The final addition. I really wish I could hold off on posting this until about half an hour before the draft, but circumstances are that now is the time and not a chance I would miss what I have going on this afternoon to get a freaking mock draft a little more accurate.
This is starting to remind me so much of 2014. At that draft, everything was happening on the trade front. Panthers were moving the top pick to the Canucks, the Islanders were without a doubt moving the 5th pick, a billion trades were going to go down and then….crickets. I have a feeling this will be what happens today. P.K. Subban will be dealt, Jets are taking Puljujarvi over Laine, Columbus will move the 3rd, Oilers will move the 4th, on and on and on. We’ll see.
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
Nothing will change here obviously. 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
Well didn’t this pick get a whole hell of a lot more interesting in the last 36 hours or so! Are they just trying to swerve everyone? Why though? I have a hunch that Bob McKenzie isn’t putting it out there that they might take Puljujarvi unless it’s AT LEAST a 50/50 chance. Why? I don’t know, but if Cheveldayoff likes Puljujarvi better he can’t move back, because the belief is that the Jackets want to move back and take a centre. Having said all this, as I said off the top, this draft is shaping up just like the 2014 draft. Buzz is going on that the draft will basically be off the wall…and then nothing happened. I’ll keep this pick as Laine because it makes more sense, but just remember that Cheveldayoff went off the board in 2011 (Scheifele) and 2013 (Morrissey), and both were tremendous picks.
Other Options: Jesse Puljujarvi
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3.5 Wt: 208 Shot: R
Comparison: Jakub Voracek
I’m not going to change this one either, but I will say that if Laine falls to 3 that if I’m Peter Chiarelli I’m picking up the phone and seeing what Kekelainen wants. If I’m Chiarelli, I’ll gladly eat Scott Hartnell’s contract to move up and take Laine. But back to this pick…I 100% believe the right move for the Jackets is to stay here and take Dubois. I believe Dubois is going to be the 1st line centre this organization needs moving forward. I believe they realize they have to walk out of this draft with the best centre they can snag, but it is sounding like they think Brown is that guy, not Dubois. I completely disagree, but it’s their team. So what I THINK will happen is a trade down to 6 with the Flames. This has been floated by a few people and I believe it makes the most sense. The Jackets move back to 6 to take Brown, which I don’t like but I believe it’s better than taking Puljujarvi for them, and the Flames move up and get a big finesse winger who would fit perfectly with Sam Bennett giving them two lines nearly impossible to deal with. As for the trade, I think it could be the 6th, 35th and 126th pick, along with a roster player (who, I can see a number of possibilities) for this pick and Scott Hartnell which would help the Jackets out for next year’s expansion draft by getting a player with an NTC off the books. The Jackets owe the Canucks a 2nd for hiring Torts, and they only have five picks in this draft so they need to recoup a few picks.
Other Options: Pierre-Luc Dubois, Logan Brown
Pos: LW Ht: 6’1.5 Wt: 202 Shot: L
Comparison: Corey Perry
My phone basically didn’t get put down after 2PM yesterday. Oilers are closing in on Subban, no they aren’t, yes they are, is it the 4th, is it Draisaitl, it can’t be Draisaitl, is it Hall, is it Nuge, ENOUGH!!! We’ll see. If Subban gets moved, I can’t imagine it not being to the Oilers because the Oilers are desperate for a number 1 RH shot D-man. But again, all the rumours fly this time of year and normally nothing happens. So back to status quo, and the national media still can’t figure out that Sergachev or Juolevi isn’t the answer for the Oilers. This team is loaded with quality and high end LH shot D under 25. Tkachuk is the pick, though my head still says Dubois. But Tkachuk couldn’t fit the Chiarelli mold anymore perfectly than he does. A perfect fit for Chiarelli, a perfect fit for McDavid.
Other Options: Pierre-Luc Dubois, Mikhail Sergachev
Pos: C Ht: 6’2.25 Wt: 205 Shot: L
Comparison: Shane Doan
The Canucks get their man. The word is that they’ve been looking at Dubois hard all year and my belief is that this is why they were willing to pay the price they did for Erik Gudbranson. They gave up the 2nd knowing the Blue Jackets owe them one down the road, and they gave up the centre (McCann) knowing they are going after Dubois at the draft. Some question if he’s a centre, but his game got better once he made the move to the middle. I really believe if they give him another year in Cape Breton where he can play centre all season, he’ll get more comfortable and he’ll be ready. Likely that he starts his career back on the wing, but I really believe they’re drafting him to be their franchise centre and I think it’ll be a home run pick for Jim Benning. If they were to go elsewhere or trade down, as I’ve said in the past, the blueline still needs a lot of work moving forward.
