|1 || ||Nathan MacKinnon, C, |
|The whole package, I think Mackinnon is the best player in this year’s draft class and at #1 overall that’s the guy you need to take, regardless of organizational need at the moment. His dominance at the Memorial Cup put the cherry on top of an outstanding season, as he showed off his flair for offense in big moments after previously displaying a very complete all-around game for Team Canada at the World Juniors. I believe franchise centermen are the hardest thing to find in hockey, and Colorado would do well to add Mackinnon to their mix. |
|2 || ||Seth Jones, D, |
The consensus top pick on many lists, Jones is clearly the best defenseman in the draft, and arguably might have been the top defenseman selected in last year’s defense-heavy draft had he been eligible. He’s an extremely smart player with excellent instincts and mobility, moving the puck at an elite level with either his feet or his first pass. He’s got an absolute blast of a shot from the point, making him an instant powerplay threat as well. I always like to see guys his size play a little meaner, but that’s nitpicking. He’s a franchise defenseman and he goes #2 on my list only because I value building down the middle just a little bit more.
|3 || ||Jonathan Drouin, LW, |
I believe he’s the most skilled player in the draft and is a classic example of a player who makes everyone on his line better. He was an absolute perfect fit with Nathan Mackinnon in Halifax, and you’ve got to wonder if there’s an NHL GM or two attempting the pie-in the-sky dream of being able to make a move to draft them both. He’s an extremely rare player in that he possesses the ability to see things that most don’t and also has the skill to execute the plays that most can’t. He’s not huge, but he doesn’t shy away from the so-called hard areas.
|4 || ||Alexsander Barkov, C, |
The numbers that Barkov put up playing in Finland’s top league are rather unheard of for a player his age, putting him in elite company if you go back to search for comparables. This is a centerman with size and compete that will put up plenty of points and be responsible away from the puck. The combination of strength and skill will make him a home run down the middle.
|5 || ||Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa (OHL) || |
You can see that I’m a bit biased towards centermen, but I just love this year’s crop and would be salivating at the chance to get my hands on one of these guys. Monahan started to become more under-the-radar as the year went along, but this is arguably the most complete forward in the draft and comes complete with leadership that makes him a serious candidate for future captaincy. He’s got outstanding character and comes with an excellent two-way game as a playmaking center. He’s not very quick, but that’s something that can be worked on.
|6 || ||Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Chelyabinsk (RUS) || |
A teammate of Evgeny Kuznetsov, his Russian birth certificate could affect his stock in this draft with fears of the draw back home, but Nichushkin has done everything he can to make it clear his intent is to play in North America. He’s an intoxicating power forward to watch, an absolute nightmare for defenders with the bulldog style he players the game with. He’s got excellent speed to go with his size and he sees the ice extremely well on top of that. With size, speed, good hands and vision, he’s going to will himself to an awful lot of points in the NHL.
|7 || ||Elias Lindholm, C, Brynas (Sweden) || |
It is my belief that the Oilers preference at this year’s draft is to select a centerman. In this spot, if the draft were to play out exactly to my outline, I’d love to see the Oilers either move up to grab one of the previous centerman I named or move down and pick up a nice asset, followed by the selection of a Bo Horvat or Curtiz Lazar type. But, all hypotheticals aside, the pick here if they’re making it is Lindholm. My only concern is about the translation of his offense from Sweden to North America and I’m just not sure he’ll ever be much of a goal scorer or top point producer. I think he’s probably an excellent second line player that will be extremely responsible on the defensive side of the puck and though he’s not big, he does compete very hard.
|8 || ||Darnell Nurse, D, |
Sault St. Marie (OHL)
This is a big, strong, mean defenseman that will be an absolute treasure for a team looking for a prototypical shut down stud. I don’t buy into his offensive abilities so much, though he does possess a rocket of a shot, but his ability to keep goals off the board is obviously where his tremendous value lies. He skates extremely well for a big player and also has tremendous instincts in reading the play.
|9 || ||Bo Horvat, C, London (OHL) || |
This player has deservedly rocketed up the charts as the year progressed and scouts absolutely him. He’s an extremely aggressive player who dictates the tempo of the game with his rugged play. Boasting character and a knack for key moments, Horvat is exactly the type of player who will score an absolute ton of dirty, greasy goals in the NHL because of his willingness to press into the right areas.
|10 || ||Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS (Finland) || |
Playing against men for a couple of years in Finland has helped develop the physical aspect of his game, which fits nicely since he’s got outstanding size. He’s a very poised defender who moves the puck nicely and will be a very steady, safe minute-eater in the NHL.
|11 || ||Nikita Zadorov, D, London (OHL) || |
A physical marvel, Zadorov is a surefire NHL player with an upside that could make him an absolute star if the project turns out the way it could. He’s got a definite mean streak to go with his size and is very willing to intimidate the opposition in all areas of the ice. He skates well but the transition part of his game and offense are both extremely raw, though it’s worth noting he just completed his first season of hockey in North America.
|12 || ||Curtis Lazar, C/RW, |
Playing with the Oil Kings in Edmonton we got to see a lot of this player and though he fell a bit on a lot of consensus lists, Lazar is a wonderful option as a guy who is a slam dunk to play in the NHL with a very responsible, complete game. The major question will be about how his offense translates and whether or not he makes it as a centerman or a winger, but there’s no questioning the character and ethic of this player, who has tremendous instincts for the game on both sides of the puck.
