Filed under: Beckett Media, NHL, Upper Deck | Tags: 2010 NHL Draft, Buffalo Sabres, Erik Gudbranson, Mikael Granlund, NHL trading cards, Nino Niederreiter, Taylor Hall, Tyler Myers
By Russ Cohen
The NHL Draft delivers a few surprises each year that provide collectors with some terrific new players to collect. Tyler Myers was one such player when he was drafted in 2008.
Although Myers won the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie in 2009-10, there was some question at the beginning of the year whether or not he would even make the Buffalo Sabres’ roster when his junior career ended.
This year’s crop is interesting in its own right, too. It’s widely acknowledged that Edmonton’s Taylor Hall is a virtual lock to play in the NHL immediately, thereby getting a Rookie Card in one of the early releases this season. After Hall, it’s hard to say who can make it . . . but I have a few choices . . .
Erik Gudbranson, Florida Panthers: This defenseman has long arms, huge wrists and an NHL physique already. He’s still growing and right now he’s just shy of 6-4, 200 pounds. He’s a big hitter who skates well and has a shot already clocked in the upper 80-mph neighborhood. Clearly, he has a lot of upside. Collectors will love his style of play.
Nino Niederreiter, New York Islanders: At 6-1 and 201 pounds, this winger has a pro attitude, a knack for scoring in the slot and the speed to play at the NHL level. He is defensively responsible and he has a real chance to make a great impression in camp which could force the Islanders to keep him on the roster from the get-go.
Mikael Granlund, Minnesota Wild: At 5-10, 180 pounds, this Finnish forward is versatile and performed at an extremely high level in the Finnish Elite league. He’s used to playing against men and the fact that he’s a playmaker with great stick and body control might just be what the Wild need right now.
Oh . . . one other thing: I had a chance at the NHL awards show recently to chat with folks from Panini America who were scouting the landscape and while preparing their first few hockey card releases for the upcoming season. Needless to say, they are excited to burst onto the scene. It will be interesting to see what kind of splash the company makes in the coming months.
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