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Dahlin, Mittelstadt lead selections in prospects mock draft

Sabres teammates first two picks in advance of NHL Network's Top 50 countdown

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

NHL Network will unveil its list of the best NHL-affiliated prospects on "NHL Tonight: Top 50 Prospects," at 7 p.m. ET on Aug. 31.

To celebrate the players who could be on the Top 50 list, NHL.com writers Adam Kimelman and Mike G. Morreale used NHL Network's criteria for prospects (players must have fewer than 25 combined NHL regular-season and Stanley Cup Playoff games of experience) to select competing teams. Many of these players are expected to be on the NHL Network list, selected by on-air personalities and producers.

Team Kimelman and Team Morreale each selected 20 players: two goaltenders, six defensemen and 12 forwards.

Team Morreale won a coin toss and chose first, and what follows are the results, with the projected lineups at the bottom. Let us know which team is more impressive in the comments section.

 

ROUND 1

Morreale: Rasmus Dahlin, D, Buffalo Sabres

The easiest pick to make, not only because it's imperative to build your franchise from the defense out, but because Dahlin is the unquestioned best prospect on the board. He'll be a top-pair player in Buffalo as an 18-year-old rookie this season and a likely finalist for the Calder Trophy.

Kimelman: Casey Mittelstadt, C, Buffalo Sabres

Watching Mittelstadt seamlessly fit into the Sabres lineup at the end of last season, there's no question in my mind the 19-year-old is the best forward available, and an easy first-round pick for Team Kimelman.

Video: Analyzing the Sabres' acquisitions, season outlook

 

ROUND 2

Morreale: Elias Pettersson, C, Vancouver Canucks

The No. 5 pick in the 2017 NHL Draft is ready to join center Bo Horvat and forward Brock Boeser to help improve the Canucks offense. The 19-year-old led the Swedish Hockey League last season with 56 points (24 goals, 32 assists) in 44 games, and was named the most valuable player in the regular season and playoffs to help lead Vaxjo to the SHL championship.

Kimelman: Andrei Svechnikov, RW, Carolina Hurricanes

Svechnikov was the best goal-scorer in the 2018 NHL Draft with 40 goals in 44 games for Barrie of the Ontario Hockey League last season, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see the 18-year-old score 30 goals in the NHL this season.

 

ROUND 3

Morreale: Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Nashville Predators

Tolvanen, 19, is expected to play a top six-role in Nashville after setting Kontinental Hockey League records for under-19 players with 19 goals and 36 points in 49 games with Jokerit last season. The No. 30 pick of the 2017 draft has an excellent release and multiple shot types, traits of a pure goal-scorer.

Kimelman: Noah Dobson, D, New York Islanders

Dobson has NHL-ready size (6-foot-3, 180 pounds) and a smart, slow burn to his game. His consistency is one of his best traits; he was as good in December for Acadie-Bathurst of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as he was in helping it win the Memorial Cup in May. It wouldn't be a surprise if the 18-year-old plays in the NHL this season, and he was an easy choice as Team Kimelman's No. 1 defenseman.

 

ROUND 4

Morreale: Miro Heiskanen, D, Dallas Stars

My thought entering the draft was to solidify the Team Morreale defense early, because the ability to move the puck out of the defensive zone is paramount. Heiskanen, the No. 3 pick in the 2017 draft, had 23 points (11 goals, 12 assists) in 30 games with HIFK in Liiga, and the 19-year-old was named the league's best defenseman last season.

Kimelman: Robert Thomas, C, St. Louis Blues

Thomas was the MVP of the OHL playoffs last season and helped Hamilton reach the Memorial Cup final. This season he'll likely center one of the Blues' top three lines, possibly the second line with veteran Ryan O'Reilly moving to the wing. The 19-year-old will make an outstanding third-line center for Team Kimelman.

 

ROUND 5

Morreale: Filip Zadina, RW, Detroit Red Wings

After getting Tolvanen in the third round, Team Morreale was happy to grab another pure goal-scorer in the fifth in Zadina, who led QMJHL rookies with 82 points and was tied for third among all players with 44 goals. The 18-year-old has an impressive wrist shot and will be a key part of Team Morreale's first power-play unit.

