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.
#24 – NIKOLAY GOLDOBIN
RW, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
5’ 11.75”, 178 lbs.
2013-14: 67 games, 38-56-94, 21 PIM
The CHL import has been a star offensive performer since joining Sarnia prior to the 2012-13 season. Goldobin has combined smooth skating and acceleration, heady playmaking and accurate sniping skills to post back-to-back 30-goal seasons leading up to his first year of draft eligibility. His 2013-14 resume included a 22-game point streak, and a two-point (1+1) performance in the CHL Top Prospect Game to take home Player of the Game honors for Team Cherry.
The high-scoring Russian faded down the stretch with just seven goals in his final 25 games for the last-place Sting, but his skills were still rewarded in the 2013 OHL Western Conference Coaches Poll where he received votes for Best Playmaker (2nd), Best Shot (3rd), Most Dangerous in Goal Area (3rd) and Best Shootout Shooter (t-3rd).
Aside from maintaining a high level of offensive production, Goldobin proved this season that he is willing to put in the work to compete at a higher level away from the puck. Goldobin learned to counter his lack of size by keeping his feet moving through checks and improving his attention to detail on the backcheck. The work needs to continue, especially in the defensive zone, but it was a notable step in the right direction in terms of building a more complete North American style.
#23 – DYLAN LARKIN
C, United States U-18
6’ 0.75”, 190 lbs.
2013-14: 60 games, 31-25-56, 56 PIM
Larkin’s size and all-around reliability projects to a middle-line NHL anchor, making him one of the safer first-round targets in the class.
A highly skilled and hard-working competitor with a very fluent two-way game, Larkin kicked off his draft year by showing flashes of brilliance with two points (1+1) at the 2013 CCM/USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game in Pittsburgh. Larkin went on to be a key contributor in 2013-14 by scoring 31 goals for the U.S. National Under-18 Team, up from 13 the year before. But his developmental leaps go beyond the stat sheet. He’s skating harder, his shooting is amped up and he’s becoming a more aggressive player in general with a developing “pro style” power game.
Larkin’s game is all about working the offensive zone and being tough on the puck in pursuit. He hits the corners with speed, and he’s willing to take absorb contact to make a play. His excellent skating and willingness to drive the net make him dangerous in one-on-one situations.
The highly-intense Larkin, who grew up in Detroit watching Steve Yzerman, is both confident and competent in all three zones, and his ability to do the little things that coaches love should see him blossom into a high-end collegian when he enrolls at the University of Michigan this fall.
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.