I’m tired and I’m nearly at 10,000 words, here is my latest (not sure if it’ll be the final…probably won’t be…probably tinker with things Tuesday afternoon) mock draft.
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Team: Rimouski League: QMJHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 192 Shot: L
Comparison: Peter Forsberg
SOH Rank: 1st
Easy call here, won’t spend much time on why because you all know why. Obviously, a deal for Eichel isn’t going to happen even though I felt like that would have been a huge win/win for both teams, and I won’t move off the point that A) Lafrenière should play centre down the road because he’d thrive in the middle, and B) the Rangers badly need that to happen down the road because they don’t have that legitimate number one centre elite organizations need. If for some reason they know that Lafrenière refuses to play the middle, I would look to make a deal with the Sens for the 3rd pick. And you wouldn’t get the 5th pick added to that, but the Sens could give the Rangers a tremendous package of picks to move up two spots, and the 3rd pick would guarantee the Rangers that they still get the future franchise centre they lack. I know most will scoff at this idea, but in the Rangers situation, I would make that move because the Rangers appear to be a franchise centre away from joining the league’s elite.
Other Option: Trade back – Just laid it out for you, don’t think I need to go any further with it.
Possible Reach: Quinton Byfield – You can make the argument for him, especially for the Rangers. He’s a legitimate centre, he’s got the size advantage, he’s got the skating advantage, he’s 10 months younger, he was producing at a better pace last season than Lafrenière was the previous season, and in a better league. But it has about a 0.000000000000000000002% chance of happening.
Team: Sudbury League: OHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’4 Wt: 214 Shot: L
Comparison: Eric Staal
SOH Rank: 2nd
It is a toss-up between Byfield and Stützle. I’m saying Byfield for a few reasons. 1) the Kings LOVE the OHL. Now, that might be a Mike Futa thing, who is no longer with the organization. But the way they’ve drafted in recent years, they might love the OHL more than any other team in the league. 2) the Kings won with size, especially down the middle. While the regime that won is mostly gone, the people still in the organization were also with the King at that time. 3) I can’t imagine the league wouldn’t be pushing hard for the Kings to take a potential star of African descent. Byfield in Ottawa wouldn’t have the impact that Byfield in a major U.S. market like L.A. would have. It would be massive for the league. Right or wrong, I believe it’ll play a factor in this decision.
Other Option: Tim Stützle – Again, it’s 50/50. I know what I just wrote, but we’re splitting hairs. Stützle would likely be the pick for most teams as he’s the riser, just think Byfield ends up being the Kings guy.
Possible Reach: Jamie Drysdale – As I just said with Byfield, they love the OHL, but was that a Mike Futa thing or is it an organizational thing? They really need to start the rebuild on the backend.
3. Tim Stützle
Team: Adler Mannheim League: DEL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 187 Shot: L
Comparison: Mathew Barzal
SOH Rank: 3rd
Originally San Jose’s pick sent to Ottawa in the Erik Karlsson trade. Highly likely that what happens here is that the Sens simply take the guy the Kings don’t. So, in this case, it’s Stützle. Some debate whether or not he can play the middle. I believe he can, and I believe he has 1st line centre ability which the Sens really need.
Other Option: Jamie Drysdale – I say Drysdale, but essentially it’s Drysdale or Sanderson because if they happen to love one of them more than the other and want to ensure they land him, then with the 5th pick in their possession they could afford to take that guy here and then maybe Rossi at five.
Possible Reach: Marco Rossi – Same idea as Drysdale. Perhaps they’ll love the kid playing in their backyard so much that they ensure they get him. By just the stats, you can justify it.
Team: Saginaw League: OHL
Pos: LW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: Ray Whitney
SOH Rank: 10th
Well…I kept this as was for a long time, but I’m now caving and going with what Sammy Coz believes. Coz was the first guy to report the Blackhawks loved Kirby Dach last year, he was the first mainstream media guy (I had it a month out…NBD…) that the Blue Jackets weren’t going to take Puljujarvi in 2016, when Sam Cosentino speaks on the draft, we should all listen the fuck up! I really dislike this pick for the Wings if it goes down like this. Not because Perfetti won’t work out, but I view foundational pieces a certain way, and I don’t see Perfetti becoming that type of player, while others at this point are capable of becoming that guy. The Wings have a ton of connections though to both the Perfetti family, and the Saginaw Spirit, so they know Perfetti extremely well.
Other Option: Jamie Drysdale – In my opinion, this is where they should be going with this pick. I know, they took Seider last year, but it’s not as though you’re set once you have one D-man, or in this case one RH D-man.
Possible Reach: Yaroslav Askarov – Not only am I a little proud of the fact I came up with this thought back in the summer, but it sounds as though it is actually on the table. Mentioned on the latest 31 Thought’s podcast that we shouldn’t rule out Askarov at 4. It makes a ton of sense as much as people may dislike it. This organization isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. They take a potential superstar goaltender with this pick, and by the time they are ready to start winning again, they’ll have a stud between the pipes ready to roll. I probably wouldn’t do it, but the logic makes a lot of sense to me.
Team: Erie League: OHL
Pos: RD Ht: 5’11 Wt: 170 Shot: R
Comparison: Morgan Rielly
SOH Rank: 4th
I don’t know if people understand how great of a situation this still is for the Sens. Sure, some combination of the 1st pick and one of the other top 3 picks would have been incredible, but they’re still getting a tremendous player at 3, and then at 5 they could perhaps get even stronger down the middle (Rossi), add big talent on the wing for whichever one of Stützle or Byfield they land (Jarvis, Raymond, maybe Perfetti is still here), they could add a franchise goaltender (Askarov) or finally they could do what I sugget and that is add a stud on the blueline with Jamie Drysdale. I still like Drysdale better than Sanderson, but much like Byfield v Stützle at two, I view this pick as Drysdale v Sanderson and it’ll virtually be 50/50. In my mind, even if you got it even between the two prospects, the difference maker would then be need and the Sens need a RHD more than a LHD in my opinion. I know those Sens fans who aren’t high on Drysdale will point to high picks used on JBD, Tychonik and Thomsson in the last two drafts, but none of those kids are sure things. I believe you need to keep stockpiling. You can always move a RHD if you have too many.