Other Options: Mikhail Sergachev, Olli Juolevi
Pos: C Ht: 6’6.25 Wt: 220 Shot: L
Comparison: Viktor Kozlov
As I said at the 3rd pick, I believe this is going to be a deal between the Flames and the Jackets. But let’s assume they don’t find common ground on a deal, Brown would still make a ton of sense for the Flames. They don’t have much size in the top 6, they don’t have much size on the way, and as has been proved you need size down the middle to win in the West. Brown would give them that, and he has the speed to skate with this team, one of the fastest in the league. But should they go in another direction, remember that while this team has an impressive group of defencemen on the big club, they don’t have much coming. And while Brad Treliving is the GM, Brian Burke has maintained with all of his clubs that the blueline be stocked and remain stocked. Another kid I’ve given a ton of late thought to going in this spot is Tyson Jost. He fits the makeup of this team perfectly.
Other Options: Olli Juolevi, Tyson Jost
Pos: D Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 179 Shot: L
Comparison: Jonas Brodin
This is the type of guy that Dave Tippett has really liked. He likes his hockey teams to be great positionally, non physical, and essentially play in a train track. Juolevi fits this mold. The offensive ability is there, and I expect he’ll put up better numbers than Brodin (career high of 19 points), but I don’t honestly think they’ll take him expecting this. If he does tap into it, then it’s a bonus for the Coyotes. No doubt in my mind though that the Coyotes need to address their lack of depth on D in the system in this draft.
Other Options: Mikhail Sergachev, Jake Bean
Pos: D Ht: 6’2.25 Wt: 221 Shot: L
Comparison: Dougie Hamilton
I don’t think it’s close between Juolevi and either Sergachev or Chychrun. I have Chychrun as the top D-man, but absolutely get the love for Sergachev. I have heard the Sabres really love Sergachev, and in this scenario they land him. The Sabres really need a lot of help on the blueline. They likely have a number 1 guy in Ristolainen, but after him there are a lot of question marks moving forward. Sergachev would fit perfectly with Ristolainen as a top pairing in a few years, and he really has the ability to be a stud number 1 D-man.
Other Options: Jake Bean, Alex Nylander
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 190 Shot: L
Comparison: Brad Richards
The more I find out about Jost, the more I love him. IF the Oilers and Habs were to flip picks in a possible Subban deal (or maybe just a trade up by the Habs), Jost would be the guy I’d want the Oilers to take. Not because he’s what they need, but I believe the kid is going to be a key contributor on some Cup winners down the line. Should the Habs not make a move, this would be a tremendous pick for them. Some question whether or not he’ll be a centre, I don’t. Even if he is on the wing, I don’t hear anyone complain about the type of player Zach Parise is. Jost just has all the intangibles every team craves. If not Jost, there are a lot of different routes they could take. The system is far from loaded either up front or on the back end.
Other Options: Jakob Chychrun, Michael McLeod
Pos: D Ht: 6’0.75 Wt: 173 Shot: L
Comparison: Tyson Barrie
I’m back to Bean with this pick. I have little doubt this is going to be a D-man because it’s an organizational need, and there are also a lot of good ones in this range. Some may like Nylander or Keller here because maybe they feel they’ve dropped, but I would go D. I wouldn’t go with this D myself, but I’m much higher on Chychrun than most. Bean fits today’s game though. Not big, but moves the puck great, good skater (not amazing), and he can QB a PP. While it wouldn’t be the guy I’d pick, this would be a great selection for the Avs nonetheless.
Other Options: Jakob Chychrun, Dante Fabbro
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 178 Shot: R
Comparison: Ales Hemsky
I’ve had this pick now for a while and don’t see a need to move off it, unless Nylander goes earlier of course. 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: Clayton Keller
Pos: C Ht: 5’10 Wt: 164 Shot: L
Comparison: Johnny Gaudreau
This team under Bryan Murray invested a lot of recent 1st round picks in centres. Mika Zibanejad, Curtis Lazar, Colin White, not to mention Kyle Turris is still only 27, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau is still only 23 (24 early into next season). So this club is set down the middle, and they look pretty good on D. If they were to go D, I could see Dante Fabbro or Charlie McAvoy being higher on their list than Chychrun due to being RH shot guys. But this team could really use someone dynamic on the wing. I’ve said lots in the past that Keller probably won’t play centre in the pro’s like he has coming up. This is no issue for the Sens. They have a lot of bigger, heavier wingers and nobody with the speed and playmaking ability Keller has.
