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NHL Mock Draft 2015: The Production Line's Mock Draft

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[Editor's note: Every year Michael Petrella, formerly of The Production Line and still the voice behind the @TPLhockey feed puts together a mock draft. We're fortunate enough to be hosting it for him this year. Enjoy!]

For years, we’ve known that Connor McDavid was going to be the first pick in the Draft. And over the last twelve months, it became apparent that Jack Eichel was going to be right behind him. When the lottery balls fell, and we had the order of the top fourteen picks laid out for us, it was the third pick that became the most interesting. What would the Coyotes do now that they aren’t in on McEichel? Nearly every mock has Hanifin going third, but I don’t think he’s the best fit…

1        Edmonton OILERS                Connor MCDAVID        C        Erie Otters (OHL)

The Oilers, who selected first overall in 2010, 2011, and 2012, won the Draft Lottery and the right to pick McDavid, much to the chagrin of the Buffalo Sabres, who put serious effort into tanking this season. Even though the Oilers need defensemen, they’re going to pick the best prospect in recent history.

Other Options: There are none. This pick will be McDavid.

2        Buffalo SABRES                        Jack EICHEL                C        Boston University (NCAA-HE)

They were aiming for McDavid -- they made that clear. Jack Eichel is one hell of a consolation prize. He’s almost as NHL-ready as McDavid is, but may opt to remain at BU, with some unfinished business in the form of a national championship. There’s not much else for Eichel to do individually, having won the Hobey Baker as a freshman, but the Terriers were bounced in the Frozen Four by eventual Champ Providence.

Other Options: Unless there is a massive, massive trade offer on the table, Eichel will be a Sabre.

3        Arizona COYOTES                Mitch MARNER                C        London Knights (OHL)

Conventional wisdom says that Noah Hanifin is the next player off the board -- he’s been the "best player who isn’t McDavid or Eichel" forever. But, I’m going to buck that trend. The Coyotes -- who also put some effort into tanking in hopes of grabbing one of the aforementioned duo -- might be attracted to Marner, who plays on a line with a pair of Coyotes draft picks in Max Domi and Christian Dvorak. It might be difficult to look past the obvious chemistry and be excited about their future together in the NHL.

Other Options: Hanifin, Dylan Strome.

4        Toronto MAPLE LEAFS                Dylan STROME                C        Erie Otters (OHL)

Despite picking William Nylander in the first round a year ago, the biggest organizational need still remains at elite scoring forward. I’m always hesitant about the second-best guy from the same amateur team at Draft time (i.e., Drouin to MacKinnon), and Strome seems to be the second fiddle to McDavid. But, with McDavid missing a good chunk of the season, Strome continued to score goals and be a dominant force.

Other Options: Mitch Marner, if he’s not selected by the Coyotes, would be a wonderful fit. Hanifin is possible, as is Lawson Crouse -- but I think they go with either Strome or Marner.

5        Carolina HURRICANES                Lawson CROUSE        LW        Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

The Hanifin Slide continues. The Hurricanes don’t need a defenseman, having picked Haydn Fleury with their top pick in 2014, and boasting a diverse group of blueliner prospects and young NHLers -- like Ryan Murphy and Justin Faulk. With the depth of this forward group, you have the option of taking someone that can really help you and your cupboard. The biggest need is on the wing, and the best "pure" winger in the Draft is Crouse.

Other Options: If Hanifin goes earlier, one of Strome or Marner is available and the selection. Matt Barzal, Mikko Rantanen, and Yevgeni Svechnikov are other potential Hurricanes.

6        New Jersey DEVILS                Matt BARZAL                C        Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Four of the Devils’ top six prospects are defensemen. What they lack is a star on the other side of the puck, and someone that can take over for the aging offensive core. New general manager Ray Shero will want to make a splash at the table, and a guy who was the first overall pick in the 2013 WHL Draft is a nice value pick with a hefty hockey background. Plus, the Devils may have learned their lesson taking the "top D in the Draft" when they picked Adam Larsson.

Other Options: Again hinging on Hanifin, but Crouse would be a great pick for the Devils. Mikko Rantanen, Svechnikov, and Pavel Zacha are potential picks down the wing -- and Travis Konecny down the middle.

7        Philadelphia FLYERS                Mikko RANTANEN        C        TPS Turku (SM-LIIGA, FINLAND)

A few years ago, the Flyers lucked out into picking a guy that -- for a time -- was heralded as a top 1 or 2 pick in Sean Couturier. There are a few guys still available at seven that were well-regarded during their time as youngins, and Mikko Rantanen is one of them. He’s the top player available from the Europe, and he’s a nice fit for the Flyers, who lack blue-chip offensive talent.

Other Options: Svechnikov is another bigger player at 6’3, 205, and certainly fits the Flyers mold. Pavel Zacha has some size to him, as well.

