East Coast Egos 2015 NHL Mock Draft

I’m a believer that this year’s NHL draft is one of the deeper ones in recent memory. It might not compare to the vaunted 2003 crop, but word around the league is that there are upwards of 50 players that have first round grades on individual team boards. Obviously this makes mocking the draft tough, but I’ll give it the old college try here with my first ever mock draft on East Coast Egos.

  1. Edmonton Oilers – Connor McDavid C Erie (OHL)

Just a formality at this point, Connor McDavid is worth the hype and then some. It all starts with his skating. McDavid will step into the league and immediately be up there with the likes of Matt Duchene and Carl Hagelin as one of the fastest guys in the league. What makes McDavid so special though is his ability to combine that speed with his elite hockey sense and make plays without slowing down. McDavid is in my opinion the best prospect to come into the NHL since Crosby, and I’d put him a step above where Crosby was as a prospect due to his previously mentioned skating ability. McDavid will step into the lineup and being propelling Edmonton back to the glory days.

  1. Buffalo Sabres – Jack Eichel C Boston University (NCAA)

Also no suspense here as Eichel is the consensus #2 player in this draft. Eichel put an assault on the college hockey ranks this year that was unseen by a draft eligible player since Paul Kariya in 1993. Eichel combines size, skating, and puck skills into a rarely seen package. His puck handling in tight areas is impressive especially for a player of his size, and he packs a punch with his shot in space. You would like to see him engage a little more physically, but that’s nit picking as he is a very good defensive forward as well. Eichel is NHL ready, and Buffalo will hand the keys to the franchise to the “best American since Modanao.”

  1. Arizona Coyotes – Dylan Strome C Erie (OHL)

The draft really starts at pick 3, where Don Maloney has been adamant about weighing his options and even taking calls from teams trying to move up. This pick is a tossup between Noah Hanifin, Mitch Marner, and Dylan Strome. If you poll around the league, Hanifin would get the nod as the #3 player in this draft. However, Arizona has a real dearth of talent down the middle, and the best place to fix that is the NHL Draft. Dylan Strome is an intriguing prospect, as a cerebral 6-3 center with fantastic puck skills. The biggest knock on Strome is his average skating, but it’s an area that he’s improved since entering the OHL. When he’s on his game, Strome just makes plays happen. If Arizona takes him here, they hope he fills out his frame and become the #1 center they’ve truly lacked over the years.

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs – Mitch Marner C/RW London (OHL)

Back in 2013, Mark Hunter was the GM of the London Knights when they took a chance on a 5’7” scrawny 16 year old at the end of round 1 of the OHL Priority Selection. That small kid would progress into the current version of Mitch Marner we see, the dynamic offensive threat drawing comparisons to Patrick Kane. Why does this matter? Mark Hunter is now with the Maple Leafs and with the firing of their head amateur scout, he’s now tasked with running the draft this year. This shouldn’t take away from Marner though, as he is a dynamic talent more than worthy of the top 5 selection. Combining speed with puck skills always makes for a dangerous player at the junior level, but when you combine it with hockey IQ you get an NHL prospect. I believe Marner projects best as a winger making plays off the walls on the rush, but I wouldn’t rule out trying him at center. Marner and William Nylander could become a dynamic 1-2 punch for Mike Babcock’s Maple Leafs down the line.

  1. Carolina Hurricanes – Noah Hanifin D Boston College (NCAA)

If the left handed Hanifin is on the board at 5, Carolina GM Ron Francis should sprint up to the podium to make the pick. Hanifin accelerated in order to enter college this year as a 17 year old freshman. He took up a spot on BC’s top pairing and never looked back. Hanifin is a rare breed, a dynamic skater in a large developing frame. He has the upside and the skills to develop into the coveted true two-way defenseman in the mold of Duncan Keith. Like most young players, he needs to get physically stronger to handle the rigors of the NHL and you would also like to see him engage a little more during puck battles. If it all goes right, Carolina could have one of the NHL’s top duos in a Hanifin-Justin Faulk pairing down the line.

  1. New Jersey Devils – Mathew Barzal C Seattle (WHL)

New Jersey enters this draft at a crossroads, with what’s left of their glory days core on the brink of retirement mixed with a new coach, a new GM, and a crop of younger players pushing their way up the organizational depth chart. Enter Mathew Barzal. It’s not long ago that Barzal was considered the consensus #2 player behind Connor McDavid in this 2015 draft class. He was incredibly hyped as the #1 pick in the 2012 WHL Bantam Draft and has lived up to it… when healthy. That has been the knock on Barzal thus far in his career, as an injury wiped out a chunk of his draft season. His stock trended back upwards with his performance at the U18s, where he showed off his vision and creativity on Canada’s top line. Barzal does hold #1 center upside and is a 200 foot player, something always valued by the Devils brass. He makes a lot of sense here as the Devils move into a new era.

