Just 4 more days! It really is setting up to be one of the most intriguing drafts we’ve ever seen. Potential for a lot of trades (although you can’t buy the hype, expect none), this is a draft that because of it’s depth has a chance to tansform teams, and of course the 2 elite talents at the top.
Not a lot of change from the 3rd addition to this 4th addition. Added to some of the write up’s, didn’t change a lot of them though. At this point it is just about keeping things updated but I feel good about the spots I have most of these guys going.
As always, a little insight to how I look at things. I’m looking at what teams have 25-27 and under in their organization. I look at need and not just the BPA (best player available) these days as do most teams because it is getting more and more difficult to make trades in the NHL. Also I try and look for patterns with teams and their past 4 or 5 drafts. Do they go CHL heavy? Do they love the NCAA/USHL kids? Maybe they’re head over heals for Europeans?
Remember, just because McKenzie or Redline report or ISS or CSS have one guy ranked higher than another doesn’t mean that he is the BPA for that particular team. This is why they have their own scouting staffs people. Ok, so that’s my little pre game speech that I’ve used for all 4 mocks thus far, maybe I’ll be a little more creative with my last one on Friday. Doubt it though.
1. Connor McDavid Erie OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0.75 Wt: 195 Shot: L
Comparison: Joe Sakic
This is getting boring. We all know that the first near half an hour of the actual draft is pointless. He has a chance to be a legend. And it is very odd saying this, but the Oilers have done a great job bringing in the right people to ensure this kid gets the most out of his abilities. Sid started out with Ed Olczyk as his head coach. Great analyst, seems like a great guy, bad coach. Toews had Dennis Savard. Stamkos had BARRY MELROSE. So he’s in better hands than most of these guys have been. Couple that with all the young talent the Oilers have amassed from years of complete humiliation, he really is coming into a fantastic situation.
Other Options: None
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 196 Shot: R
Comparison: Mike Modano
What else can you say about Eichel either? I have to think he would be the top pick any other year since Crosby. Potentially better than Tavares, MacKinnon, probably going to be better all around than Stamkos, he has all the tools to be an elite player as well. The Sabres future is so damn bright.
Other Options: None
3. Dylan Strome Erie OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: Niklas Backstrom
This is where the draft gets interesting. I say Strome because while they have gone forward a lot lately, it’s been wingers not center’s. I am taking the idea of a trade with the Leafs off the board now though. Elliotte Friedman said on Friday that internally the Leafs have accepted that they’ll be picking 4th and are focusing on that. And frankly it is far and away the right move. I don’t usually say this about a kid this high but I think there is real potential here for Strome to be a bust. Foot speed is a big issue, and again I’ll harp on the fact that he went nuts about winning the OHL scoring title, and then did next to nothing in the playoffs. I’m not a fan. Having said all this, I completely understand the attraction, and it’s a lot more likely that he becomes at least a 2nd line center than busts.
Other Options: Noah Hanifin, Ivan Provorov
4. Ivan Provorov Brandon WHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 201 Shot: L
Comparison: Hampus Lindholm
I’m going to stick with this pick despite being a big Hanifin fan, and being told that the Leafs really love Marner. Who do you prefer, Provorov or Hanifin? That’ll be the big question. Hanifin has the bigger upside thanks to his skating, Provorov is more polished. The Leafs still haven’t brought in Kelly McCrimmon, yet I haven’t heard that he isn’t going to Toronto. Would they possibly trade back to take a kid like Matt Barzal and recoup the 2nd rounder they lost in the Jonathan Bernier trade? Babcock says they want more picks. Something to watch. In my mind, as great as Marner is he’s a luxury pick. This house needs a foundation before it needs an 80 inch 4K TV. If they are serious about this being a full on rebuild, this is the perfect time to ensure their blueline is set instead of going the “Oiler” route of stockpiling wingers.
Other Options: Noah Hanifin, Mitch Marner
5. Noah Hanifin Boston College NCAA
Pos: D Ht: 6’2.75 Wt: 203 Shot: L
Comparison: Scott Niedermayer
Just like last year I really believe Ron Francis understands how desperate this organization is for defensemen. Ryan Murphy isn’t an answer, neither is Justin Faulk, and Haydn Fleury didn’t really look like an answer this year either. But Hanifin is, and Provorov is, and should they prefer him Zach Werenski is. They are really good up front, and those guys need a back end to enhance their skills.
