Skip to main content
NHL Draft

Mock Draft: Gabriel Vilardi jumps to No. 3

Center moves up from No. 5 in previous projection by NHL.com's Adam Kimelman; Nolan Patrick, Nico Hischier still 1, 2

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

NHL.com deputy managing editor Adam Kimelman projects the 2017 NHL Draft presented by adidas:

 

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

Patrick (6-foot-2, 198 pounds) likely wasn't 100 percent healthy when he played in 33 games this season; still, he was 10th in the Western Hockey League at 1.39 points per game. He's healthy now and is the most NHL-ready player in the draft. With so little separating Patrick and Halifax's Nico Hischier, the fact that Patrick is a right-shot center on a team with an elite left wing in Taylor Hall could be the difference in New Jersey's decision.

 

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

Hischier has game-breaking skill but needs time to add muscle to his 6-1, 178-pound frame. The Flyers will be adding a number of young players next season, so they'll have the luxury of sending Hischier for one more season of development if they don't think he's NHL-ready right away.

 

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

Vilardi's size (6-3, 202) and strength allowed him to physically dominate in the offensive zone, especially below the faceoff dots. He finished with 61 points (29 goals, 32 points) in 49 games, and had seven assists in four games to help Windsor win the Memorial Cup.

 

[RELATED: Lepage Mock Draft | Morreale Mock Draft]

 

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

The Avalanche are desperate for young, skilled defensemen, and Heiskanen (6-0, 172) already has proven himself against older, more developed competition. He earned top-pair ice time as a 17-year-old in Liiga, Finland's top professional league, and then dominated players his own age with 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) for Finland at the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.

 

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

The most important part of evaluating Mittelstadt's season was the 24 games he played with Green Bay of the United States Hockey League. He handled the step-up in competition well, leading the league with 1.25 points per game. Mittelstadt will need at least one season at the University of Minnesota to add strength to his 5-11, 199-pound frame, but he projects to be the dynamic top-six scorer the Canucks need.

 

6. Vegas Golden Knights -- Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL)

With their first of three first-round selections, the Golden Knights select a playmaker who was seventh in the WHL with 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 69 games. He excels in all situations and is well-regarded by scouts for his hockey IQ, great vision and puck skills. When Glass was challenged to kill penalties, Portland coach Mike Johnston said he became the team's best penalty-killer. And there's a chance Glass (6-2, 177) will still grow; his father is 6-5 and he has a brother who is 6-6.

 

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

The Coyotes have stockpiled skilled young forwards and now find a defenseman who can get them the puck. Makar (5-11, 187) excels offensively, with the ability to skate the puck out of trouble or make smart breakout passes. He led Alberta Junior Hockey League defensemen and was sixth in the league with 75 points (24 goals, 51 assists) in 54 games. Despite playing against what some might consider lower-level competition, scouts saw him dominate. He's committed to the University of Massachusetts next season, but he could be in the NHL before too long.

 

8. Buffalo Sabres -- Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri-City (WHL)

The Sabres got 17 goals from defensemen this season; Valimaki (6-1, 211) scored 19 in 60 games. Scouts see him as the prototypical modern-day defenseman, able to use his high hockey IQ to know when to take the puck and go on the attack or find the open teammate with a quick pass to start a breakout.

 

9. Detroit Red Wings -- Elias Pettersson, C, Timra (SWE-2)

The Red Wings need to get better up front and Pettersson is a highly skilled, creative forward who can play center or on the wing. He played in Allsvenskan, Sweden's second division, and at age 18 had 41 points (19 goals, 22 assists) in 43 games. He needs to add size to his 6-2, 164-pound frame, but isn't shy when it comes to getting to the net in the offensive zone or being smart and positionally strong defensively.

 

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

The Panthers like to build around size and skill, and Rasmussen (6-5, 221) has both. Scouts consider him an outstanding skater, and he had 32 goals in 50 games prior to season-ending surgery after breaking his wrist in March. Rasmussen is expected to be healthy when training camp opens, and because of his size and skills, it wouldn't be a surprise to see him start the season in the NHL.

 

11. Los Angeles Kings -- Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL)

Suzuki (5-11, 183) was in the top five in the Ontario Hockey League in goals (45, fourth) and points (96, fifth) but his real assets are his smarts, non-stop energy and willingness to work hard in all three zones. Jeff Carter is 32 and Anze Kopitar will turn 30 before next season starts. Now is the right time to find a top-two center and allow him ample time to develop.

 

12. Carolina Hurricanes -- Klim Kostin, C/LW, Dynamo Moscow (RUS)

Kostin (6-2, 207) played 17 games with three teams this season, including his first eight games in the Kontinental Hockey League, but surgery for a shoulder injury ended his season in January. Scouts saw him dominate early in the season at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup when he was captain of Russia and had seven points (four goals, three assists) in five games. Kostin is an offensive talent who skates well and is adept at scoring and creating chances for his linemates. He wants to play in North America next season and would make a solid addition to the growing pack of skilled forwards the Hurricanes have assembled.

 

13. Vegas Golden Knights (from Winnipeg Jets) -- Nicolas Hague, D, Mississauga (OHL)

A big (6-5, 207), skilled defenseman who skates well, Hague projects to be a top-pair player. His enormous reach helps him in the defensive zone, and he showed an improved offensive game this season, finishing with 46 points (18 goals, 28 assists) in 65 games.

 

14. Tampa Bay Lightning - Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga (OHL)

Tippett (6-0, 202) could be the best pure goal scorer in the draft. He had 44 goals this season, fifth-most in the OHL, and with an NHL-caliber shot and excellent skating ability, some scouts have compared him to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel.

