This will be the only mock draft for May. Then I do three in June. One in the first week or so, one the weekend prior to the draft (released on the Monday which this year I guess will be June 20th), and then finally one the day of the draft and if I do what I did last year and take the day off for the draft I’ll do it about an hour out from the draft.
As always, a little insight to how I look at things. I’m looking at what teams have 25-27 and under in their organization. I look at need and not just the BPA (best player available) these days as do most teams because it is getting more and more difficult to make trades in the NHL. Also I try and look for patterns with teams and their past 4 or 5 drafts. Do they go CHL heavy? Do they love the NCAA/USHL kids? Maybe they’re head over heals for Europeans?
Remember, just because McKenzie or Redline report or ISS or CSS have one guy ranked higher than another doesn’t mean that he is the BPA for that particular team. This is why they have their own scouting staffs people. Also, I put where I personally rank these kids off to the right side of their name and team in brackets, in case you are wondering what that means. Where I have the player ranked in my top 50 rankings is in brackets next to the players name. Here we go…
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.5 Wt: 194 Shot: L
Comparison: Anze Kopitar
Can we shutup with the talk of Laine going 1st? This is a classic case of the media being bored with who is at 1 and they see this extremely flashy guy and start clamouring for him. You don’t take the winger over the centre! It amazes me how people still don’t understand this. Leafs get the elite number 1 centre they need to build around. Now they just have to work on the blueline and maybe get a few heavier wingers, but they’re on the right path now. Hope you can stomach the Toronto media hyping them the next 2 or 3 years, and I hope Leaf fans can look past the Toronto media trying to crush them now that they’ve built them up.
Other Options: None
Pos: RW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 206 Shot: R
Comparison: Ilya Kovalchuk
Every hockey fan is pumped for the Jets winning the 2nd overall pick, and let the Teemu Selanne comparisons begin! Laine is a sniper, but as my Kovalchuk comparsion suggests he’s more of a power forward, bomb of a one timer type sniper. Fits this team PERFECTLY, especially for a prospect like Kyle Connor. Everyone is saying Scheifele, but Connor and Laine could be the Jets version of Backstrom and Ovechkin. Please, I’m not saying Laine is Ovy like other knobs are going overboard saying, but just that Connor is an elite playmaker and Laine will be an elite finisher.
Other Options: None
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3.5 Wt: 203 Shot: R
Comparison: Jakub Voracek
They’re ecstatic because Kekalainen is a Fin and Puljujarvi obviously is a Fin, but the Jackets really needed to win this lottery. Now, they really look destined to be that team that is always good never great. Maybe they get lucky next season, maybe someone emerges, you never know. But I hated the Johansen trade for them, and another winger, as talented as Puljujarvi is, I don’t believe will do a whole lot for them. If it’s me, I’m more interested in Dubois IF (a big if) the belief is that he can be a 1st line centre. You need to be in the top 5 of the draft to find a true 1st line centre. Guys like Kopitar and Getzlaf are outliers. Crosby, Toews, Malkin, Thornton, Tavares, Seguin, McDavid, etc. are all top 5 picks…actually they’re all top 3 picks. The Blue Jackets aren’t likely to be picking in the top 3 moving forward.
Other Options: Pierre-Luc Dubois
Pos: C Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 202 Shot: L
Comparison: David Backes
Everyone in Oiler land seems to think Chiarelli will trade this pick. This was also the thought in 2013 when they had the 7th pick. You have to realize, teams not picking high refuse to acknowledge the value of a high pick. They always will try to low ball these teams because they believe those teams will be desperate for immediate help. That’s why the last team that traded out was the Lightning in 02 and the return was dreadful. Add to this, Dubois and Tkachuk would be this pick if the Oilers hold it, and both of those guys perfectly fit what Peter Chiarelli is looking to build (and please, for those of you who think they need a defenceman with the 4th pick…you’re a moron, hate to break it to you). Look at last year when they “had to move the 16th pick”. How would Evgeny Svechnikov or Matt Barzal or Travis Konecny or Thomas Chabot look now? Add a Mitchell Stephens or Brandon Carlo to that. For a D-man who they already had 2 of…who were better…and now Reinhart is 4th in that pecking order, maybe 5th. So, not much value, and you’re getting a power forward. Yet they’re going to move the 4th pick hey? Maybe they will, but it doesn’t seem likely to me. If Arizona were to offer 7 and 20 then perhaps I do that, but I don’t know that they would. Dubois is a perfect guy to ride shotgun next to McDavid. The kid is a bull on the ice and the Oilers haven’t had that type of player for nearly 20 years.
