Final 2013 NHL Mock Draft

I covered the bulk of this material a few weeks ago with this post… but so much changes as you near the Draft that it was time to update the mock draft. I usually research upwards of 100 or 150 guys, but this year scaled it back a touch. I never get the order right, but I’m usually good for 24-29 of the 30 first rounders, and the bulk of the second rounders, too.

The following mock is presuming no trades (obviously) and — in many cases — taking a “best player available” instead of what each team NEEDS. Have at it.

1. Colorado — Nathan MacKinnon (F)
It’s possible that it’s all nonsense and they’re going to take the best available (absolutely, 100% Seth Jones), but you can’t ignore their propaganda. Either way, it’s MacKinnon and Jones 1-2, so who cares.

2. Florida — Seth Jones (D)
If the Panthers sit tight and the best player in the Draft falls into their lap, they’ll be happy campers. 

3. Tampa — Jonathan Drouin (F)
In a similar situation to 1 and 2, I actually like Sasha Barkov better than Drouin. It seems pretty clear that Jones, MacKinnon, Drouin, and Barkov will be 1-4 in some order.

4. Nashville — Sasha Barkov (F)
They’ll do a backflip if he’s still available.

5. Carolina — Darnell Nurse (D)
I think they’ll go D here… but the best player still available will be Valeri Nichushkin, even with his red (or, at least, pink) flags. Nichushkin could make a lot of NHL rosters right away, but teams have been wary of players like him for the last few years. 

6. Calgary — Sean Monahan (F)
A few guys available at this spot: Lindholm, Ristolainen, Horvat — all good fits for the Flames, who need everything.

7. Edmonton — Rasmus Ristolainen (D)
If they don’t take a D with this pick, I give up on the Oilers.

8. Buffalo — Elias Lindholm (F)
Heck of a pick at #8.

9. New Jersey — Max Domi (F)
He’s bounced up and down the list for the last few weeks, but that’s a big name to unveil to the home crowd. 

10. Dallas — Bo Horvat (F)
Jim Nill’s first pick is a big riser.

11. Philadelphia — Nikita Zadorov (D)
Also will consider Hunter Shinkaruk since they have a habit of drafting dudes who used to be no-brainer top five picks (Couturier).

12. Phoenix — Hunter Shinkaruk (F)
Great snag at #12.

13. Winnipeg — Josh Morrissey (D)
Even more than some of the forwards, I really like Morrissey and would consider picking him at 18 if he’s still available, even though the Wings have made it clear a big forward is their preference.

14. Columbus — Valeri Nichushkin (F)
Okay, bear with me… he’s a top five player, no doubt. A lot of teams will be wary of him because of his KHL contract. Columbus has three picks in the first 27, so they can afford to take a bit of a gamble. He may very well be selected before this point, but nothing will surprise me anymore.

15. Islanders — Anthony Mantha (F)
A lot of Wings fans covet Mantha, but I can’t imagine he’s available at 18. 

16. Buffalo (from Minnesota) — Ryan Pulock (D)
Pretty kick-ass pick if he lasts this long. After taking Monahan at #8, adding Pulock at #16 would be an unbelievable coup. 

17. Ottawa — Adam Erne (F)
Now we’re getting close to Red Wings territory so a few guys will be available for them. Erne is a guy I like very much, which means he’ll be picked directly before Detroit.

18. Detroit — Alexander Wennberg (F)
He’s not as big as the Wings want to draft, but you can’t really pass him up at 18. If there are guys that they like better than Wennberg (Gauthier, for example), they might slide down a few slots and pick up an additional mid-round pick. If Mantha’s available, they take him, but I can’t imagine he is. If they have a gap between Mantha and — say — Erne/Wennberg/Lazar/Gauthier, they may very well scoot back.

19. Columbus (from Rangers) — Robert Hagg (D)
After taking a flyer on Nichushkin, they’re go with a sure-thing. 

20. San Jose — Curtis Lazar (F)
A great pick at #20 and San Jose almost always takes the best guy still around.

21. Toronto — Frederik Gauthier (F)
Huge dude, great pick. He may very well be off the board by this point.

22. Calgary (from St. Louis) — Samuel Morin (D)
Quick-rising defenseman to go with their forward pick from earlier.

23. Washington — Mirco Mueller (D)
Pretty awesome value for a pick this low. 

24. Vancouver — Zach Fucale (G)
What a mess the net is in Vancouver. The top goaltender goes in the bottom portion of the first round no matter what.

25. Montreal — Jacob De La Rose (F)
If the Wings can slide back a few picks and get De La Rose, I’d be thrilled.

26. Anaheim — Valentin Zykov (F)
Another great value for her.

27. Columbus (from Los Angeles) — Andre Burakowsky (F)
With their third pick in the first round, they can afford to take a guy that some mocks have in the second round.

28. Calgary (from Pittsburgh) — Chris Bigras (D)
Fast riser.

29. Boston — Steve Santini (D)
Love this kid, but almost everyone has him in the second round. I think he goes late in the first.

