2015 NHL Draft Day Preview

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As the hype for tomorrow’s NHL Draft at BB&T Center increases, let’s look at what to expect and what we could expect.

Drafting

There’s no question, tomorrow, that all eyes will be on highly touted prospects Connor McDavid of the Eerie Otters and Jack Eichel of Boston University. McDavid is expected to go to the Edmonton Oilers at first overall, while Eichel is expected to get picked by the Buffalo Sabres at no. 2; both of these teams are currently in a rebuild mode. The rest of the picks are up for grabs, and I think this is going to be probably one of the deepest drafts we’ve seen in a while. While I’m not at expert level yet in mock drafts, you can check out some others, like TSN Analyst Craig Button’s.

 

Trades

There have been a lot of trade speculation all throughout social media on Twitter. Starting with the Toronto Maple Leafs, a team that has started to undergo some major changes this offseason with the change in coaching staff and management, the next step for them is knowing who to trade and when, and so far Phil Kessel has been the most actively pursued player by other NHL teams, and it’s no surprise.

While Kessel has been questioned, along with captain Dion Phaneuf, for almost everything he’s done in Toronto, you can’t argue against the fact that he can still score lots of goals despite a disappointing 2014-15 campaign. Never Stop Beleafing, a Leafs-based blog managed by @neverstopbeleaf, breaks down the analytics of Kessel’s stats. According to him, Kessel has been a top-20 in all offensive categories in the past four seasons, joining the ranks of superstars Alexander Ovechkin (WSH) and Steven Stamkos (TBL), Corey Perry (ANA), Joe Pavelski (SJS), Max Pacioretty (MTL), John Tavares (NYI), Tyler Seguin (DAL), and Rick Nash (NYR).

Here are the bar charts for how his stats compare to others in goals, assists, and points, courtesy of Never Stop Beleafing.

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Top-20 Goal Scorers in 4 Seasons courtesy of Never Stop Beleafing

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Top-20 Assists in 4 Seasons courtesy of Never Stop Beleafing

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Top-20 Point-Getters in 4 Seasons courtesy of Never Stop Beleafing

As you can see, not bad for a player who’s been constantly scrutinized and tossed around by the Toronto media. You can read more of his analysis on Kessel here.

The goalie situation in Vancouver is another interesting trade rumor. No, it’s not another goalie controversy from the Canucks, but with Ryan Miller staying put in the Vancouver crease teams have inquired about Eddie Lack and Jacob Markstrom, who’s currently with their AHL affiliate, the Utica Comets.

For the San Jose Sharks, a team looking to rebound from last season’s mess and get back into the playoff picture, goal tending and defense is a serious issue. With UFA Antti Niemi possibly hitting the free agency market if general manager Doug Wilson doesn’t sign him to an extension, they’ve been among the teams who’ve been kicking tires on New York Rangers back-up goaltender Cam Talbot as well as back-up Rob Lehner of the Ottawa Senators. Also, there have been rumors that DW could pull a blockbuster trade. Whether it’s somehow getting either former Captain Joe Thornton or Patrick Marleau to waive their NTCs, or moving d-man/forward hybrid Brent Burns, or whoever else, we don’t know yet.

So far, only one trade has happened today, as the Colorado Avalanche acquired pending UFA Carl Sodoberg (29-65–94) from the Boston Bruins for a sixth round 2016 draft pick.

 

Team Needs

Whether it’s restocking on draft picks, acquiring more offensive/defensive depth, or goaltending, every team has their own set of needs for either a rebuild or a retooling for playoff contention. With the help of Never Stop Beleafing, here are the lists of needs for each team.

 

Pacific

Sharks: Goaltending, defensive depth

Kings: Defensive depth

Ducks: Top-six winger, no. 1 defenseman

Coyotes: Centerman, defenseman

Canucks: Defensive depth

 

Central

Blackhawks: Defensive depth

Avalanche: Defenseman

Predators: Offensive production, no. 1 center

Blues: Centerman

Jets: No. 1 center

 

Atlantic

Canadiens: offense, defensive depth

Bruins: Defensive depth, wingers

Senators: Defenseman

Panthers: Defense, wingers

Maple Leafs: Offense, defense, goaltending

Sabres: Offense, defense

 

Metropolitan

Blue Jackets: Defensive depth, wingers

Rangers: Defense

Islanders: Defensive depth

Penguins: 3rd & 4th line forward depth

Flyers: Offense, defensive depth

Devils: Defense

Hurricanes: Defensive depth

 

 

Which team will pick who? Who will win at the draft? Who will lose? All those pressing questions will be answered tomorrow at the draft (except for McDavid and Eichel, I don’t think those should have any questioning at all).

 

Follow Felix on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!

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