The first round of the NHL Draft kicks off this evening in Los Angeles. The first round of the draft is always unpredictable--weeks of meticulous planning and pontificating go out the window with the first trade--but this one almost seems even more unpredictable than usual. What makes it so unpredictable this year is that there are so many interesting question marks surrounding players, and it's impossible to tell how each team will react to them.
With that in mind, instead of giving you a mock draft that is sure to be horribly wrong, I thought I'd share some of the storylines that I'm curious to see unfold this evening.
1. Taylor vs. Tyler
This has been done a million times before by everyone else so I won't belabor the point. I've made it clear that my personal opinion is that Edmonton has to pick Taylor Hall, and have pretty much maintained Hall would go number one all year long. I rubbed some people the wrong way here back in October when I said the race between the two was manufactured drama, and heading into Draft Day, it kind of looks that way with Hall being nearly everyone's heavy favorite. But stranger things have happened, and it will be worth watching to see who goes number one.
2. What Order Will the Top D Go?
More interesting than spots one and two in the draft are the defensemen that could go three, four,and five in the draft: Cam Fowler, Erik Gudbranson, and Brandon Gormley. Fowler has been the heavy favorite all year, but in the past couple of weeks, it has become trendy to downgrade Fowler and move the other two past him. Personally, it's hard for me to go against Fowler, having watched him so many times over the past couple of years, but I can also see the drawbacks to that selection. I don't envy the guys that have to put their jobs on the line to make that pick.
You can also throw two American defensemen into the mix in Derek Forbort and Jon Merrill. Popular theory is that they're a notch below the other three, but both are ranked higher than Thomas Hickey or Blake Wheeler was when teams jumped up to grab them in the top five.
3. The Russian Factor
There are five talented Russian players that could go in the first round of the draft: Alex Burmistrov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Vladimir Tarasenko, Stanislav Galiev, and Kirill Kabanov. Kabanov will likely fall out of the first round for a myriad of red flags beyond his nationality, but it will be interesting to see how teams handle the other players.
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