The lottery has concluded and everyone is livid that the Edmonton Oilers have won it…outside of Oiler fans of course. So with the 1st round order being set (from picks 1-14 anyway), it makes for the perfect time to roll out mock draft 2.0!
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 more than 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 copied and pasted from mock draft 1.0 and probably will for mock draft 3.0. Let’s get to it.
1. Connor McDavid Erie OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 187 Shot: L
Comparison: Joe Sakic
Again, Sakic but better if that’s possible. It was lucky, a fluke, whatever you want to call it. The Edmonton Oilers after 9 years of humiliation caught a huge break that looks as though it’ll alter the franchise both on and off the ice. I don’t need to say anything about McDavid, you all know about him. The Oilers aren’t trading this pick, and McDavid is already an Oiler. It just can’t be made official until June 26th. This pick just may take the Oilers from the outhouse to the penthouse combined with the changes now going on in Edmonton.
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 196 Shot: R
Comparison: Mike Modano
I’m sure most of you know the scouting report already. Probably a bit more raw talent than McDavid. Maybe a more explosive skater, better shot, not near the same level of vision and not as defensively polished either. But that’s in comparison to McDavid. He would be the top pick of the draft is just about any other year. But don’t tell Tim Murray all those amazing things. That’s twice now this offseason that he’s acted like a jack ass. He did everything he could to finish 30th (and again, well within his right to do that), was disrespectful to Ted Nolan, and pouted about not getting the top pick. Eichel, Reinhart, and Girgensons down the middle. Hey Tim….as long as you aren’t a complete moron, you got a budding contender on your hands. So chin up bud.
3. Dylan Strome Erie OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 187 Shot: L
Comparison: Niklas Backstrom
No doubt in my mind that if the Coytoes stay at 3 the pick is Strome. BUT…Toronto might be more desperate for that big center than Arizona is. What about this: Edmonton trades Arizona Draisaitl and 16 for Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Then Arizona goes to the Leafs and work out a deal, lets say Jake Gardiner and 4 for 3. That way the Yotes, while losing OEL, would go back to the hotel after day 1 with a potential 1st line center they need, take Hanifin or Provorov at 4, Gardiner can somewhat take over for OEL, save about 2 million, and also take a damn good player at 16. Just a thought I’ve had, maybe one of the Yotes or Leafs don’t want Dylan Strome. Anyway, Strome. He is going to have questions around him basically because he’s had the luxury of being sheltered by McDavid, but he and McDavid hardly ever play together even on the PP. A couple things scare me personally with Strome. One is his skating. Maybe the bigger one as of writing this is how hard he played to win the OHL scoring title, only to be a total dog in the playoffs. To me, that’s a total red flag, although you never know if a guy could be playing injured. Regardless, he has 1st line center potential.
4. Noah Hanifin Boston College NCAA
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 205 Shot: L
Comparison: Scott Niedermayer
This is just my opinion, but the Leafs must resist the lure of taking Mitch Marner who will likely be the fans choice. I understand it. Marner will step right in and he’ll put up big numbers in his career. But remember when the Lightning took Jonathan Drouin over Seth Jones? OOPS!!!!!!!!!! The Leafs have a lot of holes, so you can’t go the “Oilers route” and build around wingers in my mind. Take Hanifin, or if they prefer Ivan Provorov. A D-man is a much more vital piece to the puzzle, and if he’s not working out he’ll have much more trade value. Hanifin I believe has been over scouted a bit this season. Look at the tools. 6’2, 205, amazing/effortless skater, dominant college player despite being a year younger than a normal freshman. This kid has it all to be an elite D-man in the league.
