Friday, June 26, 2015

2015 NHL Draft round one grades

Coming into this evenings post, I was originally going to hand out a grade based on an entire team's work but soon realized that with so many teams hoisting multiple selections in the first round that just consummated, it was extremely difficult because take for an example the Boston Bruins, who General Manager Don Sweeney flowered us the entire day with pure entertainment with all of the acquisitions with a series of controversial trades whilst accumulating three consecutive draft picks, I came to the realization that with the widespread thoughts I had with each one of these picks, I have elected to grade pick by pick. In a fairly simple approach, I will list the player, supply a grade and then divulge why I came to the particular mark.

1)Edmonton Oilers-Connor McDavid- (A +)

 This was a natural no-brainer, even embattled Bruins General Manager Sweeney couldn't of screwed this one up. McDavid, barring any significant injuries will follow the same plight of Mario Lemieux, Wayne Gretzky and a when-healthy Sidney Crosby. The guy will be expected and I have no qualms about him doing this will be to lead the Oilers to championships. Obvious pick but the only pick.

2)Buffalo Sabres-Jack Eichel (A)

Only reason Eichel doesn't acquire an A + is because for whatever reason, when he conducts interviews he rubs me the wrong way with a condescending attitude giving off the impression that he better then everyone else, which in the game of hockey he very well may be. The same over-confident attitude who views he's the best at everything may very well describe this very blogger but the like old saying goes, opposites attract. Nonetheless, paired with the likes of O'Reilly, Evander Kane, and Sam Reinhart Buffalo has an apparent very bright future.

3)Arizona Coyotes-Dylan Strome(F)
Going into this, I suppose I should've had a pre conceived idea what my lowest grade score could be, so we know it now, that being the fat old F. I have a numerous amount of concerns which if you would've read my earlier post titled " NHL Draft Observations" then to no surprise, I don't have a very positive outlook on Connor McDavid's now ex teammate. He's slow as molasses which is a very elementary term but considering Strome's skating is very elementary it just fits. His inability to skate is going to drive coach Dave Tippett bonkers and NHL defenceman salivating at the notion of going head to head with this players for the next number of years.

4-Toronto Maple Leafs-Mitch Marner (B)

I'm very complimentary of this diminutive forwards game and project him as a premier scorer at the National Hockey League level. His vision of how sees the ice is Lecavalier-esque. My only gripe with this selection is with the premise that I believe that Boston College defenceman should've been the selection here as he better molds into what Brendan Shanahan is trying to build.

5-Carolina Hurricanes-Noah Hanifin(A)
As a young kid plying his trade dominating countless games of street hockey, one of my favourite teams was the Carolina Hurricanes, not because I liked them a team because back in 1999, I probably couldn't of named one player who was on the roster but because I was love with the uniforms. The thought of Noah Hanifin and Justin Faulk forming a franchise d-pairing has me perhaps wanting to attend a Carolina Hurricanes game and become a fan of the team. Well done Canes!

6.New Jersey Devils-Pavel Zacha(E)

When discussing Zacha going to the Devils, E definitely doesn't stand for excellence. The Devils dropped the proverbial ball with this pick as the ever underrated Matt Barzal was available and with everything I've seen and read, Barzal is much more the player who is ready to make the jump to the National Hockey League scene. From a Devils point of view, the ever debated Russian factor would make me a little nervous.

7. Philadelphia Flyers-Ivan Provorov(A)
As an avid Regina Pat supporter it does pain me in a way to compliment a team for taking a Brandon  Wheat King, I feel like I broke some kind of code. Other then my petty bias toward Western Hockey League eastern divisional teams, no questioning that Provorov is an elite talent and Philadelphia landed upon a treasure. I can speak a little more knowingly on Provorov because I have seen him so often but what stands out in spades to me is his skating combined with the calmness in the defensive end. Even though he put up respectable numbers offensively, I feel this facet could use a little more seasoning.

