I don’t know why I say 1.0, 2.0, etc. I mean I do know why, it’s because other mock drafts in other sports use that. But it isn’t as if there will ever be a mock draft 2.639. I’ll keep going with it, but it isn’t lost on me that it is completely ridiculous.
So here we are, the time of year that I begin doing mock drafts. World Juniors has come and gone, the prospects game has come and gone, time to prognosticate where some of these kids will go. Now, needless to say a TON will change from now until late June. But I do these, not for the prediction, because the prediction will be way off. But I like to have a look at what teams need so it makes for an interesting read right before the trade deadline, then again at the end of the regular season, and so on.
As I’ve stated a lot the last few years, I believe less and less in “BPA” (best player available) every year. It’s nearly impossible to make a trade anymore, fewer big names are making it to UFA anymore (this July 1st might be the exception to that rule…but it’s still February), and even if they do…historically it doesn’t go well. So if you simply sit back and take the BPA every year, chances are you’re building a team with a lot of holes. Sometimes it goes like the Flames has where it simply falls into place, but most times it’ll go like the Oilers has, or the Blue Jackets has, or the Panthers went for a lot of years where they’re just spinning their wheels.
Standings as of 2/23/16
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.5 Wt: 194 Shot: L
Comparison: Anze Kopitar
This would be both an insane level of humiliation for Oilers fans, and an amazing opportunity. Unfortunately, points percentage wise the Oilers are the worst team in the NHL. Peter Chiarelli has to and probably would trade down or out of this pick if the Oilers get it. Could Matthews teamed with McDavid be amazing? Yep. But Matthews would be worth a TON to a lot of teams, and while it wouldn’t be a Lindros type return, it might be the biggest return in a trade since. Would the Coyotes want the home town kid bad enough to part with Oliver Ekman-Larsson? Some would say they would, but they aren’t a stupid franchise. No doubt they would throw the moon at the Oilers, but they aren’t giving up their MVP. I would expect the same out of Columbus, the Rangers, Montreal, and others. Having said all this, with McDavid back, Klefbom back soon, and Nugent-Hopkins post trade deadline, I can’t see this team staying in the bottom 3 or 4. Doesn’t mean they can’t win another lottery though, and man that joke isn’t getting old…
Other Options: None
Pos: RW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 206 Shot: R
Comparison: Rick Nash
The Leafs worry me. If they don’t land this top pick, I would be trading back. And I don’t think this is lost on Leafs management and they do seem more willing to make a move back than most organizations. Trading back is looked poorly upon by most teams, but if you know how to pick it’s a great move. It isn’t as if they can’t use the size Laine would bring, but they don’t have much grit in the system, can use more help on the blueline, and above all else they desperately need high end centres. If this is the scenario, I would trade back to 6 or 7 and take Michael McLeod. Perhaps you get a 2017 1st, or maybe it’s with a team like Arizona who have two 1st’s. The Leafs could then package the Rangers and Pens 1st rounders and perhaps end up with 3 top 10-15 picks. I’m spit balling these ideas, but the one I don’t like is staying at 2 and adding another winger to a team full of wingers.
Other Options: Jesse Puljujarvi, Jakob Chychrun
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3.5 Wt: 203 Shot: R
Comparison: Blake Wheeler
If I don’t like Laine for the Leafs, I HATE Puljujarvi for the Jackets. In this scenario, which is extremely unlikely to play out because the top 3 picks now are up for the lottery, all 3 teams would be legitimate candidates to trade back/out. The thing this team needs is a 1st line centre, just like the Leafs. And just like the Leafs, if they don’t get Auston Matthews, then the next best is Michael McLeod. So I would trade back if I’m Columbus, yet Jarmo Kekalainen is a “BPA” guy. Being a “BPA” guy cost Kekalainen a 1st line centre to build around because he was too busy taking every winger he could rather than building up his blueline. So now if they pick 3rd, they’re taking a winger and failing yet again to address their need.
Other Options: Matthew Tkachuk, Jakob Chychrun
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 215 Shot: L
Comparison: Rob Blake
Now this would be a pick I could get on board with. The Sabres have a lot of pieces up front. Down the middle they’re very set with Eichel, Reinhart, O’Reilly, and Girgensons. 1 of those last 3 can move to the wing if need be. They do likely want to find Eichel a winger with Evander Kane being such a wildcard, but worry about that some other time. Mike Harrington from the Buffalo News hasn’t been shy all season talking about how weak this team is on the back end. They were looking solid, but Tyler Myers and Nikita Zadorov are gone, Mark Pysyk doesn’t look like he’s much to get excited about, and Zach Bogosian has been a train wreck. Chychrun with Ristolainen moving forward, that has the makings of a great top pairing.
