Analysis and Predictions for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft

The 2015 NHL draft is not far away so it’s time to put on my prediction hat and take a look at who will be selected.  What follows is a long preamble, so for those simply interested in the list just scroll down.  It’s worth noting that I am not a scout, simply someone who enjoys the draft–an area that lacks good comparative data and in pursing that it’s interesting and fun to make predictions.  Before we get into my list I’ll explain my reasoning and methodology.

With the advent of the salary cap in the NHL it became paramount for all organisations to invest in their scouting operations and draft well. Teams could no longer simply buy their way out of trouble or plug holes with expensive free agents. That change has helped drive the cottage industry that is draft prediction, but the wide variety of sources are not created equal and few of those who provide their opinions will reflect on their subsequent accuracy. It is my purpose here to collate the best sources and provide insight into who will be selected.

This is my sixth year predicting the draft (beginning with the now defunct Hockey Herald back in 2010). That year I picked 72% of the entire class (well ahead of my sources).  When I talk about predicting the draft class, I don’t mean player X went in X round at X position–that kind of precision simply isn’t practical (in the years I tracked it, the number was little higher than a quarter and when you subtract the first round it bottoms out completely).  These numbers and percentages are pointed at which players will be selected, period.  So back to the totals: in 2011 I picked 70% (again well ahead); 75% in 2012 (two points up on Red Line Report); 69% in 2013 (tied with Hockey Prospect‘s); and in 2014 I hit 71% (again tied with HP).  Overall I’m just over 71%.  For the sake of clarity, here’s the batting average of sources used over those years (excluding 2010 when I didn’t keep full data):
Me: 70%, 75%, 69%, 71% (avg 71%)
HP: 47%, 72%, 69%, 71% (avg 65%)
ISS: 60%, 70%, 65%, 62% (avg 64%)
FC: 44%, 71%, 68%, 69% (avg 63%)
RLR: 44%, 74%, 67%, 64% (avg 62%)

My method is to take the sum of reliable sources and produce a number (player X is ranked 15, 24, and 32, those numbers are then added and averaged). This gives me a number I can use to compare that player to others. I then engage in further comparative analysis—for instance, if player X has a higher aggregate score, but player Y has the higher median score, the latter is given the higher position (so 11, 30, 31, 38 vs 12, 13, 16, 69). It’s worth noting that there is a difference between trying to assess who the best player is versus who a team will draft.  My interest is in figuring out who will be taken and given the available data draft guides are the only real way for me to do so–the percentages above aren’t critiques of the guides (that’s a separate proposition), since they are assessing talent not the decision-making of GMs, but simply showing how closely their assessments match those of NHL teams.

Determining my Sources of Data

While a wide variety of media and bloggers produce draft predictions (especially for the first round), not all are created equal. My preference is for guides covering the entire draft (since that’s my purpose here), but otherwise simply based on results. For that purpose I use the International Scouting Service (ISS), Red Line Report (RLR), Future Considerations (FC), Hockey Prospect‘s (HP), and Central Scouting (CS). I have used other sources in the past (Corey Pronman, McKeen’sThe Hockey Writers, The Hockey News, etc).

An important note: both ISS and CS have inherent comparative problems. Central Scouting does not create a master list—players are divided into North American and European regions, and further subdivided into skaters and goaltenders.  As such I don’t integrate their rankings in creating an aggregate number, instead I use it largely to help mediate between players with close scores (it’s also worth noting NHL teams have shown little interest in CS’ European assessments). ISS, on the other hand, separates only their goaltenders into a separate ranking. This separate ranking used to have draft positions associated with them (by round), but for whatever reason this year ISS hasn’t done that, making it impossible to include them in the aggregate score.

Notes

-Acronyms: ISS (International Scouting Service), CS (Central Scouting), RLR (Red Line Report), HP (Hockey Prospect), and FC (Future Considerations)
-For convenience I’ve identified goaltenders and defenseman in the player comments; any player listed as “undersized” means they are officially listed as 5’9 or shorter
-Ranking depth: CS 371, RLR 316, ISS 220 (200 skaters and 20 goaltenders), HP 211 (plus 187 unranked), FC 211.
-This draft is considered strong and deep (although not as strong as the 2003 draft).