8.Columbus Blue Jackets-Zach Werenski(B)

The knock on Werenski is that physically he's nowhere close to being ready to play in the NHL, but like a lot of other college bound defenceman and he is reportedly headed to the University of Michigan, the Blue Jackets will give him the appropriate amount of time to mature in three to four years he'll be ready to contribute top line minutes to the upstart Columbus franchise.

9.San Jose Sharks-Timo Meier(E)

Is Meier a player that on typical circumstances would merit an "E" grade? Of course not, but the grading is poor due to the choices that were on the board at the time. First of all, the Sharks are in need of  defenceman and with the way the draft was playing out at this time, trading down would've been advisable.A power forward who drive the net like Mikko Rantanen would've calmed the fears of Sharks fans because Tomas Hertl is a playmaker who needed a driver. Timo Meier has about as much physicalness in his game as Shaquille O'Neal has free throw prowess.

10.Colorado Avalanche-Mikko Rantanen(A)

Will Mikko come in and supplant Teemu Selanne and become the new and improved "Finnish Flash". This guy I had a little lower in my mock only because I didn't quite define him as a team need for the first half of the teams picking but after careful consideration and analyzing the picks, I think Rantanen has the making of an elite power forward and fully expect him to be NHL ready after convering with men in Finland this past season. Obviously the decision came down to him or Crouse and I believe Patrick Roy and the Avs pulled the right card.

11.Florida Panthers-Lawson Crouse(B -)

I struggled with this grade a lot because Crouse is a Canadian Junior Hockey League enigma. The guy looks like and on some nights plays like Lawson Crouse.  Which power forward are the Panthers getting, the power forward who terrorized world junior defences or the very same power forward who might as well been a sleep the entire series versus the North   Bay Batallion. With variances of night to night talent  this pick will either be a fielders choice or a home run.

12.Dallas Stars-Denis Guryanov(B)

As someone who takes pride on a daily basis in making bold, absolute statements I give a big thumbs up to Jim Nill and the Dallas Star organization for throwing us our first ball from left field today.Guryanov, who I initially had at 22 although that doesn't mean anything at all as my mock draft practice was beyond embarrassing, is an interesting choice because if he commits to the North American game he could run on the same track as fellow Russian Nichusbkin and run wild as early as next year for the Stars. His strength is his shot and with Jason Spezza's exceptional passing ability one worries for the safety of opposing goaltenders.

13.Boston Bruins-Jakub Zboril(D)

An overused phrase being soft as butter is seen as an insulting caption if you're a striving defenceman in the big stage, but in this situation, if their was a catchier and more gimmicky phrase I would've  thought of because in reference to Zboril's game, being called soft as butter may be a compliment. I mean credit for the young lad for trying as he registered in boxing classes in the Maritimes to get stronger but the only question I have is do people in the Maritimes actually take out their aggression and actually box, I thought they had the moniker of being such friendly folk.

14.Boston Bruins-Jake DeBrusk(A)

Step out to the stage for pick number deux Boston Bruins. After a flurry of trades, the Boston Bruins used first round pick two out of three on the Swift Current sniper. The son of former Oiler tough guy Louie is known for his goal scoring something senior DeBrusk certainly wasn't known for. Jake possesses a Jordan Eberle-esque shot with the only criticism is his Dylan Strome-esque skating.

15.Boston Bruins-Zach Senyshyn(D)

To say this pick came out've left field wouldn't be doing it justice. This pick seemingly came out've the teams regional spring training facility. The ONLY reason this pick doesn't score a F is because it's different, one could say a little innovative. You will never see me agreeing however that the Bruins couldn't of traded down and not gotten the same player. This my friends, is asset management at it's worst. In fairness to Senyshyn, because he played on a stacked, Sheldon Keefe led Sault Ste.Marie Ontario Hockey League team he didn't get the necessary playing time to give him a fair shake to improve his draft status. Let's hope Keefe did a commendable job developing the player and not instructing him how to put a hit on former agents!(Too soon??? Too low of a blow???...apologies.)

