11. Florida Panthers
Timo Meier, C/RW, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
While Werenski is a solid option, Timo Meier fits an organizational need both in the short and long term. He was thrust into a top-line role in Halifax—where he formed a dynamic duo with Nik Ehlers — but make no mistake, Meier is a quality prospect in his own right. Meier offers a dynamic blend of skating ability, finesse, and shot accuracy, but most appealing is his versatility. Able to thrive within any system, he finishes checks and always tracks the play defensively, putting himself in a good position to create opportunities in transition.
12. Dallas Stars
Zach Werenski, D, University of Michigan (Big Ten)
Werenski is an offensive defenseman that makes quick plays, has a good shot, and a strong upper body. He is raw defensively, but he understands the principles of defense well. Werenski seems to be at the lower end of his development arc compared to his peers even, so he could benefit from a few more years in college to improve his foot speed. However, the Stars may require his services sooner rather than later. He has the potential to be a very capable top-pairing defenceman.
Travis Konecny, RW, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
Konecny is a tenacious competitor with high-end offensive skills and valuable leadership qualities—just the type of player that the Kings covet. His 200-foot range will be a nice addition to LA’s developing speed game, and contribute to their playoff efforts for years to come. The Kings have had success drafting from the 67’s in the past, including Tyler Toffoli and Alex Lintuniemi. If Konecny is still around at 13th overall, the Kings won’t pass on him here.
14. Boston Bruins
Kyle Connor, C/LW, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL)
Although the Bruins have more left wingers in the system than they do right, the need for them is greater at the NHL level. They’ve had to play utility centers (Gregory Campbell, Chris Kelly) on the left to fill the gap (and make room for their plethora of prospects at centre). Kyle Connor has the offensive skills to play in the top-six someday, and the defensive tenacity to play well on a character line until either Brad Marchand or Milan Lucic gets too expensive. Colin White was also a consideration, but Connor has a slight edge on him.
15. Calgary Flames
Nick Merkley, C/RW, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Nick Merkley is exactly the kind of player that the Flames covet – feisty, competitive, and skilled. His hard-working game will fit in with the team the Flames are building right now, and his versatility at multiple forward positions makes him an attractive option. At 192 pounds, Merkley is tougher than his height (5’10) suggests, and his team’s run to the Memorial Cup proved that he can be a gritty competitor when the going gets tough in the postseason.
16. Edmonton Oilers (from PIT)
Jakub Zboril, D, Saint John Sea Dogs (QMJHL)
While the Oilers have a number of defensive prospects in the system, adding another high-caliber talent to join the likes of Darnell Nurse and Oscar Klefbom may be desirable for the Oilers at this point in the draft. Zboril is a talented offensive defenseman, with good size at 6’1 and 184 pounds. The left-shooting rearguard had a strong 2014-15 season, and his combination of skating, passing and physical ability make him an intriguing choice for the Oilers.
17. Winnipeg Jets
Jeremy Roy, D, Sherbrooke Phoenix (QMJHL)
There is a drop off in talent in the Jets defensive pool after Josh Morrissey. Not only will Roy be able to help the Jets offensively, but he also plays a strong defensive game and has unbelievable awareness. He also has a tendency to make high-percentage plays. Roy and Morrissey would be a treat to watch together on the power play for years to come.
18. Ottawa Senators
Colin White, RW, U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)
This year’s draft is a bit of a crap shoot for the Senators. As one of the youngest teams in the league, their biggest organizational need is experience. It will be hard for them to predict which of their forward slots will need the most help 2-3 years down the road. Because of that, it’s a best-player-available year for the Sens. At this position, that’s probably White.
White is a skilled two-way player who can shut his opponents down and create scoring opportunities in the same shift. The right winger is also capable of playing well at center, where the team’s depth chart is most shallow. When White matures, he’ll be a dominant force at both ends of the rink.
Evgeny Svechnikov, LW, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (QMJHL)
Ideally, the Wings would like a difference-maker on defense here, but with Zboril and Roy gone, Svechnikov not only gives them incredible talent on the wing, but much-needed size as well. With the plethora of talent in the Detroit system, he’ll be given the time he needs to flourish into a valuable top-six power forward.
20. Minnesota Wild
Paul Bittner, LW, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
A Minnesota native, Bittner has shown excellent offensive ability in his junior career. A top line with Alex Tuch and Bittner would be difficult to contain four years down the road in Minnesota. He is a skilled puckhandler and skater who knows how to finish plays. His combination of size, speed, skill and Minnesota-ness might be too much for Chuck Fletcher and company to pass on here.