The 2015 NHL draft is shaping up to be one of the deepest talent pools in a very long time. There is an absolute stable full of high end talent – some more raw than others – that will be distributed amongst the 30 NHL teams in less than 2 weeks. For Leafs fans, this is a day we’ve been waiting for, for what feels like about 9 months!
My top 10 is a prediction of projected NHL success and not a mock draft. Determining how the picks will land from 3-10 is an impossible task, however I am confident in the players highlighted here likely all being part of that group of 7. The first two picks are so blatantly obvious, this sentence is already too many words spent on the subject. This draft effectively starts at #3. From there, the hotly debated trio of Marner, Strome and Hanifin will most likely be the next 3 picks. For me, the skill of Marner with so much Patrick Kane in him makes him the guy I think puts up the best career numbers. Strome has so many qualities to his game, with skating really the only area for me that drops him below MM. Noah Hanifin in my estimation is the next Jay Bouwmeester – not that there’s anything wrong with that – but that comparison isn’t as high up there as the expectations may have him sitting. I don’t see the offensive output but I do see the intelligence, skating and positioning being very similar to JayBo.
Matt Barzal is my “surprise” of the top 10. To me he just screams being the Morgan Rielly of this draft. Missed a good chunk of the season due to injury, he’s as loaded with skill as the best of them and could surprise many people where he is chosen. The knock on him could very well be what has caused him to fly a bit under the radar: injuries. Overall he has the frame, the skill and the intelligence to be an effective NHL player. Ivan Provorov screams Andrei Markov the 2nd to me; A well rounded offensive d-man who looks like he could have a long, solid career but more of a complimentary guy than a potential #1. Pavel Zacha is lower on my list than many mostly because I see more Bobby Holik in him than Anze Kopitar. He has all the size and aggressiveness but I don’t see the hands or feet to be able to lead an offense.
Finnishing off the top 10 (pun intended. Slap me I’m awful) if Rantanen and Crouse: two big wingers who could both have long careers as power forwards who traumatize goaltenders and defenseman in the crease. Rantanen reminds me a lot of JvR with more defensive acumen. He has what I like to call the ‘Finnish feistiness’ – a mentality taught throughout the country’s hockey development programs. Finnish national teams play a relentless, aggressive game and Mikko is right out of that template. Lawson Crouse loves to talk about modeling his game after Lucic and there is a lot of merit to that, however I think he downplays his skill with the puck and shot. Where Lucic is pure menacing power, Crouse has more finesse to his game and while he can intimidate, he doesn’t need to ‘scare the puck into the net’ like the Boston ogre has to in order to be successful.
Here’s hoping that Shanny can pull the great miracle trade and walk away from the 2015 draft with TWO of these excellent young players!
My Top 10
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