It’s time to re-do the first round of the 2015 NHL draft using the prospect-progress information a panel of scouts gave us in our annual Future Watch issue. It’s important to note these are the blended opinions of a dozen scouts, directors of player personnel and GMs and in many cases won’t be the same thought processes as individual teams.
We asked these scouts to assess a list of 300 NHL prospects (the top 10s from each of the 30 teams) and to establish their own top 50 list, based on a five to 10-year projection window. Most of the NHL-affiliated players on this list of 300 were from drafts prior to 2015 or free agents. But 84 of them were selected in the 2015 draft.
With this information culled from our scouting panel, we can redux the 2015 draft if it were to be held again today. Three players from the 2015 draft made the immediate jump to the NHL. Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, Buffalo’s Jack Eichel and Carolina’s Noah Hanifin fast-tracked this Future Watch rating exercise. For the sake of argument, we’ll rank them one, two and three even though there’s a chance 2015 draftees returned to junior, college or Europe may surpass them in coming seasons.
Here’s how the remainder of the first round would play out, based on the scouting committee’s evaluation of their progression so far in 2015-16. Of course, this exercise doesn’t take into consideration individual team preferences. Though we’ll never know for sure publicly, maybe Boston would still take Jake DeBrusk14th overall even though the scouting community at large wouldn’t select him until the second round.
1-3. Three NHLers
4. Dylan Strome, C (actually taken third by Arizona)
5. Mitch Marner, C (taken 4th by Toronto)
6. Ivan Provorov, D (taken 7th by Philadelphia)
7. Mikko Rantanen, RW (taken 10th by Colorado)
8. Zach Werenski, D, (taken 8th by Columbus)
9. Ilya Samsonov, G (taken 22nd by Washington)
10. Pavel Zacha, C (taken 6th by New Jersey)
11. Kyle Connor, LW (taken 17th by Winnipeg)
12. Mathew Barzal, C (taken 16th by N.Y. Islanders)
13. Colin White, C (taken 21st by Ottawa)
14. Lawson Crouse, LW (taken 11th by Florida)
15. Sebastian Aho, LW (taken 35th by Carolina)
16. Joel Eriksson-Ek, C (taken 20th by Minnesota)
17. Evgeny Svechnikov, 19 (taken 19th by Detroit)
18. Travis Konecny, C (taken 24th by Philadelphia)
19. Timo Meier, RW (taken 9th by San Jose)
20. Denis Gurianov, RW (taken 12th by Dallas)
21. Brock Boeser, RW (taken 23rd by Vancouver)
22. Thomas Chabot, D (taken 18th by Ottawa)
23. Jakub Zboril, D (taken 13th by Boston)
24. Jacob Larsson, D (taken 27th by Anaheim)
25. Daniel Sprong, RW (taken 46th by Pittsburgh)
26. Noah Juulsen, D (taken 26th by Montreal)
27. Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson, C (taken 45th by Boston)
28. Brendan Guhle, D (taken 51st by Buffalo)
29. Conor Garland, RW (taken 123rd by Arizona)
30. Roope Hintz, LW, (taken 49th by Dallas)
So actual first-rounders from 2015 who wouldn’t go in the first round if it were re-held today are: 14. Jake DeBrusk, LW, Boston; 15. Zach Senyshyn, RW, Boston; 25. Jack Roslovic, C, Winnipeg; 28. Anthony Beauvillier, LW, N.Y. Islanders; 29. Gabriel Carlsson, D, Columbus; and 30. Nick Merkley, RW, Arizona. Christian Fisher (Arizona) would have gone 31st, one spot away from when he really went; and Boston’s Brandon Carlo (drafted 37th overall) would have gone 32nd in a redux.
Boston stands out from the crowd in this exercise. It’s draft list varied greatly from the scouting community at large. Each of the Bruins’ three first-rounders would tumble in a redux, while two of Boston’s second-rounders would have moved up.
The biggest drops within the first round were Meier (from 9th to 19th), Zboril (from 13th to 23rd) and Gurianov (from 12th to 20th).
Five players actually taken in the second round would be first-rounders today, but the biggest jump was Garland, a Moncton prospect drafted in the fifth round. He’d be a late first-rounder today.
William Nylander and the Toronto Maple are on the cover of this year’s Future Watch. Their list of prospects and 21-and-under NHLers was graded sixth best in the NHL, but their rebuild was called the most compelling storyline.
Brian Costello is The Hockey News’s senior editor and a regular contributor to the thn.com Post-To-Post blog. For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine. Follow Brian Costello on Twitter at @BCostelloTHN