30. Chicago — Nicolas Petan (F)
Classic sleeper, and would be a top 15 pick in almost any other Draft in recent memory.

ROUND TWO

31. Florida — Dillon Heatherington (D)
32. Colorado — Anthony Duclair (F) — Roy coached him in junior
33. Tampa — Kerby Rychel (F)
34. Montreal (from Nashville) — Ryan Hartman (F)
35. Carolina — Jason Dickinson (F)
36. Montreal (from Calgary) — Tristan Jarry (G) — they were coy about picking a G
37. Edmonton — Morgan Klimchuk (F)
38. Buffalo — JT Compher (F)
39. New Jersey — Eric Comrie (G)
40. Dallas — Keaton Thompson (D)
41. Philadelphia — Zach Nastasiuk (F)
42. Phoenix — Nick Sorensen (F)
43. Winnipeg — Lauren Dauphin (F)
44. Columbus — Madison Bowey (D)
45. Anaheim (from Islanders) — Connor Rankin (F)
46. Minnesota — Artturi Lehkonen (F)
47. St. Louis (from Ottawa) — Ian McCoshen (D)
48. Detroit — Mike McCarron (F) — massive, massive kid from Metro Detroit and headed to Western Michigan.
49. San Jose (from Rangers) — Nick Baptiste (F)
50. San Jose — Shea Theodore (D)
51. Toronto — Alex Forsberg (F)
52. Buffalo (from St. Louis) — Adam Tambellini (F)
53. Washington — Emile Poirier (F)
54. Dallas (from Vancouver) — Pavel Buchnevich (F)
55. Montreal — Jordan Subban (D) — why not?
56. Edmonton — Eric Roy (D)
57. Los Angeles — Taylor Cammarata (F)
58. San Jose (from Pittsburgh) — Will Butcher (D)
59. Winnipeg — Hudson Fasching (F)
60. Boston — Stephen Harper (F)
61. Winnipeg (from Chicago) — Marko Dano (F)

GUYS I HAVE MY EYE ON FOR THE THIRD ROUND AND BEYOND

Sven Andrighetto (F) — Returning to the Draft, he may very well get passed over because every team knows that he’ll be able to attend their training camp on an invitation basis. At the same time, some team may very well select him to keep OTHER TEAMS from allowing him to accept that invitation. He’s a hell of a hockey player, so I think someone takes him. I’d love if it was the Red Wings.

Jean-Sebastien Dea (F) — If he’s still on the board when the Wings pick at 79, they had damn well better take him. He won’t last much longer than that, if he lasts even that long.

Tyler Bertuzzi (F) — Imagine the Wings taking Todd’s nephew. He’s probably not a third round guy, and maybe even isn’t a fourth round guy, but if he’s on the board in the 5th or 6th, I bet the Wings take a chance on him.

Kurt Etchegary (F) — He was injured for a good portion of the season, so his stock dropped a bit. He’s probably off the board in the third round.

Tyler Motte (F) — Another Michigander, played for USNDTP, and headed to the University of Michigan. He’ll get drafted somewhere, but it’ll be between the 3rd and 5th rounds.

Roster Monster Mash

“One more year, you say? Yeah I can manage that…” Photo by Dan Mannes, Detroit Red Wings

It’s that time of year again, where we endlessly discuss what next season’s Detroit Red Wings will look like when they take the ice as a member of the Eastern Conference. Fortunately (or unfortunately, depending on your point of view), we’re looking at a lot of the same bodies in the lineup next season, without a whole lot of room for improvement from the outside.

The free agent pool this summer is pretty bleak, so don’t expect a monumental signing (you know, like last year with Zach Parise and Ryan Suter Shane Doan and Matt Carle Jordin Tootoo and Carlo Colaiacovo). Given how many players are already signed for next season, it seems more likely that the Wings execute a 2-for-1 (or 3-for-1, or 4-for-2, or… you get the point) deal with another team looking to shed salary and/or contracts. Also on the radar are the players that are certain to be bought out by their teams in the days following the Stanley Cup is awarded.

The salary cap will be lowered to $64.3 million, which is about $6M less than the operating cap of this past season. The Red Wings were nowhere near the cap ceiling, so they have substantial wiggle room to do whatever it is they’re going to do.

All of the following information is available on our CHART, which will be updated as quickly as I can get to the keyboard when something noteworthy happens. But in order to understand where we’re at before moving into free agency (which begins July 5th this year), take a look at the current breakdown of roster spots and dollars spent.

GOALTENDERS
The tandem that the Red Wings use in 2013-14 will be identical to the one they used this past season. Jimmy Howard will enter his new six-year, big-money deal. Jonas Gustavsson, assuming he stays healthy, will be the backup for one more season. Petr Mrazek, who’s had a hell of a first pro season in Grand Rapids, will very likely be the top call-up once again, and I would be a little bit surprised if he isn’t the Wings’ backup in ’14-15. If the team deems him less-than-ready at that point, backup netminders are a dime a dozen on the open market. But for one more season, expect Howard-Gustavsson as running mates.

35 JIMMY HOWARD (6 years remaining) :: $5.292M cap hit
50 JONAS GUSTAVSSON (1 year remaining) :: $1.5M

Total Cap Committed to Goaltenders :: $6,791,667 [10.6% of cap]

DEFENSEMEN
There might be a bit of a logjam on the blueline next season, which the team may very well welcome because of the injury troubles they’ve seemed to have over the past few seasons. But, if we’re assuming all of the players are healthy all season (which is impossible), we’re looking at at a few extra bodies. One may very well be a candidate to be traded… maybe even bought out if the team opts to use one or both of the compliance buyouts this summer.

