The Atlantic Division has been one of the league's most successful in the past five years, with two of the last five Cup finalists- and one winner- coming out of the division. However, one former powerhouse is experiencing its first shot at lottery talent, while another is hoping that their lengthy rebuild is finally coming to an end.
Record: 57-23-12 (2nd, East)
Draft Picks: 84th (PIT) 116th, 118th (TB), 176th, 206th
Draft Habits: No matter where the Philadelphia Flyers have found themselves selecting in the first round since 2003, the results have been positive. From stars Jeff Carter, Mike Richards and Claude Giroux to every-day players now with other clubs such as Luca Sbisa and Steve Downie, the Flyers possess one of the league's most consistent scouting staffs.
However, in attempting to turn their draft picks and unproven talent into a Stanley Cup champion today, first round picks have been scarce in recent years. GM Paul Holmgren finds himself in that situation once again; without a pick until the 3rd round, Philadelphia's scouts will have to leverage the most they can out of a thin talent pool.
The QMJHL has been a major factor in recent years. The Flyers have selected a total of eleven Quebec League players since 2005, the most from any league. While the process has only led to one NHLer of note- the aforementioned Giroux- Philadelphia's defensive pipeline is largely made up of QMJHL prospects.
Outlook: Unless Holmgren can maneuver a trade for a pick or two in the first two rounds, the Flyers will be dormant until the 3rd round. Don't expect any miracles.
Mock Draft Results:
84th- LW Michael Mersch (U. Wisconsin)
A nasty, abrasive winger who found on a home on the third line for Wisconsin as an accelerated freshman, Mersch could do the same for a Flyers team sorely lacking grit.
Record: 49-25-8 (4th, East)
Draft Picks: 23rd, 54th, 144th, 174th, 209th (SJ)
Draft Habits: With success comes a price- especially the draft table. Although the Penguins earned two trips to the Final, including a Stanley Cup, Pittsburgh has seen their once prolific collection of young talent replaced by riskier and riskier youngsters picked for their potential ability to compliment superstars Evgeni Malkin and Sidney Crosby. To this end, the Penguins have invested only two selections in three years on natural centermen in a bid to fill needs and leverage their strengths.
A look at Pittsburgh's draft history in the past three years reveals an eclectic assortment of leagues and player types, from BCHL star Beau Bennett to German forward Tom Kuehnhackl to high school standout Ben Hanowski. GM Ray Shero will likely continue this trend at the draft table with the logic that enough swings should result in a home run.
Outlook: Owning their most complete set of draft picks in the top sixty since their return to contention began, the Pens should find plenty of enigmatic talent available to them.
Mock Draft Results:
23rd- RW Ty Rattie (Portland, WHL)
54th- RW Shane McColgan (Kelowna, WHL)
New York Rangers
Record: 44-33-5 (8th, East)
Draft Picks: 15th, 1