Brutal that this is only the 3rd mock draft I have done so far this season. But from here until the draft there will likely be 2 or 3 more so buckle up for a lot of me acting like I know what I’m talking about! So every draft is intriguing weather it’s amazing (like last years and next years), terrible (like 2007 or 2012), or average like this one looks to be. It is a clear cut top 5 for everyone, and everyone has some combination of the same top 4 and then Michael Dal Colle at 5. Just 3 weeks away now!
Again before I begin let me stress, player comparison’s are only in terms of style of play. I’m not saying Ekblad will be Weber, or Reinhart will be Toews, or Virtanen will only be a 3rd or 4th liner like Torres, just that they have very similar games and traits.
Aaron Ekblad Barrie OHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’4 Wt: 215 Shot: R
Comparison: Shea Weber
Not much of a shocker here. If you look closely at the Panthers, they have a lot coming on D, and nothing as far as good young forwards. They have some good young pieces up front but no depth. Also, a forward is more marketable, and can have more of an immediate impact on your team. Having said all this…I really just believe that the Ekblad is far better than the forwards at the top and is more of a cornerstone piece to build around than any other player in this year’s draft. But that is all assuming they keep the pick. I’m starting to think that it’s more likely they trade down. Rumors are everywhere that they want Willie Nylander…that’s why you’re the Panthers.
Sam Reinhart Kootenay WHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 185 Shot: R
Comparison: Jonathan Toews
I think I’ve had this all season in one form or another. The Sabres really need a center to build around and while Reinhart doesn’t have that elite skill level most are looking for in the top 5, he’s so smart and plays such a complete game that I believe he will be a legit 1st line center.
Leon Draisaitl Prince Albert WHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 208 Shot: L
Comparison: Joe Thornton
As an Oiler fan I want Ekblad should he fall to 3, then if Draisaitl were still available at 5 and the Islanders still held the 5th pick I would offer up Yakupov for the pick. But I’m not in charge. Will Draisaitl match Yakupov’s offense? Likely not, but he’ll be a better fit for the Oilers. There is no denying the Oilers greatest weakness moving forward is down the middle.
Sam Bennett Kingston OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 178 Shot: L
Comparison: Doug Gilmour
What a great spot for the Flames to be in. A clear cut top 4 and they get to simply sit back and take the last guy. Absolutely zero pressure on them in this draft. And if Bennett is the guy, you think Flames fans who had Doug Gilmour lead them to a Cup in 89 will mind getting a player who many think is a clone of the guy? Bennett and Monahan as a 1-2 down the middle will be a force in this league.
Michael Dal Colle Oshawa OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’2 Wt: 184 Shot: L
Comparison: Patrick Sharp
Fully expect this pick to be dealt. But IF they keep it, Dal Colle is a perfect fit. He is going to have good size once he fills out, can skate and can really shoot the puck, he would be the perfect running mate for Tavares in a few seasons and wing is really their only need moving forward.
Nick Ritchie Peterborough OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’2 Wt: 218 Shot: L
Comparison: Jamie Benn
I like Ritchie in this draft more than most because it is just so tough to find a guy like him. You can find a million Willie Nylander’s, Nik Ehlers, or Kasperi Kapanen’s. A 6’2, 220 power forward who plays a mean game and can score, those guys are nearly impossible to find.
Haydn Fleury Red Deer WHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’3 Wt: 207 Shot: L
Comparison: Mark Giordano
This HAS to be the pick. Ron Francis is now running the show here and he has to see that Jim Rutherford’s major downfall as a GM was that he didn’t give anywhere near enough attention to the blueline. Fleury wouldn’t be much of a reach here, and in my opinion is a perfect fit for what the Canes need.
Jake Virtanen Calgary WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 213 Shot: R
Comparison: Raffi Torres
I more so mean Torres when he first came up. Remember that guy? 20 goals, ton of speed, couldn’t be knocked off the puck, great shot. That is who Virtanen really reminds me of and if he has a bit of intelligence, he will become the power forward that Torres should have been. I don’t like this spot for the Leafs, but if the Panthers want Nylander as has been rumored than perhaps a swap of 8 and Gardiner for 1 makes sense?
