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.
#18 – JAKUB VRANA
LW/RW, Linkopings (Sweden)
5’ 11”, 185 lbs.
2013-14: 24 games, 2-1-3, 2 PIM
A Czech honing in skills in Sweden’s top professional league, Vrana posted just three points in 24 SHL contests in 2013-14.
But the winger saw his draft stock rise by using his superb skating and shooting skills to post a tournament-best eight goals in seven games at the U18 World Championship.
Scoring isn’t a new thing to Vrana, as evidenced by his 34 markers over the past two seasons with Linkoping’s junior squad and three goals in four games at the 2013 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
That successful “shoot first” mentality is sure to make Vrana, who has two years remaining on his Swedish professional contract, a hot commodity on the first day of the draft.
Vrana’s dynamic game is built on quick feet and hands. He controls the tempo when he gets the puck, and despite his average frame, boasts a good amount of strength and a low center of gravity to assist his work in the corners and along the wall.
His defensive zone work is progressing at a slower pace than his explosive offense, but a few more of years of coaching should see the determined Vrana round out his robust skill set and make a serious push for as a second-line NHL forward.
#17 – SONNY MILANO
LW, United States U-18 (USHL)
5’ 11.5”, 183 lbs.
2013-14: 58 games, 29-57-86, 23 PIM
Already committed to Boston College in the fall, Milano’s up-tempo and creative style has seen him emerge as one of the premier set-up men in this draft class. Amateur scouts rave about Milano’s supreme acceleration and ability to turn on a dime. While he’s demonstrated heady vision and a clear grasp for the passing game, he has also showed that he can finish plays at a high rate of speed as well.
A native of Massapequa, NY, Milano was a key cog all season long for the United States National Team Program, amassing 39 points (14+25) in 25 USHL tilts while playing primarily with fellow 2014 prospect Alex Tuch and 2015 phenom Jack Eichel. Perhaps more important in the eyes of scouts, Milano led the NTDP with five goals and 16 points in 14 exhibitions against NCAA competition.
Steady and effective the entire way, Milano captured 10 points (3+7) to lead the United States to a gold medal at the season-ending Under-18 World Championship.
Milano will need to continue working on the finer points of the game away from the puck during his time on Chestnut Hill. But his one-on-one finesse, puck possession skill and pure offensive drive gives Milano tremendous playmaking upside that should see him name called in the 15-20 range.
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.