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by Tom Liodice / New York Islanders
Mock drafts are all the rage this time of year.

Experts around the hockey world, scouts, and teams stir up conversation on whether or not a certain player should be ranked higher than the other, or if this goalie is better than that goalie.

Now it's no secret that the perennial 1-2 combination with most likely consist of Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin in some order. So we checked in with NHL Director of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire to find out a little more about the No. 3-5 ranked North American skaters in the Draft: Erik Gudbranson, Cam Fowler, and Brandon Gormley.

On Gudbranson: "(He's) more of an NHL all-around defenseman with size, speed, skill and meanness. He has got a meanness that would remind one of Dion Phaneuf or Chris Pronger. High, yet unrealized potential."

On Fowler: "He's more of a niche player in an offensive contributor category. He was a key cog in quarterbacking the Windsor Spitfires Memorial Cup championship team on the power play. A lot of his shots didn't get through to the net in a goals point of view (8 G, 55 GP). But he sure made up for that in vision with 45 assists in 55 games is pretty darn impressive. He will be ready to step into the National Hockey League as a power play contributor next year. On a projection point of view, there's reason to believe to be a Jack Johnson or Erik Johnson point of view."

On Gormley: "Confidence and poise. Excellent puck handler and an excellent decision maker. He makes a great first pass. His Moncton Wildcats team were in the Memorial Cup largely because of his stellar play of defense."

With that in mind, caught up with various TV, print and online personalities concerning those prospects, and some even weigh in with some draft predictions....

"In my mind, the Islanders need at least one franchise defenceman moving forward. We saw in these playoffs what a difference they can make, especially the likes of Pronger and Keith. Assuming Hall and Seguin go first and second, that will leave at least one of Erik Gudbranson, Brandon Gormley or Cam Fowler available on defence. I think Fowler, an excellent skater and puck mover, would be a great fit for the Isles.

If he's developed properly -- likely starting with a return for at least one more year of junior -- then the Islanders will have a 25+ minute defenceman who can move the puck and play against other team's top players. When you look at consistently good teams, you'll find they have a mobile, puck moving defence.

With 6 picks in the top 100, this is a crucial year for the Islanders at the draft."

--Gord Miller, TSN

"In all likelihood, they'll be drafting a defenseman.  And, since word on the street is that Florida is going to take Erik Gudbrandson third, the Isles should (and will) take Cam Fowler if he's available, and if not, Bandon Gormley.  Either way, Isles fans should be excited to add another quality piece to their young core."

-- Justin Bourne, Bourne’s Blog

"(Erik) Gudbranson/(Cam) Fowler. (They can provide) defence that can play sound on the defensive side of the puck, and make plays offensively. Check the Blackhawks Duncan Keith and/or (Brent) Seabrook. Stability starts at the back end."

-- Kevin Weekes, Analyst, CBC’s Hockey Night in Canada & The NHL Network
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