anticipation and excitement that has built up here at hockeysfuture.com
will come to a head. For some of us, this draft will be considered a great
success for your respective team. For others, the bitterness of
disappointment is sure to sting you. I have always found it fascinating
that more fans do not get involved in the entry draft and follow along.
This is where the future stars of the NHL are found and the future great
teams of the NHL are built. On June 24-25, the great teams of the next
decade will begin to lay the foundation for success. Odds are that the team
that wins the Stanley Cup seven or eight years from now will look back to
the 2000 entry draft as a reason for their success. It might not even take
that long, as Scott Gomez demonstrated by winning the cup with the New
Jersey Devils, less then two years after hearing his name being called as a
first round selection in June of 1998. Is there another diamond in the
rough like Scott Gomez? Right now it appears no but, as we all know, there
will undoubtedly be at least a few who pop their heads up in the future that
were drafted in Calgary in 2000. The following is my mock draft of the 2000
NHL entry draft. There are a few surprises, I am sure of that. Some might
complain about where Scott Hartnell is placed, but it could happen. Who
would have thought that Jamie Lundmark would have slipped to the number
nine spot last year? All I ask is you take these with a grain of salt. One
point I should make clear is, what to do with the number 27 pick. I have said
that Boston will pass on this pick and take Colorado’s first round pick in
2001. This is because the 2001 draft looks a little deeper in talent and
that the pick in 2001 will probably be higher then the 27th overall
selection. I might be wrong though, so don’t be surprised if Boston does
take the 27th overall pick this year. Anyway, without further wasting of
your time, here is the 2000 NHL entry draft first round:
1. New York Islanders- Marian Gaborik, LW
This draft pick is the most highly fought over pick in this years draft.
Barring a trade (which is likely), the Islanders are all but guaranteed to
use the pick to get speed on the wings. They are set in goal and defense is
something that appears set for the future with Eric Brewer, Kristian
Kudroc, and Branislav Mezei still in the system. A top flight, speedy,
first line winger who can play with Tim Connolly at top speed is something
that the Islanders crave. Gaborik is their man.
2. Atlanta Thrashers- Rick DiPietro, G
Despite the overachieving years of Scott Frankhouser and Rob Zepp, the
Thrashers are most in need of a future number one goaltender. With Rhodes
having injury problems and Norm Maracle having a roller coaster year, the
need for a top goalie in the future is obvious. Dipietro could be a star
and has been compared to Grant Fuhr and Ron Hextall. Also has Patrick Roy
like cockiness. All in all, not bad company.
3. Minnesota Wild- Dany Heatley, LW
With a team that has nothing in the pipeline and that really only got
formed one day before they make this selection, it is simply a case of
picking the best of what’s available. Heatley is a top line goal scorer,
possibly the best in the draft. Good start for the Wild as they get the
player many people thought would go number one.
4. Columbus Blue Jackets- Rostislav Klesla, D
Just like Minnesota, Columbus is picking for the best player. This comes
down to a toss up between Klesla and Scott Hartnell, but Klesla will play
more due to being a top defenseman and this will serve as the tie-breaker
between him and Hartnell. Besides, a good defensive team is Doug MacLean’s
strong suit. Klesla to Minnesota at number four.
5. Tampa Bay- Mikhail Yakubov, C
This pick is between Yakubov, Pavel Vorobiev and Alexei Smirnov. Vorobiev
isn’t viewed as natural of a point producer as is Yakubov, and Smirnov is
too much of an enigma. Look for Lecavalier and Yakubov to go 1-2 down the
middle for the Lightning in three or four years.
6. Nashville Predators- Raffi Torres, LW
The Predators would like to build up some offensive depth in the system
before the likes of Cliff Ronning, Patrick Kjellberg, etc. move on to
greener pastures. Legwand and Torres will make a deadly duo in Nashville
for the next decade.
7. Boston Bruins- Brooks Orpik, D
With the loss of Ray Bourque and possibly Don Sweeney, and the
underachieving year(s) of Nick Boynton, Jonathan Girard Jr., and Jonathan
Aitken, a serious rebuilding of the blueline is needed. Orpik, who is an
offensively challenged version of Rob Blake, will please the Beantown boys
for years. Also, at age 20, he is closer to stepping in to the NHL ranks
then most of the 2000 draft prospects.
