2015 NHL Draft Preview

2015-draft

The NHL is a league where superstars can change a franchise immediately as the days of sending a top pick to the AHL to develop are gone.

The skill of players heading into the draft is so much more than before that teams will draft players this year that could change the fortunes of a city forever.

It happens quit often in the NHL as almost every year a new franchise changing player enters the draft as the true #1 prospect.

It is a phenomena that began in 2005 when Sidney Crosby entered the draft as the greatest player since Wayne Gretzky.

He proved to match the hype so far in his NHL career and since then it seems like every year there is a new face that can change the NHL.

Whether it was Erik Johnson, Steven Stamkos, John Tavares, Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, or Nathan MacKinnon all have been touted as the next great player.

Some have lived up to the hype while others have fallen far short of what was said about them before they were drafted.

Despite the hype there is no guarantee that these players will ever truly make the impact that they were expected to make.

This year another player enters that group with hopes of becoming one of the group that can match the hype rather than crumble under the pressure.

This prospect is somewhat different from most though as he is not simply billed as a franchise changing player but a league changing player.

Connor McDavid has been heralded as the next in the line that includes Gretzky and Crosby and has been pinned as that player since he was a teenager.

Much like Gretzky and Crosby people have been watching him for years wondering if he can be the next greatest player in the world.

He earned Exceptional Player status to play in the OHL as a 15-year old which has been awarded to only four players in the history of the league.

The two players before McDavid to earn the status are now stars in the NHL, Tavares and Aaron Ekblad, as McDavid tries to follow suit.

So far in his last season he has shown why he gained that status and why he is being lauded as the greatest prospect since Crosby.

In an injury shortened season where he only played 47 games, McDavid scored 44 goals and had a total of 120 points.

That is an average of around 2.6 points per game in one of the toughest major junior conferences in the toughest minor league in hockey, the CHL.

That is almost unheard of and puts him in great company as Crosby averaged 2.7 points in 64 games at Rimouski in his last year in the QMJHL while Gretzky averaged 2.8 points in 64 games with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in his last year of OHL hockey.

McDavid is among these superstars through his junior career and so many believe he can have the same impact in the NHL as those two stars.

With that season it became clear that McDavid was the top pick in the draft while Jake Eichel, who had challenged McDavid all year, fell to second behind a good but not great season.

The draft has little drama at the top this year as all the drama fell to the NHL Draft Lottery where teams figured out who was going to be the team awarded with the greatest player since Crosby.

Every team knew the stakes as the Pittsburgh Penguins were in the same situation in 2005 when they won the lottery and Crosby.

That draft changed the franchise forever as four years later they won the Stanley Cup and became one of the top teams in the league.

This year the Edmonton Oilers hope that is the case for them as they were the winners of the lottery moving up one spot to take the first pick.

For many winning that lottery was a curse for McDavid as the Oilers have had multiple first round picks and have taken multiple potential superstars and yet remain one of the worst teams in the league.

The Oilers have drafted Nugent-Hopkins, Hall, and Yakupov who all came into their drafts as franchise changers and yet the Oilers sat in second to last place in 2014-15.

The Oilers are becoming a destination where prospects go to die as they have drafted so many great players and have never improved.

McDavid is different from any of these stars though as he has an ability that is rarely seen and he could break that curse for the Oilers.

In 1988 the Oilers traded Gretzky to the Kings and the next year they surprisingly won the Stanley Cup but since then the City of Champions have yet to raise the Stanley Cup.

By drafted the third coming of Gretzky maybe the Oilers will change their fortunes but most are more worried for what they will do with the talent of McDavid.

Despite the lack of drama at the top of the draft there is plenty to talk about in this draft as the Oilers get another great prospect while the Buffalo Sabres get possibly the greatest consolation prize in the history of the draft in Eichel.

Meanwhile other teams will look to rebuild under massive scrutiny, see the Leafs, with trade talk involving major players heating up as the draft approaches.

Every fan is looking at who their team might take as teams add a prospect that could change things for them in a big way but nobody will be watched closer than the Oilers and McDavid as the next one enters the NHL in the 2015 NHL draft.

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