By Tom Dougherty, CSNPhilly.com
With the NHL draft beginning Friday, it’s time to play the role of general manager.
Our first-round mock takes draft tendencies, team needs and the best player available into consideration.
On Saturday, CSNPhilly.com’s Tim Riday had the Flyers landing a defenseman and a right winger.
Let’s dig in:
1. Edmonton Oilers — Connor McDavid (C, 6-0, 195, Erie)
No-brainer. Not much needs to be said. McDavid’s been the top pick since last June.
2. Buffalo Sabres — Jack Eichel (C, 6-2, 196, Boston University)
Also a no-brainer, as Eichel would be the No. 1 pick in any other draft than this year. The Sabres get a center they can build around. Eichel will be a superstar.
3. Arizona Coyotes — Dylan Strome (C, 6-3/185, Erie)
The Coyotes will be tempted to take Noah Hanifin here, but they’ll opt to go with the ultra-creative Strome to add some flash to the desert. Might not be the best player available, but Arizona will get a game-changer with Strome.
4. Toronto Maple Leafs — Noah Hanifin (D, 6-2/203, Boston College)
Hanifin is the third-best player in the draft, but will fall to No. 4, where Toronto will be ecstatic to pluck the top defenseman in this year’s class. The Leafs need offense, but Hanifin’s too good of a player to pass up. Mike Babcock gets a No. 1 blueliner.
5. Carolina Hurricanes — Ivan Provorov (D, 6-0/201, Brandon)
Missing out on Hanifin, the Hurricanes could opt to go with a center here but will select the Russian defenseman instead. A strong, puck-moving defenseman, Provorov goes a little higher than projected. Could very well be in Carolina’s defensive rotation next year.
6. New Jersey Devils — Mitch Marner (C, 5-11/160, London)
With Ray Shero at the helm, New Jersey lands a star-caliber center in Marner, who has soft hands, knows how to score and can skate with the best of them.
7. Philadelphia Flyers — Mikko Rantanen (RW, 6-3/211, TPS)
The Flyers are high on Rantanen, and they land a much-needed winger. Rantanen can play either left or right wing, which will be a plus for a team lacking wings. He’s a big-bodied power forward with playmaking skills. He’ll be a solid choice for GM Ron Hextall.
8. Columbus Blue Jackets — Mathew Barzal (C, 5-11/175, Seattle)
Barzal’s knee injury causes the nifty center to fall a bit in the draft, but the Blue Jackets will be more than pleased to draft the Seattle Thunderbird.
9. San Jose Sharks — Lawson Crouse (LW, 6-4/215, Kingston)
Though not as naturally talented as others, Crouse is this year’s top left wing. He’s a big power forward, and the Sharks will take him. Big, physical winger fits the Sharks’ mold.
10. Colorado Avalanche — Zach Werenski (D, 6-2/206, University of Michigan)
The Avs round out the top 10 with the third defenseman taken. Werenski is headed to the NCAA, but is a puck-moving, offensive defenseman. Fills a need for Colorado.
11. Florida Panthers — Kyle Connor (LW/C, 6-1/177, Youngstown)
Connor is a rising prospect and the Panthers get a quality player here. Might not pay off for a few years, but he’s a strong, two-way player who’s continuing to mold his game.
12. Dallas Stars — Pavel Zacha (C/LW, 6-3/210, Sarnia)
Dallas needs to add either a scorer or a D-man here. With three blueliners already off the board, the Stars go with Zacha. He’s a big, fast winger who can play either center or LW. Didn’t produce much this year because of injuries, but has a ton of potential.
13. Los Angeles Kings — Timo Meier (RW, 6-1/209, Halifax)
Meier very well could be selected higher than this, but the feeling here is he tumbles a little bit in the first round and L.A. grabs him. He tore up the Q last year. Value pick here.
14. Boston Bruins — Travis Konecny (C, 5-9/175, Ottawa)
Konecny might not be what we think as a Bruin, at least the Boston of late — a big team. But the 5-foot-9 centerman plays much bigger than his frame. Change of pace here, but Boston nets an explosive player. The size thing won’t be an issue for the B’s.
15. Calgary Flames — Jakub Zboril (D, 6-0/184, Saint John)
The Flames made the playoffs and won a series this year, unexpectedly. Calgary shouldn’t get too excited and rush things. It’s still a few years away. Brian Burke knows this, and the Flames will address a need by selecting Zboril. They need defensemen.
