Craig Smith explains his March mock draft choices

First Round

1. Buffalo (Ryan Wagman) – Connor McDavid, C, Erie (OHL)

Edmonton Oilers Rd 1 Pick 2

Jack Eichel C, Boston University (HE)

In any of the past 5 years this is the first pick overall. A franchise centre who has all the tools. He has elite skating, puck skills, smarts, and vision. RNH and Eichel as a one two punch finally puts the Oilers in the right direction.

3. Arizona (David McKnight) – Noah Hanifin, D, Boston College (HE)

4. Toronto (Benoit Roy) – Dylan Strome, C, Erie (OHL)

5. Carolina (Ryan) – Mitchell Marner, C/RW, London (OHL)

Columbus Blue Jackets Rd 1 Pick 6

Ivan Provorov, D,  Sarnia (OHL)

One of the biggest climbers in this year’s draft, Provorov is an exciting player who will play 25min a night. He rushes end to end and hits like a tank. What is not to like. There is some debate amongst scouts if he as supplanted Hanifin as the top D man in this draft.  He will fit in well with a young aggressive Blue Jackets team.

7. New Jersey (David) – Zach Werenski, D, Michigan (Big 10)

8. Philadelphia (Benoit) – Lawson Crouse, LW, Kingston (OHL)

9. Dallas (Ryan) – Mikko Rantanen, RW, TPS (Liiga)

Colorado Avalanche Rd 1 Pick 10

Jakub Zboril, D, Saint John (QMJHL)

A coin toss between his team mate Thomas Chabot and Zboril at this slot. Avalanche are loaded up front and need a D man who can be part of the team within the next 2 years. Zboril slipped in rankings due to a mid season injury. The high skill set remains unchanged and a puck mover like Zboril is a much needed addition to the Avalanche.

11. Florida (David) – Pavel Zacha, C, Sarnia (OHL)

12. San Jose (Benoit) – Matthew Barzal, C, Seattle (WHL)

13. Ottawa (Ryan) – Kyle Connor, C, Youngstown (USHL)

Los Angeles Kings (Carolina Hurricanes) Rd 1 Pick 14

Travis Konecny, RW/C, Ottawa (OHL)

Possibly the most underrated player in the 2015 draft, Konecny has the heart of a lion and is relentless at all times on the ice. Dynamic and creative with the puck.  Once healthy Konecny was able to produce at over a one point per game average in the final months of the season. Whether it be the Kings or Hurricanes Konecny’s 200 foot game and positional versatility makes him a fit for either team.

15. Winnipeg (David) – Timo Meier, RW, Halifax (QMJHL)

16. Calgary (Benoit) – Paul Bittner, LW, Portland (WHL)

17. Boston (Ryan) – Oliver Kylington, D, Farjestad (SHL)

Vancouver Canucks Rd 1 Pick 18

Thomas Chabot, D , Saint John (QMJHL)

Chabot will play in all situations as he does with the Sea Dogs.  Great play recognition combined with fluid skating makes Chabot a top level defender. Chabot has the potential to be a top pairing defenceman.  With a big frame he will be able to address his biggest weakness, his strength.

19. Minnesota (David) – Yevgeni Svechnikov, LW, Cape Breton  (QMJHL)

20. Washington (Benoit) – Joel Ek Eriksson, C, Farjestad JR (Swe-Jr)

21. Detroit (Ryan) – Nick Merkley, C, Kelowna (WHL)

Edmonton Oilers Rd 1 Pick 22

Jeremy Roy, D, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

After adding Eichel earlier, Mac T needs to build the back end of this team. Adding Roy to Klefbom and Nurse puts the D core closer to completion. A smart offensive defensemen producing just below one point per game.  Edmonton should believe that Roy can become the player that they hoped Schultz would be.

23. Arizona (from Chicago) (David) – Daniel Sprong, RW, Charlottetown (QMJHL)

24. Buffalo (from NY Islanders) (Benoit) – Jansen Harkins, C, Prince George (WHL)

25. Philadelphia (from Tampa Bay) (Ryan) – Jeremy Bracco, C/RW – USNTDP (USHL)

Toronto Maple Leafs Rd 1 Pick 26

Anthony Beauviller, LW/C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)

Beauviller is an extremely productive player (42G, 93P / 65GP). Known as a leader on and off the ice he comes from good hockey blood lines his brother (Francis Beauviller, 6th round 2012, Florida) was also drafted.  If and when Toronto cleans house, Beauviller will help restock the offensive cabinet.  Size is the only thing keeping Beauviller from going higher in the draft. One person I spoke with believes this is the most underrated player in the 2015 draft.

27. Winnipeg (from St. Louis via Buffalo) (David) – Brandon Carlo, D, Tri City (WHL)

28. Montreal (Benoit) – Colin White, RW, USNTDP (USHL)

29. Anaheim (Ryan) – Brock Boeser, RW, Waterloo (USHL)

Tampa Bay Lightning (from NY Rangers) Rd 1 Pick 30

Jacob Larsson, D, Frolunda Jr (SWE Jr)

With the top two lines set for the foreseeable future a top four defensemen to go with Coburn and Hedman will make the Lightning tough to beat in the years to come. A big body and mobile player. Larsson is effective at both ends of the ice.  A great first pass will get the puck to the high octane Lightning forwards quickly.

