This season’s draft has four outstanding players, a second group of 10 players and then you can flip a coin from positions 15-40 as a lot will depend on team needs or who the individual teams really like.
As always, a special thanks to Gus Katsaros and David Burstyn of McKeen’s Hockey who helped immensely in preparing this mock draft. Their Draft Guide is outstanding and you can read in depth about their top 120 players available in the 2014 Draft as well as a look ahead to the 2015 and 2016 drafts. Click here to read more and get everything you need from McKeen's.
The team needs are as of now. Most of these prospects are at least a few years away so most teams will take the best player available regardless of position unless there is a dire need as the needs may change a few years from now.
Be prepared for some trades on the draft floor as it always happens.
1. Florida – Aaron Ekblad (D) Barrie
The Panthers could be looking to trade down but if they keep the pick they will take the top rated defenseman. Ekblad had 23 goals and 53 points in the OHL this season and is the most physically ready player in this year’s draft as he is six foot four and 225 pounds. Ekblad is a right hand shot and that is a benefit to the Panthers. He will eventually be a top-two defenseman and play plenty of minutes although he could struggle on the blueline in his rookie as most defensemen do.
Florida needs – Scoring winger, size on the wings.
2. Buffalo – Sam Bennett (C) Kingston
Bennett is a strong two-way center who has been compared to Doug Gilmour and that will be fine with the Sabres as Gilmour was the best player in the NHL for a couple of years. He was ninth in OHL scoring with 36 goals and 91 points and missed 11 games via injuries. Bennett is an excellent passer and can also score as he is not afraid to go to the net. The Sabres finally get their number one center after possibly missing out a couple of years ago with Mikhail Grigorenko and Zemgus Girgensons.
Buffalo needs – Scoring center and wingers as well as getting bigger up front.
3. Edmonton – Sam Reinhart (C) Kootenay
The Oilers are hoping to trade up to get Ekblad or even better, if he falls to them at number three. They could move down if Ekblad is gone as they really want a defenseman but will choose Sam Reinhart if they remain here. Reinhart is ranked number one overall at McKeens. He finished in a tie for fourth in scoring in the WHL with 36 goals and 105 points and was outstanding in the post-season with six goals and 23 points in 17 games as Kootenay upset Calgary in the first round of the WHL playdowns. He is strong with his on-ice knowledge as he seems to be always in the right place at the right time. Reinhart, like most 18-year-olds, needs to fill out physically.
Edmonton needs – Defensive help on the blueline, scoring centers, size.
4. Calgary – Leon Draisaitl (C) Prince Albert
Draisaitl is perhaps the most exciting player in the draft as the German-born center is quite a goal scorer. Draisaitl is ranked as having the fourth best hockey sense by McKeen’s and the second best playmaker. He gives the Flames a star forward to go with Sean Monahan. Draisaitl had 38 goals and 105 points in 64 games.
Calgary needs- Scoring wingers and centers.
5. New York Islanders – Michael Dal Colle (LW) Oshawa
The Islanders are looking to trade out of this spot and grab a veteran defenseman or left winger for the John Tavares-Kyle Okposo line. If they are unable to get what they want, expect them to take Michael Dal Colle who went from a successful rookie season with Oshawa with 15 goals and 48 points to 39 goals and 95 points. Dal Colle has the best shot in the draft, especially his wrist shot. Dal Colle is a prototypical power forward with the great release and hands.
New York Islanders needs – Everywhere including a scoring center/winger (size would be ideal).
6. Vancouver - Jake Virtanen (RW) Calgary
Virtanen is another power forward who managed 45 goals and 71 points with Calgary of the WHL. Virtanen is an outstanding skater and was rated by McKeen’s as the third best bodychecker in the draft. Power forwards usually take a couple of extra years to make it in the NHL so do not be surprised or disheartened if he struggles early on.
Vancouver needs - Size and scoring wingers, a puck moving defenseman.
7. Carolina – Haydn Fleury (D) Red Deer
The Hurricanes really need help on the blueline so they will take the next best defenseman available and that is Haydn Fleury. Fleury is an offensive defenseman who will eventually quarterback the Carolina power play. He has great hands and is a very good skater so he has no problem joining the rush. Fleury has the capabilities of being a dominant NHL point producing defenseman. He had eight goals and 46 points in 2013-14.
Carolina needs – Puck moving defenseman, Playmakers on the wing.
8. Toronto - William Nylander (C) Sodertalje-Rogle
The Maple Leafs are trying to move up in the draft as they apparently love Sam Bennett but will take William Nylander here if they are unable to trade up. Nylander was McKeen’s top rated player in this draft heading into the season and one reason he may drop is that he is committed to playing for MoDo in 2014-15. He led the World U18 championships with 16 points including six goals in seven games. He has Patrick Kane like skills in the way he is able to play with the puck.
Toronto needs – Scoring center, depth wingers.
