2017 NHL Mock Draft 2.0
This is very poor timing. Being an Oilers guy, releasing my top 50 prospect list and mock draft right after Anaheim ties the series. No, I’m not throwing in the towel on that series, although I always had Anaheim to win that series and win the Cup (hence the reason my order is the way it is for the last four picks).
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? There are just a ton of things to take into consideration.
The number on the right side of the players name is the ranking I have on the player in my top 50 list which you can read here: http://soupsonhockey.com/2017/05/05/2017-nhl-draft-top-50-prospects-may-5th/
1. Nico Hischier (2) Halifax QMJHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 176 Shot: L
Comparison: Kyle Turris
The draft is very “trendy”. Hischier has been the trendier guy between himself and Nolan Patrick. He also is going to be viewed as the safer pick of the two. 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
2. Nolan Patrick (1) Brandon WHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 198 Shot: R
Comparison: Mark Scheifele
As I just said, a perfect spot for the Flyers. And if it plays out like this, I believe they’re getting the better player in the long run. Patrick has had his fair share of injury problems (not just this season, although this was the worst), but I doubt anything that’ll effect him long term. Even if he only is a 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
3. Gabe Vilardi (4) Windsor OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 198 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Johansen
Craig Button had them going with Miro Heiskanen here, 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: Casey Mittelstadt, Cody Glass
4. Miro Heiskanen (8) HIFK SM Liiga
Pos: RD Ht: 6’0 Wt: 170 Shot: L
Comparison: Nick Leddy
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 don’t have Heiskanen as the top D-man in this draft, but much like Hischier he’s the trendier guy right now, and he’s the best LH shot D-man in the draft, which is the bigger need 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
5. Casey Mittelstadt (6) Eden Prairie USHS
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 194 Shot: L
Comparison: Matt Duchene
Tough to say at this point who they’ll prefer between Mittelstadt and Glass. I probably prefer Glass because I feel his game translates a little better to the league, but no doubt Mittelstadt is the more dynamic of the two. Call me nuts, but I actually believe the Canucks aren’t the ocean away from competing for a playoff spot like most do. They need to hit a homerun though on one of these picks though, and Mittelstadt might have a better chance to be that home run and maybe compliment Bo Horvat a little better.
Other Options: Cody Glass
6. Cody Glass (5) Portland WHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 180 Shot: R
Comparison: Charlie Coyle
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. A kid like Glass could be a great fit as he has quite a bit of versatility in his game. The hype train has really amped up for Glass the last little while. I had him 9th in my top 32 back in February asking “why don’t more scouts have this kid ranked higher” and now scouts are going nuts on him saying he’s either Ryan Johansen or Mark Scheifele just because he’s a thin 6’2-6’3 kid who has put up good numbers. EASY guys. I like him, but let’s use safer projections.
Other Options: Cale Makar, Timothy Liljegren
Pos: RD Ht: 5’10 Wt: 175 Shot: R
Comparison: Dan Boyle
Makar, much like Glass, is a kid who I fear scouts are going a little overboard on. Love the potential obviously, but he’s a ways off and could just as easily be another Ryan Murphy as much as he could be a Dan Boyle. But for the Yotes, I see them loving Makar. They have a lot of pieces up front (although I would guess they aren’t feeling very certain about Dylan Strome’s long term outlook at this point), and even though John Chayka and Dave Tippett were able to add Jakob Chychrun and Cam Dineen in last year’s draft, I think the play is still to go D. Add to that, if you have D, you can make trades in this league, it’s that simple. I wouldn’t be shocked to see as many as four D-men go in the top 10 of this draft in large part because of that reason.
