2015 NHL Mock Draft 5.0

2015_NHL_Draft

Happy McDavid day Edmonton Oiler fans!  It is an organization changing day for Edmonton and Buffalo.  For fans of the other 28 teams, it won’t suck for you either!  As has been over stated this season, this is a great draft class and could be one of the best of all time.  Just over 1 hour until it all unfolds.

 

So…WHAT THE HELL!?!?!?  This Hamilton deal just f***ed everything up for me!!!  And then the Lucic deal made it even worse!  At this point it is just about keeping things updated but I feel good about the spots I have most of these guys going, but now I don’t know what to do!  Last year on draft day I was driving all day out to Golden, B.C.  Winding through the mountains on highway I had never driven on before, trying to update twitter every 2 minutes, every trade imaginable is about to go down, it’s amazing, it’s all about to happen, this team and that team are so close, the 1st pick is about to be dealt to Vancouver, OH MY GAWD!!!!!…..

 

Crickets.  All night.  So, all this stuff today is a bit of a headache as much as it is fun to watch unfold.  But it’s clear now that I’m not going to do well with this mock because the flood gates have opened.

 

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.  Also, a little add I made to this final mock draft, I put where I personally rank these kids off to the right side of their name and team in brackets, in case you are wondering what that means.  Ok Boston, please don’t make 9 more trades in the next hour, here we go…

 

 

6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h1. Connor McDavid  Erie  OHL  (1)

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0.75  Wt: 195  Shot: L

Comparison: Joe Sakic

1 more time.  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

 
i40oxcdbo7xtfamqqhqachoyo2. Jack Eichel  Boston University  NCAA  (2)

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: R

Comparison: Mike Modano

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

 

 

8lqmtthh0w2wgumr6goswqmki3. Dylan Strome  Erie  OHL  (6)

Pos: C  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Niklas Backstrom

This is where the draft gets interesting.  I’m keeping this pick as Strome, because if they do pick it is pretty widely speculated that they want a center. As of writing this Chris Johnston from Sportsnet is reporting they aren’t moving the pick barring something out of the blue coming their way.  So the Bruins loading up on the middle of the 1st wasn’t for Hanifin apparently, althought Joe Haggerty out of Boston is tweeting that the Bruins are still trying to move up to this pick to get Noah Hanifin.  But back to the Yotes, I wouldn’t completely rule out Maloney going off the board and taking Barzal if he can’t trade back, because I do think part of the reason this is being dangled is because he likes a guy like that better than Strome.

Other Options: Noah Hanifin, Mathew Barzal

 

 

1994. Mitch Marner  London  OHL  (7)

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 160  Shot: R

Comparison: Patrick Kane

So now the question becomes if Arizona stays at 3 and takes Strome do the Leafs trade back with the Bruins?  We’ll see….Anyway, I tap.  While I strongly believe this pick should be Hanifin or Provorov, and it does sound like Babcock strongly agrees with me and believes this should be Hanifin, they continually say that Mark Hunter has the final say here and that he wants to take his boy Marner.  I think it’s a mistake, I think they need to ensure the blueline is set if they’re serious about a full on rebuild, but the thing is that it’s being suggested now that they aren’t set on that.  I hate to say this Leaf fans, but they are starting to sound dysfunctional as ever.  I hope that’s not the case because I want this team back to being a regular playoff team and a contender.  Anyway, perhaps if they send Marner  back to London and he plays center all season it’ll justify the pick.  But while Pat Kane is amazing, he doesn’t win anything with Toews, Seabrook and Keith.  I just don’t see an undersized winger, let alone 2 of them (Willie Nylander last year) as building blocks.  Going to be damn good players who put up numbers, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again you don’t buy an 80 inch 4K TV when your house needs a roof.

Other Options: Noah Hanifin, Ivan Provorov

 

 

fotih31tn5r345nufo5xxayh35. Noah Hanifin  Boston College  NCAA  (3)

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2.75  Wt: 203  Shot: L

Comparison: Scott Niedermayer

Could the Hurricanes move back to 13/14/15 with the Bruins with Hanifin still on the board?  I don’t think it would take all three picks, but maybe two of them and then two or all three of the 2nd’s Boston has.  We’ll see….Anway, 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.  I can’t believe it looks as though they’ll have their choice of the D-men, but it really does appear to be the case.  And Hanifin is awesome.  I don’t buy the Jay Bouwmeester comparisons, because Hanifin is a really intelligent kid while J-Bo is…I won’t say it.

Other Options: Ivan Provorov

 

 

32tfs723a3bes0p0hb4hgcy1u6. Mathew Barzal  Seattle  WHL  (5)

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11.25  Wt: 175  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Still not going to move off this pick, even though I can make just as good of a case for the other options guys I have at the bottom.  Some people have opened my eyes to the fact that they don’t have the center that every team needs.  I don’t think they’re bad with Henrique, but Zajac is about to be 30 and nobody is on the way.  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: Pavel Zacha, Kyle Connor

 

 

1617. Ivan Provorov  Brandon  WHL  (4)

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 201  Shot: L

Comparison: Hampus Lindholm

What a gift this would be for the Flyers!  My man Patty will be going NUTS if this happens, as he should be!  They have loaded up on D the last 2 drafts, but you can never have enough high end D-men and I think Provorov is worthy of going as high as 3rd in the draft.  He does it all, doesn’t have a flaw in his game.  And where is GM Ron Hextall from?  Brandon, Manitoba.  Provorov falls to 7, I can’t see him passing.  Zacha and Crouse though would definitely fit the “Philly mode” though.

Other Options: Pavel Zacha, Lawson Crouse

 

 

jhepegs329pc7ugyypebl28wg8. Zach Werenski  Michigan  NCAA  (8)

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 206  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan Whitney

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).  Sounds like they’re pressing HARD to get up to 3 to take Hanifin.  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

 

 

dmo1xf3z4pph27vmg3gf9. Pavel Zacha  Sarnia  OHL  (11)

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.  Then again, Dreger has them in the hunt for Cam Talbot and as a team possibly offering their 1st pick like morons for Talbot.  But I don’t do trade back’s (or idiotic deals) 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

 

 

6410. Jakub Zboril  Saint John  QMJHL  (20)

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0.75  Wt: 184  Shot: L

Comparison: Sergei Gonchar

You better not be f***ing me on this Jeff Marek!!!  But I’m going to go all in with what he’s telling anyone who’ll listen.  He has said that he was told by someone in the know with the Avs that they are taking a D-man no matter what.  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.  But I’ve said this in a lot of the mock drafts: “I would trade up, trade back or simply reach for a D-man here”.  Zboril is the best D-man on the board at this point.  But if it is the case that they’re taking a D no matter what, trade back if you can’t move to 3.  Side note, this team has only selected CHL players in the first 3 rounds of the draft since 2007.

Other Options: Jeremy Roy

 

 

9411. Mikko Rantanen  TPS  SM LIGA  (9)

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, Timo Meier

 

 

107917201412. Lawson Crouse  Kingston  OHL  (14)

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 215  Shot: L

Comparison: Andrew Ladd

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, they love intangibles, and so they’ll love Crouse .  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 Crouse fell to them and I think he’ll be tough to pass up.

Other Options: Joel Eriksson Ek, Kyle Connor

 

 

venf9fmhgnsawnxxvehf13. Kyle Connor  Youngstown  USHL  (10)

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 177  Shot: L

Comparison: Kyle Turris

I still can’t wrap my head around what has happened today!  HAVE to think the Bruins trade up.  But I will say, with these 3 picks they can lay a great foundation for the future, and it does look as though they’re now going into full rebuild mode.  I would hope Sweeney isn’t done, although this feels a lot more like Cam Neely calling the shots.  Connor is a center and they really need one.  But I have no clue where they’re now going with any of this.

Other Options: Timo Meier, Colin White

 

 

venf9fmhgnsawnxxvehf14. Timo Meier  Halifax  QMJHL  (12)

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 209  Shot: L

Comparison: Loui Eriksson

I’ve had a tough time with this pick as I believe they have a big need both at center and on D.  THEN, they do the Hamilton trade so I don’t know what to think!!!  The previous is what I had wrote, and then the Lucic deal came down!  So again, I have zero clue at this point where they’re going with all this.  It’s not just these 3 picks, they own 3 pretty good 2’s (37, 45, 52).  Meier fits what they have looked for in the past, but who the heck knows where this new regime will go should they use these picks.

Other Options: Colin White, Joel Eriksson Ek

 

 

venf9fmhgnsawnxxvehf15. Colin White  USA U-18  USHL  (13)

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: R

Comparison: Patrice Bergeron

With their 3rd pick, they take the hometown boy!  They need help down the middle, yet I had them taking Connor.  And why haven’t I addressed the D?  Well again they have 37, 45 and 52 that they could use on D.  But needless to say with these 3 picks things are not going to go anywhere near what I’m suggesting.  Just totally guessing what they do should they hold onto all these picks, which they won’t.  I do have a hunch that should they use all these picks, they won’t pass on White.

Other Options: Joel Eriksson Ek, Jeremy Roy

 

 

6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h

16. Evgeny Svechnikov  Cape Breton  QMJHL  (26)

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1.75  Wt: 199  Shot: L

Comparison: Alexander Semin

It’s gone from “they aren’t using this pick” to “I see one unlikely scenario where they use this pick” to “they’re using this pick”  to now where I’m saying I guarantee they use this pick.  As years go on, GM’s get more and more terrified to make deals.  Last 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 (maybe Tim Murray gives them his top pick and Sam Reinhart).  So Bob Stauffer is aggressively hinting that they’re taking Svechnikov.  From what I hear, he’s a great kid and did awesome in interviews.  He’s 1 dimensional, nothing of a need, and not a player you win with.  I hate this pick.  The Oilers scouts have been heavily scouting the QMJHL this season so I assume that is who had them so hot and bothered.  As for the other options here I’m praying they go with, Eriksson Ek because 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.  I’m in the minority, but I love the idea of Samsonov because I think he’s a franchise guy.  As you know as well I also love the idea of Jeremy Roy, but you can get guys like Roy later on.

Other Options: Ilya Samsonov, Joel Eriksson Ek

 

 

z9qyy9xqoxfjn0njxgzoy2rwk17. Jansen Harkins  Prince George  WHL  (21)

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1.25  Wt: 182  Shot: L

Comparison: David Krecji

This might be a bit of a reach for Harkins.   2 of 30 picks under Kevin Cheveldayoff have been kids out of Europe, so while I like Eriksson Ek better than Harkins, they don’t like going that route.  Maybe they will, but history suggests they won’t.  They also seemingly reached for Josh Morrissey in 2013 and that has worked out extremely well.

Other Options: Joel Eriksson Ek

 

 

2bkf2l3xyxi5p0cavbj818. Joel Eriksson Ek  Farjestad  SHL  (15)

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1.75  Wt: 180  Shot: L

Comparison: Derek Stepan

Again, he’s the big riser and I think he can go as high as 12 in this draft.  Dallas, Boston, Edmonton, Winnipeg which is every pick in between 11 and 18 could take him.  He’s good, and his game translates to the wing if need be.  I compared him to Stepan but another good one is Ryan Kesler.  Because once Eriksson Ek fills out he’ll be around the same size, and plays a very similar game.  Kesler is…I’m not a fan despite being a great player.

Other Options: Travis Konecny, Nick Merkley

 

 

yo3wysbjtagzmwj37tb11u0fh19. Jeremy Roy  Sherbrooke  QMJHL  (19)

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 188  Shot: R

Comparison: Dan Boyle

This pick has changed, and it’s back to a D-man.  They can get a D-man later on, but they don’t pick again until 73.  It’s unlikely a kid like Kylington, Dunn, Dermott, Meloche, Juulsen, or Vande Sompel is still on the board.  So Roy is a must take, he’s a need, the Wings have liked picking out of the Q of late, he’s a RH shot on the back end which they’ve lacked, he’s smart, I just love this kid and he fits pretty perfect.  I do think Ekriksson Ek would be their guy if he fell here, but as you can see I believe he doesn’t get past 18 and could go as high as 12 in my mind.  They could easily trade back too, they have been known to do that.  Maybe with Arizona for 30 and 32.

Other Options: Thomas Chabot, Oliver Kylington

 

 

0kcehji928suy4ckk1pdo8s7l20. Ilya Samsonov  Magnitorgorsk  MHL  (18)

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 200  Glove: L

Comparison: Henrik Lundqvist

With all the center’s now gone, they have to look to another big need here.  Maybe they trade back, maybe they trade up.  But to me, Samsonov makes a lot of sense for the Wild.  If Dubnyk leaves, this is not the immediate replacement.  He won’t be over here for 3 years.  But in the organization they do not have anything close to a goaltender like this who I really believe is going to be a superstar.  Their goaltending got big time exposed in the first half of the season, so make certain that doesn’t happen again.  Whether Dubnyk stays or goes, I love this pick for Minny.

Other Options: Paul Bittner, Thomas Chabot

 

 

2bkf2l3xyxi5p0cavbj821. Travis Konecny  Ottawa  OHL  (17)

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’9.75  Wt: 175  Shot: R

Comparison: Zach Parise

What a STUPID trade by Tim Murray.  Buffalo’s loss is Ottawa’s huge gain.  I’m a huge fan of Konceny!  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.  Konecny will fit PERFECTLY with the culture the Sens have built, and of course it doesn’t hurt that he’s the 67’s captain.  Ideally, they want a D-man, but it might be a reach here.  Also Craig Button brought up a fair point with Jason Gregor last 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).  So at picks 42 and/or 48 they could take a D-man, and with 4 picks in the top 50 they’re a prime candidate to trade up, maybe with Colorado should the Avs fail to trade up.

Other Options: Thomas Chabot, Brandon Carlo

 

 

llrs2zxi127vkqgcsvfb22. Brandon Carlo  Tri-City  WHL  (25)

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

 

 

2xd2efir5fdew26px6kx23. Thomas Chabot  Saint John  QMJHL  (23)

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

 

 

19924. Vince Dunn  Niagara  OHL  (33)

Pos: D  Ht: 5’11.75  Wt: 187  Shot: L

Comparison: Kimmo Timonen

Have to go D here.  Maybe they can trade back, and again I’ll toss Arizona out there and land the 30th and 32nd for this pick and maybe 65?  Because you can get a kid like Dunn or Meloche or Dermott or Juulsen or Larsson, so many of these D-men will be there at 30.  But Dunn is such a great skater and again Mark Hunter will know him well being an OHL kid.  I’m a pretty big fan, and believe he would be a top 20 pick in most other drafts.  But this is the point of this draft where the depth will flex it’s muscle.

Other Options: Nicolas Meloche, Travis Dermott

 

 

z9qyy9xqoxfjn0njxgzoy2rwk25. Nick Merkley  Kelowna  WHL  (22)

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10.5  Wt: 191  Shot: R

Comparison: Jiri Hudler

Another change in the mock.  Had Merkley going to the Jets in my first mock.  Him lasting this long would be a surprise.  But he could go as high as 11, and he could go here.  Opinions will differ on him.  I’m not a HUGE fan, because no matter how great the intangibles, I don’t want kids who are small who lack high end speed.  But my friend Peter Loubardias LOVES him and he’s forgot more than I’ll ever know!  I like Merkley a lot as a player and I’m pulling for him, but for me personally I wouldn’t take him until the 2nd round.  He fits perfect with the Jets though.

Other Options: Brock Boeser, Jake Debrusk

 

 

12426. Brock Boeser  Waterloo  USHL  (27)

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

 

 

17361651201427. Jake Debrusk  Swift Current  WHL  (24)

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11.75  Wt: 174  Shot: L

Comparison: T.J. Oshie

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 Guryanov, but they have stayed away from Russians.  Last time this answer was Sprong, but he doesn’t have the jam that the Ducks love.  Debrusk does, and it is a GIFT that he ends up at this pick.  Far from a need, but is just exactly what the Ducks crave.  As I’ve said before he at worst will be a top 9 guy, and plays with a ton of jam.

Other Options: Zach Senyshyn, Filip Chlapik

 

 

97hhvk8e5if0riesnex30etgz28. Denis Guryanov  Togilatti 2  MHL  (16)

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, Zach Senyshyn

 

 

16129. MacKenzie Blackwood  Barrie  OHL  (37)

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 (which is why I had Samsonov going there).  They don’t have their 2nd round pick so they don’t pick again until 61 (last pick of the 2nd, so they do have a 2nd just not their own).  So 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: Nicolas Meloche

 

 

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30. Oliver Kylington  Farjestad  SHL  (36)

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, Travis Dermott

 

Follow me on twitter @TJ_Soups

Revisiting The 2008 Draft

SAMSUNG DIGITAL CAMERA“We haven’t seen a draft this good since 2003”.  That was the word going around prior to the 2008 NHL entry draft.  Stamkos, Doughty, Bogosian, Pietrangelo, some pundits thought the best player in the draft was Russian winger Nikita Filatov.  They were wrong on that.  Actually, they were wrong on a lot of things in this draft…

 

It started with Luke Schenn going 5th to the Leafs.  The background on this is pretty hilarious actually.  The Leafs were picking 7th, with Cliff Fletcher running the show.  Fletcher was the interim GM, and was “setting the table” for Brian Burke whom most expected to become the next GM of the Leafs, which he was.  7th seemed like a good spot to stay and begin the rebuild with that pick.  But Cliff got itchy, and he wanted Schenn who was compared to Adam Foote.  The problem was that the league was changing, and stay at home D-men were becoming dinosaurs.

 

So the Leafs who were supposedly all about stockpiling draft picks and rebuilding “the right way”, gave the NY Islanders a 3rd in the 08 draft, and a 2nd in the 09 draft to move up 2 slots.  The funny thing is, I have no idea who they were looking to move ahead of!  Schenn wasn’t in the same class as Doughty, Bogosian or Pietrangelo even at that time.  7th seemed like a pretty safe spot to take Schenn and if not a lot of guys who were in the same class were there for the taking.

 

But I shouldn’t be too hard on the Leafs, because all they really did was kick off a run of busts.  Yes, the 08 draft, which was supposedly amazing, had busts in the 5-11 range.  Sorry, that was meant to say that picks 5-11 were busts.  In what was drawing comparisons to the best or second best draft of all time, picks 5-11 produced all busts.

 

I guess it depends on what you consider a bust for some of these guys, but Schenn has been a bust.  Filatov was a huge bust (I’m calling it, he’s not as good as Stamkos or Doughty), Colin Wilson is a regular but really nothing of what he was expected to be, Boedker had a 50 point season in 2014 but nothing close to what was expected, Josh Bailey also falls into that category, Cody Hodgson looked very promising for a while but is coming off a horrendous season and his career high is 44 points, and Kyle Beach was a complete bust.

 

Colten Teubert 13th, Zach Boychuk 14th, Chet Pickard 18th, Anton Gustafsson 21st, Tyler Cuma 23rd, Mattias Tedenby 24th, Greg Nemisz 25th, Viktor Tikhnov 28th, Daulton Leveille 29th, Tom McCollum 30th.

 

12 complete busts.  Add another 7 guys to that who some would suggest are busts, others would say they’ve played in the league so they aren’t busts, but greatly underachieved from what was expected.  Now, that’s not a horrible draft.  But it’s nowhere NEAR what was expected.

 

What makes it worse for me is that the year before was supposed to be horrible.  The 07 draft had a real good top 3 in Kane, JVR, and Turris.  Not as good as 08, but pretty solid.  I counted 13 picks who have panned out well, and that isn’t including guys like Sam Gagner or 2 D-men who have played 200+ games in Thomas Hickey and Keaton Ellerby.

 

So a projected awful draft produced 13 of 30 picks that panned out.  The 08 draft, projected to be an outstanding draft produced 11 (MAYBE 12, Del Zotto I’m on the fence about).  In terms of the 1st round, and expectations, I would consider the 2008 draft to be a huge bust!

 

Need another comparison?  The next season the 09 draft wasn’t supposed to be as good.  Good, but not near what the 08 draft was!  Well it produced 14 picks that hit pretty well.  Didn’t include Jared Cowen, didn’t include Zach Kassian.  They aren’t busts, but they’ve both failed to live up to expectations (Cowen because of injuries).

