2015 NHL Draft Preview: Mock Draft


2015 NHL Draft Preview: Mock Draft

With the 2015 NHL Draft just days away, here’s a mock draft on where some players might find themselves and why.

No. 1 Overall – Edmonton Oilers select Connor McDavid

This is a no brainer obviously. McDavid will immediately jump to the NHL and put the Oilers in ‘win now’ mode, where they try to make some noise while he’s still under contract at a very low cap hit. Expect McDavid to immediately play with one of Taylor Hall or Jordan Eberle, or both, which opens up Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to centre a different line and give the Oilers a one-two punch.

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No. 2 Overall – Buffalo Sabres select Jack Eichel

This is also an obvious choice. Eichel would have gone first overall in pretty much any other year and should be thought of as a first overall top-tier talent. He’ll make the jump straight to the NHL next year and play with Evander Kane which, like with Edmonton, frees up Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis and possibly Sam Reinhart to form a second strong scoring line.

No. 3 Overall – Arizona Coyotes select Dylan Strome

Here’s where the draft starts to get interesting. The next tier of players includes Strome, Mitch Marner, Noah Hanifin and possibly Ivan Provorov or Mathew Barzal, depending on who you ask. For Arizona while they may like Marner, he projects most likely as a left winger and they already have prospects Max Domi, Anthony Duclair, Brendan Perlini and Lucas Lessio on the left side. That leaves either Strome, a big dynamic centre, or Hanifin, the best defender of the draft. The Coyotes need the centre depth more and may need an exciting offensive team to help sell the team staying in Arizona, or in whatever new market they end up.

No. 4 Overall – Toronto Maple Leafs select Mitch Marner

With Strome gone the Maple Leafs will go with either Mitch Marner or Noah Hanifin. While Hanifin is an excellent defenceman, new coach Mike Babcock likes to utilize defenders on their natural side.

Mar 26, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman

Morgan Rielly

(44) chases after the puck against the Florida Panthers at Air Canada Centre. The Panthers beat the Maple Leafs 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Hanifin shoots left, just like Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner and for now still Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf. While that’s obviously not a strong enough reason to not draft Hanifin, the connection Mitch Marner has to his former London Knight’s coach and owner and current Maple Leafs director of player personnel, Mark Hunter, is very strong and Marner fits everything the Leafs are looking for in terms of high upside dynamic players. If Nylander does become a centre, the thought of him and Marner together in the future will be too appetizing to ignore.

No. 5 Overall – Carolina Hurricanes select Noah Hanifin

Hanifin basically falls into the Hurricanes lap here, where the immediate thought will be a future top pair tandem of Justin Faulk and Hanifin. Barzal and Provorov, the consensus next two best players, shouldn’t be in consideration here as the Hurricanes don’t need centre help with Barzal and Hanifin is better than Provorov. The interesting thing for the Hurricanes is to see who they get at number five, if it’s Hanifin and they do decide to move Eric Staal, it means they’ll want forward prospects back and not defencemen.

No. 6 Overall – New Jersey Devils select Mathew Barzal

For a bad team, New Jersey is lacking top-tier prospects all across the board. They do have some depth for defencemen in the AHL but are weak at forward, leaving Barzal as the likely choice.

No. 7 Overall – Philadelphia Flyers select Ivan Provorov

The Flyers have great young forwards and need some depth on the back-end. Provorov has seen his stock rise quite a bit in the last few months to the point where his name has been thrown around with Hanifin. I don’t buy that teams think that highly of him compared to Hanifin, but Provorov is one of the three best defenders out their and has a strong offensive game.

No. 8 Overall – Columbus Blue Jackets select Zach Werenski

The Blue Jackets have so much young forward depth and so little defensive prospects that they’ve tossed around Kerby Rychel‘s name as a chip they could move for blue line help. In reality, sitting at eight leaves them in the perfect position to get one of Provorov or Werenski, which is exactly what they need.

No. 9 Overall – San Jose Sharks select Lawson Crouse

The Sharks are a very interesting pick in the draft because they still want to win now. Crouse is a behemoth, an NHL ready body who will do well in the tough west and is more than willing to be physical and play a very strong defensive game. Offensively he needs some work, but with the playmakers in San Jose he’d be the perfect fit.

