- Gare Joyce
The top four picks from my last Mock Draft on May 4 -- Hall, Seguin, Gudbranson and Fowler -- remain unchanged in this projection.
But things begin to change at No. 5 with the Islanders. I had Brandon Gormley there on May 4; now I have Brett Connolly, a super-talented RW with injury concerns, moving up into that slot.
The final verdicts from the scouting combine will alter this picture in front offices for the next three weeks. As noted in that blog entry, John McFarland could be rising up more than a few draft boards.
Stay current with all these movements via the NHL draft blog; it features regular updates, which will only become more frequent as we get deeper into June. On Wednesday we respond to the reported rumor that the Oilers and B's could swap picks at the top.
Taylor Hall, LW, Windsor (OHL)
This is where Hall was in my last mock draft, too. The Oilers let a couple of top members of the scouting staff go over the past few weeks. Let's presume that, if there were disagreements in what to do in the draft, it started with Edmonton's second pick.
Tyler Seguin, C, Plymouth (OHL)
Added beef at the combine suggests that Seguin will be ready for the next level sooner rather than later -- "sooner" could mean next season. There are rumbles that Boston GM Peter Chiarelli is talking to his counterpart in Edmonton, GM Steve Tambellini, about a trade. Boston does have stuff to offer but it would be high-risk for Edmonton.
Eric Gudbranson, D, Kingston (OHL)
What separates Gudbranson from Cam Fowler, right below him here: bigger bang with the body, a right-handed shot and a better complement to D Dmitry Kulikov, who had a great rookie season. (Kulikov was a draft steal at No. 14 last year, though I had him at No. 8 in the final mock draft.)
Cam Fowler, D, Windsor (OHL)
What separates Fowler from Brandon Gormley: skating. Gormley probably has a better feel for the game than Fowler and might have a better shot. Skating, though, is a pretty big card in the deck.
Brett Connolly, RW, Prince George (WHL)
I had Gormley in this slot the last time out. The Isles might look at Gormley, but his skill set and that of last year's 12th overall pick, Calvin de Hahn of Oshawa, might be a bit of an overlap. A priority is finding someone to play beside John Tavares. This pick rides on Connolly's passing all his physicals.
13dScott Burnside and Craig Custance