 

What made me think of this?  Well today’s draft is getting the 03 comparison.  It’s the 3rd since 03 to get the 03 comparison.  2013 did, and it’s still far too early to say how it’ll pan out.

 

But 2008, while the story isn’t fully written, we are now far enough removed to score it.  The top 4 has just about been spot on in meeting expectations (Bogosian is the only one who is a little behind and that is more so because he can’t stay healthy).  But after that, it’s amazing how far off the projections were.  So while a lot of people, including your’s truly, are raving about this draft…buyer beware.  It’s blown up in scouts faces before.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

2015 NBA Draft Preview

8982I need more NBA talk.  I think that’s going to be the theme this summer, especially old school NBA talk because I can talk the history of the NBA better than most in this century.  In the mid-late 90’s the NBA was on par with the NHL for me.  Anyway, that’ll happen another day, starting with my piece dedicated to the 20 year anniversary of the 96 Bulls and the 30 year anniversary of the 86 Celtics (I’m not even kidding).

 

Today I’m talking NBA draft.  I’m not doing a mock draft.  NBADraft.net is a better site than any other league has for covering the draft.  I’m not going to insult the job they do by putting up some awful imitation.  Add to that, while I know the top kids pretty well, I don’t know a thing about anyone going from about 11 on.

 

But I wanted to hit on a few things.

 

Karl-Anthony Towns will be the 1st pick to Minnesota and all of a sudden the T-Wolves are looking like the next big thing in the NBA.  They still need to upgrade at point guard.  I just don’t see Ricky Rubio as the answer.  But with Towns joining Wiggins, that has a chance to be pretty special.

 

But the point of interest comes at the 2nd pick.  The Lakers own it and look to be set to take center Jahlil Okafor out of Duke.  The package is intriguing.  6’11, 270, 7’5 wingspan, dominat in the low post, great hands, he has the tools to be a dominant center.  But there are a lot of people coming out and questioning his love for the game lately.  And I’m not talking about media.  Scouts are saying this.  Coach K (Mike Krzyzewski for those of you reading about basketball for the first time) even mentioned on Colin Cowherd’s show a while back that Okafor needed to work harder.  Well how much harder is a kid going to work once he is making millions?

 

If this weren’t enough, there is another kid on the board in D’Angelo Russell who looks like he might be a dominant point guard in what has become a league dominated by point guards.  From the begining of the NBA in 1947, it had been dominated by centers.  George Miken, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlin, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Hakeem Olajuwon, Patrick Ewing, Shaq, and even though they always listed him as a power forward and not a center…Tim Duncan.  But ever since the rule changes in 2005 (I believe), it has become a guards league, as we saw in this year’s NBA finals.

 

So what do they do?  It is still much more difficult to find a center than a point guard.  Also, it’s the Lakers, the glamour team of the league where it isn’t too difficult to bring in free agents as long as the team is somewhat competent.  So that likely plays into the decision as well.  I started off by thinking “Okafor is a gift”, but I’m really leaning towards thinking they should be taking Russell.  Word is though that Okafor is still their guy.

 

No matter what the Lakers do, the Knicks are going to get a hell of a player.  Wait, the Knicks pick 4th, not 3rd.

 

The reason I say the Knicks will is because from everything we are hearing, the 76ers have fallen in love with a kid named Kristaps Porzingis out of the basketball hot bed known as Ventspils, Latvia.  Colin Cowherd and Dan Patrick have both talked about this often and it couldn’t be more true.  Every year there is some kid coming out of Europe who is the big mystery man and people fall in love with him.  He’s always “the next Dirk”.

 

Dirk was drafted in 1998.  Was an obscure pick, but as we all know it more than worked out, just a bit better than top pick Michael Olowokandi (although Dirk didn’t have a cameo in Van Wilder).  In 01 the first of the “next Dirk’s” came along and was a great pick in Pau Gasol.  That success led to many disasters starting in 02.

 

Nikoloz Tskitishvili went 5th to the Denver Nuggets.  BUST.  The next year might have been the worst of them all as the about to be champion Detroit Pistons had a GIFT of a pick.  2nd overall in one of the best drafts of all time thanks to the Knicks stupidity.  LeBron went 1st, Carmelo was there for the taking.  But why do that when you can take the unknown European?  Enter, Darko Miličić.  BUST.

 

Of course the Raptors had to get in on this act, so in 2006 they took another horrible one in Andrea Bargnani.  BUST.  You could have simply taken the best player to come out of college in LaMarcus Aldridge, but why do that when you can have the “mysterious Euro”?

 

They had gone away since the Bargnani disaster, but the trend is back in full force this season with Porzingis.  All of these guys are compared to Dirk, but there is only 1 Dirk.  He’s going to be a unique guy if he pans out.  7’1, 230 and can spread the floor.  But chances are he’s another Tskitishvili, or Miličić or Bargnani or Yi Jianlian, or the 20 other guys who have had this exact same comparison.

 

I’m sure Phil Jackson doesn’t mind though.  That’ll leave him with one of Okafor or Russell which will be a steal for the Knicks.

 

As for our home and native land’s team, NBADraft.net has them taking Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a 6’7 small forward out of Arizona who they compare to Bruce Bowen.  If that is the case, I would be a huge fan of the pick.  The Raptors really need help at the 3.  Terrance Ross is more of a 2 guard, and James Johnson is pretty inconsistent.  Perimeter defenders are a MUST in today’s NBA.

 

The intrigue though for Raptor fans is coming at next year’s draft though.  They need both the Nuggets and Knicks to be terrible.  Thanks to the Bargnani trade, they are getting whichever pick is lower.  The Nuggets have the ability to flip picks with the Knicks if they choose, and then the Raptors will receive the other pick.  Both teams are down right now and could be dumpster fires next season (well, the Knicks certainly will).  So the Raptors are looking at a lottery pick, and I frankly wouldn’t be surprised if it’s a top 5 pick (of course with the lottery that could fall back some).

 

If you’re a draft junky like myself, the next 2 nights are heaven!  A real good NBA draft followed by a great NHL draft.  Won’t suck at all!

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

2015 NHL Draft: Top 50 Prospects

2015_NHL_DraftSo here we are, 1 day away from one of the most anticipated drafts in NHL history.  My final mock draft I’m going to do tomorrow, likely with very few tweaks.  But I thought prior to it I would release my first and final top 50 prospect list heading into the draft.  I was going to do this last summer and keep it updated throughout the season, but I never got around to it.  I’m doing it now.

 

Now, I’m not going to get too deep into these players scouting reports.  I don’t watch a lot of these guys more than a few times a year.  I’m a compiler of information.  I have consumed a TON of information from anywhere I can get it the past 7 or 8 months, but I still am just a compiler.  Go to TSN.ca and check out Bob McKenzie’s final list if you want to get more information on these players.  Or futureconsiderations.com is another solid prospect site.

 

Like the mocks, I’ll explain myself a bit before we start.  I try to look for some different things than a lot of scouts.  I value centre and defence (like the Canadian spelling for a change, eh?) more than I value wingers.  I like kids that bring an elite talent to the table like size, speed, IQ, hands or character.  I really don’t have time for kids who don’t know how to use their teammates like a Ryan Murphy or Josh Ho-Sang in recent drafts.  Hockey isn’t played 1 on 1.

 

I’m also big on tiers.  Just because I have one guy ranked ahead of the other doesn’t mean I like him much better.  These lists are so subjective and so it only makes sense to me that I include tiers in this list to give a better feel of how I rank these kids.

 

Ok, that’s my speech, here’s my list:

 

Tier 1

Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters. Photo by Aaron Bel/OHL Images1. Connor McDavid  Erie  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0.75  Wt: 195  Shot: L

Comparison: Joe Sakic

What I really want to put for the comparison is that there is no comparison.  NBA fans argue over who LeBron is more like, Magic or Michael.  The truth is that he’s his own guy.  Gretzky had no comparable, neither did Lemieux, or Lindros, or Sid, or Tiger Woods, or Shaq, or John Elway, on and on and on.  And that is the same as McDavid.  No prospect has ever been able to have this kind of skill with the puck while playing at such a high pace.  Imgaine Andrew Cogliano having Patrick Kane’s skill…and 6’1, 205.  You consider that he was too good for the OHL, now he’ll have guys around him who can finish his incredible passes.  It’s scary how good he can be.

 

Tier 2

eichel2. Jack Eichel  Boston University  NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: R

Comparison: Mike Modano

Great size, great speed, great shot, great vision, I think Eichel is going to be closer to McDavid than people realize.  It’s so tough to compare them when Eichel is playing in the NCAA and McDavid is in the OHL, but they don’t look too far apart to me.  He’s going to be incredible and again he would be the 1st pick is just about any other draft.

 

Tier 3

MHv.ColoradoCollege_GB-2313. Noah Hanifin  Boston College  NCAA

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2.75  Wt: 203  Shot: L

Comparison: Scott Niedermayer

Just slightly above Provorov because his skating is so elite and he’s a little bigger.  I feel like he’s the Sean Couturier, Sean Monahan of this draft in that he’s been over scouted.  Also, more and more NCAA D-men are looking bad in the pro’s so perhaps some are getting scared off by that.  But he has the tools and the tool box to be great.  I just wouldn’t rush him.

 

Provorov-1-Brandon-Wheat-Kings.0.04. Ivan Provorov  Brandon  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 201  Shot: L

Comparison: Hampus Lindholm

He’s the more polished of the two of him and Hanifin.  He plays with more of an edge.  Provorov has a cannon of a shot that Hanifin lacks.  I would say Provorov is the safer prospect of the two.  Both are great though.  Both have a chance to be legit number 1 D-men.  Provorov is a high character, smart kid.  Coming over to North America at such a young age to me proves how bad this kid wants it.

 

barzal5. Mathew Barzal  Seattle  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11.25  Wt: 175  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Ahead of Strome and ahead of Marner.  Why?  Because I think he’s less of risk, I think he has more high end potential than Strome because of his speed, and I believe had he not been injured this season he would have turned heads all season and not just at the U18’s.  He’s so patient with the puck and just waits for the options to open up.  He does a great job protecting it too for a kid under 6’0 and only 175.

