It’s the holiday season!
And while many of the National Hockey League’s 30 member clubs have playoff dreams floating their their heads while they unwrap their presents, a handful of teams – and the number is growing – are instead looking forward to a different time of giving for relief: June’s Entry Draft.
To shed some light on how things may shake down on that last June weekend in Sunrise, Florida, here is a mock-up of the NHL Draft’s first round. The draft order is based on each team’s points percentage as of December 23, 2014 in order to compensate for the different numbers of games played by various clubs.
Your mileage may vary.
1st overall: The Edmonton Oilers select F Connor McDavid from the Erie Otters (Ontario Hockey League)
No strangers to drafting first overall, the Oilers go simple and pick the best player available, generational talent Connor McDavid.
2nd overall: The Carolina Hurricanes select F Jack Eichel from the Boston University Terriers (Hockey East)
As luck would have it, the Hurricanes have a strong forward fall to them. In past years they’ve gotten defenders (and Elias Lindholm) in the first round, so this pick helps round out their prospect base nicely.
3rd overall: The Arizona Coyotes select D Oliver Kylington from AIK (Swedish Hockey League)
The Coyotes have taken forwards in each of the last three first rounds. However, likely with visions of another Oliver Ekman-Larsson in their heads, they grab the talented Swede at 3rd overall.
4th overall: The Buffalo Sabres select D Noah Hanifin from the Boston College Eagles (Hockey East)
The Sabres have three picks in the first round. They continue to attempt to build from the net out, taking the consensus best remaining player, big-bodied blueliner Hanifin.
5th overall: The New Jersey Devils select F Dylan Strome from the Erie Otters (Ontario Hockey League)
After taking a pair of dependable, capable two-way forwards in prior drafts, the Devils have a very talented offensive player fall into their laps at fifth overall.
6th overall: The Columbus Blue Jackets select F Pavel Zacha from the Sarnia Sting (Ontario Hockey League)
The Jackets traditionally take talented Europeans – with last year’s selection of Sonny Milano in the first round the exception. Zacha is a strong offensive talent and a European forward who has adapted very quickly to the North American game.
7th overall: The Colorado Avalanche select F Lawson Crouse from the Kingston Frontenacs (Ontario Hockey League)
Joe Sakic took a talented Canadian forward last season in the first round (Connor Bleackley from Red Deer). This season, he selects further east, grabbing Crouse.
8th overall: The Philadelphia Flyers select F Daniel Sprong from the Charlottetown Islanders (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
The Flyers head to the Canadian ranks for the fourth straight season, grabbing Charlottetown’s speedster Sprong.
9th overall: The Dallas Stars select F Travis Konecny from the Ottawa 67s (Ontario Hockey League)
Dallas traditionally drafts depending on situational need. Having gone for a high-end offensive defender last season in Julius Honka, they go for a reliable 200-foot player in Konecny.
10th overall: The Ottawa Senators select F Matt Barzal from the Seattle Thunderbirds (Western Hockey League)
The first Western League player is selected by an eastern Canadian team, as the Senators veer away from the OHL for the first time in years in grabbing the offensively skilled Barzal.
11th overall: The Calgary Flames select D Zach Werenski from the University of Michigan Wolverines (Big-10)
Now blessed with some offensive depth due to a few strong drafts in the forward ranks, the Flames aim to fill in some holes by grabbing the big-bodied American defender. (A previous version identified Werenski as a Wisconsin Badger, which is not the case.)
12th overall: The Minnesota Wild select F Evgeni Svechnikov from the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
The Wild go for a European import, grabbing the Russian Svechnikov, who has been a terror for Quebec League goaltenders this season. Big and fast, he’ll really add to Minnesota’s depth.
13th overall: The Boston Bruins select D Jeremy Roy from the Sherbrooke Phoenix (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
The Bruins go best-player-available, and grab Roy, a big-bodied right-shooting defender from Quebec.
