NHL Prospects

2015 NHL Mock Draft: Post-Lotto Edition

2015 NHL Mock Draft: Post-Lotto Edition
Sean Tierney

We can finally retire the NHL Draft Lottery Simulator. If you’ve tried it, you know that anything can happen.

But with the NHL Draft Lottery finally in the past, the draft order is now set.

After Bill Daly stiffly shuffled through his deck of enormous logos, the Edmonton Oilers had launched themselves once more into the top draft slot. Choosing first overall for the fourth time in six years, Twitter erupted with a mix of jealousy, sadness, envy, and anger:

But Edmonton Oilers fans are hardly bothered. The Oilers have yet to formally say they will choose McDavid but GM Craig MacTavish has called the chance to draft McDavid an “exciting game-changer” and that they have “zero” intention of trading their pick. It’s safe to expect Connor McDavid to join Edmonton’s stable of highly-talented young stars in June.

So, with the draft order for the non-playoffs teams fully set, it’s now possible for mock drafts to finally take some real form. Below is a stab at how the entire first round of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft could break down. Pre-lottery draft predictions by NHL.com’s Adam Kimelman and Mike Morreale are included alongside each projection for comparison.

Get your boos ready. “The Edmonton Oilers are proud to select…”

 

Draft
Position
Team Projected Pick Kimelman
Prediction
Morreale
Prediction
1 Edmonton Oilers  Connor McDavid  McDavid  McDavid
The clear-cut first overall choice, McDavid has been called “generational” and compared to Sidney Crosby for his ability to
turn the fortunes of a franchise around. Edmonton has already tried to fix the floundering franchise with top picks like Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov – maybe McDavid will make the difference.
2 Buffalo Sabres   Jack Eichel Eichel Eichel
The other generational talent, Eichel “expressed” his desire to play in Buffalo in college style. Eichel is the Hobey Baker winner and would easily have been the first overall selection most other years. He’ll add huge offense to go along with Sam Reinhart in Buffalo…even if Sabres GM Tim Murray is worried that Buffalo fans are disappointed.
3 Arizona Coyotes  Noah Hanifin Hanifin Strome
Though the Coyotes have major needs all over the ice, look for Arizona to choose the swift-skating defenseman who was the projected third overall selection virtually all year. Hanifin can eventually line up alongside Oliver Ekman-Larsson…if OEL sticks with the Coyotes that long.
4 Toronto Maple Leafs   Dylan Strome Strome Hanifin
There is palpable fear in Leafland that Strome will be selected third, leaving the Leafs to select Hanifin. If the Leafs are “stuck” with Hanifin, the Leafs depth charts are bare enough that the talented blueliner can still fill a major organizational need. But the hope is that Strome, who won the OHL scoring title with 129 points in 68 games, will be available. The Leafs have yet to replace Mats Sundin and remain paper-thin at centre throughout the organization.
5 Carolina Hurricanes   Mitch Marner Marner Crouse
Mitch Marner scored 126 points in 63 games, so don’t expect the Hurricanes to over-think this draft pick. Marner is a highly-skilled forward who has been compared to Patrick Kane. The Hurricanes are a few years away from being competitive and can afford to let Marner develop without rushing the diminutive forward into the NHL too soon.
6 New Jersey Devils   Timo Meier Provorov Provorov
After the top five prospects are selected in the draft, things get pretty unpredictable. The Devils continue to struggle with finding and developing offensive forwards. New Jersey can fix that quickly by drafting the NHL-ready Meier to join their forward corps.
7 Philadelphia Flyers   Lawson Crouse Rantanen Connor
Crouse’s draft stock was up and down all season. On one hand, the youngster is a hulking 6’4, 211 lbs. budding power forward. On the other, Crouse managed only 51 points in 56 games with the Kingston Frontenacs. The bruiser played well at the World Junior Championship and would be well-loved in a city like Philadelphia.
8 Columbus Blue Jackets   Ivan Provorov Zacha Marner
The Blue Jackets boast a surprisingly deep forward group, including young stars like Ryan Johansen, Boone Jenner, Alexander Wennberg, and Marko Dano. That makes their decision to take offensive-minded blueliner Ivan Provorov a very easy one.
9 San Jose Sharks   Kyle Connor Werenski Rantanen
