SUNRISE, Fla. -- The 2015 NHL Entry Draft could prove to be a historic moment for the NHL as phenom Connor McDavid is set to be picked first overall. There won’t be much mystery about the second overall pick either, as Jack Eichel is sure to go to Buffalo. But things only get more interesting from there.
With no consensus for who will go at No. 3 or even if the Coyotes will keep the pick at all, anything can happen from then on.
In most cases the NHL Draft is not easy to instantly analyze. Many of the players won’t make the league for at least two years and some teams are more willing to take risks than others. Given the depth of talent in this class and the increased proficiency of NHL scouting staffs to find solid prospects, it’s become tougher and tougher to grade.
However, in grading each pick, we take into account the overall ranking of each prospect based on accumulated draft rankings, whether or not the team made a trade for the pick, how much they gave up for it and who is remaining on the board loosely based on team needs. It’s inexact, but so is the draft and in the end, each prospect will write his own story over the next several years of his career.
In addition to live grades, you can also follow our NHL Entry Draft live blog here for trade rumors, news updates and the best moments from the draft floor.. So let's have a little fun, shall we?
|A||McDavid Analysis: The Oilers set the wheels in motion for a new era in their organization by taking McDavid first overall. This was a pick they simply couldn't miss on. McDavid is the total package of speed, skill and hockey sense. He could be a top-line player by next season and make a sizable impact after dominating the junior ranks with 120 points in 47 games in the OHL.|
|A||Eichel Analysis: It's been an eventful day for the Sabres at the NHL Entry Draft, but the biggest moment of it all came when Buffalo picked Eichel. A powerful, fast skater, Eichel won the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in college hockey. The BU forward's hockey sense is off the charts and he becomes the franchise centerpiece.|
|A-||Strome Analysis: This is one of those picks where the Coyotes couldn't really go wrong. On one hand they left Noah Hanifin on the board as a potential top-pairing D to pair with Oliver Ekman-Larsson. On the other hand, Strome had a dynamic season in the OHL as the team's scoring leader. He has terrific size and good feet, and obviously a nose for the net with 126 points last season. You can never have enough scoring.|
|B+||Marner Analysis: With Mark Hunter running the draft and his ties to the London Knights, it wasn't much of a surprise that they went with Marner. Though the forward lacks size, he has loads of skill. Marner finished second in OHL scoring and will be a good asset for the organization. However, passing up on a potential cornerstone defenseman (Hanifin) in the midst of a rebuild could be a miss. Hard to blame Hunter with going with a player he knows, but the Leafs haven't had a ton in their D pipeline.|
|A||Hanifin Analysis: The Hurricanes now have a pair of franchise defenseman in adding Hanifin to young veteran Justin Faulk. Few blueliners skate as smoothely as Hanifin. He adds a great two way presence and ability to get the puck up ice. Hanifin has pro size and may be ready to make the jump after accelerating his schooling to enter Boston College a year early. He's a mature kid that just seems to get better with each passing year. Though the Canes could use some scoring help in the pipeline, passing on Hanifin would've been a mistake.|
|B+||Zacha Analysis: This could be a high-risk, high-reward pick for the Devils. Zacha has loads of skill, but was limited to 37 games with Sarnia due to injuries and suspension this year. He has a massive frame and skates well. Despite limited action, there's great home run potential with this pick. Here's what TSN's Craig Button said about him: "He has more of a winger’s mentality with respect to shooting and driving the net rather than a centre’s balance between playmaking and shooting."|
|A-||Provorov Analysis: The Flyers added to their growing stable of young defenseman. He probably jumps ahead of all the others on the prospect depth chart, though. Provorov put up better than a point-per-game in 60 GP with Brandon in the WHL. The Russian has been in North America the last two years, so any fear of flight to the KHL should be extremely low. Here's what NHL Central Scouting's John Williams said about him: "He's very composed with the puck, has excellent vision and knows where everybody is on the ice. He has good hockey IQ and takes advantage when he sees an opening both offensively and defensively."|
Werenski Analysis: The Blue Jackets so sorely needed a defenseman and they managed to get one of the top three available in this draft. Like Hanifin, Werenski accelerated in school to attend Michigan a year early. He was a top-four defenseman all season and never looked out of place. Of the 3 top D, he might have the best puck skills. He needs a bit more edge in his game, but he will produce. Puck-moving D are as important as they've ever been in the game and he may have been the best of the bunch this year.
