The 2015 NHL Draft showcased a class that held some of the most promising young players the NHL has seen in recent memory. A total of 11 players from this draft have been selected as an All-Star and there are several others that could rise to the same level. But as with anything, there are some who have been more successful than others. Of all of the talent in the NHL, the 2015 class boasted some of the elite names that will dominate the league over the next decade. Today, we revisit that year and redraft the top 10 selections.
1- Edmonton Oilers
Original Pick: Connor McDavid
Redraft Pick: Connor McDavid
Is there really any other choice to make here? Connor McDavid looked like a slam dunk pick when the Edmonton Oilers took him and he looks even better now. No one in the NHL can do what he does on a nightly basis and the only current player who might be more talented is Sidney Crosby. Even then, that can be debated. His speed is unmatched and he scores at a breakneck pace.
McDavid’s resume since entering the NHL is one of the most impressive ones of all players in the league now and he still has many more years ahead of him. He was named to the All-Rookie Team in his first season that saw him sidelined with injury for three months. He has been named a First Team All-Star three times. A Hart Trophy, two Ted Lindsay awards, and two scoring titles later, he is one of the best to be currently playing the game.
2- Buffalo Sabres
Original Pick: Jack Eichel
Redraft Pick: Jack Eichel
If it had not been for a generational talent in Connor McDavid being in the same draft class, Jack Eichel very well could have gone first overall. Now the 29th captain in Buffalo Sabres history, the franchise hopes Eichel can be the savior to finally deliver a Stanley Cup championship to upstate New York. He has the talent to do it, but the problem has been getting more talent around him.
One of the biggest problems as far as awards are concerned for Eichel is the fact that he plays in Buffalo. Players who win MVP awards usually have some talent around them. Buffalo is so devoid of that key aspect that he has not been able to put himself into that conversation. He is a three-time NHL All-Star but lacks the hardware to back up how successful his first few years as a pro have been. Injuries have also been a problem as Eichel has never played a full season. But the man is a bonafide scorer and is without a doubt the best player on Buffalo’s roster.
3- Arizona Coyotes
Original Pick: Dylan Strome
Redraft Pick: Mathew Barzal
Dylan Strome did not pan out exactly as the Arizona Coyotes would have hoped. A former third overall pick, Strome spent much of his time with Arizona up and down from the minors. He would play a total of 48 games over three seasons in the desert before the Coyotes would give up on him and trade him to the Chicago Blackhawks. With 81 points in 102 games, Strome has found success with the Blackhawks. But he has not been as successful as some of the other players drafted in the same year.
Even though Arizona has found success this year and is in the playoff hunt, the Coyotes are lacking something most championship-caliber teams have. They need a true franchise centre. Mathew Barzal has been that for the New York Islanders and has been one of the league’s brightest young stars. Just 28 points shy of a goal per game pace over his career, Barzal could have been the missing link to turn this Arizona team into a contender, rather than a team just trying to scrape their way into the playoffs.
4- Toronto Maple Leafs
Original Pick: Mitch Marner
Redraft Pick: Mikko Rantanen
Mitch Marner has been a superb player for the Toronto Maple Leafs since starting his NHL career in 2016. He has been an effective scorer, using his speed and agility to get past the defence and drive to the net. His breakout campaign last season earned him a nice fat contract extension worth $10.893 million per year. While there is no doubting Marner’s talent, he may not be the best wing forward to come out of a loaded 2015 draft class.
Mikko Rantanen looked like a dud in his first shot at the NHL. Playing in nine games in the 2015-16 season, Rantanen failed to register a single point. He stepped it up somewhat his second year with a 38 point season. Since then, he has been an absolute stud forward who utilizes his sizable 6’4” frame to play a physical game. He would bring additional size to a Toronto team that is loaded with talent. Rantanen may be a lateral move as far as talent is concerned, but Toronto needs someone who can bully smaller defenders if they want their first-round playoff woes against the Boston Bruins to come to an end.
5- Carolina Hurricanes
Original Pick: Noah Hanifin
Redraft Pick: Mitch Marner
Noah Hanifin was not a bad selection by any means. In any other draft year, he would likely be one of the top 10 players to be selected. But with the 2015 draft being as loaded as it was, better options were available. Hanifin was a regular on the blue line for the Carolina Hurricanes immediately following being drafted. He would not last with the team, however, being traded to the Calgary Flames for Dougie Hamilton, Micheal Ferland, and Adam Fox.
