- NHL Mock Drafts Revisited: 5 Takeaways from 2012
- NHL Mock Drafts Revisited: 5 Takeaways from 2013
- NHL Mock Drafts Revisited: 5 Takeaways from 2015
- NHL Mock Drafts Revisited: 5 Takeaways from 2016
- NHL Mock Drafts Revisited: 5 Takeaways from 2017
Hindsight is always helpful, often enlightening, and sometimes humorous too.
In the build-up to my seventh annual NHL mock draft — to be published the morning after the Stanley Cup is handed out in June — I’ve decided to revisit my results over the last six years and provide five takeaways from each of those drafts.
I will highlight my steals and misses, the good and the bad — even the ugly. It should be a fun trip down memory lane for better or worse. There will be humbling reflections and perhaps some boasting too.
For the first three years — 2012, 2013 and 2014 — I was mocking on my own blog site prior to joining THW for the 2015, 2016 and 2017 drafts.
For THW, I mocked three rounds for 2015 and then attempted all seven rounds for 2016 and 2017, which will be the case again this year as I try to predict all 217 picks while providing at least 100 honourable mentions.
That’s something to look forward to, but let’s turn back time to 2014.
1) Florida Panthers — Aaron Ekblad (RHD, Canada, Barrie OHL)
2) Buffalo Sabres — Sam Reinhart (C, Canada, Kootenay WHL)
3) Edmonton Oilers — Leon Draisaitl (C, Germany, Prince Albert WHL)
4) Calgary Flames — Sam Bennett (C, Canada, Kingston OHL)
5) New York Islanders — Nikolaj Ehlers (LW, Denmark, Halifax QMJHL)
6) Vancouver Canucks — Jake Virtanen (LW, Canada, Calgary WHL)
7) Carolina Hurricanes — Michael Dal Colle (LW, Canada, Oshawa OHL)
8) Toronto Maple Leafs — Alex Tuch (RW, USA, U18 NTDP)
9) Winnipeg Jets — William Nylander (RW, Sweden, Modo)
10) Anaheim Ducks (from Ottawa) — Haydn Fleury (LHD, Canada, Red Deer WHL)
11) Nashville Predators — Robby Fabbri (LW/C, Canada, Guelph OHL)
12) Arizona Coyotes — Nick Ritchie (LW, Canada, Peterborough OHL)
13) Washington Capitals — Ivan Barbashev (C/LW, Russia, Moncton QMJHL)
14) Dallas Stars — Kasperi Kapanen (RW, Finland, KalPa)
15) Detroit Red Wings — Kevin Fiala (LW, Switzerland/Czech Republic, HV71)
16) Columbus Blue Jackets — Nikita Scherbak (RW, Russia, Saskatoon WHL)
17) Philadelphia Flyers — Brendan Perlini (LW, Canada, Niagara OHL)
18) Minnesota Wild — Sonny Milano (C/LW, USA, U18 NTDP)
19) Tampa Bay Lightning — Julius Honka (RHD, Finland, Swift Current WHL)
20) San Jose Sharks — Dylan Larkin (C, USA, U18 NTDP)
21) St. Louis Blues — Jakub Vrana (RW, Czech Republic, Linkopings)
22) Pittsburgh Penguins — Roland McKeown (RHD, Canada, Kingston OHL)
23) Colorado Avalanche — Travis Sanheim (LHD, Canada, Calgary WHL)
24) Anaheim Ducks — Jared McCann (C, Canada, Sault Ste. Marie OHL)
25) Boston Bruins — Marcus Pettersson (LHD, Sweden, Skelleftea)
26) Montreal Canadiens — Adrian Kempe (C, Sweden, Modo)
27) Chicago Blackhawks — John Quenneville (C, Canada, Brandon WHL)
28) Tampa Bay Lightning (from New York Rangers) — Nikolay Goldobin (RW, Russia, Sarnia OHL)
29) Los Angeles Kings — Conner Bleackley (C, Canada, Red Deer WHL)
30) New Jersey Devils — David Pastrnak (RW, Czech Republic, Sodertalje)
1) Florida Panthers — Aaron Ekblad
2) Buffalo Sabres — Sam Reinhart
3) Edmonton Oilers — Leon Draisaitl
4) Calgary Flames — Sam Bennett
5) New York Islanders — Michael Dal Colle
6) Vancouver Canucks — Jake Virtanen
7) Carolina Hurricanes — Haydn Fleury
8) Toronto Maple Leafs — William Nylander
9) Winnipeg Jets — Nikolaj Ehlers
10) Anaheim Ducks (from Ottawa) — Nick Ritchie
11) Nashville Predators — Kevin Fiala
12) Arizona Coyotes — Brendan Perlini
13) Washington Capitals — Jakub Vrana
14) Dallas Stars — Julius Honka
15) Detroit Red Wings — Dylan Larkin
16) Columbus Blue Jackets — Sonny Milano
17) Philadelphia Flyers — Travis Sanheim
18) Minnesota Wild — Alex Tuch
19) Tampa Bay Lightning — Anthony DeAngelo (RHD, USA, Sarnia OHL)
20) Chicago Blackhawks (from San Jose) — Nick Schmaltz (C, USA, Green Bay USHL)
21) St. Louis Blues — Robby Fabbri
22) Pittsburgh Penguins — Kasperi Kapanen
23) Colorado Avalanche — Conner Bleackley
24) Vancouver Canucks (from Anaheim) — Jared McCann
25) Boston Bruins — David Pastrnak
26) Montreal Canadiens — Nikita Scherbak
27) San Jose Sharks (from Chicago) — Nikolay Goldobin
28) New York Islanders (from New York Rangers via Tampa Bay) — Josh Ho-Sang (RW, Canada, Windsor OHL)
29) Los Angeles Kings — Adrian Kempe
30) New Jersey Devils — John Quenneville
My 2014 mock was a smashing success, especially off the top in going 4-for-4 and getting five of the first six picks bang-on, while nailing both of Vancouver’s first-round selections — even if the second one was acquired on the draft floor from Anaheim as part of the Ryan Kesler trade.