Other Option: Jake Sanderson – Keep in mind that the Sens have taken a lot of players out of the USHL in general lately whether that be the DP or other teams in the league. As I stated, I believe the tie breaker for the Sens should be the need for a RHD, but Sanderson is a riser and I really believe a lot of teams will have Sanderson higher on their boards.
Possible Reach: Yaroslav Askarov – I don’t see him as a reach after the 3rd pick in all honesty. On 31 Thoughts, I believe what they said the Wings, Sens, Devils, Sabres, Wild, Preds, Canes and Oilers have all had serious discussions about taking him. Without a doubt the wild card of the 1st round.
6. Seth Jarvis
Team: Portland League: WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 172 Shot: R
Comparison: Brad Marchand
SOH Rank: 8th
Of all the top 10 teams, this is probably the one I have the worst feel for where they’re going with this pick, which is likely why they’re looking to slide back. I have a feeling that the kid I have as their “possible reach” could actually be their guy. There are actually a lot of those guys who make sense for the Ducks. Guhle, Schneider, Lundell, Lapierre, Reichel, etc are all kids who I could see the Ducks really liking for various reasons. End of the day though, I think it’s much more likely they stick with this pick, and if they do then in this scenario I believe that Jarvis makes the most sense for them. I wouldn’t say they’ve LOVED the WHL over the years, but it’s been up there for the Ducks as a well they enjoy going to. I don’t see Jarvis as a centre in the pros (I believe the Point comparisons are more about his size and the league he plays in than the actual play on the ice), but I don’t believe that will matter much to the Ducks. He’d be a terrific fit for either Sam Steel or down the line Trevor Zegras. And if one of those two doesn’t make it playing the middle, then perhaps you look at Jarvis in the middle. Just don’t draft him expecting him to be that guy. He loves to play at the top of the circles in his own zone and coaches in the show aren’t big fans of their centres playing that way.
Other Option: Lucas Raymond – I’ve had Raymond as their guy for a long time given the need for high end offensive talent they have, and the success they’ve had drafting out of Sweden over the years. I jumped Jarvis in my personal rankings over Raymond thanks to Jarvis being a wild card to play centre in the pros, but Raymond probably has a bit of a higher offensive ceiling.
Possible Reach: Kaiden Guhle – For the same reason that Sam Cosentino loves Perfetti to go to Detroit, keep your head up about this one for the Ducks. All the ties between the Ducks and the P.A. Raiders organization, Kaiden’s brother Brendan is in their system, and the Ducks have a need for defencemen in their system right now. This could possibly be the reason the Ducks sound so willing to move back is that Guhle or someone similar to him is their guy.
7. Marco Rossi
Team: Ottawa League: OHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’9 Wt: 179 Shot: L
Comparison: Sebastian Aho
SOH Rank: 5th
I couldn’t do it. I know what the pick probably should be for this organization, and it’s Jake Sanderson. And I had that until I finished the large majority of the write-up (AKA made the final pick because I don’t map out the picks and then write, I pick and write as I go like I shouldn’t do). Then I came back to proofread, and I just can’t do it, so I switched it to Rossi here. It is what they’ll do if he’s on the board at 7. There is a very strong possibility he isn’t. Rossi makes a ton of sense for any of the Wings, Sens, and Ducks. But I had them going elsewhere, and so I believe the Devils, despite most seeing them as having similar guys to Rossi with Hischier and Hughes, are going heavy on analytics and any team going heavy on analytics will adore Rossi. The guy put up nearly identical PPG numbers to Lafrenière while playing in a tougher league. Pretty damn difficult to ignore that. And on top of it, he plays one of the best 200-foot games of anyone in this draft.
Other Option: Jake Sanderson – This would be the need pick. And frankly, this is the route I would take if I were running the Devils. But I’m not, and they aren’t going to do things conventionally. The biggest reason I would jump on Sanderson if I were them is that they likely won’t get a crack at a D-man at 18 or 20. But as I laid out when speaking of Rossi, I understand why they’d be so high on him. It’s not like I’m not either, it’s just that I worry it’s not the pick that makes them the best they can possibly be.
Possible Reach: Braden Schneider – For the same reasons I strongly believe they’ll want Rossi, I can’t see them liking Schneider much at all. BUT…if you’re looking at the fit and the need, Schneider makes a lot of sense for them.
Team: USNTDP League: USHL
Pos: LD Ht: 6’1 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: Miro Heiskanen
SOH Rank: 7th
This is interesting. I’m not sure people have the Sabres taking a D-man with this pick, and I didn’t think Sanderson would get down to this point in the draft (risers rise, and I really believed Sanderson would go higher than anyone expects). Yet, here we are. But potentially, this is one hell of a nice surprise for the Sabres. Dahlin and Sanderson on the left side for the next decade or more sure wouldn’t suck, and this could be the perfect situation for Jake as all eyes would be on Dahlin and he would be allowed to simply grow his game under the radar.
Other Option: Yaroslav Askarov – This was the guy I had landing with the Sabres a lot before, and please don’t give me that they have Luukkonen coming. A prospect goaltender is far from someone any team should be simply assuming is going to be a stud. Askarov doesn’t fix their issues for now, but if I were running the Sabres, my goal would be to fix the netminding at every level this off-season, so I would take Askarov. If he and Luukkonen both pan out, then you either have an amazing tandem or one hell of a trade chip to play. Not exactly a bad thing.