No. 10 Overall – Colorado Avalanche select Mikko Rantanen

Like Crouse, Rantanen is a big and strong winger who would fit in well in the west.

Feb 22, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Avalanche center

Nathan MacKinnon

(29) scores his second goal past Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (88) in the second period at the Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

The Avs have great centre depth but two of their top three scoring wingers are nearing retirement and they’ll need a replacement. Rantanen should be thrilled with the possibility of playing with one of Matt Duchene, Nathan MacKinnon or Ryan O’Reilly, depending on what ends up happening with O’Reilly and Duchene over the summer.

No. 11 Overall – Florida Panthers select Kyle Connor

The Panthers need wingers badly in their system and Connor fits that bill after tearing up the USHL this past season from left wing. Florida would have also liked an offensive defenceman but aren’t likely to move up high enough to get Ivan Provorov. That leaves them with Connor to fill a top six role on the left side along with Jonathan Huberdeau.

No. 12 Overall – Dallas Stars select Travis Konecny

Konecy is a small but offensively talented centre who likely would move to the wing in a team with the young centre depth of the Stars. He’d be another strong offensive force for the Stars future to go along with Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Cody Eakin and Valeri Nichushkin. The Stars would also consider Pavel Zacha and Kyle Connor.

No. 13 Overall – Los Angeles Kings select Pavel Zacha

While the Kings have an embarrassment of riches already, Zacha would add another centre with good size and a solid two-way game who may also have a higher upside considering his struggles this year. This was his first year in North America and the Czech centre may have more to show, so the next year for him will be very interesting.

No. 14 Overall – Boston Bruins select Evgeny Svechnikov

The Bruins were wildly successful last year when they went with high upside and took David Pastrnak at No. 25.

Apr 2, 2015; Detroit, MI, USA; Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) make a pass in the first period ad at Joe Louis Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

He was over a point a game in the AHL as a 19-year-old and had 27 points in 46 games for the Bruins. After that success they’ll go high upside again and that mean Svechnikov. Svechnikov has great offensive tools and will need help developing defensively but could turn into another slam dunk for the Bruins.

No. 15 Overall – Calgary Flames select Timo Meier

The Flames will be thrilled when Meier falls into their hands at No. 15. A big scoring right winger who shoots left, Meier can shoot and score or defend and should be looked at as an incredibly versatile player. While he’d likely spend another year in the QMJHL he projects as a top six winger who can do it all.

No. 16 Overall – Edmonton Oilers select Jeremy Roy

While the Oilers addressed an offensive need with McDavid, Roy will address a defensive need and add more depth to their young blue line.

No. 17 Overall – Winnipeg Jets select Jansen Harkins

While this is earlier than a lot of scouts have Harkins, as a big puck distributing two-way centre. Despite playing on a bad team he was sixth in assists in the WHL, behind four players older than him, and was one of only a handful of players to be a positive plus/minus player on his team. He’s got grit and will fit in well with Winnipeg.

No. 18 Overall – Ottawa Senators select Oliver Kylington

At one time Kylington was a consensus top five pick but has slowly slid down the rankings all year.

Apr 5, 2015; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman

Erik Karlsson

(65) shoots the puck against the Toronto Maple Leafs during the first period at the Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

He’s still a high-end skater and an excellent passer with vision who doesn’t have the best defensive game. If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s very similar to what scouts said about Ottawa captain Erik Karlsson who they drafted at No. 15 in 2008. The Senators may look for history to repeat itself.

No. 19 Overall – Detroit Red Wings select Colin White

While it goes without saying the Wings may trade down, as they routinely do, White represents everything the Red Wings are looking for. He’s got good offensive ability and is very smart with a sound positional game. He’s a two-way centre who can take important draws and kill penalties and will fit in in Detroit.

No. 20 Overall – Minnesota Wild select Nick Merkley

While Merkley managed 70 assists last year he’s not a one-dimensional passer. He’s got very good speed and puck handling ability, a solid shot and is a hard worker. He plays both centre and the wing and will be a versatile piece for the Wild moving forward.

No. 21 Overall – Buffalo Sabres select Jakub Zboril

Like the Oilers first took their franchise saving centre and then a defender, so too will Buffalo. Zboril is a good-sized smooth skating defender with a good eye for passing and a solid shot from the point. He’s got good positioning and is solid defensively to go with his good offensive production.