I recall Ekblad being the consensus No. 1, followed by three closely grouped forwards, but there was plenty of debate over the order in which Reinhart, Draisaitl and Bennett would be selected. I did my research and managed to get those three right.
I also had Vancouver selecting local boy Virtanen at No. 6 and had McCann going at the No. 24 spot, originally to Anaheim.
Part of what makes a good mock is matching the prospects to the teams — the hits — but I’ve always felt the more important part is getting as many of the prospects as possible within a round.
The first round of 2014 was another strong showing for me, with my only misses being Barbashev, McKeown and Pettersson – replaced by DeAngelo, Nick Schmaltz and Ho-Sang.
Not sure what I had against the Schmaltz brothers — likely just a lack of USHL scouting and connections back then — but I had previously missed on Jordan in 2012 as well.
DeAngelo and Ho-Sang both had big upside — and still do — but questions about their character, which also still persist, scared me off.
Barbashev, McKeown and Pettersson were all selected in the second round at Nos. 33, 50 and 38, respectively. Those three have all played NHL games and should be able to carve out full-time roles in the future. So at least I didn’t “reach” for any obvious busts.
This isn’t so much an observation on my mock – though I’m proud to say I got 27-of-30 prospects right in the first round — but the 2014 draft in general produced terrific results.
Back then, it wasn’t viewed as a particularly strong or deep draft class, but the 2014 prospects have exceeded expectations and are mostly impact players in the present.
Bleackley is the only first-round pick who has yet to make his NHL debut and more than half — 16 — have played at least 100 regular-season games to date. Ekblad is the only one to eclipse 300, but a half-dozen others have already surpassed 200 games.
It’s possible that all but two will be NHL regulars next season. Those two being Bleackley and Dal Colle. That is some good drafting, both in mock and in reality.
Almost everybody got a player out of this draft, but Garth Snow was the only general manager to go wrong in the top 10. The Islanders obviously wish they went my guy, Ehlers, instead of Dal Colle.
Virtanen is becoming a useful player, but Vancouver would swap him in a heartbeat for Ehlers or Nylander or just about anybody else in the top 30 not named Bleackley or Dal Colle.
Speaking of Bleackley, could you imagine Pastrnak playing for Colorado? Or even Kempe? That pick continues to haunt the Avs, but they have done much better in recent years under Joe Sakic.
Still Liking My Picks
Ehlers over Dal Colle is a no-brainer today, but my order after the top six was quite different than how it played out.
I was a little late on a lot of guys, but some of my picks would have worked out just as well or arguably better — such as Fabbri over Fiala to Nashville at No. 11, Kapanen over Honka to Dallas at No. 14, and Kempe over Scherbak to Montreal at No. 26.
Worth noting, my just-for-fun mock involving trades was wildly wrong for the most part, but that version had Edmonton drafting Ekblad at No. 3 and Tuch at No. 16 — the latter pick fictitiously acquired from Columbus for Sam Gagner, who did eventually become a Blue Jacket. Could you imagine Ekblad and Tuch on the Oilers?
That version, for all of its inaccuracies from top to bottom, also only had three misses and was better in a couple ways. It had Ho-Sang in the first round (No. 24 to Anaheim) over Quenneville, and it also had Pastrnak higher at No. 22 from No. 30. Barbashev and McKeown were still misses, but the third was Thatcher Demko (No. 27 to Chicago) instead of Pettersson. Depending how he does at the NHL level in the coming seasons, that Demko pick may end up looking like a good one in the first round. In reality, Demko was a second-rounder, No. 36 to Vancouver, and he appears to be the Canucks’ goaltender of the future.
All in all, 2014 stands out as an impressive draft — more so than anticipated at the time.
Larry Fisher is a senior writer and head scout for The Hockey Writers, having been an at-large contributor for THW since August 2014. Fisher covers both the NHL and the WHL, specializing in prospects and NHL draft content, including his annual mock drafts that date back to 2012. Fisher has also been a beat writer for the WHL’s Kelowna Rockets since 2008, formerly working as a sports reporter/editor for The Daily Courier in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada from 2008-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @LarryFisher_KDC.