Future Considerations has asked a few of our evaluators who have been in the rinks all season, scouting 2015 eligible prospects, to give their input on team need, drafting tendencies and who they think NHL teams will be looking to add to their prospect pool in this first round mock draft.
For more in-depth analysis on the draft and its prospects pick up your copy of the annual FC NHL Draft Guide featuring rankings, full scouting profiles of the top 211 prospects and much, much more.
11th Overall Selection – Florida Panthers
The Panthers need help on the wings and a puck moving defenseman who can play strong in both ends of the ice. They are set down the middle with Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Dave Bolland, and Vincent Trocheck already in the system. An impressive defensive core is something that can always be improved, especially when the Panthers need to move the puck up in a hurry.
The Panthers aren’t afraid to go overseas or take some long-term project North Americans in the later rounds, but have been lucky to have the chance at picking in the top-5 the last four seasons. They have picked by best player available, but also filled needs. This represents their lowest first round choice since they chose Mike Matheson in 2012, and the Panthers will look to take the best player available again this time around.
The Florida Panthers select from the University of Michigan, D Zach Werenski
The Panthers get a strong puck moving defender with a ton of potential. Adding Werenski to a D core that features stud defender Aaron Ekblad, Erik Gudbranson, and Dimitry Kulikov, with Matheson and Ian McCoshen on the way, and the Panthers are set on the back end for years to come. Some say defence wins championships, maybe this is the start of something big in the Sunshine State.
Analysis and selection by Daniel Deschenes (FC Evaluator)
12th Overall Selection – Dallas Stars
With the goaltender position having a couple strong prospects in the fold as well as there being good depth and some intriguing talent coming at the defensive position, the Stars should focus on a forward and preferably a skilled center with their first round pick in 2015. They also have some depth issues on the wing, specifically on the right side, that could be addressed and they could really use a talented goal-scoring winger in the system to develop.
The Stars, under GM Jim Nill, have not brought over the same skill over size philosophy that was mandated in Detroit as they have picked up some big, powerful kids over the last couple of drafts as well as sprinkling in the odd average sized but highly skilled prospects at the same time. They have no real pool or region that they keep drawing from and have no problem taking Russians, Finns or Swedes.
The Dallas Stars select from Sarnia of the OHL, C Pavel Zacha
The Stars add another potential front-line piece with this big, strong center. He may eventually fill the organizations need as a goal scoring winger due to his heavy shot and ability to drive to the net making him possible better suited for that role, but for now he is the big center they covet.
Analysis and selection by Dan Stewart (FC Director of Scouting)
13th Overall Selection – Los Angeles Kings
The team has depth players both up front and on the blue line, but desperately need more from its go-to guys. In addition to possible veteran rebounds, the organization realistically has to expect to replace of a number of these veterans in the not-so-distant future. Nick Shore may be a start, but the team is lacking anything close to a sure-fire, impact style forward and can generally use more options at all positions heading into the future.
The Kings have never been a team to shy away from Europeans, but they drafted eight North Americans last summer, even if picks 1 and 3 consisted of a Swede (Adrian Kempe) and a Finn (Alex Lintuniemi). The team also tends to start off with players who could make it to the pro ranks quicker (Tanner Pearson) or may be a bit of a homerun pick (Valentin Zykov). In general, the club has spent the past 10 years being very adept at finding future NHLers as of round three of the draft and features a number of these players in the line-up now, if it didn’t also use some in trades along the way. What is certain is that this is the earliest pick the Kings have had since they selected Brayden Schenn with the No. 5 pick in the 2009 draft. The team has been successful and has been used to picking late.
The Los Angeles Kings select, from Cape Breton of the QMJHL, LW Evgeny Svechnikov
Two players who would have given the team some much-needed scoring punch moving forwards, the team needs to go to the next guy it feels can make an offensive impact when he arrives. Certain of his size, skill package, and perhaps even his ability to follow in the footsteps of a Gaborik or Kopitar, the Kings grab a Russian who has spent the year showing he can play in North America and has much to offer.
Analysis and selection by Chapin Landvogt (FC Evaluator)
14th Overall Selection – Boston Bruins
The Bruins have pretty good institutional depth at goalie and on the blue line. They need some scoring help at all three forward positions, but especially on both wings. With the team on the perceived decline and rumors swirling about some big names on the move it will be interesting to see what kind of stamp newly appointed GM Don Sweeny wants to put on his first draft with the Bruins.
The Bruins tend to take the best player available early in the draft, but always like grabbing a local name or two at some point later in the draft. The Bruins like their size, and they like their grit; but they are willing to give those up for an abundance of offensive skill.
The Boston Bruins select from the United States NTDP, C Colin White
A strong two-way center, who played two seasons for the USNTDP, happens to be a local kid. Some describe his game as a power forward, but is more a gritty, defensively responsible player with enough skill to play in a team’s top-six. White was hampered by injuries in his draft year, but prior to the start of the season he was considered by many to be a top-10 talent. A multi-sport athlete when he was younger, he is a very cerebral kid who fits the Bruins mold perfectly.
Analysis and selection by John Healy (FC Evaluator)
15th Overall Selection – Calgary Flames
The Flames have a number of highly skilled forwards beginning to take the reins of the team in Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, and Sam Bennett. They also have young goaltenders Jon Gillies and Joni Ortio who will be ready to compete for crease time in the near future. The Flames lack high-end prospects on the blue line that project as top-pairing defenseman and will look to add that dynamic with one or more of their top-90 selections.
The Flames last two top picks have been centers out of the OHL. This will be the second draft under the watch of GM Brad Treliving and president of hockey operations Brian Burke. Last year the Flames made six picks and all their players were over 6-feet. The organization will likely emphasize drafting some players with some good size again this year. The Flames have drafted players from all corners of the globe, with a focus on the North American leagues.
The Calgary Flames select from Youngstown of the USHL, C Kyle Connor
Calgary is in a position with several second and third round picks where they can simply take the best player available. Connor will have several years to develop and thrive in the NCAA with the Michigan Wolverines before the Flames ask him to slot into a prime role. With the selection of Connor, the Flames have a bright future down the middle to build upon.
Analysis and selection by Zenon Herasymiuk (FC Head Scout)
16th Overall Selection – Edmonton Oilers (from Pittsburgh)
The Oilers already boast an impressive stable of young forwards at the NHL level with Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Jordan Eberle all leading the way. Add in Nail Yakupov and Leon Draisaitl, and Connor McDavid and the Oilers have positioned themselves to have a potentially dominant offense until the cap becomes an issue in a few years. For the Oilers to become a contender, however, they need big improvements on both their back end and in net. While they have some promising players in Nurse, Klefbom, and Brossoit they could certainly use added talent. Additionally, playing in a Western Conference loaded with heavy and hard-hitting teams, the Oilers could use added size throughout the lineup.
With a revamped front office it’s tough to predict if the Oilers will lean towards certain nationalities or leagues however if GM Peter Chiarelli’s track record with Boston is any indication he is not afraid to draft from any league. Looking back at previous years the Oilers have taken at least one WHL player every year since 2007.
The Edmonton Oilers select from St. John of the QMJHL, D Thomas Chabot
With Chabot the Oilers add a raw yet high potential two-way defenseman who has shot up the rankings this year. Chabot shows an ability to play at a high pace with both his feet and his mind and he should slide seamlessly into the Oilers tempo.
Analysis and selection by Donesh Mazloum (FC Evaluator)
17th Overall Selection – Winnipeg Jets
Winnipeg Jets have a couple of high end defensemen in their system starting with Josh Morrissey. They also have skilled center Nic Petan and other good depth players at this position. Nikolai Ehlers is by far their best prospect up front being a left wing. With the trade of Evander Kane they received Joel Armia, whose development slowed a bit since coming over in North America.
Since being back in the league in 2011, Winnipeg has a tendency to draft multiple defensemen and goaltenders. In four drafts, in the first round they draft one center (Mark Scheifele), two defensemen (Jacob Trouba & Morrissey) and a left winger (Ehlers). In those four years, they only drafted from Europe twice, selecting three of their four 1st rounder from the CHL. They also like to look to the American junior circuit, whether USHL or high school leagues, to mine college bound talent later in the draft.