First Round

My sources have 23 players in common for this round, with a total of 38 players selected for it; all have the same player slotted for both the #1 and #2 picks.

1. Connor McDavid (1.00) – picked by all sources so there’s no analysis necessary
2. Jack Eichel (2.00) – Boston University player is also universally picked
3. Noah Hanifin (3.75) – the Boston College defenseman is slotted here by everyone (including CS) except ISS
4. Mitchell Marner (4.5) – in a dead heat with Strome (below); the crux seems to be whether a GM (Toronto) prefers a bigger man with slower feet, or a smaller one who is quick–I’m thinking the latter with the addition of Babcock in Leafs land, but I am picking against a slight preferences in sources (CS would normally be the tie-breaker)
5. Dylan Strome (4.5) – in a dead heat with Marner (above); CS prefers him; I have to wonder how much playing with McDavid has boosted his numbers
6. Ivan Provorov (7.0) – the Russian blueliner (currently plying his trade in the WHL) slots here comfortably, but the Russian factor remains a potential obstacle (although New Jersey, who currently has this pick, isn’t that shy with them); HP has him ranked lowest (9th)
7. Mikko Rantanen (8.5) – the top-ranked player in Europe according to everyone, the big Finnish winger’s rankings top out at this position, but he suffers far less variation than anyone who follows him
8. Lawson Crouse (8.75) – ISS has the OHL-winger at #4; there’s nothing bad said about the big man other than an implication that his ceiling is lower than those listed above him (scouts call him a safe pick)
9. Mathew Barzal (9.5) – the OHL-center is a bit like Rantanen in that he’s not ranked particularly high (8th from ISS is his best), but everyone except HP has him in the top-10 (they put him twelfth; CS also has him outside the top-10 in NA)
10. Pavel Zacha (10.5) – the Czech center (playing in the OHL) suffers from FC’s assessment (15th), but otherwise he places better than Werenski below (HP has him highest at 7th)
11. Zach Werenski (10.25) – FC puts the Michigan defenseman in the top-ten (7th), but otherwise he’s just outside that margin
12. Kyle Connor (14.25) – USHL-center gets a wide disparity of placements that puts him in a dead heat with Meier below; HP has him fifth
13. Timo Meier (14.25) – the Swiss-QMJHL winger has very steady numbers across the board
14. Travis Konecny (14.75) – the undersized OHL-center ranges from an FC high (11th) to an HP low (19th); there’s a universal concern about him being injury-prone (partially related to his size)
15. Nick Merkley (16.0) – the WHL-center has steady numbers ala Meier above
16. Evgeny Svechnikov (16.5) – the Russian-QMJHL winger also has a tight band of ratings
17. Denis Guryanov (18.0) – I’ve seen his name spelled with an “i” as well, but this spelling appears more often; the Russian winger spent most of this past season in the MHL and his ratings range from in the top-ten to the latter part of the first round (24th from both FC and ISS)
18. Jeremy Roy (18.25) – the QMJHL-defenseman is either near top-ten or towards the end of the round
19. Joel Eriksson Ek (19.25) – the Swedish center spent a lot of time with Farjestad in the SHL this season; HP has him highest (15th) while FC has the low (23rd)
20. Thomas Chabot (19.5) – ISS is highest on the QMJHL blueliner (#16)
21. Colin White (23.5) – USDP winger is the first player listed not selected by all sources to be a first-round pick; ISS has him highest at #15
22. Jakub Zboril (23.5) – despite the Czech QMJHL-defenseman having the same score as White above, his numbers are a bit more pedestrian (a high of #20 from FC); his higher CS ranking keeps him above Bittner below
23. Paul Bittner (24.0) – WHL-winger’s scores are split between the top-20 and the end of the first-round; ISS has the high (#17) and HP the low (#30)
24. Jansen Harkins (25.5) – there’s some variance in the rankings of the WHL-center; HP slots him in the second-round
25. Jake DeBrusk (26.75) – the WHL-winger is the last player picked by all sources to go in the first-round (all of them slot him towards the end of the round)
26. Brock Boeser (27.25) – USHL-center is a second-rounder for ISS (#35), but otherwise comfortably fits in the first, with HP putting him in the top-20 (#18)
27. Noah Juulsen (27.75) – WHL-defenseman has a high of #22 (HP) with FC putting him at #32
28. Ilya Samsonov (28.0) – Russian goaltender spent the year in the MHL; HP is the high (#21) with FC putting him in the second-round (#40)
29. Daniel Sprong (29.75) – QMJHL-winger is the first with only two first-round votes (FC and ISS)
30. Oliver Kylington (30.0) – Swedish defenseman has a very tight prediction band

