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Mock Draft: Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier selected 1-2's Mike Morreale projects top 15 picks

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer Staff Writer Mike G. Morreale projects the top 15 selections in the 2017 NHL Draft:

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

Patrick (6-foot-2, 198 pounds) can do so much off the rush and has elite hockey sense. He knows how to use his size and reach, is as dangerous a passer as he is a shooter, and is projected a future top-line NHL center capable of playing all situations. He models his game after Los Angeles Kings captain Anze Kopitar.

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

Hischier's elite skill and hockey sense is combined with a complete level that allows him to be effective in any style of game. Hischier (6-1, 176) was 10th in the QMJHL with 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games and was named rookie of the year and best pro prospect in the league.

3. Dallas Stars - Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor (OHL)

The 6-3, 201-pound right-handed shot is an excellent addition to the development pipeline. With elite hands and ability to create in traffic when nothing is available, Vilardi produced at more than a point-per-game pace with 61 points (29 goals, 32 assists) in 49 games.

4. Colorado Avalanche - Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (FIN)

He not only played in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, at 17, he earned key minutes on the power play and penalty kill. Heiskanen (6-0, 170), a left-handed shot, is a smooth, effortless skater with a good understanding of the game. He had 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 37 regular-season games.

5. Vancouver Canucks - Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL)

Glass (6-2, 178) is a right-handed top line center capable of playing all situations. He has good hands and playmaking ability and is an opportunist in the offensive zone. He ranked seventh in the WHL with 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) and averaged 1.36 points per game.

6. Vegas Golden Knights - Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie (HIGH-MN)

Mittelstadt (6-1, 201) has elite skills and assets to consistently impact and produce results at any level. He had 64 points (21 goals, 43 assists) in 25 games, an average of 2.56 points per game with his high school team, and was named Mr. Hockey as the best senior player in Minnesota. He had 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 24 USHL games and led the league with 1.25 points per game.

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

The right-shooting Makar (5-11, 180), No. 9 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, had 75 points (24 goals, 51 assists) in 54 games and was named the league's best defenseman and its most valuable player. He also helped Brooks win the league championship and was named AJHL playoff MVP. He's committed to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst next season.

8. Buffalo Sabres - Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga (OHL)

He's arguably the best shooter and one of the better skaters in the draft. Tippett (6-0, 200), who has Phil Kessel-like potential and can play either right or left wing, is a natural goal-scorer who is extremely dangerous when attacking with speed. He had 75 points (44 goals, 31 assists) in 60 games.

9. Detroit Red Wings - Klim Kostin, C, Dynamo Moscow (RUS)

Kostin (6-3, 196) remained No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters despite season-ending shoulder surgery in January. He has a good combination of size, mobility and puck-handling skills. He's effective in traffic and hard to knock off the puck.

10. Florida Panthers - Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City (WHL)

There's a lot to like about a 6-6, 215-pound left-shot center with good hands and skill around the net. He had 55 points (32 goals, 23 assists) in 50 WHL games prior to sustaining a season-ending wrist injury Feb. 1. He was a steady contributor at 5-on-5 and on the power play, and occasionally killed penalties.

11. Los Angeles Kings - Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City (USHL)

Tolvanen (5-10, 170) is always noticeable in a game because of his speed, smarts and skills. He has a great work ethic, is energetic and has a high compete level. The Boston College recruit, who plays bigger than his size, led Sioux City with 54 points (30 goals, 24 assists) in 52 games.

12. Carolina Hurricanes - Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle (SWE)

Liljegren (6-0, 191) didn't reach his high standard upon returning from mononucleosis in November, but his projection is too good to ignore. His skating is off the charts, he has a great feel for the game and can run a power play. He has a knack for joining the rush and is capable of finding the open man. Liljegren had five points (one goal, four assists) in 19 games for Rogle.

13. Winnipeg Jets - Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL)

Suzuki (5-11, 183) was one of the more consistent prospects all season from an offensive standpoint; he was fifth in the OHL with 96 points (45 goals, 51 assists) and tied for fifth with 14 power-play goals. He was an offensive leader on a team ranked among the top 10 in the Canadian Hockey League and consistently produced against tough competition.

14. Tampa Bay Lightning - Elias Pettersson, C, Timra (SWE-2)

The left-handed shot centered the top line in the Swedish second division and got great experience playing with and against men. A forward with great offensive instincts and a good understanding of the game, Pettersson (6-2, 161) had 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 43 games for Timra.

15. New York Islanders - Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri-City (WHL)

After a tough start to life in North America last season, in part because of an injury, he rebounded well in 2016-17. Valimaki (6-2, 204), a left-handed shot, finished seventh among WHL defensemen with 61 points (19 goals, 42 assists) in 60 games. He's been assertive and capable of dictating play with more confidence this season.

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