The Mastercard Memorial Cup is done. The draft combine just wrapped up. Bob McKenzie has done his final draft rankings. Now we wait. And while we wait, I’ll put up a few mock drafts. Typically in June I do 3 mock drafts. 1 today, another the week prior to the draft and the final one the night before the draft. This year I might take the 26th off and do one as close to the draft as I possibly can.
As always, a little insight to how I look at things. I’m looking at what teams have 25-27 and under in their organization. I look at need more than BPA (best player available) these days as do most teams because it is getting more and more difficult to make trades in the NHL. Also I try and look for patterns with teams and their past 4 or 5 drafts. Do they go CHL heavy? Do they love the NCAA/USHL kids? Maybe they’re head over heals for Europeans?
Remember, just because McKenzie or Redline report or ISS or CSS have one guy ranked higher than another doesn’t mean that he is the BPA for that particular team. This is why they have their own scouting staffs people. Ok, so that’s my little pre game speech that I copied and pasted from mock draft 1.0 and probably will for mock draft 3.0. Let’s get to it.
1. Connor McDavid Erie OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0.75 Wt: 195 Shot: L
Comparison: Joe Sakic
What all can you say at this point? He’s pretty literally got it all. Back to back CHL scholastic player of the year awards to go with everything he brings to the table, it’s unbelievable. The truth on the comparison is that there is no comparison. He’s going to be very special and thankfully the Oilers have got their act together by bringing in Chiarelli and McLellan so he can meet his promise.
Other Options: None
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 196 Shot: R
Comparison: Mike Modano
What else can you say about Eichel either? I have to think he would be the top pick any other year since Crosby. Potentially better than Tavares, MacKinnon, probably going to be better all around than Stamkos, he has all the tools to be an elite player as well. The Sabres future is so damn bright.
Other Options: None
3. Dylan Strome Erie OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: Niklas Backstrom
This is where the draft gets interesting. I say Strome because while they have gone forward a lot lately, it’s been wingers not center’s. But I could see them trading back with the Leafs, because I believe the Leafs would be more desperate to land that big 1st line center like Strome. I love Marner’s game, but if they go wing AGAIN it is a recipe for disaster.
Other Options: Noah Hanifin, Ivan Provorov
4. Ivan Provorov Brandon WHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 201 Shot: L
Comparison: Hampus Lindholm
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 are aggressively looking to bring in Brandon Wheat Kings GM Kelly McCrimmon so if he comes, it’s Provorov. But as I say above, I assume the Leafs number 1 need/want is a center. 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.
Other Options: Noah Hanifin, Mitch Marner
5. Noah Hanifin Boston College NCAA
Pos: D Ht: 6’2.75 Wt: 203 Shot: L
Comparison: Scott Niedermayer
Just like last year I really believe Ron Francis understands how desperate this organization is for defensemen. Ryan Murphy isn’t an answer, neither is Justin Faulk, and Haydn Fleury didn’t really look like an answer this year either. But Hanifin is, and Provorov is, and should they prefer him Zach Werenski is. They are really good up front, and those guys need a back end to enhance their skills.
Other Options: Zach Werenski, Mitch Marner
Pos: C Ht: 5’11.25 Wt: 175 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
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. Last mock I had him going 13th but he has shot back up everyone’s list after his U 18’s. Also watch for a trade down, as they only own 5 picks in this draft.
Other Options: Mitch Marner
7. Mitch Marner London OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 160 Shot: R
Comparison: Patrick Kane
What a gift this would be for the Flyers! Maybe this is just me and the way I would pick for these teams, but I have to think teams will realize some day that they have to put more stock into center’s and D-men than wingers. The Flyers re-stocked the cupboard on D, they’ve been set down the middle for a while now, so they could use a dynamic winger and Marner is that exact guy. This is just simply a no brainer for the Flayers.
Other Options: Mikko Rantanen, Lawson Crouse
8. Zach Werenski Michigan NCAA
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 206 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Whitney
If the draft breaks this way, the Blue Jackets job is pretty easy. But they have proven to be a BPA team. They went with all forwards in 2013 with their three 1st rounders, and last year it seemed like D was the way to go and they took Sonny Milano. They’re a candidate to trade up as they own three 2nd round picks, two 3rd’s, two 5th’s and two 7th’s (although no 4th).
Other Options: Mikko Rantanan, Pavel Zacha
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 210 Shot: L
Comparison: Tuomo Ruutu
I THINK they’re a candidate to trade back, possibly with the Flames and as I’ve said before Travis Konency could be the target because of Doug Wilson’s ties to the Ottawa 67’s. But I don’t do trade back’s so I’ll have them taking Zacha who is a center but again I’ll state I see him as a winger simply because he is a shoot first guy.
