NHL Mock Drafts Revisited: 5 Takeaways from 2015

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.

I started by mocking only the first round in 2012, then expanded to two rounds for 2013, before returning to one round in 2014 when I did two versions — one with potential trades and one without.

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 shift the spotlight back to 2015.

Mock Draft

1) Edmonton Oilers — Connor McDavid (C, Canada, Erie OHL)

2) Buffalo Sabres — Jack Eichel (C, USA, Boston University NCAA)

3) Arizona Coyotes — Dylan Strome (C, Canada, Erie OHL)

4) Toronto Maple Leafs — Mitch Marner (RW, Canada, London OHL)

5) Carolina Hurricanes — Noah Hanifin (LHD, USA, Boston College NCAA)

6) New Jersey Devils — Pavel Zacha (C, Czech Republic, Sarnia OHL)

7) Philadelphia Flyers — Zach Werenski (LHD, USA, University of Michigan NCAA)

8) Columbus Blue Jackets — Mikko Rantanen (RW, Finland, TPS)

9) San Jose Sharks — Timo Meier (RW, Switzerland, Halifax QMJHL)

10) Colorado Avalanche — Ivan Provorov (LHD, Russia, Brandon WHL)

11) Florida Panthers — Lawson Crouse (LW, Canada Kingston OHL)

12) Dallas Stars — Oliver Kylington (LHD, Sweden, Färjestad)

13) Los Angeles Kings — Mathew Barzal (C, Canada Seattle WHL)

14) Boston Bruins — Kyle Connor (LW, USA, Youngstown USHL)

15) Calgary Flames — Nick Merkley (RW, Canada, Kelowna WHL)

16) Edmonton Oilers (from Pittsburgh) — Ilya Samsonov (G, Russia, Magnitogorsk)

17) Winnipeg Jets — Travis Konecny (RW, Canada, Ottawa OHL)

18) Ottawa Senators — Jansen Harkins (C, Canada, Prince George WHL)

19) Detroit Red Wings — Jakub Zboril (LHD, Czech Republic, Saint John QMJHL)

20) Minnesota Wild — Colin White (C, USA, U18 NTDP)

21) Buffalo Sabres (from N.Y. Islanders) — Jeremy Bracco (RW, USA, U18 NTDP)

22) Washington Capitals — Denis Gurianov (RW, Russia, Togilatti)

23) Vancouver Canucks — Paul Bittner (LW, USA, Portland WHL)

24) Toronto Maple Leafs (from Nashville) — Brandon Carlo (RHD, USA, Tri-City WHL)

25) Winnipeg Jets (from St. Louis via Buffalo) — Joel Eriksson Ek (C, Sweden, Färjestad)

26) Montreal Canadiens — Jeremy Roy (RHD, Canada, Sherbrooke QMJHL)

27) Anaheim Ducks — Daniel Sprong (RW, Netherlands/Canada, Charlottetown QMJHL)

28) Tampa Bay Lightning (from N.Y. Rangers) — Evgeni Svechnikov (RW, Russia, Cape Breton QMJHL)

29) Philadelphia Flyers (from Tampa Bay) — Jake DeBrusk (LW, Canada, Swift Current WHL)

30) Arizona Coyotes (from Chicago) — Vince Dunn (LHD, Canada, Niagara OHL)

NHL Draft

1) Edmonton Oilers — Connor McDavid

2) Buffalo Sabres — Jack Eichel

3) Arizona Coyotes — Dylan Strome

4) Toronto Maple Leafs — Mitch Marner

5) Carolina Hurricanes — Noah Hanifin

6) New Jersey Devils — Pavel Zacha

7) Philadelphia Flyers — Ivan Provorov

8) Columbus Blue Jackets — Zach Werenski

9) San Jose Sharks — Timo Meier

10) Colorado Avalanche — Mikko Rantanen

11) Florida Panthers — Lawson Crouse

12) Dallas Stars — Denis Gurianov

13) Boston Bruins (from Los Angeles) — Jakub Zboril

14) Boston Bruins — Jake DeBrusk

15) Boston Bruins (from Calgary) — Zach Senyshyn (RW, Canada, Sault Ste. Marie OHL)

16) New York Islanders (from Pittsburgh via Edmonton) — Mathew Barzal

17) Winnipeg Jets — Kyle Connor

18) Ottawa Senators — Thomas Chabot (LHD, Canada, Saint John QMJHL)

