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Mock Draft: Patrick, Hischier selected 1-2; Michael Rasmussen to LA Kings's Mike Morreale projects the First Round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft

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) has elite hockey sense. He knows how to use his size and reach, is experienced, has an edge to his game and is as dangerous a passer as he is a shooter. The winner of the Canadian Hockey League's top professional prospect award, Patrick feels he will be NHL ready by September. He models his game after LA Kings captain Anze Kopitar.

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

His elite skill, skating and hockey sense is combined with a compete level that allows him to be effective in any style of game. Hischier (6-1, 176) was 10th in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League with 86 points (38 goals, 48 assists) in 57 games and was named CHL Rookie of the Year.

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

Vilardi (6-3, 201), a right-handed shot, is an excellent addition to the development pipeline for the Stars. With elite hands and the ability to create in traffic when nothing is available, Vilardi had 61 points (29 goals, 32 assists) in 49 games.

4. Colorado Avalanche - Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL)

The right-handed 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 Alberta Junior Hockey League's best defenseman and best player. Committed to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst next season, Makar has 135 points (35 goals, 100 assists) in 111 AJHL regular-season games.

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

Mittelstadt (6-1, 201) has elite skills and can consistently impact and produce results at any level. He averaged 2.56 points per game against high school competition and was named Mr. Hockey as the best senior player in Minnesota. He had 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 24 United States Hockey League games, and led the league with 1.25 points per game.

6. Vegas Golden Knights - 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 was tied for seventh in the Western Hockey League with 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 69 games.

7. Arizona Coyotes - Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (FIN)

He not only made the team in Finland's top division but had a big role, earning key minutes on the power-play and penalty-killing units. Heiskanen (6-0, 170), a left-handed shot, is an effortless and smooth skater with a good understanding of the game. He had 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 37 regular-season games as a 17-year-old in a men's league.

8. Buffalo Sabres - 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.

9. Detroit Red Wings - Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga (OHL)

He's arguably the best shooter and one of the better skaters in this draft class. 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.

10. Florida Panthers - Martin Necas, C, Brno (CZREP)

A smart, mobile playmaker who can confidently move the puck through traffic. Necas (6-0, 167), a right-handed shot, had 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) in 41 games in the top Czech league, and had six points (two goals, four assists) in four games as captain for Czech Republic at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup in August.

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

There's a lot to like about a 6-foot-6, 215-pound left-shot center with good hands and skill around the goal. 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 5-on-5 and on the power play, and occasionally saw time on the penalty kill.

12. Carolina Hurricanes - Lias Andersson, C, HV 71 (SWE)

Andersson (5-11, 198) is an excellent skater with speed and good first-step quickness. He's always on the move and can create scoring chances with his mobility, good hands and grit. His father, Niklas Andersson, played 164 NHL games and is a scout for the LA Kings.

13. Winnipeg Jets - Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City (USHL)

Tolvanen (5-10, 170), who came to North America from Finland as a 16-year-old, has noticeable 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.

14. Tampa Bay Lightning - Kristian Vesalainen, LW/RW, Frolunda (SWE)

Born in Helsinki, Finland, Vesalainen (6-3, 207) is a power forward with great offensive skills. He's a very mobile skater, smart, and is a good physical presence. He has a good feel for the game and is a hard-working, two-way player.

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

After missing time last season because of 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 played more assertive and was confident enough to dictate play more often this season.

16. Calgary Flames - 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) in 65 games, and was 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 all season and consistently produced against tough competition.

17. Toronto Maple Leafs - Elias Pettersson, C, Timra (SWE-2)

Pettersson, a left-handed shot, centered the top line and got great experience playing with and against men in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division. A forward with great offensive instincts and a good understanding of the game, Pettersson (6-1, 165) had 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 43 games.

18. Boston Bruins - Callan Foote, D, Kelowna (WHL)

Foote (6-4, 212), the son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote, probably won't be the physical presence his father was, but he plays in all situations, logs a lot of minutes and uses his smarts, reach and strength to contain his opponents in the defensive zone. He had 57 points (six goals, 51 assists) in 71 games.

