Bennett is a strong two-way center who has been compared to Doug Gilmour
and that will be fine with the Sabres as Gilmour was the best player in
the NHL for a couple of years. He was ninth in OHL scoring with 36
goals and 91 points and missed 11 games via injuries. Bennett is an
excellent passer and can also score as he is not afraid to go to the
net. The Sabres finally get their number one center after possibly
missing out a couple of years ago with Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons.
Buffalo needs – Scoring center and wingers as well as getting bigger up front.
The Oilers are hoping to trade up to get Ekblad or even better, if he
falls to them at number three. They could move down if Ekblad is gone
as they really want a defenseman but will choose Sam Reinhart
if they remain here. Reinhart is ranked number one overall at McKeens.
He finished in a tie for fourth in scoring in the WHL with 36 goals and
105 points and was outstanding in the post-season with six goals and 23
points in 17 games as Kootenay upset Calgary in the first round of the
WHL playdowns. He is strong with his on-ice knowledge as he seems to be
always in the right place at the right time. Reinhart, like most
18-year-olds, needs to fill out physically.
Edmonton needs – Defensive help on the blueline, scoring centers, size.
Mock Draft Column
Draisaitl is perhaps the most exciting player in the draft as the
German-born center is quite a goal scorer. Draisaitl is ranked as having
the fourth best hockey sense by McKeen’s and the second best playmaker.
He gives the Flames a star forward to go with Sean Monahan. Draisaitl had 38 goals and 105 points in 64 games.
Calgary needs- Scoring wingers and centers.
Mock Draft Column
The Islanders are looking to trade out of this spot and grab a veteran defenseman or left winger for the John Tavares-Kyle Okposo line. If they are unable to get what they want, expect them to take Michael Dal Colle
who went from a successful rookie season with Oshawa with 15 goals and
48 points to 39 goals and 95 points. Dal Colle has the best shot in the
draft, especially his wrist shot. Dal Colle is a prototypical power
forward with the great release and hands.
New York Islanders needs – Everywhere including a scoring center/winger (size would be ideal).
Virtanen is another power forward who managed 45 goals and 71 points
with Calgary of the WHL. Virtanen is an outstanding skater and was rated
by McKeen’s as the third best bodychecker in the draft. Power forwards
usually take a couple of extra years to make it in the NHL so do not be
surprised or disheartened if he struggles early on.
Vancouver needs - Size and scoring wingers, a puck moving defenseman.
The Hurricanes really need help on the blueline so they will take the next best defenseman available and that is Haydn Fleury.
Fleury is an offensive defenseman who will eventually quarterback the
Carolina power play. He has great hands and is a very good skater so he
has no problem joining the rush. Fleury has the capabilities of being a
dominant NHL point producing defenseman. He had eight goals and 46
points in 2013-14.
Carolina needs – Puck moving defenseman, Playmakers on the wing.
The Maple Leafs are trying to move up in the draft as they apparently love Sam Bennett but will take William Nylander
here if they are unable to trade up. Nylander was McKeen’s top rated
player in this draft heading into the season and one reason he may drop
is that he is committed to playing for MoDo in 2014-15. He led the World
U18 championships with 16 points including six goals in seven games. He
has Patrick Kane like skills in the way he is able to play with the puck.
Ritchie is another power forward who is a good skater. He has an
excellent shot and managed to score 39 times in the regular season with
35 assists. Ritchie is likely the most ready NHL forward available in
the draft as he is six foot two, 225 pounds. He is a huge high risk/high
reward player. Ritchie will be a nice replacement for Evander Kane if the Jets deal him to help out another weakness.
Winnipeg needs - A skilled center.
If the Ducks do not trade this pick (rumors include back to Ottawa with other parts for Jason Spezza or to St. Louis or Vancouver as part of a Patrik Berglund or Ryan Kesler deal), they would be thrilled to see the ultra-offensive minded Nikolaj Ehlers
available at this spot. Ehlers is ranked as the best skater, the best
stickhandler and has the fifth best hockey sense in the draft. He had 49
goals and 104 points in his first season in the QMJHL. His major
drawback is his size as he is 5’11”, and only 165 pounds.
