NHL Fantasy Hockey Pool Strategy Guide

2014 NHL Entry Draft: Fantasy Rundown

Once again, a new crop of prospects has been ushered into the NHL.  It's important for fantasy GMs to take note, as a handful will be ready for the NHL this season, while dynasty owners should make moves to aquire these players (if they haven't already).  Here's our rundown on the top ten draft choices coming out of Philadelphia in 2014.

Note: Our NHL Rookie Rankings - complete with all impact rookies bound for the NHL this season - can be found in the 2014-15 Regular Season Draft Guide.

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1. Aaron Ekblad, Florida Panthers (CAN • Defense • 6'3", 216 • OHL, Barrie Colts)

Ekblad is the first overall pick by a Panthers team that knows Brian Campbell is aging.  He's a big bodied defender and, along with Erik Gudbranson, represents Florida's blue line of the future. Ekblad's expected to be an NHLer this season, but defenders are notorious for taking a while to develop at the NHL level (think: Victor Hedman and Adam Larsson).  The best Ekblad ever did in Junior was about a point-per-game, so don't expect him to be a scoring machine.  He turns 19 in February.

2. Sam Reinhart, Buffalo Sabres (CAN • Center • 6'0", 190 • WHL, Kootenay Ice)

Reinhart was chosen second by the Sabres, and he's the top forward off the board.  He's arguably the most offensively talented of the top-three forwards taken, and the Sabres are planning on deploying him this season.  If you're a reader of the draft guide, then you know the significance of top draft picks coming out of the CHL: Reinhart should perform relatively well this season. However, he is in Buffalo, a team loaded with prospects and not a lot of depth.  We wonder if this will be the year for those major rookie streaks to come to an end.  (Read the draft kit to find out more.)

3. Leon Draisaitl, Edmonton Oilers (GER • Center • 6'1", 204 • WHL, Prince Albert Raiders)

Once again the Oilers had a top pick, and with it they took Draisaitl, the highest ever chosen German-born player.  Sam Gagner was traded (now in Arizona), so suddenly Edmonton needs a scoring center.  Based on their history of rushing high draft selections into the starting line-up, Draisaitl will likely play full-time this season.  And, we speculate that he might have a more favorable opportunity (this year) than Reinhart.

4. Sam Bennett, Calgary Flames (CAN • Center • 6'0", 178 • OHL, Kingston Frontenacs)

This year's top four picks were christened "The Fantastic Four" by THN, and the last to go was Sam Bennett, although he was ranked number-one by NHL Central Scouting.  Bennett's not as physically mature as the other three in this grouping and, in spite of Sean Monahan's development path last year, it's likely that Bennett will be sent back to Junior after training camp

5. Michael Dal Colle, New York Islanders (CAN • LW • 6'1", 182 • OHL, Oshawa 67s)

Dal Colle is young - turned 18 on June 20th - and he's coming off a strong second season in the OHL (95 points in 67-games).  He isn't flashy, he's strong on the puck, and he's likely to play next year back in Junior.

6. Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks (CAN • RW • 6'0", 208 • WHL, Calgary Hitmen)

Virtanen is also a youngster (turns 18 August 17th, 2014), but he notched 45-goals in his second campaign with the Hitmen, which is a 29-goal improvement on his WHL rookie season - good for sixth in that league.  He too is most likely headed back to Junior.

7. Hayden Fleury, Carolina Hurricanes (CAN • D • 6'2", 203 • WHL, Red Deer Rebels)

Fleury is the second defender chosen at the draft.  He hasn't been a monster producer in Junior (46 points in 70 games last year) and he only turned 18 in July.  Based on how long it's taken the Hurricanes to develop Ryan Murphy, we don't expect Fleury to be in the NHL this year.

8. William Nylander, Toronto Maple Leafs (CAN • C/RW • 5'11", 196 • SWE, Modo)

Nylander's a Canadian, but he's also the son son of Michael Nylander, a former Swedish NHLer known for his playmaking.  William is offensively gifted, and he played briefly with his dad last year in the Swedish Elite League, but he's still a work in progress.