Other Options: Matthew Tkachuk
Pos: D Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 206 Shot: L
Comparison: Dougie Hamilton
I think they’ll move back a few spots (maybe with Montreal) and look to take their D-man there. But contrary to what Craig Button had on his mock draft, this team is DESPERATE for defencemen in their system. And while I was higher on Logan Brown than most earlier in the year, Button is going overboard on him. He’s not a better prospect in my mind than at least 3 of the top 4 D-men , not to mention the Canucks are already have potential 2nd line centres in Bo Horvat and Jared McCann. Learn from the Oilers, build that blueline!
Other Options: Jakob Chychrun, Olli Juolevi
Pos: LW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 195 Shot: L
Comparison: Corey Perry
This is a gift for Brian Burke. His type of guy falling to 6th, this really would be the perfect scenario for the Flames. Put him on the 2nd line (in 2018) next to Sam Bennett and as an Oiler fan I would probably hate it 5 times a year because man would they be hard to handle! They have done 2 deals recently with the Canucks, so perhaps those 2 make a swap for 5 which would ensure the Flames of either Dubois or Tkachuk.
Other Options: None
Pos: D Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 179 Shot: L
Comparison: Oliver Ekman-Larsson
They don’t get Matthews and they don’t even get Tkachuk who nobody has talked about but would also have been a pretty marketable kid for them. Again, they’ll push hard to trade up, but not likely. So back to business as usual for the Yotes and that being the case they are pretty desperate all of a sudden to rebuild their blueline. I like Chychrun, but of those big 4 D-men in this draft it is anyone’s guess the order they go and obviously I have Sergachev going to the Canucks already. I’ll say the Coyotes take Juolevi but they can’t go wrong with any of them.
Other Options: Jakob Chychrun
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 215 Shot: L
Comparison: Rob Blake
The Sabres get my guy! Buffalo much like the Canucks and Coyotes really need one of these big 4 D-men. Chychrun just has everything to be a legit number 1 D-man at the next level, but I will say that while some have said he’s a really intelligent kid, the interview would be huge for a kid like him. Because if he’s got a really high IQ why is he dropping? Likely because scouts have fatigue on scouting him, but maybe there is something to it. Still, the fit for him in Buffalo is perfect.
Other Options: None
Pos: C Ht: 6’6 Wt: 222 Shot: L
Comparison: Nick Bjugstad
If it were me, I’d take Mike McLeod here. But Marc Bergevin has been looking to make the Habs a lot bigger since he became GM, and they really need a centre as the idea of Galchenyuk becoming a centre in the NHL is looking less and less likely. I love the idea of this if the Habs are picking at 9.
Other Options: Tyson Jost, Michael McLeod
Pos: D Ht: 6’1 Wt: 173 Shot: L
Comparison: Tyson Barrie
Ironic that my comparison on Bean has been Barrie since it looks like Barrie is on his way out of Denver. I’ve harped on it for years now, the Avs need to build up their blueline. Jeff Marek was adamant before last year’s draft that he was told the Avs were taking a D-man with the 10th pick no matter what (had the 10th pick last year as well). Then they didn’t, and Nikita Zadorov is a project. I did like taking Nicolas Meloche in the 2nd round, but it’s not enough. Jake Bean might not be enough, but I’ll feel a lot better about the situation if they snag Bean or one of the other big 4 D-men in this 1st round.
Other Options: Dante Fabbro
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 179 Shot: R
Comparison: Ales Hemsky
This is another team that might want to snag a D-man. And for a few years now I’ve heard and read about how people love the talent they had on the back end and I always scratched my head. Well, Eric Gelinas was ditched, people soured on Damon Severson this season, and Adam Larsson looks as though he’ll just be ok. But the problem is at 11 is that the 4 best D-men are gone now. So I went with the winger and what I love about this idea is that neither Adam Henrique, Travis Zajac or incoming Pavel Zacha are guys who need the puck on their stick all the time. Nylander does, which is one reason I’m not as high on him as most are, but he would likely fit perfectly with this squad. Also, go on hockey’s future and look at the Devils depth chart on the right side. 1 guy, in the whole system. And that one guy is someone I’ve never heard of, nor are any of the centre’s who might move to the wing.
Other Options: Tyson Jost, Clayton Keller
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 191 Shot: L
Comparison: Claude Giroux
I don’t know where they’ll go now with Bryan Murray out of the picture. I THINK a forward of some type would be the preference because they don’t seem to be too happy with a lot of their forwards, centre or wing. And Jost is the type of kid who would fit with the culture they’ve had in Ottawa the last few seasons. Not a big team, but a lot of bite. They’re the Eastern version of the Calgary Flames. Jost is 100% this type of player, and I said it when doing my prospects list that Jost has potential to be a 1st line centre someday. It’s a lot less likely than others because of his stature and his skill level though high is a little limited, but this kids has big time passion.
