My good friend Shane Tomayer is going to hate me, but it’s back again, my NHL mock draft. Lets be real here as Shane would appreciate, these are basically a waste of time to do. Most do these are an exercise in guessing who is going to go where. The angle I try to take is that I like to look at what teams need going into the drat. Sure, I put a player down for a team and explain why he would fit or why that team would like him, but in no way am I expecting things to play out like this on June 23rd. Also, doing it prior to the trade deadline like this, it gives you an idea of who the 1st round pick could be. A lot of 1st round picks are going to be dealt this year with it being such a weak draft year, so by seeing who could be your 1st round pick it’ll give you a better idea of what the value of the pick is going to be. It’s easy to deal a pick, it’s a little more difficult when the pick has a name…
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 four or five drafts. Do they go CHL heavy? Do they love the NCAA/USHL kids? Maybe they’re big on Europeans?
Standings as of 2/9/17 based off points percentage. Division leaders own the final four picks. Player rankings from my top 32 prospect list are given on the right side of the players names. Also, just to liven things up a little I went with some teams retro symbols.
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 198 Shot: R
Comparison: Mark Scheifele
Currently they don’t have a need for another centre, I know. But they’re likely moving both Duchene and Landeskog and allegedly are asking for young D-men in return. Plus, Patrick is the top pick. He’s a guy you kind of have to take. So while I’m not a fan of BPA drafting these days, I feel like should they bring in the right GM he can make this work.
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 176 Shot: L
Comparison: Saku Koivu
Prior to the 2015 draft I suggested that Dylan Strome had serious bust potential. Two years later that possibility is alive and well because you don’t send a 3rd overall pick back to junior for his final year of junior. So while this team had drafted nothing but forwards in the top 60 from 2012-2015, they still aren’t very set up front. They actually are decently situated on the blueline moving forward. Plus, like with Patrick, Hischier is just simply the pick. Liljegren isn’t close to him right now, so if things fall this way then the Yotes have to take the centre.
Pos: RD Ht: 6’0 Wt: 191 Shot: R
Comparison: Kris Letang
It’ll be very interesting to see where George McPhee goes here. If it’s me, this is the perfect scenario. You get a potential top pairing right handed shooting D-man who’ll be able to QB your PP…a pretty valuable building block. Having seen the struggles for the Oilers all these years it has made me an even bigger believer in how valuable D-men are. So George McPhee better make sure his blueline is as good as it can possibly be.
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 198 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Johansen
They’re looking pretty damn good down the middle. Spezza just turned 34, so his best days are behind him, but they still have Seguin, Eakin, Shore, and Faksa so even though they don’t have much coming in the system at centre, they have a lot of young kids on the big club. Still, they would take Vilardi. You get a kid who is that size, RH shot, you simply move a centre to the wing whether it’s Vilardi or one of the other kids. This team is really loaded on D, and this high in the draft you aren’t taking a goaltender, and they have too many forwards who play on the perimeter, so Vilardi would be a great pick. Plus he’s the BPA.
Pos: RD Ht: 5’10 Wt: 175 Shot: R
Comparison: Dan Boyle
It’s not a current need on the big club. In fact, they’re overloaded with RH shooting D. But Myers injury problems are troubling, and I still believe Jacob Trouba is going to be moved out sooner or later because I believe his issue is being in Canada, not that he’s lower on the depth chart. Makar would be a reach here, at least today he would be, but a highly skilled RH shooting D-man is one of the most valuable pieces to have in the league right now so watch for a kid like Makar to go much earlier than where the scouts have him ranked.
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 194 Shot: L
Comparison: Bryan Little
This would be a great fit. The Canucks only real need moving forward would be depth at centre. You could say they don’t have enough quality on defence, but with so many good young D-men they have the trade chips to upgrade that. Plus there isn’t a D-man close to this spot with Makar going already. So take the centre who would be a great with Horvat down the middle some day.
Pos: C Ht: 6’6 Wt: 215 Shot: L
Comparison: Jeff Carter
This is a bad spot for the Lightning should things shake down this way, and there for a trade could happen. They like so many other teams in this draft really need D-men. For as good of a job they’ve done developing forwards, they haven’t really developed anyone on the blueline. I guess you could say Hedman, but when you’re talking about developing kids, at least for me, I more so mean guys who have come up through the system. Not kids drafted 2nd overall who had superstar potential. Anyway, without the right guy around, I’ll suggest they take Rasmussen who could add some size up front while having the skill and wheels to play the style the Bolts are built to play.