Other Options: Matthew Tkachuk
Pos: LW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 195 Shot: L
Comparison: Andrew Ladd
This to me might be the best case for the Jets to move on from Andrew Ladd. They could go a different route. Olli Juolevi makes sense for them. But I personally compare Tkachuk to Ladd. I don’t know if that’s the best comparison, but it helps make the point that the Jets don’t need to give Ladd too many years on a new deal and regret it in 3 or 4 years. All this thinking also has nothing to do with the added bonus of papa Keith also being an original Jet and still to this day raves about his time there.
Other Options: Olli Juolevi
Pos: D Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 179 Shot: L
Comparison: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
Relatively tough spot for the Flames here. It isn’t as if they can’t take another D-man. You can’t have too many D-men, they’re the most valuable commodity in the NHL right now. But the preference for the Flames I believe would be to land one of the big 3 wingers to put with Bennett, especially Tkachuk. He’s a Burke kind of guy and make no mistake of Burke’s influence despite Trevliving having the GM title. Juolevi though, just makes one of the best bluelines in the league even better.
Other Options: Alex Nylander
Pos: D Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 206 Shot: L
Comparison: Roman Hamrlik
Next up on my list is Michael McLeod followed by Pierre-Luc Dubois and Alex Nylander. The Canucks can’t even consider any of those guys. They HAVE to start stock piling defencemen. I don’t know if it’s Sergachev, but it has to be D-man. And FREAKING SPARE ME on how they need to take the BPA and can trade for a D-man. No you can’t. Take Sergachev, or Fabbro, or Bean, I don’t really care but just take a D-man and start building that blueline.
Other Options: Dante Fabbro, Jake Bean
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 188 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Kesler
This scenario would be a no brainer for me. McLeod would be absolutely perfect for the Habs. A complete centre with size. No, he might not ever be that elite 1st line centre every team needs, but there are a few teams who have won Cups without those guys, and they had a lot of guys like McLeod down the middle (the 2011 Bruins are exhibit A). Despite me having McLeod higher than most in this spot, I still have a tough time believing that McLeod will be available here come draft day. Scouting services aren’t as high on centres as NHL teams are. Ryan Johansen was always a head scratcher as to why he was only ranked in the 7-10 range and then on draft day he went 4th overall. If the Habs can snag McLeod, I’m sure they would be ecstatic.
Other Options: Alexander Nylander, Pierre-Luc Dubois
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 189 Shot: R
Comparison: Kevin Shattenkirk
Much like the Canucks, they can’t afford to take ANOTHER forward, let alone another winger even though in this scenario Alex Nylander and Pierre-Luc Dubois have fallen to them, at least according to my list. To me, this is a BDA pick…best DEFENCEMAN available. They now haven’t taken a D-man in the 1st round since 2011. Their depth on D in the organization is pretty bad, and a D-man in this draft is pretty much a no brainer for them. Now of course there is a possibility to address with the Yotes. As I mentioned earlier, I can’t see them going as far as to offer Oliver Ekman-Larsson for that top pick. But they have two 1st’s, of course their own is getting higher and higher. And with Auston Matthews being a centre, Dylan Strome could be part of the package. If you’re offering that deal to the Oilers, they might have to move Strome elsewhere to make the Oilers bite. But a top 10 pick coupled with another 1st and maybe a top 4 D-man that a kid like Strome could possibly bring back…that would be tough to turn down. If the pick belongs to the Leafs or Jackets, the Yotes can kiss the home town kid goodbye. This is of course assuming they want Matthews, and this hasn’t been a management group too concerned with PR, they just get it right.
Other Options: Jake Bean
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 179 Shot: R
Comparison: Milan Hejduk
A little worried here that the Sens don’t take wingers with their top pick under Bryan Murray. They took a couple of wingers late in the 1st round in 2011 (Noesen, Puempel), but never with the top pick. I think they would in this scenario though. According to most, Nylander should be long gone by this point. I think he could be, but not in this scenario. Having taken Zibanejad, Lazar, and Colin White over the last 5 drafts they have invested a lot in centres, and then from 08-15 they have used their top pick on D-men 5 times (2010 the pick was traded for David Rundblad). While I’m very low on the idea of taking 1 dimensional wingers high, I do think its the right move in this scenario.
Other Options: Pierre-Luc Dubois
Pos: D Ht: 6’1 Wt: 173 Shot: L
Comparison: Tyson Barrie
The D-men are FLYING off the shelves! But this organization wouldn’t seriously take ANOTHER winger, would they?! Dubois is my BPA here, clear cut. But this team desperately needs to improve the blueline. Nikita Zadorov, Nicolas Meloche, Chris Bigras, these aren’t answers to their woes. This hasn’t been as bad of a situation as the Oilers, but it is the reason they haven’t gone from lottery picks to league powerhouse. 2014 was a fluke season. This season has been better than last as they’re very much in the hunt for a wildcard spot, but they aren’t going anywhere if they make the playoffs. Build up that blueline, and then this team can start thinking about being a Cup contender.
Other Options: None
Pos: C Ht: 5’9.5 Wt: 168 Shot: L
Comparison: Tyler Ennis
This team LOVES their college kids, and they are one of the few teams that really is desperate for a skill upgrade on the wings. So while I’m not near as high on Keller as some are, I think the Canes would fall in love with this idea. Of course I’m saying this pre a possible Eric Staal deal. He would command not just a 1st, but also a real good prospect. Let’s say that the team who trades for him is the NY Islanders. They could likely get Michael Dal Colle back, who has ripped up the OHL since being traded to Kingston, back to looking like the kid taken 5th overall in 2014. But that still wouldn’t be enough for the Canes in my mind. The D which I harped on them for years to rebuild now looks loaded, and even without Eric Staal they still have Elias Lindholm coming into his own this season and Jordan Staal down the middle.
Other Options: Pierre-Luc Dubois, Julien Gauthier
Pos: LW Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 202 Shot: L
Comparison: Shane Doan
He’s the clear cut BPA on my board at this point, but again…it isn’t about what I think about the prospects, it’s about what I think the team could or will do. A lot of people seem to love the Devils blueline depth moving forward, I’m not as high on it though. But in this scenario, Dubois is probably too good of a prospect to pass up. A power forward with all the intangibles. True, he might not be a 40 goal man someday, but he’ll be in that 25-30 range and you’ll be able to use him in any situation. Pretty tough to turn down taking that kid.
Other Options: Julien Gauthier, Charlie McAvoy
Pos: LW Ht: 6’3 Wt: 205 Shot: L
Comparison: Scott Mellanby
So Gauthier is far and away the BPA here both for me and according to most lists. But if it shook down this way, I think the Wild would go with Jones for a few reasons. First and foremost, he’s the hometown kid. In Minny, maybe more than any other place in the league, they LOVE their own. But they could also use a lot more bite up front, and that’s Jones. Gauthier is likely to be the better point producer of the 2, but they have a lot of “those types” on the wing. Alex Tuch is big but he isn’t that physical. Jones is that physical. Of course, while they have some good kids on the blueline, they did dangle Jonas Brodin for Ryan Johansen. So if they make a move there, perhaps a guy like McAvoy will make sense for them.
Other Options: Julien Gauthier, Charlie McAvoy
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3.5 Wt: 225 Shot: R
Comparison: James Neal
I have zero doubts here who this pick would be if it all were to shake down like this today. The Flyers love them some QMJHL and Gauthier falling to this pick would seem a little crazy, yet that’s the way it’s played out. The Flyers have also done an awesome job of stockpiling on the blueline, and I’m still high on them down the middle with Giroux, Couturier, Laughton, and if need be Brayden Schenn. A big skilled winger like Gauthier would be a great fit, added to the fact that they love the Q and he’s the BPA.
Pos: D Ht: 6’1 Wt: 208 Shot: L
Comparison: Keith Yandle
“But they just dealt Seth Jones from their plethora of D-men”. Yep, but they have nothing coming on the blueline. And David Poile has never been shy about taking defencemen with his 1st pick. So this pick makes a lot more sense to me than it might to others. However, you can never have enough depth down the middle either and a lot of real good centres are still on the board like Brown, Jost, Kunin and Rubtsov. If they took a centre, it would likely tell you how high they aren’t on Vlad Kamenev, the captain of Russia’s WJC team this year. I have always really liked his game though, not to mention Craig Smith is still pretty young, and a 2nd line centre is tough to find on the market, but not impossible.
Other Options: Tyson Jost, Logan Brown
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 176 Shot: L
Comparison: Mikko Koivu
Ouch! They REALLY need to start investing in some D in the 1st round. But with McAvoy going to Nashville I don’t see any in sight for a while. Would they trade up? Not really their style. And they are one of the few teams who might be able to make a player out of a kid like Sean Day, so maybe it isn’t THAT big of a deal. But they haven’t taken a D-man in the 1st since 08, and have only taken one before the 5th round since 2011 (last year they took Vili Saarijarvi in the 3rd round). To me, this is a big issue for the Wings to address, but nobody says anything because it’s Detroit and they can do no wrong (which isn’t far off). So while this scenario isn’t likely to play out and they will finally add a D-man, it has in this case. And if this were the case, I have to think they take the centre. They love their Russians, and tell me Rubtsov doesn’t sound like a player they would crave. Coupled with Larkin down the middle, they might not fill the void Datsyuk and Zetterberg are about to leave, but they would be pretty formidable.
Other Options: Tyson Jost, Luke Kunin
Pos: C Ht: 6’6 Wt: 222 Shot: L
Comparison: Nick Bjugstad
I’d have a tough time believing this team would pass on a centre if one is there for them. Don’t forget, they have San Jose’s pick too, not to mention what could come in a deal involving Loui Eriksson. In this scenario though I do think the choice is between Brown and Luke Kunin. Tyson Jost just doesn’t feel like a Boston kid to me, but then again they did take Joe Colborne in the 1st round when he played in the AJ, so maybe they wouldn’t be turned off by Jost. But it isn’t just the BCHL for Jost. He’s the smallest of these 3, and both have a better 2 way game than Jost. I’ll say Brown and it’s no mystery why. That size is too good to pass up here, and they’ll have time to develop him as Bergeron and Krejci while entering the back 9 of their careers are far from done.
Other Options: Luke Kunin, Tyson Jost
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 193 Shot: R
Comparison: Derek Stepan
Formerly the Pens pick that went to the Leafs in the Phil Kessel trade. This is lottery protected, but as of now of course the Pens are in the playoffs. They can’t chance Jost either. My concern with Jost and I believe others concern with Jost will be if he can play centre in the pro’s. His game kind of suggests he won’t. And while I don’t think Kunin is going to be a 1st line centre, he’s definitely a centre the Leafs could build around and win with.
Other Options: Tyson Jost
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 191 Shot: L
Comparison: Adam Henrique
This is officially a run on centres. Tampa can use one, because if you haven’t heard, they might lose one this summer (which is a half truth, I don’t see Stamkos as a centre just like Jon Cooper). Jost also feels like a Lightning player too. Great wheels, great skill, average size but a little bit of grit. I really like this pick for T-Bay and at this point Jost would be far and away the BPA. Most have Jost going top 15, I can’t see him going before some of those other centres. However if a team just wants a forward and don’t really care if it’s a centre or a winger, while any centre can play the wing, he would be more comfortable making the move than some of those other kids.
Other Options: None
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 167 Shot: R
Comparison: Dave Bolland
Formerly the Sharks pick that went to the Bruins in the Martin Jones trade. If we learned anything from the Bruins draft last year, it’s that they don’t give a f*** what anyone else thinks. This team will take who they want, when they want. This leads me to Bitten who I had 45th, yet I have going 21. However, while I had him 45th, I wish I had put him higher and he will be higher next update, and others like him as a 1st round pick so it isn’t THAT far fetched. But above all else he is just simply their kind of kid. Skill, speed, grit, and they have a bit of a need on the right side. I have him being a RW, but he does play centre for the shit show that is the Flint Firebirds. This is a total hunch, but after last year you can’t help but think they’ll make this kind of off the board pick with multiple 1st’s again this year.
Other Options: Kieffer Bellows, Logan Stanley
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 176 Shot: L
Comparison: Mikkael Granlund
If I’m Bob Murray, I want a centre. That’s really the only need they have moving forward, and it isn’t that pressing of a need. They did try to fill that hole in the 2nd round last year by taking Julius Nattinen, and then in the 3rd with Brent Gates. So maybe they have shored it up, but I still see centre as the biggest hole moving forward. There are other kids like Tage Thompson and Brett Howden who I personally like better than Asplund, but another factor here is that the Ducks LOVE Swedes. So this pick just makes a ton of sense to me.
Other Options: Tyler Benson, Kieffer Bellows
Pos: D Ht: 6’7 Wt: 220 Shot: L
Comparison: Brooks Orpik
This is a tough organization to figure out what they’ll do on draft day. They love their wingers, they seem to hate taking D-men high and even if they do it doesn’t mean they like the kid. They are very dysfunctional and yet it seems to work for them. I’ll say they take Stanley, or at least some D-man here because taking ANOTHER forward just seems outlandish…which probably means they’ll take a forward. Tage Thompson for example wouldn’t shock me. Very big, very raw, possible centre whose dad is the coach of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers…the AHL affiliate of the Islanders.
