By Angus Dunk, WSOE Sports
Top 30 Picks at the 2009 NHL Draft in Montreal
11.) Marcus Johansson, Center (picked 24th overall by the Washington Capitals) – Johansson is a quick skater who scores on the rushes, breakaways, and crash net situations. He has a very good wrist shot and compares with Victor Hedman on the same level. He’s played with Farjestads BK of the Swedish Elite League (SEL) for the past two seasons which included this season’s championship team (Farjestads BK has won 8 championships in the last 28 years). In the 2007-2008 season, he had an outstanding season with Farjestads’s junior team scoring 18 points in 12 games. This year he recorded 10 points (5 goals and 5 assists) in 45 games. At the World Junior Championships this year he tallied 2 goals in 6 games helping Sweden to a silver medal. In addition to his one ice credentials, he has a detailed hockey pedigree. Overall, a solid late pick in the 1st round like Schroeder; a real steal for the Capitals.
12.) Simon Despres, Defense (picked 30th overall by the Pittsburgh Penguins) – His English may be incomprehensible and he may prefer to speak French, but Despres comes ready to play. In his 2nd season with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) he recorded 32 points in 66 games and led defensemen in scoring. As a 16-year old rookie with the Sea Dogs last year (2007-2008), Despres racked up 14 points and a plus-18 rating in 64 games which earned him a spot on the QMJHL All-Rookie Team. In 2007, he was picked 1st overall in the QMJHL draft. Despres, who isn’t even 18 years old yet, is 6’4 and weighs in at 205 pounds making him a threat at both ends of the ice. Scouting Director E.J. McGuire compares Despres to defensemen in recent past drafts such as Zach Bogosian (2008 by Atlanta) and Jack Johnson (2005 by Carolina).
13.) Mikko Koskinen, Goalie (picked 31st overall by the New York Islanders) – The Islanders didn’t waste their 2nd pick by selecting Koskinen, but they may have surprised some teams nonetheless. Koskinen was a small underdog pick because he was ranked as the #2 European Goalie entering the draft (behind #1 Robin Lehner), but his numbers obviously impressed the Islanders. After an impressive span with the Espoo Blues’ junior squad this season (2008-2009), Koskinen held a 1.91 goals allowed average (GAA), a .931 save percentage (sv%), and 1 shutout through 33 games with the regular Espoo squad of SM-liiga. Koskinen also covers a huge part of the net with a 6’5, 187 pound figure. Koskinen officially became the 1st goalie picked in this year’s draft and was probably the oldest player drafted this year as well (he turns 21 in July). Obviously, the Islanders wanted a little extra insurance in the goaltending department for Rick Dipietro (injured for almost all of last year’s regular season) and newly acquired Dwayne Roloson (good goalie, but his playing has been shaky at times).
14.) Landon Ferraro, Center (picked 32nd overall by the Detroit Red Wings) – I find it hard for me to exclude Ferraro from a top prospects list. This scrappy- 17 year old forward is the son of former NHLer, Ray Ferraro. Besides “hockey sense,” Landon says his and his father’s style of play vary quite noticeably. To add to his hockey pedigree, he is also the stepson of Cammi Granato, who captained the U.S. Women’s Olympic team to a gold medal in 1998 and a silver medal in 2002. This year, Ferraro played in the 2009 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) Prospects game and won the fastest skater competition with a lap time of 14.009 seconds. For the past two seasons, Ferraro has suited up for the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL and this year led his team in goals with 37 and assists with 18 through 68 games. In his rookie season with Red Deer in the 2007-2008 season, he recorded 13 goals, 24 points, and 65 penalty minutes in 54 games. Overall, Landon Ferraro is a developing forward with a deadly mid-range wrist shot that the Red Wings should be able to put to good use. Additionally, Ferraro will add some bulk to Detroit because he also serves as an enforcer, after racking up 99 penalty minutes with Red Deer this past season.
15.) Ryan O’Reilly, Center (picked 33rd overall by the Colorado Avalanche) – It’s hard to find footage of this OHL player, but that doesn’t make him any less qualified. In two seasons with the Erie Otters of the OHL, O’Reilly has tallied over 100 points. In his rookie season (2007-2008), he earned team honors with both the Rookie of the Year and Most Sportsmanlike Player Awards; he scored 52 points and only notched 14 penalty minutes. This season, O’Reilly recorded a career high 50 assists and 66 points in 68 games played. Ryan’s older brother, Cal O’Reilly, was drafted in the 5th round of the 2005 draft by the Nashville Predators. In the future, O’Reilly will serve as a playmaker and help assist the Avalanche in creating quality scoring chances.
16.) Alex Chiasson, Right Wing (picked 38th overall by the Dallas Stars) – I was disappointed by the Stars in the 1st round, but their 2nd pick with Chiasson helps make up for it. In the 2007-2008 season, Chiasson had a standout senior year in the Northwood School (New York High School League) recording 35 goals and 81 points in just 45 games. However, his transition to professional hockey didn’t hinder his scoring abilities. Last season, he played with the Des Moines Buccaneers of the USHL and notched 33 assists, 50 points, and 101 penalty minutes. After taking his off-year from college, Chiasson plans on attending Boston University (2009 NCAA Division I Champions) this coming fall.
17.) Charles-Olivier Roussel, Defense (picked 42nd overall by the Nashville Predators) – The Predators gained this pick through negotiations with the Minnesota Wild. After drafting Zach Budish right before, Nashville opted to go with this offensive-defenseman. The 17-yearold skater models his play after and says he wants to be the “next Dion Phaneuf.” After 68 games this season with the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL, Roussel was a standout with 11 goals, 33 assists, and 44 points. At the same time, Roussel disciplined himself and recorded a modest 77 penalty minutes. In addition to all of this, he finished with a ninth-best 31 plus rating amongst defensemen. In the post season, Roussel continued his scoring success and led defenseman throughout the playoffs with a total of 18 points in 21 games. Roussel helped the Cataractes reach the Presidents Cup Finals, but unfortunately saw his team lose in 7 games to the Drummondville Voltigeurs. With his 6’1, 196 pound frame, Roussel should be able to hold his own in both Nashville and the NHL.
18.) Jeremy Morin, Left Wing (picked 45th overall by the Atlanta Thrashers) – I don’t feel like the national development training development plans (NTDP) give players the same amount of depth and competition than others in such leagues as the OHL, QMJHL, USHL, or the WHL. However, nonetheless even NHL Scouting Director, E.J. McGuire has praise for Morin. McGuire considers Morin to be one of the top offensive specialists in this year’s draft and loves his “puck-dishing” ability. McGuire draws comparisons in Morin’s games to that of Adam Oates and Brendan Shanahan. Morin had impressive scoring highlights this year totaling 33 goals and 59 points in 55 games. Morin also tied for first in the U.S. National Training Developmental Program (US-NTDP) for game winning goals (5) as part of the U.S Under 18 Team. In international play, he averaged a point per game this season with 14 points in 14 games. At the 2009 Under-18 World Championships, Morin helped Team USA earn a gold medal while he led the team with 6 goals in 7 games. His stellar play in the U.S. NTDP earned him a contract with the Kitchener Rangers (OHL) who he plans to play for in the upcoming season. Morin and his family members both share a common hockey background. His older brother, Chad Morin, will be a senior defenseman on the Harvard University team and his cousin, J.D. Forrest, was an All-American at Boston College and now plays professionally in Finland. Morin’s outlook is positive. With some time to work on his game in the OHL, in a couple of years he should have no problem making the Thrashers’ roster.
19.) Robin Lehner, Goalie (picked 46th overall by the Ottawa Senators) – The next Henrik Lundqvist? The Senators scouting staff seems to think so. Like Lundqvist, Lehner is a quick butterfly style goalie with a calm and composed mental attitude. Last season, Lehner played for Frolunda Jr. recording a 3.05 GAA, a .903 sv%, and 1 shutout in 22 games. He also represented Sweden in the 2009 Under-18 World Championships and tallied a 2.80 GAA and a .918 sv % in 4 games. Lehner’s father coached Lundqvist and is credited with being a key contributor to his success in the NHL. Ottawa’s staff has also said that Lehner has a competitive mindset and differs from his fellow Swedes in this aspect of hockey. It was surprising that he was picked as late in the draft as he was; his final ranking among European goalies was #1. However, the Islanders decided to go with Mikko Koskinen (#2 amongst European goalies) whose statistics added up better. The Senators say Lehner will play Canadian Junior Hockey next year to further help develop his game and seem confident that he will be a contender for them in net. The only question is, “Can the man who wants to be Henrik Lundqvist, be Lundqvist or better?”
20.) Tomas Tatar, Center (picked 60th overall by the Detroit Red Wings) – 2nd Slovakian-born player drafted this year. He’s a good-puck carrier and knows how to dangle with excellence. In the 2007-2008 season, he played with Trencin Jr. and notched 41 goals, 35 assists, and 76 points through 42 games. Last season he played with Zvolen HKm of Slovak Extraliga, the most premier league of Slovakia, and totaled 11 points in 41 games. At the 2009 World Junior Championships, Tatar scored 7 goals and totaled 11 points in the tournament to finish 4th amongst scorers overall. At 5’11, 176 pounds, Tatar is one of the smaller forwards in this year’s NHL entry draft. However, that does not discourage Tatar who idols and stylizes his play after Martin St. Louis (another relatively small player). On St. Louis, Tatar said, “He is smaller than others, but strong with the puck. He has great hockey sense and scoring ability.” Overall, Tatar is a solid puck carrier and fast skater who can be deadly in front of the net, 1 on 1 opportunities, and breakaways.