5. Ivan Provorov Brandon WHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 200 Shot: L
Comparison: Hampus Lindholm
In the 2012 draft the big riser was Hampus Lindholm, ironically who I compare with this year’s big riser Ivan Provorov. I usually go to Bob McKenzie’s list to see where he has guys, but we won’t see his final list until the week of the draft. However, I have a strong feeling that Provorov will shoot up from 12 to at least 5, and maybe as high as the 3rd ranked player. He just excels in all area’s. He isn’t as good of a skater as Hanifin is, but he’s a very smooth skater, has a bomb from the point, moves the puck tremendously, walks the line well which will make him a great PP QB, he’s positionally sound, his hockey IQ is very high (as some of you may know when it comes to D-men I personally look to intelligence above all else), and he’s not afraid to get his nose dirty in the corners. I love this kid as a top 5 pick. Before the Oilers won the lottery, he was the guy I was eyeing with the 3rd or 4th pick for them. The Canes would be lucky to get him at 5 as they need to continue to build on the back end. Taking Fleury last year was a good start.
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 164 Shot: R
Comparison: Patrick Kane
If Lou is such a genius, then he’ll start rebuilding his blueline already. Adam Larsson is finally starting to flourish but they still have a long way to go. Eric Gelinas, Jon Merrill, Damon Severson, these are just so-so kids. MAYBE one of them takes a huge step and emerges as a top pairing guy, but you can’t just sit back and expect one of them to. Never can have too many good D-men so start stockpiling them in my opinion. But Mitch Marner might remind Lou of Parise. Marner in this scenario is also likely the BPA. I really like his game and the way I see it is he is the last of the group that makes up the 2nd tier of this draft. So he could go as high as 3, or he could end up here at 6. I don’t see him going any lower though. Supreme skill that measures up to Pat Kane, he has more size than Kane, and is likely a much more mature kid than Kane was at 18. Scary thoughts.
7. Lawson Crouse Kingston OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’3 Wt: 212 Shot: L
Comparison: Dustin Brown
Same pick as last time despite being 2 picks higher. The Flyers could go in a lot of directions here. I’ve harped on how they needed to build up their blueline the last few years. But they have. They could still go with a kid like Zach Werenski here and it would be a good move. Ron Hextall is a lot more of a conservative guy than Bob Clarke and Paul Holmgren were and so that would be more his style. But Hextall also was with the Kings, and the Kings had Dustin Brown who was extremely valuable to their 2 Cups, the 1st in particular. Crouse to me is a lot like Brown, and Brown is a Flyers type of guy. Crouse is a total wildcard for me though. I believe a lot of scouts have overrated him. Upside doesn’t appear to be great, but he brings so many great things to a hockey team that are tough to pass up.
8. Zach Werenski Michigan NCAA
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 214 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Whitney
Tough year for the Jackets. Just too many key injuries to overcome this season. But they still look solid moving forward, however I really think they’re about a year overdue to rebuild their blueline. Had a chance to grab Travis Sanheim last year and took Sonny Milano. So maybe they’re all about just taking the BPA, but I can’t imagine they’re willing to overlook the blueline much longer with how the group on the big club looked so poor this season (with the exception of David Savard) and no help is on the way. Werenski has a real nice all around game and has really shot up the rankings this season. People might scratch their heads at a Ryan Whitney comparison because it’s not flashy, but remember what Whitney was before he got hurt. Really solid at both ends of the ice, leaves people wanting more physically.
Pos: RW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 209 Shot: L
Comparison: Marian Hossa
I could really see Doug Wilson trading back a few spots and taking Travis Konecny like I had last mock draft. That just makes too much sense to me. They have 7 picks in this draft, but only 2 in the top 100. So maybe you trade back with a team like Calgary who have 6 picks in the top 100. Sharks take Konecny at 15, Flames can grab a Werenski or Crouse. But of course I have them both off the board. ANYWAY, the Sharks. After the disaster of last year’s mock drafts I REALLY don’t predict trades now. So the Sharks just stand pat and snag Rantanen who I think is the 2nd best winger in this draft. The Hossa comparison is pretty real. Size, skill, great at protecting the puck, great 200 foot game, not a fluid skater but still generates a lot of speed. Would be a great pick for the Sharks who need a bit of everything in their system.