Nikolaj Ehlers Halifax QMJHL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 162 Shot: L
Comparison: Radim Vrbata
Right around this point is where I expect some teams to trade back. Because if you feel you can get the same guy at 20 as you would at 9 then why not slide back and get an extra 2nd? I’m not as big on Ehlers as most are, but I believe he fits well for the Jets who may want a little more skill in their top 6.
Jared McCann Sault Ste. Marie OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 180 Shot: L
Comparison: Patrice Bergeron
Just love this pick for the Ducks, had it mocked a few times now. McCann isn’t flashy but he is going to be a very effective player in this league because of his intelligence and willingness to play a complete game. I’ve maintained for a long time now that the Ducks must find a 2nd line center to play behind Ryan Getzlaf, and they don’t have one coming.
Brendan Perlini Niagara OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’2 Wt: 205 Shot: L
Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk
The Preds have amassed a pretty nice young blueline yet again, but they don’t have much offensive talent up front and with Peter Laviolette now behind the bench you can bet they’ll start to focus a bit more on having a team who can score. Perlini isn’t physical, but he can fly, has good hands and can really shoot.
William Nylander Rogle SWE
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 169 Shot: R
Comparison: Ray Whitney
This is the biggest wildcard in the 1st round. Some guys love him, some just love his skill but hate the kid. Kyle Woodlief from Redline Report called him a diva. Future Considerations has him ranked 4th. I don’t see him going top 10 because I think it is too risky, but a team like the Yotes or Preds who really need offense should pounce on him.
Dylan Larkin USNTDP USHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 190 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Kesler
Might be a bit of a reach here for Larkin but again center’s aren’t all over the place in this draft like last season. I feel like the Caps could either go with Larkin to add a great skating 200 foot center to play with all that offensive skill, or add to the blueline but I don’t see the D-man that fits their specific need.
Julius Honka Swift Current WHL
Pos: D Ht: 5’11 Wt: 178 Shot: R
Comparison: Mark Streit
I mocked this last time and still love it. Honka has moved ahead of Roland McKeown as the 3rd best D-man in this draft. What separates them is Honka is a legit PP QB and some don’t believe McKeown is. Anyway, the Stars need to build up their blueline so this is a great fit.
Robby Fabbri Guelph OHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’10 Wt: 166 Shot: L
Comparison: Saku Koivu
The question is whether or not Fabbri will be able to stay at center in his career or if he’ll move to the wing. The Wings don’t have a need for yet another small, skilled player, but Fabbri has versatility and grit that they’ll covet. A D-man would be ideal here, but I can’t see them reaching on a guy.
Kasperi Kapanen Kalpa FIN
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 172 Shot: R
Comparison: Sami Kapanen
This organization is very well setup. They have great depth going on down the middle, a lot of depth on the blueline, and look good in goal. A kid like Kapanen would be perfect here. Ideally a D-man would fit best, but Kapanen is safe, plays 2 ways, has grit and has a lot of skill much like his old man.
Travis Sanheim Calgary WHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’3 Wt: 181 Shot: L
Comparison: Roman Josi
Have to. Have to, have to, have to take a D-man here. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again the Flyers blueline moving forward is the worst in the league. They are better than some CURRENTLY, but what is coming outside of Samuel Morin who is a boom or bust guy, is terrible. Sanheim is a big time riser, especially in Craig Button’s eyes who has him up to 8th!
Alex Tuch USNTDP USHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 213 Shot: R
Comparison: Bryan Bickell
Another team that could use a D-man, but they more so could use a guy via UFA. Dumba and Brodin are going to become good running mates for Suter. So with that being said they take Tuch and I love this kid as a surprise top 10 pick because of his great size. Most have him going in this area however.
Ivan Barbashev Moncton QMJHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: T.J. Oshie
Not at all a need here but I love this kid and would be a little shocked if he were around at this point. 1st line player? Probably not. But a guy you can move between your 2nd and 3rd line, can play the middle or the wing, has some skill and plays with a ton of energy. He’ll be a valuable player in this league.
Conner Bleackley Red Deer WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 192 Shot: R
Comparison: Drew Stafford
This kid is versatile, has nice size, does nothing great but everything real well. Like Barbashev, not a 1st line player but a very effective and useful top 6 or 9 guy. I really can’t get a handle on what the Sharks are going to do at the draft, all I know is they do it better than most.
