The third of five. So I got this one today, I’ll do the fourth for Monday, June 19th, and then the fifth and final mock will come out either Friday morning on June 23rd, or later that day. I’m hopeful that not a lot will change my mind between now and the draft as to where I believe the picks are going, but rumours always mess with me even though I know better!
Historically, this is the mock draft where I’ll knock it out of the park. In 2014 and 2016, my third mock draft, my first one of June, has been spot on. Hit on seven of the top nine, and eleven total in 2014. http://soupsonhockey.com/2014/06/06/2014-nhl-mock-draft-3-0/
Last year, I went five of six to start things off, and had six right overall. http://soupsonhockey.com/2016/06/06/2016-nhl-mock-draft-3-0/
Before you say I’m bragging, the point here is that while I’ve been real good on these ones, I failed MISERABLY with my final mock in 2014 (one right), and last year had I just stuck to my guns on “never believe draft pick trade rumours” I would have been spot on about the Puljujarvi thing and really crushed it (would have got eight right). Close, but no cigar. Not that I’m big on cigar’s, but I’d still like one for getting a lot of my mock drafts right.
As always, a little insight to how I look at things. I’m looking at what teams have age 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 four or five drafts. Do they go CHL heavy? Do they love the NCAA/USHL kids? Maybe they’re big on Europeans? Do they not like taking defencemen high? Do they value size? Skill? Speed? There are just a ton of things to take into consideration. I noticed in THN’s latest draft preview they did this with each team too, although they just said CHL instead of looking at specific leagues. Still, a nice add.
The number on the right side of the players name is the ranking I have on the player in my top 62 list which you can read here: http://soupsonhockey.com/2017/06/09/2017-nhl-draft-top-62-prospects-june-9th/
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.5 Wt: 179 Shot: L
Comparison: Kyle Turris
Same as last time. For me, as indicated in my rankings, I would take Nolan Patrick. But I completely understand and believe the Devils will go with the safer kid which is Hischier. I do think that legitimately nobody will know which way they’re going until Ray Shero steps to the podium. You ask me though, the Devils didn’t win this lottery, Philly did. Jersey has to make the choice, Philly just has to sit back and pick the other guy.
Other Options: Nolan Patrick
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 199 Shot: R
Comparison: Mark Scheifele
It got odd this week, as Tim Panaccio put out on Twitter that the Flyers aren’t bringing in Hischier. They brought in Patrick to “satisfy club’s questions on his health”, but not Hischier. Do they know the Devils are taking him, or are they looking elsewhere should the Devils take Patrick? Or is it just simply a matter of there being no injury concerns with Hischier? I’d guess it’s the latter, but nonetheless it’s something to watch. We all know Patrick has had his fair share of injury problems (not just this season, although this was the worst), but I don’t see any of these injuries having a long term impact on him. Even if he tops out as a great 2nd line centre in the show, he’s still going to be an extremely valuable player with what he brings to the table.
Other Options: None
Pos: C Ht: 6’2.75 Wt: 203 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Johansen
The big question now is whether or not this pick will still be owned by the Stars by the time the third pick is to be made. It sure doesn’t sound like it, but A LOT of teams over the years have threatened to trade out of the top five and never have. Teams outside of the top of the draft don’t put the value on these picks that they should. Anyway, Craig Button had them going with Miro Heiskanen here. A lot of people seem to like that idea. But the Stars situation reminds me a lot of the Oilers in that everyone says they need D, and they do, but not in the draft. They have a ton of great young D-men either on the roster or in the organization. Meanwhile Jason Spezza is 34 years old, 35 in February, you can’t pass up a chance to get a prospect like Vilardi to step into that role in a few seasons.
Other Options: Cody Glass
Pos: RD Ht: 6’0 Wt: 172 Shot: L
Comparison: Mark Giordano
It’s not like the Avs couldn’t have used Hischier or Patrick. It would have made a Matt Duchene deal much easier to do. But in this spot they should be able to get the top D-man in the draft, and then focus on perhaps getting a centre for Duchene instead. I personally don’t have Heiskanen as the top D-man in this draft, but he’s far and away the consensus top D-man, and makes him a perfect fit for the Avs. Prefers the right side, but I’m certain he won’t have an issue playing his proper side if need be.