16.New York Islanders-Matt Barzal(B)

No more dissecting Bruins, thank god as I was already nauseous having to type the word  Boston that often. The Islanders acquired this pick from the Oilers in exchange for a second and Griffin Reinhart. The fact that the Islanders were able to rid themselves of Reinhart is victory enough and probably should've been awarded an A +. Reinhart is a pylon, essentially volume two of Luke Schenn. Barzal is no pylon to say the least with the only tangible issue Barzal deals with is staying healthy. The injury plagued year affected his draft stock mightly because hadn't had been for him being as  a classified he's a sure fire top ten pick this year.

17.Winnipeg Jets-Kyle Connor(B +)

The valuation at the  number seventeen selection was exquisite as Connor is a tremendous get. The burgeoning power forward who by a lot of the scouts standards still has a lot of filling out  to do has me under the opinion that Connor has one of the more higher upsides in this class. He's showed well for himself at recent international tournaments, so the mass of Manitobian Jet fans will have plenty to cheer about.

18.Ottawa Senators-Thomas Chabot(E)

Scouts, media personalities when describing Thomas Chabot's game have used the word great skater but needs to refine his offensive game. I'm of the belief that physical maturity can be developed throughout time, and by saying that if you're not offensive game is not polished half way through your junior career it may very well never arrive. I juxtapose that the ceiling is high and but the body may be working faster then the brain. Risky selection Bryan Murray.

19.Detroit Red Wings-Evgeny Svechnikov(B)

A Russian pegged by the Detroit Red Wings is about as sure of a thing as it is with Carrie Underwood releasing a new # 1 hit single. Some things are just meant to be. Svechnikov is great value here and I fully expected the Senators to take him one pick earlier. Playing in a softer league such as  the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League makes it a little difficult to surmount whether Svechnikov has the aggressiveness to succeed in the National Hockey League but my gut says he does.

20.Minnesota Wild-Joel Eriksson EK(E)

With the initials of J.E.E, one more Z would've allowed me to say,"jeez, this is a terrible pick". With players like Travis Konecny and Nick Merkley on the board, this is the direction the Wild choose? The Wild have the reputation of being a soft team up front and this will do nothing to change that reputation into a more positive manner.Konecny, who plays with a level of truculence would've been my pick but like I said once before, it wasn't the first time I was wrong.

21.Ottawa Senators-Colin White(B+)

Colin White and Matt Barzal were in similar situations coming into the 2014-2015 campaign dealing with injuries that affected the way they developed. Hadn't it been for unforeseen, this "Band-Aid", would've very probably been a top ten pick. Injuries do happen in hockey, it's the name of the game but or someone I had projected to go #18 to Ottawa, the fact that he fell onto Ottawa's lap  nearly granted them an A. It's humorous that the selection of #22 ascertained a more glowing review then the same team's pick at eighteen.

22. Washington Capitals-Ilya Samsonov(D-)

I fully understand that a general manager's responsibility is to both forecast the long term and short term outlook of it's franchise. I'm not disputing this logic but for a team who has near sighted expectations to win Lord   Stanley, how is selecting a goaltender with the 22nd overall pick seen as a smart hockey decision. If you didn't have a goaltender who is likely to be included with the 2019 Canadian Olympic hockey team(assuming the NHL agrees to go) in Lloydminster native Braden Holtby, was picking a goaltender in Samsonov who I fully fledge has stellar upside the logical resolution? The answer ladies and gentlemen is a resounding no.

23.Vancouver Canucks-Brock Boeser(C)

I can only imagine the scrutiny the British Columbia media will put on General Manager Jim Benning for passing on two kids with strong B.C ties, those kids being Jansen Harkins and Nick Merkley. First of all, any accredited media outlet suggesting that the team look at Harkins with this pick needs their head checked, Merkley however you could make a strong case for. All that's in the past as Vancouver opted for Boeser. Controversial only in the sense of where this kids geographically situates but a player who compares to Kyle Okposo gets a pass in my books.

