The final part of the draft rankings include the best players available for this draft. With the Winnipeg Jets drafting at the #9 slot the hope is that the Jets will be able to land one of these players. Most of the recent cup winning teams have been built with top 10 picks as their key contributors from 2008 #2 overall Drew Doughty on the Los Angeles Kings to 2006 #3 overall Jonathan Toews on the Chicago Blackhawks to the 2005 #1 overall Sidney Crosby on the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Jets themselves have already benefited from 2012 #9 overall Jacob Trouba making a big impact just one year after being drafted.
This year's crop is notable for it's strength in forwards. Nine of the top ten are all forwards (along with 18 of the top 19). In the top six there is five forwards who all have top end offensive potential. It's a forward heavy draft and with the Jets lacking in top end potential up front it's the perfect time to land a forward with elite offensive potential.
Part 1, Ranked 46-60 can be seen here
Part 2, Ranked 31-45 can be seen here
Part 3, Ranked 21-30 can be seen here
Part 4, Ranked 11-20 can be seen here
10. RW/LW Nick Ritchie (Peterborough, OHL) - To say after being drafted #2 in the 2011 OHL draft that Ritchie came out of nowhere would be incorrect. But the big forward broke out this year with Peterborough after being given an "A". He has improved his numbers every year including in this breakout season. Ritchie is a big power forward that loves to mix it up. Plenty of teams have been reaching for the next Milan Lucic by unlike those goons being passed off as "power forwards" in the past few years like Michael McCarron, Tom Wilson and Zack Kassian Ritchie can actually add an element of skill to the package. He is huge and he loves to mix it up in both the corners and in front of the net. He adds plenty of skill to that package as well with some soft hands in tight. He skates well for a kid his size and can make plays on his own. His body is ready for the NHL game already. The question marks with Ritchie is whether or not he is someone that will be able to drive his own offense. He appears to be is more of a complementary type of forward. He will however toughen up a top 6 while adding plenty of goals and grit to the package.
Birthdate: December 5, 1995. Height: 6'3''. Weight: 236lbs.
NHL Projection: Big, mean 1st/2nd line winger with soft hands
Comparable: Milan Lucic (better hands)
9. C Adrian Kempe (MODO, SHL) - Despite being one of the youngest players in this draft Kempe has one of the most pro ready frames. He is a big and strong and has already proven he can play against men with MODO (who from a town of 29,000 has produced Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Victor Hedman). After a very pedestrian season in the juniors at 16 Kempe broke out this year. Kempe plays a very mature two-way game emphasized by the trust he was shown by the coaches of MODO - one of the top defensive teams in SHL. Don't let that diminish his offensive upside. Kempe loves to drive the net and has a deceptive shot which he uses too infrequently. Kempe sees the ice extremely well and makes some fantastic plays. He controls the puck very well and works well in the corners. For a big man he also has a very powerful stride. He is the prototypical two-way playmaking center that every team covets.
Birthdate: September 13, 1996. Height: 6'2''. Weight: 187lbs.
NHL Projection: Two-way, playmaking 1st line center
Comparable: Anze Kopitar
8. C Dylan Larkin (US National Development Program, USHL) - Even among a very strong USNDTP crop Larkin has made his presence known. He broke out in a big way this year and solidified the centre of the ice between great wingers like Alex Tuch and Sonny Milano. He has a superb hockey IQ in both ends of the rink. He understands both how to find the soft areas in the offensive zones and how to check hard in the hard areas of the defensive zone. He not only plays a strong a two-way game but he adds slick hands and strong offensive instincts. His shot is quick and deceptive. While he still needs to add strength and refinement to his reads he has superb two-way instincts for the next level. He can potentially play all 3 forward positions with huge success.
Birthdate: July 30, 1996. Height: 6'0''. Weight: 192lbs.
NHL Projection: Smart, slick twoway 1st line center
Comparable: Patrick Marleau
7. RW Alex Tuch (US National Development Program, USHL) - Tuch is another player who had a breakout year with the USNDTP. He more than tripled his USHL point total despite playing in two thirds of the number of games. Tuch is a big kid that can use his size very effectively. He protects the puck really well and is willing to drive the net and get to the dirty areas of the ice. He is a fluid skater up and down the wing. He plays a very simple north south game but he has good vision offensively. The biggest concern of the Boston College commit is that he does not possess the superb offensive awareness of some of the other players in the top 20 of this draft.
Birthdate: May 10, 1996. Height: 6'3''. Weight: 216lbs.
NHL Projection: Fast, big puck protection 1st line winger
Comparable: Blake Wheeler
6. C/LW Michael Dal Colle (Oshawa, OHL) - The Oshawa Generals sophomore is coming off a huge offensive season in which he became his team's top offensive threat ahead of former Philadelphia Flyer first round pick Scott Laughton. Dal Colle was dominant at the OHL level finishing 6th overall in scoring - tops among all 2014 draft eligible players . He has a solid frame that he uses really effectively for puck protection. He loves going to the tough areas of the ice to make plays happen. He also has strong hockey IQ at both ends of the rink and works hard at improving his game in both ends. There are very few flaws in Dal Colle's game.
Birthdate: June 20, 1996. Height: 6'2''. Weight: 172lbs.
NHL Projection: Puck possession, sniping 1st line forward
Comparable: Jamie Benn
5. C Sam Reinhart (Kootenay, WHL) - The younger brother of New York Islander 2012 4th overall pick Griffin Reinhart and 2010 Calgary Flame 3rd round pick Max Reinhart, Sam has long been considered a potential first overall pick. He was captain of the Kootenay Ice this year and 2nd in the WHL in points per game behind Jets pick Nic Petan. Reinhart is not the most physically skilled player by any means but he makes up for with a fantastic hockey IQ. He is masterful at finding the soft areas of the ice and has superb vision. He has great hands and is very elusive on the ice. He has already used to those skills extensively on an the international stage with a great U-18 tournament in 2013 and a playing a solid role with the U-20's this year. He is also a very hard worker and great leader on and off the ice.
Birthdate: November 6, 1995. Height: 6'1''. Weight: 183lbs.
NHL Projection: Slick, playmaking 1st line center
Comparable: Claude Giroux
4. C William Nylander (MODO, SHL) - Nylander is yet another "legacy" kid making an appearance on this list. His father Michael played 15 seasons in the NHL with 8 different teams. William played for 5 different teams this season as well as playing internationally for Sweden at the U-18 level. Much like his father he has a slick pair of hands and great vision offensively. He sees the ice extremely well and is incredibly adept at finding the soft areas of the ice. He improves on his father's vision with a very elusive skating style and a quick hard wrist shot meaning he has legitimate potential as a goalscorer in the NHL. He is perhaps the most skilled player in this year's draft. While his defensive game is still a work in progress his stick skills mean he can be effective defensively if he applies himself. His combination of playmaking and goalscoring means he has the highest offensive ceiling of any player in the draft although he is not quite as refined as other players in the top 6.
Birthdate: May 1, 1996. Height: 5'11''. Weight: 181lbs.
NHL Projection: Elusive, playmaking 1st line center
Comparable: Patrick Kane
3. C/LW Leon Draisaitl (Prince Albert, WHL) - Draisaitl will be the highest picked German player in modern era of the draft ahead of 2001's Marcel Goc (20th overall). He was 4th overall in WHL scoring this year, first among all 2014 draft eligible players. He was so impressive that the 18 year old was named to the German World Championship squad where he was 3rd on the team in scoring. Draisaitl has a think frame which he uses very effectively to protect the puck. Draisaitl is also very effective in tough areas of the ice. He is great at winning battles in every area of the ice. Draisaitl plays a strong effective game across all two hundred feet of the ice surface. He also has an efficient fluid skating stride and a hard shot. He is not quite the dynamic talent of players like Nylander or Ehlers but his consistency and all around game more than make up for it.
Birthdate: October 27, 1995. Height: 6'1''. Weight: 209lbs.
NHL Projection: Puck possession, playmaking 1st line center
Comparable: Ryan Getzlaf
2. C Samuel Bennett (Kingston, OHL) - Bennett is my #1 rated forward for this draft. He had a huge year with Kingston finishing 4th in OHL points per game, 1st among 2014 draftees. Bennett may not be a speed demon like an Ehlers but he can certainly get around. He is also very elusive and combines that with some very soft hands. He has a great hockey IQ for finding the soft areas in all three zones. He has great vision and a great shot. He is also effective in tough areas and likes to mix it up. Basically he combines most of the top attributes of the other draft picks from the class. There is little he doesn't do well which is why he is at the top of the forward rankings, even if he can't do a pull-up.
Birthdate: June 20, 1996. Height: 6'0''. Weight: 181lbs.
NHL Projection: Speedy, sniping all around offensive 1st line center
Comparable: Tyler Seguin
1. D Aaron Ekblad (Barrie, OHL) - Ever since being the "exceptional status" by the OHL, and being only the second player to receive such an exemption, after John Tavares Ekblad has done nothing but impress. Pretty well a literal man among boys (just look at his playoff beard) he has been completely dominant at the OHL level. He led the OHL defensemen in goals and was 3rd in points per game. Ekblad plays a smart mature pro style game at 17, something most defensemen don't fully get until their mid-20's. Offensively he has a hard blast from the point and moves the puck extremely well. Defensively he plays great positionally, hits hard and consistently wins battles for the puck. He has a great first pass. He combines that with a fantastic stride for a man his size and is impressively agile. There is just no weakness in his game which is why he is my top rated player in this draft. Expect him to impress at the NHL level as quickly as next season. He could contend for a Norris one day.
Birthdate: February 7, 1996. Height: 6'4''. Weight: 216lbs.
NHL Projection: Playmaking, two-way #1 defenseman
Comparable: Victor Hedman