Other Options: Cale Makar
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 178 Shot: R
Comparison: Charlie Coyle
Call me nuts, but I actually believe the Canucks aren’t an ocean away from competing for a playoff spot like most do. And what I like in taking Glass, or perhaps Vilardi should Glass be the preference of the Stars, is that while the Canucks won’t have a star down the middle they’ll be able to matchup with just about any team. Horvat, Glass/Vilardi, Sutter, moving forward that’s a bitch to handle. But with Glass it’s buyer beware in that you better not rush him, definitely needs some time.
Other Options: Elias Pettersson, Casey Mittelstadt
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 165 Shot: L
Comparison: Alex Galchenyuk
Ending up picking 6th might be best for the Golden Knights in their initial entry draft. Now the pressure is off to find “the face of the franchise”. Just take the BPA, and don’t rush him. George McPhee while in Washington loved taking Swedes with his top pick. Between 2006 and 2013 the Caps selected a Swedish kid with their top pick in five of eight drafts, and didn’t have a first in 2011. I really believe they need to take either a D-man or centre with this pick, and I do have Petterson listed as a centre, but I’ve had trouble finding out whether that is legit or not because I’ve also seen him listed as a winger. If he’s a legit centre, he’s in my top six guys and should be snagged by the G-Knights if he’s still on the board. If not, I believe they should look elsewhere.
Other Options: Cale Makar, Lias Andersson
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 183 Shot: R
Comparison: T.J. Oshie
Do they have a big need for a centre? I believe they do. I’m not a big fan of Dylan Strome, and I’m not a big fan of Clayton Keller playing the middle instead of the wing where I believe he could do more damage. The other end of the spectrum is that Suzuki can play the wing, and they could use someone on the right side. So the more I gave this thought, the more I start to feel like they’ll go with a centre here. But full disclosure, I’m having a tough time figuring out where they might go with this pick.
Other Options: Cale Makar, Owen Tippett
Pos: RD Ht: 5’11.25 Wt: 187 Shot: R
Comparison: Brian Campbell
I really believe this will be between Makar and Erik Brannstrom for the Sabres. I like Valimaki too, but the undersized, speedy, puck moving D-man is trending right now in the NHL. After Erik Karlsson’s amazing playoffs and the Preds having so much success this spring with their loaded blueline, D-men are at a premium and the Sabres have one of the worst blueline’s in the league. They have a kid to build around in Rasmus Ristolainen, but they need more. Makar would be a great start…but so would Brannstrom! I’d suggest just to take a D-man here no matter what, and I believe new GM Jason Botterill will do just that.
Other Options: Erik Brannstrom
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 201 Shot: L
Comparison: Frans Nielsen
I’ve been adamant for a while now that the Wings must take a D-man here. But let’s be honest…Ken Holland believes he can find and develop D-men. Sure, last year he finally pulled the trigger and took Dennis Cholowski (first D taken by the Wings in the first round since Brendan Smith in 07), but they were in a position where they HAD to do it. This year, I still suggest they have to, but I’m going to bet that they believe centre is the play. It’s a need too for sure, as they really don’t have much quality moving forward after Dylan Larkin. We all know the success they’ve had drafting Swedes, and Andersson would really fit well behind Larkin in a few seasons.
Other Options: Erik Brannstrom, Henri Jokiharju
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 203 Shot: R
Comparison: Joffrey Lupul
I’m not near as high on Tippett as most are, but I really do like the fit of him with the Panthers. A team that had a shitty season from an injury standpoint and with off ice drama. But they’re setup great moving forward and can afford to go add that man cave in the basement with the house completely built A.K.A. they can add a top end sniper.
