2015 NHL Mock Draft: Latest Predictions for All 1st-Round Prospects

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJune 22, 2015

BUFFALO, NY - JUNE 06: Lawson Crouse performs an agility test during the NHL Combine at HarborCenter on June 6, 2015 in Buffalo, New York.  (Photo by Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty Images)
Bill Wippert/Getty Images

It might come as a bit of a shock, but this year's NHL draft class goes deeper than just Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel.

McDavid and Eichel are almost universally regarded as the top two prospects in the draft. It's also essentially a foregone conclusion that McDavid will go No. 1 overall to the Edmonton Oilers, leaving Eichel for the Buffalo Sabres at second.

The two are unquestionably talented, but they're far from the only young stars who should make a major impact in the league. The 2015 draft shouldn't resemble the 2004 edition, where Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin went first and second. The drop-off after those two was pretty steep.

Looking at some of the brightest talent beyond McDavid and Eichel, the four players below are among the most promising.

NHL Mock Draft—1st Round

PickTeamPlayer
1Edmonton OilersConnor McDavid, C, Erie
2Buffalo SabresJack Eichel, C, Boston University
3Arizona CoyotesNoah Hanifin, D, Boston College
4Toronto Maple LeafsDylan Strome, C, Erie
5Carolina HurricanesMitch Marner, C, London
6New Jersey DevilsPavel Zacha, C, Sarnia
7Philadelphia FlyersMikko Rantanen, RW, TPS Turku
8Columbus Blue JacketsIvan Provorov, D, Brandon
9San Jose SharksZach Werenski, D, Michigan
10Colorado AvalancheMathew Barzal, C, Seattle
11Florida PanthersLawson Crouse, LW, Kingston
12Dallas StarsKyle Connor, LW, Youngstown
13Los Angeles KingsTimo Meier, RW, Halifax
14Boston BruinsTravis Konecny, C, Ottawa
15Calgary FlamesEvgeny Svechnikov, LW, Cape Breton
16Edmonton Oilers (from Pittsburgh Penguins)Jakub Zboril, D, Saint John
17Winnipeg JetsJake DeBrusk, LW, Swift Current
18Ottawa SenatorsThomas Chabot, D, Saint John
19Detroit Red WingsPaul Bittner, LW, Portland
20Minnesota WildFilip Chlapik, C, Charlottetown
21Buffalo Sabres (from New York Islanders)Nick Merkley, RW, Kelowna
22Washington CapitalsOliver Kylington, D, Farjestad
23Vancouver CanucksColin White, C, USA U-18
24Toronto Maple Leafs (from Nashville Predators)Jeremy Roy, D, Sherbrooke
25Winnipeg Jets (from St. Louis Blues via Buffalo Sabres)Ryan Pilon, D, Brandon
26Montreal CanadiensJoel Eriksson Ek, C, Farjestad
27Anaheim DucksDaniel Sprong, RW, Charlottetown
28Tampa Bay Lightning (from New York Rangers)Noah Juulsen, D, Everett
29Philadelphia Flyers (from Tampa Bay Lightning)Brandon Carlo, D, Tri-City
30Arizona Coyotes (from Chicago Blackhawks)Dennis Yan, LW, Shawinigan
Source: Draft order via NHL.com

Top Prospects Outside Top 4

5. Carolina Hurricanes: Mitch Marner, C, London

Mitch Marner isn't exactly physically imposing (5'11", 160 lbs). However, he's the kind of player who seems to take exception to any sort of critique about his size. Marner isn't afraid to get physical and won't shy away from contact on the ice.

He's also an offensive dynamo.

Looking forward, he might not become a high-volume goal scorer, but that shouldn't hinder his potential. Marner is a supreme playmaker with an uncanny ability to read the ice and find his teammates.

In an interview with Ryan Pyette of the London Free Press, the 18-year-old admitted that he's faced his fair share of doubters, but that never dampened his motivation to succeed:

Multiple people tell me I’m small and will never make it. I know a lot of people think my dad (Paul) is a little crazy sometimes, but without him, I would not be in this situation. He has taken so many beatings—yelling battles and stabs in the back—for me. I play hockey, obviously, for the city of London, but I play for my family.

After reading that, it's hard not to root for Marner.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets: Ivan Provorov, D, Brandon

ST CATHARINES, ON - JANUARY 22:  Ivan Provorov #9 of Team Orr skates during the 2015 BMO CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game against Team Cherry at the Meridian Centre on January 22, 2015 in St Catharines, Ontario, Canada.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Noah Hanifin will most likely be the first defenseman off the board in the first round. The Boston College star is virtually a lock for the third or fourth overall pick. Forecasting the next blueliner drafted is a bit trickier.

Ivan Provorov will be the name atop many fans' lists.

Back in January, TSN's Craig Button ranked the 18-year-old as his top defenseman ahead of Hanifin:

Ivan can make the game look effortless with a brilliant understanding of what's unfolding in front of him either from a defensive or offensive standpoint. His skating, quickness and balance, pinpoint passing, poise under pressure and a great competitive determination align to make him a defenceman who can influence the play and the outcomes in a consistent and positive manner.

A large part of what makes Provorov so appealing as a prospect is his ability to play both ways. Not only does he position himself well to deny the opponent a scoring chance, he's also very adept with the puck. He scored 15 goals and assisted on another 46 for the Brandon Wheat Kings this past season.

Should Provorov fall to the eighth pick, the Columbus Blue Jackets would be foolish not to take him.

11. Florida Panthers: Lawson Crouse, LW, Kingston

One of the first things you notice about Lawson Crouse is his size. At 6'4" and 215 pounds, he casts a big shadow on the ice for a winger.

Crouse had a solid individual record with the Kingston Frontenacs in 2014-15 (29 goals, 22 assists), which gives you an idea of what to expect from him at the next level.

Some might be of the opinion that Crouse is simply a battering ram who runs through opposing defensemen first and asks questions later. In actuality, Crouse has pretty soft hands and handles the puck well.

While you're unlikely to see the 17-year-old rely heavily on his finesse and agility, it would be unfair to pigeonhole him based solely on his physical stature.

16. Edmonton Oilers: Jakub Zboril, D, Saint John

Since the Oilers are all but guaranteed to draft McDavid, they'd be wise to address the blue line with their second first-rounder. Should Jakub Zboril fall into their lap, that would be a great haul in the first round.

Zboril is also considered more of a two-way defenseman. His numbers are a bit below those of Provorov (13 goals, 20 assists) but impressive nonetheless.

At 6'1" and 184 pounds, Zboril can use his speed and agility when out on the attack. He also makes up a lot of ground in a short amount of time when rushing out to defend. His size also doesn't preclude him from mixing it up with the opponents. He won't shy away from a hit.

Sixteenth might seem a bit low for Zboril, but he remains pretty raw as a player. The potential is obviously there, but that's no guarantee for success. That could be a turnoff for some teams.

Stats are courtesy of NHL.com and Elite Prospects.

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