19. San Jose Sharks - Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCHC)

Poehling, a 6-foot-2, 183-pound forward, brings speed and smarts and seems to make things happen at the right time. The left-handed shot, who had 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 35 games, generates offense when needed. He was the youngest player in the NCAA, turning 18 on Jan. 3.

20. St. Louis Blues - Klim Kostin, C/LW, Dynamo Moscow (RUS)

Kostin (6-3, 196) was No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters despite missing most of the season after having 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.

21. New York Rangers - Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo (USHL)

Committed to Boston University in 2017-18, the left-handed shot from Halifax, Nova Scotia, had 51 points (22 goals, 29 assists) in 60 games. He plays hard at both ends of the ice and manages his skating with a good change of pace. 

22. Edmonton Oilers - Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane (WHL)

Yamamoto (5-7, 153) knows how to create excitement. He's hockey-strong, can make contact and knock people off the puck, can protect the puck and win battles. Scouts like how he could bring a game-breaker element to each game, has no fear and has plenty of push-back despite his stature.

23. Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota Wild) - Jake Oettinger, G, Boston University (H-EAST)

Oettinger (6-4, 212), No. 1 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American goalies, plays simple, efficient and is technically sound. He had a 2.11 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and four shutouts in 35 games. He led Hockey East with a 2.09 GAA in 20 regular-season league games and was the second-youngest player in the NCAA; he turned 18 on Dec. 18.

24. Columbus Blue Jackets - Jason Robertson, LW, Kingston (OHL)

Robertson (6-2, 192) continually got better as the season progressed. He had 81 points (42 goals, 39 assists) in 68 games. He has great hockey sense, a great feel for the game and is an excellent finisher.

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

Comtois (6-2, 200) is most comfortable at right wing but can play any forward position and can be used in all situations because of his size and speed. He can take faceoffs and is highly skilled but also plays with an edge. He had 51 points (22 goals, 29 assists) in 64 games.

26. Chicago Blackhawks - Urho Vaakanainen, D, JYP (FIN)

Vaakanainen (6-1, 185) might be considered the sleeper of the first round. No. 8 on Central Scouting's final ranking of international skaters, he's mobile, good at handling the puck and capable of finding the open man in transition. He's very reliable in the defensive zone and doesn't shy away from a physical game.

27. St. Louis Blues (from Washington Capitals) - Nicolas Hague, D, Mississauga (OHL)

Hague (6-5, 215) is a fluid skater and can move the puck extremely well, enabling his team to create a lot of offense. The left-handed shot is tough in the defensive zone and can quarterback a power play. He had 46 points (18 goals, 28 assists) and six power-play goals in 65 games.

28. Ottawa Senators - Conor Timmins, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

Timmins (6-1, 185), a right-handed shot, has high hockey sense, good vision, offensive instincts and is poised under pressure. He had 61 points (seven goals, 54 assists) in 67 games.

29. Dallas Stars (from Anaheim Ducks) - Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C, Spokane (WHL)

A smart, skilled player who is strong on his skates, Anderson-Dolan has a big shot and is extremely competitive. He had 76 points (39 goals, 37 assists) in 72 games. He can play all situations and is a reliable two-way player.

30. Nashville Predators - Robert Thomas, C, London (OHL)

Thomas (5-11, 188) is a highly intelligent player who can make an impact at both ends of the ice. He's a gifted passer who sees the ice extremely well and can be trusted to play in any situation. He had 66 points (16 goals, 50 assists) in 66 games. 

31. Pittsburgh Penguins - Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph (OHL)

A strong power forward who has good hockey sense and a soft touch around the net, Ratcliffe (6-5, 200) has good size and can make plays on the rush while using his strength and reach to be a threat on the cycle. He had 54 points (28 goals, 26 assists) in 67 games.

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