It seems like a strange second tier, roughly 9 players deep, this season, in that each guy has a question mark or two, but in this group I think you could make some kind of argument for any of these guys to be picked as high as 3. Having said that, certain guys appear likely to be selected higher (Gudbranson, Gormley, Fowler) than others (Granlund, Tarasenko, Connolly).
Fair warning: every year I underrate D and G relative to F, in terms of where they are actually drafted, because I’m of the opinion that forwards are generally better value from the draft than defence or goaltending.
2010 rankings: 3-10
3) Mikael Granlund – I'm a total sucker for hockey sense, and I probably overrate small players, but what a player!
4) Vladimir Tarasenko – Doesn't seem like an awful lot to dislike about this player. I don't necessarily think any of the three forwards grouped here will go top 5, but wouldn't be shocked if any did; I think they represent good value if they are still kicking around at 10.
5) Brett Connolly – I think this ranking is too high, but I'm largely ignoring the "injury factor" here, with the caveat that if there are injury concerns he drops. He's only rated five-ish with a clean bill of health, and I'm not sure if that outlook is grounded in reality.
6) Brandon Gormley – As mentioned earlier, I generally rate D and G lower than most, but even given that I'm of the opinion that the D are a little bit overrated this season. That said, the consensus group (if Gormley, Fowler, and Gudbranson are the consensus top 3 D) do seem to have less "bust potential" from what I've read than the 3 forwards I've rated ahead of them, but I'm not sure their upside is high enough to justify passing on potential star forwards.
7) Cam Fowler – love the sound of this player, but do get a bit worried about the reported lack of willingness to battle physically. I'm fine with that if it's because he's positionally sound and doesn't really need to, but if he "plays scared", maybe it's a reasonable concern?
8) Nino Niederreiter*
9) Ryan Johansen* - I grouped these two together because I'm not really sure how to break them apart. I gave the tiebreaker to Niederreiter, I think largely because he came less out of nowhere than Johansen.
10) Eric Gudbranson – Everything I read about him makes it sound like he's a pretty good bet to be a solid NHL D, but IF that's his upside, I don't know that I like passing on potential top 2 line F's to select him. I kind of don't like having him even this high, but I think he's too consistently highly thought of in the various rankings for me to feel comfortable dropping him much past this, especially when coupled with the mono he suffered from this season, which could be a mitigating factor in his play this year vs. pre-season expectations.