What a dumb fuckin title, I know.  Anyway…

I’ve been waiting to do my next mock draft for a while now.  I thought that I was FINALLY going to have my chance to do it after Friday night!  Then the lottery happened, and I don’t feel like I can do a full one for a long time now!  Either that or I do a ton of them playing out the different scenarios, that is possible.  Anyway, I most of this ready to roll, so I thought I’d simply put out a mock for the top eight now that we know who’ll pick from 2-8, and we know who is going first.

Part of the reason I felt compelled to do a little one like this is that I’ve seen a few guys do this exercise in the last 24 hours, and they’re basically just going off their lists and not putting much thought into it.  Craig Button, who I don’t always say nice things about given he refers to himself as an “opinionista”, which I would suggest is code for “hot take guy”.  But if you look back at his mocks, he does nail quite a few.  This one he did though, just simply felt like he did quick and didn’t put much thought into it.  And hey, it could easily be said that with this one, I’ve over thought it.  Wouldn’t be shocked if that’s the case, but it’s currently how I feel the top eight is going to play out.

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1. Alexis Lafrenière

Team: Rimouski  League: QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: L

Comparison: Peter Forsberg

SOH Rank: 1st

Obviously we all know Lafrenière is going to be the top pick, so we don’t need to spend much time here.  Again though, I’d want him in the middle long term.  Playing the wing limits him in my opinion.  I saw the conversation with Ron McLean, Elliotte Friedman, Sam Cosentino, and later Pierre Dorion about how it doesn’t matter.  It does matter.  It doesn’t matter offensively, but for the purposes of maxing him out as a talent, I would want Lafrenière playing the middle and developing as a complete centre because I believe he has that ability.  A marquee centre is MUCH more valuable to a franchise than a marquee winger.  I will say though, now there is a solid chance he goes to a team that doesn’t need a centre, and in that case, I obviously have no problem with him staying on the wing.

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2. Quinton Byfield

Team: Sudbury  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 214  Shot: L

Comparison: Evgeni Malkin

SOH Rank: 2nd

I love this fit for several reasons.  The main one being that the Kings didn’t have a star to build around, and now they will.  They LOVE the OHL, though it remains to be seen if that was because of Mike Futa’s influence on the organization (he has moved on).  For Byfield to get to learn from a guy like Anze Kopitar is massive too as he has similar capabilities.  With the Malkin comp, keep in mind that is more style of play than anything.  I don’t believe anyone expects him to become Evgeni Malkin.  Ironically a comp that I used early on for Byfield was Jeff Carter, and that’s a pretty good expectation too.  He definitely can be better than that, but if he becomes that level of player, I think you’d call the pick a huge success.  Anyway, one final thing and it’s the elephant in the room with this one…I think it would be awesome for the sport to have a potential star player of African descent (in this case African Canadian) playing in a major US market like LA.  Every organization in North America right now is going to have a hard push for more diversity, and this would certainly help the league do just that.

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3. Tim Stützle

Team: Adler Mannheim  League: DEL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 187  Shot: L

Comparison: Mathew Barzal

SOH Rank: 4th

Originally San Jose’s pick sent to Ottawa in the Erik Karlsson trade.  For me, this is where it’ll get interesting, and this is one of three reasons I’m going to do a few different mocks here rather than one big one.  This is what I would do with the 3rd pick, and I believe this is what the Sens will do if I had to bet on it today.  But this shit is chess…not checkers.  There is a reason the Sens might go in a different direction at three and it’s because of a combination of need and the fact that they also own the 5th pick.  Stützle much like Lafrenière is debatably a centre, but I believe he also would thrive playing the middle and that’s where I’d draft him at (especially if I’m the Sens who are solid down the middle but lack that elite guy).  But for those who think it’s crazy that someone might go outside the top three…last year the clear cut top three was Hughes/Kakko/Byram.  2016 the clear cut top three was Matthews/Laine/Puljujarvi.  I don’t think it’ll happen this time, but crazier things have happened.

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4. Jake Sanderson

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Hampus Lindholm

SOH Rank: 13th

For those who follow Corey Pronman on Twitter, ironically he used Lindholm the other day, but I’ve had him as my comp for Sanderson for over a month now so don’t think I did that just to copy what he had said.  Anyway, I’m going to say this now, and I’m going to say this a lot the next few months…DO NOT SLEEP ON JAKE SANDERSON!  On my next top prospects list, he is moving WAY up because I did more and more homework on him after seeing him so high for the more experienced scouts and I’m getting what they’ve been seeing.  With how his ascent is trending, I don’t have much doubt at this point that he will go ahead of Drysdale.  I wouldn’t do that, but it feels like that is where this is headed.  Also, Sanderson was in the Wings backyard all season.  This was the thought by many in 2018 as to why the Wings would take Quinn Hughes, and they passed.  Those same people thought the same last year with several USNTDP players (namely Zegras) and they passed again.  I didn’t think that, but most did.  This time, I believe it’s happening, although I don’t believe that will have much to do with it.

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5. Jamie Drysdale

Team: Erie  League: OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 170  Shot: R

Comparison: Morgan Rielly

SOH Rank: 3rd

This would be huge for the Sens if he gets to them because I’ve maintained since probably January that the Sens will want to ensure they log out of the chatroom/draft with Drysdale.  He fits the bill for them PERFECTLY, especially if they’re getting one of Byfield or Stützle at three as most believe they will.  The right side of their D is weak moving forward.  The blueline is getting stronger with Chabot, Brannstrom, Thomson and Bernard-Docker.  Those latter two are RHD, but none of those latter three guys are sure things to make it.  Drysdale is.  And the other thing with D, you can trade them.  It’s not easy to make deals in the NHL, which is why I maybe put more of an emphasis on taking need than most do because I get why teams feel they need to draft that way.  Something to watch here (if you think two D in the top five is crazy…watch this), is the Sens taking Drysdale at three.  Why?!  Because then they ensure the D-man they want, and can then take a centre at five.  “But they’ll miss on Stützle!!!”  Yes…but they’ll be able to take Rossi at five, and you don’t think selling tickets in Ottawa matters?  Or that the owner might suggest they take the kid who has been playing in their own backyard?  He fits the bill perfectly for the Sens.  The only reason Rossi has people nervous to put him top five is the lack of undersized centres in the league.  It wouldn’t stun me at all to see the Sens ensure they get the D-man they want at three (which might be Sanderson, wouldn’t shock me either), and then be more than ok with taking Rossi at five.  But having said all this, I don’t believe they’ll be that extreme and instead be happy to get Stützle and Drysdale.

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6. Lucas Raymond

Team: Frölunda HC  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 165  Shot: R

Comparison: Paul Kariya

SOH Rank: 5th

So I’m going with Raymond here, but I am telling you people DO NOT SLEEP ON KAIDEN GUHLE HERE!  This organization, which not that long ago had the best young blueline in the league, now lacks a stud D-man in their system and some of the kids on that amazing young blueline haven’t progressed the way most believed they would.  Add to this, Kaiden’s brother Brendan is in their system, another sneaky tie would be Josh Manson being from PA, his dad is tight with Raiders GM Curtis Hunt, Dave is tight with Bob Murray which is how Josh got drafted by the Ducks in the first place, I’m telling you, don’t sleep on that happening.  Anyway, I would put that at about 40% chance of happening, where the 60% goes is to one of the highly touted Swedish wingers, and I went with Raymond here over Holtz.  They haven’t taken a ton of kids out of Sweden in the last decade, but they’ve had some terrific picks with the ones they have taken.  Rossi would get consideration here, but I can’t see Bob Murray being ok with taking such an undersized centre (especially with the kids they have down the middle, size is needed), and they don’t go to the OHL well very often.  When they have (2014 Nick Ritchie, 2016 Max Jones) it hasn’t worked out too well.  So I wonder if that kills any chance of Cole Perfetti being considered here too?  So I’m saying Raymond, and the Paul Kariya comp I’ve been using for him all season comes full circle.

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7. Yaroslav Askarov

Team: SKA-Neva St. Petersburg  League: VHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 176  Glove: R

Comparison: Miikka Kiprusoff

SOH Rank: 6th

I repeat, this shit is chess…not checkers.  They possibly own three 1st round picks.  Barring Arizona winning Lafrenière, that will make two.  The Canucks have a tough first-round matchup with Minny, but I believe with a healthy Jacob Markstrom that they will beat Minny, so I’d say the chances are pretty strong the Devils will get all three picks.  Therein lies the rub.  The team picking at eight have a big need in net as well, so it is a good strategy to take the netminder while you can.  And for everyone shitting on taking a goaltender early, I get it.  Raw data shows that it’s risky.  But Askarov is much more so in the Luongo, DiPietro, Lehtonen, Fleury, and Price category.  Three of those five are hall of famers, Lehtonen had a solid career (much better career than most will remember) and people forget that DiPietro was on his way to a solid career but got derailed by injuries.  Then you look at the talent coming out of Russia between the pipes lately and it’s absurd, not to mention that the last two Russian goaltenders getting this type of pre-draft hype have either crushed it (Vasilevskiy) or looks like he’s about to (Samsonov).  It’s not exactly the risk some are making it out to be.  The fact is, he has franchise player type ability.  And the Devils need to sure up their netminding.  McKenzie Blackwood looked good, but he’s not nearly enough, and they don’t have anyone coming in the system.  You might say Gillies Senn, but just because he played in two games this season doesn’t make him a good prospect, it more so speaks to the lack of depth.  So I think it’s a strategic move here.  Take Askarov at seven because he might not be there with your other two picks.  But what will be there with those other two picks are talents similar to what you’d get at this point.

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8. Marco Rossi

Team: Ottawa  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 179  Shot: L

Comparison: Sebastian Aho

SOH Rank: 7th

I love this pick for them.  They need someone in their system who can help Jack Eichel out with the heavy lifting.  Rossi is so far ahead of most kids with his 200 foot game at this age, and he’s ready to step in which isn’t a reason that I like him to go to the Sabres, but it’s a nice bonus.  Another nice bonus is that I hope Rossi is taken by a team in the East as he obviously would be if the Sabres get him.  Point, Aho, guys he compares favourably with, I’m not sure they would have been able to develop the way they have had they ended up in the West where you match up against a lot more power centres (Getzlaf, Kopitar, Toews, Scheifele, McKinnon, Draisaitl, O’Reilly, Johansen, etc).  If he’s here, I’ve really started to strongly believe that the pick will be Askarov.  If I’m Kevyn Adams, I’m doing EVERYTHING to ensure the goaltending position is shored up this off-season.  I’m well aware that they have a good one coming in Luukkonen, but he is far from a sure thing.  If you get Askarov, then things are a lot more settled at the position moving forward (not at all to suggest Askarov steps right in, he likely needs three more years of just development time alone).  But Rossi is a terrific fit for this organization given Casey Mittlestadt hasn’t progressed and they made the horrendous mistake of trading away Ryan O’Reilly.

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