8. Tampa Bay Lightning- Alexei Smirnov, LW
The bolts passed him over at the number five pick but will jump on him at
number eight. This might be the first pick in the draft that someone goes
out on a limb and makes a selection without some guarantee of success.
Talent wise, Smirnov could lay waste to the rest of the 2000 crowd.
However, determination and motivation appear to be problems. If Smirnov
pans out, Dudley looks like a genius. If not, this is likely a wasted pick.
9. Calgary Flames- Scott Hartnell, RW
While the Flames would love to have landed a top goal scorer, they will be
happy to grab Hartnell at the ninth overall pick. He will not help fill the
needs of the Flames on the ice, but he will be great in the dressing room
and will be fighting Daniel Tkaczuk for the captaincy in five years. Don’t
be surprised to see the Flames trade this pick for some immediate help.
10. Chicago Blackhawks- Brent Krahn, G
The Blackhawks are very thin in goal after Jocelyn Thibault. Krahn will
fill the Blackhawks need for a future number one netminder after Thibault.
He might be rushed along as the Blackhawks really only have Thibault and
Marc Lamothe between the pipes until he arrives.
11. Chicago Blackhawks- Pavel Vorobiev, RW
With the second of back to back picks, Chicago will pick Vorobiev. While
the Hawks would like to add some grit up front, they are more likely to be
able to get that in the later rounds of the draft. Vorobiev is a good point
producer with a chip on his shoulder. Given General Manager Neil Smith’s
love affair with Europe, Vorobiev will be a Blackhawk if he is still available.
12. Anaheim Mighty Ducks- Vaclav Nedorost, C
With the future in net secured by the addition of Jean-Sebastien Giguere,
the Ducks will try to secure the center position. Nedorost will be a good
number two centerman in Anaheim, giving them some much needed depth in a
few years. Besides, as Steve Rucchin proves, you only need to be a second
line center to play with the big boys in Anaheim.
13. Montreal Canadiens- Anton Volchenkov, D
The Canadiens will be looking to add to their blueline depth. While it is
not a concern now, in two or three years this could be a huge problem,
especially if the Canadiens lose a defenseman like Miroslav Guren in this
years expansion draft. Volchenkov will add a steady presence on the
blueline in Montreal for years.
14. Carolina Hurricanes- Alexander Frolov, LW
Offense will be a big time concern in the future for Carolina, as most of
their top two lines will be gone in the next two years. There is little
depth on left wing and with Gary Roberts all but guaranteed to leave in the
offseason, that depth will be completely gone by the start of next year.
Frolov’s offensive talents could have him in Carolina by the 2001-2002 season.
15. Buffalo Sabres- Ilya Nikulin, D
This may sound funny, but the long-term need in Buffalo is defenseman. With
the trade of Cory Sarich, the loss of Jean-Luc Grand-Pierre in the
expansion draft (barring a side deal with Minnesota and Columbus), and the
departure of James Patrick not too far off, the depth that the Sabres have
right now is all but gone. They will need to reload and Nikulin is a good
place to start.
16. Montreal Canadiens- Lars Jonsson, D
Once again the Habs will be looking at the blueline with this pick and they
will try to address the second need in that area; the need of a powerplay
quarterback. With Vladimir Malakhov gone and Patrice Brisebois just a few
years from unrestricted free agency, Jonsson’s skills will be needed, and
soon, on the powerplay in Montreal.
17. Edmonton Oilers- Brad Boyes, C
With the possible loss of Boyd Devereaux to retirement and Doug Weight
being eligible for unrestricted free agency in two years, the need for
future help up the middle is desperate. Boyes will fill one of the top two
spots in the Oilers center ice plans.
18. Pittsburgh Penguins- Krys Kolanos, C
With Milan Kraft the heir apparent as the future number one line center,
the search is on for who will play behind him. Kolanos is a skilled
centerman whom many believed would be able to produce numbers close to Dany
Heatley and Jeff Taffe this year. While he didn’t come close to Heatley’s
numbers, Kolanos did look a lot better then Taffe and did have a good
finish to the season making many believe he is back on track.
