There's no doubt that about half the teams in the NHL could use a great puck-moving defenceman like Seth Jones. He skates well, has a great shot, and can quarterback a powerplay. He can almost be a fourth forward when on the ice, but rarely gets caught out of position when the play heads back towards the WHL's Portland Winterhawks' end of the ice. Being that he's an American kid, he'd be the kind of player that the Avalanche could build around in terms of the team and a marketing standpoint, adding him to their already-youthful lineup that includes Semyon Varlamov, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan O'Reilly, and Erik Johnson.
On the other hand, Jonathan Drouin has been making waves in the QMJHL playoffs as he has helped the Halifax Mooseheads to an incredible 12-0 record through the first three rounds. The Mooseheads are set to play the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL final, and Drouin has amassed 10 goals and 18 assists in just those 12 games. While he's a little sleight of frame in comparing him with NHL players, Drouin has a nose for the puck and can skate extremely well. While it appeared that he would be the thirteenth forward for Canada at the past World Junior Championship, his work ethic and skill made him a fixture on the second line as he performed extremely well for Canada. Adding a solid scoring winger like Drouin would be a very smart pick for the scoring-anemic Avalanche.
And just to make things a little more difficult, Nate MacKinnon is also proving to be indispensable for the Mooseheads in the QMJHL playoffs. MacKinnon appeared to be on the same path that Sidney Crosby once was - the unmissable phenom - but has since been caught and possibly surpassed by most scouts' analyses by the two players above. That being said, MacKinnon has been just as good as Drouin in the playoffs as he's put up 9 goals and 19 assists in helping the Mooseheads to their 12-0 record. While the Avalanche have good young centermen already, adding another is never a bad thing. That being said, they do have other holes that need to be filled.
Regardless of who the Avalanche pick, the two Florida teams will benefit as well. Florida will get the second pick, and they could use any of the three players listed above in terms of improving their squad. Tampa Bay, who holds the third-overall pick, will get the remainder of the three players above, and they can certainly use any of the three men as they have glaring holes to fill and older players who will eventually need to be replaced.
Aside from the flipping of draft spots by the Avalanche and Panthers, there were no other teams who moved up or down in this year's draft order. Teams that could use some additional help - Calgary at sixth, Dallas at tenth, and Winnipeg at 13th - may look to move up to grab a higher-ranked player, but that will depend entirely on who is available at the time.
The NHL Entry Draft could be very interesting this year, and it all starts with Colorado stepping to the podium first at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on June 30.
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!