The debate surrounding this pick was a heated one. We had three primary options here - Stephen Johns from the U.S. National Development program, Matt MacKenzie from the Calgary Hitmen of the WHL and Patrik Nemeth, the big, mean Swede that we've written about previously. Johns and Nemeth are similar in stature, though Johns has more offensive talent and is less physical. MacKenzie is smaller and less mobile, but can play in any situation and started his development curve late. Scott was backing MacKenzie, I was backing Nemeth and Ben was backing Johns.
Quick overviews of each player:
- Stephen Johns - Large, smooth-skating defenseman capable of playing a very well-rounded game. Tremendous size plus skating ability. Capable of making a good first pass, and has a nice shot.
- Matt MacKenzie - Plays a solid all-around game, can play both sides of special teams, needs to work on his skating.
- Patrik Nemeth - Big, mobile blue liner. Seems to play a strong physical game. Relishes physical contact. Immovable force along the wall. Big wingspan. Solid hockey sense and vision.
We had a vigorous debate and, in the end, Nemeth won out by virtue of Bruce's tie-breaking vote.
To recap, our three selections in the mock draft were:
1-1 (#1 Overall) - Taylor Hall, F - Windsor Spitfires
2-1 (#31 Overall) - Tyler Pitlick, C - Minnesota State Mankato Mavericks
2-18 (#48 Overall) - Patrik Nemeth, D - AIK, Swedish Elite League