Final Hockey Prospectus 2015 Mock Draft
A few minor notes before the mock fun begins.
– This mock is not simply a reading of our final draft draft. For that, click here.
– I have more confidence in the order of the players than I do of which teams will end up making the selections. In other words, I expect picks to be traded on the draft floor.
– The mock is mostly based off a combination of the drafting tendencies of the team decision makers (for more, see Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central, and Pacific) leavened by our master board and a few tidbits the Hockey Prospectus prospect team has unearthed over the season.
Without further ado….
1) Edmonton Oilers
Connor McDavid, C, Erie Otters (OHL)
As much as I tried, I could not find a single reason to overthink this. Tendencies, shmendencies. McDavid is coroneted this Friday evening.
2) Buffalo Sabres
Jack Eichel, C, Boston University (HE)
Once again, I tried, but no amount of overthinking will undo this one either. It doesn’t matter one whit that none of Tim Murray, Kevin Devine or Greg Royce are in the habit of using high draft picks on NCAA players. This one is etched in granite. And this is the last pick of which I am sure will not be dealt. Speculation can now begin.
3) Arizona Coyotes
Dylan Strome, C, Erie Otters (OHL)
This one could very easily have gone in the direction of Mitchell Marner, but a lingering question of whether or not he can be a center at the next level pushes the Coyotes to Strome. A true center would be a better fit for the Arizona system.
4) Toronto Maple Leafs
Mitchell Marner, C, London Knights (OHL)
Toronto has stocked the front office with veterans of the OHL trenches and that helps sway this pick away from Hanifin or Provorov and onto the electric forward from London. A native of the Toronto suburbs, Marner was a draft pick of the Leafs new Director of Player Personnel. Then again, that’s more fun fact than kismet. When Mark Hunter drafted Marner, 18 other 15 year olds were already off the board. Nonetheless, he will not hesitate to call on his former pupil.
5) Carolina Hurricanes
Noah Hanifin, D, Boston College (HE)
The Hurricanes have not traditionally shied away from drafting collegians, and with three current prospects playing in Hockey East, they would have had chances to receive reports from other members of the player evaluation department on this speedy and smart two way defenceman. It also doesn’t take much to imagine Hanifin lining up on the first pairing beside Justin Faulk.
6) New Jersey Devils
Mathew Barzal, C, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)
After years of drafting defensively minded players, the Devils will shift gears in their first draft in the post-Lamoriello era. Barzal would be the most offensively skilled Devils prospect perhaps since Scott Gomez.
7) Philadelphia Flyers
Kyle Connor, LW, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
It has been a few years since the Flyers drafted out of the USHL, but they have gone to that loop many times in the past. Connor is a high end winger who could easily find himself part of the first line in two years’ time.
8) Columbus Blue Jackets
Ivan Provorov, D, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Not only is the bruising Russian blueliner the top player on our draft board, but he also fills an organizational need for the Blue Jackets. Provorov excelled from the start of the season to its end, which for him was in the WHL finals. The Blue Jackets would also have an inside scoop on his personality, seeing as how his Brandon teammate Peter Quenneville is a Columbus prospect.
9) San Jose Sharks
Zack Werenski, D, Michigan (Big 10)
The Sharks should also be considering Finnish winger Mikko Rantanen highly, but Werenski will take the cake here. For a team that likely sees its exclusion from the 2015 playoffs as a fluke, Werenski might be closer to the NHL, which tips the scales in favor of the mobile, two-way collegiate blueliner.
10) Colorado Avalanche
Lawson Crouse, LW, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Not the best player on the board, but there is reason to believe that there is considerable as-yet-untapped upside on Crouse, who demonstrated at the last WJC that he can play above his age group. This pick also fits the Avalanche recent focus on North American players with both physical tools and size.
11) Florida Panthers
Mikko Rantanen, RW, TPS (Liiga)
The Panthers should be very pleased to see the mature frames Finn still on the board. It should be easy to envision future chemistry between Rantanen and burgeoning center Aleksander Barkov.
12) Dallas Stars
Nick Merkley, RW, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
A 200-foot player who can play both special teams and demonstrates sublime creativity with regularity, Merkley gave his draft stock a little bump with a fantastic Memorial Cup series. He fits the mold as a player who should help Dallas drive possession going forward.
13) Los Angeles Kings
Pavel Zacha, C, Sarnia Sting (OHL)
When drafting early, the Kings like them big and they like them playing in Ontario. Zacha fits on both accounts, and like Lawson Crouse, has some untapped potential which could see his scoring rates explode next year for Sarnia.
14) Boston Bruins
Timo Meier, RW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
With new GM Don Sweeney openly talking about the need to get the Bruins playing big hockey again Meier offers the best of both worlds, with power forward strength and top six offensive instinct and skill. Time and again, he has proven that he can elevate his game when playing with elite level players and he will get that chance in short order with the Bruins.