Possible Reach: Hendrix Lapierre – I’m not sure if he’s that much of a reach, but Lapierre going top 10 would definitely stun some people. I’ve bumped him back to 11th now that his health seems to be fine, also a bit of that is the lack of quality true centres in this draft. The Sabres badly need someone behind Eichel. I heard someone say the other day that they have Cozens coming. Cozens is going to be a winger, maybe do your homework before talking out your ass (whoever that was, I caught it on 960, though I don’t believe it was a local show). Mittlestadt still COULD become that guy, but it sure doesn’t look like he’s going to be that guy. Lapierre has a high offensive ceiling, but he also plays a very responsible game. He could be that tough minutes guy they badly need since foolishly giving away Ryan O’Reilly.
Team: SKA-Neva St. Petersburg League: VHL
Pos: G Ht: 6’3 Wt: 176 Glove: R
Comparison: Miikka Kiprusoff
SOH Rank: 6th
There he goes. I shed a tear as an Oilers fan. I actually might have been the first to bring him up for the Oilers, back when I did Eric Friesen’s “99 Forever” podcast back in the spring. I could tell that Eric was not a fan of the idea! But that’s ok, we’re allowed to have different opinions. But I do believe I was the first to mention it, and it’s seemingly gained steam ever since to the point where it now sounds as though he is their target at 14 should he get there. But the Wild take him in this scenario, as they badly need a netminder of the future as well. Unless Guerin is just this stupid, it looks to me like he might be intentionally sabotaging things there so owner Craig Leipold is forced into a true rebuild. There is no doubt that Leipold is trying hard to resist it, but there is no way someone looks at this roster and doesn’t see how badly they need to do it. So while Guerin fights with that, it would be wise to stash away that tendy of the future while he attempts to tear it down without Leipold being aware. Then, by the time Askarov comes to North America and is ready to play, the Wild will be embracing the rebuild, and a potential star netminder would really speed that process up. I know, that’s very “conspiracy theor-ish” of me, but I actually buy it. If that isn’t the case, the Wild are FUCKED with Guerin as GM, as he’s made some awful moves already this off-season.
Other Option: Anton Lundell – The next Mikko Koivu? He could be. And this organization badly needs centres. And if Guerin isn’t actually trying to undermind Leipold and actually believes in the moves he’s making, then they’d likely love the idea of taking someone who can step right in next season.
Possible Reach: Rodion Amirov – Not a reach for a few people out there, but definitely one for McKenzie, and BIG TIME by my rankings! But the Wild haven’t feared dealing with Russian prospects.
10. Anton Lundell
Team: HIFK League: Liiga
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 183 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan O’Reilly
SOH Rank: 12th
It just makes sense for so damn many reasons. They’ve gone heavy with Fins. They badly need centres. They want a team that can play “heavy” which Lundell can. And finally…he’ll step right in. That last one shouldn’t matter, but it will. It always does even though it shouldn’t. He won’t step right onto their 2nd line as they crave, but he’ll step right in and likely perform very well in the Jets system. It just feels like a perfect marriage.
Other Option: Ridly Greig – Most of the time he’d be a “possible reach” at 10. There are a few reasons he’s not listed as that here. A) risers go higher than expected, and Greig has been a riser this season. B) the Jets aren’t afraid to be their own team, and it’s worked out for them. Mark Scheifele was a stunner at 7th overall in 2011, worked out ok. Josh Morrissey was pretty shocking at 13 in 2013, worked out ok. C) you talk about someone fitting with an organization, Greig’s game screams “Winnipeg Jet”. D) the guy as the “possible reach” is just too juicy not to talk about.
Possible Reach: Jack Finley – I know I had these guys in these spots on my last few mocks, but man it feels like the Jets could pull the trigger on one of Greig or Finley. If it’s Finley, I’d hope they do a big move to trade back with maybe Ottawa or Vegas. But Finley fits their team perfectly, and his dad is one of their scouts. Most are sleeping on him. I’m not, and I do think there is a real chance he goes in the 1st round because I believe if you truly scouted him this season then you know why he didn’t tear up the WHL.
11. Lucas Raymond
Team: Frölunda HC League: SHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 165 Shot: R
Comparison: Paul Kariya
SOH Rank: 9th
I’d heavily consider looking at a D-man here. But I believe the thing they’re going to fight right now is keeping their window open. I believe it’s closed. They’re capped out, they’re getting old, nobody is intimidated playing in their building like they once were, it’s done. But Poile is near the end and is desperate to win a Cup, I highly doubt he wants someone like Guhle with an eye towards 3-4 years down the road (and realistically, 5-6 before Guhle really starts to pop). So I’m projecting them taking the top offensive talent on the board and at this point I see that player being Raymond. Falling to this point would be pretty stunning to see, but while I’ve maintained that risers go higher than expected, fallers go lower than expected. I don’t agree with the logic as to why Raymond has fallen on a lot of boards this season, but he has.
Other Option: Kaiden Guhle – This fills the need for them. They don’t have much coming for D-men, and Guhle needs three years in my opinion before he’s ready, which by that time would have him stepping in for a guy like Ekholm in all likelihood. Some might think they’d prefer Schneider to Guhle, but they already have Fabbro so I can’t see that being the case.
Possible Reach: Lukas Reichel – Someone is going to pull the trigger on this kid before we expect it, and the Preds draft pretty damn well. It wouldn’t be a reach for me, but would be for most.
12. Kaiden Guhle
Team: Prince Albert League: WHL
Pos: LD Ht: 6’3 Wt: 187 Shot: L
Comparison: Darnell Nurse
SOH Rank: 13th
Word is that the Panthers are looking to move some D-men this off-season. Makes sense, they have some depth on that blueline. But you shouldn’t be looking at what your current needs are when it comes to the draft, and need to look 3-4 years down the road. When the Panthers do that, then they will hopefully realize their blueline is going to be trash if they don’t do something now. Enter, Kaiden Guhle, who needs time to develop, but I really believe will be a home run of a pick if the team who drafts him takes their time and does it right.
