The 2015 draft class was hyped with superstars Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel and lauded for its depth. This draft class hasn’t failed at meeting its high expectations. Multiple players have really taken big steps in their development and have shown they may have deserved to go higher in the draft. Americans Kyle Connor, Colin White, and Brock Boeser all have been tremendous in their freshman years at their respective schools. Others have taken a step back but still have the potential to become real good players. This draft has really shown why it was compared to the 2003 draft and can ultimately go down as the deepest draft in recent history.
1. Connor McDavid/Center/Edmonton Oilers
McDavid is the best player in the NHL and he is easily head and shoulders above the 2015 draft class. McDavid should win the Calder but his injury may lose him the award.
2. Jack Eichel/Center/Buffalo Sabres
Eichel is already at star status as a rookie and hasn’t slowed down since the all-star break. He’s a great player in his own right and it’s a shame we’ll have to see comparisons to McDavid for the next decade.
3. Dylan Strome/Center/Arizona Coyotes
Some skeptics thought Strome wouldn’t fare well with Connor McDavid gone but Strome has lit the OHL on fire this season for Erie. He has 111 points in 56 games and should easily be on the Coyotes next year. He’s an elite playmaking center.
4. Mitch Marner/Center/Toronto Maple Leafs
Marner has been very impressive this year for a stacked London Knights team scoring 116 points in 57 games. His highlight reel goals bring a glimmer of hope to a Maple Leafs franchise that is desperate for elite talent. Marner and future teammate William Nylander will make quite the duo.
5. Kyle Connor/Left Wing/Winnipeg Jets
Connor has taken the largest leap out of any 2015 prospect. Connor has done nothing but produce for the Michigan Wolverines this season. Scoring 71 points in 38 games, he tied Jack Eichel in most points scored by a freshman in NCAA history. The biggest surprise was when he was left of the US World Juniors team but it sure didn’t affect him. He’ll be on the Winnipeg Jets next fall.
6. Ivan Provorov/Defenseman/Philadelphia Flyers
Provorov continued to grow this season as an all around great defensemen. His offensive abilities, as a defenseman, are the best in this draft in this draft class. Provorov had 73 points in 62 games this season for the Brandon Wheat Kings and he also helped lead Russia to the championship game at the World Juniors where they ultimately lost.
7. Mikko Rantanen/Right Wing/Colorado Avalanche
Rantanen has taken the AHL by storm after making the Avalanche right out of camp. His 53 points in 45 games are first among rookies and good for ninth in AHL scoring. This offseason will be huge for his development. If he can fill out his big frame then he’ll have no problem contributing for the Avalanche next season.
8. Noah Hanifin/Defensemen/Carolina Hurricanes
Hanifin moves down but he’s still a top player in this draft. The emergence of other prospects moves Hanifin down ever so slightly. Hanifin has been solid for the Hurricanes this season scoring 20 points, so far, in 74 games. Hanfin is a smooth skater and plays an all around game. He has the potential to become a top defenseman in the NHL.
9. Zach Werenski/Defenseman/Columbus Blue Jackets
Werenski has played extremely well for the Michigan Wolverines this season. He had 35 points in 36 games and helped lead them to a Big Ten Title. Werenski also captained the US World Junior team and had 9 points in 7 games at the tournament. Werenski will likely join the Columbus Blue Jackets next season.
10. Mathew Barzal/Center/New York Islanders
Barzal fell to 16th where the New York Islanders traded up to draft him. Barzal impressed at training camp and in the preseason but was ultimately sent back to Seattle. Barzal has been one of the WHL’s best playmakers. Barzal has 88 points in 58 games and is fifth in points per game in the WHL. Barzal will be the second center behind John Taveres to form quite the one two punch.
11. Pavel Zacha/Left Wing/New Jersey Devils
The Devils took Zacha 6th overall with the hope that he will turn into a dynamic forward they have lacked for years. Some thought Zacha should have made the Devils right out of camp but they took the developmental route and sent him back to Sarnia. Zacha had 64 points in 51 games, which shows solid improvement. Others in this class have leaped ahead but Zacha is still one of the most dynamic forwards from this draft.
12. Travis Konecny/Center/Philadelphia Flyers
Konecny was one of the biggest surprises from this draft class. After a slight drop in the draft to 24 where the Flyers took him, he impressed at the Flyers training camp and had 2 points in 2 preseason games. Konecny was sent back to the Ottawa 67’s where he had 45 points in 29 games then he was traded to the Sarnia Sting where he had 56 points in 31 games. He’s a small skilled forward but his tenacity and determination are unmatched.
13. Sebastian Aho/Center/Carolina Hurricanes
Aho is having one of the best seasons for a U20 player in Finland. He had 45 points in 45 games this season, which was 9th in the league. Aho also centered Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljuajarvi at the World Juniors where they formed the best line in the tournament. Aho had 14 points in 7 games and helped lead Finland to the Championship where they won. Aho has certainly raised his value tremendously and fans in Carolina should be excited.
14. Colin White/Center/Ottawa Senators
White has been one of the top freshmen in the NCAA this season for Boston College. White is projected to be a top two-way player, contributing in both the defensive and offensive zones. White had 42 points in 36 games, which ranked fourth amongst freshman. He also was an assistant captain on the US World Junior team where he scored 7 points in 7 games. White may need another year of development but he has the potential to be a Selke award contender in the NHL.
15. Brock Boeser/Right Wing/Vancouver Canucks
Boeser, like White, has been phenomenal as a freshman. His 54 points in 40 games are 5th in the NCAA and first for North Dakota. Boeser has a great shot and the ability to put him self in scoring position. Boeser will likely need another year of development while the Canucks rebuild. For now he looks to help North Dakota win the National Championship in Tampa Bay.
16. Lawson Crouse/Left Wing/Florida Panthers
Crouse may have been the prospect that caused the most debate. Some scouts had him as a top 5 pick while others viewed him as a late first. In my rankings I have him right in the middle. His production last season wasn’t great but this year he has taken a jump in his development scoring 62 points in 49 games. He also had 5 points in 5 games at the World Juniors where he was an alternate captain. Crouse is a physical force and he has shown he has the offensive abilities to be a successful power forward in the NHL.
17. Thomas Chabot/Defenseman/Ottawa Senators
Chabot has become a great two-way responsible defenseman this season. He’s a smooth skater and moves the puck well. He had 45 points in 47 games for St. John this season and had 3 points in 5 games at the World Juniors. Chabot has a shot at cracking the NHL next season but Ottawa may opt to give him another year of development in the QMJHL.
18. Ilya Samsonov/Goalie/Washington Capitals
Samsonov was considered the best goalie prospect in the draft and still is. He is a very poised goaltender for his age. This season playing for the KHL’s Metallurg Magnitogorsk, he 2.04 goals against average and a .925 save percentage in 19 games. He has a few more years left in the KHL before he comes to North America but he has shown early on the potential to one day be a great goaltender in the NHL.
19. Daniel Sprong/Right Wing/Pittsburgh Penguins
Sprong was considered a first round pick before the draft but he ultimately fell into the second round where the Pittsburgh Penguins selected him 46th overall. Sprong burst onto the scene in Pittsburgh making the Penguins out of camp. He played 18 games, burning the first year of his entry-level contract, and only scored 2 goals. The Penguins sent him back to the Charlottetown Islanders where he had 46 points in 33 games. Sprong is an electric player oozing with potential. His speed and tenacity fit well into the Penguins system.
20. Timo Meier/Left Wing/San Jose Sharks
Meier drops down to 20th after being taken 9th by the San Jose Sharks. This isn’t a knock to Meier as this draft has boasted a lot of top prospects. Meier is a big body forward and he uses his power to drive the net. He had 87 points in 52 games for both Halifax and Rouyn-Noranda. Meier still has the potential to be a top line winger but other players have shown higher potential.
21. Joel Eriksson Ek/Center/Minnesota Wild
Eriksson Ek is a solid two-way center that has high-end hockey IQ. He may not contribute more than a 50-60 point guy in the NHL but his play in all three zones will make him highly coveted. Eriksson Ek had 15 points in 41 games for Farjestad this season.
22. Evgeny Svechnikov/Left Wing/Detroit Red Wings
Svechnikov is an explosive winger with very good offensive abilities. Svechnikov had 79 points in 50 games for Cape Breton but at the World Juniors he failed to register a point in seven games. While Svechnikov struggled at the World Juniors this doesn’t hurt him in the long run. Detroit is the best at slow cooking their prospects and developing them into top players.
23. Zach Senyshyn/Right Wing/Boston Bruins
Senyshyn was the biggest surprise pick of the draft after being taken by the Bruins 15th overall. Ranked as a mid second rounder going into the draft no one expected him to be taken in the first round. The Bruins saw something in this kid that no one else did and now it looks like Senyshyn may be the best of three picks the Bruins had. Senyshyn had 65 points in 66 games for the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds. He’s a great skater and possesses a great shot. This time next year will be one where we can really determine Senyshyn’s outlook.
24. Anthony Beauvillier/Left Wing/New York Islanders
Beauvillier is a speedy winger with a good offensive skill set. Like fellow Islanders draft pick, Mathew Barzal, the Isles traded up to get Beauvillier. In 47 games this season for Shawnigan Beauvillier has scored 79 points. It’ll be interesting to see if he can crack the Isles lineup next season or if the Isles decide to send him back to Shawnigan for one more year.
25. Denis Gurianov/Right Wing/Dallas Stars
Gurianov was seen as a surprise pick by the Dallas Stars but he had shown a great amount of potential last year. This year he hasn’t quite lived up to that potential in the KHL. He only had 5 points in 47 games and to add insult to injury he was left off the Russian World Junior team. Gurianov was seen as a very talented player but his development has taken a hit. Gurianov has shown in the past his ability to be a game changer and he can still become that.
26. Jacob Larsson/Defenseman/Anaheim Ducks
Like a lot of Swedish defenseman, Larsson is a smooth skater. Larsson has good hockey IQ and moves the puck well. He had 14 points in 47 games this season. The Anaheim Ducks have a logjam of left-handed defenseman right now, though, with Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Simon Despres, and Shea Theadore. It’ll be interesting to see how they handle Larsson considering this. It’s likely that Larsson plays another year in Sweden before coming to North America.
27. Brendan Guhle/Defenseman/Buffalo Sabres
Brendan Guhle rises to 27th overall after being selected 51st overall by Buffalo. Guhle played well in the preseason until getting hit by Dion Phaneuf, which gave him a concussion. Guhle almost made the Sabres but Tim Murray felt Guhle needed to continue to work in the WHL. Guhle is a smooth skater and a tough player to play against. Guhle has the potential to be a solid top four-shutdown defenseman.
28. Christian Fischer/Right Wing/Arizona Coyotes
Fischer has played great for the Windsor Spitfires this season scoring 90 points in 66 games. The Arizona Coyotes took Fischer 32nd overall last year after playing with the US National Development Program. Fischer is an offensive forward but plays an all around game. He has top six potential in the NHL.
29. Jake DeBrusk/Left Wing/Boston Bruins
DeBrusk has been fairly disappointing this season. He had 65 points in 61 games for both Swift Current and Red Deer but his point per game average was 34th in the WHL. DeBrusk was expected to be a top point getter this season in the WHL. DeBrusk has shown that he has the ability to be a difference maker. Long term DeBrusk is likely a second line winger.
30. Jakub Zboril/Defenseman/Boston Bruins
Zboril like DeBrusk, hasn’t lived up to expectations this season. Zboril is a solid defensve defenseman but he was took a step back offensively only scoring 20 points in 50 games this season. Zboril still has the potential to be a top four-shutdown defenseman but other defenseman in this draft have shown greater development this year.
Nick Merkley/Right Wing/Arizona Coyotes
Merkley was taken 30th overall by the Arizona Coyotes but he suffered a set back this season, tearing his ACL. Before his injury he had 48 points in 43 games played. The injury is serious but others have shown they can come back and play just fine. A perfect example would be Shayne Gostisbehere, who tore his ACL last season but has come back this year and possibly win the Calder trophy. Merkley is an offensive threat with a motor.
Jack Roslovic/Center/Winnipeg Jets
Roslovic completed his freshman season at Miami with 26 points in 36 games. Roslovic is a skilled forward that can play both the wing and center. He is still raw as a prospect and needs time developing his all around game. Long term Roslovic can be an impact top six forward for the Winnipeg Jets.
Dominik Simon/Center/Pittsburgh Penguins
Simon was drafted in the 5th round by the Penguins and he may be one the steals of this draft. Simon was a late bloomer in the Czech Republic and was in his third year of eligibility for the draft. Simon came right to North America and has put up points. He currently has 40 points in 59 games for Wilkes-Barre Scranton. Simon was called up to the Penguins where he had 1 assist in 3 games.
Jeremy Bracco/Right Wing/Toronto Maple Leafs
Bracco could have been a first round pick based on talent alone but fell all the way to Toronto where they selected him with the last pick in the second round. Bracco was originally committed to Boston College but 18 games in he decided to join Kitchener of the OHL. Bracco has scored 64 points 49 games and has proven that he should have gone higher. Bracco adds to an already small but skilled Toronto prospect group.
Gabriel Carlsson/Defenseman/Columbus Blue Jackets
Carlsson is a big strong stay at home defenseman but is a good skater for his size. He moves the puck up the ice well and can shut down the opponent’s top players. He has been solid for Linkoping in the SHL this season having 9 points in 45 games. Carlsson will be a nice piece in the future for the Columbus Blue Jackets blue line along side Ryan Murray, Seth Jones, and Zach Werenski.