8        Columbus BLUE JACKETS        Noah HANIFIN                D        Boston College (NCAA-HE)

The long wait is over for young Mr. Hanifin. The first team -- aside from the Oilers -- in a position to look at the back end for their pick is the Blue Jackets, and they’ll fall ass backwards into the top defenseman available in the Draft. While I’m not as big a fan of Hanifin as others are, there’s no denying he has the raw tools to be a stud in the NHL -- just maybe not next season.

Other Options: Ivan Provorov is the fastest-rising defenseman and -- theoretically -- could be the smarter pick here. Zach Werenski, another true freshman playing big minutes on a collegiate blueline, would also be explored in depth.

9        San Jose SHARKS                Ivan PROVOROV        D        Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

The Sharks would do well to address a need that may not be immediate -- but certainly will happen sooner or later. They don’t have a ton of non-NHL defensemen that they know they’ll be able to insert into their lineup in the coming years, and Provorov is the top riser in this year’s Draft. He’s a hell of a pick at 9, and in most other years would be a top 5 pick, no questions asked.

Other Options: Werenski on D, Svechnikov, Zacha, Konecny up front.

10        Colorado AVALANCHE                Pavel ZACHA                LW        Sarnia Sting (OHL)

There’s a relatively large hole on the wings of the Avalanche prospect cupboard. Despite the fact that he’s very clearly one of the more talented players in the Draft, it’s tricky to nail down a consensus about Zacha. Some have him higher than this, others lower… it’s a good opportunity for a trade or to take the guy you really like because you have the freedom to do so. Zacha would be an excellent choice for a team that needs a player like him, and didn’t have to make a move to get one of the more talented guys off the board.

Other Options: Svechnikov and Provorov.

11        Florida PANTHERS                Kyle CONNOR                C        Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)

The Panthers are wise to pick a center here, and they have a bunch of great player to choose from, even at 11. Connor is one of those players that quietly rose and rose until being a potential early first round pick. He’s headed to the University of Michigan next season, so the Panthers will have some time to see how it pans out. Connor is a guy that Red Wings fans would legitimately fall in love with immediately, and might step into Dylan Larkin’s role in Ann Arbor right away.

Other Options: Konency, Colin White down the middle; Timo Meier if they go wing.

12        Dallas STARS                        Zach WERENSKI        D        Univ. of Michigan (NCAA-B1G)

Jim Nill is going to look like a genius in a few years, snagging Werenski as "low" as 12. The needs of the teams above Dallas allow a great prospect to slide into their laps. While they don’t NEED a defenseman in the way that some other teams do, Nill knows how valuable that position is -- and a guy like Werenski immediately becomes their top prospect, and Nill follows the Holland methodology of taking a guy that’s in college, so that there’s no need to sign him immediately -- though, I doubt Werenski stays in Ann Arbor for three more years.

Other Options: Oliver Kylington on defense, Konecny, White up front.

13        Los Angeles KINGS                Travis KONECNY        C        Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

The Kings are a good hockey team. They fell short of making the playoffs this season, and found themselves in a lottery that -- if they had won -- would have left the entire hockey community shaking its collective fists. They’re in no rush to get much, much better very quickly. If the Kings have a need, it’s down the middle, and the former first overall OHL pick is as good as you’ll find at 13.

Other Options: Jeremy Bracco, Colin White

14        Boston BRUINS                        Colin WHITE                C        USNTDP

Speaking of embarrassment of riches, the Bruins are just a season removed from winning their division. With a little more luck and health next season, they’ll likely be back in the playoffs and making some noise. Like the Kings, there’s no obvious hole to fill, but Boston could use an elite forward and they’ll have their choice of a few, ultimately picking White -- who will be playing down the road for Boston College.

Other Options: Jeremy Bracco (also heading to BC), Timo Meier, Nick Merkley, Jakub Zboril.

15        Calgary FLAMES                Brandon CARLO                D        Tri-City Americans (WHL)

The surprise Flames find themselves in the top non-Lottery pick, and will still have some great players to choose from. With the success of Johnny Gaudreau, you’d have to think that the diminutive Travis Konecny is on their radar, but the success of Sean Monahan might have them a little less eager to select a center. Their defense is going to need some reinforcements before their top six might, and therefore a Carlo pick will serve them well.

Other Options: Jeremy Roy, Oliver Kylington, Nick Merkley.

16        Edmonton OILERS (from PIT)        Jakub ZBORIL                D        Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL) They HAVE to pick a defenseman now, right? The best defenseman still on the board should be Jakub Zboril, who’s a gifted two-way player with some decent offensive numbers (albeit in the Q). If the Oilers take another forward, they should have to forfeit the rest of their Draft.

Other Options: Oliver Kylington, Mitchell VandeSompel, Erik Cernak -- all defensemen.

17        Winnipeg JETS                        Timo MEIER                RW        Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

The Jets’ top prospect is Nikolaj Ehlers, a left winger playing for the Halifax Mooseheads, so you know they’ve seen quite a bit of Timo Meier. Like the Coyotes who might be excited by the idea of drafting more guys to help their existing prospect core, imagine how thrilled Ehlers would be to learn that his linemate may continue to be his linemate for 15 years. Meier is certainly worthy of being picked higher, so watch out for someone to swoop above Winnipeg to take a winger that should have been gone by 10 or 12.

Other Options: Daniel Sprong, and Nick Merkley as forwards, Erik Cernak and  Mitchell VandeSompel as defensemen.

18        Ottawa SENATORS                Yevgeni SVECHNIKOV        LW        Cape Breton Scr Eagles (QMJHL)

I’ve been saying Svechnikov is an "other option" for a dozen picks now, so it’s about time he’s off the board. While I think the Senators would rather have a center, at some point the "best player available" argument wins at the table, and this is it.

Other Options: Mitchell VandeSompel, Anthony Beauvillier, Jansen Harkins, Nick Merkley, Paul Bittner.

19        Detroit RED WINGS                Nick MERKLEY                C        Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

In my opinion, the Red Wings will either go defenseman (it has been seven years since they used their top pick on a blueliner) or center (to help ease the very public doubt about the future down the middle aside from Dylan Larkin). It’s also no secret that there are a ton of really good defensive prospects in the system, so perhaps the latter is the higher priority. Kelowna Rockets are favorites of the Red Wings (although they haven’t quite panned out as planned, with McNulty and Wheaton going back into the Draft, and Callahan falling down the depth chart), and a really good one will be on the board at 19. He’s a hardworking puck-possessor, high IQ, and remarkable on-ice vision. He’s not very big (5’10, 192) but he’s a playmaking center that could grow into the other Datsyuk/Zetterberg replacement up the middle with Larkin.

Other Options: I love Jeremy Bracco, but he’ll be able to be had in the second round. Other options if they keep this pick are Paul Bittner (Winger), Joel Eriksson-Ek (Center), Gabriel Carlsson (Defenseman), and Jansen Harkins (Center). I think the MOST LIKELY option is trading down (options are listed below), unless they really love Merkley, or someone like White, Konecny, or Connor slides (which doesn’t seem likely).

20        Minnesota WILD                        Paul BITTNER                LW        Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

A year after selected the aforementioned Alex Tuch, a big winger, they may opt to continue to bolster the forward ranks, and if they do -- they’ll find a good one in Bittner. He’s huge, and plays with an edge, and will fit alongside Tuch nicely.

Other Options: Thomas Chabot, Eriksson-Ek, and Brock Boeser are the best available, and we’re in the "best available" portion of the Draft.

21        Buffalo SABRES (from NYI)        Thomas CHABOT        D        Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)

22        Washington CAPITALS                Joel ERIKSSON-EK        C        Farjestads (SWEDEN)

23        Vancouver CANUCKS                Gabriel CARLSSON        D        Linkoping (SWEDEN)

24        Toronto M LEAFS (from NSH)        Brock BOESER                RW        Waterloo (USHL) / North Dakota

25        Winnipeg JETS (from STL/BUF)        Jansen HARKINS        C        Prince George Cougars (WHL)

26        Montreal CANADIENS                Jake DEBRUSK                LW        Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

27        Anaheim DUCKS                Daniel SPRONG                RW        Charlottetown Islanders (QMJHL)

28        Tampa LIGHTNING (from NYR)        Oliver KYLINGTON        D        Farjestads (SHL, SWEDEN)

29 *        Arizona COYOTES (from CHI)        Jeremy ROY                D        Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)

30 *        Philadelphia FLYERS (from TB)        Jack ROSLOVIC                C        USNTDP / Miami Ohio

* Picks will be reversed if Chicago wins the Cup. The players taken by the respective teams will likely remain the same, based on need.

***

Heat map of realistic first round options for the Detroit Red Wings (C/D only). My rankings listed:

12        Kyle CONNOR                C        Youngstown / Michigan                Will likely be taken earlier than 19

14        Travis KONECNY        C        Ottawa 67’s                        Will likely be taken earlier than 19

15        Colin WHITE          &nnbsp;     C        USNTDP / Boston College        Will likely be taken earlier than 19

17        Nick MERKLEY                C        Kelowna Rockets                May be available

18        Brandon CARLO                D        TriCity Americans                May be available

20        Jakub ZBORIL                D        Saint John Sea Dogs                May be available

21 Joel ERIKSSON-EK        C        Farjestads                        Will likely be available

23        Thomas CHABOT        D        Saint John Sea Dogs                Will likely be available

24        Gabriel CARLSSON        D        Linkoping                        Will likely be available

26        Oliver KYLINGTON        D        Farjestads                        Almost certainly will be available

27        Jeremy ROY                D        Sherbrooke Phoenix                Almost certainly will be available

28        Jansen HARKINS        C        Prince George Cougars                Almost certainly will be available

30        Jack ROSLOVIC                C        USNTDP / Miami Ohio                Available, trade down target

31        Jonas SIEGENTHALER        D        ZSC                                Available, trade down target

32        Jacob LARSSON        D        Frolunda                        Available, trade down target

***

Potential targets for the Detroit Red Wings with their other picks (3rd round - 73; 4th round - 110; 5th round - 140; 6th round - 170; 7th round - 200):

Sebastien AHO                LW        Karpat                                Likely 2nd / 3rd Round pick

Anthony CIRELLI        C        Oshawa Generals                Likely 3rd Round pick

Nicolas ROY                C        Chicoutimi Sagueneens                Likely 3rd Round pick

Nikita KOROSTELEV        W        Sarnia Sting                        Likely 3rd Round pick

Brendan GUHLE                D        Prince Albert Raiders                Likely 3rd / 4th Round pick

Dennis GILBERT        D        Chicago / Notre Dame                Likely 3rd / 4th Round pick

Brendan WARREN        LW        USNTDP / University of Michigan        Likely 3rd / 4th Round pick

Kyle CAPOBIANCO        D        Sudbury Wolves                        Likely 3rd / 4th Round pick

Vlad TKACHEV                LW        Quebec Remparts                Likely 4th Round pick

Erik FOLEY                LW        Cedar Rapids / Providence        Likely 4th Round pick

Ethan BEAR                D        Seattle Thunderbirds                Likely 4th / 5th Round pick

Lucas CARLSSON        D        Brynas                                Likely 4th / 5th Round pick

Tyler SOY                C        Victoria Royals                        Likely 4th / 5th Round pick

Andrew MANGIAPANE        LW        Barrie Colts                        Likely Late Round pick

Samuel DOVE-MCFALLS        C        Saint John Sea Dogs                Likely Late Round pick

Gustav FRANZEN        C        Kitchener Rangers Likely Late Round pick

Karch BACHMAN        C        USNTDP / Miami Ohio                Likely Late Round pick

The Red Wings will not be selecting a goaltender this year. They select one every other year, and picked Chase Perry in the 2014 Draft.

***

The following 11 teams have two (or more) selections after 19th overall, and before the end of the 2nd round. They may be considered potential trade targets for the Red Wings to move down, as they so often do. For comparison’s sake, the previous four similar Draft trades are listed with their returns.

MOST LIKELY OPTIONS

1        Winnipeg Jets                #25 and #47 (move down 6 for mid-2nd)

2        Tampa Bay Lightning #28 and #44 (move down 9 for mid-2nd)

3        Chicago Blachkawks        #29/30 and #54 (move down 10 for mid-2nd)

4A        Buffalo Sabres                #31 and #51 (move down 12, and out of the 1st, for mid 2nd), BUF also has #21

5A        Columbus Blue Jackets        #34 and #38 (move down 15, and out of the 1st, for early 2nd), CBJ also has #58

6        New Jersey Devils        #36 and #41 (move down 17, and out of the 1st, for early 2nd)

POSSIBLE, BUT UNLIKELY (TOO STEEP A RETURN)

7        Minnesota Wild #20 and #50 (move down 1 for mid-2nd)

4B        Buffalo Sabres                #21 and #51 (move down 2 for mid-2nd), BUF also has #31.

POSSIBLE, BUT UNLIKELY (TOO WEAK A RETURN)

8        Arizona Coyotes                #32 and #59 (move down 13, and out of the 1st, for late 2nd)

9        Edmonton Oilers                #33 and #57 (move down 14, and out of the 1st, for late 2nd)

5B        Columbus Blue Jackets        #34 and #58 (move down 15, and out of the 1st, for late 2nd), CBJ also has #38

10        Ottawa Senators                #42 and #48 (move down 23, and out of the 1st, for mid 2nd)

11A        Calgary Flames                #45 and #52 (move down 26, and out of the 1st, for mid 2nd), CGY also has #53

11B        Calgary Flames                #45 and #53 (move down 26, and out of the 1st, for mid 2nd), CGY also has #52

Previous Red Wings Trades:

2013        #18 traded to San Jose for #20 and #58 (move down 2 for late 2nd)

2011        #24 traded to Ottawa for #35 and #48 (move down 11, and out of the 1st, for mid-2nd)

2009        #29 traded to Tampa Bay for #32 and #75 (move down 3, and out of the 1st, for mid-3rd)

2006        #29 (and #152) traded to Phoenix for #41 and #47 (move down 12, and out of the 1st, for mid-2nd)