Other Options: Zach Werenski, Mitch Marner
Pos: C Ht: 5’11.25 Wt: 175 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Might be surprised, but I’m not moving off this pick either! Some people have opened my eyes to the fact that they don’t have the center that every team needs. Marner is still on the board, but Ray Shero won in Pittsburgh with great strength down the middle. So I’ll suggest they pass on the perceived BPA and take Barzal who is the best center on the board. He has shot back up everyone’s list after his U 18’s. Also watch for a trade down, as they only own 5 picks in this draft.
Other Options: Mitch Marner
7. Mitch Marner London OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 160 Shot: R
Comparison: Patrick Kane
What a gift this would be for the Flyers! Maybe this is just me and the way I would pick for these teams, but I have to think teams will realize some day that they have to put more stock into center’s and D-men than wingers. The Flyers re-stocked the cupboard on D, they’ve been set down the middle for a while now, so they could use a dynamic winger and Marner is that exact guy. This is just simply a no brainer for the Flayers. Now, IF the Leafs go with Marner at 4, I don’t believe this will change much. Hanifin or Provorov still goes 5 in my opinion, and then the other D-man falls here. And while I like what the Flyers have done of late addressing their D, a kid like that would be too good to pass up.
Other Options: Mikko Rantanen, Lawson Crouse
8. Zach Werenski Michigan NCAA
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 206 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Whitney
If the draft breaks this way, the Blue Jackets job is pretty easy. But they have proven to be a BPA team. They went with all forwards in 2013 with their three 1st rounders, and last year it seemed like D was the way to go and they took Sonny Milano. They’re a candidate to trade up as they own three 2nd round picks, two 3rd’s, two 5th’s and two 7th’s (although no 4th). One of Provorov or Hanifin is available at 6, a deal between the Jackets and Devils makes too much sense. Jarmo Kekalainen acknowledged Saturday the need for D in the organization, more so now that they’ve lost Mike Reilly. A lot of people have them taking Rantanan here likely because of the Finnish connection, but Werenski is the higher ranked prospect by most and they just have to start addressing the backend. Who is Kerby Rychel going to fetch in a trade? Teams are trading less and less, and even more so trading D-men. The value in them has never been higher, so you have to take a high end one while you can.
Other Options: Mikko Rantanan, Pavel Zacha
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 210 Shot: L
Comparison: Tuomo Ruutu
I THINK they’re a candidate to trade back, possibly with the Flames and as I’ve said before Travis Konency could be the target because of Doug Wilson’s ties to the Ottawa 67’s. But I don’t do trade back’s so I’ll have them taking Zacha who is a center but again I’ll state I see him as a winger simply because he is a shoot first guy. The comparison is Ruutu, but another guy he’ll remind many of in terms of style of play is Jeremy Roenick. Loves to score, loves to be physical.
Other Options: Mikko Rantanen, Lawson Crouse
10. Lawson Crouse Kingston OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 215 Shot: L
Comparison: Andrew Ladd
They’re in a terrible position to take a D-man if things break like this. They’re whole system is bad but let’s be real here they’re pretty stocked up front moving forward. I would trade up, trade back or simply reach for a D-man here, but I fear they’ll just go with another forward and fail to address their problem, not that I don’t LOVE Crouse because I do. And if they can’t go D, they love character kids which is what Crouse is all about. Side note, this team has only selected CHL players in the first 3 rounds of the draft since 2007.
Other Options: Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Roy
11. Mikko Rantanen TPS SM LIGA
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3.5 Wt: 211 Shot: L
Comparison: Marian Hossa
This will be a forward, I have very little doubt about that. And I’m guessing a winger although in my mind you can never have too many center’s in the system. Rantanen has the makings of a great all around winger and obviously because he’s a Fin people will believe he’s a perfect fit with Sasha Barkov.
Other Options: Kyle Connor, Travis Konecny
12. Timo Meier Halifax QMJHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 209 Shot: L
Comparison: Loui Eriksson
The Stars don’t seem to like the American system. Just one Collegiate/USHL player in the last 3 drafts. 2012 7th rounder, Russian Dimitry Sinitsyn who bolted to the Regina Pats the next season. But they love size, they love speed, and so they’ll love Meier. I’ll be honest, I REALLY want to put Eriksson Ek here. I think center is the need, Connor is ranked right around here by most but as I say they don’t seem to like kids out of the American system. I could easily see Eriksson Ek going here, but I’ll stick with Meier.
Other Options: Joel Eriksson Ek, Kyle Connor
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 177 Shot: L
Comparison: Kyle Turris
I would be shocked if this isn’t a center. They have won with strength down the middle, they are getting weak down the middle with Richards done, Stoll likely gone, Carter entering the back 9 of his career and Kopitar an impending UFA (although I’m pretty positive a big extension is coming there). Nick Shore is their best center in the system. Sorry Nick, but you aren’t the answer. Kyle Connor might be.
Other Options: Joel Eriksson Ek, Colin White
Pos: D Ht: 6’0.75 Wt: 184 Shot: L
Comparison: Sergei Gonchar
I’ve had a tough time with this pick as I believe they have a big need both at center and on D. But yet they got guys coming in both positions who are wildcards. I THINK they like Ryan Spooner better than Joe Morrow, so with that being said I went with Zboril, but you can make a great case for local kid Colin White being the way to go here too. Tough to get a read on what their scouts prefer, even more so now with Sweeney in charge and Chiarelli out. From 2010-2012 with their top 3 picks in each draft, they went outside the OHL once. The last 2 years, with 11 picks they have only selected 1 CHL player. So there is no pattern.
Other Options: Colin White, Travis Konecny
Pos: RW Ht: 5’9.75 Wt: 175 Shot: R
Comparison: Zach Parise
I can’t see them not trading up. Three 2nd round picks to play with, but do you use them with 15 to move up, or package them together and get another 1st? I really believe a D-man ends up being the want here as the system is lacking that young stud on D. But with Zboril having just gone, you would be reaching a bit here taking Jeremy Roy, or Thomas Chabot, or Brandon Carlo. Konecny doesn’t give them anything they don’t already have, but he is their kind of player.
Other Options: Nick Merkley, Jeremy Roy
16. Jeremy Roy Sherbrooke QMJHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 188 Shot: R
Comparison: Dan Boyle
I said last time that I saw one scenario where the Oilers use this pick. Now, I fully believe they’ll use it because you simply cannot buy the hype that goes on this time of year. As years go on, GM’s get more and more terrified to make deals. Friday it came out that the Blackhawks want a 1st AND a top 6 forward still on his ELC. Insane, nobody is ever going to give EITHER of those assets for a fading Sharp. So I believe they take Roy who is rated high by most services, yet Bob McKenzie’s list has him at 29. But the Oilers scouts have been heavily scouting the QMJHL this season, have a need for a RH shot D-man, and have a need for a PP QB. As for the other options here, I could really see Samsonov and Chiarelli is big on having the goaltending cupboard stocked. Eriksson Ek I put as the other option because Bob Stauffer is asking a lot about him and I just wonder if he was told something about the Oilers really liking him. He’s a center, but you can always move a center to the wing, or trade a current center who will have a lot more value for a major need…
Other Options: Ilya Samsonov, Joel Eriksson Ek
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 183 Shot: R
Comparison: Patrice Bergeron
I had this pick last time and feel no need to change it. It is quite clear now that White’s season got derailed by mono, and once healthy at the U 18’s he was phenomenal so he’ll be a top 20 pick, if not higher. I feel like the only real need in the Jets system is down the middle, but if they like someone better than White they won’t hesitate to take him no matter where we all have that guy ranked. In 2011 they seemingly reached for Scheifele, and again in 2013 for Morrissey. As I said last time, they don’t like going outside North America (only 2 of 30 picks made by Kevin Cheveldayoff have been Europeans). Also with two 1st’s and a loaded system they are a serious candidate to trade up.
Other Options: Joel Eriksson Ek, Jansen Harkins
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10.5 Wt: 191 Shot: R
Comparison: Jiri Hudler
So last time around I had Svechnikov going here. But it exposed that I didn’t give more thought to the Sens recent draft history, or team style. They aren’t big on the Q, and they aren’t big on Russians. So while that might be the type they’re looking for, the region and nationality of the player doesn’t at all. So he’s out, and I’m putting Merkley all the way up here from 24. I’m not a huge fan because he doesn’t skate well enough in my opinion to justify his size. Having said that I completely understand teams that love his intangibles and that is a big trait for Bryan Murray. We all rave about the fight the Flames showed this season, well for 3 of the last 4 seasons the Sens have been that team in the East. Merkley will fit PERFECTLY with the culture the Sens have built. Ideally, they want a D-man, but it might be a reach here. Also Craig Button brought up a fair point with Jason Gregor on Friday in that some teams in the 1st round might pass on D like Roy, Chabot, and Kylington simply because there are a lot of similar guys to them available later on (Jacob Larsson, Travis Dermott, Vince Dunn, Noah Juulsen, Erik Cernak, etc).
Other Options: Joel Eriksson Ek, Thomas Chabot
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 180 Shot: L
Comparison: Derek Stepan
When a team has great success picking from a region, why wouldn’t they continue to go to that well? But more so this is about taking that potential number 1 center Mike Babcock said they lack. Is Eriksson Ek a number 1? I can’t answer that, but I can tell you this kid has ROCKETED up the boards in the 2nd half. If they go with the biggest need however it is on D. They took Dylan Larkin last year, have Riley Sheahan, so they’re OK moving forward at center, but they could definitely use more. And with their track record of getting guys later on, they’re the one organization who could go D with picks 73, 110, and 140 and likely hit a home run with one. That’s another discussion though. They don’t have a 2nd and aren’t afraid to trade back so perhaps this is where a Calgary or Columbus flex their 2nd round muscle so to speak.
Other Options: Jansen Harkins, Oliver Kylington
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.25 Wt: 182 Shot: L
Comparison: David Krecji
I don’t feel a need to change this pick. Would Samsonov be on their radar? He might. But the way I see it is center is the biggest need moving forward for them. Nothing really in the system, and by the time Harkins is ready to play Koivu is going to be 34 or 35, not to mention they’re still waiting for Mikael Granlund to take off…and stay healthy for a full season.
Other Options: Ilya Samsonov, Paul Bittner
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 199 Shot: L
Comparison: Alexander Semin
One of the very few picks I’ve changed from last time. But Samsonov being signed to a 3 year deal, while it wouldn’t scare me off at all, it probably will…not scare GM’s off, but knock him down to an early 2nd rounder for GM’s. Zach Fucale was probably more well thought of 2 years ago, and didn’t go until the 36th pick. I do think Samsonov is better though. Bigger and quicker. Anyway, Svechnikov. A ton of talent here and my thinking is that Tim Murray will want to surround him with high end wingers to enhance Jack Eichel’s talents. Also, I don’t get too picky with sides, but Svechnikov does play the right side despite being a LH shot. Kane, Ennis and Moulson to a lesser extent (because he’s older) are going to play the left side. Maybe they keep Ennis in the middle and put Sam Reinhart (RH shot) on the wing, but I believe Reinhart will be an elite 2nd line center.
Other Options: Thomas Chabot, Brandon Carlo
Pos: D Ht: 6’5 Wt: 196 Shot: R
Comparison: Jonathan Ericsson
They have to go D here in my mind. It is just too damn tough to trade wingers for quality D-men and that is basically the only trade chips the Caps have. And they have only taken 1 player out of the Q since 2006, so that to me eliminates Thomas Chabot as a candidate, so welcome to the Brandon Carlo era Caps fans! This is a team that loves to go BPA, but I can see it catching up with them. However, neither Carlo or Chabot would be reaches here. As for the theory of waiting until the 2nd to take a D-man, well they can’t unless they swing a trade because they wasted their’s on a fading Curtis Glencross at the trade deadline.
Other Options: Thomas Chabot, Denis Guryanov
23. Thomas Chabot Saint John QMJHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’1.5 Wt: 180 Shot: L
Comparison: T.J. Brodie
Much like the Caps picking before them, they shouldn’t pass up taking a D-man after so many forward selections in the 1st round the last 10 years. They need to stock the cupboard on D, especially with Kevin Bieksa on the back 9 in his career and Dan Hamhuis entering the final year of his contract. And like the Caps, they don’t have a 2nd (at least not at the moment, they are shopping Eddie Lack for one). So with all that said, Chabot ends up being their guy. He can fly and will have decent size once he fills out.
Other Options: Jake Debrusk, Paul Bittner
24. Jake Debrusk Swift Current WHL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11.75 Wt: 174 Shot: L
Comparison: T.J. Oshie
Here will be the argument for the Leafs taking Marner at 4 is that they can get a D-man here. The problem here, is that the D they potentially take here isn’t likely to be ready for 3 or 4 years, where Provorov or Hanifin can step in next year or at worst in 2017. In both scenario’s there isn’t a center around that makes sense to take. And again, trading back here might make sense as they don’t have a 2nd round pick and we know they want to stockpile picks. But I like Debrusk here because much like Merkley the last time around I believe Debrusk fits the Babcock mold of having a very high compete level and potentially a player you can use in any situation. He plays a gritty game in that he goes to all the difficult area’s on the ice, but again I’ll stress that while he’ll drop the gloves he is far from his dad.