9. Nikolaj Ehlers, Winnipeg Jets (DEN • RW • 5'11", 162 • QMJHL, Halifax Mooseheads)

Ehlers is the next best thing coming out of Halifax (MacKinnon and Drouin are former Mooseheads). He finished fourth in points (104) and goals (49) in the QMJHL last year in 63 games.  He's physically immature, so don't expect the Jets to deploy him yet, although he immediately becomes one of the club's best prospects.  He turns 19 in February.

10. Nick RitchieAnaheim Ducks (CAN • LW • 6'2", 226 • OHL, Peterborough Petes)

The Ducks took Nick Ritchie at number-10 with a pick acquired from Ottawa.  He’s a man-child, and last season - in his third OHL campaign - he more than doubled his production (39 goals and 74 points).  He turns 19 in December, but he’s currently buried on the Anaheim depth chart.

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For the complete Fantasy Hockey Standard Rookie overview, including our Top 30 Rookie Rankings, in-depth profiles, our Top 50 Rookies Cheat Sheet, as well as our hard-hitting strategy article "Rookie Report," get your copy of the 2014-15 Fantasy Hockey Standard Regular Season Draft Guide.  (Available early August)

We leave you here with the complete first round list from the 2014 NHL Entry Draft:

# NHL Name Pos. Country Height Weight League Jr. Team
1 FLA Aaron Ekblad D CAN 6' 3" 216 OHL Barrie
2 BUF Sam Reinhart C CAN 6' 0" 190 WHL Kootenay
3 EDM Leon Draisaitl C DEU 6' 1" 204 WHL Prince Albert
4 CGY Sam Bennett C CAN 6' 0" 178 OHL Kingston
5 NYI M. Dal Colle LW CAN 6' 1" 182 OHL Oshawa
6 VAN Jake Virtanen RW CAN 6' 0" 208 WHL Calgary
7 CAR Haydn Fleury D CAN 6' 2" 203 WHL Red Deer
8 TOR William Nylander C/RW CAN 5' 11" 169 SWE Modo
9 WPG Nikolaj Ehlers LW DNK 5' 11" 162 QMJHL Halifax
10 ANA Nick Ritchie LW CAN 6' 2" 226 OHL Peterborough
11 NSH Kevin Fiala LW CHE 5' 10" 180 SWE-JR. HV 71 Jr.
12 ARI Brendan Perlini LW GBR 6' 2" 205 OHL Niagara
13 WSH Jakub Vrana L/RW CZE 5' 11" 185 SWE Linkoping
14 DAL Julius Honka D FIN 5' 10" 180 WHL Swift Current
15 DET Dylan Larkin C USA 6' 0" 190 USHL USA U-18
16 CBJ Sonny Milano LW USA 5' 11" 183 USHL USA U-18
17 PHI Travis Sanheim D CAN 6' 3" 181 WHL Calgary
18 MIN Alex Tuch RW USA 6' 3" 213 USHL USA U-18
19 TBL A. Deangelo D USA 5' 10" 175 OHL Sarnia
20 CHI Nick Schmaltz C USA 5' 11" 172 USHL Green Bay
21 STL Robby Fabbri C CAN 5' 10" 170 OHL Guelph
22 PIT Kasperi Kapanen RW FIN 6' 0" 181 FIN Kalpa
23 COL C. Bleackley C CAN 6' 0" 192 WHL Red Deer
24 VAN Jared McCann C CAN 6' 0" 179 OHL Sault Ste. Marie
25 BOS David Pastrnak RW CZE 6' 0" 167 SWE-2 Sodertalje
26 MTL Nikita Scherbak RW RUS 6' 1" 175 WHL Saskatoon
27 SJS N. Goldobin RW RUS 5' 11" 178 OHL Sarnia
28 NYI Joshua Ho-Sang C/RW CAN 5' 11" 175 OHL Windsor
29 LAK Adrian Kempe LW SWE 6' 1" 187 SWE Modo
30 NJD J. Quenneville C CAN 6' 0" 182 WHL Brandon