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NHL Draft

Adam Kimelman's 2017 NHL mock draft

Nolan Patrick of Brandon, Gabriel Vilardi of Windsor, Nico Hischier of Halifax to go first, second, third

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The order used for this mock draft was based on League standings after close of play Wednesday. The Vegas Golden Knights, who will be assigned the same odds as the third-place team in the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery, were given the No. 3 pick in the mock drafts.

All 31 teams currently have their first-round pick; the last time each team entered the draft owning its first pick was 2005.

 

1. Colorado Avalanche - Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon (WHL)

The Avalanche need young defense prospects, but they can't pass up the consensus best player in the draft. Patrick (6-foot-3, 198 pounds) appears healthy after a groin/stomach muscle injury that sidelined him for most of the first half of the season. Nathan MacKinnon, Patrick and Tyson Jost, their 2016 first-round pick (No. 10), through the middle could speed up the rebuild.

 

VIEW: Morreale's 2017 NHL mock draft | NHL Central Scouting rankings

 

2. Arizona Coyotes - Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor (OHL)

The Coyotes could opt to add size and skill at center with Vilardi, a 6-foot-3, 201-pound right-shot center. He's fully recovered from a knee injury sustained during the summer and has 34 points (17 goals, 17 assists) in 26 games.

 

3. Vegas Golden Knights - Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL)

The newest NHL team starts to build through the middle with the 6-1, 176-pound Switzerland-born forward. He has been the best rookie in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season but showcased his skill, strength and quickness with a dominant performance at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, with four goals and three assists in five games.

 

4. New York Islanders - Owen Tippett, RW, Owen Sound (OHL)

The 6-1, 202-pound power forward will make a nice target for the Islanders, who have an abundance of left-shot centers, including captain John Tavares.

 

5. Buffalo Sabres - Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City (WHL)

The Sabres can add to their forward depth with this big (6-6, 215) goal-scoring machine, who has 30 in 46 games. He's also considered a good skater for his size.

 

6. Winnipeg Jets - Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri-City (WHL)

The Jets can select the most offensively gifted defensemen in the draft class. The Finland-born left-shot defender has good size (6-1, 204), has been a point-per-game player with 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 38 games in his first WHL season. He also had a good showing for Finland at the 2017 WJC with two goals in six games.

 

7. Detroit Red Wings - Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie (HIGH-MN)

Mittelstadt (6-1, 201) will spend at least one season at the University of Minnesota but won't need much time to develop into an NHL-ready scorer. He began the season by being named the most valuable player of the 2016 USA Hockey All-American Prospects Game, then had 21 points (eight goals, 13 assists) in 16 games with Green Bay in the United States Hockey League prior to his scholastic season.

 

8. Dallas Stars - Klim Kostin, C/LW, Dynamo Moscow (RUS)

The top skater in NHL Central Scouting's International ranking is expected to miss about three months because of a shoulder injury, but when healthy is a high-skill power forward (6-3, 196) willing and able to go to the gritty areas. He's reminiscent of Denis Gurianov, the Stars first round pick (No. 12) in the 2015 draft, who is close to being NHL ready.

 

9. New Jersey Devils - Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City (USHL)

The Devils need more skill up front and Tolvanen (5-10, 170) is capable of filling the net. He's averaging 1.12 points per game in the USHL and did well with Finland at the WJC despite an ankle injury. He'll need at least one season at Boston College to develop physically, but his speed and offensive gifts are obvious.

 

10. Tampa Bay Lightning - Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL)

The right-shot defender (5-11, 179) has dominated the Alberta Junior Hockey League and was just as good when he stepped up a level to play for Canada at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge, with four goals and four assists in four games. Scouts have been impressed by his speed with and without the puck, which allows him to lead the rush then get back into the defensive zone if play turns the other way.

 

11. Nashville Predators - Nicolas Hague, D, Mississauga (OHL)

The Predators need some size on defense following the trade of Shea Weber, and at 6-5, 206 pounds, Hague supplies that. He's also a talented offensive performer with 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) in 42 games.

 

12. Florida Panthers - Maxime Comtois, LW, Victoriaville (QMJHL)

The versatile power forward (6-2, 199) can play all three positions up front. He has shown the ability to excel in any kind of game, from up-tempo to more physical.

 

13. Vancouver Canucks - Lias Andersson, C, HV 71 (SWE)

A third-generation star in the Swedish Elite League, Andersson has NHL-caliber offensive abilities. He had three goals in seven games for Sweden at the 2017 WJC, and scouts like his two-way skill and the way he can set up plays and finish them.

 

14. Los Angeles Kings - Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCHC)

Size and strength through the middle has been a hallmark of the Kings, and Poehling (6-2, 183) is a perfect fit. He knows how to use his long reach and big body to protect the puck in the offensive zone and scouts like his vision and playmaking ability. He's also a smart player; he graduated high school a year early to play college hockey with his two older brothers. He turned 18 on Jan. 3 and is the youngest player in NCAA hockey.

 

15. Carolina Hurricanes - Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL)

The Hurricanes need skill through the middle and Glass, a fast-rising offensive talent with good size (6-2, 180) and playmaking ability would be a nice addition. He got off to a fast start and hasn't slowed down, averaging 1.3 points per game.

