In addition to doing new mocks, and continually working on my top 50 list (might go top 60 for the final one, undecided at this point), I have a few past pieces I’m working on that could be good read’s. No guarantee I get them done, but should be solid if I do.
Not much change from the May edition overall, but a massive change early in the draft as I go against the grain (to borrow a saying used frequently by Andrew Perloff and others on the Dan Patrick Show). I’ll get accused of looking for attention and other things, that’s fine. It’s not the case. I lay out my reasoning for it and believe that team will end up seeing it the same way. It is one of the reasons I LOVE the draft is because of the strategy that can go along with it.
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: 6’2.25 Wt: 216 Shot: L
Comparison: Anze Kopitar
Hey, people have shutup about Laine possibly going 1st! About time! The Leafs get the elite number 1 centre they need to build around, and I really believe Matthews and Marner are the next Toews and Kane. Marner will get a ton of love, but he’ll be able to do his thing because of Matthews. And as you can see, Matthews measured in at the combine much bigger than he was listed at all season. 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: 6’3.75 Wt: 201 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: C Ht: 6’2.25 Wt: 205 Shot: L
Comparison: Shane Doan
We’re all making this mistake, and Elliotte Friedman is tipping us off that we shouldn’t be. That mistake is that the Blue Jackets are just blindly going to take the Fin. Puljujarvi is a Fin, GM Jarmo Kekelainen is a Fin, he’s the consensus 3rd player on everyone’s board, so it’s obvious…right? Nope. Friedman has been saying for a few weeks now that the Jackets might be open to moving back so they can get a centre. But here is the problem: The Oilers won’t have a desire to move up. So then you move on to the Canucks and the Canucks want Dubois from everything I’ve read. If the Canucks move up to 3, they’re taking Dubois (at least it looks that way). So UNLESS the Jackets have eyes for Logan Brown, they can’t move back. I don’t think it’s far fetched that they want Brown, so in that case a trade back to 6 with Calgary is something that would make sense for both teams. But with trades in the top 5 being so damn rare, I’m betting they stand pat and take Dubois here. It is much like when the Panthers took need over the perceived BPA in 2013, taking Sasha Barkov over Seth Jones. Dale Talon knew that if he didn’t get his big skilled centre then, he may not ever get that guy, and a trade back with the Lightning wasn’t there to be made. Same deal here. If the Jackets don’t get their centre now, they might be chasing that piece for the next 10 years, because they’re good enough everywhere else to be one of those teams who fall into that trap of good enough to make the playoffs, never good enough to contend.
Other Options: Jesse Puljujarvi
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3.5 Wt: 203 Shot: R
Comparison: Jakub Voracek
https://www.nhl.com/news/oilers-vp-scott-howson-talks-nhl-draft/c-280881128?tid=277764372 Click this link if you want to read something that will prove to be 100% wrong. Maybe they move down and take a D-man, but not at 4. I’m not going to do the run down yet again of how small the value of this pick actually is. I mean, it’s not as though it has no value obviously, but compared to what some think it’ll fetch in a deal it is. “4th pick for Subban!!!” No. 4th pick for Sami Vatanen is about all this would fetch, and I’m not doing that deal. A likely star for a slightly above average player, it’s a ridiculous move and I don’t know when GM’s are going to start acknowledging the actual value of these high picks. Trading down is a strong possibility, but if they’re moving back it’s likely to gain more picks, because the depth in this organization is horrendous. Should they stay at 4, this would be a shocking gift. Now, I’ll likely be accused of being an Oilers homer/dreamer with this. I swear I’m not. In fact, I don’t know that I like Puljujarvi better than Tkachuk for the Oilers. But the Oilers are much weaker on the right side and left in the organization, and Puljujarvi’s skill set is unquestioned. I will say, IF this scenario happens, I think a trade back would be much more likely because the value of the pick would suddenly be much greater.
Other Options: Matthew Tkachuk
Pos: D Ht: 6’2.25 Wt: 221 Shot: L
Comparison: Dougie Hamilton
Well, the theory on this pick changed with the McCann for Gudbranson swap. Now all of a sudden, the Canucks aren’t as deep down the middle, and they got a big young D-man added to the fold. So the need to pick a D-man has lessened…but I still think that should be the pick. If Dubois is still available, perhaps they can pull off a deal with the Oilers for the 4th pick (remember, Jim Benning and Peter Chiarelli worked together), that would make a lot of sense for the Canucks. But if no deal is to be made and/or Dubois is gone, I would look to move back. Maybe they move back 1 spot with the Flames who I have to think would be in love with the idea of getting Matt Tkachuk, and then the Canucks could re-coup the 2nd they lost in the Gudbranson deal. But I wouldn’t simply take Tkachuk if I were Jim Benning. They’re just starting this rebuild in Vancouver, so make sure that blueline is built up first. Learn from the Oilers drastic mistake.
Other Options: Jakob Chychrun, Olli Juolevi
Pos: LW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 195 Shot: L
Comparison: Corey Perry
I don’t really expect things to simply shake down like this where the Flames take Tkachuk at 6. But I do think it’s very possible the Flames walk out of this draft with Tkachuk. Listen to 960 in Calgary some day this week, and you’ll hear them talk about Tkachuk. He’s the guy that fan base badly wants. 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! As I mentioned above, perhaps a deal to flip picks with the Canucks is to be made? They have done 2 deals recently with the Canucks, so perhaps those two make a swap for 5 which would ensure the Flames of Tkachuk.
Other Options: Jakob Chychrun, Olli Juolevi
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 to the top pick, but it’s highly unlikely, especially if they apparently won’t part with Ekman-Larsson or some of their high end kids like Domi and Strome. 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 3 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: 200 Shot: L
Comparison: Rob Blake
The Sabres get my guy! Buffalo much like the Canucks and Coyotes really need one of these big 3 D-men. Chychrun just has everything to be a legit number 1 D-man at the next level. Last mock draft I was questioning how he’ll interview, but from the interviews I’ve seen from the combine with Chychrun he did nothing but cement my belief that he’s going to become a an elite D-man in the NHL. The Sabres can really use a kid like this. They have Rasmus Ristolainen on the right side who looks like a stud logging 25+ minutes a game this season while putting up 41 points. But they need one or two more of these types. Chychrun and Ristolainen would be a tough pair to deal with down the road.
Other Options: None
Pos: C Ht: 6’6.25 Wt: 220 Shot: L
Comparison: Nick Bjugstad
Brown at 9 I believe would be perfect for the Habs. Since taking over in 2012, Marc Bergevin has been looking to make the Habs bigger and tougher to play against. Brown could be that big 1st line centre they’ve been looking for. Alex Galchyenuk was drafted as a centre, and finally spent some time in the middle this season, but all indications from the coaching staff is that they prefer to have him on the wing. I had to re-word that from last time because a Habs fan doesn’t realize that his favourite teams head coach seems to prefer him on the wing and snapped at me for this, because as you know, this is my fault. Hopefully for the Habs, Galchenyuk will grow as a centre, and that would be awesome as you can’t have too many. Being the writer for their prospects at Hockey’s Future I can tell you this team is hurting pretty bad down the middle so look for this pick to be a centre.
Other Options: Tyson Jost, Michael McLeod
Pos: D Ht: 6’0.75 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 3 D-men in this 1st round.
Other Options: Dante Fabbro
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 178 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 with the 11th pick 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: 190 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: 5’10 Wt: 164 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: 185 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Kesler
A lot of people like 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. Also, the idea of McAvoy here is that he’s going to BU. That’s a ridiculous reason to assume a kid is going somewhere, and it’s the same reason people believe Jesse Puljujarvi “has to” go 3rd to Columbus. Anyway, what the Bruins didn’t do last year 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 Wt: 231 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: 6’0.5 Wt: 192 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: 6’0.25 Wt: 199 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: Boone Jenner
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. 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: 5’11.25 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: 5’11.75 Wt: 184 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: 197 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: 224 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: 174 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: 190 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: 6’1.5 Wt: 190 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: 6’0.5 Wt: 190 Shot: L
Comparison: Tomas Plekanec
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: 211 Shot: L
Comparison: Chris Kreider
In a perfect world, they land Rubtsov. They have never hesitated to grab a Russian during the Yzerman era, and even if they are to re-sign Stamkos (which for them makes no sense), the one weaker area in the organization is down the middle. But Rubtsov just went to the Caps so I basically have them taking the best talent left on the board. 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: C Ht: 6’1.5 Wt: 192 Shot: R
Comparison: Frans Nielsen
I think they need to grab a centre with this pick. If you look at what is in the organization, they don’t have much down the middle. Hockey’s Future has Ivan Barbashev as their top centre in organization, and I’m not even sure he’ll end up as a centre on the big club. But even if he does, that’s it. The rest of what they have are real long shots. And if David Backes leaves, I BELIEVE that leaves them with no RH shot centre’s throughout the organization. So Pu in this spot makes a lot of sense to me.
Other Options: Carl Grundstrom, Boris Katchouk
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: D Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 175 Shot: L
Comparison: Anton Stralman
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 30 nor 31 are they anywhere close to getting one of those kids. They could package 30, 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 Adam Fox or Luke Green? But even if that is the case, the blueline needs a lot of work, so the idea of one of Lucas Johansen, Libor Hajek, Dennis Cholowki, or Markus Niemelainen here could make a ton of sense. If Filip Gustavsson were to still be on the board I believe he would get serious consideration too, but then again I have to think Mark Hunter will make sure he gets London’s Tyler Parsons to help address the goaltending situation.
Other Options: Libor Hajek, Dennis Cholowski
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