Looking from a depth perspective, we can deduce pretty much exactly what our blueline will look like. Alternate captain Niklas Kronwall and his partner Jonathan Ericsson aren’t going anywhere. Danny DeKeyser will be fully healed from a broken thumb and should retake his place among the permanent top four. Brian Lashoff is on a one-way contract so he’ll have to be in Detroit or risk being subject to waivers (and someone will absolutely claim him). Brendan Smith and Jakub Kindl are restricted free agents, and you can bet your hat that they’ll be re-signed.

That leaves Carlo Colaiacovo, who has one year remaining on his deal and proved that he’s a reliable (also: cheap-ish) option for the 6th/7th D slot; and Kyle Quincey, who started playing well during the playoffs, and who the Wings paid a heavy cost for (both in dollars and trade value). That makes 8. The Wings have been known to carry 8 defensemen in the past, but that means they can carry fewer forwards (roster limit is 23), and you’ll see that it’s not LESS crowded up there in just a moment.

Wave goodbye to Ian White, the only unrestricted defenseman in the group — and considering he didn’t play in the playoffs, the writing should be on the wall for him, as he’ll move onto a sixth team since 2010. Read that again. SIXTH team since 2010.

02 BRENDAN SMITH (restricted)
04 JAKUB KINDL (restricted)
23 BRIAN LASHOFF (3 years remaining, then restricted) :: $725k
27 KYLE QUINCEY (1 year remaining) :: $3.775M
28 CARLO COLAIACOVO (1 year remaining) :: $2.5M
52 JONATHAN ERICSSON (1 year remaining) :: $3.25M
55 NIKLAS KRONWALL (6 years remaining) :: $4.75M
65 DANNY DEKEYSER (1 year remaining, then restricted) :: $1.35M

Total Cap Committed to Defensemen :: $16,350,000 [25.4% of cap] with two contracts to be signed.

FORWARDS
Things don’t get a lot easier on the forward lines, where — depending on how many defensemen the Wings carry — 13 or 14 players will be kept. I’m going to be making a few assumptions when it comes to these guys because A) this will be the THIRD year that Gustav Nyquist deserves to be on the NHL roster, B) Tomas Tatar was annoyed he wasn’t given a chance THIS year and proved that the NHL is where he belongs when he was given a call-up, and C) Joakim Andersson was told to start looking for a place to live in Detroit. I wouldn’t expect any of those guys back in Grand Rapids — particularly with how Nyquist and Andersson played in the playoffs with Damien Brunner (who, uh oh, is an unrestricted free agent).

Datsyuk, Zetterberg, and Franzen are your big-name guys who are locked in. Helm, Abdelkader, Eaves, and Emmerton are your homegrown role-players. Samuelsson and Bertuzzi are your oft-injured old guys who may shatter at training camp. Add in Jordin Tootoo, Nyquist, Andersson, and Tatar and you’re already at 13. And that doesn’t include any incoming free agents, or space to re-sign your own. Something’s going to have to give.

Valtteri Filppula, Dan Cleary, and Drew Miller are the NHL roster players who may not play for the Wings again. The biggest loss in that bunch would, arguably, be Drew Miller, who was a penalty killing machine, and a worthy contributor from the fourth line. Damien Brunner, who bounced around from the top line to the press box before coming to rest on a stellar third line, will hopefully be re-signed and remain a Red Wing, but roster spots are becoming a problem.

08 JUSTIN ABDELKADER (3 years remaining) :: $1.8M
13 PAVEL DATSYUK (1 year remaining) :: $6.7M
14 GUSTAV NYQUIST (restricted)
17 PATRICK EAVES (1 year reamining) :: $1.2M
21 TOMAS TATAR (1 year remaining, then restricted) :: $840k
22 JORDIN TOOTOO (2 years remaining) :: $1.9M
25 CORY EMMERTON (1 year remaining) :: $533k
37 MIKAEL SAMUELSSON (1 year remaining) :: $3M
43 DARREN HELM (3 years remaining) :: $2.125M
44 TODD BERTUZZI (1 year remaining) :: $2.075M
40 HENRIK ZETTERBERG (8 years remaining) :: $6.083M
63 JOAKIM ANDERSSON (restricted)
93 JOHAN FRANZEN (7 years remaining) :: $3.955M

Total Cap Committed to Forwards :: $30,211,211 [47% of cap] with at least two contracts to be signed.

THE 23
There are 19 players under contract for a total of $53,325,878. That leaves almost $11 million in cap space to fill out the roster.

If you were a good math student, you’ll see that after the Wings re-sign their restricted free agents (Kindl, Smith, Nyquist, and Andersson), we’re already at 23 with absolutely no new blood and zero of the unrestricted free agents retained. That’s… a problem. If this roster couldn’t win this season, it likely won’t win next season, and Ken Holland knows that as well as anyone else does.

Which brings us to…

BUYOUTS
Per the new CBA, each team will be allowed two cap-compliance buyouts to help deal with the dramatic drop in salary cap. Any player bought out, including those on 35+ contracts (Todd Bertuzzi, Mikael Samuelsson) will not count against the cap — even if the team is forced to pay the terms of the buyout in dollars.

Speaking of those two, they may very well be candidates for buyouts. Neither played (much) in the playoffs — even when healthy. It seems that their status on the depth chart is murky at best, and although one-year deals aren’t the first candidates for buyouts, you can’t argue that their role on the team has become diminished to the point of redundancy (at best).

Ken Holland has already said that they will not be buying out Johan Franzen, who would be a good candidate from a cap and length standpoint, but left open the option to use them on someone. They can be used either this summer or next — two total, not two each — so it’s something that has to enter the equation.