Other Options: Dante Fabbro, Charlie McAvoy
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 185 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Kesler
I’ve had one of the dynamic wingers going in this spot for a long time. But something I should remember is who their GM is. Ron Francis is a guy who understands how valuable strength down the middle is. This is the guy who has done a great job at re-stocking their blueline, and understanding what will win in this league. Add to this, with a kid like McLeod, kids like Sebastian Aho and Aleksi Saarela to the wings when or if they make the Hurricanes. This is a kid who can do a ton of the heavy lifting for a hockey club. As for the offensive ability, scouts need to get over that. He plays a pro style game, where nobody is going to “out dangle” anyone anyway. Scouts made this same mistake with Boone Jenner, and when Kesler was drafted Bob McKenzie even said on TSN’s broadcast that day that Kesler wasn’t going to be anything more than a 3rd line centre. A player like McLeod isn’t flashy, but he’s going to be a very valuable piece moving forward, which is why I’ve liked him so much.
Other Options: Max Jones, Kieffer Bellows
Pos: D Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 192 Shot: R
Comparison: Alex Pietrangelo
I’ve dismissed the notion of them taking a D-man here like everyone else seems to think they need to do. They took three in the top 52 last season. And I love the belief that this pick is going to be Charlie McAvoy because he went to BU so they would want to take him. What a great way to run an organization. That’s why the Blue Jackets “have to take Puljujarvi” is because Jarmo Kekelainen is a Fin, and why Kieffer Bellows is going to Minny because he’s from there, right? Maybe those things all happen, but I would want to run my organization properly rather than pick the fan favourite. Anyway, a lot of the Boston guys I follow on Twitter seem to think they love Fabbro. I love Fabbro, he’s a RH shot kid who is only outside the top D in this draft due to not being as great of a skater. But he’s so damn poised and intelligent that he easily could be a top pairing guy down the road. But then again, maybe they do simply pick the kid playing at BU. I hope it’d be for better reasons than only that.
Other Options: Jakob Chychrun, Charlie McAvoy
Pos: LW Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 206 Shot: L
Comparison: Boone Jenner
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 Jones, who is a local kid but I could care less about that. He’s a raw talent, who could be better than his teammate Matt Tkachuk down the line. Better skater, better shot, has more of a mean streak, but the hockey sense is the question mark. He’ll play, just a matter of whether he’ll be a top 9 guy or top 6. But this team really needs some bite and Jones can give that to them down the line.
Other Options: Kieffer Bellows
Pos: D Ht: 6’0.25 Wt: 199 Shot: R
Comparison: Keith Yandle
I’ve said it all along, the Wings need to finally address the defence in this draft and I believe they will here. 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. They need D, and they pretty badly need RH shot D and they’re at a premium in this draft, so take one while you can.
Other Options: Jakob Chychrun
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 200 Shot: L
Comparison: Rob Blake
FINALLY my guy goes! This is what I see happening, is I think Chychrun is going to go into free fall tonight. Risers tend to go higher than expected, and fallers tend to go lower than expected. I don’t think anyone has Chychrun falling this far, and I of all people don’t think he should. But I think teams are just going to have fatigue on him. The Preds capitalize on this just like they did Seth Jones falling to 4 in 2013.
Other Options: Luke Kunin
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 197 Shot: L
Comparison: Brian Bellows
Monday I had Gauthier going here. Read yesterday on Twitter that the Flyers didn’t interview Gauthier, which surprises me a lot. They’ve loved QMJHL kids in the past, and while the GM has changed, the scouting staff hasn’t. But I’ll take that as the gospel and suggest they take Bellows here instead. Most like Bellows going to Minny at 15, which is possible. But I feel like that’s a little high for him. He is quite the sniper, and all it takes is one. I like him a little more for the Flyers because they have a lot of what a player like Bellows needs around to insulate him and get the most out of his abilities. Most would prefer Bellows go to Minny and Max Jones go here, but I don’t know how the Wild pass on Jones.
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. Even so, they could use something on the right side. 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: Julien Gauthier, Logan Stanley
Pos: D Ht: 6’1 Wt: 177 Shot: L
Comparison: Josh Gorges
This pick was acquired from the Rangers in the Keith Yandle trade. I think this is a prime spot where a team in the bottom third of this round could move up. The Coyotes I expect will take another D here, and could easily move back as far as the end of the 1st round to get one whether it be Cholowski, Stanley, Clague, Johansen, Hijaek, etc. They could more so use a RH shot D-man, so perhaps moving up to 16 or 17 should Fabbro and/or McAvoy still be available could be done? If they walk out of this draft with two D-men in the first round I believe Tippett and new GM John Chayka would be thrilled. Cholowski is a big riser, and I just have a hunch the Coyotes, despite picking a similar kid at 7, would take Cholowski over Stanley, Clague, and Johansen. He’s ranked 25th on McKenzie’s list so it’s not a real reach.
