LNH.com staff writer Guillaume Lepage projects the top 15 selections in the 2017 NHL Draft:
1. New Jersey Devils - Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
The Devils haven't selected first since moving to New Jersey in 1982 but will make the most of their opportunity by picking the most complete forward in the draft. Born in Switzerland, Hischier (6-foot-1, 176 pounds) impressed in his first season in North America with his speed and skill and will add depth at center for the Devils. His intelligence on the ice should allow him to make an impact in the NHL next season.
2. Philadelphia Flyers - Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon (WHL)
The Flyers won't complain about having Patrick fall to them at No 2. Even if he is not the greatest skater, the 6-foot-2, 198-pound center compensates for it with his ability to handle and protect the puck. His vision makes him dangerous, as evidenced by his 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in 33 games. The Flyers also will appreciate the toughness in his game.
3. Dallas Stars - Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (FIN)
The Stars are in need of a good, two-way defenseman and Heiskanen (6-0, 170) fits the bill perfectly. He opened a lot of eyes at the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship with 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in seven games and was named the tournament's best defenseman.
4. Colorado Avalanche - Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie (HIGH-MN)
The Avalanche had the best odds to get the No. 1 pick but getting Mittelstadt at No. 4 is an outstanding consolation prize. The 6-foot, 201-pound center had 64 points (21 goals, 43 assists) in 25 games with his high school team and averaged 1.25 points per game in 24 games with Green Bay of the United States Hockey League. His best assets are his high-end agility and puck handling skills.
5. Vancouver Canucks - Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor (OHL)
A big forward (6-3, 201), Vilardi is not the fastest skater but has a knack for making those around him better. His work ethic, determination and touch around the net will be a welcome addition to the Canucks.
6. Vegas Golden Knights - Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
The 6-foot, 200-pound forward has the natural instincts of a scorer, with his 44 goals this season ranking second among all 2017 draft-eligible players in the Canadian Hockey League. Opposing defenders are forced to keep an eye on Tippett because he is an excellent skater who is able to make his way through traffic and get to the net. Tippett already has an NHL-caliber shot.
7. Arizona Coyotes - Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City (WHL)
At 6-6, 215, Rasmussen's size makes him a very attractive prospect, the prototype of a classic NHL power forward. He is able to use his size to put the puck in the net and set up his teammates. He had 55 points (32 goals, 23 assists) in 50 games this season.
8. Buffalo Sabres - Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL)
Glass (6-2, 178) has an enticing mix of speed and smarts on the ice. He had 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 69 games, the third-highest total among 2017 draft-eligible players in the CHL. Glass' explosive style allows him to create scoring chances on nearly every shift.
9. Detroit Red Wings - Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL)
If you only looked at his size (5-11, 180), Makar would not appear to be the most attractive NHL defense prospect. But he's very mobile and uses that high-end skating ability to get the play moving toward the offensive end, and uses his intelligence to make up for his size. He has steadily improved all season and had 75 points (24 goals, 51 assists) in 54 games.
10. Florida Panthers - Martin Necas, C, Brno (CZE)
Necas is not the biggest forward available in the draft (6-0, 167) but sets himself apart with his offensive flair and hockey IQ. He battles for loose pucks and has good vision, allowing him to find teammates and create scoring chances.
11. Los Angeles Kings - Klim Kostin, LW/C, Dynamo Moscow (RUS)
Kostin (6-3 196) played eight games in the Kontinental Hockey League before season-ending shoulder surgery in January. But when healthy he's shown to be a a puck-possession monster, which fits the Kings perfectly. Kostin has energy to burn and is a tireless worker on the ice.
12. Carolina Hurricanes - Elias Pettersson, C, Timra (SWE-2)
Pettersson (6-2, 161) gained a lot of experience playing against men in Allsvenskan, the second division in Sweden, and had 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 43 games. He has excellent hands and a fluid skating stride, allowing him to create separation from defenders, and a high-end wrist shot.
13. Winnipeg Jets - Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL)
What he gives up in size (5-11, 183) he makes up for in goals. Suzuki had 96 points (45 goals, 51 assists) in 65 games to finish fifth in OHL scoring. The dynamic forward plays with no fear and is relentless in the corners to win battles for pucks.
14. Tampa Bay Lightning - Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri-City (WHL)
The Finland-born defenseman has an intriguing mix of speed and mobility that allows him to join the attack. He had 61 points (19 goals, 42 assists) in 60 games, seventh among WHL defensemen. In addition to his vision and ability to quickly transition from defense to offense, his size (6-2, 204) makes him an imposing figure protecting his net.
15. New York Islanders - Lias Andersson, C, HV 71 (SWE)
An excellent two-way forward who plays a smart game in all three zones, Andersson (5-11, 190) already is a very responsible player who shows good maturity and leadership and plays a mistake-free style of game. He has some skill offensively with 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 42 games, but it's his work without the puck that sets him apart.