Other potential candidates for buyout include Carlo Colaiacovo (but, again, he’s a valuable depth defenseman if he stays healthy), Jonas Gustavsson (but, again, he’d have to be replaced with a goaltender anyway), and Kyle Quincey (who, given the investment the team has made in him, seems more likely to be traded if he’s not in the team’s long-term plans).

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
By now you’ve noticed that we haven’t factored in any of the unrestricted free agents. It’s not that the team doesn’t plan to bring them back, or that they’re going to be moving on, but unless something ELSE listed above happens first, there’s literally no place for them on the roster. I do think that some of these guys will be inked, but that means someone else above has to go — one way or another.

11 DAN CLEARY (made $2.8M this season)
I think it’s obvious that Cleary wants to return, and that the team is saying all of the right things when it comes to the public. I can’t imagine, given the roster situation that we’re in, that he’s back. Guys like him are always available — this year, replacing him will come from within. Likelihood of return: 20%

18 IAN WHITE ($2.875)
Given his statements, and the ones made by the team, he’s as good as gone. Considering how little he played down the stretch, he’ll welcome the change, and the Wings will welcome the roster space. Likelihood of return: 0.67%

20 DREW MILLER ($837k)
I think he’s a good bet to be re-signed. He’ll be affordable, and his tenacity on the fourth line can’t be replaced by anyone better coming through the pipe, or on the market. Likelihood of return: 80%

24 DAMIEN BRUNNER ($1.2M)
All signs seem to indicate that a return is in everyone’s best interest. In order to accommodate his return, roster spots will have to be cleared one way or another. Another interesting thing to watch is his price tag. How do you properly gauge his value, given the shortened season and being that he’s still becoming used to North American hockey, etc? Likelihood of return: 75%

39 JAN MURSAK ($550k)
Already gone, has signed in the KHL. Likelihood of return: 0%

51 VALTTERI FILPPULA ($3M)
We all know the story here. He’s seeking a lot more money ($5M) than the Wings are willing to pay him. In a very thin free agent market, someone will absolutely pay him what he’s seeking, and I think we’ve seen the last of Flip in Motown. One of my favorites, so I’ll be sad to see him go, but he didn’t play in a way that demanded his return. Likelihood of return: 25%

FRANCIS PARE ($527k)
I’d bet dollars to donuts that he will not be re-signed. There are plenty of players making the jump to the AHL and he hasn’t so much as sniffed a call-up. Likelihood of return: 1%

JORDAN PEARCE ($525k)
The poor kid couldn’t even stick in Grand Rapids, so it’s probably best that he moves on to med school now. Even if he continues playing hockey, I can just about guarantee that he won’t be signed by the Detroit Red Wings directly. Likelihood of return: 1%

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
02 BRENDAN SMITH ($875k) — will be signed, no doubt.
04 JAKUB KINDL ($883k) — see directly above
14 GUSTAV NYQUIST ($762k) — again
63 JOAKIM ANDERSSON ($875k) — and once more
THOMAS MCCOLLUM ($817k) — with Mrazek playing how he is, and Jared Coreau joining the Griffins next season, Thomas McCollum’s time as a Red Wing may have come to an end. If they decided to keep him within the organization, they can have the Griffins (or Walleye, I suppose) sign him directly without burning a contract. More on that in a minute.
BRENT RAEDEKE ($523k) — ditto

CONTRACT LIMIT
Independent of the 23 players you’re allowed to carry on an active roster, each team is only allowed 50 total contracts. Players signed and assigned to AHL affiliates, or playing in Europe, count against this number. Players signed but playing junior hockey DO NOT, but at the moment, everyone the Wings have inked will be playing in the NHL, the AHL, or in Europe next season.

Goaltenders (4) — Howard, Gustavsson, Mrazek, Coreau
Defensemen (15) — Kronwall, Ericsson, Quincey, Colaiacovo, DeKeyser, Lashoff, Ouellet, Sproul, Jensen, Almquist, Nedomlel, Fournier, Nicastro, Marchenko, Backman.
Forwards (23) — Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Franzen, Samuelsson, Helm, Bertuzzi, Tootoo, Abdelkader, Eaves, Tatar, Emmerton, Sheahan, Jurco, Callahan, Ferraro, Jarnkrok, Pulkkinen, Frk, Tvrdon, Aubry, Coetzee, Parkes, Nestrasil.

That’s a total of 42 contracts, leaving 8 slots. We’ve already discussed the 4 restricted free agents who will be re-signed. Meaning 4 spots available.

TENTATIVE ROSTER

Bertuzzi – Datsyuk – Abdelkader
Franzen – Zetterberg – (Nyquist)
Tatar – Helm – Samuelsson
Tootoo – Emmerton – Eaves
(Andersson)

Kronwall – Ericsson
DeKeyser – Quincey
(Kindl) – (Smith)
Lashoff – Colaiacovo

Howard
Gustavsson

2013 Draft

Jones MacKinnon Drouin
Seth Jones (Steve Dykes, USA Today); Nathan MacKinnon (Richard Wolowicz, Getty Images); and Jonathan Drouin (Richard Wolowicz, Getty Images) — in all likelihood the top three selections. So don’t fall in love.