  1. Philadelphia Flyers – Lawson Crouse LW Kingston (OHL)

The popular whipping boy among armchair GMs this season appears to be Crouse. We’ll start with the bad – Crouse’s production in his draft eligible season left a lot to be desired. He struggled to create for himself offensively, especially with teammates Sam Bennett and Spencer Watson missing portions of the year. On the bright side, Crouse’s game is so much more complex and advanced than being a scorer. Bringing a 6-4 200+ pound frame, Crouse is a punishing player in the corners and on the walls. He’s a coach’s dream, as he can play in any situation, from up one with a minute left in the game to down a pair of goals going on the power play. The Flyers have stated they’d prefer a forward this year with all things being equal, and Crouse is the type of player that seems as if he was born to wear orange and black.

  1. Columbus Blue Jackets – Ivan Provorov D Brandon (WHL)

What an incredible rise for Provorov, going from a known but not super highly touted defenseman in the USHL to challenging for the top defenseman available in the 2015 draft. Provorov’s hockey IQ is incredible, as he is so calm and so poised on the ice. He rarely gets caught out of position or makes mistakes, which is why his stock has rose so high. He’s a kid in that Oliver Ekman-Larsson mold, a guy that can skate, QB your PP, and anchor you PK. Jarmo Kekalainen would be thrilled to add the arguably pro ready prospect to the fold.

  1. San Jose Sharks – Pavel Zacha C Sarnia (OHL)

The Joe Thronton-Patrick Marleau era in San Jose is well on its way to an inevitable disastrous end, and it’s time for San Jose to begin stockpiling young forwards with top 6 potential. Zacha is going to be a controversial player in the draft. He came across the pond to play in the OHL this year after a public battle between his former agent and the Sarnia Sting over his selection in the CHL Import Draft. Zacha then came over and had issues staying healthy, limiting his impact on a young Sarnia team. When in the lineup, Zacha is a big mobile center that plays mean, but borderline dirty. The puck comes off his stick hard when he shoots, and he uses his size and strength to power his way to the net. His commitment to the defensive side of the puck needs improvement. San Jose did well with their last Czech first rounder, Mr. Hertl, and will attempt to strike gold again as the revamp their forward corps.

  1. Colorado Avalanche – Zach Werenski D Michigan (NCAA)

Noah Hanifin’s defensive partner with the NTDP followed his friends lead and joined the NCAA as a 17 year old freshman last year. Like the aforementioned Hanifin, Werenski also stepped into the top pair as a freshman and was his team’s best defender all year. Werenski is mobile and his game tilts more towards the offensive side of the puck at this point. The knock on him among scouts is he seems a little too passive if not disinterested at times, leading to mental mistakes and turnovers. He’ll need to improve on his intensity and attention to detail, and Colorado would be wise to slow cook him. They currently have the worst defensive corps in the NHL, and adding a talent like Werenski to the prospect pool is a step in the right direction to correct that.

  1. Florida Panthers – Mikko Rantanen RW TPS (Finland)

Rantanen becomes the first European based prospect off the board as the host team nabs him at #11. Rantanen’s biggest strength is his shot coupled with his puck protection skills. Rantanen is an animal in the cycle came, and if you give him space to shoot you’re going to pay, as he might have the best shot in the class. The problem with him is he is almost unselfish to a fault, playing as more as a facilitator instead of utilizing his rocket of a wrister. The Panthers are lacking size and skill on the wings and it’s not farfetched to imagine Rantanen developing chemistry with his fellow countryman Aleksander Barkov down the line.

  1. Dallas Stars – Kyle Connor C/LW Youngstown (USHL)

The Stars prospect pool currently lacks offensive fire power and creativity. Kyle Connor is a step towards correcting this shortcoming. Connor tore up the USHL again this year, taking home the league’s MVP award. His blazing speed pops out at you, as he was too fast for a large chunk of defenders in the league. He’s ticketed to head to the University of Michigan next year, and will need to pack some weight on a very light 170 pound frame. With development and a gain of functional strength, Connor could find himself firmly entrenched on a top line in Texas in the future.

  1. Los Angeles Kings – Travis Konecny C/RW Ottawa (OHL)

It’s rare to see a team with a roster like Los Angeles possesses picking this high, but it gives them the advantage of truly going with the best player available. In this case it would likely be Travis Konecny on their board. Coming into the OHL with much fanfare as the 1st overall pick in the 2013 OHL Priority Selection, Konecny lived up to expectations… when healthy. Injuries were the only thing to slow down the undersized Konecny during the season, as he was very productive when healthy. The one thing Konecny shows in spades is heart, as he will skate through a wall if it meant winning the game. Los Angeles would tab him here and give him plenty of time to add muscle to his frame.