Other Options: Logan Stanley, Lucas Johansen
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3 Wt: 231 Shot: R
Comparison: James Neal
This pick was acquired from the Kings in the Andrej Sekera trade. They need a lot of help on the wings moving forward, and while they kind of addressed that with the 13th pick in taking McLeod (who allows them to move some smaller centres in the system to the wing), they still will need more. Add to this, they’ve got a stacked defence moving forward. So Gauthier falls a little bit to them, and some question if he has the skill and the wheels to produce in the show the way he has in the Q. He’s in amazing condition. Is that a positive or a negative though?
Other Options: Riley Tufte, Pascal Laberge
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. 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, and they’re simply loaded for years to come. Stanley is the type of player the Jets love. Big and tough.
Other Options: Kale Clague, Lucas Johansen
Pos: LW Ht: 6’5 Wt: 211 Shot: L
Comparison: Chris Kreider
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. Tufte kind of fills their love for size, and brings the skill they need. But he is a boom or bust kid make no mistake about that. All the talent imaginable, but he’s done it facing very weak competition. It is tough to get a read on what this team will do here though. Dale Talon is still running the show, but they do seem to be much more analytics driven now. Scott Luce had a big influence on their drafts in the past, and he’s now gone.
Other Options: Pascal Laberge, Brett Howden
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 193 Shot: L
Comparison: Shawn Horcoff
The closer we get to the draft, the more I love this prediction. But then again pick at 30, so perhaps they wait until then to take a centre and in this spot they just go BPA? Still the point here is that they really need centres and while German Rubtsov has fallen to them, Bob Murray doesn’t take Russians. Howden makes the most sense to me. Then again, they LOVE stockpiling D-men.
Other Options: Kale Clague, Lucas Johansen
Pos: D Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 175 Shot: L
Comparison: Anton Stralman
I felt an urge to move off the Gustavsson prediction. I still think it’s possible, if not probable that they take a goaltender pretty high in this draft, it doesn’t have to be at 25. It is tough to find many holes in their system. They don’t pick D-men high very often, but I feel like that’s where they’ll go here and ensure their system remains stocked with Esa Lindell likely to join the big club next season. And historically the Stars have loved the WHL, so this pick just seems to make a ton of sense to me, but so does Kale Clague and Libor Hajek.
Other Options: Kale Clague, Libor Hajek
Pos: C Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 178 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 drug 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. If he’s not around, I think they’ll go defence.
Other Options: Kale Clague, Libor Hajek
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 174 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Strome
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. Laberge has played a lot of centre in the Q, but I think he’s a winger in the show. He’s not a big need for the Lightning, but this just feels like a pick they’d make. They love speed, they love skill, they love the Q, so they’ll likely love Laberge but I admit there are a ton of directions they could go here.
Other Options: Rasmus Asplund, Carl Grundstrom
Pos: C Ht: 6’5.5 Wt: 195 Shot: R
Comparison: Nik Antropov
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 Cliff Pu made sense to me in the past, but the more I give it thought the more I feel like perhaps Tage Thompson is the pick for them. More upside, size, pretty good 2 way guy as well.
Other Options: Cliff Pu, Boris Katchouk
Pos: C Ht: 5’10.25 Wt: 176 Shot: L
Comparison: Mikkael Granlund
This pick was acquired from the Sharks in the Martin Jones trade. I’ve had them taking Will Bitten here for a long time, even when I thought Bitten would be a massive reach, I just felt like he’s the type of kid they’ll love. They probably do. But I changed this one to Asplund last time around and I’ll keep it this way for the last mock. I don’t see a big difference in Asplund and Sam Steel, but I’ll say they like Asplund a little more, just because most do. They also don’t have much down the middle in the organization, so this pick is a bit about need, but it isn’t as though Asplund is a reach here. There is also a good chance that one of Howden or Pu is still around, and those are two guys I believe most teams will like better than a kid like Asplund (obviously because of the size). Bottom line though is should they go D with their top pick, I’d watch for this pick to be a centre.
Other Options: Will Bitten, Dillon Dube
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11.5 Wt: 195 Shot: L
Comparison: Patric Hornqvist
This pick was acquired from the Penguins in the Phil Kessel trade, and then has been acquired from the Leafs in the Frederik Andersen trade. The Ducks have done such a great job at keeping the system stacked, especially on D. But while they continue to churn out quality D-men, up front they are getting a little thin. I had them taking Howden at 24, for 30 I have them going to Sweden where they’ve had a lot of recent success and taking Grundstrom. He plays that in your face style that Bob Murray has always loved in his players, so I think he’s a perfect fit. But let’s be honest, at this point in the draft there are about 5-10 possibilities.
Other Options: Sam Steel, Nathan Bastian
Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups