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Torie Peterson takes a shot at predicting the first round of the 2017 NHL Draft

by TORIE PETERSON @ToriePeterson /

Ahead of the 2017 NHL Draft, staff have taken a shot at predicting the first round. Here is Torie Peterson's mock draft:

1. New Jersey Devils - Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

The Devils add an exceptional two-way centre with Patrick. He has elite hockey sense, is extremely skilled, has NHL size, and plays responsibly in all three zones. While he isn't described as flashy, he does all the little things right and racks up points thanks to his vision and skill.

2. Philadelphia Flyers - Nico Hischier, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)

Hischier will undoubtedly become the highest drafted Swiss player thanks to his incredible speed, skill, hockey sense, and competitive nature. The 6-foot forward averaged 1.50 points-per-game in his first season in the 'Q' and was far and away Switzerland's best player at the 2017 world juniors.

3. Dallas Stars - Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (Liiga)

Heiskanen is an excellent skater, moves the puck well and has strong hockey sense - all of the tools needed to be a two-way defenceman in the NHL. He played against men with HIFK last season, posting solid minutes and putting up 10 points in 37 skates.

4. Colorado Avalanche - Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

Vilardi is Windsor's offensive engine, not only producing (29 goals, 61 points in 49 regular season games) but also bolstering the play of any winger put on a line with him. He has strong puck skills, a high hockey IQ and plays a 200-foot game.

5. Vancouver Canucks - Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie (High-MN)

Mittelstadt was named Mr. Hockey in Minnesota after he absolutely dominated his high school league with 64 points in 25 games. He's a dynamic offensive centre who can act as a playmaker or a finisher. His puck skills are among the best in this year's draft class and he has speed to burn.

6. Vegas Golden Knights - Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

With their first-ever draft pick, the Golden Knights opt to take high-scoring winger Owen Tippett out of the 'O.' The forward is a natural scorer with a heck of a shot - he amassed 44 goals in 60 regular-season games this year. Tippett is a strong skater who can hit top speed within a few strides.

7. Arizona Coyotes - Cale Makar, D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)

Makar has drawn style comparisons to Erik Karlsson with his dynamic offensive game. He has excellent puck skills, explosive speed and an advanced understanding of the game. At 5-foot-11 and 180-pounds, he's not exactly a hulking presence on the ice but plays with a bit of an edge.

8. Buffalo Sabres - Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri-City Americans (WHL)

Valimaki plays a poised, structured game that will translate well at the NHL level. He doesn't panic under pressure and makes a great first pass. He has offensive upside, scoring 19 goals and 61 points in 60 regular season games last year.

9. Detroit Red Wings - Elias Pettersson, C, Timra (Allsvenskan)

A creative, versatile forward, Pettersson's style has been compared to that of Red Wings' great Henrik Zetterberg. He has great vision, playmaking skills, speed, puckhandling skills, and an outstanding work ethic.

10. Florida Panthers - Cody Glass, C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)

With the 10th overall pick, the Panthers grab Glass - an intelligent center with a high ceiling. While he'll need time to grow into his 6-foot-2 frame, Glass has the speed and skills to develop into a talented two-way forward at the NHL level.

11. Los Angeles Kings - Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City Americans (WHL)

At 6-foot-6 and 215-pounds, Rasmussen already has the size NHL teams covet and has plenty of skill to go with that towering frame. He scored 32 goals and 55 points in 50 regular-season games thanks to his willingness to drive to the net, play in the hard areas and use his size to his full advantage. For a bigger player, he's a strong, smooth skater who gets around the ice quickly.

12. Carolina Hurricanes - Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

Suzuki is developing into one of the OHL's top two-way forwards due to his intelligence, playmaking skills, workhorse mentality, and commitment to defensive responsibilities.His offensive prowess is underrated - he tallied 45 goals and 96 points in 65 games this year.

13. Winnipeg Jets - Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle (SHL)

Perhaps the best skater in the 2017 draft class, Liljegren is a creative defender who can generate plenty of offence thanks to a high hockey IQ and great shot. He can run a powerplay and has a howitzer of a slap shot.

14. Tampa Bay Lightning - Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City (USHL)

The small winger catches your eye on a regular basis thanks to his offensive skill - he's quick, he handles the puck extremely well and is a natural scorer. Tolvanen posted 30 goals and 53 points in 52 games with the Musketeers.

