Alex Ovechkin and Ilya Kovalchuk. Despite playing modest minutes on the checking lines this season for Novosibirsk in the KHL, Tarasenko put up a very respectable 13 goals and 24 points in 42 games against grown men. That’s pretty darn good for an 18 year old playing in a league that is loaded with former NHLers and former prospects with AHL experience. It was so good, in fact, that Tarasenko got a look for the Russians at their last Euro Tour event of the year, which is a rare honor typically reserved only for young, future superstars of the Ovechkin and Kovalchuk ilk. Still, despite all those positives, do the Lightning have the stones to take a homerun cut by drafting Tarasenko? He could be the Malkin to Steven Stamkos’ Crosby, or he could be gone like a puff of smoke in the wind in three years time.

Previous Prospect Profiles:
11 for 6: G, Jack Campbell
11 for 6: D, Cam Fowler
11 for 6: D, Erik Gudbranson
11 for 6: D, Brandon Gormley
11 for 6: C, Alex Burmistrov
11 for 6: RW, Brett Connolly
11 for 6: LW, Nino Neiderreiter
11 for 6: C/RW, Jeff Skinner

11 for 6: Jeff Skinner

Name: Jeff Skinner
Position: Center/Right Wing
Shoots: Left
Height: 5.10
Weight: 187
Born: 5/18/92, Markham, ON
Last Team: Kitchener (OHL)
Rankings: CSS 34 (NA Skaters), ISS 15 (Skaters), RLR 7 (Overall), THN 25 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Kitchener (OHL), 64 GP, 50-40-90, +7, 72 PIM
Kitchener (OHL) Playoffs, 20 GP, 20-13-33, +3, 14 PIM

Here’s the real wild card of the top ten to fifteen picks of this draft: Jeff Skinner of Kitchener. The forward failed to gain much traction as a potential lottery pick despite potting 50 goals and 90 points for Kitchener this season in the OHL. Scouts have knocked Skinner’s size and his mediocre skating ability, but time and time again he’s shown good work ethic and a preternatural ability to read the play and get open to bury scoring chances. Despite that, it wasn’t until Skinner went crazy in the OHL playoffs by scoring 20 goals and 33 points in 20 games while coming within an eyelash of knocking off top prospect Taylor Hall’s Windsor team that he started to garner the respect of the scouting community. That performance has led to a lot of late movement toward Skinner, who came out of the same Markham Waxers program that produced another sniper by the name of Steven Stamkos. We at BoltProspects believe someone in the top ten will pull the trigger on Skinner and get a big time scorer, and it might even be the Lightning. Skinner's knack for putting points on the board and his willingness to play with surprising edge for such a small player have led to comparisons to former Lightning player and future Hall of Famer Mark Recchi.

Previous Prospect Profiles:
11 for 6: G, Jack Campbell
11 for 6: D, Cam Fowler
11 for 6: D, Erik Gudbranson
11 for 6: D, Brandon Gormley
11 for 6: C, Alex Burmistrov
11 for 6: RW, Brett Connolly
11 for 6: LW, Nino Neiderreiter

11 for 6: Nino Neiderreiter

Name: Nino Neiderreiter
Position: Left Wing
Shoots: Left
Height: 6.02
Weight: 201
Born: 9/8/92, Chur, Switzerland
Last Team: Portland (WHL)
Rankings: CSS 12 (NA Skaters), ISS 9 (Skaters), RLR 8 (Overall), THN 8 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Portland (WHL), 65 GP, 36-24-60, +11, 68 PIM
Portland (WHL) Playoffs, 13 GP, 8-8-16, +1, 16 PIM
Switzerland (U20 WJC), 7 GP, 6-4-10, -2, 10 PIM

No one did more to help their draft stock at the U20 World Junior Championships than Nino Neiderreiter in his Superman-like performance for the tournament darling Swiss side. In the quarterfinals, Neiderreiter almost single handedly defeated a strong Russian team with a pair of goals, including the overtime winner, and he was eventually named a Tournament All-Star by the media for collecting 6 goals and 10 points in 7 games for the upstart hockey nation. Nino-mania quickly gripped the hockey world, but a pedestrian second half of the season for Neiderreiter has led many to re-examine the power forward and ask themselves whether they can truly value him as a top pick based on that performance alone. Neiderreiter plays a strong, North American style north-south game that has been compared to former NHL All-Star Brendan Shanahan. He posseses a quick, accurate shot and loves to take the body but he still needs to work on his first step acceleration, playmaking, and puckhandling skills. He’s among the youngest players in this draft class, which should afford him a little more time to fill the holes in his game, and yet he is already more physically mature than many of his contemporaries. He also stabilized his draft stock by snapping out of his second half trance well enough to score 8 goals and 16 points in 13 playoff games for the Winterhawks. But, the Lightning would still have to take a little bit of a gulp before drafting a player who seemed disinterested in junior hockey for half the year and who can’t be moved up to the pro ranks in the AHL right away. Or was it just that Niederreiter, who was no doubt used to playing a fewer number of games in Europe, hit a wall in the long grind of a full junior season? Both theories have been forwarded, but which one is true? His style of play is a good fit for the Lightning, who could use some more presence along the wall on the forecheck, but will he show the same intensity in Portland next year once this year’s U20 WJC’s are just a distant memory?

Previous Prospect Profiles:
11 for 6: G, Jack Campbell
11 for 6: D, Cam Fowler
11 for 6: D, Erik Gudbranson
11 for 6: D, Brandon Gormley
11 for 6: C, Alex Burmistrov
11 for 6: RW, Brett Connolly

11 for 6: Brett Connolly

Name: Brett Connolly
Position: Right Wing
Shoots: Right
Height: 6.02
Weight: 181
Born: 5/2/92, Prince George, BC
Last Team: Prince George (WHL)
Rankings: CSS 3 (NA Skaters), ISS 11 (Skaters), RLR 13 (Overall), THN 4 (Overall)

2009-2010 Statistics:
Prince George (WHL), 16 GP, 10-9-19, -3, 8 PIM
Canada (U18 WJC), 4 GP, 1-0-1, E, 10 PIM

Like Burmistrov, the potential draft position of Prince George’s Brett Connolly also varies wildly depending on which media outlet you believe. We at BoltProspects think Connolly will fall out of the top ten, but he could go as high as third overall based on pure potential, despite the fact he barely played hockey this season. Connolly, a former teammate of Lightning prospect Dana Tyrell, was considered to be the purest sniper in this draft class before suffering injuries to both of his hips that ultimately cost him all but sixteen games of his junior season. Connolly returned for the U18 World Junior Championships late in the year, but like most of his Canadian teammates he struggled and his skating looked very rusty, partly due to not being in top condition. Therein lies the gamble for whatever team takes Connolly: they’ll be getting a player who, according to legend, has Brett Hull-like ability to find seams in the offensive zone and world class ability to finish and who prior to his injuries displayed good top end speed and agility. The problem, though, is that they’ll also be getting a player that has had problems with both of his hips by the age of 18 and who has already lost a critical year of development in his young career. The Lightning have a fair amount of young goalscoring ability already, including the league’s best young sniper in Steven Stamkos. Is it worth the risk of taking Connolly, who could end up becoming a part-time player, to have the luxury of having another one?

Previous Prospect Profiles:
11 for 6: G, Jack Campbell
11 for 6: D, Cam Fowler
11 for 6: D, Erik Gudbranson
11 for 6: D, Brandon Gormley
11 for 6: C, Alex Burmistrov

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