Finally, it’s here. Draft day. For huge geeks like myself, this is Christmas day. A lot of people watch the draft for the first five or ten picks and the trades. For me, I’m heavily intrigued by pick 30, and can’t wait for rounds two through seven the next day.
It really is shaping up to be an intriguing draft. I don’t think it’s as weak as I once feared it was, although it’s still not near as strong as any of the last four have been. I would say it’s a lot like 2011. That had four kids in the top tier of the draft, this one has just two, but I believe it’ll be a bit scattered throughout. The top tier of the 2011 draft hasn’t been as good as expected, picks six through nine have been just as good if not better than the top four, and from pick 21 on in that draft it’s become clear that a lot of talent was on the board, but it was tough to put it in the proper order at the time for most teams.
So here is the deal: This one has gone up at 8:00 AM MST, but I’ll be updating it throughout the day should I hear anything solid or actual moves go down leading up to the draft.
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 check out right here: http://soupsonhockey.com/2017/06/23/2017-nhl-draft-top-62-prospects-june-23rd/
1. Nico Hischier (2) Halifax QMJHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.5 Wt: 179 Shot: L
Comparison: Kyle Turris
Again, and for the final time, it’s Hischier to the Devils. It is a total toss up though, and it is amazing that it’s this close to the draft and still nobody seems to know…or frankly care…who the Devils are taking first overall. All the stuff about a D-man going here is false according to Andrew Gross their top beat writer. So we can crush that idea, though I don’t believe that means the possibility for a trade down is gone, though again we need to be honest…it hasn’t happened in the top five since 2008. 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. 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: 6’2 Wt: 199 Shot: R
Comparison: Mark Scheifele
Now we have rumblings that the Golden Knights are going to use their extra picks to move up to this point. I heard this about a week ago and rolled my eyes. Now, apparently it has legs. But again, a pick in the top five dealt…I’ll believe it when I see it. What I do believe is that this is the scenario the Flyers are hoping for. Patrick being a Brandon kid, Hextall being a Brandon guy, of the two kids at the top it’s Patrick who plays more of a “Flyers” brand of hockey, I just think he’d be their guy. 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
3. Miro Heiskanen (7) HIFK SM Liiga
Pos: RD Ht: 6’0 Wt: 172 Shot: L
Comparison: Mark Giordano
Stars beat writer Mike Heika has said he believes this is where they’re going with the pick. Don’t like it for the Stars. In the draft, you pick for three or four years down the road, not today. In three or four years….well, sooner than that…the Stars need someone who can replace Jason Spezza. Their blueline moving forward looks fine! I understand the need today on the blueline, but with the talent they have already on the roster and on the way, and Hitchcock being the man in charge, that D will be fine. Having said this, you can never have too many D, and it’s the one commodity that if you have then you can make a trade. The big question 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 as I said with the Devils…this gets rumoured every year and yet there has only been one deal in the top five since 2002, and it was a simple trade back from five to seven.
Other Options: Cody Glass, Gabe Vilardi
4. Cale Makar (8) Brooks AJHL
Pos: RD Ht: 5’11.25 Wt: 187 Shot: R
Comparison: Brian Campbell
According to Adrian Dater (probably the most connected Avs writer there is), they love Makar. The way I seen him put it is that they’re praying he’s still on the And now with Heiskanen off the board and the belief is that they’re going to start really loading up on the blueline as they should have done years ago…but better late than never. It’s interesting though, because Makar plays a lot like Tyson Barrie, and it sounds like Barrie is going to be dealt this offseason, so I hope they do more to the D than swap out one undersized puck mover for another who is at least two years away from playing the league.
Other Options: None
5. Elias Pettersson (6) Timra SWE-Als
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 165 Shot: L
Comparison: Alex Galchenyuk
I 100% credit my buddy Peter Loubardias for this pick. He said during their mock on Sportsnet 960 the other night that he has word from a source that Pettersson will be their pick. I trust Pete, so I’m going with what he says. 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 Pettersson, is that while the Canucks won’t have that absolute stud down the middle, they’ll be able to matchup with just about any team. Horvat, Pettersson, Sutter, moving forward that could be a bitch to handle. But that is being conservative about it, because Pettersson does have star ability and the highest ceiling of himself, Cody Glass and Gabe Vilardi. I’m not sure if I like this pick better than Glass, but I completely get it and don’t think you can go wrong between the two kids.
Other Options: Cody Glass
6. Cody Glass (4) Portland WHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 178 Shot: R
Comparison: Charlie Coyle
The problem with stealing that piece of info from Pete about the Canucks pick is now my mock draft is the exact same as their’s was through six picks. That won’t stay the same after this one, but the Golden Knights have to take one of Glass or Vilardi here and I believe Glass is the safer choice in that he’s a sure thing to play the middle. Vilardi might, but there are some questions. Having said this, don’t rule out Casey Mittelstadt here, or even Michael Rasmussen. Both kids who I’m down on a bit more than others but I personally have to keep in mind that NHL scouts seem to like them both a lot despite a lot of their production coming in PP situations.
Other Options: Gabe Vilardi, Casey Mittelstadt
UPDATE*** Rangers trade up, Brannstrom changed to Vilardi
7. Gabe Vilardi (5) Windsor OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’2.75 Wt: 203 Shot: R
Comparison: Nathan Horton
Pick acquired this morning (MST) by the Rangers from the Coyotes. Well, so much for my off the board pick of Brannstrom here. They’re going centre, so they either want Vilardi or Necas here in my opinion. Both RH shooting guys, Vilardi is the power forward, Necas is the finesse, and I’d say a safer bet to play the middle. I really don’t know which one it’ll be, but I’m going to guess Vilardi here. The reason for this is that A) the Rangers have gone a lot more CHL heavy with their drafting the last few years, especially with their top picks (no firsts, but the last three drafts they’ve gone with a CHL kid on their top pick), and they would have watched Vilardi a ton this season playing with their top pick from last season Sean Day. So I’m saying Vilardi, just as easily could be Necas, or perhaps Casey Mittelstadt.
Other Options: Martin Necas, Casey Mittelstadt
UPDATE*** Vilardi now gone, pick changed to Tippett
8. Owen Tippett (17) Mississauga OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 203 Shot: R
Comparison: Joffrey Lupul
Now with the trade and everything, I’m having to do this very quickly on the fly! Vilardi gone could open up the possibility of a whole new order now. I get the sense that the Sabres aren’t going to look D here like they should. I do believe a trade down is possible, and with the way the Hawks are wheeling and dealing today, a move with them seems possible…although who the hell knows what the return would be? For now, the Sabres stay at eight because I don’t do trades in my mocks. I hate the idea of Tippett for the Sabres, but I believe that’s where they’ll go. This team desperately needs defencemen. I’d take Liljegren or Brannstrom in this spot, but I don’t think they will. Tippett will be a sniper, but he won’t do anything else. He better score A TON…
Other Options: Timothy Liljegren, Juuso Valimaki
9. Martin Necas (9) Brno Czech
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 178 Shot: R
Comparison: Ales Hemsky
I feel like 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. Without going back and checking (but I’m not…what can I say, I’m lazy) I believe I had this in my second mock and am now back to it. I really love the idea. Necas problem is his play away from the puck. The Wings have crushed it taking kids like this and turning them into dependable two way players without hurting their offensive ability. Take the centre with the high ceiling here, and maybe look to add a Conor Timmins, Markus Phillips, David Farrance, Josh Brook, someone like that at 38.
Other Options: Timothy Liljegren, Casey Mittelstadt
UPDATE*** Tippett now gone, taken by Buffalo
10. Michael Rasmussen (21) Tri-City WHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’5.5 Wt: 221 Shot: L
Comparison: Nik Antropov
With Tippett now gone, the Panthers have to re-adjust. I’ve had a tough time believing they wouldn’t take Michael Rasmussen in this spot. Dale Tallon, now that he’s back in control, has built this team with size. Gudbranson, Bjugstad, Barkov, Ekblad, Crouse, he drafted a lot of kids who were big and mobile. That’s Rasmussen. The other thing Rasmussen might do is free them up to move a guy like Bjugstad who had a very disappointing season. The other thing with Rasmussen as I’ve maintained is that he’s probably better suited for the wing in the pro’s as opposed to centre. Anyway, I think Rasmussen is their guy now that the scenario has changed, but keep your eye on Suzuki especially with this pick as they may prefer a RH shot.
Other Options: Nick Suzuki, Kristian Vesalainen
11. Nick Suzuki (12) Owen Sound OHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 183 Shot: R
Comparison: T.J. Oshie
I’ve maintained the whole way through that they need a centre. I’ve maintained the whole way through that the Kings love taking kids out of the OHL. And I just don’t see any reason to change this line of thinking now. They can use D-men too (they can use just about everything), but that isn’t an immediate need. I have to believe that a little bit of reason for this pick is that Suzuki could probably step onto the Kings third line by 2019, and let’s be honest that while this team is in transition, they still have Kopitar, Doughty and Quick who are win now guys. So with the lack of depth down the middle in the organization (and Carter likely now on the back nine of his career), Suzuki makes perfect sense.
