LOS ANGELES — After Tyler and Taylor, then what?
While there’s no doubt Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall will be the top two picks at the 2010 Entry Draft, there’s plenty of debate about who fits where in the next 28 slots in the first round.
Based on the needs of teams, conversations I’ve had with scouts and NHL reporters and educated guesswork, here’s how I see the top-30 shaping up at the Staples Center Friday.
1. Edmonton — TYLER SEGUIN. Oilers GM Steve Tambellini has kept his cards close to the vest in an attempt to get something from Boston to pass on Taylor Hall, but I think the slick pivot from Plymouth is his guy.
2. Boston (from Toronto) — TAYLOR HALL. GM Peter Chiarelli hasn’t stated a preference between Seguin and Hall, but I say he wants the big left-winger from Windsor. He’ll give Tambellini something to get him.
3. Florida — ERIK GUDBRANSON. New GM Dale Tallon made waves on Tuesday by getting the 15th pick from Boston for Nathan Horton. He’ll keep this one and I’m thinking Gudbranson is his man.
4. Columbus — CAM FOWLER. GM Scott Howson has been working the phones because he’s willing to move down if he can get an asset to do it. If Howson can’t swing something, Fowler fits his needs for a puck-mover.
5. New York Islanders — BRETT CONNOLLY. Despite playing just 16 games with Prince George because of a hip injury, Connolly is a top-three talent. I can’t see Islanders GM Garth Snow laying off him.
6. Tampa Bay — RYAN JOHANSEN. I can see new Lightning GM Steve Yzerman taking a long look at super-skilled RW Nino Niederreiter, but my hunch is he’ll take the big, rangy centre from the Winterhawks.
7. Carolina — NINO NIEDERREITER. I don’t see how Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford can pass on a goal-scorer like the Portland right-winger, although getting defenceman Brandon Gormley here would be tempting.
8. Atlanta — BRANDON GORMLEY. If Carolina doesn’t take Niederreiter, Thrashers GM Rick Dudley will, but I’m thinking he’ll happily "settle" for the versatile Moncton rearguard.
9. Minnesota — MIKAEL GRANLUND. Smallish centre led all Finnish Elite League rookies in scoring (13-27-40) with HIFK Helsinki and the Wild can certainly use some offensive creativity in the middle.
10. New York Rangers — ALEXANDER BURMISTROV. Barrie centre has the sizzling offensive flair that could make him a big hit on Broadway. I don’t see GM Glen Sather being able to resist.
THE SECOND TIER
11. Dallas — JEFF SKINNER. An off-the-board pick, given his No. 34 ranking by CSS, but moved 13 spots from mid-term. Kitchener winger had 20 goals and 33 points in OHL playoffs. He can flat-out score.
12. Anaheim — DYLAN MCILRATH. The Ducks need a big, nasty defenceman to fill the void left by Chris Pronger, and the six-foot-four, 215-pounder from Moose Jaw is tough as nails and mean as hell.
13. Phoenix (from Calgary) — DEREK FORBORT. GM Don Maloney will have to wait on the six-foot-five blueliner because he’s committed to the U of North Dakota for 2010, but he’s a tempting pick here.
14. St. Louis — JACK CAMPBELL. Unless somebody falls out of the top 10 into his lap, I can’t see old goaltender John Davidson passing up a crack at a quality stopper, and Campbell is certainly that.
15. Florida (from Boston) — AUSTIN WATSON. If Tallon keeps this pick, I see Watson, a six-foot-three left-winger who started the season with Hall in Windsor and finished it in Peterborough, as being a fit.
16. Ottawa — VLADIMIR TARASENKO. Stocky right winger has two seasons in the KHL on his resume at 18 years old and has excelled despite limited ice time. He’s a talent.
17. Colorado — NICK BJUGSTAD. Big pivot scored 29 goals and had 60 points in just 25 games with Blaine High School in Minnesota. He’s a long-term project who could be worth the wait.
18. Nashville — EMERSON ETEM. The Predators could use the kind of offence the speedy Etem, who scored 37 goals as a rookie with the Medicine Hat Tigers, brings to the table.
19. Los Angeles — BEAU BENNETT. Under-valued at No. 32 in CSS rankings, Bennett had 120 points as a rookie with Penticton of the BCJHL. The big right-winger will attend Denver University next season.
20. Pittsburgh — MARK PYSYK. This smallish blueliner from the Edmonton Oil Kings is ranked higher than this by CSS despite having his season cut short by a broken foot. Not a "big-bang" pick.
21. Detroit — KIRILL KABANOV. He’s a top-10 talent but a wildcard in terms of off-ice issues and maturity. Wouldn’t it be like GM Ken Holland and the Red Wings to set him straight and steal him here?
22. Phoenix — TYLER PITLICK. A big forward who can play centre or wing, Pitlick led Minnesota State freshmen with 19 points in 38 games. In 2008-09, he had 62 points in 27 games with Centennial HS.
23. Buffalo — JARRED TINORDI. Has the bloodlines as the son of former NHLer Mark Tinordi. He’s a six-foot-six defenceman who captained the U.S. Under-18 team. CSS has him grossly underrated at No. 38.
24. Atlanta (from New Jersey) — EVGENY KUZNETZOV. Ranked No. 3 by CSS among European skaters, Kuznetzov has more skill than his numbers (2-7-9 in 35 games) with Chelyabinsk in Russia showed.
25. Vancouver — QUINTON HOWDEN. Moose Jaw center moved up 10 spots to No. 19 from his CSS mid-term ranking. Scored 28-37-65 in 65 games with the Warriors. Skates well for his size, like a Ryan Kesler.
26. Washington — RILEY SHEAHAN. He dropped 17 spots from his CSS mid-term ranking as No. 5, but the lanky Notre Dame centre projects as a solid two-way pivot.
27. Montreal — JONATHAN MERRILL. A puck-mover with size at six-foot-three, Merrill spent 2009-10 with the U.S. Under-18 team. He’s a project, as he’s committed to the University of Michigan next season.
28. San Jose — JOHN MCFARLAND. Sudbury forward was ranked No. 10 by CSS at mid-term, but had a bad season and dropped five spots. He isn’t a big scorer, but he can skate and he plays a physical game.
29. Anaheim (from Philadelphia) — TYLER TOFFOLI. Undersized centre had 37 goals and 79 points despite a brutal start to the season with the Ottawa 67s. Projects as a two-way type with some offensive upside.
30. Chicago — CALVIN PICKARD. The top-ranked NA goaltender is the big reason the woeful Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL hit double-digits for wins. His .914 saves percentage was miraculous on a team this bad.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.