Second Round

1. Buffalo (David) – Filip Chlapik, C, Charlottetown (QMJHL)

2. Edmonton (Benoit) – Jake DeBrusk, LW, Swift Current (WHL)

3. Arizona (Ryan) – Matthew Spencer, D, Peterborough (OHL)

Columbus Blue Jackets (from Toronto via Los Angeles) Rd 2 Pick 4

Thomas Novak, C, Waterloo (USHL)

The 29th ranked skater by Central Scouting, this is good value pick for the Blue Jackets. A 200 foot player with high offensive skill. Average size but the Jackets can afford to add a smaller sized player.

5. Carolina (David) – Nicholas Meloche, D, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)

6. Columbus (Benoit) – Jens Looke, RW, Brynas (SHL)

7. New Jersey (Ryan) – Dennis Yan, LW, Shawinigan (QMJHL)

Boston Bruins (from Philadelphia via NY Islanders) Rd 2 Pick 8

Jordan Greenway, LW, USA-U18 (USHL)

An old school Bruins-style player. He is big athletic and can run through anyone. Bruin fans will like Greenway. He will be a bit of a project but his ceiling is high. He has all the skills to go along with the size to become a power forward.

9. Ottawa (from Dallas) (David) – Mitchell Vande Sompel, D, Oshawa (OHL)

10. Colorado (Benoit) – Blake Speers, RW, Sault Ste Maire (OHL)

11. New Jersey (from Florida) (Ryan) – Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C, Omaha (USHL)

San Jose Sharks Rd 2 Pick 12

Andrew Mangiapane, RW/LW, Barrie (OHL)

Undrafted and undersized going into the OHL, he has overcome disbelief and doubt to produce 102 points so far for the Colts. The Sharks can afford to be patient with Mangiapane. This may be a bit of a reach based on CSS rankings, however there is something that says he will be an NHL player.

13. Ottawa (David) – Adam Musil, C, Red Deer (WHL)

14. Los Angeles (from Los Angeles via Buffalo) (Benoit) – Ryan Pilon, D, Brandon (WHL)

15. Winnipeg (Ryan) – Jack Roslovic, C, USNTDP (USHL)

Calgary Flames Rd2 Pick 16

Nikita Korostelev, RW, Sarnia (OHL)

A pure sniper to play with Bennett or Monahan. Korostelev has come over from Russia to play in the CHL and is still adjusting. He is a big fast skater who can drive the net or stick handle around defenders. Biggest issue with Korostelev is consistency.

17. Tampa Bay (from Boston) (David) – Erik Cernak, D, Kosice (Slovakia)

18. Calgary (from Vancouver) (Benoit)  – Travis Dermott, D, Erie (OHL)

19. Minnesota (Ryan) – Mackenzie Blackwood, G, Barrie (OHL)

Calgary Flames Rd 2 Pick 20

Filip Ahl, LW, HV71 Jr (SWE Jr)

Was thinking Blackwood here but Minnesota (Ryan) selected him. A big forward with capable speed and good mobility. Along with Korostelev (Rd 2) and Bittner (RD 1) the Flames will add at least one top 6 forward and possibly two. Ahl has a big shot and could be a nice trigger man alongside a playmaker like Bennett.

21. Dallas (from Detroit) (David) – Roope Hintz, LW, Ilves (Liiga)

22. Pittsburgh (Benoit) – Gabriel Gagne, RW, Victoriaville (QMJHL)

23. Philadelphia (from Chicago) (Ryan) – Vince Dunn, D, Niagara (OHL)

Chicago Blackhawks (compensation for not signing Kevin Hayes) Rd 2 Pick 24

Parker Wotherspoon, D, Tri City (WHL)

Aside from having a great name, Wotherspoon will fit right in with the Blackhawks possession style game. Not a physical presence on the ice, but makes up for it with high level skating and speed. The Blackhawks have never shied away from smaller defenders in the past as Keith, Leddy, and the recent addition of Kimmo Timonen are all examples of what Wotherspoon’s upside is.

25. Buffalo (from NY Islanders) (David) – Guillaume Brisebois, D, Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL)

26. NY Rangers (from Tampa Bay) (Benoit) – Zachary Senyshyn, RW, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

27. Nashville (Ryan) – Austin Wagner, LW, Regina (WHL)

St. Louis Blues Rd 2 Pick 28

Nicholas Roy, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL

The 25th ranked North American skater by NHL CSS this could be a big steal for the Blues.

Roy will most likely fit into a bottom six role in the NHL. He is smart in the defensive zone and plays a strong physical game. A nice addition to this defensively minded team.

29. Edmonton (from Montreal) (David) – Graham Knott, LW, Niagara (OHL)

30. Columbus (from Anaheim) (Benoit)- Ryan Gropp, LW, Seattle (WHL)

31. Arizona (from NY Rangers) (Ryan) – Alexander Dergachyov, C, SKA St. Petersburg2 (Rus 2)

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