Eight other players were slotted in the first-round; Brandon Carlo and Jeremy Bracco by two sources; Nicolas Meloche, Jack Roslovic, Alexander Dergachev, Gabriel Carlsson, Jacob Larsson, and Matej Tomek appeared in just one.  Bob McKenzie’s popular list differs from mine in terms of placement, although we have the exact same players in the top-ten; Carlo and Carlsson are in his first-round list, while Juulsen and Sprong are not.  For the remaining rounds I’ll keep details to a minimum unless there’s something specific to explain; it’s worth noting a number of players who follow have their overall number derailed by RLR (19 players, the majority European), which has me leaning towards removing them from my data collection.

Second Round

31. Brandon Carlo (31.75) – WHL defenseman
32. Jacob Larsson (45.75) – Swedish defenseman playing in their junior system
33. Nicolas Meloche (34.0) – QMJHL defenseman
34. Jack Roslovic (35.5) – USDP center
35. Jeremy Bracco (36.5) – an undersized USDP winger; he’s given a higher ceiling by those who like him (FC and ISS)
36. Anthony Beauvillier (36.75) – QMJHL winger
37. Filip Chlapik (39.5) – Czech center in the QMJHL
38. Gabriel Carlsson (40.5) – Swedish defenseman playing in their junior system
39. Vince Dunn (41.25) – OHL defenseman
40. MacKenzie Blackwood (43.66) – OHL goaltender
41. Yakov Trenin (44.75) – Russian QMJHL forward
42. Zachary Senyshyn (46.0) – OHL winger
43. Jordan Greenway (47.25) – USDP winger; HP’s low rating doesn’t impact where he lines up in the numbers
44. Thomas Novak (48.5) – USHL center
45. Travis Dermott (49.5) – OHL defenseman
46. Jonas Siegenthaler (54.25) – Swiss defenseman in the NLA
47. Christian Fischer (50.0) – USDP winger
48. Guillaume Brisebois (51.5) – QMJHL defenseman
49. Robin Kovacs (54.25) – Swedish winger in the Allsvenskan
50. Austin Wagner (51.75) – WHL winger
51. Nicolas Roy (54.5) – QMJHL center; HP has him in the third round
52. Julius Nattinen (57.0) – Finnish center in the Mestis; split opinions, with half putting him early in the second-round and the others slotting him in the third
53. Nikita Korostelev (59.25) – OHL winger
54. Matthew Spencer (59.75) – OHL defenseman
55. Alexander Dergachyov (60.75) – Russian center in the MHL; wide variance on his talent-level
56. Mitchell Stephens (66.75) – OHL center
57. Jeremy Lauzon (62.0) – QMJHL defenseman
58. Roope Hintz (62.25) – Finnish winger in the Liiga
59. Jacob Forsbacka Karlsson (63.75) – Swedish center in the USHL
60. Dennis Yan (64.25) – QMJHL winger; wide variance (early second to fourth)
61. Rasmus Andersson (67.0) – Swedish defenseman in the OHL; an ISS casualty, he’s the last player with three second-round selections

The second-round includes an extra-pick due to compensation for Chicago (they weren’t able to sign 2010 first-round pick Kevin Hayes).  Four other players received two second-round placements (Ryan GroppParker Wotherspoon, Alexandre Carrier, and sort-of Daniel Vladar–it’s hard to know what ISS goalie rankings really mean).  My list varies from Bob McKenzie’s with the two first-round players mentioned above along with Gropp, Vladar, Erik CernakGraham Knott, Callum BoothRyan Pilon, and Gabriel Gagne.  So our variance through the two rounds is 7 players.  Excluding McKenzie, another 22 players have at least one second-round placement.