  1. Boston Bruins – Timo Meier RW Halifax (QMJHL)

It wouldn’t surprise me if Meier went as high as the top 10, but I’ll put a disclaimer on here by saying I believe he is vastly overrated. We’ll start with the good, as Meier worked his tail off to go from an afterthought on the Jonathan Drouin train last season to a top scorer playing with Nikolaj Ehlers on the Mooseheads top line. Meier projects as a complimentary player, combining high hockey IQ with a hard accurate shot. The questions come with his foot speed, although improved dramatically from the season before, it’s still borderline average for the NHL level. Boston is one of those teams that doesn’t play at an extremely fast pace, and will likely go BPA here. Meier could find a niche as a Chris Kunitz type of maybe Bergeron or Krejci’s wing down the line.

  1. Calgary Flames – Nick Merkley C/RW Kelowna (WHL)

The WHL draft eligible scoring leader comes off the board here to Calgary. Playing for the WHL champs, Merkley was an impact player on the first line all year, and he produced whether playing with Rourke Chartier or Leon Draitsaitl down the middle. Merkley is opportunistic, combing hands and creativity with a nose for the net. He’s especially dangerous on the power player when given space. Merkley has the offensive skillset for the NHL, but he needs to get stronger and commit to the defensive side of the game. Calgary has young talent coming up the pipe, so they can take a flier on Merkley and hope his talent and production translates to a top 6 contributor.

  1. Edmonton Oilers – Thomas Chabot D Saint John (QMJHL)

Let’s call this the first “shocker” of the draft, as Edmonton by passes the likes of Jakob Zboril and Yevgeni Svechnikov to select the smooth skating Chabot. The first thing that sticks out when watching Chabot is his skating ability, as he is fluid and mobile in all 4 directions. He makes a crisp first pass out of the zone and knows when to jump into the play off the rush. You’d like to see him be more physical, but he’s positionally sound in his own zone and has an active stick. Chabot has been a riser throughout the year, to the point where I have him as the top defenseman behind the big 3 of Hanifin, Provorov, and Werenski. In this mock the Oilers agree with me, and add Chabot to a rising defensive prospect pool.

  1. Winnipeg Jets – Yevgeni Svechnikov RW Cape Brenton (QMJHL)

Winnipeg adds to a burgeoning prospect pool with the addition of the big Russian Svechnikov. Svechnikov combines a large frame with soft hands and a quick release. He was incredibly productive in the Q this year, carrying his team at time. The problems came with consistency, as there were some games where it seemed like Svechnikov missed the bus and didn’t show up. When he’s on though, he’s a strong possession forward and a load to handle. Winnipeg would be smart not to rush him, letting him grow into his body and hope he develops a mean streak to add to his offensive gifts.

  1. Ottawa Senators – Oliver Kylington D Farjestad (Sweden)

Let’s set the scene. It’s the 2008 NHL Draft and the hometown Senators step up to the podium and take an undersized, smooth skating Swedish defenseman with the 15th overall selection. Draft pundits questioned the pick, calling it a reach. The player selected at 15? His name is Erik Karlsson. The thinking behind this pick is stepping up to the plate and swinging for another grand slam. No player has a larger range in this draft than Kylington. The Swedish defenseman is a top 5 skater in this draft and was once regarded as a top 10 pick. Then this year happened. Kylington had a nightmare year, performing horribly on the international stage and having questions come out about his hockey sense and character. He was a turnover machine and looked flat out lost at times. It was a strange turn for a kid who came over at 17 years old last winter and didn’t look out of place in an exhibition against the best the AHL had to offer. In Ottawa, there’s no rush. The Senators will have the option to bring him over to North America next season and get him acclimated to the physicality and pace of the NHL team under the guidance of the player development staff.

  1. Detroit Red Wings – Joel Eriksson Ek C Farjestad (SHL)

Every year Detroit is expected to take the best Swede available, and this year it’s Joel Eriksson Ek, the hardworking sniper out of Sweden. I haven’t seen him much this year, but he’s said to have a quick release, great vision, and a strong work ethic. His weaknesses come on the defensive side, as his game tilts more towards offense at this point in his career. Detroit goes back to the well and will slowly bring Erikkson Ek along.

  1. Minnesota Wild – Jeremy Roy D Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

Minnesota adds some more mobility on the back end with the addition of Jeremy Roy. Coming into the QMJHL loaded with a ton of hype behind him, Roy has developed nicely into a responsible two way defenseman. Roy is very hockey smart, rarely being caught out of position and making smart crisp passes to spring his forwards. He could stand to improve his quickness and foot speed, but it shouldn’t be a problem at the NHL level. Roy doesn’t stick out as elite in any particular area, but his top 4 upside warrants a selection here. Minnesota continues to build up their back end with this selection.

  1. Ottawa Senators – Collin White C USNTDP (USHL)

The NTDP is on the board, as the Senators use the recently acquired pick to select the big pivot Collin White. White’s two-way game is incredibly mature for an 18 year old. His hockey sense has him labeled as a future shut down center with offensive abilities, even drawing Patrice Bergeron comparisons. That’s lofty praise, but it’s not unwarranted. White will take the NCAA route and head to Boston College next year, and Ottawa will keep a close eye on a kid who probably should’ve been off the board long before this selection.

