As the questions abound for the New Jersey Devils in this coming offseason, fans can at least be excited with the upcoming NHL Entry Draft in June. The Devils won the lottery and have moved up from eighth to fourth overall in the first round. Provided the Devils don't trade that pick down, it will be highest pick in the first round for the franchise since 1991 when Toronto's first round pick became third overall - and Scott Niedermayer.
Recently, Derek Zona polled readers of the Copper & Blue of their top five prospects for the 2011 draft. It garnered an excellent response. Last Friday, Zona compiled the results and compared their combined rankings with their own. At the end, he had this open request.
I wonder how our rankings are influenced by the Oilers' organizational needs and how these rankings would differ if the writers at Mile High Hockey, Litter Box Cats, In Lou We Trust or Lighthouse Hockey did polling of their own?
I say, well, why not then? Tom's already done a mock draft for the first ten picks of 2011 draft, which is well worth your time to read. This is a bit different. Like Zona, I want to know your top five prospects for this draft. Just your top five guys in your opinion - forget about who would be drafting them or anything related that. You don't need to provide detailed reasons for why, either; just a list of five players in the comments would suffice.
In a week, I'll tally up the responses and follow up to see what the results are; as well as whether they'll be different from a largely Devils perspective than a largely Oilers perspective. After the jump is my somewhat uninformed and totally opinionated list.1. Adam Larsson - He's a defenseman who has received big minutes on Skelleftea according to Tom's analysis. For a teenager in a pro league going up against ex-NHLers, other top prospects, and men in general, that's huge given his position. And to think, he could get so much better. Therefore, I think he's the top guy available.
2. Sean Couturier - Derek Zona made an excellent argument why he should be #1 overall; and Tom made an excellent argument why would it be awesome if the Devils got him in his (first) mock. I can't disagree with either. If it wasn't for Larsson getting the job done against adults, then I'm putting Couturier as my #1 too.
3. Gabriel Landeskog - Power forwards are rare in the NHL; Derek Zona explained that notion last April at C&B. This guy may very well be that kind of player. This guy is strong, tough, and smart with the puck. He's been productive for Kitchener in the O and punishing for their opposition. Even if he doesn't hit his ceiling, he could turn out to be quite useful for any team as he's not at all afraid to mix it up, throw his body around, and battle hard along the boards.
4. Jonathan Huberdeau - The point machine of Saint John has certainly caught everyone's attention. Excellent stickhandling, excellent instincts with the puck, and the only thing I think he really needs is some more muscle and some more time to develop. Who knows if he'll end up as a center or a winger, but I think it's fair to say he's got what it takes to make an impact in the NHL. While I said this is not a mock draft, I would have zero complaints if he's available at #4 for NJ.
5. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - I keep reading about his wonderful vision on offense among his other skills. Yet, take a look at this post by SumOil at Copper & Blue comparing the stats of various prospects in the CHL. The relatively low even strength points per game rate compared to his power play points per game rate is a big red flag. So is he only killing it at man advantages, or is he just unfortunate to not have more points at evens by situation or role on the team? If I'm looking at a top five prospect, then I'm expecting him to shine at the most common situation in hockey against his peers. The production suggests otherwise.
That's my top 5 in my opinion. What's yours? Please leave them in the comments. Thanks for reading.