Other Option: Braden Schneider – All last season with those who have watched the WHL, the debate raged on. Guhle or Schneider? I was in the Guhle camp from start to finish, nothing made me waver. But it’s not lost on me that others see it the other way, and if you want a D-man in the 1st round, there are really only 4 guys teams in the top 20 are looking at.
Possible Reach: Helge Grans – Take your pick of Grans or Wallinder here. Grans and Wallinder are the Guhle/Schneider of the Swedish D prospects in this draft. Ask 30 people who they like better with either debate, and it’s likely to come back at 15 aside. With Grans and Wallinder, both are big projects that a team should be ready to invest a lot of time and effort in developing. The upside on both however is through the roof.
13. Alexander Holtz
Team: Djurgårdens IF League: SHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 183 Shot: R
Comparison: Nail Yakupov
SOH Rank: 20th
Originally Toronto’s pick sent to Carolina in the Patrick Marleau trade. I have a tough time figuring out where the Canes will go with this pick. Jeff Marek has said that Yaroslav Askarov will not get past this pick. However, Marek is far from an insider and has a rather poor track record when it comes to definitive statements leading up to the draft (I love the guy, but it’s not pretty…such as the Avs are 100% going to take a D-man with the 10th pick in 2015). Askarov is gone in this scenario though, so I go back to the analytical approach. I just don’t think Holtz and Quinn will fall the way my rankings on them suggest. I think they’ll fall further than most realize (NHL scouts realize what I have in that snipers are high risk), but they aren’t falling out of the top 15. And Holtz makes more sense to a team like the Canes than most landing spots, where he’d be extremely well insulated and would be allowed to simply play his game.
Other Option: Jack Quinn – Same idea as Holtz, really no need to expand on it.
Possible Reach: Lukas Reichel – As I said about him earlier, this wouldn’t be a reach at all for me, but would be for most. He’s a riser, and risers not only go higher than anyone expects them to, they have a terrific success rate. Carolina is the type of shrewd organization who might realize this and jump on the chance to take him.
14. Jack Quinn
Team: Ottawa League: OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 176 Shot: R
Comparison: Justin Williams
SOH Rank: 19th
Barring the right player falling to this pick (Jarvis, Raymond, Askarov), I believe that Oilers fans should be preparing themselves for Ken Holland to trade back. It just feels to me that after you get past certain players, it makes much more sense for them to trade back and look to recoup a pick or picks they’ve lost, and Ken Holland has a long history of trading back in the draft. Bob Stauffer has mentioned Ottawa as a possibility, that makes a lot of sense but 28 might be too low for my liking unless you’re perhaps getting a couple of their 2nd rounders rather than just one. Would Montreal want to jump to this spot using one of their 2nd rounders? They shouldn’t pay that price, but Marc Bergevin has done far more dumb moves this off-season. I’ll give you one that might make a lot of sense: Vegas. Kelly McCrimmon needs a RHD. Braden Schneider is not just a RHD, but ready to play. Braden Schneider plays for the Brandon Wheat Kings, who until just recently were owned by McCrimmon. The Vegas pick is even lower than the Sens at 29, and they don’t have a 2nd in this draft so the price would need to be stiff (maybe a 21 1st that is lottery protected and a 3rd in this draft), but that might make a lot of sense for both teams. Having said all this, I don’t do trades in my mock drafts. For me, I don’t like the idea of Quinn for the Oilers. I know the logic. “A sniper playing with McDavid or Draisaitl, let the good times roll!!! Rah-rah Oilers fan boy up!!!” Or whatever the kids are saying these days. If the Oilers are to keep this pick with how I have things falling here, being an Oilers fan this is the way I would personally rank it for them with this pick: Lapierre, Reichel, Greig, Mercer, Wiesblatt (which is obviously the way I rank them). I wouldn’t be pissed about Quinn, but I would have a sick/worried feeling.
Other Option: Ridly Greig – I could see the Oilers being in love with Greig. Who the hell knows if they will be, but I believe fans in Oil country would adore this kid. My comp on him is Brayden Schenn, though guys like Sam Bennett and Mike Richards also come to mind when watching Greig. Whether he be developed as a centre or a winger, he’d bring a physical element along with a responsible two way game and an ability to score in multiple ways that would be huge for a team like the Oilers.
Possible Reach: Ozzy Wiesblatt – Much like with the Canes possibly looking at Reichel, this wouldn’t be a reach by my rankings, but it sure would according to McKenzie’s board as Bob has Wiesblatt at 40. That seems insane to me, but Bob’s list is a consensus, not one solo opinion. Anyway, Wiesblatt is less of a swiss army knife that Greig is, but more of a safe bet as a top six winger down the road. Yet that’s not to suggest that Wiesblatt is pure skill and brings no other elements to the table. My comp on him has been T.J. Oshie for a long time now, and T.J. Oshie plays a very well rounded game.
15. Hendrix Lapierre
Team: Chicoutimi League: QMJHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 181 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
SOH Rank: 11th
Originally Pittsburgh’s pick sent to Toronto in the Kasperi Kapanen trade. Soooooo many people have this pick being Braden Schneider. WHAT?!?! I’m not going to say that won’t happen or make some crazy bet that I’ll do something absurd if they were to take Schneider, but I’d be stunned let’s put it that way. Look, they need top four RHD on their current roster. Schneider isn’t filling that role. The way they draft isn’t going to change. As much as the Leafs haven’t got over the hump yet, drafting a kid like Schneider isn’t at all the way they do things. Hendrix Lapierre on the other hand makes a TON of sense to me. If not for the injuries last season, he’d very likely be a slam dunk to go in the 1st round, perhaps as high as 5th overall. And the Leafs aren’t set at centre moving forward. So if Lapierre is still available, I believe he makes a lot of sense here.
