2015 Draft: Europeans ready to make an impact

Mikko Rantanen (right) of Finland (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

The 2015 draft has largely focused on North America, what with twin terrors Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel dominating headlines, with Dylan Strome, Noah Hanifin and Mitch Marner not far behind.

But there were some excellent prospects plying their trades on the other side of the Atlantic this season and they’re ready to let their skills do the talking.

Read more

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

Read more

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

Read more

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.

Read more

Stats say Maple Leafs & Coyotes should look at trading down in draft

(Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images)

Just like every year, the idea of trading down inside the top 10 has become a hot topic before the NHL draft. Arizona GM Don Maloney has stated he’s open to trading the third overall pick, while Toronto has been rumored to be interested in doing the same with fourth overall. Is it worth it, though?

That’s likely the question both teams are asking themselves leading up to Friday and with each one taking the scorched-earth approach to rebuilding, whether or not to trade down is an important question to ask. Generally, the answer is yes, but it’s harder to answer the higher the pick is. It really depends on the context. For these two clubs, the context is the luxury of drafting a franchise-cornerstone prospect in the top five. That’s difficult to pass up, because those types of players are usually only found in that top five.

At the same time, it’s hard to ignore the assets they can get in return for moving down a couple of spots. Historically, that’s usually been a second round pick plus, but the price is likely higher for picks within the top five, especially considering this year’s crop of talent.

What it boils down to is knowing how much a pick is worth and how much the prospects available are worth. That value really depends on what a team wants from a draft: high-success rate or high-impact players. Read more

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

Read more

Ryan Kennedy’s final NHL draft rankings – The 120

Ryan Kennedy
Erie's Dylan Strome. (Photo by B Wippert/Getty Images)

We’re finally there, folks. It has actually been more than a year of anticipation for the 2015 draft, since the Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel Show began before the 2014 selections were even made.

We know Edmonton and Buffalo will be happy. And I’m pretty sure I know what Arizona is going to do with the third selection, but that’s the drama of the draft: you’re never 100 percent certain until the name is called out.

What lies below is the culmination of a season’s work. This list reflects what I believe will happen in the draft, but since trades tend to wreck order pretty quickly, I hesitate to call it a “mock draft.” This is not a statement on which players I believe will be the best NHLers.

The order is determined by conversations I’ve had with scouts around the NHL (some of whom vetted incarnations of the list), plus trends that have emerged in recent years. This is how I see the first four rounds unfolding, but since there’s also a compensatory pick in the second round (Chicago, for Kevin Hayes not signing), let’s make No. 121 Troy Terry, the U.S. NTDP center.

Here we go:

Read more

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.

Read more