The first round of this year’s draft is easy for the first two picks but it gets pretty complicated after that.
The Arizona Coyotes have the third pick and will they go with a talented forward (Strome or Marner) or will they take the best defenseman available in Noah Hanifin.
This article is different than my Top 100, in that I’m not looking necessarily at the best player available, rather who I think each team is going to take.
There are no assumptions for trades in this mock draft although on draft night there certainly can be some.
Special thanks as always to Gus Katsaros who helps out with the picks. Don’t forget to pick up McKeen’s Draft Guide for in depth analysis.
1. Edmonton - Connor McDavid (C)
The top player in the last 10 years and maybe the last 30, McDavid can do it all. His speed is unbelievable and can change gears to go past most if not all defensemen. There’s not a hole in his game. He could be better than Crosby and may attain the greatest associated with the likes of Gretzky, Orr (Bobby not Colton) and Howe by the time his career is over.
2. Buffalo - Jack Eichel (C)
Eichel is so good he likely would have been a number one selection in each of the last nine seasons. The Sabres will get themselves a great player to build around and they will be strong up the middle for years to come with Eichel and last season’s second overall pick Sam Reinhart. Eichel was good enough to play for the Americans at the World Championships at age 18 and acquitted himself quite well with two goals and seven points in 10 games.
3. Arizona - Dylan Strome (C)
The Coyotes need a big center (amongst other things) and will take the OHL’s leading scorer, Dylan Strome. The 6-3, 190 pounder, has all the skills necessary to be a number one center in the NHL but does need to work on his skating. He is terrific on the draw and his offensive skills should get him a home in the desert, if the Coyotes stay there.
4. Toronto - Ivan Provorov (D)
Provorov is not your typical Russian in that he left home at the age of 14 to play hockey in North America. The fast-rising blueliner will give the Maple Leafs a great one-two punch on the blueline with Morgan Rielly. He is a hard hitting defenseman with excellent offensive skills that will allow him to quarterback the power play. Had 15 goals and 61 points in 60 games for Brandon of the WHL and made the Russian U20 team.
5. Carolina - Noah Hanifin (D)
The Hurricanes will be happy that Hanifin dropped to this spot as most pundits have him rated as the third best player in the draft. The smooth skating rearguard has excellent offensive skills and had 23 points in 37 games as a 17-year-old freshman at Boston College. Hanifin will give Carolina a blueliner to go with Justin Faulk, a nice one-two punch.
6. New Jersey - Mitchell Marner (C)
While the Devils have a lot of depth on the blueline, they are sorely lacking up front and will grab the creative center. He is ultra-talented offensively with his big drawback being he is undersized. Marner has been compared offensively to another former London Knight, Patrick Kane and that is not a bad player to be compared to. Marner is a smart, fast player and the Devils will get someone to jump start their weak offense.
7. Philadelphia - Pavel Zacha (C)
This is a deep draft in terms of talent after the classic first two of McDavid and Eichel and Pavel Zacha could be right at the top if he can (outside of the top two) put it all together. He moved from the Czech Republic to the OHL last season but injuries and suspensions allowed him to participate in only 37 games for Sarnia. A tough, big bodied player can be a top two center with the toughness and meanness to take care of the opposing top line center.
8. Columbus – Mathew Barzal (C)
Barzal was ranked higher going into the season but a broken kneecap cost him 28 games. He had 39 points in his last 24 games with 34 coming via the assist. Columbus will add to Ryan Johansen at pivot with this selection and they will be hard to defend in a few years with two top notch centers.
9. San Jose - Zach Werenski (D)
Like his former teammate with the NTDP17 team Hanifin, Werenski played college hockey as a 17-year-old. He had nine goals and 25 points in 34 games at the University of Michigan. The Sharks need a defenseman to complement Brent Burns. Werenski is a good fit for the Sharks.
10. Colorado - Lawson Crouse (LW)
Crouse could be selected anywhere between five and 15 as the scouts are all over the place with his potential. He was good enough to make the U20 squad for the gold-medal winning Canadians. He had only 51 points in 56 games for Kingston but got a boost late in the season with the return of Sam Bennett to the lineup. Nice upside but could eventually be a third line winger.
11. Florida - Timo Meier (RW)
Meier exploded for 90 points with Halifax this past season, up from his 34 points in his freshman year. The Swiss native played alongside Nikolaj Ehlers but won’t have the security of his linemate next season as Ehlers moves up to the next level. Meier is a two-way player who will fit in well as a top-six forward.
12. Dallas - Mikko Rantanen (RW)
Rantanen has spent the last two seasons playing among men in the Finnish Elite League. He is a slick playmaker and exploits his high rev engine to power his sizable frame, setting the tempo and carrying the play. The Stars get a top-six forward who adds to the riches of Seguin, Benn and Spezza.
13. Los Angeles - Travis Konecny (C)
Konecny is a bit undersized but that shouldn’t matter to the Kings who have plenty of big forwards. Konecny gives them the skill as he took off in the last 26 games for the Ottawa 67s of the OHL with 38 points. Great skater but needs at least a couple of years of grooming before he is ready to step into an NHL lineup.
14. Boston - Kyle Connor (C)
Connor can do it all offensively as he is a great skater, stick handler and has a great shot. He could benefit from a year at the University of Michigan as he needs to add some muscle before he plays at the NHL level.
15. Calgary - Nick Merkley (RW)
Merkley led the WHL in scoring early on with 46 points in 27 games, so he certainly knows the offensive side of the game. Another undersized forward but the Flames did okay with Johnny Gaudreau and are not afraid to take a chance on talent. He will need a few years to develop.
16. Edmonton (via Pittsburgh) - Jakub Zboril (D)
The Czech junior teamed up with Thomas Chabot for Saint John and the duo should both go in the top 20. Zboril had 13 goals and 33 points in 44 games as he missed 19 games with a knee injury. He is a solid two-way defenseman. The Oilers could take a goalie here with Ilya Samsonov the top choice.
17. Winnipeg - Joel Eriksson Ek (C)
Eriksson Ek played this past season with the men in Sweden's second division. He needs to work on his skating but his overall game lacks little else. Eriksson Ek is very good in front of the net and every team in the NHL could use that quality.
18. Ottawa - Thomas Chabot (D)
Chabot has solid puck moving skills as well as being a smart hockey player. He definitely needs to fill out. Chabot needs to get better defensively but his offensive skills will make him a first round pick.
19. Detroit - Evgeni Svechnikov (LW)
Svechnikov came over from Russia last season and had 32 goals and 78 points in only 55 games with Cape Breton of the QMJHL. He has great offensive skills with great hands. He needs to work on his skating and defensive side of the game but his offense will get him drafted by the Red Wings who can certainly teach him how to play defensively.
20. Minnesota - Paul Bittner (LW)
The big winger took off in the second half of the season with 44 points in 33 games. Bittner needs to be more aggressive to be a good power forward but he may only be good enough to be a third line winger in the NHL.
21. Buffalo (via NY Islanders) - Ilya Samsonov (G)
As I wrote before, the Oilers could be interest in Samsonov at 16, but their goaltending needs are more imminent so he could fall to the Sabres. He has a three year deal with Magnitogorsk of the KHL and that could affect his draft slot. He has been sensational at the international level and that has impressed the scouts.
22. Washington - Jeremy Roy (D)
The Capitals will get a good one in Roy who has wonderful offensive skills. He had 43 points in only 46 games. Roy makes a super first pass which is all important in the NHL and will eventually quarterback the power play. He could replace UFA to be Mike Green in a couple of years.
23. Vancouver - Colin White (C)
There was regression in White’s offensive game this past season as he went from 63 to 54 points despite playing seven more games. He’s a good two-way player. He’ll likely be a support player with a strong work ethic as upside.
24. Toronto (via Nashville) - Jake DeBrusk (LW)
DeBrusk took a big step forward with 42 goals and 81 points after a 15 goal and 39 point effort in 2013-14, his rookie season in the WHL. Totally unlike his enforcer father Louie, DeBrusk has exceptional offensive skills and hockey sense. He should be a top-six forward with the Maple Leafs in a few years.
25. Winnipeg (via Buffalo and St. Louis) - Jacob Larsson (D)
There sure are a lot of good Swedish defensemen with the last name of Larsson and Jacob will be the latest to be drafted into the NHL. Larsson is an all-around rearguard, a strong skater and a good passer. He has plenty of upside if a patient team in the NHL drafts him, and the Jets certainly are that.
26. Montreal - Jack Roslovic (C)
The Canadiens are in need of a center and Roslovic is likely to be the best one remaining at this point. He played alongside Auston Matthews, the likely number one in 2016 with the NTDP-18 team. Roslovic is a terrific skater and had great offensive skills. He will get a lot of playing time at Miami of Ohio where he has committed to play in 2015-16.
27. Anaheim - Oliver Kylington (D)
The most polarizing player in the draft as many think Kylington is a first round talent while others wouldn’t take him until the third round. He is very good offensively despite having a drop off this season as he was considered a tip ten pick heading into the season. Can rush the puck and makes a good first pass. Kylnigton’s hockey sense could leave a lot to be desired.
28. Tampa Bay (via NY Rangers) - Jonas Siegenthaler (D)
Siegenthaler is a defensive defenseman and was most impressive as a 17-year-old in the U20 tournament where he was the only non-Canadian to finish in the top-ten in plus/minus at plus nine. He had only three assists in 41 games in the Swiss league so his offensive skills are not strong.
29. Philadelphia (via Tampa Bay) - Brandon Carlo (D)
Carlo is a huge blueliner who can skate. Carlo is another player with plenty of differing opinions as he could go anywhere from the latter half of the first round to late in the second. He has played the last two seasons for Tri-City of the WHL. Not an offensive threat but is a good stickhandler.
30. Arizona (via Chicago) – Filip Chlapik (C)
Another Czech import who played last season in the CHL. Chlapik had 33 goals and 75 points for Charlottetown of the QMJHL. He’s a good two-way player who needs to improve his skating but he should be a top-two center eventually in the NHL.