Other Option: Ridly Greig – 2nd in a row for Greig being an “other option”. While I can’t see the Leafs giving much love to his teammate, Greig on the other hand would give the Leafs a “grit” element while fitting the things they look for (speed, skill, upside).
Possible Reach: Luke Evangelista – This is the type of player who I could see the Leafs staff both knowing, and reaching on. He’s interesting, and a riser, and playing for a junior organization who everyone trusts to properly develop their players. Nothing of a need, but I could see the Leafs doing it.
16. Braden Schneider
Team: Brandon League: WHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’2 Wt: 209 Shot: R
Comparison: Brent Seabrook
SOH Rank: 23rd
Looking at what the Habs have coming on D, this feels like a nice fit. It also feels like it’s a nice fit with how Trevor Timmins drafts. There is no doubt that when it comes to the draft, Timmins is in full control for the Habs. A bit overrated in my opinion, but few head scouts get more attention. Weber is 35, Petry is about to turn 33, and the best kid they have coming on the right side is perhaps Josh Brook? Maybe still Noah Juulsen? But no certainty’s. I know some Habs fans will be irate at this idea with how many D they have in the system who have good early returns, but no sure things and definitely no sure things on the right side.
Other Option: Dylan Holloway – The hunch here is likely obvious to Habs fans and draft fans, which would be that they saw a lot of him this season. Holloway flat out scares me, I see him having a very big ceiling but worry that he’s only a top-nine winger. But it isn’t as if the ceiling is lost on me.
Possible Reach: Justin Barron – This just barely qualifies for a reach according to McKenzie’s rankings, yet it would be for me as I have him 39th. Still, I do find myself wondering sometimes why Barron isn’t ranked right there with Braden Schneider. With Schneider, it feels as though people say “he’s likely a top-four D-man!!!” And with Barron, the same people say “he might only be a number four D-man *cue the Debbie Downer sound*”. The Habs may know Barron better than most.
17. Lukas Reichel
Team: Eisbären Berlin League: DEL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 172 Shot: L
Comparison: Alex Tanguay
SOH Rank: 14th
I can’t see him lasting until this pick. I truly believe that Reichel is a guy who will go much earlier than we expect. No lie, I think he can go as high as 6th. And I know that seems crazy, but risers go higher than anyone expects them to, and they have a crazy good track record. So I’d be pretty stunned if he is around by this pick, but if he were, he fits the Hawks perfectly. The way the Hawks have drafted over the last few seasons has been to simply take who they deem to be the top offensive talents on the board. They also place an extremely high value on playmakers, which Reichel is one.
Other Option: Dawson Mercer – Most would have him going ahead of Reichel, but do I really need to lay out why I think Reichel is going to stun people in this draft AGAIN?! Mercer does fit with the way the Hawks draft though.
Possible Reach: Mavrik Bourque – Not my most imaginative “possible reach”, as I have Bourque 24, McKenzie has him 26th, and I don’t think it’d be much of a stunner to see him go in this range. But having said that, it probably is a little early for him, and he’d fit the Hawks style.
18. Jacob Perreault
Team: Sarnia League: OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 198 Shot: R
Comparison: Mike Hoffman
SOH Rank: 31st
Originally Arizona’s pick sent to New Jersey in the Taylor Hall trade. It’s not what I would do here, but I believe it is the type of move the Devils will look to make as they become more analytics heavy. Perreault has a boatload of talent, but a questionable motor. At this point in the draft, I don’t believe that will be an issue for the Devils.
Other Option: Dawson Mercer – It might actually make more sense given the scenario here. They pick 18th and 20th, with the Flames in between. Mercer would in my mind be much more of a threat to be snagged by the Flames than Perreault, so perhaps they take Mercer while they can and rely on the Flames to pass on Perreault? Mercer also fits very well with what I believe the Devils are going to do (as long as they don’t trade out of these later picks).
Possible Reach: Victor Persson – I could say several different RHD in this spot, but I chose the player who I have a late 1st round grade on (at least for this draft). Persson has good size, is a terrific skater, can really move the puck, and has a lot of raw upside.
19. Ridly Greig
Team: Brandon League: WHL
Pos: C Ht: 5’11 Wt: 159 Shot: L
Comparison: Brayden Schenn
SOH Rank: 15th
Another riser in the draft who quite frankly I will be surprised if he lasts this long, even though most would see him even going 19th being pretty high. Are the Flames over it yet? “It” being the desire to get tougher. If you asked me this in March, I’d say no. If you asked me this on July 31st after watching them play the Oilers, I’d say no. But it felt like as the playoffs got going that they went from a team that was desperate to prove how tough they were, to being a tough team. I think that series vs Winnipeg helped them grow an inch or two frankly. Had the Jets been at full strength, they wouldn’t have won that way, but the Jets weren’t at full strength and the Flames were able to win that way, and in the process seemingly got tough. Even if they took Greig with this pick though, I more so believe he’d fit the mold of how they should be continuing to build rather than Treliving and company having a desperate need to make soft players tougher anyway they can. This organization lacks a superstar, and as long as they avoid a full on rebuild, it is highly unlikely they’ll land one. So they need to build similar to how the Blues and Stars have been built. Greig couldn’t fit that mold any better.
Other Option: Dawson Mercer – They went to the “Q well” last season when they took Jakob Pelletier. Mercer wouldn’t be selected here for that reason though. It would be much more to do with being a RWer they’ve craved, having the speed which they need more of, and being very close to NHL ready (if he’s not already).
Possible Reach: Ozzy Wiesblatt – Same guy as I had the Oilers “possibly reaching” on. Again, not at all a reach for me, but would be for most. The Flames would know him VERY well, and he fits positionally with what they’ve craved which is a top six RW.
20. Dawson Mercer
Team: Chicoutimi League: QMJHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 179 Shot: R
Comparison: Jordan Eberle
SOH Rank: 17th
Originally Vancouver’s pick sent to Tampa Bay in the J.T. Miller trade, then sent to New Jersey in the Blake Coleman trade. Well, I’ve flirted with Mercer going for a few picks now, so I say the Devils finally pull the trigger at 20. The more I think about it, the more I believe if faced with the scenario, it’s probably more likely that they’d take Mercer at 18 and chance that the Flames won’t take Perreault, but chances of my mock draft being perfect up until the 18th pick are pretty damn slim!! Mercer like Perreault fits with the philosophy that I believe the Devils will subscribe to moving forward when drafting. I said it in my write-up on him in my top 64, he’s one of the safest picks in the draft, definitely the safest of kids projected to go after the top 10.
Other Option: Rodion Amirov – I only have him 30th in my rankings, but this is right in the neighborhood of where McKenzie has him. The problem is that I don’t know how a Russian prospect might be viewed by an analytics heavy organization. Would make sense though, a ton of talent just like Perreault.
Possible Reach: Michael Benning – I can’t go with the same guy I used at 18, so I’m changing it up here. Benning fills a need, but much more important than that if you go strictly by the numbers (which I’m not suggesting the Devils will do, just that they’ll put more stock into that than most), Benning should be a mid-late 1st round pick. This kid equaled Cale Makar’s production in the AJHL not just last season, but the previous season as well. He wasn’t playing on any better of a team than Makar in either season, his numbers weren’t inflated in anyway, he simply matched that production. As much as most don’t see him going until the late 2nd/early 3rd range, it wouldn’t shock me in the slightest to see a team step up and grab him in the 1st round.
Team: MODO Hockey J20 League: SuperElit
Pos: LD Ht: 6’4 Wt: 192 Shot: L
Comparison: Rasmus Ristolainen
SOH Rank: 36th
I would not do this. I wouldn’t touch Wallinder until the 2nd round, as I just believe that too much development time is needed. Back in 2018, I was sky high on Serron Noel. But what I missed (and it hit me immediately following the draft) was that the time Noel needed to develop would burn his ELC. That’s a big deal, and I believe it’s the same deal with Wallinder. But, someone is going to fall in love with his ceiling and want to jump on him while they can. So I have the Jackets being that team, who are able to maintain their success thanks to a rock-solid and perhaps underrated blueline. That blueline has nothing on the way, so Wallinder really fits.
Other Option: Rodion Amirov – He is going to go higher than where I’d take him, and I’m going to have trouble finding that landing spot. Columbus would make sense for him though.
Possible Reach: Luke Evangelista – They not only took one of 2018’s sexiest risers earlier than anyone imagined (Liam Foudy), but because of taking Foudy they’d probably know Evangelista very well. Maybe I’m going overboard with Evangelista, as I have him 28th, but Bob has him 50th. But again…risers go higher than anyone ever expects them to. For example, I had Foudy 20th in my final mock draft in 2018. That was purposely higher than anyone else had him going, because…again…risers go higher than expected. And even then, the riser STILL went higher than expected!
22. Dylan Holloway
Team: Wisconsin League: NCAA
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 192 Shot: L
Comparison: Roope Hintz
SOH Rank: 16th
Originally Carolina’s pick sent to the NY Rangers in the Brady Skeji trade. I can’t put my finger on why exactly, but I just feel as though this is going to happen. It’s not because of the Kreider comp, that’s just a coincidence. It’s a bit because of need (they should now be taking every possible centre they can find if Lafrenière won’t make the move to the middle long term). It’s a bit because of knowledge, given that they would have seen him a lot this season while watching 2018 1st rounder K’Andre Miller. But there is something else, and I can’t figure out what in the bloody fuck it is, but it just feels to me like this is where they’ll go with this pick should Holloway still be on the board. Now that I’ve said it out loud, you SO know it won’t happen.
Other Option: Rodion Amirov – He’s likely going to be an “other option” a lot as I go on now. Nothing of a need, but around this area teams might start viewing him as too good to pass on. And we know they don’t have a fear of Russian’s that others will.
Possible Reach: Marat Khusnutdinov – You want a centre late in the 1st who could become a guy that most don’t see coming, that guy could be Khusnutdinov. My comp is Datsyuk. By no means am I suggesting that he’s going to be Datsyuk, but not every undersized centre can be either Aho or Point. This kid though has that kind of game. Wouldn’t be a reach for me as I have him in this range and am a massive fan, but Bob has him 35th and most don’t have him near the 1st round.
23. Mavrik Bourque
Team: Shawinigan League: QMJHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 165 Shot: R
Comparison: Kevin Fiala
SOH Rank: 24th
Back to the QMJHL well I have the Flyers going again! It hasn’t been that frequent over the years to be honest, it’s just that they seem to have great success drafting out of the Q. Add to that, they could use some pure skill in their system. I really like Bourque. He’s not overly “dynamic” which most scouts really seem to crave, but the word I like to use for him is crafty. He’s an extremely intelligent player, specifically in the offensive zone. That’ll serve him well as he makes the jump to pro hockey. I could see him being a kid who will find pro hockey even easier in a sense. Why? Because he’ll play with more players who can think the game like he can.
Other Option: Brendan Brisson – They’ve shown a love for the USHL in the last few seasons. 8 picks in the last two drafts of either USHL or US high school kids! 8 of 15 picks! So watch for the Flyers to do that again, and Brisson at this point in the draft wouldn’t be much of a reach.
Possible Reach: Jérémie Poirier – Someone just might do this. I wouldn’t, I think it’s dumb, I think he’s never going to learn, but someone might. And if that Q connection still exists in Philly, then perhaps they make sense?
24. Luke Evangelista
Team: London League: OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 165 Shot: R
Comparison: Artturi Lehkonen
SOH Rank: 29th
A few years ago people loved the idea of the Caps taking a London Knight because of the connections to specifically Dale Hunter, and it never happened. Last year, people slept on that idea, and the Caps took Connor McMichael who was a mother fucking home run where they got him. I’m saying they go back to the well and grab Evangelista here, which would be a pretty stunning pick for most, but for the 9 millionth time in this mock draft I’m going to point it out, risers go higher than expected and Evangelista was a riser this season who is likely to take one hell of a jump this season as most Knights do in their 18 year old season.
Other Option: Rodion Amirov – I think most would simply assume they’d go here, and they easily could. We know how the Ovechkin factor has been MASSIVE for this organization in not only drawing the top Russian talent, but getting the most out of those players. It’s a tough call for me between their London connection and their Russian connection. Either make a lot of sense.
Possible Reach: Jack Finley – Not for me, but it would be for everyone else. I believe you’ll see this a few more times before I’m done this. But the Caps love the WHL, and they love size as much as any team in the league. I really believe in Finley though, and have a feeling a team will see it similarly.
25. Rodion Amirov
Team: Tolpar Ufa League: MHL
Pos: LW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 168 Shot: L
Comparison: Kyle Connor
SOH Rank: 32nd
It’s a bit of an unconventional landing spot for him quite frankly, but I have a hunch that the Avs might get away from the way they normally draft here and take a home run hack. That would be Amirov. You talk about loaded, the Avs are freaking loaded. This was a legitimate Cup threat this season that still had two of the best prospects in the game (Bowen Byram and Alex Newhook) in the system. They don’t need to play this one safe, they can go for it. So when I think of that, I think of a guy like Amirov, Perreault if he’s still around, Noel Gunler, or maybe even a guy like Tyson Forester who doesn’t fit with them at all but perhaps the logic would be if they can improve his skating enough they could have a hell of a player on their hands.
Other Option: Jan Mysak – I think this could make some sense, mainly because Mysak is a wild card to play the middle, and the Avs LOVE that. If you’ve noticed, the Avs have taken a ton of centres over the years, knowing that they can always play the wing. Add to this, Mysak definitely has top-six upside to help compliment the stars they already have.
Possible Reach: Ty Smilanic – Massively off the board for my liking, as Smilanic was the last player on my top 64. But he does check some boxes that the Avs look at (speed, ability to play the middle), on top of the fact that he’s a local, but those are the main reasons I believe they’d maybe go here.
26. Connor Zary
Team: Kamloops League: WHL
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 181 Shot: L
Comparison: Jarret Stoll
SOH Rank: 26th
This is a bit like Holloway at 22 to the Rangers. I can’t explain why I feel this way, but I just feel as though Zary to the Blues feels like it’ll happen. I don’t believe most see Zary the same way I do, but the Blues draft extremely well and likely do see him that way, which is as a safe, reliable, 3C who can put up 30-40 points a season while taking on a lot of tough minutes. And that’s how the Blues win is having a plethora of guys who can take on those tough minutes.
Other Option: Jake Neighbours – I can’t put my finger on why, but Neighbours is yet another guy who I have the feeling about, and it’s also with the Blues. Heavy winger who can do multiple things, he fits. It’s odd though, they aren’t big on WHL kids (only have taken one in the last three drafts), yet I really seem to like them taking a dub kid here.
Possible Reach: Jack Finley – I told you he’d be back. His dad spent his final six seasons with the Blues, so this organization would likely know Jack very well, and he fits perfectly with the style they love to play. I’ve said this a lot this season, but one more time…I just can’t find one reason to like Zary more than Finley as a prospect. Yet I’m on an island with that opinion.
27. Ozzy Wiesblatt
Team: Prince Albert League: WHL
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10 Wt: 183 Shot: R
Comparison: T.J. Oshie
SOH Rank: 18th
Originally Boston’s pick sent to Anaheim in the Ondrej Kase trade. I believe I had this last time and I simply won’t move off this point. Despite McKenzie having Wiesblatt 40th, I believe he’s going to go in the 1st round, and if he doesn’t it’s ridiculous. I don’t see any reason for anyone to have him ranked out of their 1st round. Not having him as highly ranked as I do, that’s fine, perfectly understandable. And it’s not like Jack Finley for me, who I love WAY more than most and know that I’m going out on a limb with him. I don’t feel I’m going out on any kind of limb with Wiesblatt. He does everything very well, while having a terrific motor, very good skating ability, high offensive upside, and even the size is fine. There isn’t anything that teams should dislike. And I believe the Ducks will recognize this. There aren’t the connections here that there are with Guhle and the Ducks, but they know the P.A. Raiders organization very well and therefore will know everything they need to on Wiesblatt.
Other Option: John-Jason Peterka – You talk about not having a good feel for where a player could land, this is me with Peterka. I feel as though most have soured on him as the process has worn on, seeing him as more of a Michael Frolik type than anything more than that. Still, this would make some sense as it’s likely the Ducks just look to make a solid pick here rather than hit a grand slam.
Possible Reach: Ronan Seeley – I don’t feel great about them not taking a D-man with either of their picks I must admit. I know they like what they have on D at the moment, but you need to keep some bullets in the chamber. They know the WHL pretty well, and if you know the WHL well then you likely know that one of the dub’s best kept secrets is Ronan Seeley. Teams are going to kick themselves for missing on this kid. He wouldn’t be a reach for me, I have him ranked 26th.
28. Tyler Kleven
Team: USNTDP League: USHL
Pos: LD Ht: 6’4 Wt: 201 Shot: L
Comparison: Jack Johnson
SOH Rank: 58th
Originally the NY Islanders pick sent to Ottawa in the J.G. Pageau trade. Tough to say as trades don’t happen much in the draft anymore, but I would have to think it’d be pretty damn tempting for Pierre Dorion to package this pick with 33, 51, and 58 or something along those lines and see how much higher you could get in the draft. I think there is an outside chance that Minny would do it (though 9 to 28 is quite the move back), Winnipeg might (though again, 10 to 28 is a lot), I could definitely see the Oilers doing something with the Sens, and though I highly doubt they’d deal with each other…the Leafs would likely be willing to move back too. But again, no trades in my mocks, so the Sens are up, and I think Kleven is a kid they’d be big fans of. Continue to build up the blueline, and they have taken a lot of kids out of the development program and the USHL in general over the years as I mentioned earlier when speaking of the possibility of Sanderson to them. I also like Kleven for them because they don’t have a guy coming who can be the muscle in their own zone. Definitely not the need it once was, but you still need one or two of those guys on your blueline.
Other Option: Justin Barron – All depends on what they do at 5. We know at 3 it’s the guy the Kings don’t take at 2 (nice spot to be in). But they could go in multiple directions with that pick, and if they don’t take (or can’t take) Drysdale with that pick, I believe the door would then be wide open for Barron, Helge Grans, Topi Niemelä, or even someone like Michael Benning would make some sense.
Possible Reach: Joni Jurmo – For me, Kleven was a reach being ranked 58th, but not for McKenzie who has him at 36th. Jurmo on the other hand would be a pretty big reach, who both I and Bob have 60th (I just copied Bob’s list as I always do…) A huge reach at 28, but someone who has great size, and is one of the best skaters in this draft, so there are some tools to work with and develop.
29. Helge Grans
Team: Malmö Redhawks J20 League: SuperElit
Pos: RD Ht: 6’3 Wt: 192 Shot: R
Comparison: Jeff Petry
SOH Rank: 35th
9 millionth and 1st time I’m saying this now? I’ve lost count. Anyway, I don’t do trades in my mock. But watch for this one that I’m not hearing anyone talking about. They need a RHD. They’re up against the cap. Kelly McCrimmon just sold which WHL franchise? And they have a defenceman who I have going at 16 to Montreal. He’s NHL ready, he’s a RHD, watch for the Golden Knights to throw caution to the wind and do everything they can to do a deal to jump up and take Schneider. No idea whether or not they get it done, but a deal with the Oilers for 14 (trigger wouldn’t be pulled unless it falls right for both teams) makes a lot of sense for both. For those currently screaming that Vegas doesn’t have a 2nd, you’re right. So they’d need to overpay a bit. How about a 3rd rounder in this draft (recoups the Oilers 3rd for Neal), and the Golden Knights 2021 1st (lottery protected)? That recoups two of the four picks the Oilers have lost in the next two drafts, and the Golden Knights get their guy. But that’s not happening here, so the Golden Knights instead turn to project Helge Grans, so at least they would then have a RHD in their system.
Other Option: Topi Niemelä – Exact same idea as Grans would be, or a trade up for Schneider would be.
Possible Reach: Eamon Powell – Powell would be a reach for sure. 59th for me, 70th for McKenzie. And not much flash with this kid. But he plays a super safe and responsible game. Great skater and can move it well. Again, RHD just like Grans and Niemelä. Just too tough to imagine them not addressing it, both on the big club, and in the system.
30. Tyson Foerster
Team: Barrie League: OHL
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 194 Shot: R
Comparison: James Neal
SOH Rank: 52nd
I just can’t shake this feeling. It’s very similar to Holloway to the Rangers, and Zary to the Blues. There is something about Foerster that I believe the Stars will love. Maybe it’s the size? Maybe it’s the James Neal comp and the fact that they drafted Neal? Maybe it’s just simply that I believe they’ll take the top offensive talent who fits their system on the board? I don’t know. I just know that I like this fit a lot.
Other Option: Noel Gunler – Basically the exact same idea as Foerster, just think that Forester would be more likely their guy than Gunler.
Possible Reach: Will Cuylle – Again, extremely similar idea, but the difference with Cuylle is that this would be an amazing pick 12 months ago. The problem is that he had an awful season. He still has many intrigued however, as he hasn’t lost the size, skating ability, or shot that got him on the map.
31. Justin Barron
Team: Halifax League: QMJHL
Pos: RD Ht: 6’2 Wt: 187 Shot: R
Comparison: Nate Schmidt
SOH Rank: 39th
Originally Tampa Bay’s pick sent to San Jose in the Barclay Goodrow trade. Back when I was a kid, Doug Wilson was one of the best GM’s in the game. Then he decided he wanted to “go for it”. Go for what exactly, I’m not sure. Because in my opinion, when a team “goes for it”, it is normally to get a player that is virtually unattainable for you, but you know that if you land that player it’ll be the piece you need to win. What it’s not is adding a redundant piece for your team who is a year away from free agency and has never been the same since suffering a terrible ankle injury. I also didn’t think it meant then doubling down and giving that player an all-time horrendous contract that cripples your team instantly. But hey, what do I know? Anyway, full credit to DW who fetched a 1st round pick for 4th liner Barclay Goodrow. I say Barron here, but they could go anywhere, as they need everything.
Other Option: Jérémie Poirier – They would. They did it with Merkley, so they’re stupid enough to relive history. At least this time they wouldn’t be picking a kid who was once described to me as “a fucking whack job” by someone who roomed with him once upon a time. Good Gord this organization is a mess.
Possible Reach: Jean-Luc Foudy – No real reason for this, just could see them trying to hit a grand slam out of desperation, and Foudy is very much so a boom or bust pick. GOOD GORD THIS ORGANIZATION IS A MESS!!!
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