 

Dylan-Strome6. Dylan Strome  Erie  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Niklas Backstrom

This is just me, but I don’t see Strome as the type of kid who can carry a team.  More of an elite 2nd line center, foot speed concerns me.  Also major red flag for me was him going nuts for the OHL scoring title on the final day of the season, only to basically no show for the playoffs.  As I said in the last mock draft, I think there is real potential here for a bust.  But he is still deserving of a top 6 spot for me and I’m one of his harshest critics.  Outstanding vision, great shot, and protects the puck well.

 

1297487616988_ORIGINAL7. Mitch Marner  London  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 160  Shot: R

Comparison: Patrick Kane

7th, but still in the 3rd tier and that’s what really matters here.  So I could just as easily have him ranked 3rd, but mainly he is knocked back to 7 because I don’t value wingers as much as center’s and D.  He’s great though.  So smooth with the puck, amazing vision, high end speed, high end creativity, and if he can put on 15-20 pounds he won’t be THAT small of a player.

 

Tier 4

werenski8. Zach Werenski  Michigan  NCAA

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 206  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan Whitney

In a class all by himself.  He’s just a hair below Hanifin and Provorov for me, but above the rest of the D in this class.  Some like him better than Hanifin, maybe a bit more polished offensively and had a better World Juniors.  But it can’t be all about the WJC.  He’s been criticised for being a bit soft which plays into the Whitney comparison.  It’s also the only thing that holds him back from being an elite prospect.  Might not sound like a lot but you can’t be soft and effective in the NHL.  See Tom Gilbert, see Justin Schultz.

 

Tier 5

mikko-rantanen-finland9. Mikko Rantanen  TPS  SM LIGA

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 211  Shot: L

Comparison: Marian Hossa

I got him above Connor and Zacha who are listed as center’s, but I worry about the lack of grit in Connor’s game that might hold him back from being an elite 2nd line center, and I don’t believe Zacha will work in the middle in the pro’s.  I say Rantanen is like Hossa, Craig Button says Meier is and I can see it for both guys.  But Rantanen is bigger and probably a better playmaker than Meier.  Skates a little awkwardly, but effectively, he doesn’t lack speed.  He already plays a pretty solid 2 way game.

 

Kyle Connor210. Kyle Connor  Youngstown  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 177  Shot: L

Comparison: Kyle Turris

Has a chance to be a very solid 2 way center.  Scouts vary on where Connor should be ranked.  Button loves him, others are concerned that he’s soft and a soft center isn’t going to lead a team anywhere no matter how good the numbers are.  But he has a lot of skill and has a pretty good 2 way game already.

 

Pavel Zacha of the Sarnia Sting. Photo by Terry Wilson/OHL Images.11. Pavel Zacha  Sarnia  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 210  Shot: L

Comparison: Tuomo Ruutu

Zacha doesn’t lack the physical tools to be an elite forward.  But I stress forward and not necessarily winger or center.  I think he ends up being a winger.  He’s a shoot first center and they so rarely work out.  Even Stamkos got pushed to the wing these playoffs.  Now perhaps Zacha could be that elite 2nd line center every team craves, but he’ll need to develop not just an ok 2 way game but a great 2 way game.  If not, I think he’ll still be that power winger which isn’t a need but one sweet luxury.

 

c0bfd834-98e7-41c3-9dbc-580b55e3170b_JDX-NO-RATIO_WEB12. Timo Meier  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 209  Shot: L

Comparison: Loui Eriksson

Speed, size, grit, character and skill.  This kid has shot up the boards all season.  He has elite winger written all over him.  He does a great job at protecting the puck and as has been pointed out by others he’s improved a lot using his teammates this season.  Much improved vision, although he’ll never be a pass first guy.

 

2015-18-White-DL-213. Colin White  USA U-18  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: R

Comparison: Patrice Bergeron

I believe this kid will end up being a steal.  I saw people comparing him to Jonathan Toews at the start of the season, and then he got mono.  Really similar season to Barzal, and I think teams will be sorry they didn’t take both guys earlier than they do.  He does anything to help his team win, much like the guy I compare him to does.  Not ironically, he grew up in the Boston area, is a big Bergeron fan and patterns his game after Bergeron.

 

Lawson Crouse of the Kingston Frontenacs. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images14. Lawson Crouse  Kingston  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 215  Shot: L

Comparison: Andrew Ladd

If you just project with how his game will translate, he should be able to play a perfect complementary role on a team’s first line.  But he’s never going to carry a line offensively.  Think of Ryan Smyth.  Different styles, but Smyth was a guy that really never carried a line, but was the perfect compliment.  He has speed, size, grit, all the intangibles.  He’s just doesn’t have high end skill.

 

JEEK15. Joel Eriksson Ek  Farjestad  SHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1.75  Wt: 180  Shot: L

Comparison: Derek Stepan

He’s the big riser going into this draft.  I think with him scouts have been hesitant to put him higher on their lists just because he’s shot up so much already.  But he has elite 2nd line center written all over him in my mind.  Good size (obviously needs to put on 20-30 pounds but he will), plays a good 200 foot game, gets his nose dirty, has a good shot, not amazing vision but creates offense nonetheless.

 

Tier 6

Guryanov16. Denis Guryanov  Togilatti 2  MHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 183

Comparison: Patrick Marleau

If he’s not Russian, he’s likely a top 10 pick.  I have him at 16 which is higher than most, but it is tough to completely ignore the Russian factor seeing how it will affect his position in the draft.  But he’ll eventually come over to North America (they always do), and he will likely end up being amazing value for the team that gets him.  He has the best shot in this draft, speed, size, he’s a total sniper.

 

Travis-Konecny-Ottawa-67s-Captain-AB17. Travis Konecny  Ottawa  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’9.75  Wt: 175  Shot: R

Comparison: Zach Parise

You’ll hate it in 5 years when your team is playing his and he is in everyone’s face all night long.  Highly skilled and gritty as can be.  This kid craves it.  I think his skill is being a bit overlooked by some because he is such a gritty player.  Some have him as a Bobby Clarke type, but he’s not a center he’s a winger.  Let’s not forget Bob Clarke was one of the best defensive center’s of all time.  But good wheels, great hands and vision, he’s greasy around the net, I really am a huge fan of this kids game.  He has had concussion and other injury problems though which if he drops in the draft will be the reason why.

 

Samsonov18. Ilya Samsonov  Magnitorgorsk  MHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 200  Glove: L

Comparison: Henrik Lundqvist

He’s got the makings of an elite goaltender.  He’s got Lundqvist’s size and athleticism, yet he’s quicker and maybe has better lateral movement.  The problem is that he’s signed for another 3 years to play in the KHL, and it isn’t a good era for goaltenders to go in the 1st round.  But I’m personally a huge fan and feel like he maybe should be ranked higher than this.

 

roy219. Jeremy Roy  Sherbrooke  QMJHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 188  Shot: R

Comparison: Dan Boyle

I’m a huge fan of his game.  He’s a really smart kid and if you read my stuff you know how vital I believe intelligence is to being a great D-man in the pro’s.  The only knock I hear against Roy is his size, and scouts are raving about how good his stick is and positioning is defensively.  Icing on the cake is that he’s a RH shot.  I can live with a D-man only being 6’0 188 in today’s game when he brings everything to the table like Roy does.

 

Jakub_Zboril.0.020. Jakub Zboril  Saint John  QMJHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0.75  Wt: 184  Shot: L

Comparison: Sergei Gonchar

He seems to get forgotten.  A sort of under the radar top 20 guy in this years draft class.  Solid all around and has a bomb from the point.  He had some consistency issues this season which has knocked him down some lists, but he seems to be the top rated D-man coming out of the Q by most (not me).

 

1382491997-crop_73592_27_138249199921. Jansen Harkins  Prince George  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1.25  Wt: 182  Shot: L

Comparison: David Krecji

Might be shocking that I have him ranked ahead of Merkley, but the fact is that Harkins skill set transfers to the NHL better than Merkley’s does.  A very solid, 2 way center who emerged from a program in PG that doesn’t produce NHL prospects too often let alone top 30 guys in great drafts.  I love his potential.

 

Tier 7

orig-mediaitemid9740-275622. Nick Merkley  Kelowna  WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10.5  Wt: 191  Shot: R

Comparison: Jiri Hudler

2 knocks that hurt him.  Skating isn’t great, size isn’t great.  It’s a bad combination.  I think of a kid like Sam Gagner and how that combination has made him a very sub par player despite being so hard working.  A big difference is that Merkley isn’t as soft on the puck as Gagner, and as long as he’s surrounded by a big and/or speedy team he should be a huge asset.

 

4748763_20-prospects-in-20-days-thomas-chabot_b8a08fa6_m23. Thomas Chabot  Saint John  QMJHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1.5  Wt: 180  Shot: L

Comparison: T.J. Brodie

He was a big riser in the first half of the season, then he kind of levelled off.  He is more raw than a guy like Jeremy Roy is, but a better skater and once he fills out he has a chance to be a number 2 or 3 D-man.

 

Jake-DeBrusk-Broncos24. Jake Debrusk  Swift Current  WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11.75  Wt: 174  Shot: L

Comparison: T.J. Oshie

Hard working, gritty, good skater, can score from anywhere, there is a ton of stuff to love about Debrusk.  High end talent isn’t there, but he’s at worst a solid 3rd line guy.

 

Carlo25. Brandon Carlo  Tri-City  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 196  Shot: R

Comparison: Jonathan Ericsson

He’s intriguing because if he develops offensively he has the makings of a legit number 1 D-man.  However, he has a long way to go offensively.  Still, you’re getting a top 4 kid who can move and plays with an edge.

 

Evgeny-Svechnikov26. Evgeny Svechnikov  Cape Breton  QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1.75  Wt: 199  Shot: L

Comparison: Alexander Semin

A lot of talent here, but he’s got a lot of question marks about his work ethic, which is the real reason behind the Semin comparison.  I could see teams falling in love with his talent, but it could be a bad mistake.

