Let's take a brief break from the exciting NHL playoffs to take a look at some of the top prospects eligible for June's NHL draft. If you're a fan of the 22 teams who have been eliminated, you might already be looking ahead to it. I am one of those people. Fortunately, I have obtained valuable information that scouts have not released yet.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Scouts say he's the best available player in the 2011 NHL entry draft. He could develop into a winning franchise player with his excellent playmaking abilities. Unfortunately, he plays for a WHL team in Alberta, where he's not exposed to winning franchises. Luckily, he was born in British Columbia...so he's never been exposed to winning franchises, at least Cup-winners. Well, on the bright side, he's probably going to be drafted by one of those Alberta franchises...
Adam Larsson - Scouts say he's the best defenseman in this draft, which should come as no surprise since many compare him to Nicklas Lidstrom. Actually, many believe that Larsson is a reincarnation of Lidstrom, which could mean we won't see Larsson in the NHL for a long time, since Lidstrom has pushed off retirement. With any luck, he'll be in the NHL by the 2044-45 season.
Gabriel Landeskog - He's been a dynamic Swedish playmaking forward. No, he doesn't have a twin, thus Brian Burke is not trying to trade with every team in the league to set himself up with two top-5 draft picks. He may be drafted by the Florida Panthers, which is unfortunate, since you will probably never hear from him again once he's drafted.
Sean Couturier - Strangely, he was actually born in Arizona. His father played for the Phoenix Roadrunners of the IHL. Many think that he could be the best offensive player in the draft long-term. Then again, if the Devils draft him, he'll be another two-way forward that suffers mightily when the Devils hire a rookie coach.
Jonathan Huberdeau - He's another talented center with strong playmaking abilities. Many scouting reports say that he has all of the intangibles to make up an NHL player already, but all of those reports were written by Pierre McGuire. He took speed-skating lessons when he was young, but always complained of finishing last. What he didn't mention is that the guys who beat him were named Darren Helm and Michael Grabner.
Ryan Strome - He actually led all draft-eligible players in scoring this past season. What will probably get him lots of attention, at least amongst the Canadian media, is his birth place. After all, Don Cherry loves to talk about "the pride of Mississauga, Ontario."
Dougie Hamilton - He's got NHL-size, which means his height is somewhere between Nathan Gerbe and Zdeno Chara. He's got good offensive skill, and he's a defenseman. He's also put up strong numbers in the playoffs with Niagra in the OHL. It's too bad he'll never get to show that, since he'll probably be drafted by the Islanders.
Ryan Murphy - Murphy was a guest on Coach's Corner, where Don Cherry proclaimed him to be one of his favorites. That's always an honor, but many people compare him to Mike Green. Whoever drafts him needs to get a player who could act as his personal bodyguard, since the Mike Green-type tend to be concussion-prone. Plus, if he goes to a Canadian team, he might need a bodyguard for other reasons...
Duncan Siemens - Not many people are talking about this guy, and why should they? He's an excellent stay-at-home defenseman with a big slapshot. Many compare him to a Jay Bouwmeester-type of player, and let's face it, not many people are talking about him these days. Plus, he could go to the Columbus Blue Jackets, where even fewer people will talk about him. Maybe someday, he'll be the second best "Duncan" in the NHL.
Mika Zibanejad - Many feel that he could be the best Swedish forward in this draft, as he has Zetterburg-like skills. He's supposedly the best-kept-secret in the draft this year, and for many reasons. He probably doesn't speak English, and most scouts can't spell his name correctly. Hey, there was probably a day when scouts couldn't spell names like Yonas Gustavson and Niklas Lidstrum, either. Hopefully, they'll learn sooner or later...