  1. Washington Capitals – Dennis Guryanov RW Togliatti (MHL)

Back to back Russians here as Washington brings in the high skilled Guryanov. Guryanov is a big skilled winger with quick hands and a solid burst of speed. He’s a flashy player, and possesses a natural goal scoring touch. He needs a ton of work on the defensive side of the puck, as he quite frankly doesn’t show any effort at time. Washington has a history of taking high skilled forward prospects in the opening round, and selecting Guryanov would add to that trend.

  1. Vancouver Canucks – Jakub Zboril Saint John (QMJHL)

Vancouver’s prospect line is weak on the back end, and the fall of the Czech Zboril stops here. Zboril is a compact stay at home defenseman with above average mobility. He’s not the biggest guy, but he can be very physical. Nobody in the Q looked forward to having to play Saint John with Zboril manning the blue line this year. He needs to be more consistent like most young defenseman, and Vancouver has the time to wait on him. He would immediately become the top defenseman in the Canucks pipeline.

  1. Toronto Maple Leafs – Zach Senyshyn RW Soo (OHL)

Toronto goes off the board and grabs the speedy Senyshyn towards the end of round 1. Senyshyn is a sleeper candidate for the end of the first round, as he was buried in the bottom 6 of a loaded Soo roster for most of the year. The first thing that pops out when you watch Senyshyn is his speed. An incredible North-South skater, Senyshyn gets one step on a defender and he’s gone. He shows strong instincts on both ends of the ice, and can handle the puck and shoot at his top speed. He needs to improve his compete level and play a little more physically in order to reach his full potential. Senyshyn is a boom or bust pick, as the OHL contingent in Toronto rolls the dice at 24.

  1. Winnipeg Jets – Brock Boeser RW Waterloo (USHL)

One of the risers on the year, Boeser had a breakout year in the USHL. A good sized forward with a hard shot, Boeser was a two-way force at the USHL level. He combines very good hockey sense with a high compete level, at points outworking his opponents to create chances for himself and his team. He needs to find another gear with his stride and play more physical to succeed at the NHL level. Winnipeg continues to add forwards to the pipeline.

  1. Montreal Canadiens – Daniel Sprong RW Charlottetown (QMJHL)

On talent alone, Sprong should be long gone by the top half of the first round. However, character concerns drop Sprong in a similar fashion to Josh Ho-Sang last year. The thinking here is Montreal should know more about Sprong than any other team, being as he is right in their backyard. On the ice, Sprong is a highlight waiting to him, combining speed with soft hands and a rocket shot. When he was on his game, he was flat out unstoppable at time. He does have work to do, as he’s inconsistent and doesn’t always compete on the defensive side of the puck. Montreal swings for the fences on this pick.

  1. Anaheim Ducks –Jeremy Bracco RW USNTDP (USHL)

Anaheim has a deep prospect base and the ability to swing for the fences here, going with the undersized Bracco. Opinions on Bracco vary depending on who you ask. His fans see an extremely smart and creative winger that competes on the defensive side on the puck. His critics see an undersized kid with an attitude problem. Bracco will always be a wildcard due to his size, but having organizational depth like Anaheim allows them to take a shot with this pick.

  1. Tampa Bay Lightning – Jake DeBrusk LW Swift Current (WHL)

The 40 goal scorer heads down to the Eastern Conference Champs. DeBrusk is a scoring machine, popping 42 goals in the WHL this year. DeBrusk is an explosive skater with a scorer’s touch in tight. He has excellent hockey IQ, and while his defensive play isn’t exceptional, it’s solid at this point in his development. DeBrusk needs to add some strength to his frame, and Tampa’s loaded organization will allow him the time to do that. He has potential to play in the top 6 down the road.

  1. Philadelphia Flyers –Ilya Samsonov G Magnitogorsk (MHL)

There’s been talk of the Flyers taking a goalie early, and Samsonov being here this late should give the team a lot to think about. Samsonov has all the physical tools to be an NHL starter. He’s big and fast, and was fantastic at the U18s this year. He’s going to need some time, but with Steve Mason holding down the crease for the big league club, the Flyers organization can afford to be patient with the young Russian.

  1. Arizona Coyotes – Paul Bittner LW Portland (WHL)

The power forward Bittner ends the first round and heads to the desert. Bittner is a load, coming in at 6-4 and over 200 pounds. He has a hard shot, and he powers his way up and down the ice with good speed for a big man. You would like to see better defensive zone play with a kid of his physical gifts, but that can be taught. Arizona needs forwards now, but rushing Bittner could be a disaster. He’s going to need another year in Portland and a year or two to add strength and round out his game. There’s upside to be a coveted goal scoring power forward here.