 

Brock-Boeser27. Brock Boeser  Waterloo  USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 191  Shot: R

Comparison: David Booth

He scores.  He’ll get his nose dirty to score in front of the net (as pictured), he can score off the rush, he can score off the wall on the PP, he’s just a scorer.  David Booth might be an odd comparison but before his injury problems Booth was this type of guy.

 

Dergachev28. Alexander Dergachev  St.Petersburg  MHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 200  Shot: L

Comparison: Artem Anisimov

He’s ranked low for most because he’s Russian.  But also because he’s not a highly skilled Russian.  Yet he’s huge, he can fly, and he competes hard.  So I personally would be very willing to take this kid earlier than he’s projected by most to go.  At least a 3rd line center with a chance to be a top 6 kid.

 

Tier 8

Beauvillier29. Anthony Beauvillier  Shawinigan  QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht:5’10.25  Wt: 173  Shot: L

Comparison: Tomas Tartar

Impossible not to love this kid.  He needs to put on weight as most of these kids do, but he can play in any situation even though he is only 5’10.  He’s willing to go to any area on the ice, skates very well, intelligent and works hard.  Ignore his size, this is a kid you win with.

 

Zach Senyshyn Soo Greyhounds Semptember 28 2014 KA30. Zach Senyshyn  Sault Ste. Marie  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: R

Comparison: Adam Deadmarsh

His flaw is that he didn’t get much ice time this season in the Soo.  But he has the total package to be a top 6 power forward.  Real good skater, needs to put on weight and continue to develop his shot.  But what I like is he’s gritty.  So once he fills out he’ll play at 205-210 he won’t be a guy like Paul Bittner who won’t battle.

 

Meloche31. Nicolas Meloche  Baie-Comeau  QMJHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 204  Shot: R

Comparison: Mattias Ohlund

He leads the way for me in potential high 2nd round D-men who I really love.  He’s gritty, ballsy, and really intelligent.  And though his skating and shot could use improvement they’re already pretty good.  If they do improve, he could be a top pairing guy down the line.

 

Bittner32. Paul Bittner  Portland  WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 204  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan Malone

Not a fan.  Soft.  Lived off his linemates.  As of writing this I seen Bob Stauffer say on Twitter that he would like the Oilers to take him at 16.  YUCK!!!  But while I’m not a fan at all, I understand the love for him.  Tough to ignore a 6’4 kid who can skate as well as he can.  Still, I personally wouldn’t touch him.

 

Dunn33. Vince Dunn  Niagara  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 5’11.75  Wt: 187  Shot: L

Comparison: Kimmo Timonen

Think about what Timonen WAS, not what he was this spring.  Dunn loves to jump up in the play, and his amazing skating ability allows him to recover.  So why is he ranked this low?  Because he has to recover A LOT.  He turns it over a ton.  Yet while he can play an immature game on the ice, he’s far from a dumb kid.  So I think given some time he’ll be a kid who cuts down on his turnovers and people will ask how he slipped to the late 1st/early 2nd round.

 

Travis Dermott of the Erie Otters. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images34. Travis Dermott  Erie  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 5’11.25  Wt: 197  Shot: L

Comparison: Andy Greene

Does a great job moving the puck out of his own zone whether it be by pass or skating.  He also ran a great PP this season but that might be the biggest reason he’s not a 1st rounder is because was it the fact that he had McDavid and Strome out there with him?  Needs to develop a better shot from the point.

 

Jacob Larsson35. Jacob Larsson  Frolunda  SWE

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Eric Brewer

Extremely safe D-man.  I can’t see him becoming a guy who runs a PP or puts up 50 points in a season, although you never know how a player may change in 3-4 years.  But this kid should play in the league as a number 4 or 5 guy who you can play in any situation and feel good about him being on the ice.

 

Kylington36. Oliver Kylington  Farjestad  SHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 174  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan Murphy

Amazing skater which will likely keep him as a 1st round pick.  One of these guys though that tries to play the game 1 on 5.  If he goes to the right organization he’ll be a steal.  But if he goes to a bit of a shit show who have trouble developing guys, I fear he could wash out.  Classic boom or bust prospect.

 

Tier 9

Mac Black37. MacKenzie Blackwood  Barrie  OHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 215  Glove: L

Comparison: Mike Smith

He tore up the combine.  So does that mean he has maxed out yet can’t be a better prospect than this, or does that mean he is committed and that work ethic will translate to working on his game?  Sometimes it’s the former, sometimes the latter.  Positioning needs a lot of work, and he needs to learn to battle more in net and not just rely on his size.  But he has a ton of talent.

 

Vladar38. Daniel Vladar  Kladno  CZE2

Pos: G  Ht: 6’5.25  Wt: 185  Glove: L

Comparison: Anders Lindback

Big talent, pun intended.  ISS believe he’s a 1st round pick.  I compare him to Lindback because his skill set is the same, but Lindback has yet to get it and maybe has run out of chances.  But it’s not because he lacked talent.  Most people thought when Tampa acquired Lindback they got the next elite goaltender, so it’s actually a pretty good compliment to the man they call Vladar (wrestling fans will enjoy that).  Obviously he needs to put on 30-40 pounds which might be his biggest draw back, but he can really move

 

Sprong141539. Daniel Sprong  Charlottetown  QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 180  Shot: R

Comparison: Alexander Radulov

High end speed and skill, but one of these kids who doesn’t use his teammates well and tries to play the game 1 on 5.  His talent is worth gambling on in the middle of the 2nd round, but I’m personally not a fan.

 

Juulsen_20141101_0506-140. Noah Juulsen  Everett  WHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1.5  Wt: 174  Shot: R

Comparison: Jonas Brodin

He needs to improve his skating a bit, and needs to fill out.  IF he does, wow this kid is going to be good!  But you can say that about all these kids from about 20-50.  Still, he’s likely going to play in the league because of his positioning and compete level.

 

Vande Sompel41. Mitch Vande Sompel  Oshawa  OHL

Pos: D  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 182  Shot: L

Comparison: Lubomir Visnovsky

He’s really only low on people’s lists because of his size.  He is one small D-man.  But he’s an amazing skater, one of the best in the draft.  And he battles.  I think this kid is going to overcome the size issue and be a top 4 D-man.

 

Brisebois42. Guillaume Brisebois  Acadie-Bathurst  QMJHL

Pos: D  Ht: 6’1.75  Wt: 175  Shot: L

Comparison: Olli Maatta

Skating, smarts and compete Craig Button gives him a 4/5 ranking.  If true, he’ll play in the league.  And he’ll have a great chance to improve and perhaps be a steal in this draft.  Needs to fill out, but he’ll be a 2nd round pick so he won’t be rushed.

 

Gabriel Carlsson, ice hockey, Sweden, Five nations tournament, U1843. Gabriel Carlsson  Linkoping  SWE-J20

Pos: D  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 183  Shot: L

Comparison: Tyler Myers

Total project.  I have him a lot lower than he is on McKenzie’s list, and Craig Button had him going in the 1st round in his mock.  But he’s pretty far away from what little I have seen.  I feel more comfortable taking these kind of players mid-late 2nd round and beyond, not in the 1st.

 

Malgin44. Denis Malgin  Zurich  Swiss A

Pos: C  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 163  Shot: R

Comparison: Johnny Gaudreau

More so Gaudreau in his draft year, not what he’s become as that would be a pretty lofty comparison.  Listed as a center but I can’t see him playing the middle should he make it to the show.  But I’m a big fan of this kid.  He can fly and he has terrific skill.  The obvious flaw is his size.

 

Tier 10

Chlapik45. Filip Chlapik  Charlottetown  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 196  Shot: L

Comparison: Carl Soderberg

A cerebral player.  Chlapik isn’t a great skater which concerns me, but neither is his comparable Soderberg.  Yet like Soderberg he plays a very solid 200 foot game and will likely pitch in offensively with his work down low and around the net.  No flash in his game.

 

Rasmus Andersson of the Barrie Colts. Photo by Aaron Bell/OHL Images46. Rasmus Andersson

Pos: D  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 212  Shot: R

Comparison: Michael Del Zotto

He’s not that good in his own zone, but as we all know that is something which can be taught.  He’s not the risk that fellow Swede Oliver Kylington is, but it needs to be cleaned up.  Offensively though he’s very smooth.  Good, not great skater.  But remember too that this was his first year in North America, can be a huge adjustment and yet he was one of the Colts top players.

 

Roslovic47. Jack Roslovic  USA NTDP  USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 182  Shot: R

Comparison: Rich Peverly

People forget about Peverly.  He was great for the Bruins in their 2011 Cup run, and was having a nice season for the Stars before his heart problems which apparently he has been cleared of and will be a UFA this summer.  Anyway, that’s who I see Roslovic as.  Nothing too flashy, and has benefited from playing with Auston Matthews all season but he is a great complimentary player.  Great skater as most USHL kids are, versatile, willing to do whatever to help his team win.

 

Stephens48. Mitchell Stephens  Saginaw  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11.25  Wt: 188  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Callahan

Impossible to not love this kid.  He’s going to go higher than this, he MIGHT even be a late 1st because he was awesome at the U18’s as Canada’s captain.  Played all season at center, but was put on the wing at the U18’s which has some believing that was the key to his game going to the next level.  This comparison to Callahan might be one of the closest I’ve come up with.  Craig Button has Andrew Shaw, and I love Shaw but he’s a more polished player and while plays in your face, isn’t quite that intense.

 

jonas_siegenthaler_s1249. Jonas Siegenthaler  GCK Zurich  Swiss 2

Pos: D  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 220  Shot: L

Comparison: Jake Muzzin

I’m not a huge fan which is why I have him ranked a lot lower than he is on McKenzie’s list, but he plays a very hard game.  I don’t think he’ll ever develop much of an offensive game, but defensively he could become an old school shutdown guy.