 
15. Vegas Golden Knights (from New York Islanders) -- Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City (USHL)

Tolvanen (5-10, 189) is an offensive dynamo who tied for third in the USHL with 30 goals in 52 games. He can execute at high speed and can get his shot off from all areas of the ice. He'll continue to develop his game and add some strength at Boston College next season.

 

16. Calgary Flames -- Martin Necas, C, Brno (CZREP)

Necas brings high-energy, high-speed play combined with the experience of 41 games against older, more developed competition in the top Czech league. He had 15 points (seven goals, eight assists) during the regular season and four goals in 10 playoff games. Necas needs to add some muscle to his 6-1, 178-pound frame, but his offensive skills could make him a future second-line center for the Flames.

 

17. Toronto Maple Leafs -- Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle (SWE)

Liljegren (5-11, 188) felt he never had a chance to show his talents this season. He missed two months because he came down with mononucleosis in September and another month because of a hip injury sustained in February. He also played for four teams at four different levels, which kept him from getting into any kind of rhythm. But when Liljegren was at his best he showed creative offensive skills and outstanding skating. He needs to refine his decision making, and with better luck should be ready for the NHL after one more season in Sweden.

 

18. Boston Bruins -- Lias Andersson, C, HV 71 (SWE)

With top centers Patrice Bergeron (31) and David Krejci (31) nearing the end of their prime seasons, Boston needs to develop young centers. Andersson (5-11, 200), a highly skilled two-way forward, had a strong season with 19 points (nine goals, 10 assists) in 42 games, and had four goals in 16 games to help HV 71 win the Swedish Hockey League championship. His offensive ceiling could get higher as he gets older.

 

19. San Jose Sharks -- Callan Foote, D, Kelowna (WHL)

Foote, the son of two-time Stanley Cup winner Adam Foote, excels at making smart, accurate passes out of the defensive zone. Although he likely won't play with the physicality of his father, scouts like his intelligence and his NHL-ready size (6-4, 215), as well as his offensive game that showed continued development this season; he had 57 points (six goals, 51 assists) in 71 games, up from 36 points in 71 games as a WHL rookie in 2015-16.

 

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

Vesalainen (6-4, 209) had an up-and-down regular season, with two goals in 35 games with Frolunda in the SHL and HPK in Liiga. But he was dominant for Finland at the World U-18 Championship with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in seven games.

 
21. New York Rangers -- Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCHC)

Poehling (6-2, 176) 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. Poehling turned 18 on Jan. 3 and was the youngest player in NCAA hockey.

 

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

Yamamoto plays a fast, determined game that belies his size (5-7, 146). He's working on getting stronger, but his high-end hockey sense allows him to avoid bigger players and produce in the offensive zone. Yamamoto was sixth in the WHL with 99 points (42 goals, 57 assists) in 65 games.

 

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

After trading Mike Smith to the Flames, the Coyotes need to develop a young goaltender and Oettinger is the best the 2017 Draft class has to offer. Oettinger (6-4, 218) started 35 games as a true freshman and led BU to the NCAA Tournament with a 2.11 goals-against average, .927 save percentage and four shutouts. He has a very good butterfly and does a good job covering the upper portions of the net. Oettinger also is a cerebral goaltender who showed great consistency from game to game.

 

24. Winnipeg Jets (from Columbus Blue Jackets via Vegas Golden Knights) -- Henri Jokiharju, D, Portland (WHL)

Two of the top four defensemen in ice time for the Jets, Dustin Byfuglien and Toby Enstrom, are each 32 years old. 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 Jets need. Jokiharju is on the small side (6-0, 187), but that didn't prevent him from having a productive first season in North America with 48 points (nine goals, 39 assists) in 71 games. He turned 18 on June 17, making him one of the younger players in this draft class.

 
25. Montreal Canadiens -- Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo (USHL)

Bowers is a strong skater, gifted playmaker who is effective in all three zones. He patterns his game after Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews, and like Toews will take the college route to develop his game next season at Boston University. At 6-1, 178, he could grow into a player with some good size through the middle.

 

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

With a defense that's beginning to show some age, the Blackhawks can start to focus on the future at the position with Vaakanainen (6-1, 188). He's a good skater and puck mover who can make smart passes out of the defensive zone. He likely won't be a big offensive producer, but he'll be someone the coach wants on the ice in the final minutes of a game to protect a lead.

 

27. St. Louis Blues (from Washington Capitals) -- Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph (OHL)

The Blues add another big, skilled forward with Ratcliffe (6-6, 200). He's 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. He led Guelph with 28 goals in 67 games.

 

28. Ottawa Senators -- Jason Robertson, LW, Kingston (OHL)

Kingston scored an OHL-low 179 goals, but Robertson (6-2, 195) was tied for sixth in the league with 42 goals in 68 games. His skating needs to improve, but his puck skills are top-notch and he can score from anywhere on the ice.

 

29. Dallas Stars (from Anaheim Ducks) -- Conor Timmins, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

Timmins (6-1, 183) is an offensive-minded playmaker with top-end skating ability. He can lead the rush but skates well enough to get back into the defensive end if the play turns the other way.

 

30. Nashville Predators -- Kole Lind, RW, Kelowna (WHL)

A smooth-skating playmaker, Lind (6-1, 185) knows how to use his size to protect the puck and create scoring chances. He's also strong enough to win battles along the wall or in front of the net. He led Kelowna with 87 points (30 goals, 57 assists) in 70 games.

 

31. Pittsburgh Penguins -- Maxime Comtois, LW, Victoriaville (QMJHL)

The versatile power forward (6-2, 206) can play all three positions up front but might be best suited to the wing. He's shown the ability to excel in any kind of game, from up-tempo to more physical. He also knows how to use his body to protect the puck and carry it deep into the offensive zone to create scoring chances

View More