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A Last Minute Look at the 2015 NHL Draft (with a focus on the potential options for the Canucks)

Hamhuis2

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To open up this blog post, let's review some of the top prospects available in this draft. The following is my ranking of the top-60 players available in the draft this year. Picks are ordered in terms of rankings of player ability/projections in my opinion, not necessarily taking into account team need.

NHL 2015 Draft Rankings

1st round

1.) Connor McDavid ©- Elite speed, agility, acceleration, hands, and hockey sense. This kid is a future superstar and could be the new face of the NHL. NHL projection: Generational #1 center. NHL style comparable: Crosby

2.) Jack Eichel ©- Another generational talent, Eichel possesses an impressive blend of speed, smarts, and power, which will make him one of the best in the league very quickly. NHL projection: Generational #1 center. NHL style comparable: Getzlaf

3.) Noah Hanafin (D)- Smooth skating Hanafin is an exceptional player at both ends of the rink, and isn’t afraid to play the body when need be. His skating and quick stick make him the best overall defenceman in this draft. NHL projection: Two-way #1 defenceman. NHL style comparable: Doughty

4.) Mitch Marner (C/RW)- Highly skilled, very elusive, and elite vision make Marner project Marner to be a high end offensive threat at the NHL level. While he is slightly undersized, his skills are too much to pass on early in the draft. NHL projection: 1st line elite scoring winger. NHL style comparable: P. Kane

5.) Dylan Strome ©- Big, offensive, responsible centers seem to always be in high demand, but are very rarely traded due to their high value on the market. Strome has all of the makings of a future #1 center, and could be a force to deal with. NHL projection: Two-way 1st line center. NHL style comparable: Eric Staal.

6.) Ivan Provorov (D)- Great speed, great offensive instincts, not afraid of playing physical, and very responsible in the defensive zone, Provorov excels in nearly every aspect of the game, and projects to be a top pairing defenceman in the near future. NHL projection: #1-#2 two-way defenceman. NHL style comparable: Niklas Kronwall

7.) Zach Werenski (D)-Much like the dmen slated to go ahead of him, Werenski possess elite skating ability and high-end offensive awareness. He goes hard in the corners, and is solid physically. With a little more work in the defensive zone, he could be NHL ready fairly quickly. NHL projection: #1-#2 two-way defenceman. NHL style comparable: Jack Johnson

8.) Mikko Rantanen (RW/C)- One of the most complete players in the draft, Rantanen has improved his footspeed over the past year and is a hulking winger who is tough to contain and has great playmaking abilities. NHL projection: 1st line playmaking winger with size. NHL style comparable: Jakub Voracek

9.) Matthew Barzal ©- A highly competitive player, Barzal can play in any situation and thrive. He has elite offensive vision, as well as good skating. If he can put health concerns behind him, he could be very good NHL player. NHL projection: 1B two-way center who can play all situations. NHL style comparable: Nicklas Backstrom


10.) Lawson Crouse (LW)- A big, complete player, Crouse is an exceptional two-way player and a great forechecker. Although his offensive numbers leave much to be desired, he has the potential to be a top two-way guy in the league. NHL projection: Top-6 two-way winger. NHL style comparable: Rick Nash

11.) Pavel Zacha (C/LW)- Another big body, Zacha also possess fantastic speed and great hands. Although inconsistent, Zacha has the potential to be a high-end powerforward in the NHL. NHL projection: Top-6 power winger. NHL style comparable: Alex Ovechkin.

12.) Kyle Connor ©- Speedy, skilled, and dependable. These are the traits that make Connor such a valuable draft choice, and what could make him an impact player in the NHL. Connor excels in all situations, and will only get better as he adds some weight to his frame. NHL projection: 1B two-way center who can play in all situations. NHL style comparable: Claude Giroux

13.) Timo Meier (RW/C)- Perhaps the best pure sniper in the draft, Meier plays a heavy game and is responsible in his own end as well. NHL projection: Top-6 goal scoring forward. NHL style comparable: James Neal

14.) Jakub Zboril (D)- A dependable player, Zboril can play in any situation, and isn’t afraid to mix it up physically. While maybe not a powerplay quarterback, he certainly has all of the skills to play on the PP, and can be a rock on the PK. NHL projection: #2-3 two-way defenceman. NHL style comparable: Dan Hamhuis.

15.) Travis Konecny (C/RW)- A competitor, Konecny is a tenacious player who plays bigger than his smaller stature indicates. Build very solidly, Konecny also possess great speed and good hands that will enable him to succeed in the NHL. NHL projection: Top-6 two-way forward. NHL style comparable: Brendan Gallagher/Zach Parise hybrid

16.) Colin White (RW/C)- A solid, two-way player, White is a pretty good bet to be an NHL player, but it’s yet to see where he will fit. He is great defensively, probably the best in the draft, however, he needs to work on his skating a bit, as well as develop his offensive skills. NHL projection: Top-6 two-way forward. NHL style comparable: Ryan Callahan.

17.) Evgeny Svechnikov (LW)- A speedy, skilled, big bodied player, Svechnikov only falls this far in the draft due to his “Russian factor”. Great in the offensive end, Svechnikov could use some work on his defensive game, as well as use his size a bit better. NHL projection: Top-6 sniper with size. NHL style comparable: Max Pacioretty

18.) Nick Merkley (RW/C)- Although a bit on the small side, Merkley is a fierce competitor, and is solid on his skates. He sees the ice very well, and has the ability to change the pace of a game to match his own. NHL projection: Top-6 playmaking winger. NHL style comparable: T.J. Oshie/ Jordan Eberle

19.) Thomas Chabot (D)- Smooth skating, offensive defenceman with a great first pass and good shot, Chabot could fill the role of a PMD in the NHL. He should work on his defensive zone coverage, as well as being more physical, however he has shown improvement in these areas. NHL projection: #3-#4 offensive/two-way defenceman. NHL style comparable: Marek Zidlicky

20.) Joel Eriksson Ek ©- A solid, two-way center who is great in the dot, Eriksson Ek should continue to work on his puck skills. He is a tireless worker, and should be an NHL player, it’s just a question of whether that will be in a 2nd or 3rd line role. NHL projection: Top-6/9 two-way center. NHL style comparable: Derrick Brassard

21.) Paul Bittner (LW)- Bittner plays a gritty game, has a good shot, and is very good at using his size to protect the puck. His skating isn’t the greatest, and he needs to work on his consistency, but he has all of the physical tools to be a good NHLer. NHL projection: Top-6/9 big goalscoring winger. NHL style comparable: Scott Hartnell

22.) Denis Guryanov (RW)- Guryanov has explosive speed, great size, and a heavy shot. Will drop due to his “Russian Factor”, but any team that gets him will be getting a potential star. NHL projection: Top-6 speedy power winger. NHL style comparable: Chris Kreider.

23.) Brock Boeser (RW)- A very versatile player, Boeser is a strong player on his skates, and can beat you in a number of different ways. He has the size to play a big game, a great shot to score from anywhere, and is creative enough to beat guys one on one. NHL projection: Top-6 sniper with size. NHL style comparable: Kyle Okposo

24.) Oliver Kylington (D)- Fantastic skating ability, but leaves more to be desired in other areas of his game. He has great vision and puck skills, but is unpredictable, and needs work in the defensive end. High potential due to his skating, but high chance of busting due to other factors. NHL projection: #2-#6 offensive defenceman. NHL style comparable: Tobias Enstrom/Erik Karlsson

25.) Jansen Harkins ©- Solid two-way forward, is very good defensively and has solid offensive ability. Not a flashy player, but uses his teammates well and is a character guy. NHL projection: Top-6/9 two-way center. NHL style comparable: Bryan Little

26.) Jeremy Roy (D)- Offensively gifted and great skater, Roy can be a good PMD at the next level. I have him rated lower on the board due to questions about his defensive game, but if he can overcome those he can be a high-end defenceman in the NHL. NHL projection: #2-6 offensive defenceman. NHL style comparable: Dan Boyle/Kris Letang

27.) Daniel Sprong (RW)- Sprong is a very creative player with high-end offensive skills and great speed. He does have some attitude concerns, and he needs work in the defensive end, but his offensive abilities may be elite. NHL projection: Top-6 scoring winger. NHL style comparable: Alex Semin

28.) Anthony Beauvillier (LW)- Although small, Beauviller plays a feisty game, has good offensive skills, and has a good two-way game. NHL projection: Top-6 undersized two-way forward. NHL style comparable: Jaden Schwartz.

29.) Jake Debrusk (LW)- Smart player who is great around the net. Goes to the hard areas and works hard. Could improve his skating and size and become more consistent. NHL projection: Top-6 goal scorer. NHL style comparable: Patric Hornqvist.

30.) Jacob Larsson(D)- Steady, two-way defender, Larsson really excels in the defensive end, and is a very good skater. Although not overly big, Larsson can play in a shutdown role, as well as be a good puck distributor. He plays a safe game which should translate well to the next level. NHL projection: #3-4 two-way defender. NHL style comparable: Jay Bouwmeester.

2nd round

31.) Ilya Samsonov (G)
32.) Brandon Carlo (D)
33.) Gabriel Carlsson (D)
34.) Vince Dunn (D)
35.) Jack Roslovic ©
36.) Jeremy Bracco (RW)
37.) Noah Juulsen (D)
38.) Mitchell Vande Sompel (D)
39.) Zach Senyshyn (RW)
40.) Nicholas Meloche (D)
41.) Ryan Pilon (D)
42.) Jonas Siegenthaler (D)
43.) Alexander Dergachev ©
44.) Rasmus Andersson (D)
45.) Thomas Novak ©
46.) Filip Chlapik ©
47.) Travis Dermott (D)
48.) Dennis Yan (LW)
49.) Mackenzie Blackwood (G)
50.) Graham Knott (LW)
51.) Austin Wagner (LW)
52.) Christian Fischer (RW)
53.) Matthew Spencer (D)
54.) Callum Booth (G)
55.) Nikita Korostelev (RW)
56.) Roope Hintz (LW)
57.) Gabriel Gagne (RW)
58.) Jordan Greenway (LW)
59.) Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson ©
60.) Ryan Gropp (LW)


What the Canucks should look for this draft

For this section, I will be exploring what I feel the Canucks should be looking to accomplish this draft. Although it is likely that trades might happen (Lack, Bieksa, etc.), they are difficult to predict, and thus I will not try to do so.

HOWEVER, I will assume that the Canucks will have a 2nd round pick available for them to use, and for arguments sake I will put it at #53.

With offensive prospects such as Baertschi, Virtanen, Mccann, Shinkaruk, Cassels, Gaunce, Grenier, and Jensen in the system, as well as young NHL forwards like Horvat and Kenins, and a young potentially elite goalie coming up in Demko, it’s time for the Canucks to turn their attention to the backend. While their are some good prospects, including Corrado, Clendenning, Tryamkin, and Hutton, none of these players project to be much more than #4 guys on a good team. Most Stanley Cup winning teams have a legitimate #1 defenceman, and while their may not be a surefire one in the Canucks range of draft, there still are some very good ones available.

My preferred defenceman for #23 (in order of preference)

The Big 3 (These guys are almost guaranteed to be gone by the Canucks #23 selection. They have a high likelyhood of being top-pairing defencemen in the NHL)

Noah Hanafin (will be gone by our pick)
Ivan Provorov (will be gone by our pick)
Zach Werenski (will be gone by our pick)

The Safe 2 (These guys have a strong likelihood of becoming top-4 NHL defencemen, and have a shot at being top-pairing guys).

Jakub Zboril (unlikely to be around by our pick)
Thomas Chabot (may be around for our pick)

The Risky 2 (These guys are elite in some aspects, but have some major deficiencies that keep them lower in the draft)

Oliver Kylington (may be around for our pick)
Jeremy Roy (may be around for our pick)

The Swedish 2 (These guys are fairly safe picks, but may not have the upside some of the previous defencemen have)

Jacob Larsson (should be around for our pick)
Gabriel Carlsson (should be around for our pick)

The Best of the Rest (These guys still have top-4 or better upside, but are not ranked quite as highly as the previous players)

Brandon Carlo (should be around for our pick)
Vince Dunn (should be around for our pick)
Noah Juulsen (should be around for our pick)

I would be happy with any of these defenceman I’ve listed above, in the order that I’ve listed them. The rest of the defencemen on my top-60 list I would not take with a 1st round pick, however, if we got a 2nd I would take one of them. In my personal opinion, I really like Rasmus Andersson and Nicholas Meloche.

Other than defencemen, I think the Canucks should consider taking a RW with their 1st, depending on who’s on the board. With only Virtanen at this point projecting to be a top-6 RW in the NHL (sorry Jensen), the Canucks could use another scorer on that side.

For RW’s, I would take the following (in this order)

Travis Konecny (should be gone by our pick)
Nick Merkley (may be around for our pick)
Brock Boeser (should be around for our pick)
Denis Guryanov (should be around for our pick)

In my opinion, I really like the versatility and creativity of a player like Boeser (most likely to be around for our pick). I also think he has some untapped offensive potential, and has an outside shot of being a top line forward, with limited risk in him being at least a top-6.

In conclusion

Overall, the Canucks need to address the defence in this draft. There are many good, potential top-4 defencemen, and the Canucks need to take one of them in the first two rounds. Depending on who’s available, it may be better to take a player like Boeser in the first and try and grab a player like Dunn or Juulsen in the 2nd, but again, it depends on who is still left on the board when the Canucks pick.

Either way, it should be an exciting draft!

Let me know who you guys think the Canucks are taking, and/or who you want the Canucks to take!
Hope you enjoyed the analysis!

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