Third Round

62. Ryan Gropp (67.25)
63. Gabriel Gagne (90.5)
64. Daniel Vladar (67.66)
65. Parker Wotherspoon (69.5) – defenseman; hurt by HP’s rating
66. Mitchell Vande Sompel (69.25) – defenseman
67. Erik Foley (70.0)
68. Matej Tomek (70.33) – goaltender; rankings are all over the place (from first to fourth round)
69. Alexandre Carrier (72.5) – defenseman
70. Keegan Kolesar (74.5) – beats Pilon on aggregate
71. Ryan Pilon (74.25) – defenseman
72. Graham Knott (75.75)
73. Callum Booth (74.66) – goaltender; other than Bob McKenzie no one has him in the second-round (he is CS’ #2)
74. Glenn Gawdin (79.75)
75. Erik Cernak (80.75) – defenseman; rankings all over the place
76. Michael Spacek (84.0) – hurt by HP’s rating
77. Brendan Guhle (80.75) – defenseman
78. Adam Musil (84.25)
79. Blake Speers (84.75) – beats Ahl on aggregate
80. Filip Ahl (84.75) – beats Looke on aggregate
81. Jens Looke (84.75)
82. Denis Malgin (86.75) – undersized
83. Ethan Bear (85.25)
84. A. J. Greer (88.0) – rankings all over the place
85. Thomas Schemitsch (89.5) – defenseman
86. Vladislav Gavrikov (93.25) – defenseman
87. Dante Salituro (93.0) – undersized; huge variance of opinion; the first player not in the draft for all sources
88. Dmytro Timashov (97.0) – undersized; beats Noel on aggregate
89. Kirill Kaprizov (98.75) – undersized; also beats Noel on aggregate
90. Nathan Noel (96.75)
91. Sami Niku (100.25) – defenseman

Fourth Round

92. Connor Hobbs (95.66) – defenseman; despite decent ranks from elsewhere, HP doesn’t have him in the draft
93. Brent Gates (101.5)
94. Kyle Capobianco (102.5) – defenseman
95. Andrew Mangiapane (103.0)
96. Pavel Karnaukhov (104.0)
97. Simon Bourque (105.25) – defenseman beats Aho on aggregate
98. Sebastian Aho (104.75) – worth noting this is the Finnish forward, not the Swedish defenseman also eligible for the draft with the exact same name
99. Kevin Stenlund (108.0)
100. Pius Suter (108.0)
101. Dennis Gilbert (110.75) – defenseman
102. Jesper Lindgren (110.75) – defenseman
103. Joseph Cecconi (110.75)
104. Mathieu Joseph (106.66) – only listed by three sources
105. Tyler Soy (111.75)
106. Samuel Montembeault (114.66) – goaltender; he’s difficult to slot given ISS’ meaningless ranking
107. Andrew Nielsen (115.25) – defenseman
108. Conor Garlard (116.75) – undersized
109. Jonne Tammela (119.0) – gets the edge of Borgen by his consistent rankings
110. Will Borgen (117.33) – rankings are all over the place, including not being listed by one source
111. Cooper Marody (122.0) – beats Gabrielle on aggregate
112. Jesse Gabrielle (121.0) – beats Bednard on aggregate
113. Ryan Bednard (119.0) – goaltender
114. Adam Marsh (123.5)
115. Brendan Warren (124.0) – rankings are all over the place
116. Anthony Richard (124.0) – undersized
117. Brad Morrison (125.0) – divided opinions on him
118. John Marino (125.75) – defenseman; beats Sideroff on aggregate
119. David Kase (148.25) – undersized
120. Deven Sideroff (125.25) – similar split as Morrison above
121. Anthony Cirelli (125.33) – wildly variant rankings and not listed by one source

Fifth Round

122. Ales Stezka (126.5) – goaltender; beats Herbst on aggregate
123. Liam Herbst (126.0) – goaltender
124. Jack Sadek (126.75) – defenseman; widely divergent opinions on him
125. Loik Leveille (128.75) – defenseman; as above
126. Radovan Bondra (131.75) – beats Rykov on aggregate
127. Egor Rykov (129.0) – defenseman; not listed by one source
128. Jake Massie (129.66) – defenseman; not listed by one source
129. Jean-Christophe Beaudin (130.33) – not listed by one source; HP has him in the second-round
130. Dryden Hunt (131.75) – very tight ratings for this late in the draft
131. Samuel Dove-McFalls (132) – not listed by one source
132. Nikita Pavlychev (134.66) – not listed by one source
133. Chaz Reddekopp (135.75)
134. Nicholas Boka (137.75) – defenseman; beats Saarijarvi on aggregate
135. Vili Saarijarvi (136.66) – undersized; defenseman; not listed by one source
136. Adin Hill (139.33) – goaltender; split opinions on him
137. Aleksi Saarela (139.5)
138. Veeti Vainio (140.5) – defenseman; split opinions where he’s either a third-rounder or a late pick
139. Christian Jaros (141.25) – defenseman; widely divergent opinions
140. Veini Vehvilainen (143.33) – goaltender
141. Matt Bradley (145.0) – not listed by one source, but everyone who does puts him in this round
142. Grant Gabriele (145.66) – defenseman
143. Troy Terry (145.75) – widely divergent opinions
144. Marcus Vela (148.25) – very similar rankings for him
145. Michael McNiven (152.66) – goaltender; gets a boost from HP
146. Gustav Bouramman (153.33) – defenseman; not listed by one source
147. Felix Sandstrom (155.0) – goaltender; rankings all over the place
148. Lukas Jasek (156.25) – three sources slot him in the fifth
149. Jeremiah Addison (156.5) – beats Askew on aggregate
150. Cameron Askew (156.5) – varied opinions
151. David Cotton (157.75) – as above (HP is high on him)

This is the first round where we start to run out of players unanimously selected to be taken in the draft; that situation only gets more exaggerated the deeper we go.  At this point only 5 players remain whom all sources agree should be taken in the draft (Kielly, Huska, Gennaro, McBride, and Lalonde; as such I won’t note every occasion where a player isn’t universally selected going forward).

Sixth Round

I’ve privileged players who appear in three or four sources over those in just two (the latter begin at #174).

152. Cavan Fitzgerald (180.75) – defenseman
153. Stephen Desrocher (159.0) – defenseman
154. Justin Lemcke (196.25) – defenseman
155. Ryan Larkin (161.66) – goaltender; CS gives him the edge over Pearson
156. Chase Pearson (161.66)
157. Lucas Carlsson (164.66) – defenseman; beats Hansson on aggregate
158. Petter Hansson (164.33) – defenseman
159. Jake Jaremko (166.33) – undersized; almost slotted in the exact same spot by the three who rank him
160. Adam Gaudette (169.25)
161. Samuel Laberge (167.0)
162. Hayden McCool (170.5) – divergent opinions on him
163. Sebastian Aho (173.66) – undersized; the Swedish defenseman is the #13 player in Europe according to CS
164. Kameron Kielly (175.25)
165. Adam Huska (175.66) – goaltender
166. Caleb Jones (179.5) – defenseman; beats Freytag on aggregate
167. Matthew Freytag (176.66)
168. Matteo Gennaro (182.0) – beats Fortin on aggregate
169. Alexandre Fortin (181.33)
170. Karch Bachman (186.0) – beats McBride on aggregate
171. Nick McBride (185.33) – goaltender
172. Bradley Lalonde (189.25) – defenseman; the last player considered draft-worthy by all sources
173. Alexandre Alain (201.5) – the last player picked by three non-CS sources
174. Chris Martenet (89.0) – defenseman; marks the beginning of players with just two non-CS sources behind them
175. Ryan Zuhlsdorf (111.0)
176. Austin Strand (121.5) – defenseman
177. Nikolai Chebykin (123.0) – unranked by CS
178. Jason Bell (126.5) – defenseman
179. Joni Tuulola (128.75) – defenseman; edges Reilly via his CS ranking
180. Will Reilly (128.0) – defenseman
181. Colton White (136.0)