Other Options: Michael McLeod
Pos: C Ht: 5’9.5 Wt: 168 Shot: L
Comparison: Johnny Gaudreau
Again I’ll say it, I don’t think he’ll play the middle in the pro’s. He’s suited to play the wing which would free him up a bit more offensively. But I will say that should he go to Carolina or any team in the East he would have a much better chance thriving playing centre then if he were to be taken by a team in the West. I hate comparing him to Gaudreau because everyone is going to use that comparison, but I honestly can’t think of another guy like that right now. Kane and Gaudreau, that’s all you’ll hear about this kid. He’s not Kane, but he might be Gaudreau. And Carolina is set on D, they’re OK down the middle for now, but they can use a highly skilled winger like Keller likely will be.
Other Options: Michael McLeod
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 188 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Kesler
Craig Button had Charlie McAvoy here, and I gave that a ton of thought and was going to go with it. But then I thought about it….they took 3 D-men in the top 52 last year. What they didn’t do was take a centre, even though they likely should have taken local product Colin White over Zach Senyshyn. So McLeod fits, and he’s the BPA at this point which is also what the Bruins like to do. And if he has a chance to learn from a guy like Patrice Bergeron he could be the next Patrice Bergeron.
Other Options: Dante Fabbro, Charlie McAvoy
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3.5 Wt: 225 Shot: R
Comparison: James Neal
This team is in no man’s land. Hiring Bruce Boudreau was great, but he isn’t working with Ovechkin and Backstrom here. He isn’t working with Getzlaf and Perry here. Koivu and Parise aren’t those guys. I do think he’ll improve the team, but the combination of moving a ton of assets at trade deadline’s and other prospects not panning out likely means this organization is in the midst of their peak. Anyway as they currently stand they could use some more help up front in the organization so they take Gauthier who down the road should be a nice 2nd line winger, and could be a tremendous weapon on the PP with his shot.
Other Options: Max Jones
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 189 Shot: R
Comparison: Zach Bogosian
I prefer Fabbro to McAvoy, but there isn’t much separating those 2 prospects right now. The Wings need one of them and look at this time to be a perfect spot to snag one of them. It blows my mind how little they’ve invested in their blueline the last 4 or 5 years. This HAS to be the draft where they turn that around. I’d without a doubt take Fabbro or McAvoy here, and then I’d go with another D-man with the 46th pick.
Other Options: Charlie McAvoy
Pos: D Ht: 6’1 Wt: 208 Shot: R
Comparison: Keith Yandle
McAvoy won’t jump into the NHL right away. By the time he does, the Preds can ease him in. Let’s say that’s in 2019. McAvoy is a 3rd pairing guy who gets a bit of pp time. By 2020 Shea Weber will be 35, and this team doesn’t have much coming on the blueline. I’d do the Seth Jones deal again and again, but it still left a bit of a hole for the Preds down the line on D. McAvoy can fill that hole.
Other Options: Kale Clague
Pos: LW Ht: 6’3 Wt: 205 Shot: L
Comparison: Scott Mellanby
This is as Philly of a guy as it gets. But Jones also fits a bit of a need for the Flyers as they don’t have much coming on the left side. On the big club they are solid down the middle, but in the system they’re pretty thin so maybe that’s the way they go, but this team more than any other loves picking these types. Last year they moved up to take Travis Konecny. Hell, I even have Jones compared to a former Flyer pick in Scott Mellanby. He plays mean, and as we have seen, he will go over the line. I’d much rather take a kid like that who you have to reel in a bit rather than a kid who you have to teach to play that style.
Other Options: Luke Kunin
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 193 Shot: R
Comparison: Derek Stepan
If you look at the Islanders organizational depth chart, they are thin on the right side. Now, some of this depends on the situation with Ryan Strome who had an awful season and currently looks like a disappointment. So they could use something on the right side. Well I believe Kunin will end up playing the middle in the pro’s, but if they did draft him then obviously one of him or Barzal could move to the right side. You can never have too many centre’s.
Other Options: Kieffer Bellows
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 177 Shot: L
Comparison: Matt Niskanen
This pick was acquired from the Rangers in the Keith Yandle trade. They could use a RH shot D-man, but if they walk out of this draft with two D-men, not to mention that they could get another at 37. Clague has shot up my rankings, and add to that there isn’t the depth of puck moving defencemen in this draft that last year’s draft had. So teams may reach a bit on them when they can, though with the playoff run Clague had I sure don’t see it as a reach, he was awesome.
Other Options: Logan Stanley, Lucas Johansen
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 196 Shot: L
Comparison: Brian Bellows
This pick was acquired from the Kings in the Andrej Sekera trade. This would be a great haul for the Canes if they walk out with Keller and Bellows, instantly upgrading them on the wings. Pascal Laberge might be more of a preference for them simply because they could walk out with a potential LW and RW, but I’m not so sure Keller or Bellows couldn’t play either wing. Especially Bellows, with his game he might be better suited to play the off wing.