15. New York Islanders - Klim Kostin, C, Dynamo Moscow (KHL)

At 6-foot-3 and 196-pounds, Kostin could develop into a prototypical power forward. He shelters the puck as well as anyone in this year's draft class, is agile and quick on his skates and has a hard, accurate shot.

16. Calgary Flames - Lias Andersson, C, HV71 (SHL)

Andersson excels at both ends of the rink due to his advanced understanding of the game and his vision. He plays a mature, poised game and is extremely responsible defensively. Andersson's offensive upside is high as well, generating chances with intelligent play and a wicked wrist shot. He has been lauded for his leadership skills and an unwavering work ethic.

17. Toronto Maple Leafs - Callan Foote, D, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

The big blueliner, who is Adam Foote's son, plays a safe, dependable two-way game and can log plenty of minutes. Foote has excellent positioning, using his frame and long reach to shut down opponents effectively and efficiently.

18. Boston Bruins - Martin Necas, C, Brno (CZREP)

Smooth hands and great speed make Necas an extremely dangerous player in the offensive zone. He's a versatile centre, with the skill to act as a playmaker or as a finisher. Necas models his game after the likes of Patrick Kane and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

19. San Jose Sharks - Kristian Vesalainen, LW/RW, Frolunda (SHL)

His 2016-17 offensive numbers don't leap out at you but Vesalainen has all of the attributes that could make him a premier power forward: he's 6-foot-3 and 207-pounds, is a great skater, will play in the hard areas, and has a hard, accurate shot.

20. St. Louis Blues - Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCAA)

Already a reliable, two-way center for St. Cloud State at 18 years old, Poehling is a responsible, hard-working pivot with plenty of offensive upside. He reads the game extremely well, is hard to knock off the puck and has a high compete level.

21. New York Rangers - Kole Lind, RW, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Lind is a bit of a late bloomer, coming into his own over the course of the 2016-17 season and piling up 30 goals and 87 points in 70 games. He's not a flashy winger but he's effective, generating offensively and playing with an edge.

22. Edmonton Oilers - Nicolas Hague, D, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

At 6-foot-6 and 215-pounds, Hague is still growing into his lanky frame and polishing his skating because of that. Still, he moves effectively and at a decent clip, which has enabled him to generate offensively with the Steelheads - he had 18 goals and 46 points in 65 skates.  

23. Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota) - Robert Thomas, C, London Knights (OHL)

Thomas is a very mature centreman who prides himself in playing a very structured, mistake-free game. His two-way game didn't hinder his offence, however, as he was a point-per-game player for the Knights this year.

24. Columbus Blue Jackets - Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)

Yamamoto is a dynamic scorer who can lift you out of your seat with his skill and speed. At 5-foot-8 and 153-pounds, some question remains if his size will hinder his development, but his quickness has allowed him to flourish against larger players.

25. Montreal Canadiens - Maxime Comtois, LW, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)

A strong skater and big-bodied presence on the ice, Comtois plays a hard, physical game and has shown offensive upside with 22 goals and 51 points through 64 games this year.

26. Chicago Blackhawks - Erik Brannstrom, D, HV71 (SHL)

Other than his size - 5-foot-10 and 173-pounds - there aren't a lot of knocks on Brannstrom's game. He's a mobile, puck-moving defenceman who plied his trade against men in the SHL this year and faired well against bigger, stronger competition.

27. St. Louis Blues (from Washington) - Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph Storm (OHL)

Ratcliffe is a bit of a project pick - he needs time to fill in his 6-foot-6 frame and polish his skill set - but has all the makings of a power forward. He put up 28 goals and 54 points in 67 games this year.

28. Ottawa Senators - Urho Vaakanainen, D, JYP (Liiga)

Vaakanainen plays a safe, responsible game in his own zone and moves the puck extremely well. He's also very mobile, with a smooth stride, solid agility and great speed.

29. Dallas Stars (from Anaheim) - Jason Robertson, RW, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)

Robertson's 42 goals and 81 points led Kingston in scoring this year and his offensive skills wowed scouts. He'll need time to add muscle to his 6-foot-2 frame and polish his skating.

30. Nashville Predators - Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)

The Calgary product has speed in spades and plays a game that has been compared to Logan Couture. He has great vision and is very creative with the puck.

31. Pittsburgh Penguins - Joshua Norris, C, NTDP U18 (USHL)

Norris has been one of the US National Team Development Program's most consistent players all year. He is a ferocious forechecker and is relentless in the offensive zone. Norris, who had 27 goals and 60 points in 61 games, is committed to the University of Michigan.

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