10. Thomas Chabot Saint John QMJHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 179 Shot: L
Comparison: T.J. Brodie
While they have a great young team, the system is really weak. When this organization starts taking defense seriously (just like Edmonton) they’ll start seriously contending, not just fluking out for a season here or there. The thing that separates them from the Oilers is that their forwards don’t fly the zone and actually want the puck if they don’t have it. But you still need a good blueline. In this scenario, they aren’t in a great spot to get one. Trade up with Jersey? Trade back with Calgary? I wouldn’t just sit there and take the BPA because eventually you have to start molding your team and it is easier to move picks than players in this league. I’m going to guess they do the right thing here and end up with Chabot. Might be trading back to do it, but this kid has shot up draft boards (Craig Button’s in particular). He is a very active D-man, despite not being overly quick. High IQ, good positionally, he would be a good get for the Avs. I don’t care how they go about doing it. Trade up, trade back, reach a little at 10, it doesn’t matter to me. I just want to see these guys start building a blueline.
11. Pavel Zacha Sarnia OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 210 Shot: L
Comparison: Tuomo Ruutu
This kid had a tough season, but when he’s on he brings a style of game to the table that fans will love. I believe he is without question a winger in the NHL, but he played the middle in Sarnia. Would be a great add for the Panthers now that they appear to be set on the blueline and down the middle. And just like last time, I’m cutting this short because nobody really cares about the Panthers.
12. Travis Konecny Ottawa OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 171 Shot: R
Comparison: Zach Parise
Here would be the issue with the Sharks trading back to 15 in hopes of still getting Konecny is that the Stars will likely be sitting on him, if a guy like Rantanen is gone. I was big on the Stars needing more D, but Klinberg emerged this season, Oleksiak is still young, and of course they took Julius Honka in the 1st round last season. I freaking love Konecny. Sure he is small but speedy and fearless. He’s a character kid with skill and that isn’t easy to find. If he is still on the board at 16 and the Oilers still own that pick (highly unlikely scenario) I personally would be torn on whether they should still trade that pick or not.
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 177 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Barzal is a total wildcard for me in this draft. I 100% believe the Kings are going to be looking for a center in this draft. Kopitar is a UFA next year (would be shocked if he isn’t signed to a massive extension on July 1st), Carter is entering the back 9 of his career, Richards is done, Stoll is a UFA (and likes to party), and NOTHING is on the way at center so they need one pretty bad. But Barzal could be gone by this point. Great U 18’s after an injury plagued season. Before the season was expected to be a slam dunk 1st rounder and kids like that usually go higher than projected as long as their medical’s check out. I think he’s a potential 1st line center. Has been compared to RNH since he was a prospect for the WHL Bantam draft. Speed, vision, great wrist shot, willing to play a 200 foot game, it’s as similar as you’ll find one player to another.
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 182 Shot: L
Comparison: Kyle Turris
Much like the Kings, the Bruins could use more depth down the middle. Now they could use a D-man too, but I think Connor’s value here is far too good to pass up. It wouldn’t be too long before Connor could step into the 3rd line role in Boston and learn the ropes playing behind Bergeron and Krecji. But as of writing this it is a bit of a mystery with the B’s. Chiarelli is out, Don Sweeney SOUNDS like he’ll be the new guy but we still don’t know. It was an organization that had a “type”. Brandon Carlo would be a reach here, but he would definitely fit their “type” should that philosophy remain. But people really love Connor. Such a well rounded game, and while I’m not sure he can be that 1st line center who can carry a team to a Cup, he should be that elite 2nd line center that every contender needs. Does nothing special, everything great.
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: Sergei Gonchar
Again as I’ve been stating, the Flames are a big threat to move up. They have a stocked system, and it won’t take ALL 7 top 100 picks they own to move up. If they can get up to 10 or even 6, they’ll be even scarier. All the talk this week in Alberta is about how great the Oilers are looking once again with McDavid and Chiarelli now in the fold. But the Flames are going to have a great team for a long time still. The BOA is about to return and going to be amazing! Anyway, Jakub Zboril. He skates well, has a big shot, and is willing to engage physically. Seems like that would be a perfect guy for them, but they have a lot of good young D on the big club and still have Wotherspoon and Kulak coming so could go with a big winger.
16. Timo Meier Halifax QMJHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 209 Shot: L
Comparison: Nail Yakupov
What a gift this pick became. When they got it back in December, it looked to be a pick 27-30 as the Pens were rolling. Then for a long time it was stuck at 22, so it had improved but there was lots of time for the Pens to get it back together. It damn near gave the Oilers 10 more ping pong balls, but ending up 16th is pretty big for them. I can’t imagine at all they’ll use it though. It is perfect to package up with one of their 2nd rounders and one of their 3rd rounders to land a top 4 D-man. Should they use it though, I like the idea of either a RH shot D-man (Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Roy) or Timo Meier who has rocketed up a lot of lists. But why another winger for the Oilers? Simple. It frees them up even more to move out an Eberle or Hall. Add to this, Meier has good size, is a sniper, great work ethic, and can really fly. The league is getting ridiculously fast, so the Oilers better be able to keep up which they haven’t been able to do in addition to being soft and undersized.
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 183 Shot: R
Comparison: Patrice Bergeron
What a season! They got swept, but the future is very bright in Winnipeg. Deepest system in hockey, well run, well coached, big, fast, physical and next season with the Hawks and Blues in cap trouble it could be there year to win the Central. I will likely point this out in every mock draft now heading into the draft, but if there is one pattern I’ve noticed, it’s that the Jets don’t like going oversea’s for their draft picks. 2 of 30 picks under Kevin Cheveldayoff have been kids out of Europe. So don’t bet on a Euro going here. I like them taking a chance on Colin White. This is a kid who was highly thought of to begin the season but has dropped because of his injury problems. But he also was getting Jonathan Toews comparisons. So while he had a bad year, to me he is worth the risk, especially for the Jets who are solid down the middle but not as good as you need to be to win a Cup. The kid has a great all around game and is a terrific skater.
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 189 Shot: R
Comparison: Dan Boyle
I had Jeremy Roy going 18 last time, but that was to the Canucks not the Sens. Another awesome Canadian story. As of doing their write up, game 6 is still 18 hours away. But the fact that they’re in that position is incredible. And while they don’t have any stars outside of Karlsson, they are just solid as any team in the league lines 1-4 up front, and 1-6 on the back end. They don’t have a GLARING need that I can see (not one that they’ll fill here anyway), but the blueline could use another high end guy in the pipeline. As for Roy, scouts seem to be torn on him much the way they were on Josh Morrissey two years ago. And like Morrissey, Roy is a smaller but highly skilled D-man. Hasn’t had the season some expected him to have, but still a very intriguing upside.
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 174 Shot: L
Comparison: Sandis Ozolinsh
Again I’m going to say this year they finally go after a D-man in the 1st round. And we all know how much this organization loves their Swedish kids so this might be the perfect fit. Oliver Kylington has had a bad season. Midseason rankings for Bob McKenzie he was still ranked 11th, but he has just gone downhill in a hurry this season to the point where I wonder if he’ll be like a David Musil or John McFarland and fall completely out of the 1st round before it’s said and done? But for now he’s still viewed as a 15-25 guy by most. Elite skater, constantly jumping into the rush, remember Ozolinsh when he first came into the league? That is exactly who Kylington reminds me of. Ozolinsh would be revered today, but around 2000-2001 everyone was hell bent on changing the guys game rather than just loving having such a great offensive threat from the back end.
