While this year's draft won't have a player a player with the elite capabilities of past 1st overall picks like Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin, there is certainly no shortage of talent. This year's WHL Entry Draft is deep, and will be highlighted by four highly skilled players who could go first overall led by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson, Jonathan Hubredeau and Gabriel Landeskog. The draft will also feature two WHL-ready goaltenders in James Reimer and Sergei Bobrovsky who
could both go very early. With the WHL's ruling on the removal of the league's waiver draft, there is even more excitement surrounding the upcoming draft.
PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON:
Sergei Bobrovsky: Bobrovsky could go very early, but his NHL-counterpart will have to take on a backup role next season with the Flyers' signing of goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov. This could hurt Bobrovsky's stock a bit, and help Reimer heading into the draft.
James Reimer: The 23-year old goaltender had a great season for the Leafs last year, and has the potential to be a WHL starter in a year's time. He could fill in as a backup on most squads as early as next season - he's as WHL-ready as they get. Reimer could very well be the first goaltender chosen in this year's draft and it wouldn't surprise me if he went in the top-10.
Jonathan Huberdeau: Huberdeau had a terrific postseason and his stock rose fast. So fast that he was chosen third overall by the Panthers in the NHL Draft. He didn't perform very well at the Scouting Combine (he did only two reps at 150 pounds - wtf), but he still has a lot of offensive upside and will likely be a top-five pick.
Evgeny Grachev: If Grachev were in the entry draft two years ago, he would've been considered a lock to go in the first round. He has great size and scoring ability, but hasn't really found his touch in professional hockey yet. Because of this, and the WHL's waiver draft, it's quite possible that Grachev will go in the 2nd round and possibly even later. He could be the steal of the draft if he goes late.
Sean Couturier: With all the hype surround Nugent-Hopkins, Larsson, Landeskog and Hubredeau, Couturier seems to have been forgotten. This kid has a lot of offensive abilities, but just needs to develop into his frame a bit more to make an impact in the WHL. Is it likely Couturier slides down in the draft like Fowler did last season??? Time will tell.
Adam Larsson: Larsson fell to fourth overall in the NHL Draft but could have very well gone first overall and no one would've blinked an eye. Larsson is good - very good! He's been compared to future Hall-of-Famer Nicklas Lidstrom he's that good. Will he slide past third overall in the WHL Draft? With the Gorillas at number three, and the need there for a defenseman, I don't see it happening.