NHL Central Scouting will meet next weekend to compile its final rankings for the 2009 Entry Draft, giving NHL front offices and fans a first look at how things might shake out come late June in Montreal.
NHL.com decided to beat the scouts to the punch, tasking three of its draft experts to come up with their own thoughts on how the first round of the draft might play out.
, Brad Holland
and Shawn P. Roarke
all took the challenge, consulted their notes, called their contacts, and came up with their thoughts on the first 30 picks come June 25 at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
For this exercise, the draft order is a reflection of the standings after Wednesday's games and does not reflect the likelihood of a radically different order once the Draft Lottery is conducted early next month, as well as the further shaking out of positions as the regular season wraps up and teams are knocked out of the playoffs.
For now, though, it is still interesting to get a sense of what might happen by looking at the selections NHL.com's three experts made.
It should come as no surprise that all three had London Knights forward John Tavares
going No. 1, followed by Swedish defenseman Victor Hedman
. Those two entered the 2008-09 season battling for No. 1 spot, but Tavares as emerged as the consensus first choice after out-shining Hedman at the 2009 World Junior Championship.
After that, however, there is little agreement on where players fit in the grand scheme of things.
Swedish forward Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson
earned two No. 3 votes, but was No. 8 in the third. Western Hockey League star Evander Kane
had the other third-place slot, and was slotted at No. 4 in the other two mock drafts.
Injured WHL defenseman Jared Cowen
rounded out the top five in two drafts, but was No. 6 in the other, falling behind OHL forward Matt Duchene
and QMJHL defenseman Simon Despres
Things really opened up after the top five, too. Only 23 players were named on all three drafts. Nine different players were placed on just one of the three draft boards.
So if you want to see where your favorite player might be going, what your favorite team is thinking or just get a general feel for how the top of the Class of 2009 is shaking out, check out the NHL.com mock drafts.