The NHL Draft is quickly approaching (June 26th and 27th) as the Conference Final playoff round heats up. Who might your favorite team be selecting in rounds 1-3?
1) Edmonton Oilers – C Connor McDavid, Erie
- The Oilers having been getting pieces and more pieces to the puzzle and now they can finish it off with the biggest of them all. He will turn this franchise around.
2) Buffalo Sabres – C Jack Eichel, Boston University
- There isn’t a better fit in the draft. Will eventually go down as one of the great all-time American forwards and begin to put Buffalo back on the map as they turbo their re-build into the final phase. Eichel will make the jump to the NHL this year despite some people thinking that he will go back to BU for a sophomore campaign. This is a player who is ripping up every level of hockey he has played. The NHL is next. I could see a line of him and Evander Kane beginning to form in late August in camp. The Sabres hope they have their version of Getzlaf and Perry.
3) Arizona Coyotes –C Dylan Strome, Erie
- Arizona has a chance to take a franchise centerman right here. Waiting until next year is too risky given the new lottery rules.
4) Toronto Maple Leafs – LW Lawson Crouse, Kingston
- The first real surprise of the draft comes as Toronto goes for the power forward that is not out of place at this spot necessarily. Leaving Hanifin and Marner on the board is the issue. I think for Toronto it will come down to Crouse or Marner. Crouse will be a great player. Hanifin and Marner have the potential to be better than great players.
5) Carolina Hurricanes – LD Noah Hanifin, Boston College
- Ron Francis is licking his chops as the best defenseman in this year’s class falls right into his lap. Much like Seth Jones went a few picks later than most thought in 2013, Hanifin goes to Carolina at number 5. One day he will be the best defenseman in the entire league. Mark it down.
6) New Jersey Devils – C Mitch Marner, London
- The super-skilled forward goes to a team that is trying to change their identity a bit. Great fit and Ray Shero is happy to start off his time in New Jersey with a talent like this.
7) Philadelphia Flyers – C/RW Mikko Rantanen, TPS
- To take Provorov or go with the best available forward? That is the question that GM Ron Hextall will have to decide. Given the Flyers recent high draft picks on the back-end, it seems reasonable to think that they need to add scoring. They take Rantanen with the idea of him eventually seeing the success that Voracek has.
8) Columbus Blue Jackets – LD Ivan Provorov, Brandon
- Columbus gets the man they want with pick #8. Provorov fits right under the team’s short-term goals and their long-term goals.
9) San Jose Sharks – C Mathew Barzal, Seattle
- Doug Wilson believes he has a steal at pick #9, taking a player with potential to be a number 1 center eventually. The smooth-skating Barzal is very impressive and would be a top-5 talent in many of the past drafts.
10) Colorado Avalanche – LD Zach Werenski, U. Michigan
- Colorado gets one of the big 3 defensemen and are very pleased with it.
11) Florida Panthers – C/RW Travis Konecny, Ottawa 67’s
12) Dallas Stars – C/LW Pavel Zacha, Sarnia
13) Los Angeles Kings – RW Timo Meier, Halifax
14) Boston Bruins – LW Kyle Connor, Youngstown
- The University of Michigan commit is such a sound player. His game leaves little to be desired.
15) Calgary Flames – LW Paul Bittner, Portland
- Taking the next best power forward in the draft after Crouse, the Flames continue to add to the exciting youth core that they currently have.
16) Edmonton Oilers – LD Thomas Chabot, Saint John
17) Winnipeg Jets – C/LW Jansen Harkins, Prince George
- The Jets will fall in love with the type of game that Harkins plays. A 200-ft. force, Harkins is not only a great all-around player but he has elite playmaking ability as well.
18) Ottawa Senators – RW Nick Merkley, Kelowna
- This forward doesn’t look the part of a potential NHL great off the ice for some reason, but when you see him play the game there is no secret to why he will be selected in the first-round. He will go on to have a long career and be a thorn in the side to the rest of the Atlantic Division.
19) Detroit Red Wings – LD Jakub Zboril, Saint John
20) Minnesota Wild – RD Brandon Carlo, Tri-City
21) Buffalo Sabres – C Colin White, U.S. U-18
- The Sabres are in position here to take the best player available and while they would have liked the left-handed shooting d-man, Zboril to fall to them, they are pleased taking a future second-line center. White scored the golden goal at the 2015 U-18WC and was a point-per game player all year while still being very responsible defensively. He’s comparable in some ways to last year’s 15th overall pick Dylan Larkin. So far that pick has worked out very nicely for Detroit. Buffalo hopes it works the same way for them with White.
22) Washington Capitals – RD Jeremy Roy, Sherbrooke
23) Vancouver Canucks – LW Jake DeBrusk, Swift Current
- DeBrusk on one wing, Horvat at center and Virtanen on the other side, wow the Canucks are building up their prospect pool but at the same time making the playoffs. DeBrusk has spent his life born, raised and playing hockey in Alberta but will have to switch his allegiance to the Canucks in British Columbia.
24) Toronto Maple Leafs – C Joel Eriksson Ek, Farjestad
- This Swede is a great pick up for the Leafs as he shot up the draft rankings this year on his way to a 32 point season with Färjestad J20 in the J20 SuperElit in Sweden. He basically was on a point-per-game pace internationally as well. He was well thought of before the year as a 200-ft. player but is even more highly thought of now due to the scoring improvements in his game.
- At this point in the draft teams will realize the depth at almost all positions. Most of these players would have been drafted earlier in previous drafts.
25) Winnipeg Jets – LW Jordan Greenway, U.S. U-18
26) Montreal Canadiens – LW Evgeny Svechnikov, Cape Breton
- A great first year in the Q after coming over from Russia makes him very appealing to many teams. Montreal is really happy to add him this late into the first as he will eventually add much needed scoring.
27) Arizona Coyotes – LD Oliver Kylington, Farjestad
- Arizona is feeling pretty fortunate to end up with the chance to take a talent like Kylington this late in the first round. He had top-10 potential no doubt but with the way the draft takes place sometimes these situations happen. Arizona wins the first round of the draft.
28) Tampa Bay Lightning – LD Ryan Pilon, Brandon
29) Philadelphia Flyers – RD Noah Juulsen, Everett
30) Anaheim Ducks – C/RW Brock Boeser, Waterloo
31) Buffalo Sabres – LD Jacob Larsson, Frolunda Jr.
- The Sabres begin to replenish their defensemen in the system with this pick. Pysyk, McCabe, Ristolainen and Zadorov are almost all NHL ready prospects now and there is not much left in the pipeline. That’s ok though. The Sabres hit on all four of those d-men picks and can now add more in this year’s draft. Larsson already has spent some time in the SHL in Sweden and has held his own. He likes to model his game after fellow countryman, Oliver Ekman-Larsson. If he ends up being even near the player Ekman-Larsson has turned out to be the Sabres will be jumping for joy.
32) Arizona Coyotes – RW Jeremy Bracco, U.S. U-18
- Arizona continues to have a great start to the draft. Jeremy Bracco has a bright future ahead. Not the biggest player on the ice, he makes an impact with his speed and agility.
33) Edmonton Oilers – C Filip Chlapik, Charlottetown
34) Columbus Blue Jackets – RW Daniel Sprong, Charlottetown
- The “Flying Dutchman” born in the Netherlands has as much high-end skill as you will find in a player. The questions remain though on his work ethic and what his consistency will be like at the next level.
35) Carolina Hurricanes – LW Anthony Beauvillier, Shawinigan
- Beauvillier basically tripled his point total from his first season in the Q to get to 94 points. He’s a highly thought of creative offensive player who can create goals for himself but also create goals for others as a playmaker.
36) New Jersey Devils – RD Nicholas Meloche, Baie-Comeau
37) Boston Bruins – LD Vince Dunn, Niagara
38) Columbus Blue Jackets – C Julius Nattinen, JYP 2
39) San Jose Sharks – G Mackenzie Blackwood, Barrie
- Three years in a row without a goaltender selected in the first round? I think so. Finally a goaltender comes off the board at pick number 40. Blackwood is the most complete goalie prospect in this draft and is too good to pass up.
40) Colorado Avalanche – C Nicholas Roy, Chicoutimi
- The brother of earlier draft pick Jeremy Roy finds himself in a situation where he has time to develop behind the young super-stars in Colorado. Eventually could be an impactful third-line center.
41) New Jersey Devils – C Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, Omaha
42) Ottawa Senators – LW Austin Wagner, Regina
43) Los Angeles Kings – LD Travis Dermott, Erie
- While the Kings were scouting Connor McDavid (hoping that they would hit the jackpot in the lottery), they fell in love with Dermott who they think will be a really good puck-mover at the next level.
44) Tampa Bay Lightning – C Alexander Dergachyov, Ska 2
- Tampa Bay hasn’t been afraid of drafting Russian-born players under Steve Yzerman and they won’t stop now given the success of Kucherov, Nesterov, Namestnikov and Vasilevskiy. Dergachyov has impressive attributes and showed what he can bring when he puts it all together at the 2015 WJC.
45) Calgary Flames – LD Gabriel Carlsson, Linkoping Jr.
46) Pittsburgh Penguins – RW Denis Guryanov, Togliatti 2
47) Winnipeg Jets – LW Filip Ahl, Hv Jr.
48) Ottawa Senators – RD Rasmus Andersson, Barrie
49) Dallas Stars – LD Sebastian Aho, Skelleftea
- Last year there wasn’t a single team who wanted this puck-moving defenseman, but this time around teams won’t make the same mistake. Some teams may be scared off by his size (5’9”) but he’s been fine-tuning his game and appears to be a possible power play-quarter back at the next level.
50) Minnesota Wild – C/LW Thomas Novak, Waterloo
51) Buffalo Sabres – RD Jesper Lindgren, Modo Jr.
- The Sabres have their fourth pick in the top 51 and are happy with the results of the first three thus far. At this pick Tim Murray who is super involved in scouting still, sees a little bit of Erik Karlsson in Lindgren. That is intriguing at spot which is very-low risk for the pick heavy Sabres. With Larsson the earlier pick, they are now on their way to filling out the prospect system once again with high-end talent at all positions.
52) Calgary Flames – C Mitchell Stephens, Saginaw
53) Calgary Flames – RD Matthew Spencer, Peterborough
54) Chicago Blackhawks – RW Michael Spacek, Pardubice
- No relation to former NHL player Jaroslav Spacek, the Blackhawks traded their original second round pick in this year’s draft to Philadelphia for Kimmo Timonen but are awarded this pick #54 overall as a compensatory selection for losing Kevin Hayes (pick #24, 2010) as an unsigned draft pick to the New York Rangers this past offseason.
55) Nashville Predators – C/RW Jack Roslovic, U.S. U-18
56) St. Louis Blues – LW Dennis Yan, Shawinigan
57) Edmonton Oilers – RW Zachary Senyshyn, Sault Marie
58) Philadelphia Flyers – LD Jonas Siegenthaler, Zurich
- Is this the next good Swiss defenseman to be found in the second round? As long as he can develop his offensive game a bit, he can be.
59) Arizona Coyotes – C Glenn Gawdin, Swift Current
60) New York Rangers – RW Nikita Korostelev, Sarnia
- This player will take the sting away from the Rangers not having a first-round pick in this amazing draft class. Korostelev will provide the Rangers, a top-offensive prospect.
61) Columbus Blue Jackets – LD Simon Bourque, Rimouski
62) Washington Capitals – C Adam Musil, Red Deer
63) Arizona Coyotes – LW Ryan Gropp, Seattle
64) Tampa Bay Lightning – LD Guillaume Brisebois, Acadie-Bathurst
65) Toronto Maple Leafs – LD Colton White, Sault Marie
66) Carolina Hurricanes – LD Mitchell Vande Sompel, Oshawa
67) New Jersey Devils – LD Caleb Jones, U.S. U-18
- The son of former NBA player Popeye Jones and brother of current Nashville Predators defenseman Seth Jones, he isn’t as big as the rest of his family but he still has great potential. New Jersey realizes that and elects to take him higher than many teams would.
68) Columbus Blue Jackets – RW Christian Fischer, U.S. U-18
69) Columbus Blue Jackets – RD Erik Cernak, Cosice
70) Philadelphia Flyers – G Ilya Samsonov, Magnitogorsk 2
71) Colorado Avalanche – LD Jeremy Lauzon, Rouyn-Noranda
72) New York Islanders – C Blake Speers, Sault Marie
73) Detroit Red Wings – LW Yakov Trenin, Gatineau
74) Los Angeles Kings – RW Robin Kovacs, Aik
75) Boston Bruins – LW Jesse Gabrielle, Regina
76) Calgary Flames – RW Keegan Kolesar, Seattle
77) Florida Panthers – C Dante Salituro, Ottawa
- Dale Tallon has a chance to reunite his earlier pick of Konecny in the first round with his junior line-mate Salituro here. Will they eventually wreak havoc on NHL defenses as they have done in the O? I wouldn’t bet against it.
78) Winnipeg Jets – RD Thomas Schemitsch, Owen Sound
79) Edmonton Oilers – G Callum Booth, Quebec
80) Anaheim Ducks – RW Gabriel Gagne, Victoriaville
81) Arizona Coyotes – LW Erik Foley, Cedar Rapids
82) Boston Bruins – C Brent Gates, Green Bay
83) Calgary Flames – LW Andrew Mangiapane, Barrie
- Doubling his point total in the OHL in season number two to get across the 100 point mark, Mangiapane also raised his stock a good amount putting him in round 2-4 range.
84) Anaheim Ducks – C Pius Suter, Guelph
85) Nashville Predators – LD Jason Bell, Saint John
86) St. Louis Blues – LD Parker Wotherspoon, Tri-City
87) Montreal Canadiens – C Tyler Soy, Victoria
88) Chicago Blackhawks –RD Nicholas Boka, U.S. U-18
89) New York Rangers – LD Chris Martenet, London
90) Philadelphia Flyers – C Nathan Noel, Saint John
91) Florida Panthers –LD Tate Olson, Prince George
92) Buffalo Sabres – C Chase Pearson, Youngstown
- The Sabres believe they have a great player with this pick to begin the fourth round. His Dad Scott played for the Sabres in the early 90’s. Chase will be a really good all-around center. When you watch him play you begin to appreciate all of the little things that he does to help his team win games. The Sabres are stockpiling center prospects. Pearson will have a lot of time to develop.
PLAYER TO KEEP AN EYE ON: RW Conor Garland, Moncton
- The speedy, under-sized forward is the second-best “Connor” in this draft. He went undrafted last year but this time around that won’t be the case. He just put up a 35 goal, 94 assist season in the Q.