Other Options: Michael Rasmussen, Eeli Tolvanen
Pos: C Ht: 5’11.5 Wt: 192 Shot: R
Comparison: Scott Gomez
It’s funny how things can go from looking so great to so terrible, so quickly. Going into the 2014 draft, the Kings had just won their second Cup in three seasons, they had so many picks that they hit on and yet here we are just three years later and they’ve only won one playoff game in three seasons and seemingly have nothing coming. So this is an important pick for Rob Blake. My thinking here is he’s a centre which is a big need for the Kings, Thomas is out of the OHL, and the Kings have loved taking kids out of the OHL. Thomas over Mittelstadt for most of this season would have seemed insane. Now, it’s starting to look like a legit possibility.
Other Options: Casey Mittelstadt, Michael Rasmussen
Pos: C Ht: 5’11.5 Wt: 199 Shot: L
Comparison: Derick Brassard
Their scouting staff has loved taking U.S. kids over the years, and with great success in doing so. It’s not as if they’re gun shy to go elsewhere, but I have to believe that with their need for high end top six players that Mittelstadt fits the bill for them. He’s dropped down mine and a lot of other rankings due to a lot of his production coming on the PP. Having said that, the potential is there with Mittelstadt to be a high end centre in the league, and that is a piece the Hurricanes could really use in their organization. They’re loaded on D, they have a lot of skilled guys who can play in their top six, but they lack a high end centre who can be their catalyst up front.
Other Options: Martin Necas, Michael Rasmussen
Pos: RD Ht: 6’4 Wt: 215 Shot: R
Comparison: Jake Muzzin
I said it in the last mock draft and I’ll say it again: a very sneaky need for the Jets is a RH shooting D-man. Dustin Byfuglien is now 32, Tyler Myers continually has injury problems, I’m guessing the Jacob Trouba trade request is likely still out there, and they only have one kid in the system (Tucker Poolman) coming on the right side. The combination of this maybe being the biggest need in the system and Foote having the size the Jets love has me believing we have a perfect fit here. Then again, perhaps the Jets will feel the need to get someone a little more mobile. Anyone of Foote, Timothy Liljegren, Erik Brannstrom, or Juuso Valimaki makes sense here.
Other Options: Timothy Liljegren, Juuso Valimaki
Pos: LD Ht: 5’9 Wt: 179 Shot: L
Comparison: Sami Vatanen
There wouldn’t be many more better scenario’s than this one for the Lightning. They land a D-man who fits their system to a tee. Brannstrom is really undersized, but has all the skill to make up for that. I badly wanted to put P.O. Joseph here as I truly believe they’ll give him big consideration with this pick, but I can’t see them passing on Brannstrom. Also, don’t sleep on another need which is centre with Tyler Johnson an RFA, Val Filppula now gone, and not a lot on the way. Brayden Point played well in the middle for them but can always be moved to the wing. Brett Howden was taken last year, but doesn’t have a high offensive ceiling.
Other Options: Martin Necas, Pierre-Olivier Joseph
Pos: RW Ht: 5’9.25 Wt: 189 Shot: L
Comparison: Mike Cammalleri
This is a total hunch, but watch for them to push hard to get into the top ten, if not the top five of the draft. They could be desperate to keep John Tavares happy, and moving up in the draft to take Owen Tippett makes some sense for them. But should they stay at 15, there isn’t much difference between Tolvanen and Tippett. He’s not a righty shot, but make no mistake he’s going to play his off wing with his shot. I’m not as big on him as most are, but for the Islanders I really believe he’d be a terrific fit.
Other Options: Martin Necas, Kailer Yamamoto
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 178 Shot: R
Comparison: Ales Hemsky
I’m back to Necas here. Man, I’ve given this so much thought lately, and it scares me a little because I think I have it pegged what they’re going to do, which is draft Necas. They have a bit of a need down the middle (depends on how high they still are on Sam Bennett, how high they are on Mark Jankowski), and they have a big need in the organization on RW. Necas can fill either of those holes, and his style fits great with how they play. Something Brad Treliving said yesterday though definitely got my attention: “There’s opportunity to take a swing at people with high ceiling. There’s some risk/reward picks we’re playing with.” Translation: “We feel like we can take a home run swing here on the biggest talent available”. Liljegren? Klim Kostin? It was an interesting comment.
