Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2014 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “Draft”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2015 Draft Articles Click here.
The big day has come and gone, and now we look back to see how each team did in the NHL draft. Look, we know that it is way too soon to evaluate a draft and that the true evaluation will be seen four or five years from now. However, we don’t want to wait, instead we follow our yearly tradition and do our draft grades now.
A note: We include trades in the grades. The moves for players like Ryan O’Reilly, Cam Talbot, Robin Lehner, Carl Hagelin, and others will be included in our draft grades.
A second note: VALUE PICK does NOT mean best player drafted. It means best value. For Example, Connor McDavid is the number one player in this draft in our rankings (and almost everyone else’s). However he is not our best value pick for the Oilers. Why? Because anyone can take the best player with the first overall pick, we are looking for value here, what steal did the team get in the draft that went later than we thought he would? If it was merely an exercise in naming the best player drafted, might as well just name the team’s first pick, as that is who their own scouts felt was their best player.
A third note: Links lead back to our scouting reports.
LWOS 2015 NHL Draft Grades
Bryan Murray had an excellent weekend. Given what other goalies got in trades, he absolutely fleeced his nephew in the Robin Lehner deal, getting a first round pick, and even dumping a bad contract in the process. He also dumped a poor possession player in Eric Gryba, getting picks in the process. The picks themselves were solid. In Thomas Chabot the Sens add a smooth skating two-way defender. Gabriel Gagne adds serious size to their forward propsects, and Filip Chlapik is an excellent two-way centre and a real steal at 48th overall. Filip Ahl was also good value at 109. To top it off the Joel Daccord pick is one many bilingual Sens fans can agree with*. The only thing keeping the Sens from a full A, or even an A+ here is the lack of a true elite talent, but thats tough to get without a top 10 pick.
(* credit or blame for the Daccord pun can be directed to LWOS hockey department head Shawn Wilken on twitter @crimsonskorpion)
Players Drafted: Ivan Provorov, Travis Konecny, Felix Sandstrom, Matej Tomek, Samuel Dove-McFalls, Mikhail Vorobyov, David Kase, Cooper Maroody, Ivan Fedotov,
Best Value: Konecny
The Flyers may have a log jam of young defenders in their pipeline, but that didn’t stop them from taking the best player available when their pick came up in Ivan Provorov, and thats a good move as he immediately moves to the top of the list in terms of potential amongst all those young Flyers defenders. Trading up to secure Konecny, who fell a bit in the first round, was also a great move. The Flyers get a talented forward who plays the game with a non-stop motor. Felix Sandstrom and Matej Tomek address the organizational need to get goaltenders in the system. Clearing a spot on the blueline, and getting some secondary scoring in the Sam Gagner for Nicklas Grossman and Chris Pronger deal was a nice coup for Ron Hextall to end the weekend and takes them from a B to a B+.
Players Drafted: Daniel Sprong, Dominick Simon, Frederik Tiffels, Nikita Pavlychev
Best Value: Sprong
The grade is really hurt by the fact the team had only four picks, and only one in the first four rounds, in a very deep NHL draft. All the trading of picks for current assets hasn’t really paid off for the Penguins either, as they have suffered consecutive playoff defeats to the New York Rangers, this year’s coming in the first round. The Penguins were also unable to pull off a trade to upgrade their wingers this weekend. The only thing saving this from being a D grade is the fact that they got first round value in Daniel Sprong at 46th overall. Reported attitude concerns scared off many teams from a winger who had the skills to be taken a full 30 picks higher than he was, if not more. Its tremendous value at the pick, especially considering it fills a team need in the prospect department as well.
San Jose Sharks
Grade: B+ for what I could rate (see explanation)
Players Drafted: Timo Meier, Jeremy Roy, Mike Robinson, Adam Helewka, Karlis Cukste, Rudolfs Balcers, Adam Parsells, Marcus Vela, John Kupsky,
Best Value: Roy
The Sharks took one of the biggest risers on draft boards in Timo Meier at ninth overall. He’s an intriguing combination of size, power and finesse on the wings. They then traded up to the 31st overall pick, getting a real coup in Jeremy Roy, a future powerplay quarterback who really should have gone in the first round. In Adam Helewka the Sharks get a draft re-entry who scored 44 goals last year. He has good speed up and down the wing, and an excellent shot/release. I do like the value in those three picks. The rest of the Sharks picks came from leagues where there isn’t a lot of video readily available. As a result, I have not been able to watch any of their games and will only grade based on the three players mentioned. That’s the limitations of not having a team full of scouts and a multi-million dollar budget, we don’t see players in the Norwegian league, or playing high school hockey in Massachusetts or Wisconsin. One last thing to mention about the Sharks, they traded the rights to Antti Niemi which is a pretty good indication that he won’t be signing with the team on July 1st. They also watched a number of goalie trades go down and didn’t get involved in the spree. The question now becomes where will the Sharks find next year’s starter?
Another team who was hurt by their lack of a first round pick, having traded it away in the Ryan Miller trade at the 2014 NHL trade deadline. The Blues still got some quality though in two way defender Vince Dunn out of Niagara in the second round and two-way centre Adam Musil in the fourth round. In Glenn Gawdin they get another two way player with tremendous speed. He can play the grinding, cycling, puck control game in the offensive zone, but just doesn’t have the hands to put up big offensive numbers. Overall not a bad haul considering the lack of a first round pick.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Players Drafted: Mitchell Stephens, Matthew Spencer, Dennis Yan, Anthony Cirelli, Jonne Tammela, Mathieu Joseph, Ryan Zuhlsdorf, Kristian Oldham, Bokondji Imama
Best Value: Yan
The Lightning traded down to acquire more picks in a deep draft, and then used those picks smartly. They got a nice mix of prospects with two way centres in Stephens and Cirelli; a pure sniper in Yan, and a solid two way defender in Spencer. Mathieu Joseph was a late riser who provides excellent value late in the draft. He has great stickhandling and well above average speed. Once considered undersized, he’s grown a lot in the last two years and there may be more to be unlocked as he adjusts to the height, and adds muscle to his frame.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Grade: A (3rd best NHL Draft)
Players Drafted: Mitch Marner, Travis Dermott, Jeremy Bracco, Andrew Nielsen, Martins Dzierkals, Jesper Lindgren, Dmytro Timashov, Stephen Desrocher, Nikita Korostelev
Best Value: Korostelev (Best Value Pick in NHL Draft)
In the lead up to the NHL draft, Mark Hunter and Kyle Dubas both talked about the Leafs changing their organizational philosophy at the drat table. They talked about pure skill being the number one factor in looking at players, and that things the Leafs had value in the past like size, or grit or intangibles may not be as big a factor anymore. They certainly let that play out on draft day. With the change to a more skill based drafting the Leafs were able to trade down multiple times, stockpile picks, and get a number of undersized, but highly skilled players who slipped due to those size concerns. The Leafs also picked up a defenseman with high skill at the minor league level (and excellent size) in Martin Marincin. I think he could really blossom in Toronto. The only critique of the weekend is that Phil Kessel, Dion Phaneuf, Joffrey Lupul, and Tyler Bozak are still on the roster and haven’t been shipped out. The hammer could fall on those trades at any time though.
The Canucks got far less for Eddie Lack than the Rangers got for Cam Talbot, and the Senators got for Robin Lehner, and that has to be considered a major disappointment this weekend. When a package that included a third rounder was the best that they could muster, its a missed opportunity for Vancouver. That third rounder at least provided value in Brisebois, a shutdown defender from the QMJHL. Brock Boeser was a good pick in the first round as well, giving the Canucks a power forward prospect.
The Capitals came into the weekend with very few picks. Everyone knew that they are not going to be able to re-sign Mike Green, yet the Capitals were not able to trade his rights and recoup a late round pick from a team looking to sign one of the top available unrestricted free agent defenders. They then used one of their few picks on Ilya Samsonov. For a team with a young stud goaltender in Braden Holtby, I’m not sure thats the best use of the limited picks available. Jonas Siegenthaler provides a mobile shutdown defender and was excellent value at the draft spot. Overall though and underwhelming weekend for the Caps.
One of the deepest prospect pools in hockey gets deeper, as the Jets loaded up with forwards who play a two way game. They had two picks in the first round, and grabbed a pair of talented Americans in Kyle Connor and Jack Roslovic. In the second round they grabbed Jansen Harkins, a playmaker with strong two way play that many ranked as a first round talent. Erik Foley and Michael Spacek give them five picks in LWOS’ top 100, an excellent haul by any standard. Like the Senators, the only thing keeping them from an A or A+ is the lack of an elite talent. If the rumors are true and they have lured Alex Burmistrov back to the NHL, that could be another coup for the Jets in an excellent start to the off-season.