Kimelman: Quintin Hughes, D, Vancouver Canucks

Hughes, 18, is an offensive dynamo who can use his elite puck-handling and skating to create a scoring chance anytime he steps on the ice. And with the Team Kimelman forwards, he'll have no problem finding targets for his smart, accurate passes.

Video: Weekes on whether Quinn Hughes is ready for the NHL

 

ROUND 6

Morreale: Cale Makar, D, Colorado Avalanche

Makar, a right-hand shot, will join the left-shot Dahlin to form Team Morreale's top defense pair. Makar (5-11, 187) plays fast and skilled, and is a game-changer. The 19-year-old had 12 points (four goals, eight assists) in his final 18 games at the University of Massachusetts last season after helping Canada win the gold medal at the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship.

Kimelman: Carter Hart, G, Philadelphia Flyers

Hart has won plenty of accolades since the Flyers selected him with the No. 48 pick of the 2016 NHL Draft. The 20-year-old was Western Hockey League goalie of the year the past three seasons, Canadian Hockey League goalie of the year two of the past three seasons, and led Canada to a gold medal at the 2018 WJC, one year after winning silver. Now he's the unquestioned starter for Team Kimelman.

 

ROUND 7

Morreale: Kirill Kaprizov, LW, Minnesota Wild

The only reason Kaprizov isn't in the NHL is that he's signed in the KHL through 2019-20. He tied for the CSKA lead with 40 points (15 goals, 25 assists) in 46 games last season. The 21-year-old also led Russia with six goals in eight games at the 2018 IIHF World Championship and won a gold medal with Olympic Athletes from Russia at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

Kimelman: Michael Rasmussen, C, Detroit Red Wings

A good team never can have enough centers, especially ones that are 6-foot-6, 221 pounds. But for Team Kimelman, Rasmussen can slide to left wing and be just as effective. The 19-year-old's size and strength allow him to get to the net, and his skilled hands allow him to score from in close, either with a strong wrist shot or on tips and deflections. He had 31 goals in 47 regular-season WHL games for Tri-City and 16 in 14 WHL playoff games last season.

 

ROUND 8

Morreale: Brady Tkachuk, LW, Ottawa Senators

There was no way Team Morreale was passing on the best power forward in the 2018 draft, and it will use the 18-year-old on the top line, with Pettersson and Zadina. Tkachuk thrives in the clutch. He will find open space and provide offensive opportunities for his linemates with his physical play.

Kimelman: Timothy Liljegren, D, Toronto Maple Leafs

Liljegren looked comfortable as an 18-year-old playing in North America for the first time last season and helped Toronto win the Calder Cup. He might need more time in the American Hockey League, but for now his right-handed shot will look good on Team Kimelman's third defense pair.

 

ROUND 9

Morreale: Henrik Borgstrom, C, Florida Panthers

Borgstrom showed his excellent puck-handling and playmaking abilities during four games with the Panthers last season, and the 21-year-old likely will compete for the third-line center spot behind Aleksander Barkov and Vincent Trocheck for Florida this season. But as a left-hand shot, he'll slide to the wing for a second-line spot with Team Morreale.

Kimelman: Jordan Greenway, LW, Minnesota Wild

The plus-size power forward (6-foot-6, 226) made a big impact in a short run with the Wild last season after leaving Boston University, and teammate Eric Staal said he was one of Minnesota's best forwards during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The 21-year-old could play on the top line for the Wild this season, but with Team Kimelman's talent, second-line left wing is a nice spot.

 

ROUND 10

Morreale: Evan Bouchard, D, Edmonton Oilers

The right-shooting Bouchard and the left-shooting Heiskanen will make a fine second defense pair for Team Morreale. Bouchard tied for seventh in the OHL last season with 87 points (25 goals, 62 assists); the 18-year-old was the first defenseman to finish in the top 10 in the OHL since Ryan Ellis, now with the Predators, in 2010-11.

Kimelman: Ty Smith, D, New Jersey Devils

The talented puck-moving defenseman will make a great addition to the left side of Team Kimelman's third defense pair. Unlike some of his peers, the 18-year-old isn't a flashy offensive performer but did have 73 points (14 goals, 59 assists) in 69 games last season with Spokane of the WHL.