Other Options: Libor Hajek, Tage Thompson
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: Dan Hamhuis
Formerly the Rangers pick that goes to the Coyotes as part of the Keith Yandle trade. They aren’t done needing D-men, so while Kieffer Bellows continues to fall, how many damn wingers can they take? Merkley, Perlini, Fischer, Dvorak are all coming while Domi, Duclair and Rieder are already on the big club. So while Hajek is a bit of a reach here, I feel like they need to and will be really aggressive at the draft when it comes to re-stocking the cupboards on defence.
Other Options: Kieffer Bellows, Dillon Dube
Pos: LW Ht: 6’5 Wt: 205 Shot: L
Comparison: James Van Reimsdyk
Kieffer Bellows remains undrafted. But I had to look and I just couldn’t see the Blues going with Bellows. The Blues have never been shy about taking high school kids. They took 3 in a 2 year span (12 and 13), and not late either. 2nd and 3rd rounders. They have been fans of the USHL in past drafts too. Then you have the fact that Tufte has that incredible size and it would be tough to imagine the Blues passing on this kid.
Other Options: Kieffer Bellows, Brett Howden
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 196 Shot: L
Comparison: Brian Bellows
He’s fallen far enough. The kid Bob McKenzie has 18th on the TSN list, Craig Button has him 14th. The Hawks big need is on defence. But they seem as though they have found a formula that is working. They have their top 3 D-men locked down and those 3 are still in their prime. I believe they feel they can develop 2nd-7th rounders on D, but it is more vital with the cap problems to get quality forwards, specifically wingers. This way, when they have to move on from an Andrew Ladd, Kris Versteeg, Brandon Saad, etc, they have a kid who can step in and put up numbers. Kieffer Bellows could be that guy down the road. If they took him this season, he’s ready to step in once perhaps an Artemi Panarin wants too much coin and they end up trading him.
Other Options: Dillon Dube, Pascal Laberge
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 162 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Strome
Formerly the Kings pick that goes to the Hurricanes as part of the Andrej Sekera trade. This draft would quickly shore up that problem they have with skill on the wings if they walked away from day 1 in Buffalo with Keller and now Laberge. Lots of different options for the Canes in this spot, I took Laberge over Dillon Dube simply because they’ve leaned a little more Q than the dub in recent years, but they haven’t gone heavy with either. They love the OHL, but there isn’t an OHL guy in sight…at least for me.
Other Options: Dillon Dube, Tage Thompson
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 193 Shot: L
Comparison: Shawn Horcoff
Believe it or not, this has nothing to do with his brother being in the organization, and everything to do with their type and what has been winning in Miami. Size, grit, speed. Add to that, the depth at centre in the organization isn’t great. Obviously their top 2 guys are Barkov and Bjugstad, they’re good. But Dave Bolland has been an atrocious signing, and they’ll need a guy to step into that 3rd line spot down the line. They have a few possibilities, but far from a sure thing. Howden, for me at least, would be a sure thing as a 3rd line centre.
Other Options: Tage Thompson, Dillon Dube
Pos: D Ht: 6’5 Wt: 189 Shot: L
Comparison: Mattias Ekholm
I would be shocked if the Stars still have this pick by this time next week. Dan Hamhuis would look great in a Stars uniform. But if they end up keeping this pick, what do you get the team that has everything? I don’t love the Stars team, but I have trouble finding holes. I guess the defence could still use work, even though Klingberg is quickly becoming a stud, and then Esa Lindell and Julius Honka aren’t far away. They love their Fins as you can see, so why not Niemelainen who is pretty raw at this point but they can take a lot of time with. Dillon Dube is pretty clear cut as the BPA by now though, probably the last of that top 23/24 group that Bob McKenzie sees a drop off after. I probably go need more than most organizations do, but the Stars have invested a ton of high picks in wingers under Jim Nill.
Other Options: Dillon Dube, Tyler Benson
Pos: LW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 180 Shot: L
Comparison: Brendan Gallagher
Unless his play really drops off now that Nick Merkley is done for the season, I can’t see Dube falling this far in the draft. But, much weirder things have happened. Doubt this pick is the Caps this time next week, but it is as of writing this. I love this kids game. In your face, gritty, greasy, whatever you want to call it. And he can score. But he has the size issue obviously. Ironic too that this is exactly where Merkley went last year after most had him ranked much higher. I talked about Dallas having everything. Well if they have everything, what does that say for the Caps? Imagine had they been smart enough to take Dylan Larkin over Jakub Vrana like they should have in 2014. Or had they not been so stupid as to deal Filip Forsberg for Martin Erat at the 2013 trade deadline. This team could be so loaded at this point they would be a Cup contender without Alex Ovechkin. This team has missed on one 1st round pick since 2005, and that was all the way back with Anton Gustafsson in 08.
Other Options: Tyler Benson, Tage Thompson
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