Other Options: Casey Mittelstadt, Robert Thomas
12. Casey Mittelstadt (10) Eden Prairie USHS
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: Lias Andersson, Robert Thomas
UPDATE*** Rangers trade influences a different pick in this spot
13. Lias Andersson (11) HV71 SHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 201 Shot: L
Comparison: Samuel Pahlsson
This is the pick the Golden Knights received from their trade with Winnipeg. With the Rangers picking so high and changing the order I believe will happen, the centres are running out. I really believe McPhee has to load up with centres in this draft, and he’s had great success drafting out of Sweden while GM of the Caps. Andersson would be a perfect compliment down the line to Cody Glass.
Other Options: Timothy Liljegren, Kristian Vesalainen
UPDATE*** Andersson now gone, taken by Vegas
14. Timothy Liljegren (3) Rogle SHL
Pos: RD Ht: 5’11.25 Wt: 180 Shot: R
Comparison: Kris Letang
Lots of ways Steve Yzerman could go here now that the Jonathan Drouin/Mikhail Sergachev deal is done. I know some like Cal Foote here, but I can’t see it. I’m not sure they’d view Foote as a kid who would be able to play with the pace they like to play with. I liked Andersson here early this morning and really for the last little while.
But now the Rangers moving up has changed things and Andersson is gone. So I’ll do what I figured Tampa would do should Liljegren get here and that’s pick him. They have quite a few D in the system, but both in the system and on the current team, they really lack a RH shooting D-man. Liljegren and Sergachev with Hedman in a few seasons could really open up the Lightning’s window. Plus, Tampa is in a situation where they’ve crushed it in the draft over the years. The system is stocked, so they can take a big swing here and Liljegren could be that swing.
Other Options: Kristian Vesalainen
UPDATE*** Rasmussen now gone, taken by Florida
15. Erik Brannstrom (14) HV71 SWE J20
Pos: LD Ht: 5’9 Wt: 179 Shot: L
Comparison: Sami Vatanen
This is the pick the Golden Knights acquired from the Islanders. Again I’m going back to the “George McPhee loves Swedes” narrative. But they do have a lot of WHL influences in that front office, namely Kelly McCrimmon. So Cal Foote makes sense, so does Juuso Valimaki. But I can’t get past the McPhee/Swedes thing, and I can’t get past my belief that someone is going to take Brannstrom earlier than a lot of others believe he’ll go. But let’s be honest, myself and anyone else are grasping at straws with what Vegas might do, we have no clue. If it’s me, I’m loading up on as many centres as I can, and if no centre is in sight then take a D-man which they’ve done here.
Other Options: Kristian Vesalainen, Cal Foote
16. Kristian Vesalainen (16) Frolunda SHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’3 Wt: 209 Shot: L
Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk
Again, I’m taking what Peter Loubardias said in his mock draft as he knows the Flames better than I do. So full credit to him, and I’ll say Vesalainen is the pick. Now I’ve thought all season that a RH shot forward is the way for the Flames to go here. But Vesalainen can play the right side, and has a lot of size which the Flames…they aren’t small, but they aren’t overly big in their top six so he can improve that, plus he has the speed to play with the Flames top guys. And as I’ve brought up a few times now, something Brad Treliving said two weeks ago 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”. Klim Kostin? I highly doubt it as they’ve drafted one Russian since 2002 and it was in the seventh round of the 2013 draft. But it was an interesting comment.
Other Options: Kailer Yamamoto, Eeli Tolvanen
17. Callan Foote (18) Kelowna WHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’4 Wt: 215 Shot: R
Comparison: Jake Muzzin
They’ve got a lot of puck movers already, but they don’t have a guy with good size who plays a more cerebral/composed game and (this might sound odd) has big potential to be a shutdown defenceman. I’d say the ceiling on Foote would be what Brent Seabrook was (notice I said “was” as unfortunately he looks shot) for the Blackhawks all these years. What a perfect fit a guy like that would be with a Morgan Rielly on the Leafs top pair somewhere down the line. I have very little doubt here that the pick is going to be a defenceman. Would be shocked if it wasn’t as long as guys like Foote and Valimaki are still on the board.
Other Options: Juuso Valimaki, Nicolas Hague
18. Juuso Valimaki (15) Tri-City WHL
Pos: LD Ht: 6’1.25 Wt: 211 Shot: L
Comparison: Oscar Klefbom
So I’ve had them taking a centre here all season, and I still think that’s very possible. But they lost Colin Miller in the expansion draft, and Jakob Zbroil has been a bit of a disappointment to this point in his development, so they don’t look as hot on D as they did. Don’t confuse that with being weak on young D, they definitely aren’t that thanks to getting Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo in the last two drafts. But you can never have too many D. If Zbroil starts panning out, awesome! You can always move a D-man. And if he continues to disappoint, well then now they have someone on the left side to compliment McAvoy and Carlo. Something else to keep in mind, they likely saw Valimaki a lot last season as he played with Carlo in Tri-City.
Other Options: Ryan Poehling, Kailer Yamamoto
19. Robert Thomas (13) London OHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’11.5 Wt: 192 Shot: R
Comparison: Scott Gomez
They now REALLY need to stockpile D-men in this draft. They had to move out Mirco Mueller prior to the expansion draft to ensure they didn’t lose him for nothing, but now all they got is Jeremy Roy and he has struggled since being drafted. But in this scenario with Foote and Valimaki having just gone, I have a tough time finding them someone that I believe they’d love. So perhaps you look to do this throughout the remainder of the draft. They have a need in the system down the middle as well, though not as big. Thornton and Marleau are going to be done, possibly as early as July 1st, and Doug Wilson has always been big on having a lot of centres in the lineup. So Thomas is the guy I’m saying they grab. Right handed shot, pure playmaker, he just feels like their type of player to me.
Other Options: Eeli Tolvanen, Urho Vaakanainen
20. Ryan Poehling (20) St.Cloud State NCAA
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: Josh Norris, Shane Bowers
21. Eeli Tolvanen (23) Sioux City USHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’9.25 Wt: 189 Shot: L
Comparison: Mike Cammalleri
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. I’m not as high on Tolvanen as a lot of people seem to be. He is a one shot scorer, but the problem with Tolvanen is he brings nothing else to the table. Still, he’s fallen in the eyes of many should he get to this point, and the Rangers just need to focus on getting anything in their system right now. I believe this is a big reason they want to move Derek Stepan. Sure, his 6.5 million off the cap would help a lot, but so would landing a package of a first round pick and good prospect or two.
Other Options: Kailer Yamamoto, Klim Kostin
22. Josh Norris (27) USA NTDP USHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 189 Shot: L
Comparison: Shawn Horcoff
I’m saying they’re trading back. I think a trade back with the Blackhawks is possible, the Stars, Vegas now that they own half the draft, Buffalo, lots of possibilities. But I don’t do trades in my mock draft, so they pick here. Peter Chiarelli talked yesterday about them liking “a cluster of four” kids and they believe they’ll get one of them at 22. I’m GUESSING…that the four kids are Thomas, Rasmussen, Poehling and Norris. Yamamoto is still on the board in this scenario, and he’s the guy the Edmonton media have fallen in love with. I wouldn’t HATE that, but I just don’t believe this team can afford to take a swing on a pure winger. How many more young wingers do you want with Puljujarvi, Caggiula, Slepyshev, Khaira, Benson, Gambardella, and possibly/hopefully Spencer Foo on the way? You really feel the need to load up on a position that is always available in free agency and at the trade deadline? Keith Gretzky has talked about how they have addressed their size issue and can now go after more skill. But I can’t for the life of me imagine they don’t notice the enormous hole they have at centre in the system, not to mention the hole on the big club which could come next summer should they need to shed the Nugent-Hopkins contract. Norris would be such a perfect player down the road to play a third line complimentary role to a kid like Puljujarvi. Think of how Horcoff and Hemsky played together with Hemsky as the driver. He can play in all situations. But I do believe they can move back to 26-35 or so and still get a pretty good centre.
Other Options: Kailer Yamamoto, Jaret Anderson-Dolan
23. Kailer Yamamoto (22) Spokane WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’7.5 Wt: 146 Shot: R
Comparison: Cam Atkinson
What a 24 hours it’s been for this shit show!!! Ditching the very good head coach, after ditching the two faces of the franchise, and then adding two nice pieces this morning. Different discussion for a different day. I guess they’re going pretty small in this draft! They have a hole on the right side up front, so while I suggest they reach on Erik Brannstrom, I do worry that they’ll simply play it safe and take Vilardi. But should they do what I suggest, then Yamamoto probably makes a lot of sense with this pick. Tiny, but he should be a kid who is a driver offensively and while I’m not big on wingers, that is a trait I look for in any kind of forward. They have a lot of young LW’s on the roster and throughout the organization, but Jason Robertson is another kid who I could see John Chayka really liking here. Still 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: Jason Robertson, Jake Oettinger
24. Henri Jokiharju (25) Portland WHL
Pos: RD Ht: 5’10.75 Wt: 188 Shot: R
Comparison: Tobias Enstrom
This was formally owned by Columbus, who dealt it to Vegas, who flipped it with Winnipeg for the 13th pick. So I don’t think this scenario will hurt the Jets at all. I do hesitate putting Jokiharju here and was REALLY tempted to mock Vaakanainen to them or maybe Pierre-Olivier Joseph because again my friend Peter Loubardias said that he understands that they want a LH shot D-man. But I can’t help but look at their roster and what is coming and think that a RH shot guy is the bigger need moving forward. Byfuglien getting on in years, Myers having injury problems, Trouba still likely wanting out, and only Tucker Poolman on the way. So I still really love the idea of Jokiharju to the Jets should he get to 24.
Other Options: Urho Vaakanainen, Conor Timmins
25. Pierre-Olivier Joseph (24) Charlottetown QMJHL
Pos: LD Ht: 6’2.25 Wt: 163 Shot: L
Comparison: Calvin de Haan
I wonder if they’ll still have this pick later tonight. Because this team is going for it, I have little doubt about that. If you look at the landscape in the East, the Pens are going to gas out next season, the Caps are falling back, the Leafs are coming on strong but still might be a year away, so as of now the biggest threat looks like a team that didn’t even make the playoffs in the Tampa Bay Lightning. A lot of people have them going after a D-man with Alex Galchenyuk, but I wonder if they won’t look to package him with perhaps this pick and look to land a centre like Matt Duchene or Derek Stepan. If they want to try Jonathan Drouin at centre, cool. But they better not go into the season depending on that happening, because I don’t think he’s committed enough to playing a 200 foot game to work in the middle. ANYWAY, this is supposed to be talking about who they may pick here. Centre is still a very real possibility, but after losing Sergachev and…let’s be honest…a very highly touted and popular kid out of the Q on the board, Joseph makes a lot of sense here.
Other Options: Alexei Lipanov, Morgan Frost
UPDATE*** New thoughts on what they might do thanks to trades
26. Klim Kostin (58) Moscow KHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 207 Shot: L
Comparison: Thomas Vanek
WOW! This pick isn’t an update, but I had to update the paragraph after the changes they’ve made thus far today. And I still believe they’re definitely going to move up tonight. Is Kostin still possible now that Panarin is gone? Tough to say, but if they can’t get up past this pick for whatever reason, then a home run swing makes a lot of sense. Kostin would also give them some size along with skill that this team really lacks up front. It’s also not at all far fetched to think the Hawks trade up to get him. As much as I don’t like the idea of taking Kostin in the first round, it sure sounds like others believe he’ll be a top 20 pick. I am going to change the belief that there is any chance they go D here. Since Stan Bowman took over, the Hawks haven’t picked a D-man with a first rounder. Of course, now that I’ve said that, it’s exactly what they’ll do.
Other Options: Filip Chytil, Joni Ikonen
27. Jason Robertson (30) Kingston OHL
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. 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. I think a goalie is possible here, but with Jake Allen still only 28 and locked up, and Ville Husso being a nice looking prospect, it’s likely not a big concern for the Blues…at least not at 27.
Other Options: Jake Oettinger, U.P. Luukkonen
28. Jake Oettinger (33) Boston U NCAA
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
29. Urho Vaakanainen (31) Jyvaskala SM Liiga
Pos: LD Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 188 Shot: L
Comparison: Nick Schultz
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. The more I gave this thought, the more I figured that while there blueline looks solid moving forward, it’s not spectacular. They gave certainly grab a goaltender at 39, perhaps still Luukkonen. So I’ll have them taking Vaakanainen who would fit perfectly in a Ken Hitchcock system and they’ve also had good success with Finnish D-men in the past five seasons or so with Lindell and Honka.
Other Options: U.P. Luukkonen, Michael DiPietro
30. Jaret Anderson-Dolan (26) Spokane WHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 191 Shot: L
Comparison: Nick Bonino
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 26th-28th will be the pick. I would probably take Anderson-Dolan at 22 for the Oilers ahead of Norris, but I get that Norris is the hottest prospect of those three centres. Anyone of them would fit the Nashville style and culture perfectly. Keep an eye on Kole Lind here too. Obviously at this point in the draft there are about 15 possibilities. But the Preds really like the B.C. area, whether it be the BCHL, or the B.C. based WHL teams, and the American WHL teams in the Pacific Northwest. I have to assume they have a scout in that region who’s opinion is really valued by David Poile. Anderson-Dolan falls into this category, but so does Lind.
Other Options: Shane Bowers, Kole Lind
31. Nicolas Hague (19) Mississauga OHL
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: Connor Timmins, Dylan Samberg
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