With the Draft Lottery complete, we now know the order of the top 15 picks in the upcoming NHL Draft in June. In the lottery, we saw some crazy movement including the Philadelphia Flyers jump up to the second pick and the New Jersey Devils receiving the first overall pick (poor Colorado, who fell to fourth…). In this draft, there are no franchise-changing players like Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews but it still has some quality talent at the top. Here my prediction of the top 15 picks in the 2017 NHL draft.
- New Jersey Devils – Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
Many people thought it was going to Nolan Patrick at the top of this draft but Nico Hischier has had an excellent year with the Halifax Mooseheads, scoring 86 points in 57 games. Hischier is a skilled centerman that plays well in all three zones.
- Philadelphia Flyers – Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon (WHL)
Nolan Patrick was the MVP of the WHL as a 17-year-old and was on his way to being the clear number one overall draft pick in 2017 but struggled with injuries this season. As the captain for the Brandon Wheat Kings, he had 46 points in 33 games. Standing at 6’2”, 200 lbs., Patrick seems to be on the path to being a great center in the NHL if he can stay healthy.
- Dallas Stars – Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie (MN-HS)
Last year the Dallas Stars chose Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey winner, Riley Tufte as their first round selection. This year I think they should go right back to the State of Hockey and drafted Casey Mittelstadt with the third overall pick. Mittelstadt dominated Minnesota high school hockey, scoring 64 points in 25 games, and winning Mr. Hockey. He also played before and after in the USHL with the Green Bay Gamblers where he led the USHL in points per game. Mittelstadt is a gifted offensive player with incredible hockey sense.
- Colorado Avalanche – Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City (WHL)
Three words describe Michael Rasmussen. Big Power Forward. He is a towering 6’6” 215 lbs. and is a guy that loves getting to the front of the net and mixing it up. Kind of sounds like a bigger Gabriel Landeskog? Exactly and with Avs looking to be in rebuild mode and Landeskog’s name has been mentioned in trade rumors. Rasmussen would be a perfect fit for the Avs to replace him. At Tri-city this year had 55 points in 50 games.
- Vancouver Canucks – Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL)
For the Portland Winterhawks, Cody Glass tallied 94 points in 69 games which was good for 7th in the WHL. He’s a player that seems to be in the right spots because of his great hockey IQ. Glass blasted on this year and now could be a top-5 pick because he’s a dangerous two-way center.
- Vegas Golden Knights – Gabe Vilardi, C, Windsor (OHL)
61 points in 49 games this season for Gabe Vilardi in the OHL. He his a player maker that makes everyone around him better. If you were an expansion team like Vegas, taking a player like Vilardi would be perfect to build your franchise around. He can create in traffic and has great poise on the power play. He is a type of player that is mature for his age and could probably step right into the NHL next season.
- Arizona Coyotes – Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (FIN)
This draft class does not have many strong defensemen (as you see with me picking 6 centers to start the mock draft) but in my opinion, Miro Heiskanen is the best d-man in this class. Playing in the top Finnish league as 17-year-old, Heiskanen elite two-way defensemen. He’s a smooth skater and looks to one day be a guy that can log heavy minutes in the NHL. He offensive skills include quarterback power play with impressive puck skills.
- Buffalo Sabres –Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL)
When one defenseman goes, another usually follows. Playing in the AJHL, Cole Makar put up 74 points in 54 games and was named the league’s MVP, not to mention he led his team to the league championship (also was named playoff MVP too). As you can see by his point totals, Makar is a highly skilled offensive defensive with the ability to skate to safety when need be. He’s not quite ready for the NHL but next year we can see how he does against better competition playing for Umass-Amherst in the NCAA.
- Detroit Red Wings – Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
With the best shot in the draft, Owen Tippett is a pure goal scorer. Tippett had 75 points, including 44 goals, in 60 games in the OHL for the Mississauga Steelheads. Everyone knows about his impressive but he also has outstanding skating ability, many compare him to Phil Kessel. He needs to improve in the d-zone but that likely to come with maturity. Tippett would be a steal for the Red Wings if he falls to them at nine.
- Florida Panthers – Klim Kostin, C/LW, Dynamo Moscow (RUS)
Klim Kostin is the No. 1 ranked international skater and you would think he would already be off the board by the 10th pick but he had a shoulder surgery in January that is making him slide a bit in the draft. He is a big-body forward who is extremely hard to bump of the biscuit.
- Los Angeles Kings – Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle (SWE)
Call him the Tom Brady of this draft because Timothy Liijegren is the best quarterback of the power play in this draft. Many considered him the best defensemen in the draft heading into this season but with a season filled will illness he was never able to show off his potential. Don’t sleep on him though; his hockey smarts when jumping into the rush are second to none. Watch for him to have a breakout year in the Swedish Elite League next season.
- Carolina Hurricanes – Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City (USHL)
The best player in the USHL this season has been Eeli Tolvanen, for the Sioux City Musketeers (who happen to be the best team in the league too). Tolvanen had 54 points, including his 30 goals, in 52 games. You can tell when you watch him play his has a high compete level, great work ethic and always want to win. He is heading to Boston College, where he should be able to have an impact right from the start.
- Winnipeg Jets – Elias Pettersson, C, Timra (SWE-2)
Elias Pettersson is a player that is pretty good at everything. He had 41 points playing for Timra in division 2 of the Swedish League. His best attribute is his playmaking, sees the ice very well and knows where to put the puck. He definitely needs more time to develop but has the skillset to become a solid pro in due time.
- Tampa Bay Lightning – Cal Foote, D, Kelowna (WHL)
Cal Foote is the son of former Colorado Avalanche standout, Adam Foote. If Cal were to go 14th in the draft, he would beat his dad by 8 spots, who went 22nd overall in the 1989 draft. Cal had a very productive year in the WHL with the Kelowna Rockets; he had 57 points in 71 games. He is aggressive two-way defensemen who loves to create changes for his team. He will good special teams guy at the next level too.
- New York Islanders – Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL)
If you like offense, you love Nick Suzuki! He had 96 points for the Owen Sound Attack in the OHL this season. He is on the smaller end but he makes up for by playing big and thick and is being quick and shifty. Not mention he was one of the most effective penalty killers in the OHL this season. The kid can use his speed to cause havoc onto any team’s power play.