Connor’s 2015 NHL Mock Draft

2015_NHL_Draft

Welcome to the 3rd mock draft in our series. You can check out Amanda’s mock draft here and Brett’s mock draft here. We  have one more mock draft coming next week, but until then, you can check out mine by continuing on in this post.

1. Edmonton Oilers

Selection: Connor McDavid, Center, Erie Otters (OHL)

2014-15 stats: 47 GP, 44 goals, 76 assists, 120 points

The Edmonton Oilers are going to pick Connor McDavid first overall. Everybody knows it. If they didn’t, their fan-base would never forgive them. Connor McDavid has been described as the next generational player, and compared to legends like Crosby, Lemieux, and even Gretzky. If his draft year season with the Erie Otters is any indication of the future, these comparisons might be accurate. With 120 points in 47 games in the Ontario Hockey League, McDavid dominated the entire league with his otherworldly skills. Everyone knows about Connor McDavid, and he will be picked first overall by the Edmonton Oilers.


2. Buffalo Sabres

Selection: Jack Eichel, Center, Boston University (NCAA)

2014-15 stats: 40 GP, 26 goals, 45 assists, 71 points

Jack Eichel is the guaranteed second overall pick at the 2015 Entry Draft. Although the Buffalo Sabres “lost” the draft lottery, they will still end up with a franchise player. A strong season at BU combined with an amazing showing at the IIHF World Championships and a winning attitude makes Eichel a perfect fit for Buffalo. A healthy prospect pool and the acquisition of veterans like Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian make for an exciting couple of years for the Sabres. Jack Eichel will be picked by the Buffalo Sabres second overall and hopefully help them dig their way out of last place.


3. Arizona Coyotes

Selection: Mitchell Marner, Center/Right Wing, London Knights (OHL)

2014-15 stats: 63 GP, 44 goals, 82 assists, 126 points

It’s no secret that the Coyotes need scoring. With 165 Goals For in 2014-2015 (second last, ahead of Buffalo), putting the puck in the back of the net is a problem that the Coyotes need to solve if they plan on being successful. Notable prospect Max Domi can do it, and with the acquisition of Anthony Duclair from the New York Rangers, the Coyotes will be able to develop prospects that can score. Drafting Mitch Marner, who had 126 points in his draft year with the London Knights, would create a formidable offensive line of prospects, which, with development, could become extremely effective. Think about it. Duclair-Domi-Marner seems like a pretty good scoring line to me.


4. Toronto Maple Leafs

Selection: Noah Hanifin, Defenseman, Boston College (NCAA)

2014-15 stats: 37 GP, 5 goals, 18 assists, 23 points

The Leafs need defense. They don’t have a huge problem generating offense, but they usually ended up needing to score a lot of goals to win games. A defenseman like Noah Hanifin can help the Leafs. The Leafs do not have a strong defensive core, and part of their rebuild should include drafting a defenseman that can be developed into someone who can take Dion Phaneuf’s place as the Leafs’ star defenseman. Noah Hanifin will help the Leafs bring down their Goals Against, which is a good start to what is sure to be a long rebuild in T.O.


5. Carolina Hurricanes

Selection: Dylan Strome, Center, Erie Otters (OHL)

2014-15 stats: 68 GP, 45 goals, 84 assists, 129 points

Most people think Dylan Strome will go to the Maple Leafs at fourth overall. However, I think the Leafs will focus on defense instead of offense. The Carolina Hurricanes however, should definitely focus on offense. One of the worst offensive teams in the NHL in 2014/15, the Canes need to score more goals if they plan on making the playoffs any time soon. Dylan Strome had 129 points in the OHL this year; the highest in the league. If the Canes want to win, they need to score. If they want to score, they need to draft Strome, develop him, and put him on the ice with Eric Staal, Elias Lindholm, and Jeff Skinner.


6. New Jersey Devils

Selection: Lawson Crouse, Left Wing, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

2014-15 stats: 56 GP, 29 goals, 22 assists, 51 points

The Devils are an old team. They were older before Jagr left, but they’re still old. They need to draft a young player who can help them score goals. Crouse led his OHL team in goals and assists, and was part of the Canadian team that won gold at the 2015 World Juniors. He is a power-forward who has been compared to such prolific players as Rick Nash and James Neal. A responsible player with a talent for putting pucks in nets but also keeping them out, Lawson Crouse would be a great addition to an aging New Jersey team.


7. Philadelphia Flyers

Selection: Ivan Provorov, Defenseman, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

2014-15 stats: 60 GP, 15 goals, 46 assists, 61 points

There’s not much the Flyers need to do with regards to their offense. Giroux and Voracek are one of the best offensive duos in the NHL, and there’s no reason to think that will change. Steve Mason is a good goalie, but he needs some help in the back-end. Provorov can help. He’s not a huge player, but he can be physical when he needs to be. He led all WHL Rookies in scoring, and is an efficient skater. He will bring the Flyers the defensive help they need, and will also be able to help them garner some supplemental offense.


8. Columbus Blue Jackets

Selection: Zachary Werenski, Defenseman, University of Michigan (NCAA)

2014-15 stats: 35 GP, 9 goals, 16 assists, 25 points

Ravaged by injuries during the 2014/15 season, the Blue Jackets were not able to match their performance from last season. Setting a franchise record for man-games lost, it’s no wonder that their defense suffered. Looking forward to next season, the Jackets are going to need a defenseman. Werenski should be that defenseman. The youngest player in the NCAA in 2014/15, Werenski did not look out place. Extraordinarily calm under pressure, Werenski could be the perfect fit on the Columbus power-play, which ranked 23rd in the league at the end of the season. A good showing at the World Juniors for Team USA completes Werenski’s résumé as the defenseman CBJ needs.


