2015 NHL Draft: first round blog plus pick tracker

0:50 | NHL
Connor McDavid, Jack Eichel go 1-2 in NHL Draft
Friday June 26th, 2015

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!

Losers:

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.

Trade Tracker | Day's trade chatter and rumors

• Projections: Matching prospects with comparable NHL stars.

• SI features: Connor McDavid | Jack Eichel 

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.

10:11 p.m. Montreal reaches (slightly) to grab Noah Juulsen of the Everett Silvertips. 

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. 

9:50 p.m. Six picks remaining in the first round. Notable names still on the board: forwards Jansen Harkins, Nick Merkley, Paul Bittner and Daniel Sprong; defense Brandon Carlo, Oliver Kylington and Jeremy Roy.
 
9:46 p.m. I have a feeling he'll like it in Buffalo, too 
 
9:41 p.m. Here's the amazing story about Brock Boeser that they're referencing on the draft broadcast. Well worth a read when the first round is in the books.
 
9:43 p.m. We have a trade. The Flyers acquire No. 24 from Toronto in exchange for No. 29 and No. 61. I could see Travis Konecny here. Character player who plays bigger than his size. Would be a nice fit on the Flyers. 

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).

NHL
What analytics say about how good the 2015 NHL Draft crop will be
8:28 p.m.

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).

8:03 p.m. Big day for American hockey. According to NHL, this is the first time in draft history that three college freshmen were selected among the top-10 picks: Eichel at 2, Hanifin at 5 and now Zach Werenski to Columbus at 8.
 
8:00 p.m. Every pick in this draft is presented with a jersey emblazoned with the No. 15 ... everyone, that is, except for Connor McDavid who was handed his soon-to-be famous No. 97. "It's very special," he said at his press conference. "It means a lot for them to do that. To see 97 when I flipped that jersey around was special."

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."

 
7:42 p.m. A "stern" warning for Connor McDavid from new teammate Taylor Hall:

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.

7:37 p.m One more reason to compare McDavid to Bobby Orr:

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.

7:25 p.m. Tim Murray eschews the usual draft pleasantries—thanking the local team, congratulating the Stanley Cup champs—and simply says "The Buffalo Sabres select Jack Eichel." Murray is a treasure. Enjoy every moment.

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.

1
edmonton oilers
connor mcdavid, C
erie (ohl) | 6-1, 190

• 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."

2
buffalo sabres
Jack eichel, C
boston univ. | 6-2, 195

•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.”

3
arizona coyotes
Dylan strome, c
erie (OHL) | 6-3, 185

• 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.”

4
toronto maple leafs
mitch marner, rw
London (OHL) | 5-11, 163


• 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.”

5
carolina hurricanes
noah hanifin, d
boston college | 6-2, 205


• 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.”

6
new jersey devils
pavel zacha, c
sarnia (OHL) | 6-3, 214

• 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.”

7
philadelphia flyers
ivan provorov, d
brandon (whl) | 6-0, 201

• 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.”

8
columbus blue jackets
zach werenski, d
michigan (ncaa) | 6-2, 214

• 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.”

9
san jose sharks
timo meier, rw
halifax (qmjhl) | 6-1, 209

• 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.”

10
colorado avalanche
mikko rantanen, rw
Tps turku (finland) | 6-4, 209

 

11
florida panthers
Lawson crouse, lw
kingston (ohl) | 6-4, 212

• 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.”

12
DALLAS STARS
denis guryanov, rw
Togliatti 2 (russia) | 6-2, 183

• 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.”

13
Boston Bruins
jakub zboril, d
st. john (qmjhl) | 6-2, 185

• 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..”

14
boston bruins
jake debrusk, lw
swift current (whl) | 6-0, 176

• 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].”

15
Boston Bruins
zach senyshyn, rw
sault ste. marie (ohl) | 6-1, 192

 

16
new york islanders
mathew barzal, c
seattle (whl) | 6-0, 183

• 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.”

17
winnipeg jets
kyle connor, c
youngstown (ushl) | 6-1, 183

• 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.”

18
ottawa senators
thomas chabot, d
St. john (qmjhl) | 6-2, 179

• 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.”

19
detroit red wings
evgeny svechnikov, rw
cape breton (qmjhl) | 6-3, 205

• 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.”

20
minnesota wild
joel eriksson ek, c
farjestad (sweden) | 6-2, 185

• 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.”

21
colin white, c
usa ntdp | 6-0, 183

• 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.”

22
washington capitals
ilya samsonov, g
magnitogorsk (russia) | 6-4, 203

• 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.”

23
vancouver canucks
brock boeser, rw
waterloo (ushl) | 6-1, 192

• 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.”

24
philadelphia flyers
travis konecny, rw
ottawa (ohl) | 5-10, 172

 

25
winnipeg jets
jack roslovic, C
USHL | 6-0, 182

• 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.”

26
montreal canadiens
noah juulsen, d
everett (whl) | 6-2, 174

• 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).”

27
anaheim ducks
jacob larsson, d
frolunda (sweden) | 6-2, 191

• 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.”

28
new york islanders
Anthony beauvillier, lw
shawinigan (qmjhl) | 5-10, 173

• 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..”

29
columbus blue jackets
gabriel carlsson, d
linkoping (sweden) | 6-4, 183

• SCOUTS SAY: “A reliable defender, Carlsson models his game after his favorite player, Red Wings legend Nicklas Lidstrom.”

30
ARIZONA COYOTES
nick merkley, rw
kelowna (whl) |5-10, 187

• 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.”

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