Benefitting from the messy rankings post-top-five, the Sharks are able to swoop in and draft left winger Kyle Connor. With 80 points in 56 games, Connor led the USHL in scoring and the 6’1 winger would fit in nicely with the younger skaters developing in San Jose.
10 Colorado Avalanche   Mikko Rantanen Crouse Werenski
The Avalanche system has been gutted as players have graduated to the pros over the past couple of seasons. Expect the team to choose the best player left on the board, Miko Rantanen. The Avs might even be willing to trade down and acquire an extra pick if the feel someone like Oliver Kylington, Matthew Barzal, or Pavel Zacha will still be available later in the draft. They need prospects in quantity.
11 Florida Panthers   Zach Werenski Barzal Meier
Considered a top-ten pick by many experts, 6’2, 206 lbs. powerplay quarterback probably won’t fall any further. Eventually skating with Aaron Ekblad, the Panthers would boast an incredibly talented pair of young defensemen.
12 Dallas Stars   Pavel Zacha Meier Carlsson
Pavel Zacha had been a top-ten prospect early in the NHL season but fell off as the year wore on. He’s 6’3, 210 lbs. and plays with an edge. If he lasts this long, the Stars will be forced to pounce.
13 Los Angeles Kings   Matthew Barzal Connor Harkins
The Kings have a solid overall prospect pool. Their only weakness may be at centre where the team lacks prospects with elite offensive upside. Barzal boasts tremendous playmaking skills at the centre position and is a likely choice, and possible steal, for the Kings.
14 Boston Bruins   Travis Konecny Chabot Chabot
Lacking elite forward prospects, and fresh off of firing GM Peter Chiarelli and three scouts, expect the Bruins to keep things simple and draft the best forward on the board. Konecny lacks size but has shown point-producing talents.
15* Calgary Flames  Daniel Sprong Carlo Merkley
Ranked 16th by McKeen’s Scott Wheeler in February, Sprong is a wild card choice who hasn’t been ranked very high in many expert mocks. With 88 points in 68 games in the QMJHL, Wheeler calls Sprong an “uber-talented forward with elite offensive talent.” The Bruins just fired their Quebec scout, Denis Leblanc, so they may miss on Sprong. Calgary won’t make that same mistake.
16 Edmonton Oilers
(from Pittsburgh)
 Jakub Zboril Kylington Zboril
Choosing again in the middle of the first round, the Oilers can afford to address their well-documented need on defense. Expect Zboril, ranked as high as 11th, to be the Oilers second choice in the first round. The two-way Zboril can quarterback a power play and will help fill the Oilers’ need on D. An excellent first-round haul for Edmonton.
17 Winnipeg Jets  Jansen Harkins Merkley Barzal
Boasting the NHL’s best prospect pool, the Jets can afford to draft a prospect that may take time to develop. Jansen Harkins, a two-way forward who is skilled and plays the kind of 200-foot game that Paul Maurice demands, would be a strong fit for the Jets.
18 Ottawa Senators  Gabriel Carlsson Sprong Zacha
Sens GM Bryan Murray has shown some love for local products, with four players on the NHL roster hailing from Ottawa. In that way, missing on the Ottawa-trained Konecny hurts. But the Sens have a need for a shutdown defenseman to replace Chris Phillips and the failed/failing Jared Cowen. The 6’4, 183 lbs. stay-at-home defender could be a great long-term fit in Ottawa.
19 Detroit Red Wings  Nicholas Merkley Harkins Konecny
With 90 points in 72 games, Merkley led the Kelowna Rockets in scoring. Noted for a high hockey IQ and a willingness to go to the front of the net, the smallish forward (5’10, 190 lbs.) would benefit from plenty of development time in the ever-patient Red Wings system.
20 Minnesota Wild  Thomas Chabot Zboril Roy
Another team lacking in elite prospects throughout the organization, the Wild need the best prospect they can find at any position. The Wild could go with defenseman Thomas Chabot, who was projected at 14th by both NHL.com analysts.
21 Buffalo Sabres
(from New York Islanders)
 Brandon Carlo Svechnikov Larsson
In the middle portion of the first round, there is a glut of defensemen for teams to choose from. Buffalo will already have added star forward Jack Eichel, so a defender at this draft slot makes sense. The Sabres could go with the huge (6’5, 200 lbs.) Brandon Carlo who could replace some of the Tyler Myers hole left after the blockbuster deal with the Winnipeg Jets. Carlo is athletic and could eventually serve a shutdown role in Buffalo.