16. Edmonton Oilers (from Pittsburgh) — Jeremy Roy (D, 6-0/188, Sherbrooke)
Edmonton already wins the draft by winning the McDavid sweepstakes. Now they address an area of need by grabbing Roy, who’s mature and a character kid in addition to being a quality defenseman.
17. Winnipeg Jets — Evgeny Svechnikov (LW, 6-1/199, Cape Breton)
The highly skilled winger seems like a good fit in Winnipeg, which continues to develop its prospects at an impressive clip. Svechnikov’s style will fit right in with the Jets.
18. Ottawa Senators — Oliver Kylington (D, 6-0/180, Farjestad)
The allure of having both Kylington and Erik Karlsson in the same defensive grouping will be too much for Ottawa to pass up. The Sens gamble on the gifted Kylington.
19. Detroit Red Wings — Nick Merkley (RW, 5-10/191, Kelowna)
A small but physical winger, Merkley goes to Detroit. The Red Wings need to start thinking about the post-Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg era and do so by taking Merkley. He’s a terrific playmaker who works hard. Good fit with the Wings.
20. Minnesota Wild — Colin White (6-0/183, USA U-18)
Might take some time to reap the dividends, but when White makes it to the NHL, the Wild will get a 200-foot player. Good puck possession pivot; does a lot of things well.
21. Buffalo Sabres (from Islanders) — Daniel Sprong (RW, 6-0/180, Charlottetown)
Already getting Eichel, the Sabres continue to stockpile offense by taking Sprong, who’s wicked fast and extremely talented. Buffalo gets a center and a wing in the first round.
22. Washington Capitals — Joel Eriksson Ek (C, 6-1/180, Farjestad)
Grabbing Eriksson Ek, the Caps get a player who’ll be able to log defensive minutes in the middle for Barry Trotz and a player who’s continuing to develop offensively.
23. Vancouver Canucks — Jeremy Bracco (C/RW, 5-9/172, USNTDP)
The Canucks witnessed firsthand what Johnny Gaudreau can do when Calgary ousted them in the first round this year. Bracco might not be Johnny Hockey, but he’s extremely gifted and deserves to be a first-rounder. Vancouver plucks him. Could be a home run.
24. Toronto Maple Leafs (from Nashville) — Jansen Harkins (C, 6-1/182, Prince George)
Babcock gets a No. 1 defenseman with the No. 4 pick, and now Toronto gives him a 200-foot center in Harkins. Seems like a Babcock player.
25. Winnipeg Jets (From St. Louis via Buffalo) — Thomas Chabot (D, 6-1/180, Saint John)
With their second first-round pick, the Jets grab Chabot, an offensive defenseman who is growing into a more complete blueliner. Grew a lot after a rough start. Trendy pick.
26. Montreal Canadiens — Filip Chlapik (C, 6-1/177, Charlottetown)
The Habs need to add depth down the middle, and Chlapik is a value pick here. Montreal is more than happy to come away with the Charlottetown Islander.
27. Anaheim Ducks — Brock Boeser (RW, 6-0/191, Waterloo)
Best player available. Anaheim’s system is deep everywhere, so it goes with the boring pick. Except Boeser is far from a boring selection. He’s college bound, but he sure can snipe.
28. Tampa Bay Lightning (from Rangers) — Brandon Carlo (D, 6-5/196, Tri-City)
Steve Yzerman has done a terrific job with the Lightning, and he’ll continue to do so by taking Carlo, who grew up idolizing Rob Blake. Tampa adds the towering blueliner.
29. Philadelphia Flyers (from TB) — Jake DeBrusk (LW, 5-11/174, Swift Current)
Missing out on Carlo, Hextall decides to go for the best player available and that’s DeBrusk. He’s trending upward, a natural goalscorer and a tireless worker. He’ll be an excellent fit in new head coach Dave Hakstol’s system.
30. Arizona Coyotes (from Chicago) — Denis Guryanov (RW, 6-3/192, Togliatti 2)
Arizona rounds out the first round with one of my favorite players in the draft. Guryanov is a tremendously talented winger who can flat out score. Little concern he’ll stay in Russia, but the Coyotes can take the risk, as they pick second in the second round.
(EDITOR’S NOTE: See the story on CSNPhilly.com)