The scouting consensus falls apart here as the various guides look for homeruns, surprises, and what not.  Because of the shortage of numbers it’s easy for a player to benefit from one good ranking, which makes the assessments hard to gauge.

Seventh Round

182. Fredrik Forsberg (182.66)
183. Tate Olson (137.0) – not ranked by CS
184. Roy Radke (142.0)
185. Alexander Younan (149.0) – higher CS score than Wilkie
186. Christopher Wilkie (149.0)
187. Tyson Baille (142.5) – unranked by CS
188. Martins Dzierkals (143.0) – unranked by CS
189. Artyom Volkov (176.33) – defenseman; #22 player from Europe according to CS
190. Giorgio Estephan (170.66)
191. Sebastien Olsson (152.5) – unranked by CS
192. David Henley (156.5) – gets the nod via his CS rank
193. Tim McGauley (153.5)
194. Sergei Zborovsky (161.0) – defenseman; edges Murray/Laczynski via CS
195. Troy Murray (159.5) – defenseman; not ranked by CS
196. Tanner Laczynski (161.0) – not ranked by CS
197. Luke Philp (166.0)
198. Kirill Pilipenko (166.5) – undersized; not ranked by CS
199. Mikhail Vorobyov (169.0) – beats Davis via his CS rank
200. Vladimir Tkachev (186.66) – undersized
201. Kevin Davis (169.0) – defenseman
202. Connor Ingram (170.5) – goaltender
203. Ryan Shea (176.0) – defenseman
204. Adam Helewka (176.5) – not ranked by CS
205. Lukas Vejdemo (179.0)
206. Ken Appleby (180.0) – goaltender; not ranked by CS
207. Philippe Myers (182.0) – defenseman
208. Taggart Corriveau (186.0) – beats Burke via CS
209. Callahan Burke (184.0) – not ranked by CS
210. Joe Gatenby (189.0) – defenseman
211. Jorgen Van Pottelbeurghe (198.0) – #5 goaltender in Europe via CS

Here are the remaining players (6) picked by two non-CS sources for the draft: Liam Dunda (190.0), Brandon Lindberg (191.5), Cameron Lizotte (198.5), Jack McNeely (202.33), Dmitri Zhukenov (205.0), and Devante Stephens (224.66).  Also of note, here are players picked for the third or fourth round by just one source: Hughes (3rd), Yudin (3rd), Masonius, Sidorov, Bukarts, Sharipzyanov, Schweri, Pfiefer, Tiffels, Fiala, Paigin, Afonasyevsky, Leandersson, Karrer, Olhaver, and Fronk.  Additionally, these are the highest CS European selections that didn’t make it: Dufek (#28) and Dvorak (#35).  Three goaltenders from both the CS NA and EU top-ten weren’t selected (#8 the highest in NA, Robinson, and #7 in EU, Godla).

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

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4 Comments

  1. Excellent. Great work.

  2. […] was only slightly behind.  He was selected roughly where the scouting consensus landed (see my aggregate ratings); he’s seen as a good skater and puck carrier with a high hockey IQ; his defensive play was […]

  3. […] be drafted, but has been passed over quite a few times already (he was ranked fairly highly in 2015, but largely forgotten last year); the reluctance is related to his size, but perhaps this […]


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