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 170 Shot: L
Comparison: Mike Cammalleri
If this is a bad position for the Lightning, this is a VERY SHITTY position for the Sabres! I’m looking around, and I’m seeing NOTHING! Centre, they’re good. RW, they’re good. D, that’s the need and you’d be reaching horribly here. Have to trade back. The good news for Sabres fans is this is just a fun routine to look at the draft and what needs the team has. But if this somehow shook down this way they would be getting nothing of either a need or a valuable asset. Tolvanen is a safe pick, plays hard, and can snipe.
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 167 Shot: R
Comparison: Ales Hemsky
This team still needs D. From my count, I’d say there are five of the top nine teams here that “need” defencemen, and I’m not including Vegas who need everything but should likely start with a D-man. I already had a team reach on Makar. They are looking better now than they were though after they took four D with four of their top five picks (two RH shot, two LH shot). They also have a nice prospect in 2015 3rd rounder Vili Saarijarvi. But I think centre is the bigger need here. Necas isn’t a reach as a D-man would be, he would compliment Dylan Larkin well being a RH shot, and he has that type of player who the Wings have done best with over the years. Elite skill, they can develop his overall game, and someday he perhaps becomes that number one centre they need. Sounds crazy now, but I see this as a tremendous fit.
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 202 Shot: R
Comparison: Joffrey Lupul
Tell me if you’ve heard this one already…this team needs D. And this team needs D pretty desperately. The Larsson/Hall swap was flat out stupid by the Devils. They got so hot and bothered by the value in the deal, they completely forgot that they were in no position to do it. If you’ve only got 100 bucks to feed your family, you aren’t going to go buy a new 4K TV just because it’s on sale. So the rebuild of the Devils blueline needs to start now, but there isn’t a D-man in sight. MAYBE they reach a bit on someone like Heiskanen, MAYBE Makar will somehow still be around should they pick around this spot, but chances are it’s a bad spot. Not the end of the world, they can stock pile in the rest of the draft, just not ideal. Tippett would be a great fit on the right side with perhaps Hall and/or Henrique in a year or two.
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 180 Shot: R
Comparison: Charlie Coyle
This would be a great fit. Maybe you would prefer Tippett if you’re a Flames fan, maybe you would prefer Necas if you’re a Flames fan. But with Glass they can put him on the wing or at centre where they have needs for RH shooting forwards. He has nice size, a nice all around game, and as I said in my prospects write up I’m not understanding why Glass is ranked so much lower by most. To me, he should be in the discussion for the top ten for sure, perhaps as high as six. But most have him going around here which I’m sure suits the Flames just fine.
Pos: LW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 156 Shot: L
Comparison: Ondrej Palat
As big of a shit show as the Bruins are, I have a tough time placing someone here. As a draft junkie, I could cry with how badly they messed up the 2015 1st round. Zbroil hasn’t gone right to this point but I don’t fault them for that one, he was the right pick. Debrusk and Senyshyn though over Barzal and either White or Connor was so horrendous though. Last year they took Trent Frederic over Sam Steel (and many other better options). Yet their system is loaded because they’ve had so many picks the last two drafts. Pettersson would be a solid pick here, nothing really of a need though. If they did go need, I would suggest centre and perhaps Lias Andersson, Ryan Poehling or Shane Bowers.
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 202 Shot: L
Comparison: Paul Stastny
They need some size up front. Ron Francis started to address it at last years draft after he selected Jake Bean at 13. The next four picks were all used on forwards, all 6’1 or bigger. So he understands it’s the issue in the organization right now, which is where Poehling comes in. Centre, has good size, is learning a 200 foot game in his freshman season, his numbers aren’t flashy but he’s a 1999 born kid playing in the NCAA with limited talent surrounding him. A bit of a reach according to my rankings, but most have him in the 12-20 range.
Pos: LD Ht: 6’0 Wt: 170 Shot: L
Comparison: Nick Leddy
In the last three drafts, the Kings have used 10 of their 20 picks on D-men. So it’s not as though they’ve been ignoring their blueline. And they’ve done an incredible job developing defencemen. Muzzin, Martinez, Voynov before he literally got deported, all top four defencemen and none of them taken in the 1st round of the draft. So you understand if they don’t go this route in the 1st round, but I like the idea of Heiskanen here because he feels like a kid who would give them the biggest value at this point. Biggest need in the organization is centre, but if you have depth on D in the organization you can pretty much trade for whatever you want in today’s NHL.
Pos: LD Ht: 6’1 Wt: 204 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Murray
I could see the analytics guys running the Panthers loving Valimaki. He really drives the play in Tri-City, and he’s over a PPG player in the WHL right now. So I could see them getting wowed by that more so than how they seeing him projecting, though that isn’t an issue. Not a major need, but I see them viewing Valimaki as great value here.
