Wagman explains March mock draft picks

First Round

1. Buffalo (Ryan Wagman) – Connor McDavid, C, Erie (OHL)
Without question the top talent in this draft, and seemingly the top talent in the past several drafts. Between his speed, hockey sense and hands, McDavid is a sure-fire first line center that any team can build around for the foreseeable future. Immediately becomes the top talent in the organization and the front runner for the 2015-16 Calder Trophy.

2. Edmonton (Craig Smith) – Jack Eichel, C, Boston University (HE)

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)
An electrifying player who models his game after that of Patrick Kane. High level stick work and elusiveness. Marner is also rare among top talents in that his effort on the backcheck is notable for its intensity. Lack of present size may keep him out of the NHL for another year, but his native skill level makes gives him a first line ceiling.

6. Columbus (Craig) – Ivan Provorov, D, Brandon (WHL)

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)
Big man is a bull in the offensive zone who also doesn’t lack for appreciable skills. He can skate through checks, dangle and weave and owns a powerful wrist shot which will be a weapon at the next level. Played well against men in Finland after a star turn at the WJC.

10. Colorado (Craig) – Jakub Zboril, D, Saint John (QMJHL)

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)
An excellent stickhandler and plus skater who could be an exciting offensive contributor at the NHL. Connor has a good sized frame and is a plus passer. May be more suited as a winger in the professional ranks, although he is used as a center in Youngstown. Passing and shot are also plusses.

14. Los Angeles (pick will go to Carolina if LA makes the playoffs) (Craig) – Travis Konecny, C, Ottawa (OHL)

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

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

17. Boston (Ryan) – Oliver Kylington, D, Farjestad (SHL)
An elite skater with plus offensive instincts and tools, the consensus had Kylington as a likely top five pick entering his draft year. After injuries kept him out of the WJC, the lean blueliner bounced between the top league, second league and Swedish junior ranks this season, although he has produced at all three levels. This pick has the potential to pay off in a large way for the Bruins down the road.

18. Vancouver (Craig) – Thomas Chabot, D, Saint John (QMJHL)

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)
An often electrifying player in the offensive zone, Merkley fits the Red Wings modus operandi, in that he has simply put up the points in spite of lacking the ideal hockey player’s body. Merkley is a high end playmaker who has contributed nearly one assist per game for Kelowna in his draft year, finishing third in the WHL.

22. Edmonton (from Pittsburgh) (Craig) – Jeremy Roy, D, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

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)
A portfolio pick for the Flyers. After going with the big forward in the top ten (Crouse), Bracco is the “swing-for-the-fences” selection that may end up with the superior production when all is said and done. The undersized Boston College commit has been sensational this season for the USNTDP, leading all draft eligible players in scoring.

26. Toronto (from Nashville) (Craig) – Anthony Beauvillier, LW/C, Shawinigan (QMJHL)

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)
A USHL standout, Boeser is a power forward in training, Boeser still has a chance to finish with the USHL scoring title. He has a good release to his shot and does his best work near the front of the net. He is committed to the University of North Dakota.

30. Tampa Bay (from NY Rangers) (Craig) – Jacob Larsson, D, Frolunda Jr (Swe Jr)

 

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)
Spencer’s claim to draft fame is his first pass. Simply put, it is elite. Sharp and in control, he profiles as a strong puck moving defender at the professional level. The Petes’ rearguard is also a strong defender who covers his gaps well and forces opponents to try to enter his zone on the other side. Not overpower or blessed with plus physical tools. Spencer nonetheless looks like a potential second pairing defender down the road.

4. Columbus (from Toronto via Los Angeles) (Craig) – Thomas Novak, C, Waterloo (USHL)

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)
For a system fairly bereft of scoring talent, Yan moves near the front of the list. A Russian-American dual citizen, the coring Cataractes winger is loaded with physical tools who may just be scratching the surface of his potential, as his hockey playing youth has seen very little stability to date.

8. Boston (from Philadelphia via NY Islanders) (Craig) – Jordan Greenway, LW, USA-U18 (USHL)

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)
While Forsbacka-Karlsson lacks a wow-factor to his game, the Swedish import is an effective two way pivot who profiles well as a second or third pairing center at the highest level. He was one of the top play-makers in the USHL in his draft year.

12. San Jose (Craig) – Andrew Mangiapane, RW/LW, Barrie (OHL)

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)
The Miami Red Hawks commit has seen his name rise up draft boards in the second half of the season, coinciding with a spike in his production level. Known for his high energy play and plus instincts, Roslovic will make a nice addition to what is shaping up to be an excellent farm system for the Winnipeg Jets.

16. Calgary (Craig) – Nikita Korostelev, RW, Sarnia (OHL)

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)
For my money, the top goalie eligible for the 2015 NHL draft. He has the ideal professional goaltending frame as well as top shelf agility and workhorse experience. Consistency is an occasional issue, but that can also be said for most position players at this stage. Blackwood has the ceiling of a starting caliber netminder. 

20. Calgary (from Washington) (Craig) – Filip Ahl, LW, HV71 Jr (Swe Jr)

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)
Dunn has Jake Gardiner upside. And downside. With the puck, he is an exciting player, capable of both creating and supporting the rush. While he is extremely mobile (one of the better skaters among draft eligible blueliners), he has significant strides still to go in order to hone his play in his own end.  A very good high-upside gamble in the late second round.

24. Chicago (compensation for not signing Kevin Hayes) (Craig) – Parker Wotherspoon, D, Tri City (WHL)

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)
While Wagner has not produced as well as many of the other forwards pegged this high in the draft, he has one attribute that few drafted above him do: wheels. Wagner is a blazer. It’s a special attribute and one that the Nashville brass would hope portends to better production down the road.

28. St. Louis (Craig) – Nicholas Roy, C, Chicoutimi (QMJHL)

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)
A huge, two-way winger, Dergachyov has NHLer written all over him. More than just a big body, he plays a very solid two way game with impressive hockey sense and no small amount of skill as well, including impressive top end speed and a strong wrist shot. Assuming that he is interested in leaving Russia, his game would translate very nicely to these shores. 

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