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 180 Shot: L
Comparison: David Krecji
Might be a reach for Jansen Harkins here, but he is a bit of a riser this season and guys who rise a little in the eyes of the scouting services always seem to rise a lot for teams. I still believe the Wild will want a center with Koivu being 32 and Granlund not looking like he will be much more than a solid 2nd line center. Mind you, I don’t believe Harkins will become any better than that himself but if you don’t have legit number 1 guy down the middle, then you at least need a lot of depth. Harkins is a very polished player already, really intelligent 2 way kid which will lead scouts to believe he doesn’t have much upside. But once he puts on 10-20 pounds he could turn into an excellent 2nd line center.
Pos: D Ht: 6’5 Wt: 185 Shot: R
Comparison: Jonathan Ericsson
Great bounce back year for the Canucks but once again playoff failure. It’s tough because it kind of feels like they’re in no man’s land right now. Sedin’s aren’t going anywhere, Bieksa is on the decline, Hamhuis didn’t seem like himself all year long. Unless they get a huge year out of nowhere from a guy like Horvat, coupled with a rookie like Virtanen making a big splash or perhaps Miller just having 1 more spectacular/career year type season, it seems like there is no hope. I like the idea of them going D with this pick. They haven’t taken a D in the 1st round since selecting the late Luc Bourdon 10 years ago. Everything I read on Brandon Carlo I love, a total throwback. Great size, RH shot, physical, nasty, joins the rush, big shot, he has all the physical gifts you want in a hockey player. He needs to be coached up and it’ll be a question of whether or not a team believes they can do that with this kid.
Pos: LW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 202 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Malone
This is the pick the Sabres got from the Islanders, which still could be a later 1st as the Islanders are going to a 7th game with the Caps as of writing this. I love Paul Bittner here as the Sabres could use some more size on the wings in the system after dealing Joel Armia and Brendan Lemieux to Winnipeg. But much like the Oilers it wouldn’t shock me in the least if Buffalo dealt this pick for immediate help to surround Jack Eichel with more proven players. Bittner though has all the tools, and will play in the league. But will he develop into an elite power forward? He could, but he also could be Ethan Moreau. Nothing wrong with Ethan Moreau, but you hope to do a little better than that in the 1st round of a deep draft. Bittner is raw, but it’ll be his high end that may scare teams off not his low end.
Pos: D Ht: 6’3 Wt: 203 Shot: R
Comparison: Eric Desjardins
Erik Cernak leaves a little to be desired in the toughness category, but plays a pretty complete game. Smooth skater, moves the puck well, good postionally, good shot from the point, he’s slowly but surely worked his way up the rankings this season much the way Oscar Klefbom did in 2011. The Caps have a pretty good blueline right now, but Mike Green is likely on his way out as a UFA and Dmitry Orlov can’t stay, or even get healthy. So they’re not looking so set and with so many picks used on frowards the last 3 drafts the time is right to go get a solid D prospect.
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 181 Shot: L
Comparison: Eric Brewer
Formerly the Blackhawks pick that came over in a deal the Hawks brass maybe wishes they had back for the playoff healthy scratch Antoine Vermette. I would guess that with 6 picks in the first 3 rounds the Coyotes package 24 with a 2nd and 3rd and see how far up they can go. But they’re at 24 right now and if things shake down like this I like them to grab a D-man here. Jacob Larsson is a safe kid, plays a solid 2 way game and has some grit in his game too. Very intelligent kid too which I always look for above all else in D-men. Once he packs on 20-25 pounds he could be a real nice top 4 guy.
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 187 Shot: R
Comparison: Jiri Hudler
See Leaf fans, I told you in the first mock that the pick wouldn’t end up 30th. And should the Hawks win the Central, Red Wings win the Atlantic, Islanders win the Metro and Flames win the Pacific, you’re looking at this pick being 4 higher than this! But 25 is pretty good nonetheless. So they went D with the 4th pick, have to go BPA here and Nick Merkley. Big question with him is: winger or center? If he plays the middle in the pro’s, this might be a total steal. But I see him as a winger. Doesn’t have elite wheels which scares me a little, but he has a great all around game. Vision, shot, gritty, 200 feet, he does it all.
