With the 2014 NHL Draft set for June 27-28 in Philadelphia, Kris Baker from SabresProspects.com has meticulously compiled his list of the top 30 players. We'll reveal two players each weekday complete with analysis and video, leading up to the unveiling of Kris' top two picks on June 20.
The full mock draft as it's revealed can be found here.
#10 – HAYDN FLEURY
D, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
6’ 2.5”, 203 lbs.
2013-14: 70 games, 8-38-46, 46 PIM
A long-limbed defender who is comfortable handling the puck, Fleury is a steady defensive option with excellent mobility and developing offensive upside. The Saskatchewan native doubled his previous year’s totals with eight goals and 46 points in 2013-14, while managing a plus-15 rating for Brent Sutter’s Red Deer Rebels.
Fleury is strong on his skates with a very fluid stride, and his passing out of the zone is crisp and accurate.
Fleury’s vision comes in handy when starting the transition game, but he also uses it to get shots through from the point. Defensively, Fleury is calm in the face of pressure and can play a punishing physical game when called upon.
He generally executes in a smart, disciplined manner, staying focused on his reads and positioning while using his size and reach to disrupt shooting and passing lanes.
The top of the draft is low in quality defenders, but Fleury’s last two seasons, capped by his being named the top defenseman at the U18 World Championship, has earned a spot among the elite players in his class.
He’s expected to return to the WHL in 2014-15 and make a serious push to represent Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championship.
#9 – NIKOLAJ EHLERS
LW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
5’ 11”, 162 lbs.
2013-14: 63 games, 49-55-104, 51 PIM
An electrifying sniper, Ehlers enjoyed a steady rise in 2013-14 by piling up 49 goals, 104 points and a league-best plus-65 rating to earn the Canadian Hockey League Rookie of the Year award.
As the season progressed so did Ehlers’ overall game, as the dangerous Dane scored an impressive 19 tallies in the final 12 regular season contests before collecting another 11 goals and 28 points in 16 postseason outings.
While enjoying power play time with Tampa prospect Jonathan Drouin, Ehlers proved his value by creating chances on his own at even strength. Ehlers is quick with the puck off the boards, and his ability to get separation and gain scoring position has you thinking he'd produce offense even when paired with a merely average pivot.
Ehlers proved this when Drouin was away with Team Canada at the World Junior Championship, stepping up with six goals and 14 points in seven games.
Along the way, the rookie acquitted himself with a commitment to his defensive zone assignments.
Ehlers has skill and speed in abundance., but what he doesn’t have is a thick frame. Despite his fearlessness when hitting the high traffic areas at both ends of the rink, adding serious upper body mass over the next few years will be a requirement to future success.
The ability to produce and prevent shots on goal while managing explosive power play weaponry will be attractive commodities come draft day.
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s website - sabresprospects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @sabresprospects for in-game updates throughout the season on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.