|C+||Meier Analysis: Owning a top-10 pick is not the most familiar place for the Sharks and they picked a player that might have been available where they usually pick. Meier had 90 points in the QMJHL playing for Halifax. Most boards had him in the 12-15 range, but clearly the Sharks liked what they've seen from him. At 6-1, 209, he has a solid frame and becomes another skilled forward added to the Sharks stable. There are some concerns about his skating, though. Here's what TSN's Craig Button says about Meier's style: "Timo is about power, skill and undeniable determination. He can beat you multiple ways either with finesse or power."|
|B||Rantanen Analysis: This is a very safe pick for the Avalanche at 10. Rantanen was the top draft eligible playing in Europe this year. He also had 28 points in 56 games for TPS in Finland's top pro league. Those are solid numbers for a teenager. The Avs have a marginal prospect system, so Rantanen could jump near the top. Here's what NHL Central Scouting's Goran Stubb says about Rantanen: "He’s a physically strong power forward with very good playmaking abilities, smart, active and involved on every shift. He has very good speed and quickness for a big man and plays with authority. He’s difficult to check, protects the puck well and has good hands.”|
|B||Crouse Analysis: Crouse has been one of the most polarizing prospects in this draft. There are those that believe he should have been a top-5 pick, but he did not produce like an elite prospect in the OHL last year. That's why he fell to 11. But that's a good spot for him. The young forward made Team Canada for the WJC as an under ager and has tremendous size. His mix of scoring ability and nastiness brings something the Panthers could use. If he takes a big step forward in production next year, the Panthers are going to look very lucky here.|
|B-||Gurianov Analysis: The Stars went off the board a bit to grab Denis Gurianov, who really didn't gain a lot of attention until he starred at the World Under-18 Championship where he scored six goals in five games. Playing most of the year in Russia's junior league, he had better than a point-per-game, which is incredible for that level. On top of all that he's 6-foot-2. A lot of the scouting services saw him as a first-rounder, but not necessarily this high. The Stars hit a home run with Valeri Nichushkin two years ago. Could Gurianov be next? We'll have to wait and see. He's definitely intriguing.|
|C+||Zboril Analysis: With the pick they got from LA as part of the Milan Lucic trade package, the Bruins addressed a severe organizational need by nabbing Zboril. A solid puck-mover, Zboril had 33 points last season. He has decent, not great size, but has been a leader for the Czech Rep. internationally. The Bruins will need to replace Dougie Hamilton somehow and Zboril might help start that. TSN's Craig Button projects him as a top-three defenseman. He was definitely the consensus best D left in the draft. Not a sexy pick, but the appropriate one. It helps when they have tree in a row.|
|C-||DeBrusk Analysis: This is the kind of pick a team makes when they have multiple first rounders. This is a bit of an early swing at DeBrusk, who has a lot of fans in the scouting community, but there may have been safer and more skilled forwards available to pick here. Here's what NHL Central Scouting's Peter Sullivan says about DeBrusk: "His work ethic is off the charts but what also helps are those 42 goals he scored. He's a 40-goal scorer who does the dirty work in front of the net. His greatest strength is his compete level." DeBrusk is the son of former NHL tough guy Louie DeBrusk.|
|D||Senyshyn Analysis: The Bruins went way, way off the board to grab Senyshyn, who was projected as a second-rounder by most outlets. Considering they have multiple second-rounders, this one is puzzling. There's a chance Senyshyn, who's been a late riser, would have been picked, but with the especially skilled Mathew Barzal and Travis Konecny still on the board, this is a big surprise. Scouts love his skating, but his lack of finish is where there's real concern and why the Bruins may get|
|B||Barzal Analysis: After trading away Griffin Reinhart to get this and another pick, the Islanders obviously saw someone they liked a lot. That apparently was Barzal, who many were surprised was even there at 16 at all. He had 57 points in 44 games with Seattle in the WHL and adds another exciting forward to a cupboard that the Islanders are keeping well stocked. Here's ESPN's Corey Pronman on Barzal: "He's one of the best skaters in this draft class. Barzal's skill level is also pretty good, with his vision and playmaking being standout attributes. He's patient, creative, and shifty with the puck." The high price the Isles paid for this pick is only thing keeping this from being an "A" pick.|