19. Phoenix Coyotes- Nikita Alexeev, RW
The Coyotes goal is to get bigger and Alexeev is definitely big. If you can
get him to use that size then you could land the perfect winger: big, fast,
and skilled. Potential first line player.
20. Los Angeles Kings- Martin Samuelsson, W
While defense is a large long term concern, the need at left wing is more
glaring. After Luc Robitaille, there is nothing for offence on the left
wing and Robitaille isn’t going to last forever. Factor in that Pavel Rosa
is probably gone in the expansion draft and you have bigger problems yet.
Samuelsson should fill the second line spot with the Kings in a few years.
21. Ottawa Senators- Alexei Mikhnov, W
As tempting as it is to pick Marcel Hossa here, the Senators will pass and
go after this years draft dark horse. Mikhnov has been compared to Nikolai
Antropov but limited viewing has made everyone a little cautious. Still,
the Sens took chances on Europeans in 1997 (Marian Hossa) and in 1999
(Martin Havlat) and came away looking brilliant. Mikhnov is a solid second
22. New Jersey Devils- Libor Ustrnul, D
With Scott Stevens and Ken Daneyko only a few years away from retirement,
and Vladimir Malakhov and Mike Van Ryn as good as gone, New Jersey will be
trying to restock on the blueline. Usturnul is a huge defenseman who will
develop into a number three or a number four defenseman under the watchful
eyes of Larry Robinson and Vyacheslav Fetisov.
23. Vancouver Canucks- Matt Pettinger, LW
While the Canucks would love to land a top goalie, they will address
another need instead by filling out their third line with Pettinger.
Pettinger should be a solid third liner who could fill in at the second
line left wing spot as well. Potentially one of the best two players in the
24. Toronto Maple Leafs- Brian Sutherby, C
The need to add grit to the line up is evident after the second round
playoff loss to New Jersey. Sutherby will be able to help in this area. He
is a good banger who can should play on the third line and chip in a little
offense. He’s a poor mans version of Scott Hartnell.
25. Dallas Stars- Ron Hainsey, D
The blueline is getting older in Dallas and at least two spots will be
opening up in the offseason. This will hit the depth charts of the defense
for Dallas hard and the Stars will need to replenish. Hainsey could help
offset the potential loss of Zubov in five years once his contract is up.
26. Washington Capitals- Marcel Hossa, C
A spot will open up in a few years at center with Adam Oates nearing
retirement. Hossa will fill the number two spot for Washington in a few
years with Jan Bulis probably as the future number one in the capital city.
Not as good as his brother, but might be a better passer.
27. Colorado Avalanche- Kurtis Foster, D
The Avs will need to upgrade the blueline soon. Ray Bourque is gone after
next season and other then Adam Foote and Martin Skoula; no one else is a
true top four blueliner in the organization. Sandis Ozolinsh is only called
a defenseman for lack of a better description of what he does out on the
ice. Rover is more like it. The blueline needs depth and Foster will help.
28. Philadelphia Flyers- Shane Endicott, C
The Flyers will be looking to rebuild their third and forth lines in the
near future. Endicott could be a huge steal. While most scouts think he is
a third line center with good size, others think he might have some
offensive upside. Basically he could be a real find for the size craved
Flyers, but he also could be the 2000 version of Michael Rupp.
29. Detroit Red Wings- Justin Williams, RW
The Wings need offense up front and at the 29th pick your not going to find
much, especially in this year’s draft. However, if Williams adds a little
muscle and works on his skating, he should eventually end up on the Wings
number two line in a few years.
30. St. Louis Blues- David Hale, D
The Blues will be in need of a few defensemen soon as only Chris Pronger is
guaranteed of being around in three years. While the Blues have Christian
Backman and Barrett Jackman in the system, both will be in St. Louis by
then. The Blues will need to replenish their defensive depth and David Hale
is a project that the Blues think can eventually be a top four defenseman
under the guidance of Joel Quenneville.
for sure. Anyway, here’s hoping that all of your draft dreams come true and
that you enjoy the draft as much as I will. And for those fans in Calgary
that haven’t already picked up a season ticket for next year, please do so
soon. Help keep the Flames in Calgary where they belong. It’s only three
seasons till the CBA is up and things will turn around for the Canadian NHL
teams. I guarantee.