15) Calgary Flames
Thomas Chabot, D, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
A fleet of foot defender would have a relatively clear path to an NHL role with Calgary. He needs some more time to hone his instincts, but the upside is rather large.
16) Edmonton Oilers
Jakub Zboril, D, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
It is merely coincidence that Zboril is taken immediately after his partner in crime. Also that both Sea Dogs defenders end up in Alberta. The Czech import has the tools and skills to be a do-it-all blueliner at the next level.
17) Winnipeg Jets
Travis Konecny, C, Ottawa 67s (OHL)
Undersized, but with big time skills and a tremendous motor, Winnipeg will be happy to see Konecny on the board at this slot. For a smaller player, he also plays a very gutsy physical game.
18) Ottawa Senators
Oliver Kylington, D, Farjestad (SHL)
It is almost caliche to pair a prospect with a team who already has a player cut from a similar cloth. So, yes, Kylington has some of an Erik Karlsson starter kit in him, but to leave it at that does a disservice to both players. Kylington had a rough season with injuries and being shuttled between multiple teams, but the skills have not left him. He is one of the fastest skaters in the draft and plays a mature game.
19) Detroit Red Wings
Joel Eriksson Ek, C, Farjestad (SHL)
Again, only a coincidence that sees two amateur teammates chosen with back to back picks. The Red Wings like Swedish players and they like puck driving 200 foot players. Eriksson Ek fits on all accounts. A strong WU18 capped an impressive season.
20) Minnesota Wild
Evgeny Svechnikov, LW, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
The Russian import blends some of the qualities of both power forwards and skill forwards into his lanky frame. He will compliment last year’s first rounder, Alex Tuch, quite nicely.
21) Buffalo Sabres
Jeremy Roy, D, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
A smart and mobile two-way defender, Roy is closer to NHL-ready than many of the players who will be chosen at this phase of the draft. If he were two inches taller, he would have been selected five-seven spots higher.
22) Washington Capitals
Brock Boeser, RW, Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)
The Capitals like to use their first round picks on players with puck skills. Tying for the USHL lead with 35 goals proves that Boeser has just that. The goal scorer will continue his development next year at the University of North Dakota.
23) Vancouver Canucks
Jansen Harkins, C Prince George Cougars (WHL)
Vancouver will continue their recent trend of focusing on two-way forwards with Harkins, who also doubles here as the best player still on the board. Don’t be fooled by his relatively pedestrian numbers. No one else on his WHL team came within 10 points of Harkins’ 79.
24) Toronto Maple Leafs
Jake DeBrusk, LW, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
The Leafs may have preferred that one of the QMJHL defenders remained on the board for this pick, but will have nothing to complain about with this 40-goal scorer. DeBrusk has a strong possession game that will fit the style slowly being built in Toronto.
25) Winnipeg Jets
Paul Bittner, RW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
A mini run on WHL forwards continues with Bittner, adding size and a hard shot to their earlier pick of Konecny, who brought other attributes to the table. The Jets would be very familiar with Bittner as his teammates Nic Petan and Chase De Leo are both fellow Jets prospects.
26) Montreal Canadiens
Daniel Sprong, RW, Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
While the defensive game leaves some to be desired, Sprong is the most electrifying offensive player still on the board. Sprong’s first exposure to Canada (he grew up in the Netherlands) was to a community not far from Montreal. His first exposure to the NHL will be with the Canadiens.
27) Anaheim Ducks
Colin White, C, USNTDP (USHL)
Although the Ducks are more accustomed to taking a CHL prospect with their first round picks, there is a sizable enough gap in talent between White and the best remaining Canada-based junior that the responsible C from the development program will do just fine.
28) Tampa Bay Lightning
Anthony Beauvillier, LW, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Perhaps the best producing player still on the board, the Lighting will not be turned off by his below average size. One of the younger players in the draft, Beauvillier has room to grow both physically and as a player.
29) Philadelphia Flyers
Jeremy Bracco, RW, USNTDP (USHL)
Some may have soured on his attitude, but the Flyers may have just stolen the most talented player selected in the back half of the first round. Between he and Kyle Connor, the Flyers have done this year for their offensive game what they did for the blueline over the previous two years with Samuel Morin and Travis Sanheim.
30) Arizona Coyotes
Mitchell Vande Sompel, D, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
In Vande Sompel, the Coyotes are drafting a player known very well to their Assistant Director of Amateur Scouting Jeff Twohey, who drafted him and watched him develop into a player much bigger than his listed height and weight as former GM of the Generals. Vande Sompel is a very versatile blueliner who is responsible in his own end and exciting on the point.