14th overall: The Florida Panthers select F Miko Rantanen from TPS Turku (SM-Liiga)
Florida grabbed a great defenseman last year and seem to have no problem drafting and developing talented Finns. They grab another one at 14.
15th overall: The Los Angeles Kings select D Ivan Provorov from the Brandon Wheat Kings (Western Hockey League)
A series of absences this season really highlighted that the Kings need more good defensemen in their system. They grab the best one available at 15th overall – a talented import who’s adjusted marvelously to the WHL.
16th overall: The Washington Capitals select D Ryan Pilon from the Brandon Wheat Kings (Western Hockey League)
The Capitals haven’t selected a blueliner in the first round in years, but they follow the Kings’ lead and grab Pilon; he’s big, mobile and good in his own zone.
17th overall: The Winnipeg Jets select F Mitch Marner from the London Knights (Ontario Hockey League)
The Jets have quietly accumulated a bevy of skilled players from the various Canadian leagues, and this year they grab Marner from the OHL.
18th overall: The San Jose Sharks select F Filip Chlapik from the Charlottetown Islanders (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
This will sound shocking, but the Sharks have grabbed Europeans in the first round in each of the past three drafts. Chlapik – a speedy, talented Czech – fits the bill nicely.
19th overall: The Toronto Maple Leafs select F Jansen Harkins from the Prince George Cougars (Western Hockey League)
Harkins has been the talk of the WHL this season given his offensive outburst. The Leafs don’t let him fall any further.
20th overall: The Tampa Bay Lightning (from NYR) select F Kyle Connor from the Youngstown Phantoms (United States Hockey League)
With the first of their two picks in the first round, the Lightning grab a forward with great production in the USHL and a lot of potential.
21st overall: The Vancouver Canucks select D Nicolas Meloche from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
The Canucks haven’t taken a blueliner in eons so, with forward depth largely under control, they grab Meloche to begin shoring up the back end.
22nd overall: The Tampa Bay Lightning select D Jakub Zboril from the Saint John Sea Dogs (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
Zboril is a defender with great numbers in a high-scoring league. With a forward already taken in the first round, the Lightning grab him with their second pick in the round.
23rd overall: The Detroit Red Wings select F Brock Boeser from the Waterloo Blackhawks (United States Hockey League)
He’s not huge, but he’s got excellent numbers and with Detroit’s development depth, he’ll have the opportunity to fill out physically.
24th overall: The Buffalo Sabres (from STL) select F Nick Merkley from the Kelowna Rockets (Western Hockey League)
A strong player from a program that keeps developing strong players, Merkley gets snapped up by a Sabres organization that is already chock-full of defneders.
25th overall: The Buffalo Sabres (from NYI) select F Colin White from the U.S. National Development Team (United States Hockey League)
A second pick for the Sabres and a second forward – and the best available remaining player. He’s a player with a high floor but potentially a lower ceiling than others, but he’s got plenty of room to grow.
26th overall: The Chicago Blackhawks select D Brandon Carlo from the Tri-City Americans (Western Hockey League)
Big, skilled and American, and being drafted into an organization with a lot of forwards already in it. Carlo’s a great fit for the Hawks.
27th overall: The Montreal Canadiens select F Timo Meier from the Halifax Mooseheads (Quebec Major Junior Hockey League)
An extremely talented Swiss import, he joins a Montreal prospect base that really values skill – particularly from European imports, as we saw last year with Nikita Scherbak.
28th overall: The Nashville Predators select F Nikita Korostelev from the Sarnia Sting (Ontario Hockey League)
Best player available at 28, but the Predators likely could use his size and skill.
29th overall: The Anaheim Ducks select F Thomas Novak from the Waterloo Blackhawks (United States Hockey League)
American-born and blessed with a lot of skill and potential, Novak provides the Ducks with a player that could emerge as the steal of the draft at 29.
30th overall: The Pittsburgh Penguins select F Jordan Greenway from the U.S. National Development Team (United States Hockey League)
After taking a series of smaller, skilled players from Europe and the Canadian leagues, the Penguins opt for a big, burly American player in the first round.