The reason for Hanafin not being the pick for Carolina comes down to team needs. While defenders are highly valuable, Carolina needed offence as well and Mitch Marner is one of the best passers in the NHL right now. He averages roughly an assist every two games out of three in his career and is one of Toronto’s most valuable assets. While scoring is not his primary skill, he is still capable of filling the net, with a career-high 26 goals in his 2018-19 campaign. Scoring like that is hard to find in the NHL today and Marner is one of the best to do it.
6- New Jersey Devils
Original Pick: Pavel Zacha
Redraft Pick: Brock Boeser
Pavel Zacha has not exactly panned out like the New Jersey Devils would have hoped. Since becoming a full-time NHLer in 2016, Zacha has yet to play a full 82 game season. He also has not put up any more than 25 points in a season but he is on pace to pass that mark this season with just over another month left of play. To say that Zacha has fallen short of what some of the other 2015 classmates have achieved is a major understatement.
In an ideal world, the Devils would have gone after Brock Boeser instead of Zacha. While Boeser plays on the wing rather than as a centre, he would still be a much more highly valuable asset. Boeser has been a cornerstone player of the Vancouver Canucks rebuild. Injuries have been concerning as he has not played a full 82 game season thus far, but even with the limited availability, he has been far more productive than Zacha has.
7- Philadelphia Flyers
Original Pick: Ivan Provorov
Redraft Pick: Zach Werenski
To say that Ivan Provorov is the best defender on the Philadelphia Flyers roster is an understatement. Were better options available in this draft at that position? Absolutely. Provorov has a skillful ability to move the puck out of the defencive zone and can be physical when the situation requires it. Philadelphia has never had to worry about his health either, as he has never missed a game with injury. The main reason the Flyers could have made a better selection revolves around Provorov’s offencive game.
Zach Werenski is a versatile defenceman for the Columbus Blue Jackets and his value to a team that just lost their best offencive weapons cannot be understated. He not only brings stability to the back end, but is capable of generating offence. This season he has already set a career high in goals with 18 and the team still has 22 games remaining. While Provorov has been an excellent defender for Philadelphia, Werenski has a higher ceiling and could be more impactful to the team.
8- Columbus Blue Jackets
Original Pick: Zach Werenski
Redraft Pick: Sebastian Aho
The Blue Jackets have managed to build one of the strongest defencive cores in the NHL with Seth Jones, Ryan Murray, and Zach Werenski. They have made their goaltenders job easier than most. Sergei Bobrovsky, Joonas Korpisalo, and Elvis Merzlikins are just a few of the names who have benefitted from their strong play in recent years. Werenski is a great fit with Columbus but with him off the board they need to make another pick.
Sebastian Aho has found a lot of success with the Carolina Hurricanes, helping them reach the Eastern Conference Finals last season. He is one of the bigger “steals” of this draft as the Canes were able to get a player with the talent of a high first rounder in the second. Aho would bring much needed scoring to a team in Columbus that lacks major offencive production. Not to say that defence was not necessary, but Columbus could have benefited more from having a top notch scorer at their disposal.
9- San Jose Sharks
Original Pick: Timo Meier
Redraft Pick: Kyle Connor
Timo Meier has been a solid contributor to the San Jose Sharks offence since joining the NHL roster full time in 2017. His numbers have only gone up from season to season as a professional. His first full NHL season saw mediocre numbers with 36 points over 81 games. He would nearly double that the following year with 66 points in three fewer games. This season he has played just as well, and although his numbers are not as high as last season, Meier remains one of San Jose’s important young building blocks for the future or the organization.
You would have to think that with eight blue chip players going before San Jose gets to redo their pick, there’s no way there’s another one, right? Wrong. Kyle Connor has been a driving force behind the offencive output for the Winnipeg Jets. He is on pace to blow away his previous career high of 66 points and has been a point per game player so far this year. Connor’s production will be an important piece for them if they want to make a playoff push this year and in the future.
10- Colorado Avalanche
Original Pick: Mikko Rantanen
Redraft Pick: Thomas Chabot
Mikko Rantanen has been a tremendous player for the Avalanche so far. Even though it took him a bit longer than some of the other players in this draft to make it to the NHL, he has proven he was worth the first round draft selection. As a bonafide top line wing, Rantanen is capable of generating opportunities for himself and others with a multitude of offencive skills. Unfortunately for Colorado, he is already off the board in our redraft, going to Toronto at number four.
One thing that Colorado needs is another productive defenceman. Thomas Chabot has proven he can be just that. Chabot is an excellent passer and knows how to find open teammates. His 85 career assists have shown he is capable of running the offence from the blue line. That is an even more impressive number when you consider the lack of other offencive talent around him with the Ottawa Senators. For a Colorado team that has needed capable defencemen at times, Chabot would be a perfect fit for this franchise.