Still Available

Brandon Carlo D Tri-City (WHL)

Carlo is a tall stay-at-home defenseman with above average mobility. He uses his long reach in the defensive zone to stop opponents in their tracks. The questions come on the offensive side, and there’s a more likely chance than not that it never comes around. Worst case, he can become a bottom 6 defensive defenseman, and there’s no shame in that. He could very well sneak into the latter half of round 1.

Jansen Harkins C Prince George (WHL)

Harkins is a no frills two-way forward out of the WHL. It’s very likely a team does nab Harkins in round 1, but the way this mock draft worked out he ended up falling out. Harkins plays a mature game, very responsible and smart in his own end while showing smarts on all 200 feet of the ice. Expect him to go early in the 2nd if he falls out of round 1.

Noah Juulsen D Everett (WHL)

The smooth skating Juulsen was a riser on the season. His skating pops when you watch him, as his stride is smooth and explosive. He also brings a heavy shot and physicality to the backend. However, he is still raw. His frame is very thin right now, and he needs to cut down on the mental mistakes. He has top 4 potential if he fills out.

Gabriel Carlsson D Linkopoeng (SHL)

There’s no flash in Carlsson’s game, as he’s a shutdown defenseman in the mold of Niklas Hjalmarsson. I didn’t catch Carlsson much this year, and when I did I thought he was inconsistent. He’s strong, mobile, and very smart. I don’t think the offense will ever come, but I expect him to man a bottom pair for somebody’s team down the line.

Jack Roslovic C/RW USNTP (USHL)

Roslovic really got his name out there as first round candidate after his U18 performance. A North-South type of player, Roslovic is a hard worker and a consistent performer. He’s versatile, as you can trust him in your top 6 or your bottom 6 and expect him to contribute. Headed to Miami (OH) next season, Roslovic will be one of the top freshman in college hockey next season.

Mitchell Stevens C Saginaw (OHL)

Playing on a young Saginaw team, Stephens was inconsistent as he didn’t have much to work with in terms of teammates. He really shined at the CHL Top Prospects game as well as the U18s when playing with more skilled linemate. Stephens hockey sense is excellent. He’s a couple steps ahead of everyone else on the ice. He plays a strong two-way game, and has the ability to play on your PP or your PK. He needs to get faster and stronger, and could be an intriguing option for a team at the bottom of round 1.

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Boff’s 2015 NHL Draft “Bang The Table” List

Every year in the draft there are certain guys that I like to call “bang the table guys.” These are the guys that I have convictions about and would bang on the table in the draft room in order to get them to be my team’s selection. Every year I select 10 guys that are my favorites (not necessarily the best or highest ranked) and place them on this list.
When I look at prospects, I like guys that have size, speed, skill, hockey sense, and a commitment to the defensive side of the ice. Without further ado, here is my 2015 Bang The Table List.
 
Lawson Crouse LW Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Projected: Top 10
My Rank: #5
Crouse is by far my favorite player in the draft class this year. Standing at 6-4 and weighing over 200 pounds, Crouse has an intimidating physical presence on the ice. He’s physical and competes on the defensive end as well, which is something scouts and coaches love to see. Crouse skates well for a man of his stature, as he had no issues with the pace in the OHL or at the World Junior Championships this year. The biggest question around Crouse is his offensive upside. His stat line leaves a lot to be desired, but stats don’t tell the whole story. Crouse brings a complete 200 foot game to the table, and has the combination of physical strength and hockey IQ to make the leap to the NHL sooner rather than later.
Daniel Sprong RW Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
Projected: Late 1st/Early 2nd
My Rank: #12
Daniel Sprong must have some serious skeletons in his closet, because his talent level warrants a borderline top 10 selection. I’ve heard Sprong called “an in shape committed Phil Kessel” and I can see why. It starts with his combination of speed and rocket of a shot. Sprong is dangerous every time he touches the puck, whether it’s off the rush or off a one timer from the circle. His hands are also impressive; he flat out makes defenders look silly at times. The question-marks come in his play away from the puck and his compete level. Sprong can appear disinterested at time, especially on the defensive side of the puck. He needs to learn to play without the puck on his stick to succeed at the NHL level. However, I want Sprong on my team. The upside is there to be an elite offensive talent, and those guys aren’t easy to find.
 
Alexander Dergachev C/RW SKA (MHL)
Projected: Round 2
My Rank: #29
Strong, hard nosed, and physical, Dergachev has been on my radar for awhile now. He had his coming out party for Russia at the World Juniors this year, as he was one of two underagers (Ivan Provorov the other) on the roster and he excelled in his role. Dergachev isn’t going to be a 30 goal scorer, but he’s going to anchor your 3rd line and win puck battles on both ends of the ice. He’s dominant in the corners and along the walls, and can unleash a heavy shot when he gets space. His skating stride is fine, but he will need to get quicker to have a chance at an NHL top 6. When it comes down to it, Dergachev is the type of guy you win with, which is why I’m banging the table for him as early as the late 1st round.
 
