As promised, I'm back with the final 10 projected picks of the first round, simply because I don't have the time to do in-depth spotlight profiles on them. Maybe next year, I'll start earlier in May on the series so I can do all 30 if that's something you guys want to see.
But anyway- here are the final picks and remember-- doesn't really mean a darned thing. I'll be interested to see what Bob McKenzie's top-30 list looks like on Monday night. Nobody is more connected than he is when it comes to stuff like this, so his picks will be a strong, strong indicator of what that first round will look like names-wise, even though there will be variance with the picks in terms of where they go.
21. Mark Pysyk, D- Detroit Red Wings
He's big and skilled, but scouts I talk to say he's soft and for all the superlatives about his offensive upside, the production is nothing to write home about (though he does play for a scoring-poor Oil Kings team). Still, he's got the kind of natural size and ability that the Wings could turn into a sizeable gain on their blueline...if they can figure out how to get him to keep his "on" switch activated, that is.
22. Jonathan Merrill, D- Phoenix Coyotes
The Desert Dogs grabbed a high-upside centerman with their first pick, now they grab another blue liner with a lot of untapped potential. I've heard that at least in a couple of cases, that Merrill didn't ace his draft interviews when it came to answering some of the off-ice questions, but to get a player of his caliber at 22 is not a bad way to go.
23. Quinton Howden, LW- Buffalo Sabres
Last year, the Sabres snagged a power forward in Zack Kassian, and now they add another winger with size and speed in Howden. The former No.1 WHL bantam pick in 2007 isn't a very physical player, but he brings a lot of other things to the table and is solid value here.
24. Calvin Pickard, G- Atlanta Thrashers
He played on a bad team, but Chet Pickard's little bro kept his Thunderbirds in just about every game with his athleticism and ability to weather a storm of shots every night. He's precisely the kind of late-round value pick that the Thrashers can smile about as they call his name at the podium in L.A.
25. Riley Sheahan, C- Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks are torn between Minnesota high schooler Brock Nelson and Sheahan, but opt for the more proven commodity at this stage in the former OPJHL scoring star who showed flashes of his high offensive ceiling as a freshman at Notre Dame. An alcohol-related arrest in the spring won't sink his stock out of the first round.
26. Jarred Tinordi, D- Washington Capitals
Washingtonians are well-acquainted with what Jarred's pop did for them when he played, and let's face it- the Capitals' achilles heel in the 2010 playoffs was not having a legitimate big shutdown 'D' with both skill and snarl. Although the younger Tinordi is a ways from being NHL-ready, he has the size, toughness and character to be a solid pick here.
27. Stanislav Galiev, RW- Montreal Canadiens
The Habs saw enough of the skilled Russian's merits in 09-10 while he was a member of the QMJHL-finalist Saint John Sea Dogs to grab a flyer on him here. Although he still needs to pack on the mass, "Stas" is an electrifying one-on-one talent whose game needs a little fine-tuning, but could turn out very nicely as a late first-rounder. With two years of North American hockey under his belt, he's coming along well in his progression.
28. Beau Bennett, RW- San Jose Sharks
The Sharks grab the California native and BCHL scoring leader and don't look back. The speedy sniper who needs to work on his defensive game good value here, and has a lot of upside as he moves on to Denver University and coach George Gwozdecky's outstanding pro-style program/system.
29. Kevin Hayes, LW- Anaheim Ducks (via Philadelphia)
The extremely talented and high-upside pick is a bit of a surprise here, but this is one of those swing-for-the-fences types of prospects. Brother of Jimmy Hayes will be at BC in the fall and skates, passes and shoots as well as any big man can. Competition level is always the question with prep players, but I hear someone likes him very much late in the 1st. Is that someone Anaheim?
30. Brock Nelson, C- Chicago Blackhawks
The Stanley Cup champs grab a potential homerun with the grandson of Minnesota legend and U.S. Olympian Billy Christian and nephew of Miracle on Ice and former Bruin Dave Christian. As a dominant scoring pivot for Warroad High on the Canadian border in Minnesota, Nelson has all the NHL tools but needs to refine his overall play against better competition.
Just missing the 1st-round cut: Tyler Pitlick, C Minnesota St. (WCHA), Ryan Spooner, C Peterborough (OHL) Tyler Toffoli, RW Ottawa (OHL), John McFarland, C/W Sudbury (OHL), Alex Petrovic, D Red Deer (WHL), Justin Faulk, D U.S. NTDP (USHL), Ludvig Rensfeldt, LW Brynas (Sweden Jr.)