Other Options: Brock Boeser, Paul Bittner
25. Paul Bittner Portland WHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 204 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Malone
“This is a Winnipeg Jets player”. That’s what they’ll say if they take Bittner. Last year I talked a lot about how the Kings and Bruins have a type. And the thinking here is the exact same as that, as it was 10 picks earlier for the Flames. They have a type of guy they’re successful with right now so why stop getting those guys? Big kid, good skater which is what this team has a lot of but nobody can ever have too many of them.
Other Options: Brock Boeser, Zach Senyshyn
26. Brock Boeser Waterloo USHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 191 Shot: R
Comparison: David Booth
I would go center if I were the Habs, but in this scenario they can’t. No center is worth taking here, although if they love a guy then they’ll have to as they don’t have their 2nd. D? Grit on the wings? Size on the wings? Boeser brings grit and some ok size on the wings as well as an ability to score in multiple ways. I thought hard about Oliver Kylington here, but he has dropped all season and I just don’t know if he ends up going in the 1st round.
Other Options: Jacob Larsson, Oliver Kylington
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 192 Shot: R
Comparison: Adam Deadmarsh
Just like the Habs, they need a center. I get that they have drafted so well, but they have been thin in the organization down the middle for a while now. What if Ryan Kesler walks next summer? And this isn’t a cap team. Yet in this scenario, they would be reaching pretty bad to get one. So who else? I like the idea of Denis Gurianov, but they have stayed away from Russians. Last time this answer was Sprong, but he doesn’t have the jam that the Ducks love. Senyshyn does. Didn’t get to play a lot last year, but most believe once he gets the chance to this upcoming season that his game will really take off. Potential to be a damn good power forward.
Other Options: Denis Guryanov, Filip Chlapik
28. Denis Guryanov Togilatti 2 MHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 183
Comparison: Patrick Marleau
Is it Gurianov or Guryanov? I’ve seen both. So Tampa is loaded up and down the roster and the scary thought is they are simply HORRIBLE with their top picks! 2010, Brett Connolly over Cam Fowler (not hindsight, was stupid in the moment). 2012, Slater Koekkoek over Filip Forsberg who was supposed to be a top 5 pick and slid to 11 (they picked Koekkoek 10th). And my favorite was 2013 when they got another gift in Seth Jones falling to 3. Absolutely PERFECT fit to play beside Victor Hedman and they really needed D…and they took a guy in Jonathan Drouin who they had a boat load of already, all of whom are played ahead of him during the playoffs. I’m not as big on BPA as others are because I feel like it’s so subjective and I view most of these players as being in tiers. But this is the perfect example of how if a great prospect falls to you, TAKE HIM!!! ANYWAY, last time I said Jacob Larsson who is just a very steady, smart, safe D-man. But they love Russians, they love wingers, so why should I believe they’ll go away from that? Guryanov falls to them here, which is also something they clearly don’t like, but he feels like their kind of kid.
Other Options: Jacob Larsson, Ilya Samsonov
Pos: G Ht: 6’4 Wt: 215 Glove: L
Comparison: Mike Smith
This is off the board a bit, it’s a hunch. Elliotte Friedman made mention in his 30 thoughts piece yesterday that they’ll be adding a goaltender or two in the draft, as will the Wild. Samsonov is the BPA, a need, and a want. But they don’t draft Russians and neither did the Kings, which matters because Ron Hextall was a big part of building that powerhouse. And they don’t have their 2nd round pick so they don’t pick again until 61. So while Samsonov is the BPA and BGA (best goalie available), Blackwood fits the fact that they love the OHL and would very likely be gone by 61. I’m probably over thinking it here, but not much separates the kids from 25-40.
Other Options: Ilya Samsonov, Nicolas Meloche
30. Oliver Kylington Farjestad SHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 174 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Murphy
I still don’t feel good about this, but I still do have Kylington going in the 1st round….again, barely. Quite the drop for this kid. Seemed like a sure fire top 10 pick at midseason. All offense in his game and much like Ryan Murphy he tries to play 1 on 5. The Coyotes (whatever town their in by the time he arrives) could be the perfect landing spot for him however. He would learn how to play in his own zone and a structured game for Dave Tippett, otherwise he won’t play for Dave Tippett. Also he would have a fellow Swede D-man named Oliver on the team, so he wouldn’t feel the pressure put on him by Arizona’s fan to be the best Swedish D-man named Oliver on the team.
Other Options: Jacob Larsson, Ilya Samsonov
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