 

Fischer50. Christian Fischer  USA NTDP  USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 212  Shot: R

Comparison: Drew Stafford

I have him ranked 50th but I actually really love what I read on Fischer.  Just has a real good overall game with really good wheels for a kid his size.  At 212 already I doubt he’ll put on much more weight than that.  He has the makings of a very solid 3rd line winger.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

Deep Draft, As it Should Be

Emerson+Etem+Beau+Bennett+2012+NHLPA+Rookie+7OBNefKE4z_lLots of draft stuff lately as we head towards June 26th.  This has to be the most anticipated draft I’ve ever seen.  Generational prospect, another elite prospect, the 3rd tier of kids in this draft are all expected to be all-stars!  Kyle Woodlief from Redline Report believes players ranked in the 40’s this year would have been picked in the early 20’s last year.  So if you like a kid such as Robby Fabri, your team can still snag him at 39.  Just amazing.  And guess what – it should be that deep.

 

Next year we will meet Auston Matthews.  6’2, 194 pound center from Scottsdale, Arizona.  The state of Arizona will perhaps produce the top pick (although I am sceptical about his decision to play in Europe and all the adjustments that will ensue).  And he’s going to play in the Swiss league, and Switzerland continues to produce more and more high draft picks as well.  Kevin Fiala last year went 11th, Mirco Mueller went 18th in 2013, Sven Baertschi went 13th in 2011, and Nino Niederreiter went 5th in 2010.

 

And it’s not just the Swiss coming on oversea’s.  The Danes are making some noise too with Nikolaj Ehlers last year, Marko Dano in 2013, and Nicklas Jensen in 2011.  The Germans haven’t made a jump since coming on a bit in the late 90’s, but perhaps Leon Draisaitl was the first shoe to drop for them going 3rd overall last year.

 

Of course you add to this that hockey has never been hotter in the U.S.  Matthews is the latest, but I was at the draft in L.A. in 2010 when 2 California kids went in the 1st round in Beau Bennett and Emerson Etem.  2017 already has a kid turning heads from Plano, Texas named Max Gildon.  Of course we had Seth Jones who grew up in Denver go 4th overall (but was the top ranked prospect for most of his draft year) in 2013.

 

And is hockey suffering up here?  Not at all.  We have never been producing as much high end talent as we are right now.  And Sweden is cooking, and the Fins are consistent, and the Czech’s are getting back to how great they were in the early 2000’s.  The only country that is currently not either on the rise or as good as ever would be Russia, but they’re still one of the heavyweights.

 

The point in all this is that the drafts should be deeper than ever and be 5-10 deep with high end talent up at the top, and teams should be able to find real quality well into the 2nd round.  I don’t expect a top 2 like McDavid and Eichel every year, but the depth that this draft has produced should happen more often and it should give the NHL more incentive to expand to 32 teams.

 

Now, the impressive depth wouldn’t last forever obviously.  Eventually things start to even out and there becomes a new normal.  But looking forward, while it’s far too early to tell how good the 2016 and 17 drafts will be as far as depth goes, they are already looking to produce some high end guys.  Next season has Matthews, Jacob Chychrun, Sean Day, Tyler Benson, Kale Clague, Sam Steel, Logan Brown (Missouri born, so there’s another one from a bit of an obscure place).  2017 has a potential superstar already in Brandon Wheat King Nolan Patrick who had 30 goals and 56 points in 55 games this season.

 

It is insane the type of talent that we are seeing entering the league right now.  And while this draft isn’t going to be the new normal, I would expect drafts in the next 5 years to look more like this one than not.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

LeBron Hate & The Warriors Great?

nba-playoffsSo this is just a TAD late coming out!   This is a 2 for 1 because I have a lot of writing I want to do and I have to cut corners somewhere.  Too much NHL draft stuff going on lately, it gets too many clicks.  So I’m talking NBA here.  I’m talking Warriors, I’m talking LeBron, and so you will sit there, read it, and like it!!!

 

So the Cavs lost in 6, LeBron lost in the finals for the 4th time in 6 attempts, and ALLLLLLLL the haters come out and say he’s nothing.  I could care less if someone doesn’t like a player.  We all have our guys we don’t like and guys we love.  And LeBron has given a lot of people some good reasons over the years to not like him.  But to piss all over what he has accomplished, it’s just idiotic.

 

This guy literally had NOTHING to play with.  Outside of a few guys long past their prime in Mike Miller and Shawn Marion, not one of his teammates has ever seen as much as an All-Star game, let alone a selection to an NBA 1st, 2nd or 3rd teams.  The fact that he drug this team of nobodies, who were coached by an even bigger nobody, to 6 games in the NBA finals, 3 of the 4 loses came down to the final minute of the 4th quarter, is amazing!

 

It’s like people just can’t grasp that Michael Jordan had Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman, Toni Kukoc, and Phil Jackson.  The Bulls backup point guard whether it was B.J. Armstrong, John Paxson, or Steve Kerr were all better than Matthew Dellavedova.  Who was LeBron’s Scottie Pippen?  Who was LeBron’s Phil Jackson?  I GUESS you could try to compare Tristan Thompson to Rodman, but Rodman was one of the best defenders of his era and the greatest rebounder of all time.

 

But that doesn’t matter to the morons out there.  They just want to get on social media and run their mouths about how he’s not actually that good.  In the finals he nearly averaged a TRIPLE F’N DOUBLE!!!  Do these people have ANY clue how difficult that is?!?

 

He’s gone to 5 straight NBA finals.  He’s won 2 finals MVP’s.  I love how if he lost in the conference finals rather than the NBA finals the 4 times that he’s lost, people would say “well he’s 2-0 in the finals so he’s pretty good”, yet because he’s lost 4 times in the finals it’s a detriment.  Larry Bird was 3-2 in the finals, so it doesn’t matter that he got knocked out in the conference finals in 80, 82, and 88 while having home court advantage in all 3 series.  No, he’s a legend because he had a winning record in the finals, right?

 

How many times has LeBron been the favorite in the finals and lost?  Once, 2011.  Once he lost when he was favored to win.  How many times did MJ win as the underdog in the finals?  Never.  But, let’s not talk about that.  I could compare him to Kobe, Michael, Magic, Bird, Erving, none of them will get through to people.  Wilt Chamberlin was the most dominating center in NBA history, more so than Shaq.  2-4 in NBA finals.  Couldn’t beat the Celtics, even when in 1969 the Celtics were washed up and he joined Jerry West and Elgin Baylor with Lakers.

 

It’s just enough already.  The guy should have been the finals MVP he was so amazing, and many who know much more about basketball than I have said the exact same thing.  The guy is amazing, was amazing in defeat, deal with it.

 

As for the champs, the big topic that came out after the finals was whether or not this was an all time great team.  67 wins, dominated at home much like the 96 Bulls and 86 Celtics did, and only lost 5 games in the playoffs.  The answer: No, they aren’t.

 

The best comparison I can come up with for this Warriors team is the 08 Boston Celtics.  That team only had a year on top, and won 66 games in the regular season.  They struggled a bit more in the playoffs, losing 10 games along the way.  But they also had what will be 3 hall of famers, not to mention a triple double machine at point guard in Rajon Rondo.  But nobody will ever say that Celtics team is an all time great team.

 

And let’s not kid anyone, the Warriors had a lot of help along the way.  Steph Curry never had to face a teams healthy starting point guard.  Mike Conley played most of the 2nd round but his face was mangled.  They get to the finals and not only did Kyrie Irving go down in game 1, but of course the Cavs didn’t have Kevin Love who could have been huge against the Warriors with his size and rebounding.  They also didn’t have to play the Spurs or Clippers who would have posed major problems for the Champs.

 

But this isn’t to say that the Warriors can’t be great.  Steph Curry is amazing, Steve Kerr proved to be an excellent head coach, and the supporting cast is great and deep with all star Klay Thompson, defensive player of the year Draymond Green, and they have what will be a great trade chip in David Lee who will bring in a piece to the puzzle who will fit their roster much better than he does.

 

Simply put, this team is loaded.  Which, if people are so high on, then why does LeBron get shit on for losing this series with nobody?!  It is such a ridiculous argument.  LeBron will win more titles, and will be a top 5 player when it is all said and done.  And the Warriors had a great team this season, but have a long way to go until they can be considered an all time great team.  Why is this all so difficult to understand?

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

One Legend is Leaving, One is Entering?

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So why is it that we always refer to golfers like we know them?  In any other sport, unless it’s a unique first name like LeBron, we call everyone by their last name or nickname.  Toews, Stamkos, Ovy, Manning, Brady, Trout, Kershaw, etc.  Yet with golfers we talk like we know them!  Rory, Phil, Tiger, Bubba, Jack, Arnie, we hardly ever use their last name.  Why is this?  It’s not a big deal, but it’s just…odd.  Anyway…

 

This is my first ever golf piece!  Nearly 4 years down for the Soups on Sports site, and I’ve never felt too compelled to talk golf.  I like golf, and rarely miss a major, but to me it just doesn’t translate to being a hot topic that I have to talk about.  However, I felt it after this weekend.

 

Some may take pleasure in watching Tiger struggle, but I don’t.  Tiger is probably the biggest reason I’ve ever swung a club before.  I was 13 when he emerged.  It was the biggest sports story on the planet when he won the 97 Masters.  It was not just the hot story of the moment, he was the story of the year.  And he really didn’t play good again in 97 after dominating at Augusta, but it didn’t matter.  Sports next Michael Jordan had arrived.

 

So to see what has happened to him gives me no pleasure.  I’m not going to give up on the guy.  He still has 6 or 7 years left to win majors should he get his game back together.  No chance he’ll ever be back to what he was.  But can he get back to being amongst the best in the world?  Of course.  He can win 2, maybe 3 more majors.  But he’s definitely at rock bottom as we speak.

 

But how ironic is it that while we talk that way about Tiger, Jordan Spieth has really arrived.  He accomplished something on Sunday that Tiger had never done and that is coming from behind to win a major championship.  In all of Tigers 14 major victories, he never once did so by coming from behind on Sunday.  And Spieth if you can believe it is now ahead of Tiger in majors at the same age.

 

Will he be in Tiger’s league, or better?  Time will tell, but he’ll never be what Tiger has been.  Obviously the fact that Tiger was African-American, was so intense on the course, was a bit of a mystery as a public figure because he never gave a good sound clip and never was anything friendly to reporters, it all just made him such a polarizing guy.

