It's October, and that means the 2009 NHL Entry Draft is just nine months away. Each month in this space until June, Bugg Bytes will toss up a brand spankin' new mock draft. Prepare for a bumpy ride as the regular season, international tourneys and playoffs wreak havoc on the stocks of players.
1. Atlanta Thrashers
Victor Hedman, D
12/18/1990 6’6, 220 lbs
2008-09 Team: MoDo (SEL)
2008-09 Stats: 6 GP, 0-3-3
Why They'll Pick Here: It should be obvious. The Thrashers have a great young defense and a superstar forward, but shockingly little depth elsewhere. Among the sad-but-true facts that litter the roster, Atlanta's defacto number one center (Erik Christensen) has never broken forty points in the NHL.
Who They'd Take: The Thrashers have dedicated themselves to building from the blueline out. They may lose Kovalchuk in the next couple of years, but forcing opposing forwards to deal with Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian and Victor Hedman before they even get a shot on Kari Lehtonen would help cushion the blow. Hedman is an unbelievable talent, just as capable of ragdolling his opponents as he is of rushing the puck up ice.
2. New York Islanders
John Tavares, LW
6’0, 198 lbs 9/20/1990
2008-09 Team: Oshawa Generals (OHL)
2008-09 Stats: 5 GP, 5-5-10
Why They'll Pick Here: You know a team's offensive depth is bad when fans rue the loss of Ruslan Fedotenko as a major loss in the top six. No Islander broke 50 points in 2007-08, and with two of the top six scorers on the team now departed, the odds anyone does this year look even worse.
Who They'd Take: Ten points in five games later and Tavares is still a safe bet to go top-two. It'll all depend on the needs of the team picking first. Tavares would help revive the Isles like Pat Lafontaine did in the early 90s. It may not be Gillies-Trottier-Bossy, but Tavares-Bailey-Okposo would be a handful.
3. Vancouver Canucks
Magnus Svensson-Pääjärvi, C/LW
4/12/1991 6’1, 198 lbs
2008-09 Team: Timrå IK (SEL)
2008-09 Stats: 5 GP, 0-2-2
Why They'll Pick Here: The Canucks will have a very similar roster to the one they iced in 2007-08, but it's the teams that were once below them that have improved. We still expect St. Louis, Columbus and LA to fight for first overall, but let's say for fun the Nucks slide to 7th- reasonable considering they were 10th last year, and Phoenix, Florida and Tampa have improved- but they win the lottery.
Who They'd Take: With the Sedins slipping closer to free agency, the addition of a top-end Swede forward might entice them to stay. And it wouldn't be just a token pick, either; as explained in this column a couple of weeks ago, 'MSP' has size and skill not seen together in Sweden since Peter Forsberg.
4. Los Angeles Kings
Landon Ferraro, C
8/8/1991 6’1, 180 lbs
2008-09 Team: Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
2008-09 Stats: 5 GP, 3-5-8
Why They'll Pick Here: Erik Ersberg, Jason Labarbera and Jonathan Bernier are being sold by the LA faithful as capable starters right now. While two of the three are young enough to still realize that potential, 2008-09 is right now. Besides, Terry Sawchuk couldn't help this D; freakin' Sean O'Donnell will be a top-three defender.
Who They'd Take: The Kings don't c