With the 2015 NHL Draft fast approaching, everyone is anticipating where some of the top prospects will land. After researching countless expert mock drafts and assessing each team’s needs, here is a prediction of how the first round will play out.
1. Edmonton Oilers – Connor McDavid, C Erie (OHL)
Dubbed as the best prospect of the last decade, Edmonton has themselves a high-scoring talent who can have an immediate impact on the franchise. He finished with 120 points in 47 games last season.
2. Buffalo Sabres – Jack Eichel, C Boston
The 18-year-old freshman was last season’s Hobey Baker Award winner for best college player. Similar to McDavid, Eichel is a natural goal scorer and will add to Buffalo’s young core.
3. Arizona Coyotes – Noah Hanifin, D Boston College
Hanifin is an offensive defenseman who recorded 23 points his freshman season. He is undoubtedly the best defenseman in the draft.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs – Dylan Strome, C Erie (OHL)
Centering the Otters’ second line behind McDavid, Strome recorded 129 points last season. He is a strong skater and plays solid minutes. He can also play wing, which he did alongside McDavid on occasions.
5. Carolina Hurricanes – Lawson Crouse, LW Kingston (OHL)
Some earlier mock drafts have Crouse falling to the Flyers at seven or even lower. However, he will likely go in the top 10. His big frame and physical style of play have NHL scouts comparing him to Cam Neely and Eric Lindros.
6. New Jersey Devils – Mitchell Marner, C London (OHL)
Marner finished second in the OHL in points with 126. NHL scouts compare his playing style to Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane, also a former London Knight.
7. Philadelphia Flyers – Mikko Rantanen, RW TPS (FIN)
The pick you’ve all been waiting patiently for. The Flyers at number seven land who most described as the best player on Finland’s 2015 World Junior Championships team. Rantanen plays solid minutes for TPS, plays on the power play, and has scoring and shooting abilities.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets – Ivan Provorov, D Brandon (WHL)
Provorov is a physical presence on the ice who plays a ton of minutes and contributes offensively. He was fourth in the league among defenseman in points with 61 last season.
9. San Jose Sharks – Zachary Werenski, D Michigan
The youngest player in college hockey, Werenski excelled as Michigan’s most productive defenseman and was named to both All-Big Ten Hockey first team and All-Big Ten Freshman first team.
10. Colorado Avalanche – Pavel Zacha, C Sarnia (OHL)
The 6′ 3″, 212 forward is another player on the Flyers radar, so don’t be surprised if he goes a little higher. He is an accurate shooter, solid puck handler, and has plenty of room to develop as a player.
11. Florida Panthers – Kyle Connor, LW Youngstown (USHL)
The hosts of this year’s draft land the USHL leading point scorer of last season, with 80. He has great speed and can handle the puck well.
12. Dallas Stars – Timo Meier, RW Halifax (QMJHL)
Meier lead Halifax last season in scoring with 44 goals. He can also play center, and is smart without the puck.
13. Los Angeles Kings – Gabriel Carlsson, D Linkoping Jr. (SWE- JR)
Carlsson plays a stay-at-home defensive style, using his strength and physical play in his own end. He is a highly- touted prospect by NHL scouts for this.
14, Boston Bruins – Mathew Barzal, C Seattle (WHL)
Last season, having only played in 44 games due to injuries, Barzal still managed to record 57 points. He will be a productive goal scorer when healthy and has talent.
15. Calgary Flames – Travis Konecny, C Ottawa (OHL)
Konecny will be a nice addition to a young core in Calgary that is loaded with scorers. He was selected first overall by Ottawa in the 2013 OHL draft.
16. Edmonton Oilers – Jeremy Roy, D Sherbrooke (QMJHL)
The Oilers will sure up their defense with their second pick. Roy is a smart two-way defender who scouts have compared to Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith.
17. Winnipeg Jets – Paul Bittner, LW Portland (WHL)
The 18-year old has a hard shot and a big body. At 6’4”, 203 pounds, he uses his physical play to knock opponents off the puck and plant himself in front of the net.
18. Ottawa Senators – Colin White, C USA U-18
White will be attending Boston College at the start of the 2015-16 school year. The young defenseman is a great skater and his greatest attribute is his puck handling ability.
19. Detroit Red Wings – Thomas Chabot, D St. John (QMJHL)
Chabot would fit on a Red Wings team that values quality defensemen. Chabot has speed and awareness on the ice that make him a solid two-way player, both in joining the rush and backchecking.
20. Minnesota Wild – Jansen Harkins, C Prince George (WHL)
Harkins has been compared to David Krejci of the Boston Bruins for playmaking ability and hard work ethic. He is a smart player in all three zones on the ice.
21. Buffalo Sabres – Yevgeni Svechnikov, LW Cape Breton (GMJHL)
The left winger is a skilled puck handler and offensive-minded player. Although he needs to improve his defensive game and become more of a two-way player, there is plenty of time for that. He has the size, speed and talent to do so.
22. Washington Capitals – Oliver Kylington, D Sweden
Washington may potentially need to replace Mike Green if he leaves in free agency, and Kylington would be a perfect fit. What he lacks in size and physical play, he makes up for it in skating speed, shooting and blue line presence.
23. Vancouver Canucks – Nick Merkley, C Kelowna (WHL)
While not the biggest frame or fastest skater, Merkley is an exceptionally smart hockey player. His hockey IQ is high and has the skills and work ethic to match.
24. Toronto Maple Leafs – Jake DeBrusk, LW Swift Current (WHL)
DeBrusk is a winger that likes to work below the circles and in traffic areas. He makes use of space and has playmaking abilities.
25. Winnipeg Jets – Brandon Carlo, D Tri-City (WHL)
Winnipeg likes big, strong defenseman, and they will have one in Carlo. He is a shut-down defenseman who has size, smooth skating ability, and the ability to find open space on the point for scoring chances.
26. Montreal Canadiens – Ryan Pilon, D Brandon (WHL)
Pilon will add to Montreal’s solid crop of young defenseman. He is able to take control of the play and possesses an accurate shot.
27. Anaheim Ducks – Brock Boeser, RW Sioux City (USHL)
Scouts have compared Boeser to former Flyers and current Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp. He is good role player with a scoring knack. He just needs to work on his defensive game.
28. Tampa Bay Lightning – Filip Chlapik, C Charlottetown (QMJHL)
The Lightning have a young, fast team with scoring power. Chlapik fits nicely in that offense.
29. Philadelphia Flyers – Jacob Larsson, D Sweden U-18
The Flyers will continue to stockpile on defense prospects. Larsson is good at moving the puck and setting up offensive pressure. He could go higher to teams that need defensemen.
30. Arizona Coyotes – Denis Guryanov, RW Togliatti (KHL)
The 18-year-old has a high ceiling with great speed and puck handling ability. He could add to Arizona’s load of offensive prospects.