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 177 Shot: L
Comparison: Brendan Gallagher
Do you reach here and take a goaltender? They need one pretty bad in the system. Maybe trade back? Unlikely as they have 7 picks in the first 4 rounds. So do they use 26 to move up from 7? I could see that, but I don’t know who would possibly trade out of the top 6, especially since nobody has since the Islanders in 08. Anyway, I have them going with Jake Debrusk mainly because he is their kind of guy. Yes, they already took a winger at 7, and both guys play similar games. And the Flyers already have a lot of this type in their system. But I just can’t see them not taking Debrusk and I can’t see Debrusk at this point not going in the 1st round.
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 190 Shot: L
Comparison: Cody Hodgson
Not a flattering comparison with the year Hodgson had, but it was a tough one to come up with. The Ducks really need to start addressing center. I’ve stressed this for a few years now, the Ducks are thin at best down the middle moving forward. Yes, currently they’re one of the best in the league with Getzlaf and Kesler. Both guys are 30 though and by the time the late 1st round pick for the 2015 draft is ready to go those guys will be 33 or 34. Also, Kesler isn’t a picture of health so in 2 or 3 years he might not be able to log many minutes. They’ve really stocked the cupboard with D-men the last 3 drafts, they’re loaded on the wings, they need some centers. I kind of like the idea of Adam Musil here, but the fact that Craig Button has him 96th on his list scares me off. But he fits the Ducks mold. Filip Chlapik doesn’t at all. Not a great skater, definitely not small but not a big kid, and they don’t like taking kids out of the Q. But they need to take a center. And he makes up for his shortcomings with excellent IQ, determination, plays hard in all 3 zones, and a great shot. This was easily the most difficult pick I did, I simply had no clue where to go here.
28. Nicolas Meloche Baie-Comeau QMJHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 200 Shot: R
Comparison: Mattias Ohlund
Ok…so this was the Sabres pick and might remain the Sabres pick but the standings as of writing this say that this would be the pick the Jets get from the Evander Kane deal. Got it? With this pick I’m going to suggest the Jets grab another D-man. Possible that Chevy moves back to do this and grab another pick, but point being that he uses this pick to get another D-man. Meloche is in this range. He was just outside of McKenzie’s top 30, Button has him at 30, ISS has him 28th, so he’s not a reach. He needs to work on his balance a bit, but he is a kid who loves to battle in his own zone. Not a big hitter but he is more than willing to get his nose dirty, and at the other end he can get off a pretty heavy shot.
Pos: C Ht: 6’4 Wt: 202 Shot: R
Comparison: Mark Scheifele
Same as last time. And again I’ll state this pick isn’t much about the french Canadian kid being picked by Montreal, but rather them needing the big center still on the board who just happens to be french Canadian. Roy has slid in the rankings this season, but still is a very intriguing prospect. He isn’t just one of these big kids who only uses his size to protect the puck, but he engages physically too. The issue? His skill set is very raw. But given the proper amount of time to develop he could become a dominant 2 way center.
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3 Wt: 205 Shot: L
Comparison: Alexander Semin
This is obviously the Rangers pick that came over in the Marty St.Louis deal. I just have to think with so few needs in Tampa’s system, they package up some of these picks and move up. They have 9 picks, 6 in the first 4 rounds. But again, I don’t do trades after the embarrassment which was my final 2 mock drafts last year. I think they look to add size should they keep their two 1st rounders this year, and this is a good spot to do that. They also haven’t been scared off by Russians, so this all adds up to them taking the big Russian. This is WAY lower than a lot of people have Svechnikov, but I feel like people are getting wrapped up in his talent and forgetting that he has some red flags. He has high end skill, but his skating is a bit suspect, he has no defensive game and he like a lot of Russians before him can be very inconsistent.
Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups