2015 Draft Preview – Philadelphia Flyers always looking backward

during the first round of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 27, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The Flyers aren’t picky about where their talent comes from or where those players are going as long as they have potential. Prep schoolers and kids destined for mid-table NCAA schools such as Bowling Green and Connecticut have all been selected lately, as was NAHL goalie Anthony Stolarz. Curiously, no players from the OHL – a traditional hotbed – have donned the Orange and Black the past two drafts.

PICKS:
Round 1, picks 7 and 29
Round 2, pick 61
Round 3, picks 70 and 90
Round 4, picks 98 and 99
Round 5, pick 128
Round 6, pick 158
Round 7, pick 188

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2015 Draft Preview – Amazing rookie brigade alters Ottawa Senators’ future

Ken Campbell
Matt Puempel (Photo by Andre Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

When the Ottawa Senators staged their furious charge and made the playoffs against all odds, their freshmen led the way. Andrew Hammond was not a rookie by NHL standards because of his age but was still a first-year player. Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman and Curtis Lazar? No ambiguity there. That speaks to how well the Senators have drafted over the past few years.

PICKS:
Round 1, pick 18
Round 2, picks 42, 48
Round 4, pick 109
Round 5, pick 139
Round 7, pick 199

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2015 Draft Preview – New York Rangers can take first day off

Ryan Kennedy
poses for a portrait during day one of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 24, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota.

It’s not that the New York Rangers are bad at drafting. They just don’t do it as often as most other franchises. Thanks to playing in one of the most desirable sports markets in the world and having a splendid core that makes Stanley Cup runs, the Blueshirts have tended to build through trades and free agency lately – and it works. But because of that, New York has picked in the first round just once in the past three drafts (Brady Skjei in 2013) and, barring a trade, it won’t pick in the top 30 this year, either.

PICKS:
Round 2, pick 59
Round 3, pick 89
Round 4, pick 119
Round 6, pick 179

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
The Rangers aren’t particularly gritty up front, and that’s fine when the speedsters are on their horses, but it wouldn’t hurt to get some rougher, edgier players back in the jersey – think Andrew Shaw in Chicago or Kyle Clifford in Los Angeles.

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2015 Draft Preview – Diligence paying off for New York Islanders

Josh Ho-Sang (Photo by Mitchell Leff, Getty Images Sport)

The Islanders put a lot of stock in the draft and, in particular, the draft combine. The franchise has been infamous in the past for making the kids they interview fill out a lengthy personality test, but clearly it serves a purpose: noted free spirit Josh Ho-Sang was nabbed in the 2014 first round, and his play has continued to be solid. Of course, they also drafted the downright wacky Kirill Kabanov a few years back, too, so it’s not an exact science.

PICKS:
Round 3, picks 72 and 82
Round 4, pick 112
Round 6, pick 172
Round 7, pick 202

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2015 Draft Preview – New Jersey Devils seek a red-hot sniper

Stefan Matteau. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Major domo Lou Lamoriello, who will still have a major say in all things Devils despite handing GM duties to Ray Shero, has always been a big supporter of the college system, which is no surprise given Lamoriello’s Providence Friars roots. The Devils like to give their NCAA kids as much time as they need, and the franchise goes to the well often. The only year New Jersey didn’t have a draft class featuring at least one NCAA-bound player was 1995. Kids from the U.S. NTDP are frequent targets.

PICKS:
Round 1, pick 6
Round 2, picks 36 and 41
Round 3, pick 67
Round 4, pick 97
Round 6, pick 157

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
The Devils’ offense was a horror show, ranking 28th with 2.15 goals per game, and there are no sure things in the system. Reid Boucher is the best candidate, but he hasn’t found his touch in the NHL and has had only middling production in the AHL. And while players such as Blake Pietila and John Quenneville have potential, their scoring ceilings aren’t high. This must be addressed quickly.

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2015 Draft Preview – Prey become Predators for Nashville

Kevin Fiala (Getty Images)

GM David Poile and his plucky Nashville Predators bamboozled the league in 2014-15. They were supposed to be an also-ran in hockey’s toughest division but instead enjoyed one of their best seasons in franchise history. They’re stacked in goal and on defense, and a few of their best forward prospects have emerged.

PICKS:
Round 2, pick 55
Round 3, pick 85
Round 4, picks 100, 115
Round 5, pick 145
Round 6, pick 175
Round 7, pick 205

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
The James Neal trade didn’t give Nashville the elite sniper it needed. Filip Forsberg bloomed, but he’s more of an all-around scorer than pure shooter. The 2015 free agent class lacks a slam-dunk 30-goal man, so Poile will have to search the trade market if he wants one. Also, what if Mike Ribeiro opts not to re-sign? It would leave Nashville without a No. 1 center.
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2015 Draft Preview – Montreal Canadiens must think big

Alex Galchenyuk. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

In what has been an otherwise impressive record of drafting and developing, the Montreal Canadiens have a black hole, the effects of which are being felt by the organization today. In the 2008 and ’09 drafts, amateur scouting director Trevor Timmins and his staff selected 13 players, none of whom has made an impact at the NHL level. Those players are in their early 20s now and should’ve been in position to not only make contributions, but also carry the team in future years. Perhaps if the Canadiens had been able to mine some talented players with size, they wouldn’t be one of the smallest and poorest possession teams in the league.

PICKS:
Round 1, pick 26
Round 3, pick 87
Round 5, pick 131
Round 6, pick 177
Round 7, pick 207

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
The Habs have size on the blueline but desperately need some bigger forwards who can play. They drafted hulking Michael McCarron in the first round in 2013, but he’s a few years away, if he makes the NHL at all.

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2015 Draft Preview – Minnesota Wild must fill in gaps

Matt Larkin
Alex Tuch (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)

The Wild’s immediate future is tough to project after an odd season in which goalie Devan Dubnyk’s freakishly good performance carried them to the playoffs. Did that feel-good story mask a few team needs? The Wild’s good young forwards have blended nicely with their vets, and their blue-chip blueliners have improved, but they still have some flaws to address at the draft and in free agency.

PICKS:
Round 1, pick 20
Round 2, pick 50
Round 4, pick 111
Round 6, pick 171
Round 7, picks 201, 204

SHORT-TERM NEEDS:
Jonas Brodin has emerged as a defensive pillar, and 2012 first-rounder Mathew Dumba made an impressive jump to full-time NHL duty, but Minny could use a physical, top-four veteran blueliner to take pressure off Ryan Suter. Many of the Wild’s checking forwards are UFAs this summer, so GM Chuck Fletcher must re-sign or replenish bodies for his bottom six. Read more