Video: Devils sign Ty Smith to an entry-level contract

 

ROUND 11

Morreale: Ilya Samsonov, G, Washington Capitals

With all due respect to the other three goalies chosen, Samsonov might turn out to be the best of the bunch, and Team Morreale got him in the 11th round with Team Kimelman asleep at the wheel. The 21-year-old has had a save percentage of at least .925 each of the past three seasons with Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the KHL.

Kimelman: Owen Tippett, RW, Florida Panthers

Tippett got his feet wet in the NHL last season (seven games) and could push for a full-time top-nine spot with the Panthers this season. With a skill set that has been compared to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel, the 19-year-old will fill out a solid third line for Team Kimelman with Rasmussen and Thomas that's better than anything Team Morreale can come up with.

 

ROUND 12

Morreale: Jesperi Kotkaniemi, C, Montreal Canadiens

Team Morreale was ecstatic to find its second-line center in the 12th round. The 18-year-old is expected to play a second season in Liiga for Assat, where he is coached by his father, Mikael. He had 29 points (10 goals, 19 assists) in 57 games for Assat last season.

Kimelman: Thatcher Demko, G, Vancouver Canucks

Demko was sixth in the AHL with a .922 save percentage last season facing the second-most shots in the league (1,453). The 22-year-old is ready for full-time duty in Vancouver. With Hart, he'll give Team Kimelman two dominant goaltenders.

 

ROUND 13

Morreale: Cody Glass, C, Vegas Golden Knights

There's a lot to like about the 19-year-old right-shot forward, who had 102 points (37 goals, 65 assists) in 64 games with Portland of the WHL last season, and his 13 points (four goals, nine assists) in 12 WHL playoff games are proof he enjoys the big moments.

Kimelman: Martin Necas, C, Carolina Hurricanes

Team Kimelman makes another strong selection by picking Necas, one of the most exciting prospects outside the NHL. The 19-year-old center was on the Hurricanes' season-opening roster last season, then led Brno to the Czech Extraliga championship and was named league MVP. Necas and Svechnikov could play together in Carolina, and with Team Kimelman they'll be part of an outstanding second line with Greenway.

Video: Svechnikov and Necas improve Hurricanes' offense

 

ROUND 14

Morreale: Jordan Kyrou, C, St. Louis Blues

Kyrou has the speed and skill needed to play in the NHL; he won the Red Tilson Trophy as the most outstanding player in the OHL last season after he had 109 points (39 goals, 70 assists) in 56 games with Sarnia. The 20-year-old led Canada with 10 points (three goals, seven assists) in seven games to help it win the 2018 WJC.

Kimelman: Erik Brannstrom, D, Vegas Golden Knights

Team Kimelman continues to find speed and skill with Brannstrom, another top-end puck-moving defenseman. A second defense pair of Brannstrom and Dobson would be able to control play in all three zones. Last season, the 18-year-old helped HV 71 win the Sweden junior league title, and he had four points (one goal, three assists) in seven games to help Sweden win the silver medal at the 2018 WJC.

 

ROUND 15

Morreale: Juuso Valimaki, D, Calgary Flames

Valimaki twice was named a WHL Western Conference Second Team All-Star and will push for a spot in Calgary's lineup after finishing his third season with Tri-City. The 19-year-old has 138 points (40 goals, 98 assists) in 159 WHL games and was Finland's captain at the 2018 WJC.

Kimelman: Joel Farabee, LW, Philadelphia Flyers

Farabee, 18, is an outstanding player with a remarkable hockey IQ who can raise his game if he plays with more talented linemates. That makes the No. 14 pick of the 2018 draft the perfect option to play on Team Kimelman's top line alongside Mittelstadt.

 

ROUND 16

Morreale: Morgan Frost, C, Philadelphia Flyers

Frost, 19, is a dynamite prospect and Team Morreale just couldn't pass on him at this stage in the draft. Last season, his third with Sault Ste. Marie, he finished second in the OHL with 112 points and tied Kyrou for the league lead with 70 assists.