The Winnipeg Jets select from the Charlottetown Islanders, RW Daniel Sprong
Sprong is a pure sniper that could be very dangerous on the right wing with the super skilled Danish playmaker Ehlers on the left wing of the top line one day.
Analysis and selection by Guillaume Gervais (FC Evaluator)
18th Overall Selection – Ottawa Senators
First priority for the Senators this upcoming offseason is to sign their future offensive core that turns RFA this summer. If they accomplish all those signings their top-6 looks solid for now and years to come. But at the same time when young guns like Curtis Lazar and Mark Stone makes the lineup on a regular basis they leave a hole behind them in the prospect pool that need to be addressed. Tobias Lindberg had an amazing year with the Oshawa Generals but is still a year or two away from pushing for a spot. The extension of goaltender Andrew Hammond and signing of collage goalie Matt O’Connor gives them good depth in net as well.
In the past, the Senators have been drafting a mix from the North American leagues with a sweet touch of Swedes. They have been pretty successful with their first rounder the last couple of years turning Cody Ceci, Lazar and Mika Zibanejad into regular NHLers. They also seem to have an eye for Sweden, which comes pretty naturally when you have Erik Karlsson as your franchise player and your former captain was also a Swedish star; selecting Andreas Englund, Fredrik Claesson and Mikael Wikstrand in recent drafts.
The Ottawa Senators select from Farjestad, C Joel Eriksson Ek
The Senators sticks to their Swedes. In Joel Eriksson Ek the get that big center that moves well and loves to compete. Erksson Ek can play in all situations and his left shot gives them some options at center.
Analysis and selection by Patrik Hansen (FC Evaluator)
19th Overall Selection – Detroit Red Wings
With the success they have had taking forwards the past couple drafts who could blame them for going back to the well again in hopes of picking up another high end forward prospect but after not selecting a defenseman in the top-100 of any draft since 2011, they will likely look to bolster a defensive position that has seen some recent graduation and more thinning out. A skilled center, a goal scorer and another goaltender would also be high on their agenda.
Even with Tyler Wright running his second draft at the Wings’ table, super Euro scout Hakan Anderson has major say so expect the Wings to continue to mine Europe for a few highly intelligent but size-challenged talents as per the norm. North American’s with some size who can also play a solid two-way, intelligent game with speed are also high on their wish lists. They tend to go with best available but also have an eye on balancing the prospect pool.
The Detroit Red Wings select from Ladia, RW Denis Guryanov
The Wings organization knows it is at a crossroads with a few bright lights on the horizon but also their cornerstone stars getting up there in age and soon needing to be replaced. They select a prospect in Guryanov whom they see as the best available and one having a very high NHL upside as a top line goal scorer.
Analysis and selection by Dan Stewart (FC Director of Scouting)
20th Overall Selection – Minnesota Wild
With most of their high upside forward prospects graduating to the NHL, the Wild should look to replenish their forward prospect pool. With Mikael Granlund, Jason Zucker and Charlie Coyle showing success in the NHL, Minnesota needs to add to their high upside forward prospect list next to Alex Tuch. Their secondary need is a goalie prospect that can develop into their long-term solution in net. The jury is still out on Devon Dubnyk, whether he was flash in the pan or a viable starter option for years to come, should he re-sign. Either way, the Wild should explore options to grab a goalie to hedge their bets with Kaapo Kahkonen, drafted in 2014.
Minnesota has drafted all across the world, with the exception of Russia. They have not drafted a player who played their draft year in Russia since Roman Voloshenko in 2004. In recent years, the Wild have not been afraid to go a little against the grain to grab their guy a few picks higher than he probably should have gone either. However, they typically go BPA and I expect nothing different this draft.
The Minnesota Wild select from Kelowna of the WHL, RW Nick Merkley
The Wild know they need some high upside talent up front in their prospect pool and they are glad Merkley is still on the board. They go BPA and it just so happens this high upside forward is this guy. He is projected to be a top six playmaking forward at the NHL level and Minnesota can also afford to let him continue to develop in the WHL/AHL instead of rushing him to the NHL.
Analysis and selection by Colin Mayberry (FC Evaluator)