Later this month, NHL clubs will gather in New Jersey (gross, I know) to take turns selecting the 18-year-olds that they’re going to be adding to their prospect cupboards. The Red Wings — assuming they don’t trade their pick — will select 18th overall. If they had won their second round series against the Blackhawks, the earliest they could have selected is 27th (the final four teams remaining the Stanley Cup playoffs get 27-30 automatically… the rest are determined by lottery and regular season finish).

If they hang onto their selection, 18th is the highest the Wings will have picked since selecting Martin Lapointe 10th overall just a short 22 years ago. If ever there was a time to have a decent draft pick, 2013 is the year. This is the deepest draft in recent memory — with all thirty first round picks potentially making an NHL impact sooner rather than later. We’ll take a quick look at the guys at the top of the list — but, barring something major taking place on the draft floor, the Wings will have no chance at them whatsoever.

But, what can you expect as a fan of the Winged Wheel? If you can hang through the whole post (gimme a break, it’s been six months!), we should have a pretty good indication of things to come. I usually get 24-28 of the 30 guys right… though never even close to the correct order.

THE TOP FLIGHT GUYS
1. Seth Jones (D – Portland Winterhawks)
At his coronation ceremony, new Colorado Avalanche head coach and vice president Patrick Roy hinted that the first overall selection may be available for the right deal. I think he was bluffing, because even though moving down a few slots and adding an additional player from this draft may make a lot of sense for a team as thin as the Avalanche, you don’t pass up on a franchise defenseman at the top of the board — PARTICULARLY one from Colorado who credits the Avalanche as the reason he got into hockey. That’s just good marketing that comes with the best player in the Draft.

2 & 3. Nathan MacKinnon (F – Halifax Mooseheads) & Jonathan Drouin (F – Halifax Mooseheads)
These two are teammates and linemates (the third of the trio is Red Wings draft pick Martin Frk). Some mock drafts have these guys flipped…or even have one going first overall…but everyone and their mother has Jones, MacKinnon, and Drouin going 1-2-3 in some order. If I were a betting man, and the top three teams don’t trade out of their spots, I’ve got Jones to Colorado, MacKinnon to Florida, and Drouin to Tampa.

4. Sasha Barkov (F – Finland)
He’s Russian-Finnish in the same way that I’m Italian-American. His name is absolutely Russian, but he was born in, raised in, and plays international hockey for Finland, which should help him avoid the annual “Russian Free Fall” that has happened at every single Draft since the KHL formed. He’ll be the top European player off the board and is very likely #4 to Nashville.

5. Darnell Nurse (D – Sault Ste. Marie)
Donovan McNabb’s nephew is a gigantic kid and the consensus #2 blueliner available. It’s all a matter of who needs a defenseman. Carolina may take him at 5, which may be a smart move considering they didn’t take a defenseman until the fourth round last year.

6. Sean Monahan (F – Ottawa)
The one-time top pick is this year’s Sean Couturier, though I doubt he slides all the way to Philly at 11. Calgary selects at #6.

7. Rasmus Ristolainen (D – Finland)
The top European defenseman on most boards. Edmonton holds the seventh pick in the Draft, and they’d be wise to select a defenseman (FINALLY) with their top pick. But there are plenty of kick-ass forwards available for them.

8. Hunter Shinkaruk (F – Medicine Hat)
Best Name Nominee Hunter Shinkaruk will need to add some mass before jumping to the NHL. Buffalo selects at this spot, and might look nice playing with Mikhail Grigorenko in a few seasons.

9. Elias Lindhold (F – Sweden)
The top Swede available. The hometown Devils hold the ninth pick, and they’ve never been afraid to go over the pond for their selections, but they might want to make the fans in the building rock with a local selection. Who knows.

10. Valeri Nichushkin (F – KHL)
Here’s the top candidate for an aforementioned major Russian Free Fall. He’s the top Russian available, and very likely a top five pick based solely on skill. But, in addition to the KHL angle, he also refused to answer questions about whether he’d be willing to play in the AHL during media availability. That’s going to be a huge red flag for a lot of teams. The Stars, and Jim Nill, hold the tenth pick and I’d bet my left foot he doesn’t use his first pick as general manager on a guy with that kind of uh oh following him around.

11. Nikita Zadorov (D – London)
While he’s also Russian, he’s committed to playing North American hockey, a top blueliner for the incredibly talented London Knights. Philadelphia picks here.

12. Anthony Mantha (F – Val d’Or)
He’s huge, he’s a 50 goal scorer in the OHL, and he’s a Pronovost. He’ll be off the board before Detroit’s name is called… but probably not before Jim Nill’s is called (at 10). Phoenix holds the #12 overall pick.

13. Ryan Pulock (D – Brandon)
Captain of the Wheat Kings and a two-time member of Canada’s underage national team. Some have him in the top five. Winnipeg will be picking at #13.

14. Bo Horvat (F- London)
Already has a million OHL awards. The Blue Jackets would do a backflip if he was still available at 14. He may very well not be.

POTENTIAL RED WINGS TARGETS
Now that the (likely) top 14 players are off the board, we can take a peek at guys who may very well be available when the Red Wings select at 18. This might be easier if broken down by position.

GOALTENDERS
There will probably be a goaltender selected in the first round (Zach Fucale) — maybe even two (Eric Comrie). The Red Wings won’t be selecting them. If you haven’t noticed, the Wings have gotten into the habit of drafting a netminder every other year at the Draft. Last year, Jake Patterson… in ’10, Petr Mrazek… in ’08, Thomas McCollum… in ’06, Daniel Larsson. This year isn’t an even year, so they’ll pass. Book it.