9. Winnipeg – Nick Ritchie (LW) Peterborough
Ritchie is another power forward who is a good skater. He has an excellent shot and managed to score 39 times in the regular season with 35 assists. Ritchie is likely the most ready NHL forward available in the draft as he is six foot two, 225 pounds. He is a huge high risk/high reward player. Ritchie will be a nice replacement for Evander Kane if the Jets deal him to help out another weakness.
Winnipeg needs - A skilled center.
10. Anaheim - (via Ottawa) Nikolaj Ehlers (LW) Halifax
If the Ducks do not trade this pick (rumors include back to Ottawa with other parts for Jason Spezza or to St. Louis or Vancouver as part of a Patrik Berglund or Ryan Kesler deal), they would be thrilled to see the ultra-offensive minded Nikolaj Ehlers available at this spot. Ehlers is ranked as the best skater, the best stickhandler and has the fifth best hockey sense in the draft. He had 49 goals and 104 points in his first season in the QMJHL. His major drawback is his size as he is 5’11”, and only 165 pounds.
Anaheim needs – Scoring wingers, Solid defensive defensemen.
11. Nashville - Kevin Fiala (LW) HV 71
Fiala saw some time this season in the Swedish first division which is the third best league in the world after the NHL and KHL. He was sixth in scoring at the World U18 with five goals and nine points in five games. Fiala loves to handle the puck and is a good skater with great acceleration. He tried to do everything himself in the junior league but when he went to HV 71, he was a much better teammate on the ice.
Nashville needs – First line center, scorers at forward.
12. Arizona - Jared McCann (C) Sault Ste. Marie
McCann is a solid two-way player. He ranks first overall as the best defensive forward in the draft according to McKeen’s, as well as having the third best hockey sense, behind only the two Sams, Reinhart and Bennett. McCann had 27 goals and 62 points this past season. He has a great one timer and plays well on the half-boards in man-advantage situations. The Coyotes will likely give Max Domi, their first pick and also 12thoverall last season, a shot to make the team this season, and leave McCann in junior hockey.
Arizona needs – Second line players and a scoring center.
13. Washington – Travis Sanheim (D) Calgary
Sanheim is flying up the draft board as the defenseman has gone from 5’10” to 6’3” in the last three years. He started the season off slowly as he was a healthy scratch but really came on in the second half of the season as he started to rush with the puck more often. He managed to show his skills at the World U18 where he led Canadian defensemen with six points in seven games. The Capitals need defensive help and Sanheim could be a great selection at 13th overall.
Washington needs – Defensive help, Goaltending and depth on the wings.
14. Dallas – Julius Honka (D) Swift Current
The Stars are looking at an offensive defenseman and Honka looks like the best available at this point. McKeen’s has Honka rated as the top offensive defenseman as well as the fifth best skater in the draft. He was the Broncos best defenseman in his first year in the WHL and he aided his native Finland in helping them win gold at the 2014 World U20 championships. Honka had 16 goals and 56 points in 62 WHL games.
Dallas needs- Puck moving defenseman, Depth wingers.
15. Detroit – Brendan Perlini (LW) Niagara
The second best skater in the draft along with the third best shot according to McKeen’s, Perlini had 34 goals and 71 points for Niagara of the OHL. Every team is looking for a goal scorer and Perlini could be the best of this bunch. He had trouble in the playoffs as he is not a physical player and he still needs to work on his defensive game.
Detroit needs – Puck moving defenseman, Skilled Wingers.
16. Columbus – Dylan Larkin (C) USA NDTP 18
Larkin is a strong two-way center who is a better shooter than passer. He played on the USA NDTP 18 team where he had 31 goals and 56 points in 60 games. He plays a physical game but will need to fill out his 6’1”, 190 pound body before he can play effectively in the NHL.
Columbus needs – Depth at center and wingers with size who are playmakers.
17. Philadelphia – Alex Tuch (RW) USA NDTP 18
Another member of the USA NDTP 18 team, Tuch played on a line with Jake Eichel who is projected to go second behind Connor McDavid at the 2015 draft, and Sonny Milano who should go late in the first round or early in the second this year. Tuch is a finesse power forward who scores most of his goals within five feet of the net. He needs to use his 6’3”, 215 pound body better as he does not play a physical game yet.
Philadelphia needs – Help on the blueline offensively, scoring winger.
18. Minnesota - Robby Fabbri (C) Guelph
A talented but smallish center, Fabbri really started to produce offensively when Kerby Rychel was dealt to Guelph from Windsor. Fabbri had 45 goals and 87 points in only 58 games as he was suspended for 10 games in November. He was the OHL playoff MVP with 13 goals and 28 points in 16 games. Fabbri doesn’t mind the heavy going despite being only 5’10”, 170 pounds.
Minnesota needs – A skilled center, playmaking wingers and goaltending.
19. Tampa Bay – Kasperi Kapanen (RW) KalPa Kuopio
The son of Sami Kapanen, he played this season with KalPa alongside his father in the Finnish Elite League. Kapanen has a great release on his snap and wrist shot and scored seven goals to go with seven assists in 47 games. Kapanen is also a very good skater. He learned to be less selfish in the SM-liiga as he tried to do it all himself in the junior leagues.
