The NHL Draft is right around the corner, so it’s a good time to start contemplating plans for the teams in dire need of a superstar to lead their franchise. Here are my projected top-10 for the NHL Draft.
1. Edmonton Oilers, Connor McDavid — This is the most talked about player since Sidney Crosby. McDavid gives the Oilers another high impact player on a roster that already includes Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, and Taylor Hall. Edmonton hasn’t had much success in the win column over recent years, but McDavid is the type of player that changes things.
2. Buffalo Sabres, Jack Eichel — It’s no secret the Sabres tanked for the chance to draft McDavid. However, they will have to settle for the second best prospect in the draft, Jack Eichel. Although, Eichel is far from a consolation prize. He led the Boston University Terriers to the National Championship, and is the most hyped American-born Hockey prospect of the last two decades. Eichel will look really good alongside Evander Kane next season.
3. Arizona Coyotes, Noah Hanifin — The Coyotes already have a promising core of forwards in their pipeline, and they could use some defensive help. After trading away Keith Yandle, Arizona could look Hanifin’s way to pair him with one of the league’s more underrated blue liners in Oliver Ekman Larsson.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs, Dylan Strome — Leaf fans want to win, and they want to win now! At the very least, Strome can give the Leafs a dynamic playmaker on the team’s second line. ( That is assuming Phil Kessell, James Van Riemsdyk, and Tyler Bozak remain as the top line options. ) He could play at wing or center position, but his immediate NHL future will depend on what the team does with current second line center, and former top pick, Nazem Kadri.
5. Carolina Hurricanes, Mitch Marner — This is an obvious choice for the Hurricanes. Marner finished second to Dylan Strome for the OHL scoring crown, and is arguably just as efficient. His only real downfall is his size, as he is listed at 5’11. However, Carolina needs scoring, Marner is their best shot at accomplishing that, assuming Strome is off the board.
6. New Jersey Devils, Lawson Crouse — Crouse could be the most under appreciated player of the 2015 draft class. He is a physical player that will punish his opponents on defense, and offense. Many say he best compares to Rick Nash.
7. Philadelphia Flyers, Ivan Provorov — The Flyers could use a solid two-way defenseman. While Provorov is a tier below Hanifin, he is still the Flyers best option. He would form a stellar one-two punch with Philly’s other young d-man, Samuel Morin.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets, Zack Werenski — Columbus might have one of the best prospect systems in all of hockey. One thing the team has prided itself on is quality defenseman. Werenski will only add to that list. The University of Michigan star amassed 25 points in 35 games, and is a smart, but not overly aggressive, two way player.
9. San Jose Sharks, Matthew Barzal — San Jose severely underperformed last season. Logan Couture hasn’t taken that next step into NHL elite, and last year’s early season breakout star, Tomas Hertl, was nowhere to be found. The pick of Barzal makes sense, as he is the best available player on the board, and San Jose needs all the talent it can get.
10. Colorado Avalanche, Pavel Zacha — Zacha would be ranked a lot higher if he had managed to stay healthy for the 2014-15 season. He was only able to appear in 37 games for his junior league team, Sarnia Sting. He is gritty and aggressive, and some scouts say he is the best pure center prospect not named McDavid or Eichel. A perfect complement to pair with Colorado’s young core.