 

16. Philadelphia Flyers - Nikita Popugaev, LW, Prince George (WHL)

The Flyers are looking for more skill up front, especially at left wing. Popugaev (6-5, 204) fits the bill and has adjusted well to the smaller North American ice. This season, his second in the WHL, he has 57 points (24 goals, 33 assists) in 48 games with Moose Jaw and Prince George.

 

17. Ottawa Senators - Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, HPK Jr. (FIN-JR)

The Senators need to find a goaltender of the future and Luukkonen (6-4, 196), arguably the best goaltender in the draft, would be a good choice here. In addition to his size, scouts like his ability to read plays and track the puck. He played well when pressed into action for Finland at the 2016 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, winning the final three games after not playing previously to help Finland win the gold medal.

 

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

With the Maple Leafs collection of talented young forwards, they need someone who can get them the puck, and Foote excels at making smart, accurate passes out of the defensive zone. Scouts also like his intelligence and his NHL-ready size (6-3, 213). He also has a growing offensive game.

 

19. Boston Bruins - Elias Pettersson, C, Timra (SWE-2)

With top centers Patrice Bergeron (32) and David Krejci (31) nearing the end of their prime seasons, there's a need to develop young centers. Pettersson needs to put muscle on his 6-1, 156-pound frame but at 18 he has 27 points (12 goals, 15 assists) in 27 games with Timra in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division, skating against older, more physically developed players.

 

20. Calgary Flames - Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane (WHL)

He may be 5-7, 153 pounds, but size never has prevented Yamamoto from being an elite scorer. He's fearless in the offensive zone and has the speed and smarts to avoid bigger players. And as a point of reference, Yamamoto is bigger than Johnny Gaudreau was (5-6, 137) when the Flames selected him in the fourth round (No. 104) of the 2011 draft.

 

21. St. Louis Blues - Kristian Vesalainen, LW/RW, Frolunda (SWE)

Vesalainen (6-3, 207) is big, strong, versatile forward with a nose for the net, the strength to stay there and soft hands that allow him to smartly tip pucks and battle to make plays in front. He's getting good experience splitting the season between the Swedish Elite League with Frolunda and HPK in Liiga in his native Finland.

 

22. San Jose Sharks - Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo (USHL)

There's a need for young defensemen but Bowers (6-1, 183) is too talented to pass on. He's a strong skater, gifted playmaker and effective in all three zones. He patterns his game after Jonathan Toews, and like Toews will take the college route to develop his game next season, at Boston University.

 

23. Edmonton Oilers - Matthew Strome, LW, Hamilton (OHL)

The Oilers can continue to add skilled size up front with Strome (6-3, 206), a talented power forward who has excelled in two OHL seasons. He has 38 points (23 goals, 15 assists) in 42 games, and scouts like his hockey IQ, gained from watching older brothers Ryan Strome (New York Islanders) and Dylan Strome (Arizona Coyotes).

 

24. New York Rangers - Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle (SWE)

He missed time early in the season because of mononucleosis, but the 6-foot, 191-pound right-shot defender is considered a smart, dependable puck mover. And the Rangers need young defensemen to add to their prospect pipeline.

 

25. Anaheim Ducks - Adam Ruzicka, C, Sarnia (OHL)

With their top two centers, Ryan Getzlaf (31) and Ryan Kesler (32) nearing the end of their prime offensive seasons, finding more size and skill through the middle is key. Ruzicka (6-3, 202) has made a smooth transition from Slovakia, skates well and has good hands.

 

26. Pittsburgh Penguins - Henri Jokiharju, D, Portland (WHL)

An offensive-minded right-shot defenseman who excels at getting the puck out of the defensive zone to his skilled forwards is exactly what the Penguins need. He's a bit on the small side (6-0, 176), but has held up well in his first season in the WHL.

 

27. Montreal Canadiens - Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph (OHL)

The Canadiens have been looking to get tougher up front with Ratcliffe (6-5, 196), who is strong in front of the net, and when he gets there is good at tipping pucks and using his long reach to create scoring chances in close.

 

28. Chicago Blackhawks - Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL)

Scouts like the hockey sense Suzuki (5-11, 187) has displayed, and he's able to make smart plays at high speed. He's also stronger on his skates than his size indicates.

 

29. Minnesota Wild - Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (FIN)

At 17, Heiskanen is seeing regular time in Liiga, Finland's top professional league. Scouts like his poise at a young age, speed both straight ahead and laterally, and his smart, accurate passes. He offsets his lack of size (6-0, 170) with a smart stick and good positioning.

 

30. Washington Capitals - Martin Necas, C, Brno (CZREP)

Necas (6-0, 167) is considered an explosive skater with high-end offensive skill. He's gaining experience skating against older players in the top league in his native Czech Republic, where he's shown a willingness to battle in the tough areas to produce offense.

 

31. Columbus Blue Jackets - Stelio Mattheos, RW, Brandon (WHL)

Mattheos (6-1, 190) did well in the spotlight when Patrick was out of the lineup. He can play center or on the wing, but regardless of position has shown the ability to get to the net and produce offense, with 33 points (15 goals,18 assists) in 43 games.

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