Ryan Pilon D Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
Projected: Round 3/4
My Rank: #31
I am absolutely puzzled by the lack of love for Ryan Pilon throughout the draft process. Pilon teamed up with Ivan Provorov on the top pair for the Brandon Wheat Kings this year. While Provorov gets all the love, Pilon took a lot of heat this year for appearing disinterested at times. When he’s on his game, Pilion has NHL upside as a two way defenseman that makes great outlets out of his zone and jumps up in the play all while being responsible in his own end of the ice. I think his game is getting nitpicked and believe he has steal of the draft potential if he falls past the top of round 3.
 
Erik Cernak D Kosice (Slovakia Elite League)
Projected: Round 2/3
My Rank: #35
Hidden in the lower level Slovakian Elite League, opinions on Cernak differ depending on who you ask. Some see his size and physical presence and envision him playing a shut down role for their club. Others see the concentration lapses and poor decision and want nothing to do with him. Obviously his inclusion on this list means I’m on the side of the former. Cernak has impressed me the past two seasons when I’ve seen him at the World Juniors. He’s got a big projectable frame and is very tough to play against. He loves to play physical and good luck if you’re going into the corner with him. His outlet passes and offensive zone play show much room for improvement, and a team that picks him in round 2 will roll the dice that his game will blossom with maturity.
 
Gabriel Gagne RW Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Projected: Round 2/3
My Rank: #41
A big man that can skate and shoot the puck can play on my team any day. That’s what Gagne brings to the table. At 6-5 and only around 180 pounds, Gagne is a long-term pick that will need a few years of strength and conditioning before he’s ready for a sniff at the NHL level. On the ice, he’s long and gangly, but excels on the offensive end which is a bit odd for a player of his build. He needs to improve his compete level and win more battles in his own zone, but that will come with time. I see a kid that has the potential to be an absolute gem if he can grow into his body.
 
Mackenzie Blackwood G Barrie Colts (OHL)
Projected: Round 2
My Rank: #45
I don’t have a true sleeper at goalie this year, so I’ll give Blackwood a spot on my inaugural list. Blackwood has a massive frame and is very athletic. Like most young goalies, his down falls come in consistency and rebound control, as well as puck handling. Goalies are tricky, which is why Blackwood’s ranking can rise from top goalie in the draft to mid round guy depending on who you ask. I personally rank Blackwood as the #2 goalie in this draft behind Ilya Samsonov, and believe the raw tools are there to be a starting NHL goalie with development. Take a flier on him in round 2.
 
Kameron Kielly C Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)
Projected: Round 5/6
My Rank: #85
The second Charlottetown Islander to make the list, Kameron Kielly has been a favorite of mine for the past two seasons. His hockey sense pops out when you watch him, as he’s always in the right spots on both sides of the puck. Not the biggest guy, Kielly plays physically and gets involved on all 200 feet of the ice. He’s an excellent penalty killer, as his anticipation helps him get in lanes and block shots. Kielly isn’t the fleetest of foot, as his skating is only average, and he will never put up points at the NHL level. What he does have is heart and character in spades, and he seems like one of those guys that will mold himself into and NHL bottom 6 center/PK specialist.
 
Matteo Gennarro C Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
Projected: Round 6/7
My Rank: #100
Gennaro flashed in my viewings of him this year. Big kid at 6-3 that needs to fill out, Gennaro impresses with his skating ability and his hockey sense. The knock on him is he seems to disappear for long stretches, even entire games at times. Gennaro will need to seriously commit to the defensive side of the puck as he is not a natural finisher in order to have a real shot to crack the next level. However, a developing frame and smooth skating stride give me hope for Gennaro to develop into an NHL player in the future.
 
Jack Poehling and Nick Poehling C/LW Lakeville North HS (MN HS)
Projected: Round 7/Undrafted
My Rank: Not in my top 100, round 6/7 grades
I wanted to pick only one, but I have a hard time separating the Poehling twins. The two of them (along with younger brother Ryan) teamed up to lead Lakeville North to their first state championship. The twins are similar players, both of them combining skill and hockey sense. Both strong skaters, the Poehlings project as bottom 6 secondary scoring threats if they reach the NHL level. They do play best together, and are both headed to St. Cloud State next year, but I don’t think they’d have any issues if separated. I would throw a 6th or 7th on either of these kids and let them develop at the NCAA level.

2015 NHL Awards Primer and Predictions

The 2015 NHL Awards show takes place tonight at 7 pm and will be broadcast on NBCSN. With some tough choices this year, here are my predictions for who will be going home with some hardware tonight.

