As in the past, the thirty NHL blogs on the SB Nation network got together to hold a mock draft of the first round of the NHL Draft. Here are all of the picks so far, with links to all of the other 29 blogs and their picks. We will close out this year's mock. The New Jersey Devils did get their first round pick back in the 2014 Draft: the 30th overall pick. They cannot trade the pick so they will use it. Therefore, they will have to get a prospect.
Whether it's a result of looking at prospects for the better part of two months, the mock draft itself, or buying into the concept that a prospect is better than no prospect, I feel confident the Devils can get someone good. I would agree that the 2014 class may not be as strong as last year's, but there's talent to be had. Adding to my confidence was that it was a really difficult decision. Among myself and the other writers, it was a toss up between three forwards. I ultimately decided to go with Brayden Point of the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Brian did a really good profile of Point a few weeks back. You should check it out to learn more about him. By the way, you can view all of the profiles we did this year in the ILWT 2014 NHL Entry Draft Prospects hub. In any case, as Brian already covered Point's game in general, I'll go into more depth as to the decision that was made.
As the Devils desperately need offensive talent at forward in the system (and arguably on the roster), I quickly decided that I would draft a forward with this pick. As the mock came closer to my pick, a number of names were snatched up earlier. As Adrian Kempe (21), Nikolai Goldobin (25), David Pastrnak (26), and Jakub Vrana were off the board, three forwards I was hoping would be available were: Point, Conner Bleackley (Karen's profile), and Nick Schmaltz (Brian's profile). Each were stand out forwards for their team. Each have displayed considerable talent among their peers. Each aren't one-dimensional. I would be very happy if either of those three were the Devils' actual pick in the first round. Yet, I could only take one.
So why Point? Partially because more of my other writers suggested him. What ultimately swayed me were two aspects about Point. First, Point wasn't just a producer in 2013-14. He was arguably a scorer the moment he came into the WHL as a 16 year old in the playoffs. Here are his career totals per Elite Prospects:
He jumped right into the WHL playoffs and has gone up ever since. While production isn't everything for a prospect, an upwards trend of significant production over multiple seasons is an excellent sign. It shows that not only has the prospect showcased his offensive talents, but he's built upon them. In conjunction with his good skating skills and his smarts on the ice, he is exactly what the Devils should target in terms of a forward.
The second has to do with Point's NHL equivalency. I used 0.26 for the WHL based on Robert Vollman's Hockey Abstract and 0.27 based on Gabe Desjardens' prior work (Vollman didn't look at the USHL). All three came out well, but Point was above the other two and several other prospects. (P.S. If someone has updated or better rates, I'll recalculate this chart.)
|Prospect||Lg||GP||G||A||P||NHLe||82 NHLe G||82 NHLe A||82NHLe P|
What makes this more impressive is that Point's NHLe from 2012-13 was roughly 18 points, which is rather good for a player turning 17. Again, I like Bleackley's two-way game quite a lot and he had very good production rates. I do think Schmaltz will become a fine producer. I can understand those who think he may be available for the 41st pick. But if the goal is to pick an offensive forward - and that's what I was looking for New Jersey's pick - then the player with the higher NHLe appeals to me that much more. He'll get stronger, he'll continue to thrive, he helps fill the gaping hole in the system, and I think he'll be a real good player. Hoping a player you'd want would fall is a risky proposition. Therefore, he became the pick in the SBN mock draft.
Incidentally, past mock draft picks by us haven't exactly turned out in reality. Last year, we took Hunter Shinkaruk at ninth. He actually went 24th and the Devils moved their first rounder for Cory Schneider. In 2012, we took Tom Wilson at 29th. He actually went 16th and the Devils drafted Stefan Matteau. So if you're not a fan of Point, then don't fret too much. It's more likely the Devils will go somewhere else with their pick on Friday night. Should you want a second opinion or check out a different mock draft, then DC Pro Sports Report has plenty to peruse.
That said, I want to know your take on our mock draft. If you were in our shoes, who would you pick with the Devils' pick? Would it also be Point? Would you have chosen Bleackley or Schmaltz instead? Or perhaps you would have picked someone else? (Aside: Extra Skater has estimated CHL stats, which may guide your decision - this wasn't available at the time of our pick, incidentally.) Let us know your answers and thoughts on Point being our mock draft pick and the mock draft SBN did as a whole in the comments. Thank you for reading.