So it's that awesome time of year where NHL careers begin, big names get traded around, and work productivity among hockey fans reaches an all-time low. The 2014 NHL Entry Draft begins tomorrow, and we're bound to see some shakeups, future stars, and quite possibly some new jerseys being debuted. We already know that the "Arizona" in Arizona Coyotes comes into effect starting tomorrow, and there's some word out there that some teams will be debuting new jerseys tomorrow as well. We'll all have to wait and see.
A few days ago, a friend asked me to "mock draft" the first 10 picks of the draft. So I did, and I'd like to share my picks with you guys. If you agree, disagree, or have your own draft-day thoughts, I'd love to hear them. Anyways, my mock draft:
1. Florida - Aaron Ekblad (D)
Campbell wants out, Jovo is getting old, and their remaining d-depth is weak at best. I know they said they'd be open to trading the 1st pick, but they'd be crazy to pass up on Ekblad.
2. Buffalo - Leon Draisaitl (C/LW)
Buffalo has a solid young core to work with, but they're missing grit and size, even more now that Ott isn't playing for them. If they do keep this pick, they should pick for size, and he'll be the best bet for them.
3. Edmonton - Sam Reinhart (C)
Edmonton needs defence more than another skilled forward, but I wouldn't be shocked if some of their star forwards get moved around at the draft, either to get Ekblad, veteran forwards or solid defencemen. But if they keep this pick and Ekblad isn't available, Reinhart is the best player to pick.
4. Calgary - Sam Bennett (C/LW)
Fits Brian Burke's "Truculence" label the best in this draft. Either Reinhart or Bennett could make a huge impact on their roster right from Day 1.
5. NY Islanders - William Nylander (LW)
The best pure Left Winger in the draft can instantly make a difference to New York's shallow LW pool. But they could be busy with free agents and pre-draft trading, so its difficult to say how things will work out.
6. Vancouver - Michael DalColle (C/LW)
He fits the power forward role that most people seem to agree Vancouver will be transitioning into in the next couple of years. Assuming they do trade Kesler, they'll have a big whole at C. DalColle won't be an impact player right away, but would be a good future pick. However, I'd be more shocked if it was Vancouver taking this pick. I see them either trying to trade up for Ekblad/Reinhart or trade down and get some established players or a journeyman goalie.
7. Carolina - Kasperi Kapanen (LW)
Carolina has lots of low-end prospects, but no one ready to make the leap into an impact role on their NHL roster. Kapanen has the best chance of the remaining players to crack an NHL roster early on, and best fits Carolina's speedy style of play.
8. Toronto - Nick Ritchie (RW)
Solid player for nearby Peterborough Pete's. He's a big, physical player that, when developed, could act as the protector of players like Lupul, Kessel, Kadri, etc. He's a solid offensive force as well, and could provide the secondary scoring Toronto desperately needs.
9. Winnipeg - Brendan Perlini (LW)
This is a bit of a wildcard pick. Right now, Winnipeg is pretty evenly spread out positionally, but if the rumours of Kane being traded prove to be true, Klingberg will get his chance with the big club, and the Jets will be low on LW depth. It would be between Perlini or Nikolaj Ehlers, but I'll pick Perlini based on size and physical play.
10. Ottawa (via Anaheim) - Kevin Fiala (RW)
I'm picking Ottawa to trade this pick with Anaheim for Jason Spezza. There will be more to the trade, like a prospect going to Anaheim and a journeyman and a low pick coming back, but Spezza for 10th Overall will be the big part of the trade. Ottawa will fill their talent gap at RW with Kevin Fiala, who has tons of experience in Sweden's top-teir, and was almost a point-per-game last season.
And there you have it. I'd be happy with 50% right, because the draft is so unpredictable. One year ago, how many people thought Cory Schneider would be traded? Keep your hand up if you thought it would be for Bo Horvat. Thats what I thought.
But now, for the reason we are all here, it's jersey time!
COTW June 16-22 vote (ends Friday @ 11:59pm Eastern)
NHA Redesign Final vote (ends Saturday @ 11:59pm Eastern)
Carolina Lightning - Nick L.
Yay: We start off this post with a really cool concept by Nick L. Apparently, this was his youth team jersey. It's hard to criticize the jersey that is based on a real and relatively unknown jersey, especially without a picture or something, but this is still a cool concept to look at. Pretty basic stripe pattern, common with most youth jerseys, and the execution in general is pretty good.
Nay: Again, it's hard to criticize a concept like this without something to base it from. I'm assuming the jersey was black, where an "off-black" shade is used here. The logo could be a bit bigger, and the captain patch looks a little smaller than it should be. For total accuracy sake, having the NHL tag in the collar is presumably incorrect.
Overall: I don't think I can give this concept a score, since it's hard to judge how good of a recreation it is from the original without the original. Very cool to share this concept with us though. Remember to put your name or ID on the concept though, and give credit to where you got the logo artwork if you took it from another source.
Renfrew Creamery Kings Concept - Joey F.
Yay: Our next concept is for one of the teams featured in our NHA redesign competition. This concept has the perfect classic touch to it, and between that, the execution, and the awesome template being used, this concept looks very sharp. Sometimes simplicity is the way to go, and this is a perfect example of that.
Nay: On the main jersey, it bugs me that there is a yoke outline and no yoke. I'm not a fan of that feature on any jersey. A white yoke would kill the alternate's individuality, so going without the yoke and outline altogether would probably work best. I'd also like to see an alternate logo on the alternate, or at least something that makes it look like an actual alternate, and not just the home jersey with white arms.
Overall: Where simplicity makes the main set work, the lack in creativity hurts the alternate. Good concept though. 7.8/10
Aberdeen Ironbirds Concept - Jeff C.
Yay: Next we have this concept for the Aberdeen Ironbirds of the New York - Penn Baseball League, a class 'A' minor league that has some of the coolest names and logos in baseball. The colour scheme here, taken from the logo, is really cool. I love the font on the numbers, and even the duo-toned effect it has. The stripe pattern is fairly simple but still has a nice modern look that suits the team well.
Nay: I'm not sure whit is the way to go with the yoke. The white-grey combo lacks the pop that this colour scheme could otherwise offer. I'm also surprised that there is no orange in the jersey to match the word mark of the logo. You can see some pixelation around the logo, and I think a thin outline would look nice with it. The font used for the name on the back isn't that great. Something bolder and blockier would be better.
Overall: Neat idea, nice colours, but not a home run. 7.5/10
Team Japan (Olympics) Concept - Alan H.
Aside: Now we have a pair of concepts from Alan for Team Japan, one for the Olympics and one for the World Championships. We seen the Japanese women's team in Sochi, and the men's team missed out on qualifying for the top tier World Championships next year based on goal differential with Austria. In a few years, they could be a team we see often in international hockey.
Yay: This first concept is Olympic-themed, and has the look that Nike would pull off. I love the names on the arms, something I'm surprised we didn't see in Sochi from any team. The logo is cool, the jersey style is subtle and perfect for Japan's identity, and the use of colour is spot on. Why would Japan wear all black, anyway? I'd pick these over their Sochi set easily.
Nay: The number on the back looks a little high and a little small, and the number outline on the white jersey looks much thicker than on the red jersey. I'd stick with the same thickness as the number on the red jersey, the black outline and red number doesn't look that pleasing to the eyes on the white jersey. I think you can do without the outlines on 'Japan' in the arm striping.
Overall: Simple, but perfect for capturing Japan's identity. The arm style helps as well. 8/10
Team Japan (World Championships) Concept - Alan H.
Yay: Part two features a more styled jersey that would be used at the World Championships. Still a mellow jersey, outside of the yoke design, but has enough flair to stay interesting. The logo is very suitable for them, and the colour balance is again well done. The yoke design is really sharp, as is the collar. Perfect balance between practical and interesting.
Nay: Something about the back of the yoke interacting with the name bugs me, but I can't quite say why. Maybe if the name was lowered just a bit, so the stripes would be going "through" the center of the text, it would look better. The same comments about the number in the last concept apply here as well.
Overall: Both are good, but I like this concept more. 8.4/10
St. Louis Blues Concept - Daniel L.
Yay: We'll end today with a pair of Blues concepts. This first one is from Daniel, who goes with the dark shade of blue for both the jersey and logo. The striping and cuff pattern is an upgrade from their current 3rd, I think. I like the use of the alternate logo as the shoulder patches.
Nay: The Blues haven't used the same colour for their jersey and logo in almost 20 years, and that's a good thing. I love the combination of this dark blue and yellow, but the logo needs to be different so it stands out better. A thin white line isn't going to cut it. The name is too low and has too much yellow outline, the TV numbers are too big, and I really don't like how you coloured the sides and underarms.
Overall: At least there's no trumpet. 6.5/10
St. Louis Blues Concept - Dr. Design
Yay: We end today with one of the best names I've seen on this blog. "Dr. Design", pretty bold if you ask me. This concept does what the other didn't, differentiate the shades of blue, and it works well. It also has more yellow than most Blues jerseys, which may or may not be good, but is interesting and fun to see. The yoke style is peculiar, but different, and solid enough to give it a pass.
Nay: First off, I can barely read the 'Dr Design' name with the dark blue text on black background. It's not on the jersey, but presentation is everything on these concepts. The logos on both jerseys look too big, and the logo on the blue jersey could use a thicker outline. The collar on the blue jersey would look better as yellow or dark blue, not white. The back number on the white jersey should be blue, because on the white jersey there seems to be more yellow than blue as it is.
Overall: Not too great, but interesting enough to be spared of the "Nurse Design" nickname, for now. 7/10
I'll end my post today by giving Alan H's Team Japan World Championships concept my COTW nomination.
Fun fact, 3 of the last 4 COTW winners have come from Thursday's post. Why not 4/5? Be part of the Glorious Thursday Master Race, and help continue it's dominance! Nominate for your favourite concept from today, and then email in your COTW vote if you haven't already done so.
That's it for me, thanks for reading, and Happy Draft Weekend!