No. 22 Overall – Washington Capitals select Daniel Sprong

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While scouts are mixed on Sprong, Washington sees a scoring winger with elite level tools. His defensive game is not good bordering on horrific, but his offensive game is so dominant for a player around the end of the first round that he is worth the chance. If he ever develops defensively he becomes the steal of the draft and the player we ask how he fell so low, while if he doesn’t, he still projects as an elite offensive force in need of defensive help on his line.

No. 23 Overall – Vancouver Canucks select Thomas Chabot

The Canucks need some prospect help on defence and Chabot is the last of the first round calibre defencemen. He’s a two-way defender with speed and size and a great work ethic, something the Canucks can surely use.

No. 24 Overall – Toronto Maple Leafs select Paul Bittner

Assuming the Leafs select Mitch Marner at four, that leaves them with Marner, William Nylander, Brendan Leipsic,

Sep 24, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Ottawa Senators defenseman

Chris Phillips

(4) defends against Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander (62) at the Air Canada Centre. Ottawa defeated Toronto 4-3 in an overtime shoot-out. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Connor Brown and Andreas Johnson as their top offensive prospects and not a single one is six feet tall. While the Leafs have moved away from size as a key ingredient, you can’t be small all throughout the lineup. With Paul Bittner sitting there at No. 24, the Leafs will grab an offensively gifted left winger with size. He’s considered an excellent skater for his size and has a cannon for a shot, but would do well to be paired with a natural passer. Between Marner, Brown and Nylander, that’s something the Leafs would have.

No. 25 Overall – Winnipeg Jets select Jake DeBrusk

DeBrusk is a natural goal scorer with great passing ability who also plays the penalty kill and has a blue-collar work ethic. As a two-way winger, he’ll fit in well with the future the Jets are building.

No. 26 Overall – Montreal Canadiens select Joel Eriksson Ek

While the truth of the matter is that the Canadiens need centre help now, Eriksson Ek will give them that help in a few years. Eriksson Ek is a good-sized centre with good tools and a very good shot. He’s also good defensively as he plays a strong positional game and translates as a second or third line centre long-term.

No. 27 Overall – Anaheim Ducks select Brock Boeser

A right winger who can shoot and score or dish the puck to his teammates, Boeser is a complete player with a 200-foot game. He uses his body and size well and has a very strong work ethic which will help in the tough west.

No. 28 Overall – Tampa Bay Lightning select Denis Guryanov

While Guryanov is a consensus highly ranked prospect, he’s likely to fall in the draft as a Russian who didn’t come over to play in the CHL. He’s got good size and excellent speed, with a very good shot. He can crash the net and whack in rebounds and can be a chaotic presence in the attacking zone.

Jun 8, 2015; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks goalie

Corey Crawford

(50) makes a save against Tampa Bay Lightning right wing

Nikita Kucherov

(86) in the second period in game three of the 2015 Stanley Cup Final at United Center. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

While his defensive game needs work, his speed and work ethic translate into him becoming solid defensively, if not a penalty killer. Tampa has an embarrassment of riches already and should swing for the fences with the high upside Guryanov. The last high upside Russian they drafted straight out of the KHL was Nikita Kucherov, who came over to the CHL afterwards and was a dominant member of the Lightning in the regular season and playoffs this year.

No. 29 Overall – Philadelphia Flyers select Ilya Samsonov

The first goalie to go in the draft, Samsonov is the newest answer to the Flyers perpetual goalie question. He’s considered a high upside goalie, as he’s got great work ethic, good positioning and is very agile for his size. He’s got both a quick glove and quick feet and was very good at the MHL level (Russia’s AHL) and excellent at the U18’s for Russia. There is no consensus number one goalie in this draft but Samsonov’s name is thrown around the most as the top-tier pick.

No. 30 Overall – Arizona Coyotes select Brandon Carlo

Like the Oilers and Sabres, after addressing an offensive need, the Coyotes shift to defence. Carlo is a towering defender who represents the low risk high percentage play style. He’s safe in his own zone and has shown good passing as well as the ability to shut down top scorers. Offensively his shot needs work but he does have good vision for open teammates. He should be considered a defensive defender with offensive upside, if he can improve his shot. Otherwise he’s a minute eating shutdown defender.

Next: Maple Leafs: 10 Storylines Heading Into the Draft and Offseason