 

Spieth isn’t really any different from anyone else out on the course.  He looks and acts just like all the other guys.  And he can’t bomb it down the fairway.  With Tiger if you recall, they would “Tiger proof” the courses.  Tournament organizers would extend the length of courses due to Tigers ability to drive the ball like John Daly, yet have the best short game in the world to go with it.  That isn’t Spieth’s game.  He is currently 69th in driving distance on the PGA tour hitting it an average of 291.1 yards.  There is zero flash to this kid.  Yet he is on the cusp of greatness.

 

It would be amazing for golf if Tiger can get his game back together and we had a 3 or 4 year window where the legend faced off with the up and coming challenger.  We never got to see Tiger vs Phil, and we have yet to see Jordan vs Rory.  But you can’t deny that at the moment, it looks as though Tiger might be done, while Jordan Spieth is half way to a grand slam, and on pace to pass Tiger in major victories.  How long until we begin asking if he’ll catch Jack?  Up until 2009, it seemed inevitable that Tiger would be the guy to catch.

 

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Best Player Available vs Need, Far From Black and White

146826241_slideIt is a great debate that gets pretty heated this time of year amongst hockey die hards.  There is still a good message board I go on, but it is private to ensure that we don’t have lunatics or some 17 year old fan boy who just wants to beak off at anyone who doesn’t agree with him.  But I used to frequent HF boards, and it was lively as I’m certain it is today.  The one thing you can’t do when posting at HF boards when talking about the draft is mention the “N” word.  “Those people” don’t like to hear the “N” word…of course I’m talking about drafting for “Need” at the draft.  Yes, the “N” word…

 

But it isn’t anywhere near as simple as some of those lunatics want to make it out to be on draft day.

 

One thing they don’t seem to understand is that the list they swear by, isn’t the list NHL teams swear by.  This is why NHL teams have their own scouts, so they can make their own lists and decide who they believe is the best player available.

 

Take me for example.  I’m no scout, but I have types that I prefer in the draft.  I value centers and defensemen over wingers.  And if I was running an NHL team I would be extremely leery of taking a winger who was under 6’1 and 190 pounds at the draft unless the player had off the charts speed and skill like a Mitch Marner does this season.  Anyway the point I’m looking to make here is that everyone has their own likes and dislikes about certain players.  I don’t love Nick Merkley like most do this year.  But I do love Jeremy Roy who most wouldn’t have ahead of Merkley.  There are times I can point to where a Roy type of player is the way to go, and times you can point to where a Merkley type of player pans out better.

 

Another thing is that I’m certain that most teams would have nothing separating groups of players.  So then you have to look at all the factors to give certain players an edge over others.  There in lies need.  If teams have two players equal, they aren’t going to take one that fills a lesser hole over the other.  But if you say a team “has a bigger need at position X”, fan boys just go ape shit because they don’t want to hear need.  “Need is evil, teams lose when they pick for need, just go BPA.”  Well they are going BPA, they’re going BPA FOR THEM.

 

I converse with Kirk Luedeke from Redline Report often on twitter.  AWESOME guy and if you love the draft you need to follow him because he will always get back to any question you have.  But I asked Kirk one day about what the Bruins biggest need was as we head into the draft.  He didn’t answer at all, because I used the “N” word.

I fully understand that logic, but the Bruins pick 14th.  Unless a guy out of what I would deem the 4th tier (Zacha, Crouse, Meier, Connor) falls to them, they’re going to have to select from a group of guys.  Now, maybe they have a guy in what I believe is the 5th tier who they love above the others.  But it is likely they’ll have players they deem equal and will then look to need.  Like it or not, need always has to be a consideration.

 

I do get why some fans can’t stand to hear need though.  And again I’ll go back to the Oilers, as they drafted for need a lot under Kevin Pendergast.  Marc Pouliot and Alex Plante are 2 who come to mind.  They took Pouliot because they wanted a big center, so they traded back to take him instead of taking the BPA Zach Parise or Ryan Getzlaf.  Awful mistake.  In 07 they took Plante over the sliding and late Alexei Cherepanov.  While Cherepanov would pass away not even 16 months later, it was clear very early on that the Oilers had selected poorly once again.

 

So let’s look at someone else who has missed on the BPA, yet had success.  Tampa, who I kind of zero’d in on during my last mock draft as I came to the realization that under Steve Yzerman they actually don’t have a very good drafting record.  In case you missed that I’ll fill you in.

 

2010 they had Cam Fowler fall to them.  Not a lot, but Fowler wasn’t expected to get past 5.  He didn’t go until 12 in that draft, so the Lightning weren’t the only team making such a terrible mistake (Don Waddell, Glen Sather, Joe Nieuwendyk).  But Steve Yzerman put himself in that group by taking Brett Connolly who was well thought of prior to the 09-10 season, but had hip surgery thus missing most of the year, and was looked at as a one dimensional guy.

 

2012 they had Filip Forsberg fall to them.  I had Forsberg going 4th in that draft, and couldn’t fathom him falling anywhere near 10th.  But he did.  And the Lightning again took a kid who was highly touted prior to that season, but injuries derailed him in defenseman Slater Koekkoek.

 

Then in 2013 I yelled at my TV as Seth Jones, who I still say should have been the 1st overall pick (I felt as though he was tied with Nathan MacKinnon for the top prospect but that the Avs had a bigger need for D-men and he is a Denver kid), slid to 3 and the Lightning were VERY thin on the blueline (especially after Koekkoek had such a disappointing season).  Yet again they passed on the BPA and took Jonathan Drouin who was yet another small winger that they had an abundance of.  This one was the worst, and it’s not because Drouin hasn’t hit his stride yet.  I believe he’ll be a very good 60-70 point player in this league.  But Jones is an all world talent and being a RH shot would have fit PERFECTLY with Victor Hedman to form a dominant pairing on the Lightning blueline.

 

So did the Lightning go need over BPA?  Not at all, but I don’t believe they went with the BPA on their board.  What I believe happened or happens with Tampa is that they zero in on guys they really like instead of being so broad with their scouting.  Because they’ve drafted pretty well in rounds 2-7.

 

Radko Gudas, Nikita Kucherov, Nikita Nesterov, Ondrej Palat, Cedric Paquette, and they have Adam Erne and Kristers Gudlevskis getting close.  That’s pretty good and shows they must be doing something right, yet they keep messing up their top pick.  Knowing the kids they want to take in the later rounds better than most teams gives them an edge but in the 1st round hurts them when someone like Jones falls because perhaps they’re scared to take him if they haven’t done the homework on him.  I don’t know if that’s the case, but it’s the theory I’ve come up with.

 

Of course other theories could be made too.  I don’t know if it was the case for the Lightning, but there are years where you have to play the draft so to speak.  This year, Dylan Strome is likely going to go 3rd overall.  Now, I’m not that big on Strome, yet I would take him no later than 6th.  Why if I don’t like him?  Well if your team needs a center, you can’t get a poor man’s Dylan Strome in the 2nd or 3rd round.  You can get a solid puck moving D-man who has a similar skill set to say, Zach Werenski.  But you aren’t getting a center like Dylan Strome.  So sometimes that can come into play too.

 

But something else factors into all this.  It isn’t 2001 folks.  It’s 2015 and there is a salary cap to deal with, there are much longer term contracts in place, and a lot of GM’s who quite frankly don’t have the stomach to make big trades any longer.  If you simply sit back and take the BPA EVERY SINGLE TIME, you could easily end up having major holes.  Some teams will get lucky and have the right players fall into their lap at the right times.  But some teams won’t.  Some teams will continuously end up with the same type of player and fail to fill their holes.  Then you try to do it through free agency which A) rarely works and B) creates a mess of your teams salary cap.

 

Of course in talking about all this I should point out that this really only applies to the 1st round.  Some years, like this one, it could apply to the 2nd round as the draft is 60 impact players deep according to some.  But there comes a point in every draft where you do in fact just simply sit back and pick the highest player on your board.  Because once you get out of the 1st or 2nd round, it is an enormous crap shoot.

 

But as for early on, you can’t JUST pick the BPA, and you obviously can’t JUST pick for need.  Each year is different.  You have to know your situation inside and out and make the pick that is best for your team.  Some teams in this years draft can sit back and take the BPA.  The ones who have needs should look to ensure they’re in the right position to fill their needs by trading up or trading back.  But if that’s not possible, drafting for need might be the way to go because GM’s are worried about building the best team possible, not about having the most talented players.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

2015 NHL Mock Draft 4.0

2015_NHL_DraftJust 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.

 

 

6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h1. 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

 
i40oxcdbo7xtfamqqhqachoyo2. Jack Eichel  Boston University  NCAA

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

 

 

8lqmtthh0w2wgumr6goswqmki3. 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

 

 

1994. 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

 

 

fotih31tn5r345nufo5xxayh35. 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

 

 

32tfs723a3bes0p0hb4hgcy1u6. Mathew Barzal  Seattle  WHL

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

 

 

1617. 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

 

 

jhepegs329pc7ugyypebl28wg8. 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

 

 

dmo1xf3z4pph27vmg3gf9. Pavel Zacha  Sarnia  OHL

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

 

 

6410. 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

 

 

9411. 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

 

 

107917201412. 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

 

 

71jepx81eqzz1l6q9g1g5j1lh13. Kyle Connor  Youngstown  USHL

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

 

 

venf9fmhgnsawnxxvehf14. Jakub Zboril  Saint John  QMJHL

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

 

 

5015. Travis Konecny  Ottawa  OHL

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

 

 

6cphie5heyvfwn6lbzfowe61h

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

 

 

z9qyy9xqoxfjn0njxgzoy2rwk17. Colin White  USA U-18  USHL

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

 

 

2bkf2l3xyxi5p0cavbj818. Nick Merkley  Kelowna  WHL

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

 

 

yo3wysbjtagzmwj37tb11u0fh19. Joel Eriksson Ek  Farjestad  SHL

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

 

 

0kcehji928suy4ckk1pdo8s7l20. Jansen Harkins  Prince George  WHL

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

 

 

i40oxcdbo7xtfamqqhqachoyo21. Evgeny Svechnikov  Cape Breton  QMJHL

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

 

 

llrs2zxi127vkqgcsvfb22. Brandon Carlo  Tri-City  WHL

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

 

 

2xd2efir5fdew26px6kx23. 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

 

 

19924. 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

 

 

z9qyy9xqoxfjn0njxgzoy2rwk25. 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

 

 

12426. 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

 

 

17361651201427. Zach Senyshyn  Sault Ste. Marie  OHL

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

 

 

97hhvk8e5if0riesnex30etgz28. 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

 

 

16129. MacKenzie Blackwood  Barrie  OHL

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

 

 

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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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1st You Pick McDavid, Then…

GettyImages-147156374.0With the draft now 12 days away, I’m going to be talking about it a ton.  And my Oilers stuff always goes over big.  So I’m pretty pumped to do this piece quite frankly.  Normally I try to write something entertaining to hook you with the opening paragraph.  I have yet to do that.  Some days I’m not witty.  Or funny.  This is one of those days.

