This Year is a Good Year to be Bad

The NHL draft is probably something to get excited about if your team continues to suffer year after year, or you are actually involved with one of those teams that are in contention to draft among the highest-rated prospects.

The group of 2015 NHL draft prospects is so deep that success and failure will both have their rewards upon the conclusion of the season; one team will win the Stanley Cup, and a few teams will be choosing what appears to be some beyond-gifted talent at the draft this summer.

"It's a good year to be bad," St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said.

While 16 teams compete in the NHL playoffs, the other 14 will be sizing up what is expected to be a draft that will yield a high number of difference-makers.

"The top 10 kids are going to be pretty good at the NHL level," said Dan Marr, the NHL's director of scouting.

My team is one of those teams and it excites me little, but for those of you who are sided with teams such as Buffalo, Edmonton, Carolina or the Coyotes, this draft piece is probably aimed towards you.

With the exception of myself, Leaf fans at this time of year get excited for Draft day. I don’t because I couldn’t care less, but for the fans of teams that aren’t going anywhere (playoffs) at this time of year, get all riled up over the possibility of the highest-rated draft pick, landing with their team, whoever that may be.

As it stands today, fans of the following clubs: Buffalo, Edmonton, Arizona, Carolina, Toronto, Columbus, New Jersey, Dallas, Philadelphia, San Jose and the Colorado Avalanche, all play the guessing game from now until Draft day, deciding which of the top-ranked prospects will suit up for their team.

According to most sources out there, the #1 prospect playing today is Connor McDavid. McDavid plays for the Erie Otters of the OHL, and has been on TSN SportsCentre more than Natasha Staniszewski and Kate Beirness together.

Here is my rundown of the top 5 players going into this summer’s Entry Draft:

1) Connor McDavid (Erie Otters):
He is considered by most to be that ‘next generation’ hockey player. He sees the game in a different universe. He is lightning quick, both mentally and physically. And what the mind directs, the hands and feet can both do. With an exceptional ability to recognize both opportunity, and danger, and at the exact same time, then exploit the opportunity to avoid the danger.

Possible destination: right now, Buffalo Sabres, however with the NHL lottery draft set up the way it is, either of the bottom-5 finishers could be awarded the #1 pick.

2) Jack Eichel (Boston University Terriers) :
If Connor McDavid is the undisputed leader of the pack, then Boston University’s Jack Eichel is the clear-cut number 2. Any player could be drafted number one, but Eichel is going to sit one spot below McDavid, at least up until draft day. Some scouts still believe that Eichel could seriously challenge McDavid. Eichel was very impressive after the first period of the US Top Prospects game. There doesn’t seem to be much separating the two kids heading into the draft, and some teams (Buffalo, Edmonton, Carolina etc) could opt for the big body that Eichel brings. Eichel weighs in at 6’2” 194 lbs, while McDavid is at 6’ 0” and 185lbs.

Possible destination: Edmonton Oilers

3) Noah Hanifan (Boston College Eagles):
Hanifan also had a strong game in the US Top Prospects game although he did not stand out as much as Eichel and Jeremy Bracco, Hanifan is that NHL-sized defenceman with an elite skating ability and he brings all of the physical and mental tools that NHL teams are looking for. He plays with poise that is exceptional for a young player and he puts himself in advantageous positions to make plays both defensively and offensively. Skating is superb and he has confidence and ability with the puck.

Possible destination: Arizona Coyotes

4) Mitch Marner (London Knights):
Last year, he had 59 points in 63 games. His even-strength points per 60 minutes (ES 60) of 3.1 were the best of the first-year draft eligible players for 2015 in the CHL not named Connor McDavid who had 3.9. Another reason for Marner’s high ranking heading into the draft? He is the OHL’s leading scorer with 124 points through 62 games. That includes 44 goals. What NHL team wouldn’t want that?

Possible destination: Carolina Hurricanes

5) Dylan Strome (Erie Otters)
It may only be necessary to note that Strome has more points than his famous teammate Connor McDavid, albeit by only 3 points as of Sunday night. Strome currently leads the Otters in point with 117, McDavid has more goals than Strome does but only by 4. Strome’s game is predicated on his ability to slow the game down and use his elite vision to make plays that other players in this draft are incapable of making. His passing ability and vision are at the top of the crop and allow him to find the score sheet nearly every game. Strome's major appeal is his offense. He currently leads the entire OHL in points, which is somewhat misleading since Connor McDavid has been injured and was away at the World Juniors. Still, it's quite an accomplishment for a draft eligible to be at the top of the scoring race in the world's best junior league.

Possible destination: Toronto Maple Leafs