DEFENSEMEN
The last five Drafts, the Wings have selected non-blueliners with their top pick. That’s only noteworthy because every first round pick they held onto between 1993 and 2007 was used to select a blueliner. With the young defensemen developing (DeKeyser, Smith, and Kindl in Detroit… Ouellet, Sproul, Jensen in Grand Rapids), I don’t think that they use this pick for a blueliner — particularly since the forward crop is so deep. But it’s not out of the question (as you’ll see below in the Mock Draft). If the 18th-pick-worthy forwards are gone, they’ll take a great defenseman before they force a forward into that slot.

Josh Morrissey (Prince Albert, 6-0, 183)
One of the alternate captains of Team Canada’s U18 team at the Ivan Hlinka tournament (where they won gold). He led all tournament defensemen in goals and points, and all players in plus-minus. He was the CHL Scholastic Player of the Year and played in the CHL Top Prospects Game. A hell of a pick if he’s still available at 18.

Robert Hagg (MODO, 6-2, 203)
Split his season between MODO’s senior squad (where he was teammates with former Red Wing Mattias Ritola) and their U20 team (which he captained at 18), and won silver medals at both the World Junior Championships and U18 Tournament. Kid knows how to win, and comes from the Hockeytown Hotbed of Sweden.

Mirco Mueller (Everett, 6-3, 187)
Keep your eye on this name. He played for Switzerland’s WJC team (and captained their U18 team) in addition to playing a full season for the Silvertips in the WHL. With the recent Swiss influx (including Damien Brunner), the Wings may take a flier.

Madison Bowey (Kelowna, 6-1, 201)
The Winnipeg native won gold at the Ivan Hlinka Tournament, as well as the U18 WJC, and racked up 30 points, 75 penalty minutes, and was +41 in 69 games for Kelowna.

Jordan Subban (Belleville, 5-9, 176)
Yup, there’s another one. PK and Malcolm’s littlest brother (both in age and stature) comes from a hell of a bloodline. PK was taken 43rd overall… Malcolm was taken 24th… I bet Jordan falls somewhere in between those two.

Steve Santini (USNTDP, 6-2, 205)
The only American of the bunch is heading to Boston College next season, so the team that selects him will have (up to) four years to sign him instead of the usual two. He was named the best defenseman at the U18 WJC.

FORWARDS
Alexander Wennberg (Djurgarden, 6-1, 183)
Signed by the Red Wings’ favorite SEL team, Frolunda, through the 2014-15 season, Wennberg already has a WJC silver medal to go with his budding Swedish professional career.

Curtis Lazar (Edmonton, 5-11, 194)
Led the Oil Kings in goals scored during the 2012-13 season in which he was an alternate captain. Played in the CHL Top Prospects game, as well as the Ivan Hlinka Tournament (gold medal for Canada).

Valentin Zykov (Baie-Comeau, 6-0, 207)
Came to North America before last season and was named Rookie of the Year for the QMJHL, as well as the CHL as a whole. He was drafted by CSKA Moscow in the most recent KHL Draft, but he seems committed to staying in North America.

Frederik Gauthier (Rimouski, 6-5, 209)
Kid’s huge already, and scored at just under a point-per-game pace for the Oceanic. He’ll go in the first round for sure, it’s just a matter of where.

Anthony Duclair (Quebec, 5-10, 150)
He’s a little on the small side, but I bet Patrick Roy is interested in him. A member of Roy’s Remparts team for the last two seasons, he scored 116 points in 118 games as a 16 and 17 year old. Yikes.

Adam Erne (Quebec, 6-1, 196)
Duclair’s teammate is a guy I have my eye on. He was interviewed by 28 teams at the combine (only Dallas and Pittsburgh didn’t express interest, apparently), where he was the first one to hop onto the floor. He seems like a go-getter, and by all accounts is a great kid. He’s going to make some team very lucky in the first round.

Kerby Rychel (Windsor, 6-0, 185)
Warren Rychel’s kid (YOU’RE OLD!) plays as close to Joe Louis Arena as you can without being a Red Wing, so chances are good that the scouting staff has seen him dozens of times while he scored 87 and 74 points over the last two seasons. He actually played for the Spitfires as a 16-year-old, too, scoring 13 points in 32 games as a rookie (after being traded from Mississauga, where he had 8 in 30).

Max Domi (London, 5-9, 194)
Hey, speaking of bloodlines. Tie Domi’s kid started out as a top-five pick…fell to a potential second rounder…and has risen back up to a potential top ten pick. I think he’ll be around during the teens, so the Wings have a real shot at him. He’s scored 136 points in 126 OHL games, where he’s won an OHL championship, an Ivan Hlinka gold, and played in the CHL Top Prospects Game.

TRADE
Of course, there’s always the chance that the Wings trade their pick. Last season, they traded their top selection to the Lightning in the deal that brought Kyle Quincey back to Detroit… but the Wings often trade down, adding another pick or two simply by sliding down the chart a few slots. In 2011, they traded #24 to Ottawa for #35 & #48. So, for one draft pick, they were able to get Tomas Jurco and Xavier Ouellet. In 2009, #29 went to Tampa for #32 (Ferraro) and #75 (Nestrasil). So it’s entirely possible we see another swap if there are a few guys that the Wings like more than ONE guy at #18.

