Sven Bartschi had 85 points in 66 games with the Portland Winterhawks of the WHL this season. (Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images)
Everyone loves to guess their favorite team’s early picks, but I’m going a step further and mocking up an entire draft. That’s right, I’ve taken over a fictional team and we have one pick in each of the seven rounds in Minnesota. We’re not trading up and we’re not packaging picks for roster players. Needs? Everything. “Best player available” and all that…
For the sake of fairness, a random number generator determined my slot: I’m picking ninth. Here’s who I would select in each round, based on who I believe would still be on the board and add value to my fake organization. Some consideration was given to players developing and being available to my NHL club in staggered years.
Kick things off with some scoring prowess. Bartschi is coming from a great Winterhawks program and even though he’ll need another season in my favorite American city, I like his upside and feel he’ll develop well under Portland mentors Mike Johnston and Travis Green.
My team is going to need some sandpaper and Salomaki can bring the pain. As a Tuomo Ruutu acolyte, the Finnish teen is pretty clear on what he likes to do out there and his knack for scoring key goals will come in handy, too. He’ll keep working on his game in Finland’s SM-liiga for a couple years, but will be ready to contribute once he comes over.
Hopefully the fact the draft is in Minnesota won’t create a rush on local products early in the second round. LaBate is a Wisconsin commit with great size (6-foot-4, 195 pounds) and skill. With enough seasoning in Madison, he could bring a Joe Thornton-like game to my team down the road. That spaced-out NCAA schedule will give him plenty of time in the gym to pump up, too.
A steady defenseman with some offensive pop, I love Yuen’s frame (six-foot, 205 pounds) and the fact he’s detail-oriented on the ice. He may not have a wow factor to his game, but I need someone I can count on back there and his plus-41 for the Americans this season certainly speaks well to his defensive responsibilities.
I better get my goaltender before someone beats me to it. Broissoit had a very good draft combine and his size (6-foot-3, 200 pounds) and wingspan also warrant gold stars. He’s still raw, but netminders always take time and, hey, it’s a fifth round pick. If Broissoit is gone, I’ll go with Harvard-bound Steve Michalek, who will likely be thrown into the fire by the Crimson next season.
The Clarkson-bound Tansey is tough, physical and brings some offense as well. His stock has been on the rise, so if he’s gone, I’d be more than happy to sub in Frankie Corrado, a steady blueliner from Sudbury in the Ontario League.
Time to score big on a divisive prospect. The 5-foot-8 Rau has done nothing but succeed this year, from a Minnesota high school state title to the playoff scoring crown in the United States League (and he didn’t even play in the final). Not only does he have skill, but he’s a warrior, too. He can strengthen up further at the University of Minnesota before I unleash him on the pros.
Ryan Kennedy is a writer and copy editor for The Hockey News magazine and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Fridays and The Hot List appears Tuesdays Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/THNRyanKennedy.