1. Edmonton Oilers- Connor McDavid/Center/Erie Otters
The next face of the NHL, McDavid is an elite player and an easy pick for the Oilers. The hype is at the level of Sidney Crosby, and I think McDavid is far more mature than Crosby when Sid the kid was an 18 year old. McDavid could be a point per game player as a rookie on that Oilers 1st line.
2. Buffalo Sabres- Jack Eichel/Center/Boston University
Eichel is as smooth of a skater you’ll see, and already 6’2″ and 200 pounds at age 18, players like Eichel do not come around often. Like McDavid, Eichel will be a 1st liner at the NHL level next season. The Sabres are drafting an elite center, a player every team needs in order to succeed in the NHL.
3. Arizona Coyotes- Noah Hanifin/Defenseman/Boston College
After watching the impact Duncan Keith had for the Chicago Blackhawks this postseason, I don’t see how the the Yotes could pass on Hanifin. After graduating high school a year early, Hanifin was plugged into BC’s lineup and made a smooth transition at the next level. He will be going back to school in the fall, but the D-man is a future franchise defenseman that every team needs as a part of its core.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs- Dylan Strome/Center/Erie Otters
Strome is not NHL ready, like almost every other player in the rest of the draft, but another year of training and playing in the O, and Strome will be with the Leafs making an impact. An all around Center, Strome has a very high ceiling.
5. Carolina Hurricanes- Mitch Marner/Center/London Knights
Had Marner played the same amount of games as Strome, he likely would have won the OHL scoring title. Marner is super skilled and has been compared to Patrick Kane in that his hands and passing abilities are incredible. Carolina gets their future number one center at 5th overall, not bad.
6. New Jersey Devils- Pavel Zacha/Center/Sarnia Sting
The New Jersey Devils need a Center desperately, and Zacha is a big kid who posted solid stats although it was in limited games in the OHL last season. He represented the Czech Republic at the WJC as well.
7. Philadelphia Flyers- Lawson Crouse/Left Wing/Kingston Frontenacs
I think the Flyers will take the first winger off the board in the bruiser Lawson Crouse, who can put the puck in the net as well. At 6’4″ Crouse is a true power forward and will be a nice selection for Ron Hextall, Bobby Clarke, and the Flyers front office.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets- Mikko Rantanen/Right Wing/TPS
Rantanen is another big winger at 6’3″ and 210 pounds. Columbus gets a two way forward with size and speed who could play on the wing with Johansen down the road.
9. San Jose Sharks- Zach Werenski/Defenseman/Michigan
The Sharks have a solid D-man in Burns on the back end, but Werenski is their future #1. The kid is a steal at 9, and can contribute offensively while holding it down on the back end. As a true freshman at Michigan, Werenski posted 24 points in 32 games.
10. Colorado Avalanche- Matthew Barzal/Center/Seattle
A very skilled center who could end up taking the place of Ryan O’Reilly if contract talks do not work out between O’Reilly and the Avalanche. Barzal posted just under a point per game in his rookie season in the WHL, while scoring 57 points in just 44 games this past season.
11. Florida Panthers- Ivan Provorov/Defenseman/Brandon
I have Provorov falling to 11th overall because he is Russian and there is some risk in taking a Russian player. That being said, Provorov, like Werenski is a steal at 11, and has the potential to be on a top D-pair at the NHL level. He put up 61 points in 60 games in the WHL last year.
12. Dallas Stars- Kyle Connor/Center/Left Wing/Youngstown
Connor led the USHL in scoring this past year with 80 points, the year before that he put up 74 points in the same amount of games (56), and as a rookie he scored 41 points in 62 games. Connor’s numbers were good and he improved each year. Scouts are high on his skating and knowledge of the game, which makes for a nice transition to the NHL.
13. Los Angeles Kings- Timo Meier/Right Wing/Halifax
Where most players selected outside of the top ten do not usually make NHL rosters, I think Meier could step right in for the Kings. As a team that is only a year removed for a Stanley Cup, Meier could be put on a line with some very skilled players and stick around for his rookie season, similar to what David Pastrnak did with the Boston Bruins last year.
14. Boston Bruins- Paul Bittner/Left Wing/Portland
A 6’4″ skilled winger, I think the Bruins jump all over that. Bittner was over a point per game player in the WHL last year. The rumors of Lucic being on his way out, and the likelihood that he’s past his prime, it’s time for the Bruins to reload with size and skill.
15. Calgary Flames- Jakub Zboril/Defenseman/Saint John
Zboril has been praised for his puck moving abilities, and I think the up and coming Flames take the solid D-man from the Q. With Giordano, and Russell getting up there in age, Brodie and Zboril will be the other half of the Flames top 4.
16. Edmonton Oilers- Ilya Samsonov/Goalie/Magnitorgorsk
The Oilers will likely trade for a goaltender on draft day, but that doesn’t mean they won’t spend the 16th pick on the top goalie in this years draft. The Oilers need to improve their D-core, but I think they try to find their franchise goalie with Samsonov on the board.
17. Winnipeg Jets- Travis Konecny/Center/Ottawa
The London, Ontario native can do it all. He’s solid in his own end, and highly skilled in the offensive zone. The knock on Konecny is his speed, but the mature 67s captain will work to improve that and the Jets are getting a player they want in the locker room in Konecny.
18. Ottawa Senators- Nick Merkley/Center/Right Wing/Kelwona
Merkley is a playmaker who craves the puck on his stick. He will pass before looking to take the shot and has the hands and wheels to create space for him and his line mates.
19. Detroit Red Wings- Colin White/Center/USA NTDP
The Red Wings will need to begin to find a Center to replace Pavel Datsyuk in a few years and by the time Datsyuk is ready to retire, the farm system in Detroit will have White ready to contribute at the NHL level, whether he can be their number one man down the middle depends on his development. His smarts are his best attribute.
20. Minnesota Wild- Brandon Carlo/Defenseman/Tri-City
Minnesota is in win now mode and can afford to let the big defenseman take a few years to develop his game. While not a guy you can project to lead your power play, Carlo could be a shut down defenseman for years to come in the right situation.
21. Buffalo Sabres- Brock Boeser/Right Wing/Waterloo
Boeser is the kind of player Sabres GM Tim Murray loves. A guy who can get into the corners, win the battles, and still produce offensively. He’s not flashy but does a lot of things well and could be another power forward that Buffalo adds to their prospect pool.
22. Washington Capitals- Evgeni Svechnikov/Right Wing/C. Breton
A highly skilled Russian that can score? Does Washington need another one of those? Svechnikov is not the same kind of player as Ovechkin, but the kid can put the puck in the net. I think he could use another year in the Q, but some analysts think he might be closer to the show than others taken before him so far in this mock draft.
23. Vancouver Canucks- Thomas Chabot/Defenseman/Saint John
Chabot is a guy who would be a piece to the next core in Vancouver. He had 62 penalty minutes and 41 points in 66 games in the Q last year. The Canucks have a short window to win now with the Sedins and Ryan Miller all getting older. Chabot is a solid pick for such a late first.
24. Toronto Maple Leafs- Denis Gurianov/Right Wing/Togliatti
The Leafs need players with character, and Gurianov would bring that along with a great shot and good speed for a 6’3″ winger. While there has been less and less Russians taken in every draft over the past few years, it is hard to ignore the success Tampa had this year behind the Russians in their lineup, Gurianov is well worth the risk at 24th overall.
25. Winnipeg Jets- Jeremy Roy/Defenseman/Sherbrooke
Roy is a defenseman who can take over a game with his smarts. At 43 points in just 46 games, he was almost a point per game player in the Q as a defenseman. He plays a sound game and would add to the Jets very good prospect pool of up and coming talent. I’d say he’s a poor man’s Duncan Keith.
26. Montreal Canadiens- Jake Debrusk/Left Wing/Swift Current
Debrusk has a very high ceiling as his point total doubled in the WHL last year putting up 81 points in 72 games. The Canadiens need to draft some scoring forwards as their D-core and goaltending will keep them in every game for years to come.
27. Anaheim Ducks- Joel Erikkson/Center/Farjestad
Anaheim is deep down the middle but that’s what has led to their success. I see them adding another 1st round center to their franchise, and whether they develop the youngster or trade him for a piece to the Cup puzzle, Erikkson will be a solid two-way player at the NHL level.
28. Tampa Bay Lightning- Gabriel Carlsson/Defenseman/Linkoping
A big body on the back end who can move the puck. He is not close to ready for the NHL, but with development could but a top 4 guy for Tampa going forward. Yzerman loves his massive defenseman who can take up space in the true stud Hedman and youngster Sustr.
29. Philadelphia Flyers- Oliver Kylington/Defeseman/Farjestad
Craig Button of TSN raved about his skating abilities saying he is “arguably one of the very best skaters in the draft.” The Flyers need help on D, and Kylington could be a sleeper in this deep draft.
30. Arizona Coyotes- Mackenzie Blackwood/Goalie/Barrie
A big Canadian goaltender who posted good numbers in Barrie last year. As Mike Smith ages and isn’t really a franchise goalie to begin with, I think Arizona tries to find their future goalie through the draft, and select Blackwood right before the goalie-needing Sabres.