21st Overall: Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins are a team that will always be going for it with Sidney Crosby on the roster. For that reason, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if this pick is traded, but assuming it is not I think the Penguins are going for defense. Yesterday, they traded Olli Maatta. Their current roster has an average age of 28 with only one defender under the age of 25.
They have a wealth of forward prospects but very few defensive prospects and they’ll be looking to get the best available defender here, who I think is Moritz Seider. The big German, Seider is a shutdown defender in every sense of the word, a big physical brute who has a shifty stick that does a great job separating the puck from a forwards stick, and a long reach that does well in cutting off passing lanes. Ultimately Seider has a fairly low offensive ceiling but his defensive ability paired with his physical nature more than makes up for that.
22nd Overall: L.A. Kings
Kings, with their second pick, take a defenseman and one that I think is a steal here. Heinola hasn’t gotten as much hype as the defenders taken before him, but he has a lot to be excited about. A smaller frame player who moves and handles the puck well, future QB of a powerplay and a player who is likely to terrorize teams with his smooth skating in the neutral zone for clean zone entries. Heinola plays a responsible defensive game and plays a lot bigger than his size would make you think. I think Heinola could be a steal here at 22.
23rd Overall: New York Islanders
The Islanders had a significantly better season than anyone predicted after losing their franchise cornerstone for the past decade, John Tavares, via Free-Agency. Matthew Barzal stepped up and more than filled that role as the Islanders surpassed everyone’s expectations and turned a gloomy situation into a glowing one.
The Islanders have done well, drafting wings and defenders over the past couple seasons, they’re pretty well set up for the future at those positions but they lack a blue-chip center prospect and while I personally am not sold that McMichael is a blue-chip prospect necessarily, he’s probably the closest thing to that left on the draft board at this stage.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lou Lamoriello take the over-ager Brett Leason as he fits the bill for the type of player that Lou loves, but the offensive upside of Connor McMichael might be too much to pass up. A talented player who has just a good of a shot as he does passing ability, McMichael might not tear the house down but he’ll certainly make a ruckus.