9. San Jose Sharks

Selection: Pavel Zacha, Center/Left Wing, Sarnia Sting (OHL)

2014-15 stats: 37 GP, 16 goals, 18 assists, 34 points

Although Pavel Zacha did not play a full season, due to injuries and suspension, his size and skill make for an interesting prospect. His numbers might not be impressive, but his style of play certainly is. He’s a strong forward who can carry the puck well and make the plays when he sees them. He might not be the most creative center in this year’s draft, but his compete level is there. The team that drafts Zacha will draft a determined player who does what he can to make sure his team wins. He can also be utilized on the left wing, if a team doesn’t want to play him in the middle, which makes him a good choice for San Jose – a team filled to the brim with capable centers, and not many left wingers.


10. Colorado Avalanche

Selection: Mathew Barzal, Center, Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

2014-15 stats: 44 GP, 12 goals, 45 assists, 57 points

Not even a knee injury could stop Barzal from being a good scorer in the Western Hockey League. After missing part of the season due to his injury, Barzal racked up 57 points before adding 8 points in six playoff games for the T-Birds before bowing out in the first round. An energetic player who can create space across the ice with his ability to skate will be a welcome addition to a young team that includes Nathan Mackinnon, Matt Duchene, and Gabe Landeskog. Barzal has good vision on the ice, and his puck carrying skills are also good. Barzal is a future first-line center, who, with development, will be a useful asset for the Avalanche.


11. Florida Panthers

Selection: Timo Meier, Right Wing, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

2014-15 stats: 61 GP, 44 goals, 46 assists, 90 points

Timo Meier is exactly what the Florida Panthers need. He is a high-scoring right winger that can put the puck in the back of the net. He led the Mooseheads in goals (44) and was second on the team in points with 90. The Swiss skater had a 27 game points streak, which was one of the highest in the CHL. The Panthers have a good number of right wingers, but they desperately need scoring wingers. Timo Meier knows how to put the puck in the back of the net. He’s a fantastic skater, and he has good hockey sense, which is becoming more important as prospects learn how to play with and without the puck. Come draft day, I believe that the Panthers will draft Meier because he is the scorer they need. Along with the rest of the young core players, Meier will thrive on a roster that allows him to develop in the NHL.


12. Dallas Stars

Selection: Mikko Rantanen, Right Wing, TPS (Sm-Liiga)

2014-15 stats: 56 GP, 9 goals, 19 assists, 28 points

As the top European skater at the end of the year, Mikko Rantanen is generating a good deal of discussion. His playmaking ability has been touted as phenomenal. He is a physical power-forward who plays strong on the puck, but with good vision. He moves around the ice looking for an opportunity to make a play, but he is involved in every shift. He’s not the kind of player that floats around the perimeter of the play waiting for a chance to put the puck in the back of the net. He gets involved, and his physicality makes it difficult to check him. This physical advantage allows him to be involved with the play, find opportunities, and rack up points with his line-mates.


13. Los Angeles Kings

Selection: Kyle Connor, Left Wing/Center, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

2014-15 stats: 56 GP, 34 goals, 46 assists, 80 points

The USHL Player of the year turned U. Michigan commit led the USHL in points with 80 and was among the leaders for other categories as well. Connor’s 80 points broke a franchise record in Youngstown, which was also set by Connor the previous year. Scouts say that his speed is the most noticeable part of the game. Since he was born late 1996, he felt he needed to make a huge impression this year – and he certainly did. Last year, he was the only non-USNTDP player on the gold medal team at the world U18’s. Connor is an impressive American skater who grew up in Michigan playing for the Belle Tire organization, and he will surely impress with some development in the AHL.


14. Boston Bruins

Selection: Travis Konecny, Center/Right Wing, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

2014-15 stats: 60 GP, 29 goals, 39 assists, 68 points

The captain of the Ottawa 67’s went through the 2014/15 season proving that he was worth his place in the top 15 prospects. With 68 points in 60 games, his numbers are very solid. His rookie year in Ottawa ended with his naming as OHL Rookie of the Year. He lead Team Canada to a gold medal at the Ivan Hlinka tournament in 2014, and at the CHL Top Prospects game, he played on a line with Connor McDavid and Timo Meier and racked up three points in a strong show. He is one of those extremely skilled players that have a good combination of just about everything. He is fast, he is skilled with and without the puck, and he’s not afraid to get tough with his game. He will crash the net if he needs to. Konecny is a perfect fit in Boston, where Patrice Bergeron, the future B’s captain, is getting older and will eventually need to be replaced. For now, Konecny will bring youthful energy to a Bruins team that includes David Pastrnak, an up and coming star that was drafted 25th overall in the 2014 Entry Draft.


Conclusion

This is a strong draft. There are two sure-fire superstars, followed by many players who will prove themselves as stable players that will most definitely succeed at the NHL level. Scouts and analysts have lauded this year’s draft as one of the “deepest” since 2003. Each team is going to draft a player that will either benefit their team immediately, or will prove a key player in years to come, after some development in the minors. Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel will go first and second, respectively, but after that, it’s really anyone’s guess. We probably won’t see a goalie drafted in the first round, which isn’t unusual, but some goalies to keep an eye on include Mackenzie Blackwood (Barrie, OHL), Callum Booth (Quebec, QMJHL), and Ilya Samsonov (Magnitogorsk 2, Russia). This is sure to be a good draft, and we will be able to watch the players from this draft grow in the NHL for a long time. Come draft day, we will see dreams come true, and I couldn’t be more excited.

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