Don’t take a mock draft in February too seriously, ok? This is an exercise to see where teams sit in regards to their system and what kind of player they might be looking at in the first round. That’s it. I realize things aren’t going to shake down anything close to where they are today. I use this to talk organizations and talk prospects, and maybe a little prognosticating how things may shake down in the months to come.
Something new I’m going to do is put the tier the player is in along with the ranking. So normally beside a players name in the mock drafts I have the players ranking. Now, I’m going to put his tiering first, followed by his ranking. So Filip Zadina for example is in the second tier and is second ranked. So he’ll be listed as 2-2. Akil Thomas is another example, and he’s in the fifth tier and is 19th overall. So he’ll be listed as 5-19. Got it? Good. Let’s get going then.
*Standings as of 2/11/18. Based off points percentage, however the last four picks are the four division leaders, and playoff teams will be ahead of non playoff teams despite a better points percentage in the overall standings.
1. Rasmus Dahlin (1-1) Frolunda SHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’2 Wt: 181 Shot: L
Comparison: Drew Doughty
With the possibility of one Swedish superstar ready to exit, another one would be entering. Of course if they did win the Dahlin sweepstakes then it might factor into Ekman-Larsson’s decision to stay or walk. Anyway, there really isn’t much to talk about here. Whoever lands the top pick in this draft is going to be over the moon to draft Dahlin.
2. Adam Boqvist (3-4) Brynas SWE-U20
Pos: RD Ht: 5’11 Wt: 170 Shot: R
Comparison: Brian Leetch
Jason Botterill absolutely has to walk out of this draft, not just with a D-man in the 1st, but a boatload in a draft which is rich with defencemen. Would you take Boqvist at two? Probably not as of right now, but it is possible he jumps back up into the two, three, four discussion by the end of the year again as he was in the fall. If they go with one of these wingers, I might drive to Dallas right after the pick, hopefully get there just before the Sabres brass fly’s out on the Saturday afternoon and tell Jason Botterill that he’s fired. “Did Mr. Pagula say that?” “Nope, but you’re fired, because you are terrible.”
3. Filip Zadina (2-2) Halifax QMJHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 198 Shot: L
Comparison: Nikita Kucherov
Of course it still remains to be seen if the Sens will transfer this pick to the Avs. Normally you’d say “of course”, but if this team does a full on rebuild now, they might be better off blowing this pick, despite being high, and ensuring that they have a shot at Jack Hughes in 2019 (or someone else because I know it’s real early, but 2019 is looking like a special draft already). We’ll see where it lands though, obviously they won’t be giving the Avs the top pick should they win it. As for Zadina, he’s just simply the pick for them. I believe they’ll take the best of what most have as the big three wingers (only two for me), and to me that’s Zadina. The kid is ridiculous.
4. Noah Dobson (3-5) Acadie-Bathurst QMJHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’3 Wt: 178 Shot: R
Comparison: Seth Jones
Things don’t seem to be falling right for the Canucks as they rebuild. Back to back years they fell three spots in the draft, and there hasn’t been an easy/obvious pick for them in either. Now they’ve done ok. Horvat wasn’t this regime’s pick but he’s a stud, Boeser has been a home run so far, and I’m a big Pettersson fan. Virtanen and Juolevi….they might end up wishing they had those picks back, but it still remains to be seen. Anyway, here, they really don’t need another winger, and there isn’t a centre in this range, and they have shown they aren’t afraid to go need. So I like them to take Dobson, who I feel has number one potential and a RH shot on top of it. Might not be everyone’s pick, but I feel would be a great pick for them.
5. Andrei Svechnikov (4-9) Barrie OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’2 Wt: 188 Shot: L
Comparison: Vladmir Tarasenko
If they did this, I would probably try to justify it and turn myself into a Svechnikov fan, all the while knowing full well that they should have taken Tkachuk or someone else. Obviously the lure of having a sniper to play with McDavid would be the intrigue here, but also the speed is a major need for the Oilers, and the size (probably 210 once he fills out) would be the added bonus for a guy like Peter Chiarelli. I would personally go with Tkachuk here if they felt they had to pick, but first and foremost I would look to trade back. Get more picks for this scouting staff who have actually done the draft right since Chiarelli has taken over (the one thing Chiarelli has done right). This team should be a playoff team for all it’s mistakes, so the need for a top five pick isn’t really there. Trade back, give the scouts more bullets, and make sure this system is stocked as they (hopefully) move forward.
6. Brady Tkachuk (2-3) Boston University NCAA
Pos: LW Ht: 6’2 Wt: 194 Shot: L
Comparison: Keith Tkachuk
This is in no way a need, and very much so a BPA. And at six, you just can’t pass up the chance to take Tkachuk. They badly need a centre and they almost as badly need D-men. Would they possibly have the balls to take home town boy Joe Veleno here? I probably would, but I don’t think I could with Tkachuk on the board. And I know, I put massive stock into centres over wingers, but Tkachuk is a tough type of winger to find in today’s game. He’s going to be an absolute BITCH to play against, even more so than his brother because I believe he’ll not just chirp you and play dirty, he’ll kick your ass too while putting up 30 goals a season.
7. Quinn Hughes (5-16) Michigan NCAA
Pos: LD Ht: 5’9 Wt: 168 Shot: L
Comparison: Dan Boyle
This is just oh so simple for the Wings. They badly need D, and if Hughes is still on the board when they pick, I can’t imagine them passing on a need who would likely be their BPA and plays at Michigan. Not much else to say. I don’t like Hughes as much as others, but that’s the direction I believe the Wings would go.
8. Evan Bouchard (6-20) London OHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’2 Wt: 181 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Whitney
I obviously am not too high on Bouchard, but most are. It’s difficult to say where the Panthers would want to go. They actually have quite a few young RH shooting D on the roster at the moment, but they definitely could stand to add to the depth on D in the organization, especially since they have taken so many centres and wingers high in the last three drafts.
9. Ty Smith (4-8) Spokane WHL
Pos: LD Ht: 5’10 Wt: 176 Shot: L
Comparison: Jared Spurgeon
I really believe that many scouts are going to regret their theory that Smith isn’t “dynamic” enough. Evan Bouchard isn’t dynamic either, yet because Bouchard is having a better season statistically so it apparently doesn’t matter that he’s not dynamic nor nearly as good of a skater as Smith is…anyway…I think the Hawks would be thrilled to land Smith as they continue to rebuild their blueline. Started with trading for Connor Murphy and drafting Jokiharju and Mitchell at last year’s draft. I expect them to continue to do so this year with how much high end talent they have up front.
10. Oliver Wahlstrom (5-18) USNTDP USHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 195 Shot: R
Comparison: Nick Schmaltz
A lot of different ways the Rangers could go here. As of writing this they don’t have much in the system. Obviously they got the two centres last year, so you wouldn’t expect them to go that route again, but they easily could. Wahlstrom is so highly skilled that I just think it would be too difficult for the Rags to pass up this kind of talent with the 10th pick. For most, this would be a fall for Wahlstrom as he’s in the 5-10 range and seemingly climbing for a lot of scouting services.
11. Barrett Hayton (5-14) S.S. Marie OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 186 Shot: L
Comparison: Bo Horvat
A lot of ways the Isles could go here, and the tricky thing is that this pick is based off what I think they’ll do with Calgary’s pick which they also own (and could be a lottery pick), yet I don’t believe they’ll have both picks post trade deadline. I have to go with the information I have today and that is the Islanders with both picks. Hayton is a kid who coaches will adore, really fits the makeup of Doug Weight’s team, and would fit tremendously behind Matt Barzal and hopefully for their sake John Tavares as well.