|B+||Connor Analysis: Winnipeg has drafted extremely well since the move from Atlanta and Kyle Connor is going to fit right in. The MVP of the United States Hockey League, Connor produced at a tremendously high clip for that league with 80 points in 56 games. He's headed to the University of Michigan next year, where he should continue to get bigger and stronger. On top of his production, his two-way game improved this year as he progressed a bunch in each of his three USHL seasons. The Jets are getting great value here.|
|C||Chabot Analysis: There were a lot of mixed opinions on Chabot, with some reports suggesting his lack of size and strength could be an issue. But he's a solid skater and puck-mover. The skills are there, which is worth taking a chance on. Players can build strength as they develop. It's harder to improve on puck-moving skills. There's risk in Chabot for sure, but there's exciting elements to his game as well. He had 41 points in 66 games this year with Saint John. Here's what NHL Central Scouting's Dan Marr says about him: "He's an excellent skater, so smooth and fluid. He's got a smart game with the puck. He can do the end-to-end rush, but he's also a guy that can get the puck out of the zone."|
|B+||Svechnikov Analysis: The Red Wings have had some really great success over the last few years drafting in or near the lower-third of the draft. It looks like they had another great pick this year. Svechnikov had 74 points in Cape Breton and was dominant at the U18 World Championship. At 6-2, 200, he's got a great frame to go along with natural offensive instincts and a deadly shot. He may be one of the most skilled players in this draft. There's still a rawness to his game that makes for some exciting upside, too.|
Joel Eriksson Ek
|C+||Joel Eriksson Ek: It's been a down year for prospects playing in Europe, but Eriksson Ek is one of the best in that group. He ripped up the Swedish U20 ranks last season and played half the year with Farjestad's pro team. A solid two-way center, the Wild go the route of safe, projectable forward here. There's more skill available, but Eriksson Ek has versatility. Central Scouting's Goran Stubb on Eriksson Ek: “He is a very competitive, powerful center with great speed, a good strong shot and excellent puck-handling. He is creative on the offense while reliable on defense. Likes to go to the net to create scoring chances.”|
|B||White Analysis: Colin White had a really rough season when it came to his health. That set his draft projections back. However, he finished the season on an incredibly strong note. Coming from the U.S. NTDP, he's highly regarded for his two way game and incredible skating ability. When healthy, he produced, too. White had 55 points in 54 games and will be headed to Boston College. He's definitely one to watch. After taking a risk with their 18th pick, the Sens played it safe at 21. It was a nice use of two picks.|
|C||Samsanov Analysis: There's inherent risk in drafting a goaltender in the first round. History has shown it to not bring forth the best value always. Samsonov, however, was the consensus No. 1 goalie this year. He had a .918 save percentage in Russia's junior league, which isn't bad, but not amazing either. He had some good showings internationally, but the Caps shouldn't expect him to be the next Andrei Vasilevskiy. He has great size and the Caps have one of the best goalie coaches in the world in Mitch Korn. It'll be on him to help Samsonov continue to round out his game as a pro if he comes to North America. He reportedly has three years left on his KHL deal.|
|C+||Boeser Analysis: Boeser has been high on draft boards all year and his consistency throughout the season kept him as an expected low first-round pick. It is really difficult to score consistently in the USHL, but he did that with Waterloo. He scored 34 goals and 65 points. He's headed to University of North Dakota next year. Here's Corey Pronman of ESPN on Boeser: "He's a good physical player, with a bulky 6-foot-1 frame and a great work ethic. Boeser is strong on the puck in battles to help maintain possession, and he goes to the net with consistency. He has one of the better shots in this draft class and gets it off quickly with zip." Fair slot value here.|