Other Options: Timothy Liljegren
8. Juuso Valimaki (10) Tri-City WHL
Pos: LD Ht: 6’1 Wt: 204 Shot: L
Comparison: Wade Redden
This is a reach for most (not me), and a lot of a need for the Sabres. Having said that, if this is what they do I’m going to be in favour of it. I’d take Timothy Liljegren here myself, but I’m accepting of the fact that he is this years Jakob Chychrun and is going to fall. I don’t agree with it at all, but you can see it coming. Anyway, the Sabres take Valimaki here and I actually do think it’s a solid move. I’d maybe explore moving back if you’re going to do it, but trades even in the top 10 of the draft now days are scarce. You don’t want to move out of range where you’d miss your guy.
Other Options: Timothy Liljegren
9. Martin Necas (11) Brno Czech
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 167 Shot: R
Comparison: Ales Hemsky
Tons of skill with Necas who needs to round out his game. The Wings have THRIVED off drafting these types of players. Slowly bring them along, never get to the show until they have their 200 foot game rounded out at least a bit. The big need for them is on D (RH shooting D to be specific) just like it is with Jersey, Colorado, Vegas, Arizona and Buffalo. So why not Liljegren here? In my opinion it would be the smart and obvious pick, and maybe Ken Holland knows better than most of these guys. But I just am already seeing it coming with Liljegren. Independent scouts are souring on him, which indicates to me that a lot of teams amateur scouts have soured on him even more.
Other Options: Timothy Liljegren
10. Michael Rasmussen (7) Tri-City WHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’6 Wt: 215 Shot: L
Comparison: Jeff Carter
With Dale Tallon now back in power for the cats, I see Rasmussen as his kind of guy. Size, speed, skill. Gudbranson, Bjugstad, Barkov, Ekblad, and Crouse were all Tallon’s picks. This team looks solid moving forward on D with kids like Pysyk, Matheson, McCoshen and of course Ekblad they look pretty solid. I wouldn’t go as far to say that they can’t use one in the system, but more so that they’re in position to go with the BPA and I believe if Rasmussen were there he would fit too well for Tallon and company to pass up.
Other Options: Owen Tippett, Elias Petterson
11. Nick Suzuki (18) Owen Sound OHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 187 Shot: R
Comparison: T.J. Oshie
This is a reach according to everyone’s board other than Craig Button’s. I love Suzuki, but he probably shouldn’t go this high. But my thinking here is he’s a centre which is a big need for the Kings, he’s out of the OHL and the Kings have loved taking kids out of the OHL, and he’s a relatively safe pick. He’ll play. Might only be a 3rd line centre, but he’ll play and he’ll be effective.
Other Options: Timothy Liljegren, Owen Tippett
12. Owen Tippett (11) Mississuaga OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 202 Shot: R
Comparison: Joffrey Lupul
Not EXACTLY how I believe the Canes would like this draft to fall, but if you consider them one of the leading contenders to land Matt Duchene this summer (and I do), then Tippett is a perfect fit. Even if they don’t land Duchene though, this team is going to be real good soon. Don’t be shocked if YET AGAIN they go with a D-man with their top pick should the BPA be a D-man, because Ron Francis is a heck of a GM who understands D-men have all the value on the trade market right now. Tippett is really going to need a disher to play with down the road if he’s going to make an impact in the show.
Other Options: Timothy Liljegren, Elias Petterson
13. Timothy Liljegren (3) Rogle SHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’0 Wt: 191 Shot: R
Comparison: Kris Letang
FINALLY the other option goes! For the record, I’m going to be dead set against the Liljegren fall which is coming at the draft. If it’s within range to do so, I’m praying the Oilers trade up to take him because he is exactly what they need in the system, and is falling for a completely stupid reason. Some will say this pick won’t happen (of course they easily could be right) because the Jets are already three deep on the right side on the blueline. True, but Byfuglien is now 32 years old, Tyler Myers can likely now be listed as injury prone, and Jacob Trouba still likely wants a trade. It’s a sneaky need for the Jets. If Liljegren doesn’t go by this point, I still think he wouldn’t get past Tampa with the next pick. Quite the fall for a kid looked at as a sure fire top three guy for the last year and a half. I’m still a big believer, but I seem to be on an island.
Other Options: Elias Petterson, Cal Foote
14. Lias Andersson (17) HV71 SHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 198 Shot: L
Comparison: Frans Nielsen
The blueline should be the major concern for the bolts. Craig Button had Cal Foote going here. While he fits the need for a RH D-man, I don’t believe he fits with the pace that they want to play in Tampa which has clearly been a mandate with the way they’ve drafted. It’s also not really their style to take a D-man high. The times they do, it seems to go poorly (Slater Koekkoek, Anthony DeAngelo). But with Tyler Johnson continually having injury concerns, Valteri Filppula and Brian Boyle now gone, this team has major concerns down the middle. And with Andersson, while every centre can go to the wing, Andersson is extremely comfortable on either wing which could be a need too should the Bolts move out Jonathan Drouin this summer. Andersson feels like a kid they would love and would fit in great with the break neck style the Bolts play.
Other Options: Elias Pettersson, Eeli Tolvanen
15. Elias Pettersson (13) Timra SWE-Als
Pos: LW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 156 Shot: L
Comparison: Ondrej Palat
Probably another team who could use a kid like Cal Foote. But the Islanders under Garth Snow haven’t seemed to like going D high in the draft and passed on kids like Tyler Myers, Cam Fowler, Dougie Hamilton, etc in the first round. Then you factor in that he drafted Griffin Reinhart which he turned into two more forwards, and Ryan Pulock who he seems to dislike and I find it tough to believe that Snow would go D in this spot. Tolvanen could fill their need on the right side which they’ve had pretty much through John Tavares’ entire tenure with the Isles, which ironically could be finished draft weekend if he doesn’t want to commit long term.
Other Options: Eeli Tolvanen, Cal Foote
16. Callan Foote (15) Kelowna WHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’3 Wt: 200 Shot: R
Comparison: Jake Muzzin
Not an ideal spot for the Flames. They really could use a right handed shot up front, whether it’s a centre or a winger. So Tippett or Necas would really fit the bill. They could reach on Robert Thomas or someone like that, but this is a good spot to pick Foote. Plus he’s a RH shot on the blueline which is always a valuable chip to have if you’re looking to trade, but the Flames aren’t loaded with RH shot D-men either. Michael Stone is a UFA who I’d expect to re-sign there but I guess we won’t know until the GM situation is sorted out. Rasmus Andersson and Adam Fox are in the system, but neither are anything of a sure thing. So Foote actually makes a lot of sense.
Other Options: Eeli Tolvanen, Kailer Yamamoto
17. Nicolas Hague (16) Mississuaga OHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’5 Wt: 208 Shot: L
Comparison: Colten Parayko
I could see the Leafs using this pick to acquire a defenceman. Ideally, Cal Foote would have fallen to them. I do think there is a great chance for the Leafs to move up a few spots if they want (Tampa has never been shy to move back in the draft while Steve Yzerman has been there), but I believe they’re going to look for a young top four D-man this summer and this pick could be used as primary trade bait. But should everything fall like this and the Leafs pick, I like Hague. He plays the right side despite being a LH shot, he has tremendous size as you can read, he has a bomb of a shot, and moves well for a kid his size. The hockey sense has been called into question, and the offensive numbers weren’t as big as some were hoping (18-28-46 in 65 GP), but if I’m the Leafs I’m not overly concerned with that. I’d want to find a potential shutdown D-man who can play with a Morgan Rielly down the road because I believe if Rielly starts playing with the right partner that his game will go to another level.
Other Options: Robert Thomas, Erik Brannstrom
18. Ryan Poehling (19) St.Cloud State NCAA
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 202 Shot: L
Comparison: Steve Rucchin
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. As for Poehling, you have to think this would be a tremendous landing spot for his development considering the Bruins have two of the best 200 foot players in the last eight years or so in Patrice Bergeron and David Backes.
Other Options: Shane Bowers, Robert Thomas
19. Kailer Yamamoto (22) Spokane WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’7 Wt: 153 Shot: R
Comparison: Cam Atkinson
The need for the Sens in this spot is a D-man, but it might be a pretty big reach to take that guy here. For some reason Yamamoto really stands out to me as a great fit with the Sens. Really undersized and incredibly speedy, plus while it’s not a big need they aren’t overloaded with RW’s in the system. More of a BPA pick (not by my list but others), but really feels like a great fit.
20. Eeli Tolvanen (14) Sioux City USHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 170 Shot: L
Comparison: Mike Cammalleri
This is a BPA pick, plain and simple. The Sharks feel like the team that would say “this kid can’t fall any further”. But like Timothy Liljegren, Tolvanen appears to be falling in the eyes of a lot of people as well. He’s really one dimensional. So while it’s great to have a big shot and be a pure sniper, you simply don’t win hockey games building around those guys. I believe the need for the Sharks is a centre, and there are a lot of centres to be had in this range. But I believe they’ll be a top contender for John Tavares this summer should he be available, or perhaps Matt Duchene.
Other Options: Kailer Yamamoto, Robert Thomas
21. Shane Bowers (20) Waterloo USHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 178 Shot: L
Comparison: Brandon Dubinsky
I love this kids game and I could see Doug Armstrong feeling the same way. What might hurt Bowers in this draft is that one area this draft is actually solid in is two way centres which Bowers is near the top. So perhaps the Blues would hold off until their Washington pick to take a kid like this. Either way, I expect Armstrong to jump on one of these centres as the Blues could use more help in the middle as they attempted to address last year with the Tage Thompson pick.
Other Options: Robert Thomas, Kristian Vesalainen
22. Robert Thomas (21) London OHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 185 Shot: R
Comparison: Derick Brassard
Finally he goes. Both with Thomas and Liljegren earlier, just feels like they fit for a lot of different teams. This pick is going to depend a bit on Spencer Foo’s decision. He is going to be the type of kid who you can move up and down the lineup and play in any situation. If he doesn’t sign in Edmonton then I believe it opens up another need with Jordan Eberle almost certainly to be shipped out in the offseason. But even if Foo does sign elsewhere, in the draft I believe the way to go (especially in the 20-30 range) is with one of the centres. For me, I got ten centres in the 17-37 range. Thomas might have the highest ceiling offensively of those ten centres. Righty shot which they can really use. He’s also a great faceoff guy which wouldn’t carry over immediately but does give hope to being a key guy in the dot down the road. I believe a trade down to the 30-35 range in an attempt re-coup the 2nd round pick lost to Boston because of how many centres who can be had and fit their need in this part of the draft is very possible.
Other Options: Henri Jokiharju, Jaret Anderson-Dolan
23. Kristian Vesalainen (23) Frolunda SHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’3 Wt: 207 Shot: L
Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk
It’s risky to suggest Vesalainen will end up getting to this spot. I have trouble being much of a fan of his because of the wheels, but perhaps it won’t be a problem for some other teams earlier on. If he gets to 23 though, I can’t see Marc Bergevin passing on him. I’ve never seen a guy try so hard to increase a teams size, with really minimal results. Vesalainen doesn’t just help out with the size desires, but also the desire to increase their scoring.
Other Options: Henri Jokiharju, Klim Kostin
24. Aleksi Heponiemi (39) Swift Current WHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’10 Wt: 147 Shot: L
Comparison: Sebastian Aho
This is the pick the Coyotes acquired from the Wild in the Martin Hanzal deal. I’m interested here, because now with both these Arizona picks I’m assuming they’re going to go all in on numbers and f*** the players size! That’s KIND of what they did last year, but the team builder side of me says having a team full of undersized guys is a recipe for failure. I’m personally really intrigued by Heponiemi. Even though he’s only a few months younger than Yamamoto, he’s a 99 kid. So at a similar weight, three more inches of height, and his numbers aren’t far off (28-58-86 in 72 GP). Plus, for me anyway, I always put more value on a kid who has been playing the middle rather than the wing, even though Heponiemi likely will be on the wing in the pro’s.
