With the top four players off the board, things could really get interesting when the Carolina Hurricanes step to the podium at five. The Hurricanes have lots of holes to fill and could go in a few different directions, including a trade for immediate help or a trade down for more building assets. With Noah Hanifin already off the board, do they take whomever they think is the draft second-best defender or do they address their woeful offense? My guess is the 'Canes will go pure skill here in an effort to bolster an attack that produced just 183 goals last season.
With the fifth selection in the 2015 Litter Box Cats Mock Draft, the Carolina Hurricanes select:
Mitch Marner - C London Knights
Undersized Mitchell Marner is coming off an extremely impressive second season with the London Knights of the OHL. The 18-year-old finished the year second in the league in scoring behind Dylan Strome, who we here at LBC have slated to go fourth overall, with 126 points (44G/82A) in 63 games. That scintillating performance earned him a nod on the OHL's First All-Star Team. Marner kept on scoring once the playoffs started, leading London to a first round win over Kitchener, before he was injured against Erie early in the next series. Marner posted 16 points in just 7 postseason games, leading the league until he was forced from the lineup.
In his first season with London, the 5'11", 164 lb. Marner, who has drawn some comparisons to Chicago star Patrick Kane, put up totals of 13 goals and 46 assists in 64 games and 9 points in 9 playoff games. He finished as the runner up for rookie of the year honors. After the season, he represented Canada at the 2014 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, where he led all scorers, along with Matthew Barzal, and brought home a gold medal.
EliteProspects Curtis Joe had this to say about Marner:
A dynamic offensive forward that backchecks hard and establishes his presence through playing smart, puck-possession hockey. A very quick skater gifted with great hands and hockey sense. Battles hard in all three zones and shows a willingness to do whatever it takes to get the puck to the back of the net; an unselfish player. Embodies the definition of a dynamic number-generating machine who makes the players around him better.
Despite already having some nice depth at center, the offensively-challenged Hurricanes would be wise to select a player with Marner's puck skills, vision and high hockey IQ. Carolina could always move the creative playmaker to the wing and shore up their top-six once he's ready for NHL duty. However, as already stated, the rebuilding 'Canes have many needs and it wouldn't be surprising for them to go defense if Hanifin is still available or perhaps, trade down to garner more picks. If Carolina does indeed have its eye on Marner, he could be plucked at four by his hometown team, the Toronto Maple Leafs, leaving the aforementioned Dylan Strome for GM Ron Francis to scoop up.
The New Jersey Devils are on the clock. While you wait for the pick, check out some highlights of Marner in action: