NHL Player Comparisons for the Top 10 Players in the 2014 Draft

Allan MitchellFeatured ColumnistMarch 18, 2014

NHL Player Comparisons for the Top 10 Players in the 2014 Draft

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    The NHL Entry Draft is a major event in hockey's summer. The quality of each season's draft dictates the excitement level in the 30 NHL cities.

    This year's draft is described as being average. There is plenty of quality at the top and some interesting prospects beyond the top 10.

    Here are the 10 best prospects in the 2014 NHL draft and the players they most closely resemble.

10. Brendan Perlini, LW, Niagra Ice Dogs

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    What type of player is he? Brendan Perlini is a big, strong winger who can score goals. The OHL has been producing this player-type for decades.

    Who is his comparable? Perlini is a trending player in some circles and reminds at least one scout of Jeff Carter.

    What are the chances he'll make it? The OHL delivers quality pro hockey players consistently. Perlini may not blossom into a top-level scorer but is very likely to be a successful role player if he can't deliver enough offense.

9. Nikolaj Ehlers, LW, Halifax Mooseheads

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    What type of player is he? Nikolaj Ehlers is a skilled winger with exceptional hands. He's a fine passer and a pure goal scorer.

    Who is his comparable? Ehlers is a slender player, and that combined with his skill set reminds fans of Patrick Kane.

    What are the chances he'll make it? The native of Denmark almost reached the 50-goal plateau in the QMJHL and has enough talent to succeed at the highest levels.

8. David Pastrnak, RW, Sodertalje

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    What type of player is he? David Pastrnak is a slick offensive winger. He is a scoring threat every shift and highly creative in the offensive zone.

    Who is his comparable? Eldon MacDonald from The Hockey Writers tells us Pastrnak is similar to Ales Hemsky but more of a shooter. There have been some comparisons to Nail Yakupov in terms of his skating ability and his ability to deke opponents.

    What are the chances he'll make it? He is a smaller player and will need to adjust to the physical rigors of the North American game. Pastrnak's skill is significant; he's a good bet for NHL success.

7. Ivan Barbashev, C, Moncton Wildcats

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    What type of player is he? Ivan Barbashev is a center with a wide range of skills. He is a physical player who will run over opponents if required.

    Who is his comparable? Barbashev is not an easy player to compare. The Russian is very physical even for the North American style, and he has the patented Russian puck-handling talent. He is similar in visual style to Maxim Afinogenov but has a wider range of skills. 

    What are the chances he'll make it? The concern with Barbashev will be injury. The style he plays may shorten his career.

6. Jake Virtanen, LW, Calgary Hitmen

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    What type of player is he? Jake Virtanen is an offensive dynamo. He possesses outstanding speed, a terrific shot and plays with an edge.

    Who is his comparable? Virtanen's skill is comparable to NHL impact player Corey Perry, although his outer-marker potential isn't on the same level as Perry. A team drafting Virtanen is going to get a multidimensional offensive player.

    What are the chances he'll make it? Virtanen scored 45 goals and posted 100 penalty minutes this season. He is 6'1", 210 pounds and has good speed. He's very close to a can't-miss prospect.

5. Michael Dal Colle, LW, Oshawa Generals

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    What type of player is he? Michael Dal Colle is a first-shot scorer in the OHL. He has projectable size (6'2", 171 pounds), meaning he could emerge as a power forward in the future. 

    Who is his comparable? NHL Central Scouting's Dan Marr told NHL.com he compares to Ryan Getzlaf. All 30 NHL teams are searching for this player-type.

    What are the chances he'll make it? Dal Colle scored 39 goals this season at 17 years old. That total ranks No. 1 among the top five prospects in this year's draft. He has a good chance to make the NHL on goal scoring alone. If he emerges as a power forward, his drafting team will have a home run selection. 

4. Leon Draisaitl, C, Prince Albert Raiders

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    What type of player is he? Leon Draisaitl is a skill forward. He is bigger (6'1", 209 pounds) than the other top-level centers in this year's draft.

    Who is his comparable? Draisaitl is one of the more unique players available in this year's draft. His size and skill combination resemble Anze Kopitar.  Draisaitl is not going to be as physical as Kopitar, but the offense is there.

    What are the chances he'll make it? He should be a lock for an NHL career. The question for scouts will come in how much offense he is able to deliver. This season's results are very encouraging.

3. Sam Bennett, C, Kingston Frontenacs

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    What type of player is he? Sam Bennett is a very skilled center who displays a physical edge to his game. He might be the most talented player in the draft.

    Who is his comparable? Dan Stewart from Future Considerations told OHL Prospects comparisons to Doug Gilmour are valid. That statement is very strong praise.

    What are the chances he'll make it? Bennett's chances of making the NHL are very strong. The concern for him comes with his size (6'0", 181 pounds) and the style he plays. NHL history has a long list of short careers for average-sized forwards who play a physical game.

2. Sam Reinhart, C, Kootenay Ice

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    What type of player is he? Sam Reinhart is a cerebral center with exceptional vision and skill. Opposing defenses fall victim to his patience and creativity in the offensive zone.

    Who is his comparable? Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is mentioned universally as a comparable because of the intelligent passing and production.

    What are the chances he'll make it? Reinhart is one of two prospects in this draft likely to step into the NHL immediately. It'll be several years before we know how prolific he'll be as a complete player, but he should deliver offensively upon arrival in the NHL.

1. Aaron Ekblad, D, Barrie Colts

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    What type of player is he? Aaron Ekblad is a complete defenseman. He boasts impressive size and defensive ability along with offensive skill. His passing is quality, his shot from the point is explosive.

    Who is his comparable? Craig Button from TSN tells us he has the potential to be a 25-minute a night defenseman, meaning his comparables are the best players in the NHL. Names like Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Drew Doughty occupy those positions. There are many steps between potential and arrival, but the promise is there to be a franchise defenseman.

    What are the chances he'll make it? Ekblad will make it to the NHL, the only question is what kind of impact he will have as a mature player. The tools are there with this player.