Tampa Bay needs – Big and skilled wingers.
20. San Jose – Thatcher Demko (G) Boston College
The Sharks have been a gold mine for goalies of late but now are in flux as they are not thrilled with Antti Niemi. Thatcher Demko is the best goalie in this draft as he had a great freshman year at Boston College. Demko is 6’4” and 195 pounds and is a large presence between the pipes. He was 16-5 this season with a 2.24 GAA and a .919 save percentage. He was the youngest player in the NCAA this season.
San Jose needs – Goaltending and a puck moving defenseman.
21. St. Louis – Adrian Kempe (LW) MoDo
Kempe was rated the fifth best defensive forward in this draft according to McKeen’s. He played 47 games with MoDo of the Swedish Elite League but did not see a lot of ice time and managed just five goals and 11 points. Kempe plays a good overall game but could lack scoring touch and that could drop him down the draft list.
St. Louis needs – Scoring up front with some size.
22. Pittsburgh – Jack Dougherty (D) USA NDTP 18
Dougherty is regarded as the fourth best offensive defenseman and third best defensive blueliner in the draft according to McKeen’s. He joined the USA NDTP 18 team at the start of the season and had seven goals and 21 points in 57 games. Dougherty is headed for the University of Wisconsin this season.
Pittsburgh needs – Puck moving defenseman as well as depth on the wings.
23. Colorado – Jakub Vrana (RW) Linkopings
Vrana split the season between Linkopings of the Swedish Elite League where he managed two goals and three points in 24 games as he did not receive a lot of ice time, and their junior team as he had 14 goals and 25 points in 24 games. He is a terrific skater and can find the back of the net as he led the World U18 Championships in goals with eight. He is not a good defensive player at this time and that could make a difference on where he is drafted.
Colorado needs – Playmaking and depth wingers.
24. Anaheim - Dominik Mason (D) Slavia Praha
Masin captained the Czech Republic team to a silver medal at the World U18. He is a solid defensive defenseman and is rated fifth overall in the draft by McKeen’s among blueliners for his defensive play. He is not going to be a scoring defenseman and had only two goals and 21 points in 39 games for his junior team.
Anaheim needs – Scoring wingers and some solid defensive rearguards.
25. Boston – David Pastrnak (RW) Sodertalje
Pastrnak has a lot of offensive upside but needs to fill out. He missed the most of the last quarter of the regular season and all of the playoffs after getting hit in open ice. Pastrnak is a very good stickhandler and his offensive skill should eventually make him a top-six forward in the NHL.
Boston needs – Puck moving defenseman.
26. Montreal – Nikita Scherbak (RW) Saskatoon
Scherbak ranks fifth overall among playmakers in this draft according to McKeen’s. Scherbak was a star for Saskatoon this past season with 28 goals and 78 points. He is tall but like most in this draft, he still needs to fill out. Scherbak has to improve his stamina but certainly has the offensive capabilities to be a top-six forward in the NHL.
Montreal needs – Some size up front as well as a first line center.
27. Chicago – Nick Schmaltz (C) Green Bay
Schmaltz has outstanding offensive skills and needs linemates who are also offensively capable to perform at his best. While this can happen at the NHL level, Schmaltz needs to work on his defensive game which is severely lacking at this time. He had four goals and 12 points in four games at the World Junior A championships which broke the previous record of 11 held by Kyle Turris. He has been a great power play player. Schmaltz had 18 goals and 63 points in Green Bay.
Chicago needs – Some depth forwards and a defensive defenseman.
28. Tampa Bay (via New York Rangers) (D) Anthony DeAngelo
An outstanding offensive defenseman, DeAngelo is ranked second overall by McKeen’s as far as offensive defensemen go. He led the OHL in points by a blueliner with 71 in 51 games as he missed 17 games of action including an eight game suspension for inappropriate comments towards a teammate. DeAngelo needs help on the defensive side but his offense is so good that he is likely to be drafted in the first round.
Tampa Bay needs – Big and skilled wingers.
29. Los Angeles – Ivan Barbashev (C) Moncton
Barbashev has now played two seasons in Moncton after being the first selection in the 2012 CHL Import Draft. Barbashev is becoming a two-way center but he has some great offensive skills as he can make plays at full speed and has a terrific wrist shot. He has gained strength since being drafted as a 5’9”, 135 pound center as he has filled out to six feet even and 185 pounds.
Los Angeles needs – Scoring wingers and some size on the blueline.
30. New Jersey – Roland McKeown (D) Kingston
McKeen’s had McKeown rated as the fifth best player in this draft after the 2012-13 season but he has not progressed as many others have in the draft and subsequently he is on the bubble to be drafted in the first round. He is a very good skater and a great first touch passer which is very important at the NHL level but he has some problems defensively despite being a plus-38 this past season. McKeown had 11 goals and 43 points for Kingston in 2013-14.
New Jersey needs – Scoring from all three forwards and a puck rushing defenseman.