Other Options: Mikko Rantanen
10. Lawson Crouse Kingston OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 215 Shot: L
Comparison: Andrew Ladd
They’re in a terrible position to take a D-man if things break like this. They’re whole system is bad but let’s be real here they’re pretty stocked up front moving forward. I would trade up, trade back or simply reach for a D-man here, but I fear they’ll just go with another forward and fail to address their problem, not that I don’t LOVE Crouse because I do. And if they can’t go D, they love character kids which is what Crouse is all about. Side note, this team has only selected CHL players in the first 3 rounds of the draft since 2007.
Other Options: Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Roy
11. Mikko Rantanen TPS SM LIGA
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3.5 Wt: 211 Shot: L
Comparison: Marian Hossa
This will be a forward, I have very little doubt about that. And I’m guessing a winger although in my mind you can never have too many center’s in the system. Rantanen has the makings of a great all around winger and obviously because he’s a Fin people will believe he’s a perfect fit with Sasha Barkov.
Other Options: Kyle Connor, Travis Konecny
12. Timo Meier Halifax QMJHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 209 Shot: L
Comparison: Nail Yakupov
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.
Other Options: Travis Konecny, Kyle Connor
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 177 Shot: L
Comparison: Kyle Turris
I would be shocked if this isn’t a center. They have won with strength down the middle, they are getting weak down the middle with Richards done, Stoll likely gone, Carter entering the back 9 of his career and Kopitar an impending UFA (although I’m pretty positive a big extension is coming there). Nick Shore is their best center in the system. Sorry Nick, but you aren’t the answer. Kyle Connor might be.
Other Options: Travis Konecny, Colin White
Pos: D Ht: 6’0.75 Wt: 184 Shot: L
Comparison: Sergei Gonchar
I’ve had a tough time with this pick as I believe they have a big need both at center and on D. But yet they got guys coming in both positions who are wildcards. I THINK they like Ryan Spooner better than Joe Morrow, so with that being said I went with Zboril, but you can make a great case for local kid Colin White being the way to go here too. Tough to get a read on what their scouts prefer, even more so now with Sweeney in charge and Chiarelli out. From 2010-2012 with their top 3 picks in each draft, they went outside the OHL once. The last 2 years, with 11 picks they have only selected 1 CHL player. So there is no pattern.
Other Options: Colin White, Travis Konecny
Pos: RW Ht: 5’9.75 Wt: 175 Shot: R
Comparison: Zach Parise
I can’t see them not trading up. Three 2nd round picks to play with, but do you use them with 15 to move up, or package them together and get another 1st? I really believe a D-man ends up being the want here as the system is lacking that young stud on D. But with Zboril having just gone, you would be reaching a bit here taking Jeremy Roy, or Thomas Chabot, or Brandon Carlo. Konecny doesn’t give them anything they don’t already have, but he is their kind of player.
Other Options: Nick Merkley, Brandon Carlo
16. Jeremy Roy Sherbrooke QMJHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 188 Shot: R
Comparison: Dan Boyle
I can perhaps see one scenario where Peter Chiarelli uses this pick, and that is if he plans on using an offer sheet to land Dougie Hamilton. If anyone knows for sure that is a viable option, it would be the ex Bruins GM. Other than that, I fully expect this pick to be packaged up for a veteran top 4 D-man. But I’m not doing trades, so they take Roy who I believe is a reach here. But their 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.
Other Options: Ilya Samsonov, Evgeny Svechnikov
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 183 Shot: R
Comparison: Patrice Bergeron
I had this pick last time and feel no need to change it. It is quite clear now that White’s season got derailed by mono, and once healthy at the U 18’s he was phenomenal so he’ll be a top 20 pick, if not higher. I feel like the only real need in the Jets system is down the middle, but if they like someone better than White they won’t hesitate to take him no matter where we all have that guy ranked. In 2011 they seemingly reached for Scheifele, and again in 2013 for Morrissey. As I said last time, they don’t like going outside North America (only 2 of 30 picks made by Kevin Cheveldayoff have been Europeans). Also with two 1st’s and a loaded system they are a serious candidate to trade up.
Other Options: Joel Eriksson Ek, Jansen Harkins
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 199 Shot: L
Comparison: Alexander Semin
The Sens have never been a team that allows their system to be depleted on the back end. But they would be reaching a bit here I believe. So they go with the big, fast, skilled Russian Svechnikov. The Sens haven’t taken Russian kid since the 2007 draft. But I believe with the KHL in shambles thanks to the Ruble being in the tank, that teams won’t have the fears they once did.
Other Options: Joel Eriksson Ek, Thomas Chabot
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 180 Shot: L
Comparison: Derek Stepan
“You’re just saying this because he’s a Swede”. I’m sure someone is saying that about this pick right now. It’s part of it for sure. 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.
Other Options: Jansen Harkins, Oliver Kylington
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.25 Wt: 182 Shot: L
Comparison: David Krecji
I don’t feel a need to change this pick. Would Samsonov be on their radar? He might. But the way I see it is center is the biggest need moving forward for them. Nothing really in the system, and by the time Harkins is ready to play Koivu is going to be 34 or 35, not to mention they’re still waiting for Mikael Granlund to take off…and stay healthy for a full season.
Other Options: Ilya Samsonov, Paul Bittner
Pos: G Ht: 6’3 Wt: 200 Glove: L
Comparison: Henrik Lundqvist
A few different roads the Sabres could go down here, but I just LOVE the idea of them taking Samsonov. Don’t make the same mistake the Oilers made. Take goaltending seriously. There are so few legit number 1 goaltenders today, so if you feel like this kid could be one of them you have to take him. A potential superstar tendy which is why he is now being talked about as a potential mid-late 1st round pick.
Other Options: Thomas Chabot, Brandon Carlo
Pos: D Ht: 6’5 Wt: 196 Shot: R
Comparison: Jonathan Ericsson
They have to go D here in my mind. It is just too damn tough to trade wingers for quality D-men and that is basically the only trade chips the Caps have. And they have only taken 1 player out of the Q since 2006, so that to me eliminates Thomas Chabot as a candidate, so welcome to the Brandon Carlo era Caps fans! This is a team that loves to go BPA, but I can see it catching up with them. However, neither Carlo or Chabot would be reaches here.
Other Options: Thomas Chabot, Denis Gurianov
23. Thomas Chabot Saint John QMJHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’1.5 Wt: 180 Shot: L
Comparison: T.J. Brodie
Much like the Caps picking before them, they shouldn’t pass up taking a D-man after so many forward selections in the 1st round the last 10 years. They need to stock the cupboard on D, especially with Kevin Bieksa on the back 9 in his career and Dan Hamhuis entering the final year of his contract. So I have them doing just that. Chabot can fly and will have pretty decent size once he fills out.
Other Options: Jake Debrusk, Paul Bittner
24. Nick Merkley Kelowna WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10.5 Wt: 191 Shot: R
Comparison: Jiri Hudler
So they just miss on Strome and take Provorov at 4. Should this happen then they’ll really want a center here. But I don’t see a guy that is worth taking in this spot. The Wings took Eriksson Ek, the Wild took Harkins. So you go with a kid in Nick Merkley who is an undersized winger, and he doesn’t skate that great, but he has all the intangibles that Babcock wants in his players.
Other Options: Jake Debrusk, Paul Bittner
25. Paul Bittner Portland WHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 204 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Malone
“This is a Winnipeg Jets player”. That’s what they’ll say if they take Bittner. Last year I talked a lot about how the Kings and Bruins have a type. And the thinking here is the exact same as that, as it was 10 picks earlier for the Flames. They have a type of guy they’re successful with right now so why stop getting those guys? Big kid, good skater which is what this team has a lot of but nobody can ever have too many of them.
Other Options: Jake Debrusk
26. Brock Boeser Waterloo USHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 191 Shot: R
Comparison: David Booth
I would go center if I were the Habs, but in this scenario they can’t. No center is worth taking here, although if they love a guy then they’ll have to as they don’t have their 2nd. D? Grit on the wings? Size on the wings? Boeser brings grit and some ok size on the wings as well as an ability to score in multiple ways. I thought hard about Oliver Kylington here, but he has dropped all season and I just don’t know if he ends up going in the 1st round.
Other Options: Jake Debrusk, Jacob Larsson
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 180 Shot: R
Comparison: Alexander Radulov
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. Sprong is loaded with talent. Some question the tool box, but as I have said in the past for me anyway, intelligence isn’t as vital for wingers as it is for centers and D-men.
Other Options: Denis Gurianov, Filip Chlapik
28. Jacob Larsson Frolunda SWE
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 181 Shot: L
Comparison: Eric Brewer
They are simply 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 playing in front of him during these 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, I’ll say they take Jacob Larsson who is just a very steady, smart, safe D-man.
Other Options: Denis Gurianov
29. Jake Debrusk Swift Current WHL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11.75 Wt: 174 Shot: L
Comparison: Brendan Gallagher
He could be a major fan favorite in Philly. Again he’s not his old man, but he is more than willing to mix it up, while having great speed and a nose for the net. For as bad as the Flyers were this season, they really don’t have major holes moving forward. I would probably prefer to add a blueliner here rather than take 2 wingers in the 1st round, but both Marner and Debrusk would be incredible value where the Flyers pick.
Other Options: MacKenzie Blackwood, Jonas Siegenthaler
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 174 Shot: L
Comparison: Sandis Ozolinsh
Well would you look at this, I do have Kylington going in the 1st round after all….barely. Quite the drop for this kid. Seemed like a sure fire top 10 pick at midseason. But that’s why I love the Ozolinsh comparison. All offense in his game. The Coyotes (whatever town their in by the time he arrives) could be the perfect landing spot for him. He would learn how to play in his own zone 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: Gabriel Carlsson, MacKenzie Blackwood
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