Potential trade partners include the Montreal Canadiens (who have picks 25, 34, and 36), Columbus Blue Jackets (19 and 44), San Jose Sharks (20, 49, and 50), Toronto Maple Leafs (21 and 51), and Anaheim Ducks (26 and 45).

If the Wings can select Adam Erne at 18… or a guy like Duclair at 25 and someone like Sven Andrighetto (who’s re-entering the draft) at 36, that’s the kind of deal that Ken Holland likes to make.

Teams that could make a big splash trade-wise include Columbus (they have their own 14th, the Rangers’ 19th, and LA’s bottom four), Buffalo (8th and Minnesota’s 16th), Dallas (10th and Boston’s bottom four), and Calgary (6th, St. Louis’ 22nd, and Pittsburgh’s bottom four). That, of course, means that a few teams are left out of the party: Boston, Los Angeles, Minnesota, the Rangers, Pittsburgh, St. Louis are all without a first round pick.

DETROIT’S PICKS
The Red Wings currently own all of their own draft picks. They will select with the following selections:

Round 1 :: 18th overall
Round 2 :: 48th overall
Round 3 :: 79th overall
Round 4 :: 109th overall
Round 5 :: 139th overall
Round 6 :: 169th overall
Round 7 :: 199th overall

MOCK DRAFT
1. Colorado — Seth Jones, D
2. Florida — Nate MacKinnon, F
3. Tampa Bay — Jonathan Drouin, F
4. Nashville — Sasha Barkov, F
5. Carolina — Rasmus Ristolainen, D
6. Calgary — Elias Lindholm, F
7. Edmonton — Darnell Nurse, D
8. Buffalo — Sean Monahan, F
9. New Jersey — Hunter Shinkaruk, F
10. Dallas — Bo Horvat, F

11. Philadelphia — Ryan Pulock, D
12. Phoenix — Josh Morrissey, F
13. Winnipeg — Alexander Wennberg, F
14. Columbus — Nikita Zadorov, D
15. Islanders — Adam Erne, F
16. Buffalo — Frederik Gauthier, F
17. Ottawa — Anthony Mantha, F
18. Detroit — Robert Hagg, D
19. Columbus — Valeri Nichushkin, F
20. San Jose — Madison Bowey, D

21. Toronto — Max Domi, F
22. Calgary — Curtis Lazar, F
23. Washington — Kerby Rychel, F
24. Vancouver — Valentin Zykov, F
25. Montreal — Jordan Subban, D
26. Anaheim — Mirco Mueller, D
27. Columbus — Zach Fucale, G
28. Dallas — Steve Santini, D [Boston’s first rounder became Dallas’ upon Boston’s advancing — thanks for the catch, Hancock]
29. Calgary — Anthony Duclair, F
30. Chicago — JT Compher, F

Interesting names for the second round and beyond: Connor Rankin, F; Keaton Thompson, D; Eric Roy, D; Taylor Cammarata, F; Andre Burakowsky, F; Pavel Buchnevich, F; Jason Dickinson, F; Samuel Morin, D; Ryan Hartman, F; Artturi Lehkonen, F; Jacob de la Rose, F; Nicolas Petan, F; Adam Tambellini, F; Nick Baptiste, F; Keaton Thompson, D; Justin Bailey, F; Jean-Sebastien Dea, F; Tyler Bertuzzi, F (Todd’s nephew); Kurt Etchegary, F; Taylor Cammarata, F; Tyler Motte, F, Sven Andrighetto, F.

If the Wings pick Erne, Gauthier, Domi, Wennberg, Santini, Morrissey, or Hagg in the first round… and follow it up with de la Rose, Mueller, or Petan in the second… and somehow get their hands on Andrighetto, Dea, Etchegary, or Cammarata in the mid-to-later rounds, I’ll do a backflip.

 

Online Songs

And if we can have another day,
I’ve got so much left to say,
I’d tell you everything.

Blink-182, “Online Songs”

Everyone has a favorite band or musical artist. The human connection to music begins early in life and continually evolves as the years go by. And while musical tastes may ebb and flow, most individuals with a pulse and a heartbeat in this world latch on to a group or act that stays with them, even through all of the changes. For me, it’s Blink-182. Attending their performances during my high school years was a summer rite of passage, and every time I hear their music, I’m immediately transported back to a time when I was young and carefree and without major responsibility. It’s liberating and meaningful. Perhaps, though, the most beautiful piece of the puzzle is that even though other people may claim Blink-182 as their favorite band, none will have the exact same visceral reaction as I do when the opening chords of “Dammit” or ” Carousel” begin playing. My soundtrack may have the same songs as yours, but the meaning is entirely different.

I’ll never forget when Blink-182 announced they were breaking up in 2005. I didn’t get angry or cry or punch anything. I wasn’t as devastated as some of those young teenage girls were when The Beatles split up. In fact, I was completely the opposite. Sure, deep down it definitely sucked, but in my mind it was nothing more than the confirmation of a simple life truth: nothing lasts forever, no matter how good it is.

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Petrella drew the short straw six months ago when he wrote the post that let all of you know the doors to TPL were being closed. His voice was the last to be heard, and his message was one that both myself and Disch stood behind. But there’s more to the story of what led to the decision to hang it up, and it’s only fair that you have that context. To put it very bluntly, I’m not sure any of us were happy doing what we were doing. When we launched the new site and brought the three of us together for the first time, the project was focused on our unique voices and opinions, and we prided ourselves on doing things our way and not giving a damn about the repercussions. It was raw and fun and distinctly our own. And while the finished product that you saw on the site may have never wavered too far from that manifesto, the sad fact is that the process to getting the content out there did.

