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.
#8 – JAKE VIRTANEN
RW, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
6’ 0.75”, 208 lbs.
2013-14: 71 games, 45-26-71, 100 PIM
A powerful downhill player with excellent speed and a pro-ready frame, Virtanen is a physical finisher who gains an extra gallop when around the net.
His light feet, which helped him win the Fastest Skater competition at the CHL Top Prospects Game, get him space when backing off defenders. Virtanen’s strong one-on-one game allows him to succeed when they try step towards him. You’ll have a hard time finding a better release off the rush in this class.
Add in a willingness to drop the mitts (four fighting majors in 2013-14), and the 17-year old represents a very promising NHL prospect with room to grow.
Virtanen is slated to be out of action for up to six months after undergoing post-season shoulder surgery, and wasn’t able to test his strength and conditioning at the NHL Draft Combine.
Still, the power forward structure is clearly in place, and scouts were pleased to see Virtanen block shots and battle hard in the defensive zone as the season played on, culminating with a three-goal, six-point effort for Canada at the Under-18 World Championship.
Continuing to build the other dimensions to his game will only bring more value, but for now Virtanen's 61 goals over the past two seasons provide more than enough upside for a team to pull the trigger in the top 10.
#7 –NICK RITCHIE
LW, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
6’ 2.25”, 226 lbs.
2013-14: 61 games, 39-35-74, 136 PIM
A strong forward with excellent speed, quickness and a physical edge, Ritchie cuts with power and produces with his long reach and soft hands.
The Orangeville, Ont. native was an offensive force in 2013-14, bulldozing his way to 39 goals and 74 points in 61 games, highlighted by a five-goal outing Feb. 7 in a 7-6 shootout loss at Kingston. Ritchie would later get even when his OT game-winner knocked Sam Bennett’s Frontenacs out of the OHL playoffs.
Rightly described as a scorer with a big one-timer, Ritchie possesses good eyes for the passing game to make him more than a just one-trick pony around the net.
His huge frame provides a heavy hitting game, and his short fuse drives a mean streak.
Ritchie’s nasty edge emerged at the CHL Top Prospects Game and never went away, with the total package seeing Ritchie named the Best Body Checker in the OHL Eastern Conference Coaches Poll.
He also tied for third place in the Best Shot and Best Shootout Shooter categories.
Ritchie, whose brother Brett scored 22 goals for Texas in 2013-14 season an AHL rookie, will want to improve both his fitness and shift-to-shift consistency as he eases his way into the pro game. But the unquestionable impact potential on the table makes him a surefire top-10 selection.