Other Options: Pascal Laberge, Riley Tufte
Pos: D Ht: 6’7 Wt: 220 Shot: L
Comparison: Brooks Orpik
This pick was acquired from the Blackhawks in the Andrew Ladd trade. It is insane how loaded this organization currently is. Everyone mocked Kevin Cheveldayoff for never making trades. Well this is the result. This organization has everything, and they’re the next big thing in the Central division, if not the league. The one thing I thought they could use is available in this spot and that is a big LH shot D-man, so Logan Stanley goes to them. Stanley can slot right behind Morrissey on the left side, Trouba or perhaps what they trade Trouba for can slot on the right side, and they’re simply loaded for years to come. Stanley is the type of player the Jets love. Big and tough.
Other Options: Lucas Johansen, Libor Hajek
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 162 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Strome
The lack of skill on this team got exposed in the playoffs. They’re built exactly how I would build a team, but you still need at least a couple of high end skill players to finish plays. Jonathan Huberdeau isn’t enough, so I like them taking Laberge in this spot. He isn’t their type of guy, but again they need to mix in some more skill to get to that next level. This organization though is very much so on the right path.
Other Options: Riley Tufte
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 193 Shot: L
Comparison: Shawn Horcoff
This is a reach, so perhaps they move back. But then again they are likely going to get draft picks when they move one of their D-men this summer. Still the point here is that they really need centres and while German Rubtsov has fallen to them, Bob Murray doesn’t take Russians.
Other Options: Cliff Pu
Pos: G Ht: 6’2 Wt: 184 Glove: L
Comparison: Tuukka Rask
It is tough to find many holes in their system. They don’t pick D-men high very often, yet all of a sudden thanks to Klingberg and Johns emerging and Esa Lindell developing nicely, they don’t have a need on the blueline. So I went with the organizational weakness which is in net. No, this has nothing to do with the Stars awful goaltending currently on the big club, it is horrible throughout the system. Jack Campbell is a bust, he’s done. Played this season in the ECHL. And they have nothing else, so this is something which I’m sure will be addressed at some point in this draft, so why not snag the best tendy in the draft?
Other Options: German Rubtsov
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 176 Shot: L
Comparison: Mikko Koivu
They don’t have much down the middle on the team or in the system. Rubtsov falls into their lap in my opinion because of the scandal he was involved in with the Russian U18 team. Some teams take Russians off the board because of the scare they won’t come to North America for a long time, some take them off the board because historically their kids are complete crapshoots, well put on top of that a doping scandal and I can’t see how Rubtsov doesn’t fall. But we all know the Caps with Ovechkin have an ability to draw them like they did with Kuznetsov and Orlov. Rubtsov would be a steal for them.
Other Options: Lucas Johansen, Libor Hajek
Pos: LW Ht: 6’5 Wt: 205 Shot: L
Comparison: Chris Kreider
If Tufte goes to a team like Tampa, who can develop kids with the best of them, and play in the East which is better suited for a kid like Tufte, this project might turn out to be a freaking steal.
Other Options: Rasmus Asplund, Carl Grundstrom
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 167 Shot: R
Comparison: Dave Bolland
This pick was acquired from the Sharks in the Martin Jones trade. I just really feel like Bitten or Dillon Dube are going to be guys that the Bruins end up reaching a bit (though not according to my rankings) on like they did last year with Debrusk and Senyshyn. I love Bitten a little more than most do, which is odd. Midseason I was lower on him than most. And I’m a “sizest”. But Bitten will fill out, and once he gets up to around 185 he should be able to play that feisty game at the same speed he does now.
Other Options: Dillon Dube, Lucas Johansen
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.5 Wt: 192 Shot: R
Comparison: Frans Nielsen
This pick was acquired from the Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade. I might trade up if I’m the Leafs in this spot. They could really use one of the RH shot D-men, and at 29 nor 31 are they anywhere close to getting one of those kids. They could package 29, 31 a 2017 2nd and a 2018 3rd at maybe the Wings to jump up to 16 and do that. Something along those lines would make sense for both teams in my opinion. But maybe they have their eye on a kid later on who could fill that void like a Luke Green? So that leaves a lot of options in this spot, and they pick again at 31 so who I have going here could just as easily go at 31. I think they take a goaltender at some point, but I would bet with Mark Hunter in control of the draft that he wants to snag Tyler Parsons of the London Knights. That was also the deciding factor in this pick being Pu is that Hunter won’t be able to resist his guy if he’s still around.
Other Options: Lucas Johansen, Libor Hajek
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 194 Shot: L
Comparison: Patric Hornqvist
This might seem like a reach, but Grundstrom is their type of a kid. Another team that really has no needs in the system, despite dealing their 1st round pick in 2 of the last 3 drafts. But this is a total guess, as there are a lot of different directions the Blues could go at this point in the draft.
Other Options: Tyler Benson, Boris Katchouk
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