Other Options: Timothy Liljegren, Kailer Yamamoto
Pos: RD Ht: 5’11.25 Wt: 180 Shot: R
Comparison: Kris Letang
The fall ends here. If it doesn’t, Oilers fans should get excited because I believe the possibility of him falling to 22 would get real. Brock Otten who does great work with the OHL prospects http://ohlprospects.blogspot.ca/ had Liljegren falling to the Oilers in his mock. But I just don’t see how the Leafs could let him get past them. He fits perfectly for what they need in the system and on the big club. If he’s off the board as he should be, obviously it would then depend on who would fall to them, but with the way things seem to be shaking down it sure looks like Liljegren will fall to this point and possibly beyond.
Other Options: Juuso Valimaki, Nicolas Hague
Pos: C Ht: 6’5.5 Wt: 221 Shot: L
Comparison: Patrick Berglund
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Despite the shit show that has been the Boston Bruins front office the last few seasons, their system is looking pretty solid. Not nearly as solid as it should look, but solid nonetheless. The need here I believe is a centre. I know they took Travis Frederic at 29 last year, they have Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson on the way, but I’m not sure you can put your eggs in that basket. I feel like Rasmussen is going to be gone by this point, but I can’t figure out who would take him! Florida? LA? Carolina? All are candidates, but in selecting for them I had a guy on the board I felt like they would like better. I would certainly hope that teams notice this kid doesn’t produce much five on five which is the massive concern for me.
Other Options: Ryan Poehling, Kailer Yamamoto
Pos: LW Ht: 6’3 Wt: 209 Shot: L
Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk
I believe they’re basically in a BPA position here. Vesalainen feels like a Doug Wilson type of player. He has great size, skates well, protects the puck well, and has a lot of skill. That’s how he’s built that team since he became GM. There are a lot of different ways he can go though. D is never a bad play, and you have a good one on the board (in my mind) in Valimaki. You have the highly skilled Kailer Yamamoto still there too. But I just can’t see Wilson passing on Vesalainen should he get here.
Other Options: Juuso Valimaki, Kailer Yamamoto
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 177 Shot: L
Comparison: Viktor Rask
In my opinion, the Blues need a centre in the system. With some of the Blues fans I’ve talked to about it, they believe they need a centre in the system. So I’m going to have them taking a centre, the tough part is asking who that centre is? Could they package the 20th pick with the 27th pick and move up to get that guy? How’s this scenario: Doug Armstrong has a real tight relationship with Steve Yzerman. The Lightning are always willing to trade back, the Blues could stand to move up, 20 and 27 for 14 and 76 which would re-coup the third rounder the Blues lost in the Nail Yakupov deal. But if they stand pat they should land a pretty good centre here. Some guys absolutely love Poehling and believe he’d be a top five guy had he played against a little lighter competition this season. Look great at the Hlinka, and real good at the U18’s. He’d be a great fit for the Blues.
Other Options: Shane Bowers, Josh Norris
21. Kailer Yamamoto (22) Spokane WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’7.5 Wt: 146 Shot: R
Comparison: Cam Atkinson
To me, they’re just like the Sharks and in a BPA situation. They have virtually nothing coming in the organization, so they should be just grabbing the player they deem to be the best on the board. They can use a D-man, centre and high end winger. In this scenario, it’s the winger who falls to them (though not according to my rankings, according to others). Yamamoto feels like a great fit to me with how the Rangers have been built too. He’s got some of the best wheels in the draft, and of course we know the Rangers are one of the fastest teams in the league.
Other Options: Juuso Valimaki, Henri Jokiharju
Pos: RD Ht: 5’10.75 Wt: 188 Shot: R
Comparison: Tobias Enstrom
Some of those who cover the Oilers believe the play is to get a winger here. Some believe that the position of centre is the strongest position in the organization. For those of you who I’m talking about and perhaps stumbled upon this mock draft…how MOTHER F****** STUPID ARE YOU?!?!? They have two studs, I get that, but look deeper at the situation and save yourself the embarrassment, would you? This team doesn’t have a centre worthwhile in the system and give your head a shake if you say “Joe Gambardella”. Looks like a nice signing, he’s not going to play the middle in the show. You give me Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but they’re likely going to have to move RNH after next season for cap purposes. This team is desperate for a centre. Oh, and by the way you knobs do realize you can move a centre to the wing don’t you?! Unreal. Anyway, in this scenario….I’d be looking to trade back. I like Jokiharju, and another RH shot D-man in the system wouldn’t in anyway be a bad thing. But as I said, the big need to me is a centre and moving back for one of Anderson-Dolan, Bowers or Norris or even some of the kids I have below them would be a great move in my opinion. Perhaps Dallas would do 29 and 39 for this pick and 84? Maybe Jersey looks to package 36 and 49 to get up here? Should be some options available to them.
Other Options: Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Shane Bowers
Pos: LD Ht: 6’1.25 Wt: 211 Shot: L
Comparison: Oscar Klefbom
This is the pick the Coyotes acquired from the Wild in the Martin Hanzal deal. What they really need in the system is a RH shot D-man, which is why I’m really wondering if they won’t grab Makar while they have the chance to do so. But I said they take Suzuki, so they go with the D here and since Jokiharju just went to Edmonton, Valimaki has to be the guy (in my opinion). I’m much higher on Valimaki than most seem to be. The kid just has a swagger he plays with that could help him become a top pairing guy at some point. I, along with others probably get too concerned over righty and lefty shot D-men. Another theory I’d watch out for here though is Jake Oettinger. They have nothing coming between the pipes and would have seen him a lot at BU playing with Clayton Keller last season, plus I believe a run on goaltenders will start around pick 27 or 28 so they might want to jump the gun.
Other Options: Jake Oettinger, Aleksi Heponiemi
Pos: LD Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 188 Shot: L
Comparison: Nick Schultz
I’m a big Valimaki fan, but others aren’t as high on him as I am. Well with Vaakanainen it’s kind of the opposite. I don’t hate him or anything, but I see others with him in their top 20 and I just frankly don’t get it. And no, this pick is not because he’s a Fin and Jarmo Kekelainen is a Fin (hope you all learned that lesson with Puljujarvi last year, I said all through June he wasn’t going to take him), but rather that I believe they’ll view him as the BPA and they need to continue stockpiling the blueline. Obviously their blueline is one of the best in the league, and they aren’t weak in the system but I wouldn’t say they’re loaded either. Lots of different ways they could go here, but I would love this pick for the Jackets.
Other Options: Nicolas Hague, Pierre-Olivier Joseph
25. Alexei Lipanov (49) Balashikha MHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0.25 Wt: 169 Shot: L
Comparison: Mike Riberio
I screwed this one up last time. Of course the Habs will be lower than the Wild (Coyotes pick) and Blue Jackets in the draft, they won their division. The massive need is a centre, and I just can’t imagine that Marc Bergevin wouldn’t walk out of the first round without one. In this scenario though, all the high end guys are taken, so what does he do? My theory is that he’s not afraid and has had good success bringing in Russian players. Lipanov is down in my rankings in part due to the fact that he’s Russian (I’m not going to sugar coat it). But this kid has the high end ability that Bergevin could be looking for here.
Other Options: Filip Chytil, Aleksi Heponiemi
Pos: RW Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 207 Shot: L
Comparison: Thomas Vanek
The need here is defence. That blueline is getting old pretty quickly and there is no sure thing on the way. Maybe Gustav Forsling, but notice I used the word maybe there. But the problem is that Stan Bowman has never used a first round pick on a D-man, it’s been all forwards since he took the reigns from Dale Tallon. There are a few teams who I believe would be willing to take a home run swing on Kostin, and at the moment I’m willing to bet that the Hawks are who ends up taking the swing. I don’t like him at all with the Russian bust factor, Russian diva factor, and the Russian flight risk. But at 26 and for the Hawks in particular, this would be completely justified.
Other Options: Nicolas Hague, Pierre-Olivier Joseph
Pos: LW Ht: 6’2 Wt: 196 Shot: L
Comparison: Patrick Maroon
This is the pick the Blues acquired from the Caps in the Kevin Shattenkirk deal. The more I gave it thought, the more I figured it wasn’t like Doug Armstrong to go with a netminder in the first round as I had in the last mock. Plus, they have Ville Husso coming who I mentioned the last time, so it isn’t as if that cupboard is bare. Still possible they strengthen it with the second of their first rounders, but I’ll say they go elsewhere. With centre already taken care of and this team pretty flush with D-men throughout the system, I believe the play here is to simply add a guy who fits. Perhaps with Ken Hitchcock now out of the picture Doug Armstrong will move away from a heavy team. But I can’t see it. Robertson is their kind of guy and would be a great fit.
Other Options: Jake Oettinger, U.P. Luukkonen
Pos: G Ht: 6’4.25 Wt: 218 Glove: L
Comparison: Braden Holtby
They’ve got a sneaky big problem between the pipes moving forward. Craig Anderson is now 36, Mike Condon is a UFA, Matt O’Connor hasn’t met expectations. Who else you got? Chris Dreidger? Marcus Hogberg? Joey Daccord? It’s an ugly situation for the Sens moving forward. So at this point in the draft, you got the best goaltender still on the board, he’s got all the tools to be a front line guy someday, and the rest of the system is so rich that you can afford to do something like this early in the draft. I don’t care which goaltender they like quite frankly, Pierre Dorian had better address it though in this draft. And he might want to invest more than just one pick in the position.
Other Options: U.P. Luukkonen, Michael DiPietro
Pos: G Ht: 6’4.25 Wt: 198 Glove: L
Comparison: Pekka Rinne
This pick was acquired in the Patrick Eaves deal, upgraded to a first once the Ducks made the Western Conference final. So a lot this will hinge on what the Stars do with that third pick. I’m going to say they keep it because GM’s are a lot of talk and no action. It can’t be forgotten at 29 that they have another pick coming up at 38, so perhaps they’ll feel like they can get a goaltender there, maybe Luukkonen. But if one of the top two guys are gone, and in this scenario Oettinger just did, I believe Jim Nill will feel like he better get his guy in this spot. Forget Ben Bishop for a second, the Stars have nothing on the way between the pipes and they absolutely must address that in this draft.
Other Options: Michael DiPietro
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.5 Wt: 178 Shot: L
Comparison: Brandon Dubinsky
Last years draft couldn’t have fallen much more perfect for them. The one thing they kind of had a need for in the system was a RH shot D-man after moving Seth Jones for Ryan Johansen, and that’s exactly what fell into their lap with Dante Fabbro. So with that task completed, this season it looks to me like a forward of some sort is the need here and I just think one of the three centres I have ranked from 25th-27th will be the pick. I believe of those three, Bowers maybe has the biggest upside offensively. The concern is his five on five point production, but overall he did put up real nice numbers. They seem to be one of the teams who subscribe to my theory of “why bother taking a winger over a centre?”
Other Options: Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Josh Norris
Pos: RD Ht: 6’5.5 Wt: 207 Shot: L
Comparison: Colten Parayko
Lots of different D-men in this area of the draft that fit the bill, but I believe most would agree that barring someone great falling, D is the way to go for the Pens. Unless they still haven’t given up on Derrick Pouliot, it appears the Pens have absolutely nobody on the way, and they have to be at least a little concerned with how Kris Letang will bounce back from his neck surgery. I believe Hague is going to fall because D-men of his size and abilities aren’t trendy right now. And the Pens could use some size on the back end. If Hague can improve his lateral movement, he’d fit right into the Pens style and be a real key player for them in a few years.
Other Options: Pierre-Olivier Joseph, Connor Timmins
Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups