The NHL Entry Draft is slowly approaching, and the final rankings have been released. Tonight marks the date for the Draft Lottery, and the Panthers are a sure bet to pick top 5, maybe even #1.
But who would they take if given 3rd overall? Who would be available?
The Oilers will in all likely-hood draft first overall. If they go forward, it’s a safe bet that it’ll be Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Ryan has excelled and has driven himself straight to the top of the Central Scouting rankings. However, I feel that the Oilers are in need of a bigger body, more defensive forward such as Gabriel Landeskog. I wouldn’t be surprised if they traded down. If they go with a defenseman, it’ll likely be Adam Larsson.
With the Avs likely to draft 2nd, They need offensive skill, and defensemen, so I’d expect them to draft one of Larsson or Nugent-Hopkins, whoever the Oilers pass on of the two.
And then we get to the Panthers, who hopefully won’t slide down in the draft order. I fully expect them to take whoever is there out of Landeskog, Nugent-Hopkins, or Larsson. Right now, it looks like Landeskog will be wearing a Florida jersey in his NHL debut.
However, with no clear cut #1, or even top 5, I wouldn’t be surprised to see one (if not more) team trade down in the draft. A lot of people say that this is a weak draft class, I COMPLETELY disagree. I mean, it doesn’t look like there’s a talent worthy of the #1 overall pick, but there’s about 20 guys who are top 10 talents. Not to mention the fact that eventually 3 or more of these guys are going to excel in the NHL one day, and scouts are going to look back and say “How did we miss that?”. I would compare this draft to the ’03 draft consisting of Parise, Kesler, Richards, Getzlaf, Perry etc.
So for Panthers fans (or any NHL fans reading this), GET EXCITED!