Scouting reports on first round picks

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Kyle Woodlief, the publisher and chief scout for the independent scouting newsletter Red Line Report, provides his analysis of the prospects taken in the first round of the NHL draft on Thursday night.

1. MONTREAL CANADIENS

Right wing Juraj Slafkovsky — TPS Turku (Finland)

Scored seven goals, led his underdog Slovakia to a bronze medal and won the MVP award at the Olympics — at age 17. Oddly, he was never really offensively productive in Finnish League play until he became a regular for Turku after the Olympics. Massive winger has the potential to develop into a beast if he manages to put all the pieces together. Power winger with a huge frame, soft hands for giving and receiving passes, and improving vision. Scorching shot is heavy and overpowers goalies. Can shoot without stopping or cradling the puck. Strong on the puck, strong on his feet, and difficult to contain off the cycle down low. Enters board battles with force and is capable of separating opponents from the puck. Strong skater for his age and size; has quick feet and can fly when he decides to turn on the jets. Consistency in his effort level has eluded him.

Projection: Huge, powerful first line scoring winger.

Style compares to: Mikko Rantanen

Team Slovakia forward Juraj Slafkovsky (20) celebrates winning the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.

Team Slovakia forward Juraj Slafkovsky (20) celebrates winning the bronze medal at the Beijing Olympics.

2. NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Defenseman Simon Nemec — Nitra (Slovakia)

Incredibly advanced young defender already plays top pairing minutes against men in Slovakia’s top league. Looks and plays like a 10-year veteran with a remarkably poised and mature game. Has very good smarts and hockey sense all over the rink, making excellent decisions both with and without the puck. Shows an outstanding feel for the game, at times playing an up-tempo style and pushing the pace, but then also pulling back and controlling play when his team gets scrambly. Likes to jump up into the offensive flow and picks his spots wisely. Has a smooth stride with good short area burst to win puck races. Strong and rugged in board battles against men twice his age. Good distributor on the PP, but his shot is below average, limiting his offensive upside. Great stamina for playing big minutes. Never rushed into bad decisions. Well-rounded, two-way rearguard.

Projection: Smooth, steady, mistake-free first pairing defenseman.

Style compares to: Miro Heiskanen

3. ARIZONA COYOTES

4. SEATTLE KRAKEN

5. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

6. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS (from Chicago Blackhawks)

7. CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS (from Ottawa Senators)

8. DETROIT RED WINGS

9. BUFFALO SABRES

10. ANAHEIM DUCKS

11. SAN JOSE SHARKS

12. COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

13. NEW YORK ISLANDERS

14. WINNIPEG JETS

15. VANCOUVER CANUCKS

16. BUFFALO SABRES (from Vegas Golden Knights)

17. NASHVILLE PREDATORS

18. DALLAS STARS

19. MINNESOTA WILD (from Los Angeles Kings)

20. WASHINGTON CAPITALS

21. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

22. ANAHEIM DUCKS (from Boston Bruins)

23. ST. LOUIS BLUES

24. MINNESOTA WILD

25. TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

26. MONTREAL CANADIENS (from Calgary Flames)

27. ARIZONA COYOTES (from Carolina Hurricanes via Montreal Canadiens)

28. BUFFALO SABRES (from Florida Panthers)

29. EDMONTON OILERS

30. WINNIPEG JETS (from New York Rangers)

31. TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

32. ARIZONA COYOTES (from Colorado Avalanche)

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NHL draft tracker: Scouting the first round picks