12. Rasmus Kupari (5-15) Karpat Liiga
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 183 Shot: R
Comparison: Matt Duchene
I hate suggesting this, because people see that I have a Fin going to the Blue Jacekts and they believe it’s because the Jackets have a Fin as their GM. “Without a doubt Puljujarvi is going to be picked by the Blue Jackets”. Remember that? I was dead set against that by the way, go back to June of 2016 and read my mocks. Anyway, this is not about that and everything about the Blue Jackets looking to continue to build up their depth down the middle. Alex Wennberg pre injury was having a rough year, and while I wouldn’t and they won’t give up on him being that productive two way centre, I think it puts a little more emphasis on the position for the Jackets. Add to that, Kupari has the skill to be a first line centre someday. A long ways to go, but the kid is highly skilled.
13. Joel Farabee (5-17) USNTDP USHL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 152 Shot: L
Comparison: David Pastrnak
Bob Murray has done an incredible job at keeping the system stocked. The one thing you might say the Ducks could use is a little more skill, no matter where you look. Not to say that they don’t have any, look at Sam Steel for example. But they could use more of it, so for me either Farabee or Akil Thomas would be a tremendous pick. Not sure you could go wrong with either, but I have Farabee ranked higher at the moment, so at the moment I’ll put him to the Ducks.
14. Akil Thomas (5-19) Niagara OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 165 Shot: R
Comparison: Mitch Marner
That’s right, I’m giving them a forward! Hell, I’m giving them a winger! No D-man here, even in a tremendous draft for D-men! And you know what? I’d like this pick for them if things fell something similar to this. Joe Sakic has actually done a good job with this team and getting things back on track. With Samuel Girard already on the team, Cale Makar and Conor Timmins on the way, the Avs look pretty good on D moving forward. Hell, even Nikita Zadorov looks like he might still develop. The other thing is that they can turn Tyson Barrie into another young D-man should they move him, and they can always load up more on D in rounds two through seven. But if you look at the organization, they actually don’t have much depth up front, and really lack high end skill past MacKinnon and Rantanen. So a kid like Thomas would really be a terrific fit.
15. Bode Wilde (4-7) USNTDP USHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’2 Wt: 194 Shot: R
Comparison: Dougie Hamiltion
Formerly belonged to the Flames, acquired in the trade for Travis Hamonic. And nobody is talking about this, a lot of hockey to play, but if the Flames pick is a lottery pick combined with what a bust Travis Hamonic has been in Calgary, they’ll actually end up being the team with a worse season than the Oilers. Don’t get me wrong, the Flames are a much better run organization than the Oilers, but wow. They’re lucky the Oilers shit show has been THE story, because if they were playing well the Hamonic disaster would be front and centre. Anyway…Garth Snow has shown he doesn’t really like to take defencmen in the first round. But should he keep both picks, and this being the second of those picks, you’d have to assume that in a D rich draft that one of them would be used on a D-man, and for me this would be Wilde falling to 15th. All the tools, and a very intelligent kid. He’s got everything to become a legitimate number one defenceman.
16. Joe Veleno (3-6) Drummondville QMJHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 195 Shot: L
Comparison: Brad Richards
I really don’t think Veleno will make it to 16. He’s coming on right now, playing on a great team in Drummondville, I think he’ll end up back in the top 10. But having said that, I don’t know where at this point, and oh yeah….I’ve been wrong before! Even if all he ever becomes is another Marc Savard (which by the way would be awesome!), the Canes badly need that kind of setup man for their forward group because there is a lot of talent up front in Carolina, but they really lack a disher. Martin Necas was a great pick last year, but more will be needed. I could see Ron Francis absolutely loving a cerebral kid like Veleno.
17. Jesperi Kotkaniemi (5-12) Assat Liiga
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 190 Shot: L
Comparison: Mikko Koivu
I would guess the Pens won’t own this pick by the time it’s made. They likely won’t own it by March 1st. But for now they own the pick, and if they do pick this high then I believe they need to look at solving the third line centre spot, at least in the system. If you have a kid like Kotkaniemi as your third line centre, things look pretty good for your organization moving forward.
18. Jared McIsaac (8-28) Halifax QMJHL
Pos: LD Ht: 6’2 Wt: 209 Shot: L
Comparison: Cody Ceci
I realize they invested three first round picks in a row to improving the D. But they’ve also invested heavily into centres and wingers in the last two drafts. Couple that with a kid like Samuel Morin not progressing as they’d hoped, they aren’t as stocked on D as they maybe looked a year or two ago. So they go back to the Q yet again which this organization loves doing and take McIsaac. I’m not nearly as high on McIsaac as others are, but he has the raw tools to be a terrific top four D someday.
19. Ryan Merkley (NR) Guelph OHL
Pos: RD Ht: 5’11 Wt: 170 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Murphy
I don’t like him, all because I’m hearing he’s got red flags all over the place. However, he’s so talented that someone will likely take a big swing on him, and why not Jersey? They need to add to their blueline even though Ray Shero has done a terrific job addressing it this season having added Mirco Mueller, Will Butcher and Sami Vatanen.
20. Serron Noel (4-10) Oshawa OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 200 Shot: R
Comparison: Blake Wheeler
Clearly I love this kid more than most, and like Joe Veleno I believe he’ll end up going much higher than this. But for now, I like the idea of him to the Kings. They love size, and they love the OHL, so it’s a pretty simple fit. As I wrote about on the top prospects list, any team who land Noel will need to take there freaking time with him. The Kings without a doubt would do just that, so this really would be a tremendous fit for the kid.
21. Dominik Bokk (7-23) Vaxjo SuperElite
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 179 Shot: R
Comparison: Martin Havlat
Doug Wilson seems to really love skill. I think of some of the kids he’s taken over the years like Tomas Hertl, Nikolay Goldobin, and Timo Meier. Bokk would be the most talented of that group. Don’t confuse that with him being the best, but just pure skill. He’s rapidly moving up draft boards so it won’t be a shock if come draft day Bokk goes nowhere near where the Sharks pick. But for now, I’d love the fit.
22. Isac Lundestrom (5-11) Lulea SHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 178 Shot: L
Comparison: Henrik Zetterberg
With some guys, I make sure that I have them going in the ballpark where most others have them, not where I have them. But with Lundestrom I sure didn’t mean to have him fall this far, it was just circumstances. The Wild have invested in centres with their last two first round picks (Eriksson-Ek, Kunin), but Lundestrom is just too good to pass up at this point in my mind.
23. Jet Woo (7-24) Moose Jaw WHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’0 Wt: 205 Shot: R
Comparison: Travis Hamonic
Formerly belonged to the Blues, acquired in the trade for Brayden Schenn. Again, I feel like they will look to go heavy on D in this draft with it being such a tremendous year for D-men and seeing they haven’t invested much in defencemen since taking Ivan Provorov with the seventh pick in 2015. Woo plays a game that really fits the classic Flyers mold too. He would be a fan favourite in Philly.
24. Jacob Olafsson (6-21) Timra SHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: Alex Wennberg
You might not think of centre as a big need for the Leafs, but I sure do. Matthews is great, but you need more. So you go to Kadri, and he’s real solid, but moving forward wouldn’t you rather him as your third line centre than second? Even if you’re ok with him as your second line centre, who is the third line centre moving forward if Bozak is going to walk this off-season? Willie Nylander going to move to centre? I think they would prefer him on the wing (my opinion anyway). So I believe they’ll look to take a centre with their pick barring someone falling into their lap. Olafsson is going to be a very safe pick for someone. Worst case scenario I believe he’s a high end third line centre, and best case he’s an elite second line centre.
25. Grigori Denisenko (7-22) Yaroslavl MHL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 163 Shot: R
Comparison: Alexander Radulov
Jim Nill has actually done a real good job of stockpiling the Stars system while building a very strong team. And he’s shown that he’s unafraid to take a swing on a Russian kid. They could use a little more skill on the wings, and obviously this is where Denisenko would come in. I’m not sure how much Ken Hitchcock would like him, but chances are that Hitch won’t ever be his coach anyway!
26. Calen Addison (8-27) Lethbridge WHL
Pos: RD Ht: 5’10 Wt: 179 Shot: R
Comparison: Alex Goligoski
I said it a lot last year but I’ll say it again: a sneaky need for this team is RH shooting D. Everyone looks at the roster and says they don’t need one because they got Byfuglien, Trouba and Myers. But the reality is that Byfuglien is on the decline, Trouba is an RFA this summer who may still want out of Winnipeg, and Myers is a UFA after next season. Tucker Poolman is the only kid they got on the way who is close, but they’d be foolish to put all their eggs in that basket. But also, this is an organization without many holes. So before you say “you’re nitpicking dude”, I know. You have to with the Jets, because they’ve done that good of a job in drafting and developing.
27. Jack McBain (5-13) Toronto OJHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 196 Shot: L
Comparison: Jason Spezza
A) They really need some centres in the system, at least in my opinion. I’ve said this for a few years now, and they did take Trent Frederic a couple years ago (ironically, also at 29), but it isn’t enough. Bergeron is going to be 33 in the fall, Krecji isn’t too far behind him, they to start developing their replacements. B) after the success of Charlie McAvoy, are they ever going to pass on a BC kid again? They essentially took McAvoy over Dante Fabbro in 2016 because they passed on Colin White, the home town kid, in 2015. McBain isn’t a Boston kid (Toronto), but he’s going to BC just like McAvoy who isn’t a Boston kid either (Long Island). And I don’t think you can ignore the skill set McBain has, not to mention that the Bruins aren’t afraid of players who aren’t the most fleet of foot, though I feel the knock on McBain’s skating is overblown.
28. Alexander Alexeeyev (NR) Red Deer WHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’3 Wt: 184 Shot: R
Comparison: Damon Severson
They’ve had more success drafting Russian players since the 2005 lockout than anyone. Obviously Ovechkin is the key to that, but if you are having so much success with drafting out of a certain region or a certain type of player, then why not keep doing it. They also have taken nine kids out of the WHL since 2012, so they seem to be high on the dub also. A lot of raw talent with Alexeeyev and he’s putting up some real good numbers on a very weak Red Deer Rebels squad, so there is a lot to like about this kid. He’s in the top 31 for most.
29. Benoit-Olivier Groulx (25) Halifax QMJHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 192 Shot: L
Comparison: Yannic Perreault
He’s a Preds type of player. Plays gritty, plays 200 feet, has some skill, David Poile hasn’t been shy about upgrading things down the middle, he’d be a good guy to step in for Nick Bonino once his contract expires (still has three years left which would leave lots of development time for Groulx). Again, obviously we are so far away from the draft, so many things are going to change, but I do love the idea of the Preds taking a two way centre like this.
30. Martin Kaut (NR) Pardubice CZECH EX
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 176 Shot: R
Comparsion: Alexander Frolov
Allow me to guarantee that the Vegas Golden Knights draft pick will not be 30th in this draft. Actually, I’ll guarantee it’s going to be 27th or lower. It is a tremendous story, and impossible not to at least somewhat like this team and what’s going on down there. But they aren’t going anywhere in the playoffs when teams go to another level. A million different ways the Golden Knights could go here so I’m not even going to BS anyone here, this is just a shot in the dark saying Kaut would be the pick. But it does give me a chance to talk a little about a kid who I didn’t have ranked. He’s got a ton of skill and had a real good WJC tourney that got him back into first round discussion. The motor is questionable though.
31. Rasmus Sandin (9-32) Rogle SWE-J20
Pos: LD Ht: 5’11 Wt: 183 Shot: L
Comparison: Dimtry Orlov
Sandin feels like a kid Steve Yzerman and Al Murray would love. Highly skilled, pure puck moving D-men. They could stand to stockpile the D a little more, though truth be told they’re loaded and we’ll have a better feel post trade deadline what might be their needs and whether or not they’ll still have this pick (I would guess not, teams would rather deal a pick then a prospect they’ve put development time into). But if they own this pick, and Sandin is still on the board, you’d have to think they’d look at him.
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