The Edmonton Oilers certainly wasted no time making Connor McDavid the evening’s first selection. Shortly after that, the Buffalo Sabres raced to the stage to welcome Jack Eichel to the fold.
And then things got interesting on& a day that saw three first-round picks change hands, including Calgary sending No. 15 to Boston in a shocking exchange for defenseman Dougie Hamilton, and Boston dealing Milan Lucic to Los Angeles for No. 13, before the proceedings began.
Aside from the humiliation of having its American broadcast partner cut away before the final pick for a college track meet, this was about as entertaining a first round as you're likely to see. It was painted as a draft with the potential to alter the course of a franchise, and more than a few teams appeared to take full advantage of the opportunity.
Among the clear winners:
Sabres: Two bold swaps complemented the drafting of their potential franchise center.
Islanders: GM Garth Snow continued his miracle run, turning unwanted assets into a pair of first-rounders.
Flyers: Ivan Provorov and Travis Konecny fell into their laps. GM Ron Hextall has to be wondering why everyone in Philly thinks drafting is so hard.
Maple Leafs: Got their man Mitch Marner at four and then turned their second first-rounder into three picks.
Oilers: Are you kidding? They just landed Connor McDavid!
Bruins: Three mid-round picks; and they reached hard on two of them.
Canucks: Not a bad day at the draft table, but they failed to move a goalie and watched three division rivals make significant acquisitions.
To get a sense of how the night went, scroll down to the bottom and read back up. The tracker is beneath the blog entries.
10:34 p.m. Eight teams will make their first selections in the 2015 draft: Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Calgary, Chicago, Nashville, St. Louis and the Rangers.
10:33 p.m. Keep an eye on the Avs with two of the first 10 picks in round 2 (31, 40) and New Jersey (36 and 41). The Bruins will make three selections (37, 45, 52).
10:30 p.m. Some solid values left on the board for tomorrow's second round. Among the names that should go early: Paul Bittner, Brandon Carlo, Jeremy Roy, Jansen Harkins, Daniel Sprong and Jeremy Bracco.
10:25 p.m. If you were watching the draft on NBCSN, you missed Arizona nabbing Nick Merkley with the final pick of the first round. Great value pick for the Coyotes. Merkley has some Brendan Gallagher in him, playing much bigger than his size, but has more flash and more offensive upside than Montreal's pesky winger.
10:24 p.m. Another trade—this time involving an actual player. Anaheim sends Kyle Palmieri to the forward-starved New Jersey Devils for pick No. 41 and another pick to be named later in the 2016 draft. Ducks might be clearing salary for another move.
10:19 p.m. Columbus uses Toronto's pick to take Swedish defenseman Gabriel Carlsson. Central Scouting ranked him as the second-best European skater, but their enthusiasm wasn't shared across the board by team-affiliated scouts.
10:15 p.m. Toronto trades down for the second time, shipping the 29th pick they acquired moments ago from the Flyers to Columbus for Nos. 34 and 68. Obviously they feel like the player they want will drop. Either way, they're multiplying assets—exactly what a team in the earliest stages of a rebuild needs to do. Not bad for a team without an official GM.
10:08 p.m. The Islanders are at it again, acquiring selection No. 28 from the Lightning in exchange for No. 33 and No. 72. That'll be the second first rounder used tonight by the Isles—not bad for a team that showed up tonight without a first.
10 p.m. One of the benefits of bringing hockey to non-traditional markets. Jack Roslovic (25th, to Winnipeg) is first Columbus-born and trained player to be selected in the first round. Nice to see the impact of the Blue Jackets on the grassroots of the game.
9:56 p.m. Great night for the Flyers. Additions of Provorov and Konecny adds luster to a system that was already in the best shape it had been in years. It'll be interesting to see if they're able to move up in the second round on Saturday. The buzz suggests they'd like to put themselves in better position to grab a goalie, either Daniel Vladar or MacKenzie Blackwood.
9:38 p.m. Per Kirk Luedeke, the selections of Jack Eichel, Noah Hanifin and Colin White marks the first time three Massachusetts natives were selected in the first round.
9:37 p.m. This is cool:
9:31 p.m. The Caps take Russian goalie Ilya Samsonov at No. 22. He's the first goalie to be drafted in the first round since Malcolm Subban (Boston) and Andrei Vasilevskiy in 2012 and the fourth Russian overall.
9:26 p.m. Ottawa grabs Colin White at 21. Maybe the best value pick of the first round (so far). Scout I've been texting with promises he will be a more prolific offensive player than people expect. Either way, he's going to be a two-way machine for the Sens.
9:20 p.m. Joel Eriksson Ek to the Wild. Solid pick who plays the game the Minnesota way. Smart, committed three-zone player. Won't dazzle with any one particular skill set but does everything well.
9:10 p.m. One more note on the Reinhart deal. Isles GM Garth Snow managed to squeeze picks No. 16 and 33 out of Edmonton for a prospect with eight NHL games on his resume. Meanwhile, Don Sweeney got No. 15, 45 and 52 for Dougie Hamilton, a player widely regarded as one of the best young defensemen in the game. Someone remind me why Snow wasn't one of the three finalists for the GM of the Year Award? The guy just keeps racking up wins.
9:05 p.m. I'm stunned the Bruins weren't in on the Griffin Reinhart action. Could easily have flipped a couple of picks, including 15, to the Isles to grab a player who brings size and smarts and desperately needed a change of scenery to reach the potential that many saw in him when he was selected fourth in 2012.
9:01 p.m. Think Winnipeg at 17 is the first team to congratulate the Blackhawks for winning the Cup. The Jets grab Kyle Connor with their pick—can legitimately say "We can't believe he was still there" when they do the post-pick stop-and-chat. He's an offensive wizard who plays at a blazing pace. He's a project, probably four years away, but he could be a very special player. What a year for GM Kevin Cheveldayoff.
9:00 p.m. Text from a long-time Bruins fan: "Guess we can enjoy watching Patrice Bergeron win faceoffs next year ... and not much else."
8:52 p.m. Oilers trade No.16 and No. 33 to the Islanders for Griffin Reinhart. Islanders had depth on D, Oilers needed help. Makes sense for both sides. Reinhart won the Memorial Cup with the Edmonton Oil Kings back in 2012.
8:46 p.m. Maybe in the future we'll all look back at June 26 as the day Don Sweeney proved himself to be the most astute prognosticator of talent in the NHL. More likely though, it'll be remembered as the day he gave away Dougie Hamilton for peanuts and then wasted Calgary's first-rounder on Zach Senyshyn, a player who skated mostly fourth line minutes for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and was widely expected to be available deep into the second round. Nothing wrong with reaching for a player, but this feels like a total mismanagement of the asset when players like Barzal, Konecny, White and others are still on the board. Someone needs to throw Sweeney a lifeline. The water's looking a little deep for him today.
8:42 p.m. Bruins go with Jake DeBrusk at 14. Skates well, can score in a number of ways. Not afraid of paying the price to get to the greasy areas.
8:32 p.m. Bruins take best D-man on the board with Jakub Zboril with pick 13. Solid shutdown guy who can chip in on the second power play. Have to think they grab Kyle Connor and one more forward with the other pick (Barzal, Konecny or White).
8:28 p.m. There's the first real surprise of the draft. Stars grab Russian winger Denis Gurianov at 12. Couple scouts told me I had him too low in my mock. Scouts who saw him regularly were very high on his potential. Brilliant skater and maybe the best natural shooter in the draft. He's stuck in Russia for another couple of years but there's no hurry in Dallas where the top-six is locked in for a couple years.
8:20 p.m. The home crowd at the BB&T Center loves the pick of Lawson Crouse at 11. Can't blame 'em. 6' 4" power forward could make the jump to the NHL next season and join a group that already includes six players 6' 2" or taller. #humongousbig
8:18 p.m. Buffalo forward Evander Kane gives his boss four claps for his work so far tonight:
8:07 p.m. Well, I missed that one. Timo Meier goes to San Jose at 9. The Swiss winger is a multi-dimensional attacker, capable of playing a finesse game or skating over defenders who stand in his way. He's the first QMJHL player off the board. Could be a big night for the Q with 5-7 possible selections after having just one last year (Winnipeg's Nikolai Ehlers).
7:55 p.m. Another choice that was so obvious it had to happen. Ron Hextall (formerly of the Brandon Wheat Kings) selects Ivan Provorov (currently of the Brandon Wheat Kings). What a terrific defense the Flyers are building: Sanheim, Gostisbehere, Hagg, Morin and now Provorov who looks like a lock to become a top-pair guy. Won't be a long wait, either. He has a shot to make the team out of camp this year.
7:54 p.m. Columbus unveils a new secondary mark just ahead of making their pick at No. 8. I like it:
7:52 p.m. Really like Zacha at 6 to the Devils. Big, strong, fast but still raw, especially in terms of his production. Needs another year or two in the OHL to add some polish to his game.
7:46 p.m. Asked when he'll make his decision on whether to turn pro or return to Boston University for sophomore season , Jack Eichel replies, "Can't let the cat out of the bag." Says he'll think it over for a couple days. My gut says he's going back to school.
7:45 p.m. Fun to picture that Carolina defense in three years with Hanifin, Justin Faulk and Haydn Fleury. Mobile and creative.
7:44 p.m. Love seeing this from new Maple Leaf Mitch Marner on Sportset: "I've wanted to play for this team my whole life."
7:40 p.m. Hurricanes on the clock. They're definitely taking a defenseman at No. 5. Have to think it'll be Hanifin here. Provorov a possibility. Nope, it's Hanifin.
McDavid a class act. Refers to Chiarelli, Nicholson and McLellan as "Mr."— Mike Zeisberger (@Zeisberger) June 26, 2015
7:34 p.m. Already hearing criticism of the Strome pick by Arizona at No. 3. Yes, the skating needs work but the chance to acquire a 6-3 center who plays a legit 200-foot game doesn't come along often. He has a chance to be special. The Coyotes made the right choice. The Noah Hanifin Drop Watch begins. John Shannon of Sportsnet reports the Coyotes will take Dylan Strome with pick 3.
7:26 p.m. With the Big Two out of the way, the commissioner finally gets around to making the Buffalo/Colorado trade official. Have heard from a few folks in Denver who like their end of the deal, focusing on how Zadorov fits a clear need for a big, mobile defenseman. We'll give this one time to play out, but Buffalo looks like the team that sacrificed the least to gain the most.
7:24 p.m. Here's a look at how orange the new Oilers jersey is. You might want to grab your shades:
7:21 p.m. Oilers GM Peter Chiarelli asked on NBCSN if he'll use the No. 16 pick he currently owns: "We'll see."
7:16 p.m. More details on the Avs/Sabres trade. Buffalo also gets depth forward Jamie McGinn, Avs get power forward J.T. Compher. Makes the deal a little more palatable for the Avs. Compher plays a heavy, agitating game and will be an excellent third-line forward who can chip in on the power play.
7:19 p.m. Oilers break out a shocking new jersey that appears to be bright orange with blue shoulders and slip it over the shoulders of Connor McDavid. It won't matter how fast that kid skates—there's no way to make that thing look good.
7:16 p.m. More details on the Avs/Sabres trade. Buffalo also gets depth forward Jamie McGinn, Avs get power forward J.T. Compher. Makes the deal a little more palatable for the Avs. Compher plays a heavy, agitating game and will be an excellent third-line forward who can chip in on the power play.
7:13 p.m. The Arizona Coyotes unveiled their new sweaters tonight. Pretty sharp, eh?
7:09 p.m. Multiple reports indicate O'Reilly to Buffalo is done. Speculation is that the Avs will get defenseman Nikita Zadorov, center Mikhail Grigorenko and pick No. 31. Another inspired swap engineered by Sabres GM Tim Murray who adds a world-class center in exchange for a promising top-four D, an all tools/no tool box forward who is considering returning to Russia and a scratch-off ticket. A big, big win for Buffalo.
7:00 p.m. We're about 10 minutes away from the first pick. Good chance that Connor McDavid's selection by the Edmonton Oilers is upstaged by a trade announcement by Gary Bettman.
6:54 p.m. Bob McKenzie of TSN is reporting that the Buffalo Sabres are deep in talks with the Colorado Avalanche with an eye on acquiring center Ryan O'Reilly. No word on what assets might go to the Avs, but a package would likely involve a young defenseman like Nikita Zadorov, a high pick and another prospect.
1edmonton oilersconnor mcdavid, Cerie (ohl) | 6-1, 19044-76-120 in 47 gamesNo mystery here. Drafting first for the fourth time in the past six seasons, the Oilers will add a generational talent on the order of Sidney Crosby. Adding him to a center mix that already includes Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Leon Draisaitl sets Edmonton up with enviable depth down the middle for the next decade.• SCOUTS SAY: “Believe the hype. An off-the-charts talent by any measure. He'll be the best player in the world at some point in time ... and that time's not too far off."
2buffalo sabresJack eichel, Cboston univ. | 6-2, 19526-45-71 in 40 gamesThe only uncertainty surrounding the selection of this franchise-caliber center is whether he will leave school to join the Sabres next season. When he does, Eichel will be an elite first liner in the vein of John Tavares, a dominant offensive presence around which a championship roster can be built.•SCOUTS SAY: “Any other year he’d be the top pick. He’s that good. He makes the game look easy. Vision and hockey sense...and power. He’s the complete package. If he has one thing to work on it would be his shot and even that doesn’t need much. He’s a special, special player.”
3arizona coyotesDylan strome, cerie (OHL) | 6-3, 18545-84-129 in 68 gamesHere’s where the intrigue starts. The Coyotes are on the board at three, but there’s a good chance they won’t be making this pick. GM Don Maloney has admitted it is in play and says he’s had discussions with at least three teams. That number could grow by Friday night. If Arizona holds on to the selection though, Strome has to be their guy. He’s the powerhouse pivot that every contending team needs in the middle. He’s most effective as a playmaker but could score 30-plus goals at the NHL level.• SCOUTS SAY: “There’s some Jonathan Toews in his game. A tremendous leader. He’s a fierce competitor who’ll do whatever it takes to win. He battles hard in all three zones.”
4toronto maple leafsmitch marner, rwLondon (OHL) | 5-11, 16344-82-16 in 63 gamesThe Leafs enter the draft without a GM and will rely heavily on Director of Player Personnel Mark Hunter to make the big decision. Hunter just happens to be the former GM of the Knights, so he’s seen plenty of Marner and his offensive wizardry first-hand. Marner’s game is reminiscent of Patrick Kane. He’s a dazzling skater who overcomes his lack of size with an elite puck possession-based skill set. He’ll be a top-six playmaking winger in the NHL. There’s a chance the Leafs look at Ivan Provorov here, but Marner brings game-breaking talent and personality to spare to a market in dire need of both.
• SCOUTS SAY: “A dynamic, game-breaking forward. Plays with real passion for the game. He wants to be a special player. Rarely has a quiet shift. An elite playmaker who makes everyone around him better. Not afraid to engage in all three zones. Plays bigger than his size, but will need to get stronger. Has superstar potential.”
5carolina hurricanesnoah hanifin, dboston college | 6-2, 2055-18-23 in 37 gamesTwo years ago, the Predators benefited when a highly touted American defenseman dropped a few spots and landed in their lap. The same could happen this time around for the ’Canes. Hanifin has long been regarded as the third-best talent in the class but could be pushed down by a pressing need for offense in Arizona and Toronto. He is a strong, two-way defender in the mold of Ryan McDonagh. He’ll never be an offensive force, but he moves the puck quickly and effectively and is very useful in transition. At least one scout says a lack of high-end offensive skill could drop him further.
• SCOUTS SAY: “There's absolutely no risk in this kid’s game. He makes good decisions as a routine. If he’s ever in trouble, he can skate his way out of it. He’s got the magic feet. He’s a Jay Bouwmeester-type. People will expect more offense from him but I’m not sure he has it in him.”
6new jersey devilspavel zacha, csarnia (OHL) | 6-3, 21416-18-34 in 37 gamesZacha is a big, powerful center who always wants the puck. When he gets it, he drives the net, using his size and speed to get into scoring position. And that’s the knock on him. He can become a dangerous goal scorer but the aptitude to be a playmaker isn’t there. That may change over time but until it does he looks more like a winger than a pivot.• SCOUTS SAY: “Excellent one-on-one player. Very strong on his feet. Good quickness. Loves to challenge the defense. Needs improvement in his own zone. Had some on-ice discipline issues this year. Hopefully he has that figured out.”
7philadelphia flyersivan provorov, dbrandon (whl) | 6-0, 20115-46-61 in 60 gamesThe Flyers have some promising blueline talent in their system but lack a clear-cut top pairing D. Provorov fills that need. A late-season riser up the charts, the smooth-skating Russian could be the best defenseman available in the draft. He’s whip-smart and blessed with uncanny instincts in all three zones. A terrific offensive player—he was the top scoring rookie in the WHL as a defenseman—but is equally committed to his own zone.• SCOUTS SAY: “If not for his name, you could hardly tell he's Russian. He came over [to North America] young and has really integrated himself into the culture. A great kid with a high floor and a very high ceiling.”
8columbus blue jacketszach werenski, dmichigan (ncaa) | 6-2, 2149-16-25 in 35 gamesYou don’t often see teams drafting for need, but that’s what could happen here. The Jackets have leaned heavily towards offense in the past few drafts and after losing defensive prospect Mike Reilly to free agency they could really use a high-end blueline talent like Werenski. He’s a fluid skater who can contribute to the offense and is willing the pay the price defensively. He led the Wolverines with 59 blocked shots.• SCOUTS SAY: “There’s more to his offensive game than we’ve seen so far. Put him in a different system [and] I think he becomes a more dangerous player. Has the potential to be an excellent [No. 2] defenseman.”
9san jose sharkstimo meier, rwhalifax (qmjhl) | 6-1, 20944-46-90 in 61 gamesThe big Swiss winger enjoyed a breakout season with Halifax, and while he played with some highly skilled linemates he can’t be accused of coattailing. He was brilliant on the power play (23 goals), highlighting his ability to get to the right places and unleash one of his blistering shots. He has the instincts, the hands and the raw determination to fulfill his top-six potential.• SCOUTS SAY: “Very effective power forward. Uses his size and will to win battles. Highly competitive. A relentless checker. More finesse in his game than he gets credit for. Not a star, per se, but a valuable complementary player.”
10colorado avalanchemikko rantanen, rwTps turku (finland) | 6-4, 2099-19-28 in 56 gamesWith Lawson Crouse and Rantanen still on the board the Avs have their choice of large, physically imposing wingers here. I think they’ll take the safer of the two. Rantanen played 16 minutes a night in the top Finnish league, finishing second on his team in scoring. And as a testament to his maturity, he was wearing an A midway through the season. He could make the jump to the NHL as soon as next season.• SCOUTS SAY: “An ideal package of size and skill. Strong skater [especially] for his a big body. Good in his own zone. Can contribute in all situations. Might not have the touch you’d want but has the determination and will to score the ugly goals. He’s a guy you want come playoff time.”
11florida panthersLawson crouse, lwkingston (ohl) | 6-4, 21229-22-51 in 56 gamesThe most divisive prospect in this year’s draft. One scout told us he’d consider taking Crouse if he had Arizona’s third pick. Another said he was glad he wouldn’t have to make the call because “I’m not sure the upside is there.” Crouse is a hulking power forward blessed with undeniable raw physical tools and a desire to be an impact player. He creates chances on sheer power and force of will, but those will be tougher to come by at the next level when it’s not so simple to just drive through defenders. He’s worth the risk here because HIS upside—a solid 25-30 goal first liner—is so high and the floor—a heavy, third-line banger—is palatable..• SCOUTS SAY: “There’s a lot of room for refinement in his game, but the building blocks are there. He uses his size effectively ... bowling over defenders and powering his way to the net ... and on the forecheck. But there are concerns about what his limitations are offensively. Will he score? That’s the question ... that has people thinking he’ll drop.”
12DALLAS STARSdenis guryanov, rwTogliatti 2 (russia) | 6-2, 18315-10-25 in 23 gamesThat two-year extension he recently signed with his Russian team didn’t scare off the Stars. Guryanov is an offensive dynamo who excels at creating space with his blistering speed and then unloading with one of the most dangerous shots in the draft. In time, he could prove to be one of the most gifted players in his class.• SCOUTS SAY: “His shot is something else. It just explodes off his stick. Easily one of the best in his class. Very quick on his feet. Has that extra gear that allows him to beat a defender inside or out. I question his decision-making sometimes.”
13Boston Bruinsjakub zboril, dst. john (qmjhl) | 6-2, 18513-20-3 in 44 gamesPick acquired in trade with Kings. Zboril has the offensive tools, including a heavy shot from the point, to man the power play. He also has that nasty, physical edge that makes him a miserable opponent in the defensive zone.• SCOUTS SAY: “Does his best work in the neutral zone. Makes a crisp, smart pass in transition and is just as effective breaking up the [enemy] attack as it comes out of the zone. He crosses the line occasionally [he had two suspensions this season] but that’s okay. He’s a hard man to play against..”
14boston bruinsjake debrusk, lwswift current (whl) | 6-0, 17642-39-81 in 72 gamesThere are echoes of his father, long-time NHL enforcer Louie DeBrusk, in Jake’s game—the work ethic, the competitiveness, the character—but he has a lot more in his tool box than his old man. He’s a gifted goal scorer who can create offense with his hands and his smarts. He’s hard along the boards and fearless in the hard areas of the ice. He has the potential to be an effective scorer from the second line.• SCOUTS SAY: “There was so much growth in his game this year but it feels like there's still just scratching the surface of what he can be. There's a high skill level there but there’s a strong desire to improve every element of his game. I think his hockey sense [is one of his best attributes].”
15Boston Bruinszach senyshyn, rwsault ste. marie (ohl) | 6-1, 19226-19-45 in 66 gamesPick acquired in trade with Flames. A player who skated mostly fourth line minutes for the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds and was widely expected to be available deep into the second round. Nothing wrong with reaching for a player, but this feels like a total mismanagement of the asset when players like Barzal, Konecny, White and others are still on the board. Someone needs to throw Sweeney a lifeline. The water's looking a little deep for him today.• CENTRAL PROFILE: “In 2014-15, Senyshyn finished second among Ontario Hockey League rookies in goals (26) and points (45) before being named to the League’s Second All-Rookie Team. He also posted a plus-30 rating to help the Greyhounds capture the Hamilton Spectator Trophy as top team in the regular season for the first time in 30 years. He added seven points (4-3-7) in 14 playoff games.”
16new york islandersmathew barzal, cseattle (whl) | 6-0, 18312-45-57 in 44 gamesPick acquired in trade with Oilers via Penguins.The Islanders trade Griffin Reinhart to move up and grab Barzal. One scout was adamant that he wouldn’t last this long. Barzal struggled with injuries this season but finished strong and was outstanding for Canada at the U18 tournament to reinforce his standing as one of the top offensive creators available.• SCOUTS SAY: “Blazing speed. A natural with the puck. Dangerous playmaker. Elite vision and hockey sense. Will do what it takes to make a play. His work ethic is off the charts. [I’m] not worried about his knee injury at all.”
17winnipeg jetskyle connor, cyoungstown (ushl) | 6-1, 18334-46-80 in 56 gamesOne scout compared Connor to Marian Gaborik, at least stylistically. The two share the gift of blazing speed and an uncanny ability to finish their scoring chances. Connor is a wildly agile attacker who uses his fast feet and even faster hands to befuddle defenders. His stickhandling is nimble and daring, earning him comparisons to Patrick Kane. With first-line potential, he could surprise by moving several notches up the board on draft day.• SCOUTS SAY: “His offensive instincts are impressive. High hockey IQ. He can beat you either as a finisher or as a playmaker. He has to be a fun guy to play with because of how easy he makes it for his linemates. Even on the nights when he’s not on the score sheet, he makes you take notice. Needs to gain weight/strength. Shot needs work if he wants to be a finisher in the NHL.”
18ottawa senatorsthomas chabot, dSt. john (qmjhl) | 6-2, 17912-29-41 in 66 gamesHe’s worked hard at improving his play in his own zone, especially his physical game, but his real strength lies at the other end of the ice. He’s a prototypical PMD who excels in transition and creating offensive chances with his vision and his passing. He has excellent speed and is very effective either leading or joining the rush. Projects as a solid power play quarterback. .• SCOUTS SAY: “There's definitely some Keith Yandle, good and bad. He’s never going to be a shutdown guy but that’s OK. You take him, you’re getting a player who is all about gaining and maintaining possession. He knows what to do with the puck when he gets it. He could be a steal late.”
19detroit red wingsevgeny svechnikov, rwcape breton (qmjhl) | 6-3, 20532-46-78 in 55 gamesSvechnikov is a power forward blessed with promising size and offensive instincts. He’s able to beat defenders with his strength, his speed or a sweet dangle and that versatility makes him very effective in the offensive zone. Excellent hands and a natural finisher.• SCOUTS SAY: “He’s going to get knocked for his defensive game, and that’s fair. It needs work. But I think he has that desire to make it happen. I saw improvements over the course of the season. It’s all about consistency ... about wanting it as much as he wants to score. This kid will score. He’s got the gift.”
20minnesota wildjoel eriksson ek, cfarjestad (sweden) | 6-2, 18525-13-38 in 59 gamesHe was the highest-scoring under-18 player in Sweden’s top league, so he’s already proved that he can handle himself against men. He has an excellent shot and is willing to earn his ice. He doesn’t settle for the easy opportunities. When he fills out, he could become a physical presence.• SCOUTS SAY: “Not a lot of flash. More of a safe pick. Plays a strong 200-foot game. Fully committed to his defensive responsibilities. Can be creative offensively but not likely to play a top-six role. A solid complementary player.”
21OTTAWA SENATORScolin white, cusa ntdp | 6-0, 1834-13-17 in 20 gamesPick acquired from Sabres via Islanders. Compared to Patrice Bergeron by several scouts, he’s the ideal two-way center, a high intensity performer whose hockey sense and will make him the player you want in the final seconds to protect a lead or battle for the tying goal. White does his best work along the boards. He excels at the cycle and is relentless in pursuit of the puck. Like Bergeron he might not be the highest scoring player on the team but he does so many little things so well that he might just be the most valuable.• SCOUTS SAY: “He’s Captain Intangibles. A born leader. Plays bigger than his size. Will pay any price to win. Doesn’t have any particular [skill] that stands out as exceptional ... but does everything well. This kid’s a player.”
22washington capitalsilya samsonov, gmagnitogorsk (russia) | 6-4, 20311-4-1, 2.66 GAA, .918 save pct.Considering the Caps are about to lock down starter Braden Holtby for a long-term sometime this summer this feels like a best-player-available asset pick. He'll have four or five years to develop and then the team can decide whether he's part of their future or better used as a trade chip. take.• SCOUTS SAY: “Models his game after his favorite player, Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. He recorded a 46-save shutout in the bronze-medal game at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge to lead Russia to a 2-0 win over Canada East.”
23vancouver canucksbrock boeser, rwwaterloo (ushl) | 6-1, 19235-33-68 in 57 gamesBoeser makes a lot of sense. He’s not the biggest guy out there, but that doesn’t stop him from playing a power forward’s game. He’s relentless in all three zones, using his size and strength to generate turnovers in one end and convert them into scoring opportunities at the other. A natural goal scorer who also brings a playmaker's touch. One scout suggested he could be off the board in the early teens.• SCOUTS SAY: “Everything about his game screams “pro player.” Good size, high compete level and a real instinct for the net. Never fails to pay the price.”
24philadelphia flyerstravis konecny, rwottawa (ohl) | 5-10, 1721-2-3 in 20 gamesPick acquired in trade with Maple Leafs via Predators. He’s absolutely relentless at both ends of the ice and plays at a breathtaking pace. There’s something almost Datsyukian about his game. He’ll take risks that sometimes lead to turnovers but when that happens he’s the first guy on the puck defensively. He plays well above his weight—sure to make him a fan favorite—and fights for his space. Once in position, he has a pro-ready wrister that's a joy to behold ... unless you’re a goaltender.• SCOUTS SAY: “Can play center but is better suited for the wing. Always wants to push the pace. Tremendous one-on-one skills. Plays bigger than his size. Absolutely fearless. I worry about his durability as a pro. Has had injury problems already.”
25winnipeg jetsjack roslovic, CUSHL | 6-0, 18225-52-79 in 46 gamesPick acquired from Sabres via Blues. The 6' 1, 182-pound center put up big numbers with the U.S. National Team Development Program (27-52-79 in 65 games). The knock on him, for those looking for one, was that his success may have been enhanced by playing with Auston Matthews, the top-rated prospect for 2016, and Matthew Tkachuk, the son of Keith and a likely top-10 pick next summer. Obviously, the Jets were impressed by his top-end one-on-one skills and his elite playmaking. He's a bit of a project though, needing to gain physical strength and improve his play away from the puck. He's committed to Miami of Ohio next season where he'll need to spend a couple years preparing to make the jump to the NHL. .• CENTRAL PROFILE: “Roslovic grew up idolizing former Columbus Blue Jackets captain Rick Nash. Paced the U.S. Under-18 team with eight power-play goals and ranked fourth on the club with 79 points (25-52—79) in 2014-15.”
26montreal canadiensnoah juulsen, deverett (whl) | 6-2, 1749-43-52 in 68 gamesHe's a Brian Campbell-type defenseman who does his best work in the offensive end. Excellent skating skills, heavy shot, terrific on the power play.• CENTRAL PROFILE: “The Abbotsford, B.C., native wears No. 3 because he grew up idolizing Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa. In his second full season in the WHL, Juulsen paced Silvertips defensemen with 52 points (9-43—52) in 68 games to help the club finish atop the U.S. Division. His plus-22 rating was second on the club behind fellow sophomore Nikita Scherbak (selected 26th overall by MTL in 2014).”
27anaheim ducksjacob larsson, dfrolunda (sweden) | 6-2, 1911-2-3 in 20 gamesOliver Kylington and Gabriel Carlsson were options, but Larsson might be the lowest-risk. He earns high marks for his skating, his hockey sense and his competitiveness and has the size needed to be effective in all three zones. There’s not a lot of offensive upside to his game, but he makes good puck decisions.• SCOUTS SAY: “Makes a great first pass. Strong skater. Excellent in transition. Keeps risk to a minimum. [Projects as a] complementary player on the second pair.”
28new york islandersAnthony beauvillier, lwshawinigan (qmjhl) | 5-10, 17342-52-94 in 59 gamesPick acquired via trade with Lightning. Beauvillier is a beneficiary of the Tyler Johnson/Johnny Gaudreau hype. He's an undersized (maybe 5' 9") offensive-minded center. His speed is his main weapon—he's very dangerous coming in off the rush—complemented by a nice array of shots and a finisher's touch. The potential is there for him to be the steal of the first round...or a massive bust. He needs to work on his strength, especially upper body, and he needs to commit to more diligent play without the puck. He's a project still several years away from the Show, but for the price paid he's worth the risk.• CENTRAL PROFILE: “Beauvillier led the Cataractes in goals, assists and points to place among the top 10 in each category for the entire QMJHL. He also paced the QMJHL in face-off wins (922) and finished with a 58.7% winning efficiency in the circle..”
29columbus blue jacketsgabriel carlsson, dlinkoping (sweden) | 6-4, 18330-7-7, +21 in 39 gamesPick acquired from Maple Leafs via Flyers. He’s a big kid, 6' 4", but just 183 pounds. He needs to add some weight and strength before he gets a sniff of NHL action. He's not a guy who's going to make much happen possession-wise. He keeps it simple, using his positioning to deter attackers and make safe, simple outs. Best case, he matures into a reliable second-pairing type like Niklas Hjalmarsson.• SCOUTS SAY: “A reliable defender, Carlsson models his game after his favorite player, Red Wings legend Nicklas Lidstrom.”
30ARIZONA COYOTESnick merkley, rwkelowna (whl) |5-10, 18720-70-90 in 72 gamesSomething of an oddity, Merkley is a playmaking winger. He has elite vision and hockey sense and distributes the puck in a way that makes the most of his teammates and their talent. Lacks ideal size but compensates for that with his competitive intensity and willingness to battle for his ice.• SCOUTS SAY: “Terrific work ethic. His motor's always running high. A leader on and off the ice. Makes himself noticeable just by force of will. Needs to work on his skating. Has a high upside.”