In anticipation of the draft, we wanted to get a look from one of our good friends, Jesse from FaceOff-Factor.
Jesse and the rest of the gang at FF cover the AHL, College, Junior hockey and its relation to the Penguins like no other Penguin blog on Gore.
Rick City will be doing a live blog for the draft on Friday. We might even do our own preview.
But there is not a better source of info than the guys at [faceoff-factor.]
Some people get really excited about Christmas. They stay up all night on December 24th, checking outside for Santa Claus and dreaming of the gifts they'll receive the next morning when they wake up to a snow filled wonderland.
Us folks at Faceoff-Factor.com feel the same way about the draft. We stay up all night decorating our tree with pictures of E.J. Hradek, adjusting our rankings, and checking under our pillow in the morning to see if Ray Shero has left us a little envelope with his best-player-available list inside.
Basically, we're draft geeks.
We wanted to get C-blog fired up and ready to go for Friday night. Inside you'll find our ranking, mock draft, and a closer look at some of the more intriguing guys that could be available when the Penguins pick at the end of the night.Take the jump to check it out.
The prospect pool this year is pretty solid, and with the Penguins picking at #30, #61, and #63, there's the potential for some great new talent to come into the system.
This year's draft is going to be mayhem because there are a ton of unknowns heading into Friday night:
Will the Islanders shock the world with the first overall pick?
Will Len Barrie and Oren Koules have a slap fight after arguing who to draft at #2?
Will Brian Burke have an aneurism trying to move up a few spots from #7?
Will Toni Rajala get drafted in the first round even though he's shorter than most of Jon and Kate Gosselin's kids? So much to cover. So little time. Let's focus on the Penguins.
If you don't follow junior hockey or the draft at all, my hope is that you'll be able to play along from home a little bit after reading this post.
We've got our official top 30 ranking up here: [TOP 30
[The 2nd and 3rd round of the mock will be added before Friday.]
Picking at #30 is a huge crapshoot. You never know who will be available, and there's always the chance that the guy you want gets snatched up super early or dies in the stands from anxiety.
It's even more of a crapshoot this year, because no one has any idea what's going to happen after the first few picks. Only a few picks seem like locks at this point, and the draft floor is going to look like Hiroshima after a half hour in. Here are a few guys that have caught my attention that have a decent chance to be available on Friday night.
First is Stefan Elliott.
(The photographers last name is Hiscock. Seriously.)
Elliott was a longshot to fall to #30 until he got jobbed by some doctor who told him he had a torn labrum in his shoulder. So Elliott shows up to the combine, doesn't do any of the upper-body drills, and his stock plummets in an unreal fashion because no team wants to deal with a player that has a serious shoulder injury. Turns out, Elliott doesn't have a torn labrum, so now he's kinda screwed. The May 2009 ISS ranking didn't even list him in the top 30, and all of a sudden mock drafts have him falling way down from where he was. A lot of those same mock drafts have the Penguins selecting him at #30.
This is great news for the Penguins. Elliott is a guy that is not only smart (WHL Scholastic Player of the Year), but he's a fantastic puck mover and has awesome skills one on one with star forwards. Remember that old dude that Eddie Olzcyk hired as assistant coach during the X Generation, Lorne Molleken? Well, Molleken is actually coaching Elliott now and logged him some monster minutes in a ton of different situations this year. I'm not saying he can replace a guy like the Sarge, but it's never bad to have solid 2-way puck movers in your system. Or a guy with two first names.
Another guy to check out is:
Kreider is playing for Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusets; the same place that graduated former President G.W. Bush.
The only thing that has more hype than Chris Kreider right now is Susan Boyle.
He might not be related to the former Steelers full-back, but he is just as tough to stop. He can take the puck inside on you with power or outside on you with good speed.
In short, this kid can skate with the best of them and already has solid NHL size. He's hyped up big time, and there's a good chance that hype gets him taken early, but some teams might pass because he's not going to be an instant reward (still in high school).
Alex Kirshner and Mike Farkas, my colleagues at FF, are currently engaged in a man-crush love affair with:
This Swede is a pretty big guy, with some awesome skating ability, that can beat you in a number of ways. He's solid in the boards, and plays a pretty good power-forward type of game, only with more speed.
A comparison I made is to our own Mr. Kennedy. Think of TK, but much bigger and some more natural offensive skills.
Finally, my personal hope for a pick is a youngster out of Kingston named:
Werek is a big kid. He's solid in the boards, has a solid reach, and a nice wrister. He can go to the front and bang home some dirty goals, or go outside and scorch goaltenders with a solid wrister. He's not much for post-whistle activities, but he won't be pushed around and gets involved when the time is right.
Overall, he's a tough customer in the sense that he's always working hard and he's constantly using his head and strength to make the right play.
Hopefully this post will get you started for Friday night. Grab a beer and watch the draft with a friend
Stop by the Factor for the rest of the week. We'll have the rest of our mock draft, my official Penguins endorsement list, and a ton of other stuff including a liveblog on Friday night.
– Jesse Marshall