So with all the focus on the teams battling for those final playoff spots let take some time to look at 6 teams that will not make playoffs. These teams are focused on next season and with that come the NHL Entry Draft in June. The International Scouting Service releasing their mid-season rankings for the month of March and with that in mind here is my mock draft of the first 6 picks based on reverse standings:
6. New York Islanders: The Islanders are getting very close to becoming a contender again and they are doing it the right way. Following the pattern of the Pittsburgh, Washington, Chicago and now Los Angeles they have rebuilt their team through several terrible seasons resulting in great drafting position. Drafting John Tavares 1st overall last year and adding another key piece this year means the Islanders wonít be the laughing stock of the NHL for much longer. The Islanders will select a Russian winger with their pick and itís a toss up between Kirill Kabanov and Vladimir Tarasenko. Both are talented offensively, Kabanov may have more upside but lacks consistency while Tarasenko is more of complete player.
5. Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets have several potential star young forwards which is why they will select a defenseman with their pick and Brandon Gormley is the second best d-man in the draft. Gormley will give the Blue Jackets a steady presence on defense and provide scoring from the back end. As his confidence grows so will his creativity, Gormley has the potential to be a franchise defenseman.
4. Florida Panthers: The Panthers need to add a dynamic scorer and I think they will dip a little deeper into the ISS rankings and select Nino Niederreiter. Niederreiter had a coming out party at the World Junior Hockey Championship and is a player who brings fans out of their seats. Niederreiter should tremendous work ethic, which will go a long way in him developing into a strong NHL power forward.
3. Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes are in the midst of a restructuring of their roster as the young guns are taking on more of leadership role. What they need most is a top-notch defenseman prospect and will jump all over Cam Fowler with the 3rd pick. Fowler may not be a top scoring defenseman but he brings poise, strength and is NHL ready. Fowler is a poor manís Scott Niedermayer, a defenseman who chips in 40-45 points and will be your blue line leader for many years to come.
2. Boston Bruins (via Toronto Maple Leafs): The Bruins couldnít be happier to be using their rivalsí pick to select the offensive winger Taylor Hall. Hall is exactly what the Bruins are missing this year. Trading Phil Kessel ended up hurting the Bruins a lot more then many predicted but all that will be forgotten when they select Hall. Hall is an elite scoring winger and should be a 50-goal scorer in the NHL.
1. Edmonton Oilers: The Oilers have a plethora of wingers and donít have that elite #1 center which is why I think they will select Tyler Seguin first overall. Seguin is proving to be an elite scorer in the OHL and he was doing it without a supporting cast unlike Hall. A strong playoff will help solidify Seguin as the NHL top prospect, although the thought of Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall playing together may be too much to pass up for the Oilers.