In layman’s terms, it just wasn’t fun anymore.

Petrella, Disch and I had many long talks in the run-up to the December closure of the site, and it became apparent to each of us that the magic wasn’t there anymore. Sure, we loved engaging with all of you, but the grind of pulling together pre-games, doing wrap-ups and working on longer-form content was taking a major toll on us. Combined with the personal demands of jobs, families, hobbies, etc., the closure of the site was a foregone conclusion. It was just a matter of timing, and frankly, I’m surprised we held out as long as we did.

As the summer ended and the lockout took over, so did the realization that the time was right to hang it up. The three of us hopped on an e-mail thread, made our cases, and took a simple vote. The tally was unanimous and the results were executed quickly: the site closed and we all moved on to different things. To be clear, none of this was a result of infighting or broken friendships. The three of us have always remained good friends, but there was a point where I didn’t have a meaningful conversation with either of my partners for the better part of three months. Nobody was mad at each other. Nobody disliked any of the others. Quite simply, the passion behind the site was gone and – to some extent – we had all already gone our own different ways and moved on to new things. It was sad, but it was also necessary.

____________________________________________________________________________________

After Blink-182 split and everyone went into their own side projects, the band didn’t actually speak as a group for over three years. Travis Barker – drummer – spent time working with the now deceased DJ AM, and they happened to be on a plane together in September of 2008. The plane ended up crashing during landing, and killed all aboard, except for Barker and DJ AM. As Barker was in the hospital recovering from trauma and severe burns, his band mates found themselves supporting him by his bed – and at the same time speaking to each other for the first time in three years. Shortly thereafter, the guys made their way to the stage of the 2009 Grammy Awards. As they prepared to hand out the award for Best Rock Album, Barker walked up to the microphone and issued a very subdued, yet powerful statement:

“We used to play music together, and we decided we’re going to play music together again.”

For those who had followed Blink-182 for any length of time, there was plenty to be excited about. But there was also an understanding. These guys had gone and spent three years on different projects with other musicians, and their sounds and talents had changed because of it. So despite the same cast of characters under the familiar banner, there was bound to be some changes in the sound, delivery and content. Honestly though, I could have cared less. I just wanted three dudes that made the music of my youth to get back together and make some more tunes. In fact, it wasn’t really ever about the music. It was a victory for the belief that problems can be solved and passion can be found, even when the situation says that the odds are fully against it. Some call it fate. Others call it romanticism. I just turn up the volume on another song and lose myself in a sea of memories.

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Petrella, Disch and I used to write here together, and we’ve decided we’re going to write here together again.

It’s a decision that hasn’t been made lightly. Over the past few months, we’ve revisited the issue a number of times, and there’s been more than one discussion that’s ended with us deciding not to come back. But the more we talked and the more we thought things over, we realized that TPL is an important part of our lives and something we weren’t ready to give up. However, we also reached an understanding that the previous model was flawed and something we wouldn’t allow ourselves to fall back into. Changes had to be made and a common goal had to be in sight at all times. That goal is simple: Be raw, be fun and be distinctly TPL.

So what does it all mean? It means that each of us understands that TPL is just a piece of the larger personal puzzle. Petrella will continue his coaching duties, Disch will continue to bike and blog, and I’ll continue my photo project. Jobs, hobbies and responsibilities won’t come at the expense of banging out a post on TPL. Life will be prioritized properly. Think of it as our own internal “optional skate.”

It also means that you’ll see a big change in terms of content on the site. Gone are the pre-game posts and post-game wrap-ups. There’s plenty of great Red Wings sites on the right sidebar that already handle those areas, and as the biggest time suck for the three of us, they were the first to go. As for TP:60, no official decisions have been made, but I think it’s safe to assume that the podcast is also going by the wayside.

Things that won’t change? Petrella’s insane roster analysis and prospect coverage, Disch’s whiskey-laden stories that eventually tie in hockey and blow your mind, and my verbose and lengthy long-form postulations. And while that specific content won’t change, the regularity of our writing will. There will be weeks where content pops up frequently. There will also be weeks where nothing goes up on the site. We’re completely OK with that. It’s part of the deal we made with each other and we believe it will make the resulting product even better. We’ve also realized that much of the instant reaction and analysis we turned into posts in the past can be delivered through the @TPLhockey Twitter account. Petrella has done a fantastic job utilizing the account over the past few months, and we’ll continue to make that a priority moving forward.

As for the rest of it, we haven’t really decided. I’m sure there will be new shirts in the store from time to time, the charity angle is likely to stick around, The Pipeline is something we are still interested in and the ever popular Loss Candy still seems like an attainable goal. We’ll meet as a group over the coming weeks and figure out what makes sense, but for now, we’re just happy to have the site back online and content in the hopper.

Finally, we owe all of you a huge thank you. Most of you have been frequent visitors over the past couple of years, and the amount of supportive e-mails and tweets we’ve received during the last six months has been mind-blowing. If it wasn’t for your support and enthusiasm about our product, TPL would still be padlocked tighter than Fort Knox.

It’s been a long road back and there’s still plenty of hurdles to overcome. But the first and most important step is complete and TPL is open for business yet again.

It’s good to be back.

Jailsexingly yours,
TPL

The Production Line II