19) Detroit Red Wings — Evgeni Svechnikov

20) Minnesota Wild — Joel Eriksson Ek

21) Ottawa Senators (from N.Y. Islanders via Buffalo) — Colin White

22) Washington Capitals — Ilya Samsonov

23) Vancouver Canucks — Brock Boeser (RW, USA, Waterloo USHL)

24) Philadelphia Flyers (from Nashville via Toronto) — Travis Konecny

25) Winnipeg Jets (from St. Louis via Buffalo) — Jack Roslovic (C/RW, USA, U18 NTDP)

26) Montreal Canadiens — Noah Juulsen (RHD, Canada, Everett WHL)

27) Anaheim Ducks — Jacob Larsson (LHD, Sweden, Frolunda)

28) New York Islanders (from N.Y. Rangers via Tampa Bay) — Anthony Beauvillier (C/LW, Canada, Shawinigan QMJHL)

29) Columbus (from Tampa Bay via Philadelphia) — Gabriel Carlsson (LHD, Sweden, Linkopings)

30) Arizona Coyotes (from Chicago) — Nick Merkley

8 Hits

Connor McDavid, Upper Deck, CIBC, Edmonton Oilers
(Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports)
Connor McDavid was the obvious pick at No. 1 in 2015 as a generational talent and he’s lived up to all the hype as hockey’s next superstar.

My THW mocking debut had its share of highs and lows, getting off to a fantastic start before going off the rails.

I was perfect through the first six picks and had all the right names in my top 10, with all eight of my hits coming within the top 11. To that point, it was and remains my best-ever showing.

Granted, McDavid and Eichel were gimmes at 1-2. Strome and Marner were also near locks for 3-4, though there was more debate over that order.

But I also hit on Hanifin at No. 5, Zacha at No. 6, Meier at No. 9 and Crouse at No. 11. Those were wise picks on my behalf, but I ran out of brain power beyond that point.

8 Misses

Brock Boeser
(Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports)
Brock Boeser was the first pick of the second round in my mock — eight selections later than reality (31 to 23) — but that still counts as a miss.

As mentioned, there were also plenty of lows in 2015, with just as many misses as hits. It was the best of times and the worst of times for my mocking career to date — the most hits, but also the most misses in the first round.

The misses were Kylington, Harkins, Bracco, Bittner, Carlo, Roy, Sprong and Dunn, replaced by Senyshyn, Chabot, Boeser, Roslovic, Juulsen, Larsson, Beauvillier and Carlsson.

It’s too early to draw conclusions on the 2015 draft class since most these prospects are still working to establish themselves, but the majority of those misses are making me look bad.

Carlo and Dunn are looking first-round worthy, and a case can also be made for Sprong, who ripped up the AHL as a rookie pro and will have a role with Pittsburgh next season.

The other five — Kylington, Harkins, Bracco, Bittner and Roy — have a long way to go, with a few of them already being labelled busts.

Meanwhile, Boeser and Chabot are obvious studs, with Beauvillier, Roslovic and Juulsen looking like the real deal as well. Carlsson and Larsson have got a cup of coffee, so their glass seems half full, while Senyshyn’s is half empty to say the least.

Thomas Chabot Ottawa Senators
(Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)
Thomas Chabot was the second pick of the second round in my mock, but chalk that up as another miss — 14 selections late (18 to 32).

Since I mocked three rounds in 2015, I can tell you the draft spots for my misses in the following order: Boeser (31), Chabot (32), Larsson (34), Roslovic (36), Carlsson (38), Juulsen (39), Senyshyn (42) and Beauvillier (46). Yes, I had all eight in my second round, in my top 50.

My eight mistakes were also all second-rounders in reality, in the following order: Roy (31), Carlo (37), Bittner (38), Sprong (46), Harkins (47), Dunn (56), Kylington (60) and Bracco (61). I still feel like I stole Sprong and Dunn towards the end of my first round and time should prove that.

Boston’s Blunders

Jake DeBrusk
(Kevin Sousa/NHLI via Getty Images)
Jake DeBrusk had a splendid rookie season for the Bruins, but Boston could have had Matt Barzal, Kyle Connor and Brock Boeser with three consecutive picks in the middle of the first round in 2015.

I shouldn’t hate on Boston’s drafting too much since the Bruins have developed a quality feeder system and minor-league program.