Kimelman: Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, New York Islanders

Wahlstrom excelled on a line with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program under-18 team last season with Farabee and top 2019 NHL Draft prospect Jack Hughes, so it made sense for Team Kimelman to select the Boston College-bound 18-year-old forward for its top line.

Video: Oliver Wahlstrom on joining the New York Islanders

 

ROUND 17

Morreale: Adam Boqvist, D, Chicago Blackhawks

Team Morreale needed to complete its group of defensemen, and because Team Kimelman also needed one more defenseman, we figured we'd select the ultimate puck-mover first. Boqvist was named the best defenseman at the 2018 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, and the 18-year-old right-hand shot will fill out Team Morreale's third defense pair alongside Valimaki.

Kimelman: Mattias Samuelsson, D, Buffalo Sabres

Good teams need players to fill different roles, and Samuelsson (6-foot-4, 217) provides smart defensive-zone play, intimidating physicality and a developing offensive game. A left shot, the 18-year-old is smart and skilled enough to slide to the right side on Team Kimelman's top defense pair and allow Hughes to get the most out of his sublime talent.

 

ROUND 18

Morreale: Kristian Vesalainen, LW, Winnipeg Jets

Vesalainen, the No. 24 pick of the 2017 draft, had 43 points (22 goals, 21 assists) in 49 games for HPK and Karpat last season and helped Karpat win the Liiga championship with eight points (four goals, four assists) in 18 postseason games. The 19-year-old will steer the offense on Team Morreale's fourth line.

Kimelman: Isac Lundestrom, C, Anaheim Ducks

Lundestrom is the kind of player who makes everyone around him better. A natural center, the 18-year-old can slide to the left wing and give Team Kimelman a highly skilled fourth line.

 

ROUND 19

Morreale: Ryan Donato, C, Boston Bruins

Donato played well for the Bruins after joining them following his junior season at Harvard University, getting nine points (five goals, four assists) in 12 games. The 22-year-old has plenty of experience in big situations, having played for the United States in the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics.

Kimelman: Ryan Poehling, C, Montreal Canadiens

Poehling made a huge jump in his second season at St. Cloud State University with 31 points (14 goals, 17 assists) in 36 games after he had 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 35 games as a freshman in 2016-17. The 19-year-old also could be the top center for the United States at the 2019 WJC. For Team Kimelman, his smart play would come on the fourth line.

 

ROUND 20

Morreale: Ilya Sorokin, G, New York Islanders

Team Morreale had the luxury of waiting on its second goaltender after Team Kimelman selected its second goalie in the 12th round. After filling other roster requirements, the choice was the 23-year-old Sorokin (6-foot-2, 176), who had 67 wins and 23 shutouts in 104 games during the past three seasons with CSKA in the KHL. 

Kimelman: Sam Steel, C, Anaheim Ducks 

Steel is ready to take his dynamic offensive skills to the pro level this season after dominating the Western Hockey League with Regina the past two seasons, when he averaged 1.78 points per game. That average could have been even higher if he hadn't missed time playing a top-six role for Canada's gold medal win at the 2018 WJC. Steel will use his outstanding hockey sense to produce in a big way in the middle of the Team Kimelman fourth line.

 

 

TEAM MORREALE

Brady Tkachuk -- Elias Pettersson -- Filip Zadina

Henrik Borgstrom -- Jesperi Kotkaniemi -- Eeli Tolvanen

Ryan Donato -- Morgan Frost -- Kirill Kaprizov

Kristian Vesalainen -- Cody Glass -- Jordan Kyrou

Rasmus Dahlin -- Cale Makar

Miro Heiskanen -- Evan Bouchard

Juuso Valimaki -- Adam Boqvist

Ilya Samsonov

Ilya Sorokin

 

TEAM KIMELMAN

Joel Farabee -- Casey Mittelstadt -- Oliver Wahlstrom

Jordan Greenway -- Martin Necas -- Andrei Svechnikov

Michael Rasmussen -- Robert Thomas -- Owen Tippett

Isac Lundestrom -- Sam Steel -- Ryan Poehling

Quintin Hughes -- Mattias Samuelsson

Erik Brannstrom -- Noah Dobson

Ty Smith -- Timothy Liljegren

Carter Hart

Thatcher Demko

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