 

The Oilers are in quite the position.  They have a boat load of picks to play with, they have some cap space this summer, but have a lot more next summer when Nikitin, Purcell, Gordon and Scrivens all come off the books.

 

Everyone in Oiler land is looking for the home run trade this offseason.  And hey, I would love that to happen.  I see a lot of scenarios in which they could hit that home run.  But for JUST picks, they probably aren’t going to get the right value, at least not in this draft.

 

This isn’t a game plan but I have a few ideas.  One is that I love the thought of dealing for Cam Ward and frankly I believe he would cost Ben Scrivens.  Saves the Canes 4 million on the cap, and 4.5 million in real dollars with Ward set to be paid 6.8 million this season.  Ward is playing for a new contract, and has never played behind a good defensive squad so I’m a big believer in the guy…as long as he can stay healthy.

 

As for the backup, and with Ward’s injury history the Oilers would definitely need a solid backup, I like the idea of Kari Ramo for 3 years/9 million.  I don’t know if you can get Ramo for that though.  Cam Talbot is a polarizing guy for Oilers fans.  I’m torn on him, but I don’t mind the idea of him if he’s splitting time with a proven guy like Ward.  And if you’re not intrigued by him, read this:

http://becauseoilers.blogspot.ca/2015/05/talbot-might-be-new-schneider-if-he-is.html

 

That certainly intrigues me on Talbot, but I disagree that he’s worth the 16th or even 33rd pick because of the goaltending market being over saturated.  Ben Scrivens who was almost in an identical situation last year in L.A. cost the Oilers a 3rd round pick, in division, in a weaker draft.  I would pay pick 57, pick 79 and a future 3rd or 4th or something along those lines.  But I’m not moving 16 or 33 for him, not in this draft.

 

We all know the D is the major problem for the Oilers.  But do you see the D-man who would be available for JUST the 16th or 33rd pick?  I don’t.  Doesn’t mean there isn’t a good D-man I’m not thinking of, but I can’t think of it.  I would toss a big offer at the Bruins for Dougie Hamilton in hopes that they would rather avoid him being offer sheeted and forced into dealing a guy like Chara or Lucic for pennies on the dollar.  The 2016 1st, Martin Marincin and Justin Schultz.  That’s a pretty good package compared to getting a 1st, 2nd and 3rd for Hamilton, and a team would likely prefer to overpay a Justin Schultz by 1 mil than overpay Hamilton by 2 or 3 mil.  Add to this, Schultz would be MUCH more effective in Boston’s system and in the East.

 

You also might be able to fix things up simply through UFA and smart trades.  Cody Franson, Andrej Sekera, Mike Green, and a guy who I wouldn’t be surprised to see Todd McLellan want brought in is Matt Irwin whom he had in San Jose.  2 of these 4 wouldn’t fix the Oilers problems on D, but they would be a very big improvement.

 

Then you have a guy like Dion Phaneuf who is intriguing.  The Leafs would have to take back Nikitin’s deal and still maybe eat 1 mil a year on Phaneuf’s deal to make him worth something of value, but I would be interested.

 

Fans need to forget about Brent Seabrook.  Baring him asking out of Chicago or telling the Hawks he is going to test free agency next summer, he isn’t going anywhere.  Corey Crawford, Patrick Sharp, Bryan Bickell.  That’s 15.9 mil of cap space by moving those 3 out.  Even if you took on 2 mil coming back in all those trades you’re still saving nearly 10 mil in cap space which would be enough to get the Hawks cap situation under control.  I think it’s more likely the Preds deal Shea Weber who is set to make 14 million this season, and the Preds needing a potential 1st line center and 1st round draft pick, not to mention even without Weber they are set in their top 4 with Jones, Josi, Ekholm and Ellis.

 

But Peter Chiarelli and Todd McLellan have a year here to figure this out.  The roster with some minor tweaking just with the additions of McDavid and McLellan is going to be much improved.  So there may not be a need to go nuts shipping out all the picks and prospects…yet.

 

So with that said, this is my Oilers mock draft which is tough to do because who knows where guys will go.  But I tried to have them taking guys around where they’re ranked.  I went WHL heavy in the end because I’m very bias.

 

1st pick – C Connor McDavid

DUH.

 

16th pick – G Ilya Samsonov

This is just my opinion, but he has a chance to be a franchise goaltender and those are nearly impossible to come by these days.  So if you walk out of this draft with 2 elite players, you do it.  Watching clips, he really looks like a quicker version of Henrik Lundqvist.  If you don’t take him at 16, he’s likely gone by 33.

 

TRADE ALERT! 

Edmonton deals picks 33 and 57 to Montreal for pick 26

26th pick – D Jeremy Roy

He fits PERFECTLY with Nurse and Klefbom.  Right handed shot, power play quarterback, highly intelligent, smooth skater (although he lacks the high end speed you desire out of a D-man only 6’0, 188).  I don’t know if they would really need to trade up from 33 to get him, he’s ranked everywhere from 10th to 29th in rankings.  But if they do then this proposal makes sense as the Habs would recoup their 2nd they dealt for Petry.  If Roy is gone, take a chance on Oliver Kylington or maybe McDavid’s teammate Travis Dermott.

 

57th pick (2nd round) (should they keep it) – C Alexander Dergachyov 

6’4, 200 pounds, is physical and can fly.  When picking past a certain point I believe the best thing you can do is look for guys who have a special skill.  Dergachyov has a few of them and the reason he might be available around this spot is because of the Russian factor, which hasn’t been any kind of issue for the Oilers with Yakimov and Slephyshev.  He isn’t a natural scorer according to TSN’s scouting report, but with the skill set he does have he could be a steal.

 

79th pick (3rd round) – C/RW Denis Maulgin

Only 5’8, 163.  So why take him?  Skill baby.  This kid is great skater, and he is an extremely intelligent player.  So who does this remind you of?  Maybe a kid playing in Southern Alberta?  I wouldn’t be calling him Denny hockey just yet (by the way, stop calling him Johnny hockey people it’s a stolen nickname), but you can see similarities without a doubt.

 

86th pick (3rd round) – LW Erik Foley

5’11, 172.  Hockey News has him 42nd, that’s far too high.  But those who like this kid, LOVE this kid.  Kirk Luedeke from Redline report who covers that region raves about this kid.  Great speed, great shot, and works his ass off night in and night out.  I believe that’s called compete level and the Oilers can use all of it they can get!

 

117th pick (4th round) – D Brendan Guhle

It’s a long shot that he ends up going this low, but if he did I would be all over him.  6’2, 185 pounds, lefty shot.  He is an awesome skater and being in the shit show that was P.A. this season, I wonder if it held him back.  So much potential with this kid, but of course he’s really raw which is why he is projected to go around the 100th pick.

 

124th pick (5th round) – LW Jesse Gabrielle

I really like what I read about this kid.  Only 5’10, 205 pounds, and he doesn’t have a very pretty skating style.  So why do I like him??  Balls.  He is another Zac Rinaldo type or if he improves his skating maybe an Andrew Shaw.  Just has that relentless tenacity on the ice, and I think he will end up willing himself into the NHL.

 

154th pick (6th round) – D Joe Gatenby

My boy.  This is the kid I keep talking to my buddies about and have mentioned on here before.  Does everything well, nothing special.  Is only 6’0, 176 pounds.  But he was the runner up for the WHL scholastic player of the year, and was voted the WHL’s hardest working player.  Heard him interviewed on TSN 1260 a few weeks back and the kid is so sharp.  To play D in the NHL you need to be able to process the game quickly and this is a kid who’ll be able to do that.  He didn’t see much ice these first 2 seasons in Kelowna with such great D-men on the roster.  Icing on this cake is that he’s a right handed shot.  So with a great work ethic, high IQ and more opportunity next season I could see this kid taking a major leap and being considered one of the biggest steals of this draft when it is all said and done.

 

184th pick (7th round) – G Nick McBride

Another WHL kid to end the draft, and another tendy.  But at this point in the draft I love taking goaltenders.  A lot of things I like about this kid.  6’3, 180 pounds so he has the frame and just needs some time to fill out.  He really has all the physical gifts to be a starter in the NHL someday.  He moves great in goal, is quick with the pads, he had a REAL strong month of March going 5-1-0-1 with a .922 Sv%.  Scholastic player of the year in the WHL, so I like that.  I don’t think a high IQ is vital for a tendy, but it never hurts.  Every flaw he has is fixable.  And let’s not forget much like his teammate Guhle, P.A. was a shit show this season and it can’t be easy to perform at a peak level in that scenario.

 

These are just guys that I like around those spots.  I don’t know these players AT ALL, which is why teams interview guys, dig into their past, and have access to medical records.  But it gives you an idea and while I mainly point out the good qualities and not the bad, it is shaping up to be a crazy deep draft which is why I’m pretty hesitant to move picks, especially 16 and 33.

 

But needless to say that while all drafts are huge for organizations, this one is perhaps the biggest all time for the Oilers.  Obviously a chunk of that is because they won the right to draft McDavid.  But also, they have a ton of assets to play with and there will be a lot of players to be had both via draft and trade.  The scenario’s are endless, and it is going to be a lot of fun for Oiler fans watching it all play out on the 26th and 27th.

 

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