DeBrusk was a reach at No. 14 — he was considered a bubble guy for the first round and I had him at No. 29 — but that pick has panned out and he was a beast in this year’s playoffs.

The jury is still out on Zboril and Senyshyn — who I had at Nos. 19 and 42, respectively — since they have yet to make their NHL debuts and were only OK as rookie pros with the Baby Bruins in Providence. I’m not overly high on either of them right now, but Boston’s prospects have been proving me wrong in recent years.

That said, if the Bruins had gone with my picks, they would have Barzal, Connor and Merkley instead. Don Sweeney would have no choice but to make that 3-for-3 trade if offered a mulligan today. Barzal and Connor were among the NHL’s best rookies this season, and Merkley was one of the AHL’s top rookies before getting hurt.

Yeah, I’d make that trade. Give me my guys.

More Good Picks

Ilya Samsonov
(Sammi Silber/THW)
Ilya Samsonov is looking like a stud goaltending prospect for the Washington Capitals and will make his North American debut in 2018-19.

In addition to Sprong and Dunn, I really liked my selection of Samsonov for Edmonton at No. 16 — with Barzal off the board in my mock — but the Oilers packaged that pick in a trade for Griffin Reinhart that backfired. Samsonov, who has been trending well and just signed with Washington, would sure look good as Edmonton’s goalie of the future.

If Barzal and Connor weren’t available — as was the case in my mock — I do wonder whether Winnipeg would have went with Konecny at No. 17. Boeser was probably on the Jets’ radar too and they evidently had eyes for Roslovic in taking him with their second pick at No. 25. Regardless, I don’t regret reaching for Konecny at No. 17 — seven spots higher than his actual draft position at No. 24 to Philadelphia.

In the second round, a half-dozen of my picks are looking promising as potential steals in terms of other prospects that I selected higher than their draft position. Those being Filip Chlapik (35 to 48), Jordan Greenway (37 to 50), Denis Malgin (41 to 102), Parker Wotherspoon (52 to 112), Caleb Jones (55 to 117) and Jesse Gabrielle (61 to 105). Malgin is already proving me right, Greenway has also been making me look good, and I still have high hopes for Jones and, to a lesser degree, Wotherspoon.

In the third round, I had a dozen picks worth mentioning. Topping that list was Sebastian Aho — the Sweden defenceman, not the Finnish forward — who I had at No. 68. That Aho went undrafted in 2015 and 2016, then finally got selected at No. 139 in 2017 and wound up playing 22 NHL games for the Islanders this past season.

Also on that list were: Andrew Mangiapane (82 to 166), Ethan Bear (75 to 124), Dmytro Timashov (69 to 125), Nicolas Roy (70 to 96) and Michael Spacek (62 to 108).

I included Anthony Cirelli (65 to 72) and Erik Foley (72 to 78) too, although they didn’t drop nearly as far.

Austin Wagner (76 to 99) and David Kase (84 to 128) have signed with Los Angeles and Philadelphia, respectively.

Tyler Soy (81) went undrafted in 2015 before going in the seventh round (205) in 2016.

Glenn Gawdin (85 to 116) went unsigned by St. Louis, then undrafted the second time around before signing as a free agent with Calgary and becoming the WHL playoff MVP in 2018.

Those are some names to remember, names that shouldn’t be written off.

More Bad Picks

Any good scout who wants to toot his own horn best be prepared to expose his errors as well.

I’ve already documented my first-round mistakes, but I made several more in the second and third rounds.

Hurricanes forward Sebastian Aho
(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports)
The other Sebastian Aho — the one that actually got drafted in 2015, not 2017 — has far exceeded my expectations and his draft position in my mock as well as real life. He’d be a first-round pick in a re-draft.

For starters, I was way too low on Finland’s Sebastian Aho (53 to 35), Travis Dermott (64 to 34) and Mitchell Stephens (77 to 33), and I didn’t have Brendan Guhle (51), Kyle Capobianco (63), Andrew Nielsen (65), Vili Saarijarvi (73) or Lukas Vejdemo (87) among my top 100 prospects for 2015.

Meanwhile, I was way too high on the likes of Ryan Pilon (33 to 147), Nikita Korostelev (44 to 185), Adam Musil (47 to 94) and Stephen Desrocher (80 to 155). Those four names can probably be forgotten.

Like I said, take the good with the bad from my 2015 mock.