 

Hart Trophy – Awarded to the league’s most valuable player

Finalists- Alex Ovechkin (Washington), Carey Price (Montreal), John Tavares (NY Islanders)

The Pick- Carey Price

For the first time since Jose Theodore in 2002, I’m predicting a goalie takes home the MVP award. Carey Price was phenomenal all season long, at certain points winning games on his own. The other two candidates, Ovechkin and Tavares, are both deserving as well, but there was quite frankly no player more valuable to his team this season than Carey Price was to Montreal.

 

Norris Trophy – Awarded to the league’s top defenseman

Finalists- Drew Doughty (Los Angeles), Erik Karlsson (Ottawa), P.K. Subban (Montreal)

The Pick- Drew Doughty

This award could go in a few different directions, but Drew Doughty was the all-around best defenseman in the league this year. Logging close to 30 minutes per game, Doughty was deployed in all situations for Los Angeles and excelled. Doughty will lose some votes because the Kings did not make the playoffs, but that is no fault to him as he was simply outstanding this season.

 

Vezina Trophy – Awarded to the league’s top goalie

Finalists- Carey Price (Montreal), Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota), Pekka Rinne (Nashville)

The Pick- Carey Price

This race was over halfway through the season. Although Dubnyk and Rinne were both outstanding in their own right, Price was other worldly. No questions on this one.

 

Calder Trophy – Awarded to the league’s top rookie

Finalists- Mark Stone (Ottawa), Johnny Gaudreau (Calgary), Aaron Ekblad (Florida)

The Pick- Aaron Ekblad

The tightest race of the night, a case could be made for all three of these guys. In corner one you have Mark Stone, who came on strong in the second half of the season helping Ottawa to the playoffs. In corner two you have Johnny Gaudreau, the rookie leading scorer who was dynamic for Calgary all season long. Finally in corner three you have Aaron Ekblad, the exceptional 18 year old who played on Florida’s top pairing and had arguably the best season of all time by an 18 year old defenseman. I’m going with Ekblad over Gaudreau by a hair.

 

Selke Trophy- Awarded to the league’s top defensive forward

Finalists- Patrice Bergeron (Boston), Jonathan Toews (Chicago), Anze Kopitar (Los Angeles)

The Pick- Patrice Bergeron

This race is tough because defensive play can be subjective, but in my opinion Bergeron was the best defensive forward in the league this year. He’s a pain to play against and one of the best face off men in the league. There’s a reason he’s on the short list for this award every year.

 

Coach of the Year – Awarded to the league’s top coach

Finalists- Bob Hartley (Calgary), Peter Laviolette (Nashville), Alain Vigneualt (NY Rangers)

The Pick- Bob Harley

Hartley transformed the Flames from a bottom feeder to a playoff team this year, an amazing accomplishment. The team really bought into his system and we’re very difficult to play against, which was a testament to his coaching skills. Laviolette also deserves a shout out for what he did with an offensively challenged Predators roster.

 

GM of the Year – Awarded to the league’s top general manager

Finalists- Bob Murray (Anaheim), Glenn Sather (NY Rangers), Steve Yzerman (Tampa Bay)

The Pick- Steve Yzerman

The current rendition of the Tampa Bay Lightning has been brewing for awhile, and that’s all thanks to the drafting and talent evaluation done by Stevie Y and his staff. Whether it was hitting on draft picks (Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat), finding undrafted gems (Tyler Johnson, J.T. Brown), smart UFA signings (Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle), or hole filling trades (Ben Bishop, Braydon Couburn), Yzerman couldn’t miss when it came to building this team. He should win this award in a landslide.

 

Masterton Award – Awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey

Finalists- Devan Dubnyk (Minnesota), Kris Letang (Pittsburgh), Andrew Hammond (Ottawa)

The Pick- Devan Dubnyk

From a back-up goalie in the AHL to a Vezina trophy finalist, nobody showed more dedication and perseverance this year than Dubnyk. Letang also will get a ton of votes, deservingly so as he courageously battled back from a stroke, but it’s unprecedented what Dubnyk accomplished this year.

Your 2015 NHL Draft Betting Guide

I guess I should start by introducing myself. I’m Austin, but I go by Boff and I’ll be the main NHL guy here at East Coast Egos. Although I’m a diehard Philadelphia Flyers fan, I’ll mainly be writing about just general stuff around the league, ranging from the draft to my game picks during the season. The 2015 Draft is coming up on Friday June 26th, and it’s one of the deepest and hardest to predict in recent years. Below are my picks to keep you degenerates interested during day one. All lines were found on sportsinteraction.com

 

Over/Under 21.5 forwards selected in the 1st round        My pick: Over (+110)

The depth at the beginning of the draft starts up front, where there are probably between 25 and 30 guys that could go round 1. I believe there are 14 forwards that are absolute locks to go in round 1, and an additional 12 that will have round 1 grade on multiple team’s boards. The over should hit.

 

Over/Under 8.5 defenseman selected in the 1st round  My pick: Under (-105)

You can make an argument there are 6 defenseman that are locks to go in the 1st. Three of them (Noah Hanifin, Ivan Provorov, Zach Werenski) shouldn’t get out of the top 10, and Jakub Zboril, Thomas Chabot, and Jeremy Roy should also hear their names called within the first 30 picks. Then it gets tricky. Oliver Kylington is a hot name as the once top 10 lock might fall out of round 1. Brandon Carlo, Gabriel Carlsson, Jonas Siegenthaler and Jacob Larsson are the other names that could derail this pick, but I believe most teams will have a couple forwards rated higher on their boards when the time to pick comes around.

 

Over/Under 0.5 goalies selected in the 1st round                                 My pick: Over (-180)

This convo has seemed to turn from not if, but when will Ilya Samsonov go in round 1. His name has been mentioned as high as #16 to Edmonton all the way down to #29 in Philadelphia. This should be a lock.

 

Canadians selected in the 1st round        My pick: Under 12.5 (+115)

A strong crop coming out of the U.S. leads me to believe you won’t be hearing more than a dozen Canadian names called in round 1. We all expect Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome, Mitch Marner, Mathew Barzal, Lawson Crouse, Travis Konecny, Nick Merkley, and Thomas Chabot to be selected in the first 30, but what happens after them? Risky, but taking the under here.

 

Americans selected in the 1st round        My pick: Over 7.5 (-135)

The 7.5 line is a testament to the talent coming out of the U.S. this year. Likely top 10 selections Jack Eichel, Noah Hanifin, and Zach Weresnki lead the way, but a strong crop out of the NTDP pushed this line higher than it is in normal years. Kyle Connor, Collin White, Brock Boeser, Brandon Carlo, Paul Bittner, Jack Roslovic, and Jeremy Bracco are the names to watch here that could push this line over the top.

 

Russians selected in the 1st round            My pick: Over 3.5 (-145)

With the demise of the KHL along with the recent news that a transfer agreement between the NHL and KHL being on the horizon, the so called “Russian Factor” should be a thing of the past. Ivan Provorov, Yengeni Svechnikov, Ilya Samsonov, and Dennis Guryanov all will more than likely be selected in round 1. This should be another lock.

 

Swedes selected in the 1st round               My pick: Under 2.5 (-110)

The demise of Oliver Kylington adds on to what is an uncharacteristically weak year for the Swedes. There is no true lock to go in the first round this year, with Joel Eriksson Ek being the closest thing to it. I can see one of the Swedish defenseman trio going in round 1, but don’t expect it to be more than that.

 

Czechs selected in the 1st round                                   My pick: Under 2.5 (-220)

No surprises here as Pavel Zacha and Jakub Zboril lead the Czech contingent this year. Unless a team falls in love with Filip Chlapik, this should be the pick.

 

League Supremacy (most players selected in round 1)  My pick: OHL (+200)

By far the toughest line, as the 3 CHL leagues plus the USHL/NCAA combo could contend for the crown this year. I think the OHL edges out as it seems every year a team towards the bottom of round 1 takes a player from the province a few slots higher than expected. The USHL/NCAA (+225) is the biggest contender however, as Jack Roslovic and Jeremy Bracco going round 1 could absolutely swing this in their favor.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs selection #4 overall             My pick: Mitch Marner (+195)

All signs point to Arizona selecting Dylan Strome at #3, leaving Toronto with Marner at #4. There are a lot of connections here, as Mark Hunter was the GM in London who took a chance on a 5-7 16 year old at the end of the top round of the 2013 OHL Priority Selection. That kid became a now consensus top 10 prospect for this years draft, and Hunter is running the show for the Leafs. Should be a lock.

Calgary Flames selection #15 overall     My pick: Nick Merkley (+750)

When it comes to making picks this late, it’s a lot of throwing shit against the wall and hoping it sticks. However, Merkley to Calgary has been picking up steam and it makes sense. It’s worth a shot with those odds.

Edmonton Oilers selection #16 overall My pick: Thomas Chabot (+800)

It will be no surprise when Edmonton selects Connor McDavid with the top selection, but there is more intrigue here at #17. Edmonton will likely go with the BPA, and I’m speculating that Chabot will be their guy. Yevgeni Svechnikov (+800) was my 2nd choice.

 

Winnipeg Jets selection #18 overall       My pick: Yevgeni Svechnikov (+800)

Another shot in the dark here, but Svechnikov would add a new dimension to a deep Winnipeg prospect pool. Also like the odds on Jeremy Roy (+800) here.

 

Montreal Canadiens selection #26 overall          My pick: Daniel Sprong (+800)

This is complete speculation, but with Sprong’s supposed attitude problems he is likely to be here at this junction of the draft. No team should know more about Sprong than Montreal and assuming he checks out with his character, he would be the clear BPA. Anthony Beauvillier (+800) could be an alternative here.