The Edmonton Oilers stepped up to the plate and drafted first, selecting Connor McDavid from the OHL’s Eerie Otters. Everyone knows the book on this guy and the Oilers are thrilled to have him. He’s earned comparisons to the likes of Sidney Crosby and is expected to be the sort of franchise player capable of turning fortunes around for Edmonton.
The Buffalo Sabres had the second overall pick and they went with Jack Eichel, as predicted. Eichel was ranked second by NHL Central Scouting and his selection was also a foregone conclusion. The 2015 Hobey Baker Award winner led the NCAA with 45 assists, a plus-51 rating and 23 points on the power play. He averaged 1.12 assists a game and 1.77 points per game, plus he knocked it out of the park during fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine.
The Arizona Coyotes unpacked the third overall pick and selected Dylan Strome, also of the OHL’s Eerie Otters. Strome led the OHL in assists and was third overall in goals. He won the William Hanley Award as the most sportsmanlike player in the OHL and picked up the slack when teammate Connor McDavid was out with a hand injury. In 68 games with the Otters, Strome had 129 points.
The Toronto Maple Leafs selected Mitchell Marner with their fourth overall pick. Ranked sixth by NHL Central Scouting, Marner was second in the OHL in assists and points. He’s earned comparisons to Patrick Kane, another London Knight, and has 185 points in 127 career OHL games. He’s on the small size at 5’11, 160 pounds, but there’s a tremendous upside to Marner that should make him a nice fit for the Leafs.
Rounding out the top five, the Carolina Hurricanes selected defenceman Noah Hanifan from Boston College. Ranked third by NHL Central Scouting, Hanifan is an offensive defenceman capable of turning on the jets for a big rush out of his zone. He had 23 points in 37 games, adding 52 blocked shots. Hanifan also suited up for Team USA at the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The New Jersey Devils picked centre Pavel Zacha with their sixth overall pick, while the Philadelphia Flyers selected defenceman Ivan Provorov with the seventh. Defenceman Zachary Werenski was drafted eighth overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets, while the San Jose Sharks used their ninth pick on winger Timo Meier. The Colorado Avalanche topped off the top 10 picking Mikko Rantanen, the top ranked European player in the draft.
You can check out the entirety of the first round at the NHL’s official website and we’ll have more breakdown of other rounds in the days to come.