|B+||Konecny Analysis: In terms of value, the Flyers couldn't have done much better here. Konecny was worth trading up to get. He was a projected top-10 pick coming into the season, but had a few injury issues earlier this year that may have hurt his play and in turn hurt his stock. Konecny still had 68 points in 60 games and is lauded for his speed and puckhandling. Here's what Central Scouting's Chris Edwards has to say about him: "He's a highly skilled forward who never quits. "He skates very well, has excellent speed, is not afraid to get involved in battles and has no fear of taking the puck to the net."|
|C||Roslovic Analysis: Had the Jets not had two picks in this draft and hit a home run on value with their first, this grade might be lower. Roslovic soared up rankings when he was paired with 2016 superprospects Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk. How much did his linemates play into his rise up the charts? Could be a lot. But Roslovic produced right along with them, notching 80 points in 65 games, a huge total for the U.S. NTDP. A little more risk here than in Winnipeg's first pick, but hard to argue with Roslovic's production. Most boards had him as an early second-rounder.|
|C+||Juulsen Analysis: A late riser up draft boards, Juulsen had a highly productive season at Everett with 52 points in 68 games. There aren't a lot of defensemen like him in Montreal's system and they could use a high-upside defenseman. Juulsen looks like a longer-term prospect, but there's a lot to like coming out of his draft season. Here's TSN's Craig Button on Juulsen: "Noah is a strong competitor who wants to make a difference in the defensive and offensive zones. He is good with the puck and with improvement in his agility and quickness, his game will become that much stronger. He has a good feel for situations and makes solid plays."|
|C+||Larsson Analysis: At this stage of the draft, it's all about finding the best value. There's a lot of debate among scouts on defensemen in this range, but Larsson was one of the best regarded D prospects playing in Sweden this year. He has good size and looks like a smart player that safely projects as an NHL defenseman. It's not an overly exciting pick, but there's value here. NHL Central Scouting's Goran Stubb on Larsson: “He plays a surprisingly mature game with good decisions both on the offense and defense. Good size and strength and a smooth mobile skater. Very quick first pass, makes smart plays and finds the open man well.”|
|B+||Beauvillier Analysis: Another solid pick that the Islanders had to trade into. Beauvillier is unlikely to have been there when they picked 33rd, so it was a nice player to trade up into. He had 94 points in the QMJHL last year and likely was downgraded because of his size (5-10, 181). Size is mattering less and less in the NHL and Beauvillier wasn't hampered at all by it while torching the Q. Here's ESPN's Corey Pronman on Beauvillier: "He's an above-average skater, who can gain the zone effectively by pushing the defenders back on their gaps. He's not an overly flashy player -- and I've never seen him dominate a game -- but he's always making plays. He's certainly got puck skills, but his best trait is his hockey IQ." You also have to give credit to Garth Snow for going from no first picks this year to two.|
|B||Carlsson Analysis: The No. 2 rated European player by Central Scouting, Carlsson fills a need for the Blue Jackets. They desperately needed defensemen and he's one they must've had their eye on as they traded up to get him here. There's a small chance he would have been there at pick 34, which they traded to Toronto to move up, but better safe than sorry. Here's Central Scouting's Goran Stubb on Carlsson: “Carlsson is a tall, physically strong two-way defenseman who has improved a lot during the season. He plays a smart, cool, mature game and uses his size without being overly aggressive. A smart player who can both pass or play the puck out of danger.”|
|B+||Merkley Analysis: Projected by many heading into the draft to be a pick in the middle of the first round, Merkley had a long wait, but finished the night as a first-rounder still. He had 90 points in the WHL and was a key player on a championship team. This is a great way for the Coyotes to end the draft. Here's TSN's Craig Button on Merkley: Nick has a motor that never stops. He simply doesn’t take kindly to resistance and is always pushing through obstacles. "He's smart and knows how to take full advantage of his skills and combined with his determination, he’s an undeniable force. Can play centre or wing and with improved speed will become even more dangerous and prolific."|