Thatcher Demko Boston College NCAA
Pos: G Ht: 6’3 Wt: 192 Glove: L
Comparison: Braden Holtby
Swing and a miss on the Ryan Miller deal. I hated it for them the night they did it, they overpaid by a country mile, and then got bounced in the 1st round and Miller is walking. This leaves Jake Allen on the big club next season and this teams great goaltending depth gone. A bit of a reach on Demko here, but there is a lot to like about him.
David Pastrnak Sodertalje SWE2
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 167 Shot: R
Comparison: Martin Havlat
Get some running mates for Crosby. I don’t care if it’s Pastrnak, or Scherbak, or Vrana, or Ho-Sang, or Milano, or anyone of these smaller skilled wingers, but there are a billion of them in this draft so all you have to do…whoever is the Pens GM on June 27th, just take one of them.
Roland McKeown Kingston OHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’1 Wt: 186 Shot: R
Comparison: Kevin Shattenkirk
Really like this pick and I know McKeown has stumbled down a lot of rankings in the 2nd half, but in a draft that doesn’t have a lot of talent on the blueline I still believe he goes earlier than expected. I have read too much good about this kid to think he’ll bust, a character kid who is effective at both ends.
Vladislav Kamenev Magnitigorsk MHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 176 Shot: L
Comparison: Travis Zajac
Man, I admit I didn’t know much about this kid before I wrote this. I seen Button is in love with him, and a few other services are now giving him mention so I read up on him. Great skater, vision, work ethic, size (will obviously fill out in time). If he weren’t a Russian he might be a top 10 pick. This is a bonus pick for the Ducks so I believe this is a great spot to take a home run swing like this.
Adrian Kempe Modo Jr. SWE
Pos: LW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 187 Shot: L
Comparison: Evander Kane
A big winger who isn’t afraid to go to the tough area’s on the ice and play with an edge? He might be Swedish, but Kempe plays a North American style and I believe would be a great fit for the Bruins. The President’s trophy winners don’t have a lot of holes, so they can sit back and take the best guy on their board and Kempe fits their bill.
Nikita Scherbak Saskatoon WHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 172 Shot: L
Comparison: Alexander Mogilny
Here is another slight but highly skilled kid. He could go as high as 15, or he could go 2nd round…just like the rest of them that are this kind of player. I expect a kid like Scherbak to go ahead of Vrana or Ho-Sang simply because he’s been a riser this season. Habs have had a GREAT 2 previous drafts with Marc Bergevin running the show.
Anthony DeAngelo Sarnia OHL
Pos: D Ht: 5’11 Wt: 175 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Murphy
The Hawks, Sharks, Bruins, Kings, these are teams that are so well setup and really don’t have needs in the organization. But the Hawks aren’t that deep in the system on the blueline so I’m saying they take the highly offensive minded DeAngelo. As a wildcard selection, I like the thought of them getting their hands on Nick Schmaltz. So much skill, if they got the chance to develop him he could be special.
Jack Dougherty USNTDP USHL
Pos: D Ht: 6’1 Wt: 186 Shot: R
Comparison: Jordan Leopold
Not much of a comparison is it? It isn’t my fault there are a boat load of American D-men who are mobile and soft, it is just the way most of them are developed. Dougherty like most of these kids needs to work on his play in his own zone. The Lightning are likely going to look D with both picks, but only here does it make sense.
Nick Schmaltz Green Bay USHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 170 Shot: R
Comparison: Mike Ribeiro
The same lines of thinking for the Hawks possibly taking him, or the Bruins possibly taking him, or the Sharks, etc. The Kings get their hands on this kid and he might become something special. I don’t know if Lombardi would do this though. He has just been sitting back and taking the safe guy in the last few drafts…and as you can see it is working out ok for him…
Sonny Milano USNTDP USHL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 183 Shot: L
Comparison: Mike Cammalleri
Is there any nice way to say this pick is horse sh*t? As if the National Hockey League needed more egg on their face from how they conduct themselves, this definitely is one of their finest acts. The worst part of it all is that Lou Lamoriello KNEW he was never going to have that 1st round pick taken away. I don’t care who they take, this is a disgrace.
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