24.Philadelphia Flyers-Travis Konecny(B +)

In a pick originally owned by the Toronto Maple Leafs, it was the Philadelphia Flyers opting for the Ontario kid Konecny. Konecny's claim to fame, or maybe claim to shame is more fortuitous is that he Mike Riberio type work ethic. The skill he has is unquestioned as evidenced by the Ottawa 67's making him the first overall pick in the Ontario Hockey League bantam draft. Getting drafted in the first round surely will be the kick in the pants needed to reinvigorate his career and to make him realize he DOES have what it takes to be an everyday serviceable NHLer. A phenomenal pick by Philadelphia.

25.Winnipeg Jets-Jack Roslovic(C-)

If we were comparing Roslovic to ice cream flavours, one might compare him to vanilla(and please no, racial connotations need not be speculated upon). He's a very reliable, bland player. At the summer under eighteen year tournament which is basically an U.S All-star team against the other countries  scraps, Roslovic eventually landed on a line with expected number one overall pick in 2016 Auston Matthews and didn't look out of place.

26.Montreal Canadiens-Noah Juulsen(E -)

Was it me or when Marc Bergevin was being interviewed by George Strombopoulos, he made note of the fact the reason he got a good look at the Everett Silvertip Juulsen, was because he was monitoring  his "poor" prospect Nikita Scherback. That's a motivational general manager alright. Back to Juulsen, for his age he has a shot that would make Al MacInnis jealous. His defensive game needs shoring up and with this pick being a project because the Habs have a lore NHL ready defensive gems they can afford to be patient with Noah.

27.Anaheim Ducks-Jacob Larsson(C)

This was a tough one for me because in terms of where they ended up getting the Swede Larsson, it's appreciably deserving of a B or greater but the reason I'm grading the way I did was because I felt purely from an organizational need perspective, Nick Merkley of the Kelowna Rockets kept raising his hand but I suppose diminutive General Manager Bob Murray couldn't see over the large crowd. I should clarify, I'm not railing on Larsson I just personal the skillful and creative Merkley made much more sense.

28.New York Islanders-Anthony Beauvillier(B)

The Islanders fell "victim" to the Toronto Maple Leafs plotting of maneuvering through the draft and compiling more picks for the later rounds. I take that back, until the Leafs can show even a little competence in running a team it is virtually impossible to fall victim to "Canada's team????".Beauvillier is one of, if not the most defensively responsible forward in this draft class and with the Islanders already possessing a lot of high end scorers, a little ying to their yang won't hurt.

29.Columbus Blue Jackets-Gabriel Carlsson(C -)

The knack on Carlsson is that he makes Luke Schenn look like an offensive dynamo. He's a bruising presence back there and with the way the Blue Jackets have constructed their defence, Jack Johnson and David  Savard, two of their best players are known for lighting it up offensively as nobody will mistake those two for defensive stalwarts. I don't mind the pick here, a personal preference would've been Jeremy Roy but Roy won't have to wait long to have  his name called tomorrow morning in round two.

30. Arizona Coyotes-Nick Merkley(A)

O, the irony that the only team that scored a F in these rankings finishes the first round with an A. Merkley essentially fell on the Coyotes lap but somehow that's how the cookie crumbled. Merkley for his small stature actually is quite aggressive in the corners and isn't afraid to muck it up with bigger players, which is pretty much everybody. A media personality for Sportsnet who may or may not have working on the draft coverage tonight said that based off of Merkley's Memorial Cup escapades back in May that he expected his draft status to rise. Shows much how he knew...

I hope you're buying what I'm trying to sell and are enjoying what I'm putting out. I'm asking to please initiate feedback if it all possible and to please follow me on twitter so I can try to grow this blogging "enterprise. My handle is @bretzky26


Brett Murray

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