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 198 Shot: L
Comparison: Frans Nielsen
Andersson feels like a Blues type kid to me. Doug Armstrong understands the value of having versatile guys and guys who are coachable and willing to play a 200 foot game. This is Andersson. Not flashy, but he is so well rounded for an 18 year old kid. Maybe this philosophy was more about the coach Armstrong had then the way he wanted to build, but I’ll believe that when or if I see it.
Pos: LW Ht: 6’3 Wt: 207 Shot: L
Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk
Ron Hextall has done such a great job to this point, with the draft in particular. It’s such a breathe of fresh air from the way Paul Holmgren was running things which was with zero plan and changing the look of the team every season. Hextall is patient and realized the Flyers needed to really start investing in defencemen (the Flyers, even when they won back to back Cups have never had a great blueline). Even though that plan isn’t going as well at the moment as it looked this time a year ago, I still think they’re pretty solid. Vesalainen potentially gives them size up front in their top six which they lack. Hextall helped build the LA Kings, and the Kings were built with a ton of size, plus the Flyers have always had a lot of size as you know, so I can’t imagine Hextall would be satisfied with the lack of size currently in the organization.
Pos: RD Ht: 6’3 Wt: 200 Shot: R
Comparison: Adam Foote
Ryan Pulock is right on the cusp of breaking into the league. He’s put up good numbers in the AHL, but has yet to get recalled to the show after his injury in late October. But it’s now to the point for the Isles where he’s done as a prospect. They have a few other young guys on the blueline in Scott Mayfield and Adam Pelech, but they’re in the same boat. So it’s really a good time for this team to address their blueline and Cal Foote would be a terrific fit.
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 178 Shot: L
Comparison: Brandon Dubinsky
Love the idea this pick for the Preds. Bowers is an in your face player which is the type of guy David Poile has built this Preds team with. And they have a bit of a need moving forward down the middle. Blueline, they’re extremely set (not just the top four on the big club, top two picks last year were home runs and five of their eight picks were used on D). In goal they’re set (and this is around the point where you’ll see goaltenders possibly going in this particular draft). And they’re looking solid on the wings. Bowers might only ever be a 3rd line centre, but don’t underestimate the value of that type of player.
Pos: LD Ht: 6’5 Wt: 208 Shot: L
Comparison: Colten Parayko
Preference for myself and I would guess the Leafs here would be that Cal Foote falls to them. He doesn’t, so they take Hague who likely has the bigger upside of the two, but is a lefty shot as opposed to a righty, and is a few years away. Should the Leafs end up drafting Hague I would hope the media would be patient there because he is a bit of a project. No doubt though that the need for the Leafs is on the blueline moving forward. Got their franchise centre, got some highly skilled wingers, just have to stockpile on the blueline now.
Pos: G Ht: 6’4 Wt: 203 Glove: L
Comparison: Braden Holtby
This organization is in pretty damn good shape moving forward. So looking at things, the only area of true need in the system I could find was between the pipes, and there for we have our first tendy off the board in Oettinger. I agree with the theory of not taking a goaltender in the first round, but in the 20’s, it fills a need, and Oettinger is the total package as a goaltender. Size, quickness, agility, technically sound, of course the risk with goaltenders is you never know what their mental makeup is. But again, with a pick in the 20’s, I think he’s worth the risk.
Pos: RW Ht: 5’7 Wt: 153 Shot: R
Comparison: Cam Atkinson
Some Oilers fans probably think I’m nuts to suggest Chiarelli would take a kid this small. But to me this makes sense for a lot of different reasons for the Oilers. Jordan Eberle is highly unlikely to be with this team past next season. McDavid’s extension will kick in, Draisaitl is about to get a big extension this summer, Puljujarvi will be ready for big minutes, and there for Eberle is going to be a luxury the Oilers just can’t keep. It could be as early as this summer, but definitely after next season. They’ll need someone in the organization who possibly could step into that spot, and Yamamoto could be that player. And this team that used to try to build with undersized skill is now in a position where they can afford to add a kid of Yamamoto’s stature to the lineup and it won’t hurt them. Also, no way that the organization doesn’t recognize how fast the league is getting and the troubles this team has with speedy teams. Some will argue the bigger need will be at centre with Draisaitl currently playing the wing, I personally don’t believe Draisaitl is going to stay on the wing long term, though you can never have too many centres. Just for the record, if I was making this pick…I’m a big fan of Nick Suzuki in this spot. Bigger, more physical, can play the middle if need be.
HPK U-20 SM Jr. Liiga
Pos: G Ht: 6’3 Wt: 198 Glove: L
Comparison: Cam Talbot
This team is pretty much out of needs in the organization! Sam Steel has been living up to his last name this season, averaging over 2 ppg. It’s unbelievable the job that Bob Murray and that scouting staff has done keeping the system rich with talent. It’s a good draft for goaltenders, or it’s a weak draft and because of that it’s elevating goaltenders, probably a little of both. So this could be the best time to add a stud young goaltender who will take four years or possibly more to develop. Not to mention, they don’t have a sure thing in John Gibson. He’s ok to this point, but he has yet to establish himself as a top goaltender in the league as many expected him to be. Definitely not betting against that happening, but you can’t assume he will become that guy either.
Pos: RD Ht: 6’1 Wt: 180 Shot: R
Comparison: Mark Pysyk
I fully admit, I don’t feel great about this prediction. Timmins would fill a need for the Hawks, no doubt. But at this point it feels as if Stan Bowman has a theory of just continually stockpiling offensive talent in the draft. So Klim Kostin could make a lot of sense for them, Nick Suzuki could make sense, Nikita Popugaev could make sense. But then again, at SOME point, they have to start taking defencemen high in the draft. Timmins is a late 98 birthdate and plays a very mature two way game, so he might not be too far away. The question on him is whether or not the ceiling is very high.
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3 Wt: 196 Shot: L
Comparison: Thomas Vanek
I’m having a tough time slotting Kostin. I know he’s going to drop in everyone’s rankings between now and June, and I’m certain he’s already lower on most teams boards than he is ranked by independent services because of the alarming rate that Russian’s bust at, and then of course you have the KHL factor. The more I give it thought, the more I wonder if he won’t completely fall out of the 1st round. But if he is going to be a 1st round pick it’ll have to be a team needing to take a home run swing and that could be the Rangers. New York’s system is bare as bare can be, so adding a talent like Kostin would be huge…if he pans out.
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 187 Shot: R
Comparison: T.J. Oshie
Suzuki is far from a need for the Pens, but if they still own their first rounder then I think they’ll just simply continue to do what they do best which is add wingers with speed. I wouldn’t say Suzuki has great speed, but he’s a good enough skater to fit in with what the Pens are doing. He’s always moving his feet and is really active on the forecheck. I would definitely say that D is the need for the Pens (as it seems to be with most teams), but Jim Rutherford isn’t a big believer in drafting D-men.
Pos: LD Ht: 6’0 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: Nick Schultz
No, I’m not picking a Finnish player for them because they have a Finnish GM. That’s the mistake most made prior to last year’s draft. I believe a D-man will be the pick though based on the success this team has had this season built from having such a great blueline. They also don’t have much depth on D in the system, so it might be smart to address it now before it becomes a problem.
Pos: LW Ht: 6’5 Wt: 204 Shot: R
Comparison: Nik Antropov
I don’t have Popugaev in my rankings for two reasons. 1) would be the Russian factor. 2) he’s not a very good skater. So while I love that size, and he is skilled, he has some pretty big red flags. The Habs however have been on a mission under Marc Bergevin to get bigger and they haven’t been afraid of the Russian factor at all. In fact, two of their last three 1st round picks have been Russians playing in the CHL.
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 185 Shot: R
Comparison: Derick Brassard
Doug Wilson likes his centres. This club has constantly had depth down the middle spill over to the wings. Tomas Hertl is a natural centre, Joe Pavelski is a natural centre, Patrick Marleau is a natural centre, yet all of them have primarily played the wing for the Sharks the last few seasons (Marleau since 09). Joe Thornton could be in his final season with the club too. So I like Thomas with this pick. Speedy, skilled, he is the type of kid the Sharks have had great success in developing.
Pos: D Ht: 5’10 Wt: 179 Shot: L
Comparison: Sami Vatanen
I was originally going to give them a goaltender. But this organization, while they’ve had a great season with prospect development and obviously the big club has played great under regular season coaching god Bruce Boudreau…but the fact of the matter is that they still have some big needs in the organization beyond finding a future goaltender. So perhaps the time to address that is later in the draft, though it depends on what picks they’ll have left, it’s definitely something they need to address in this draft. I’ll say Brannstrom is the pick here, a great skating, high risk kid who only recently got called up to the SHL. Also, Brannstrom is one of the youngest players in the draft which is the latest trend you’ll see scouts go overboard on. The Wild aren’t deep anywhere, but they’re especially thin on D. With how weak the draft is and how many teams need defence this year I would guess that a lot of D-men go much earlier than they should in this draft.
Pos: RD Ht: 6’0 Wt: 176 Shot: R
Comparison: Tobias Enstrom
What to get the team that has it all? Much like the Ducks, the Caps have done a great job of maintaining a great system while being near the top of the standings just about every season since 2009. They have D-men coming in Madison Bowey and Lucas Johansen, but I would guess Bowey is on the team next season, and Johansen hasn’t had a great season. So perhaps investing in another D-man would be the way to go here, although while I have Jokiharju still on the board I wouldn’t be shocked if any D-man worth taking is gone by about the 25th pick with the need so many teams have on the blueline.
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