Mock draft intrigue starts with pick No. 2
Coming into the trade deadline, the NHL standings around the last three slots for the playoffs are pretty fluid. Nineteen teams might wind up with lottery picks and one of them, Anaheim, could end up with two of them -- the Ducks are eleventh in the Western Conference and, by virtue of the trade sending Chris Pronger east, own the first-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers. If Philly misses the playoffs Anaheim might end up with two picks in the top dozen.
Some of the teams just out of the playoffs today (the Rangers and Lightning in the East, Red Wings and Stars in the West) might put their top picks in play for immediate help this season if they don't think it's a particularly deep draft. Where's the fall-off point? Some might think it's as high as the five slot ... but it might be around No. 8 or 9 if teams are convinced that they can sign and keep the top Russian prospects here (Moncton's Kirill Kabanov and Alexander Burmistrov of Barrie in the Ontario league) and there (Evgeni Kuznetsov and Vladimir Tarasenko back in the motherland).
Keeping in mind that all of this could change, we've started the process of projecting which prospects could end up on certain teams. Because of the trade deadline Wednesday, we're cutting things off with the lottery since the lower picks are more likely to change hands tomorrow. The order is based on the NHL standings as of Tuesday morning.
Without further ado, the first pick of the 2010 NHL draft is ...
No. 1 - Edmonton OilersLW Taylor Hall, Windsor (OHL)
Hall's body of work across three standout seasons with the defending Memorial Cup champions makes him the clear No. 1. Left wing might not be the crying need of the Oilers but, then again, they have little choice but to go for the best pick available. That Hall played his minor hockey in Calgary is just added value for a team that will have to sell tickets during the rebuilding process.
To see the rest of the mock draft, including potential picks for the Red Wings, Bruins (via Toronto) and Rangers, you must be an ESPN Insider.