22 Washington Capitals  Oliver Kylington Bittner Bittner
Initially ranked fifth by the ISS, defenseman Oliver Kylington’s stock dropped throughout the year, partly due to injury. At 22nd, the Washington Capitals are rolling the dice on a “smart, highly skilled, strong skating, two-way defenseman,” as per Kimelman.
23 Vancouver Canucks  Evgeny Svechnikov Konecny Carlo
Ranked 16th by the ISS and noted for his strong skating and puck creativity, Svechnikov would help the Canucks address their shallow prospect depth at the right wing position.
24 Arizona Coyotes
(from Chicago)
 Paul Bittner Greenway Vande Sompel
With Hanifin in the fold after the number three selection, and with a very solid prospect base, the Coyotes can afford to speculate late in round one. Ranked as high as 14th by the ISS, Paul Bittner is a poor man’s Lawson Crouse and the Coyotes can imagine Bittner as a net-front presence on a Max DomiAnthony Duclair line in a few years.
25 Toronto Maple Leafs
(from Nashville)
 Joel Ek Eriksson White Svechnikov
The Leafs selected Strome fourth overall and have many needs around the organization. However, skill at centre is Toronto’s number one deficiency. Toronto may opt for Joel Ek Eriksson, a 6’2 pivot from Sweden who impressed at the Five Nations Cup and vaulted himself to 18th on McKeen’s top-30 prospect ranks. A countryman for Nylander and a centre-playing Swede with size, the quickly rising Ek Eriksson could make sense as a late first round choice.
26 Philadelphia Flyers
(from Tampa Bay)
 Jeremy Roy Larsson Roy
Damien Cox ranks Roy 13th in his recent mock draft. If the speedy, feisty Roy remains on the board this late in the round, expect Philadelphia to nab him as a couple of their defense prospects are set to graduate to the pros full-time.
27 Winnipeg Jets
(from Buffalo via St. Louis)
 Jake DeBrusk DeBrusk DeBrusk
With their second choice in the first round (not bad for a playoff team!), the Jets should go with NHL.com’s consensus 27th pick – Jake DeBrusk. Known for tenacious forechecking, a hardworking style, and 42 goals/81 points playing in the WHL, DeBrusk is well-suited to Winnipeg’s style of play.
28 Anaheim Ducks   Colin White Roy Kylington
Playing in the U.S. NTDP, Colin White is considered one of the best skaters in the draft. At 6’0, 183 lbs., White has the size and speed needed to complement (or replace) Andrew Cogliano as a high-speed checking force.
29 Montreal Canadiens  Filip Chlapik Boeser Chlapik
Ranked 18th by Cox, and not in the top-30 by the ISS or McKeen’s, Filip Chlapik is a 6’1, 195 lbs. centre who is good on faceoffs and smooth in the offensive zone. The Canadiens finished 20th in the NHL in goals-per-game and are fortunate to have a chance to address their offensive needs this late in the first round.
30 Tampa Bay Lightning
(from New York Rangers)
 Mackenzie Blackwood Pilon Spacek
Ranked just outside Cox’s top-30 in March, look for the Tampa Bay Lightning to surprise by choosing Mackenzie Blackwood. The Lightning have shown great ability to identify and develop goaltending prospects. At 6’4 and credited with good speed and agility, look for the OHL-product to sneak into the first round as the only goalie selected in the top-30.

 NHL.com projections from Kimelman and Morreale can be found here.

*The order for the first 14 picks is now set. The order for teams in the playoffs will be determined in full after the Stanley Cup is won.
This draft order is based on end-of-season standings. 
After the 14th pick, the mock draft becomes a little trickier to predict as the team that will pick at each slot is still in flux.

What do you think? Is there any chance that a player like Lawson Crouse moves up or slides down? Are there any teams that appear likely to deal their first rounder prior to the draft? Any chance that Connor McDavid “pulls a Lindros?” 

  • http://www.todaysslapshot.com/author/stierney/ Sean

    From 20-onwards, this is a fairly fluid draft – could see a wildcard or two emerge.

NHL Prospects
Sean Tierney
@seantierneyTSS

Sean Tierney writes articles about Atlantic Division teams, working to include analytics whenever possible. He has also written about the Leafs, Habs, Sens, Raptors, and Blue Jays for Fansided, The Hockey Writers, and Bleacher Report. He enjoys long walks on the beach and candle lit dinners and definitely isn’t the tallest guy in the men’s rec basketball league.

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