Other Options: Erik Brannstrom, Jake Ottinger
25. Erik Brannstrom (25) HV71 SWE J20
Pos: LD Ht: 5’10 Wt: 173 Shot: L
Comparison: Sami Vatanen
I’m thinking there is a very good chance Ryan Murray is moved this summer. Could be because of the expansion draft, or it could be in an attempt to fetch a centre like Matt Duchene. Another thing to look at here is that the Jackets don’t have what I’d consider an “A” level prospect on the blueline, so it might be a good idea to keep adding to their depth. All that being said I really like them to take one of the four D-men I have ranked from 24-27 in this spot.
Other Options: Henri Jokiharju, Urho Vaakanainen
26. Klim Kostin (47) Moscow KHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3 Wt: 196 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 and the Russian flight risk, but at 26 and for the Hawks in particular, this would be completely justified.
Other Options: Marcus Davidsson, Josh Norris
27. Jake Oettinger (30) Boston U NCAA
Pos: G Ht: 6’4 Wt: 203 Glove: L
Comparison: Braden Holtby
This is the pick the Blues acquired from the Caps in the Kevin Shattenkirk deal. This is a little bit of a need, I guess that depends on how high they are on Ville Husso. But more so I just believe if they address a need down the middle with Bowers at 20 then they don’t have a real glaring need up front or on D, so I think more so this is about taking the BPA. For some, Oettinger or U.P. Luukkonen are going to be ranked high, it’s just a matter of whether or not a team is willing to take a goaltender in the 1st round. A lot won’t, but I believe in this spot the Blues could.
Other Options: U.P. Luukkonen, Isaac Ratcliffe
28. Jaret Anderson-Dolan (32) Spokane WHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 180 Shot: L
Comparison: Nick Bonino
Last year’s 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 really believe Anderson-Dolan really fits the Nashville culture. Plus if it’s me, always go centre over wing.
Other Options: U.P. Luukkonen, Josh Norris
29. Alexei Lipanov (40) Balashikha MHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 165 Shot: L
Comparison: Mike Riberio
This would be a home run swing by the Rangers, who really need to re-stock the cupboard after years of dealing away their first round pick (four straight years without one). Lipanov has tremendous skill, but needs to fill out and will likely find himself on the wing in the pro’s, although he’s no smaller than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was when he entered the league. At this point in the draft, for a team that doesn’t have much on the way, I wouldn’t mind this pick at all should it all break this way (trust me, it wont’).
30. Henri Jokiharju (24) Portland WHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’0 Wt: 176 Shot: R
Comparison: Tobias Enstrom
One of these D-men I have ranked in the 24-27 range will fit perfectly with the Pens who love their undersized puck moving D, and I happen to feel like Jokiharju is the best of that bunch. 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.
Other Options: Connor Timmins, Marcus Davidsson
31. U.P. Luukkonen (31) HPK SM Jr. Liiga
Pos: G Ht: 6’4.5 Wt: 196 Glove: L
Comparison: Pekka Rinne
What do you get the team that has everything? I still really believe this team is winning the Stanley Cup this season, and if they do I do not recall a team winning the Cup while having one of the best farm systems in the league. I don’t see a goaltender in that grouping though. I know John Gibson is still real young, but you always want to make sure you have another guy coming, so Luukkonen could be a great fit. But of course, they can wait on a goaltender if they prefer. It’s a pretty big crap shoot in these spots when the draft is good. In a weak draft, it only increases.
Other Options: Kole Lind, Scott Reedy
Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups
3 thoughts on “2017 NHL Mock Draft 2.0”
The Devils will pick Patrick. Period. You build around a 1C and Patrick is that.
That’s what I would do too, but the injury concerns will be tough for them to ignore. Hischier is the safer of the two