Anaheim needs – Scoring wingers, Solid defensive defensemen.
Fiala saw some time this season in the Swedish first division which
is the third best league in the world after the NHL and KHL. He was
sixth in scoring at the World U18 with five goals and nine points in
five games. Fiala loves to handle the puck and is a good skater with
great acceleration. He tried to do everything himself in the junior
league but when he went to HV 71, he was a much better teammate on the
Nashville needs – First line center, scorers at forward.
McCann is a solid two-way player. He ranks first overall as the best
defensive forward in the draft according to McKeen’s, as well as having
the third best hockey sense, behind only the two Sams, Reinhart and
Bennett. McCann had 27 goals and 62 points this past season. He has a
great one timer and plays well on the half-boards in man-advantage
situations. The Coyotes will likely give Max Domi, their first pick and also 12thoverall last season, a shot to make the team this season, and leave McCann in junior hockey.
Arizona needs – Second line players and a scoring center.
Sanheim is flying up the draft board as the defenseman has gone from
5’10” to 6’3” in the last three years. He started the season off slowly
as he was a healthy scratch but really came on in the second half of the
season as he started to rush with the puck more often. He managed to
show his skills at the World U18 where he led Canadian defensemen with
six points in seven games. The Capitals need defensive help and Sanheim
could be a great selection at 13th overall.
Washington needs – Defensive help, Goaltending and depth on the wings.
The Stars are looking at an offensive defenseman and Honka looks
like the best available at this point. McKeen’s has Honka rated as the
top offensive defenseman as well as the fifth best skater in the draft.
He was the Broncos best defenseman in his first year in the WHL and he
aided his native Finland in helping them win gold at the 2014 World U20
championships. Honka had 16 goals and 56 points in 62 WHL
Dallas needs- Puck moving defenseman, Depth wingers.
The second best skater in the draft along with the third best shot
according to McKeen’s, Perlini had 34 goals and 71 points for Niagara of
the OHL. Every team is looking for a goal scorer and Perlini could be
the best of this bunch. He had trouble in the playoffs as he is not a
physical player and he still needs to work on his defensive game.
Detroit needs – Puck moving defenseman, Skilled Wingers.
Larkin is a strong two-way center who is a better shooter than
passer. He played on the USA NDTP 18 team where he had 31 goals and 56
points in 60 games. He plays a physical game but will need to fill out
his 6’1”, 190 pound body before he can play effectively in the NHL.
Columbus needs – Depth at center and wingers with size who are playmakers.
Another member of the USA NDTP 18 team, Tuch played on a line with Jake Eichel who is projected to go second behind Connor McDavid at the 2015 draft, and Sonny Milano
who should go late in the first round or early in the second this year.
Tuch is a finesse power forward who scores most of his goals within
five feet of the net. He needs to use his 6’3”, 215 pound body better as
he does not play a physical game yet.
Philadelphia needs – Help on the blueline offensively, scoring winger.
A talented but smallish center, Fabbri really started to produce offensively when Kerby Rychel
was dealt to Guelph from Windsor. Fabbri had 45 goals and 87 points in
only 58 games as he was suspended for 10 games in November. He was the
OHL playoff MVP with 13 goals and 28 points in 16 games. Fabbri doesn’t
mind the heavy going despite being only 5’10”, 170
Minnesota needs – A skilled center, playmaking wingers and goaltending.
The son of Sami Kapanen,
he played this season with KalPa alongside his father in the Finnish
Elite League. Kapanen has a great release on his snap and wrist shot
and scored seven goals to go with seven assists in 47 games. Kapanen is
also a very good skater. He learned to be less selfish in the SM-liiga
as he tried to do it all himself in the junior leagues.
Tampa Bay needs – Big and skilled wingers.
The Sharks have been a gold mine for goalies of late but now are in flux as they are not thrilled with Antti Niemi. Thatcher Demko
is the best goalie in this draft as he had a great freshman year at
Boston College. Demko is 6’4” and 195 pounds and is a large presence
between the pipes. He was 16-5 this season with a 2.24 GAA and a .919
save percentage. He was the youngest player in the NCAA this
San Jose needs – Goaltending and a puck moving defenseman.
Kempe was rated the fifth best defensive forward in this draft
according to McKeen’s. He played 47 games with MoDo of the Swedish
Elite League but did not see a lot of ice time and managed just five
goals and 11 points. Kempe plays a good overall game but could lack
scoring touch and that could drop him down the draft list.
St. Louis needs – Scoring up front with some size.
Dougherty is regarded as the fourth best offensive defenseman and
third best defensive blueliner in the draft according to McKeen’s. He
joined the USA NDTP 18 team at the start of the season and had seven
goals and 21 points in 57 games. Dougherty is headed for the University
of Wisconsin this season.
Pittsburgh needs – Puck moving defenseman as well as depth on the wings.
Vrana split the season between Linkopings of the Swedish Elite League
where he managed two goals and three points in 24 games as he did not
receive a lot of ice time, and their junior team as he had 14 goals and
25 points in 24 games. He is a terrific skater and can find the back of
the net as he led the World U18 Championships in goals with eight. He
is not a good defensive player at this time and that could make a
difference on where he is drafted.
Colorado needs – Playmaking and depth wingers.
Masin captained the Czech Republic team to a silver medal at the
World U18. He is a solid defensive defenseman and is rated fifth overall
in the draft by McKeen’s among blueliners for his defensive play. He is
not going to be a scoring defenseman and had only two goals and 21
points in 39 games for his junior team.
Anaheim needs – Scoring wingers and some solid defensive rearguards.
Pastrnak has a lot of offensive upside but needs to fill out. He
missed the most of the last quarter of the regular season and all of the
playoffs after getting hit in open ice. Pastrnak is a very good
stickhandler and his offensive skill should eventually make him a
top-six forward in the NHL.
Boston needs – Puck moving defenseman.
Scherbak ranks fifth overall among playmakers in this draft according
to McKeen’s. Scherbak was a star for Saskatoon this past season with 28
goals and 78 points. He is tall but like most in this draft, he still
needs to fill out. Scherbak has to improve his stamina but certainly has
the offensive capabilities to be a top-six forward in the NHL.
Montreal needs – Some size up front as well as a first line center.
Schmaltz has outstanding offensive skills and needs linemates who are
also offensively capable to perform at his best. While this can happen
at the NHL level, Schmaltz needs to work on his defensive game which is
severely lacking at this time. He had four goals and 12 points in four
games at the World Junior A championships which broke the previous
record of 11 held by Kyle Turris. He has been a great power play player. Schmaltz had 18 goals and 63 points in Green Bay.
Chicago needs – Some depth forwards and a defensive defenseman.
An outstanding offensive defenseman, DeAngelo is ranked second
overall by McKeen’s as far as offensive defensemen go. He led the OHL in
points by a blueliner with 71 in 51 games as he missed 17 games of
action including an eight game suspension for inappropriate comments
towards a teammate. DeAngelo needs help on the defensive side but his
offense is so good that he is likely to be drafted in the first round.
Tampa Bay needs – Big and skilled wingers.
Barbashev has now played two seasons in Moncton after being the first
selection in the 2012 CHL Import Draft. Barbashev is becoming a two-way
center but he has some great offensive skills as he can make plays at
full speed and has a terrific wrist shot. He has gained strength since
being drafted as a 5’9”, 135 pound center as he has filled out to six
feet even and 185 pounds.
Los Angeles needs – Scoring wingers and some size on the blueline.
McKeen’s had McKeown rated as the fifth best player in this draft
after the 2012-13 season but he has not progressed as many others have
in the draft and subsequently he is on the bubble to be drafted in the
first round. He is a very good skater and a great first touch passer
which is very important at the NHL level but he has some problems
defensively despite being a plus-38 this past season. McKeown had 11
goals and 43 points for Kingston in 2013-14.
New Jersey needs – Scoring from all three forwards and a puck rushing defenseman.