|13 || ||Max Domi, C, London (OHL) || |
Domi plays nothing like his bruising father Tie, marrying a bunch of skill and an outstanding shot with explosive quickness. He doesn’t have size from a height standpoint, but he’s built as thick as they come and isn’t afraid to use his lower center of gravity to plow around like a wrecking ball. Coming from a family with NHL pedigree is also a definite advantage.
|14 || ||Alexander Wennberg, C, Djurgarden (Sweden) || |
His shooting percentage in his draft year was quite high, which is a consideration, but Wennberg seems to have a good feel for goal scoring areas. He’s got great speed, creativity and skill level.
|15 || ||Samuel Morin, D, |
Another beast of a defenseman, Morin has humongous size and plays with an extremely aggressive edge. He’s an able fighter and an overpowering hitter, and has started to display a real ability to create offense. He skates well considering his size and when he started to display confidence in his offensive game, he really started to push the pace and make things happen. If he continues to progress, he could be a scary good rearguard.
|16 || |
|Josh Morrissey, D, |
Prince Albert (WHL)
He drops down the list a little bit because of a size concern, especially relative to some of the other physical specimens available this year. He’s a very well-rounded defender that brings a significant amount of offense to the table via an excellent skating stride and solid decision making. His offensive contributions don’t often come at the expense of defensive responsibility, making him an attractive puck moving blueliner.
|17 || ||Hunter Shinkaruk, C/LW, |
Medicine Hat (WHL)
An excellent shooter, Shinkaruk has a shot to be a high volume goal scorer at the NHL level. His instincts are excellent and his release is lightning fast, giving him the advantages he needs to overcome the size that he doesn’t possess. With the success of smaller players in recent years, there’s a question about how much his size really matters, but I see a lot of teams talking about drafting bigger, heavier players. If teams opt for size and the sniping Shinkaruk slides a bit, somebody could get a steal.
|18 || ||Adam Erne, LW, Quebec (QMJHL) || |
Questions about commitment, attitude and conditioning will have some teams shy away from him, but there’s no questioning the tools that he has as a power forward. He uses his size and speed to dominate in the key areas of the offensive zone and consistently overpowers defenders en route to creating scoring chances. He’s got an edge and loves to throw checks, and has sneaky soft hands to boot.
|19 || |
|Anthony Mantha, RW, Val-d'Or (QMJHL) || |
Questions about ethic surround this player, too, though a rapid progression in his game in the last 24 months would lead some to believe that he’s put in the work. He’s got everything you could want in a high draft pick from a tools perspective, possessing tremendous size, quickness and scoring ability. Teams would like to see him use his size to play with a bit more intensity, but his 50 goals in the QMJHL will be enough of a draw to convince somebody to take on that project.
|20 || ||Andre Burakovsky, D, Everett (WHL) || |
A bit of a sleeper because of a weak showing in his draft year, including being left off Sweden’s World Junior team. He’s got exceptional talent and a frame that should be able to hold above average size at the NHL level, though he’s not exactly known for an up and down heavy traffic game. He is capable of scoring with an excellent shot and will be the go-to player on the line he plays on, loving to have the play go through him.
|21 || ||Ryan Pulock, D, |
With perhaps the most offensive pedigree of any defenseman available this year, Pulock possesses an excellent shot and elite puck handling skills, and was only recently converted from forward to defense. I think he defends reasonably well, but his tools aside from offense strike me as fairly average. Scouts are extremely split on this player, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see a team step up to take this player much higher than I have him.
|22 || |
|Frederik Gauthier, C, |
There’s a lot to love in his game, though offense isn’t one of those things. He’s a brilliant player that possesses massive size and an elite two-way game. He’s the stereotypical shut-down centerman who will be a great face off player, penalty killer and defensive specialist.
|23 || ||Zach Fucale, G, Halifax (QMJHL) || |
I wouldn’t use my 1st round pick on a goaltender, except in extreme circumstances, but scouts in general are high enough that it’s proper to rank Fucale in the 1st round. He got a lot of exposure playing for Memorial Cup champion Halifax, and was rock steady for the Moosheads the last couple of seasons. Like any good goaltending prospects, scouts love the efficiency of his game and he’s described as a mentally strong netminder, as well.
|24 || ||Chris Bigras, D, |
Owen Sound (OHL)
A very smart player, Bigras has shown an ability to contribute at even strength and on both special teams. He’s a very consistent and reliable player with offensive upside, though is not flashy.
|25 || ||Kerby Rychel, LW, |
Notched back-to-back 40-goal seasons in the OHL, plays with grit and never shies away from physical confrontation. He’s a battler that has some finish, a dangerous combination.
|26 || ||Valentin Zykov, LW, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL) || |
A rookie dynamo in the QMJHL, his first season in North America couldn’t have gone better. He’s got a great work ethic and scores his goals by fighting through to get to the tough areas of the ice. His links to Russia will be a question, but his skill and size make him an attractive pick.
|27 || |
|Nic Petan, C, |
A nice guy to take a flyer on late in the 1st round, Petan has elite offensive skill but is extremely small. The ability to withstand the rigors that come along with regular NHL minutes is a reasonable question, but he brings a tremendous work ethic to the table that could make someone a believer. He skates extremely well and is coming off a sensational 120 point WHL season.
|28 || |
|Ian McCoshen, D, |
With excellent size and skating ability, McCoshen is a strong defensive defenseman with reasonable offensive upside. He moves well and uses his body well and can be a total minute hog.
|29 || |
|Mirco Mueller, D, |
Moving from Switzerland to the WHL really helped Mueller’s stock in his draft year, and his opportunities to play a lot internationally are attractive moving forward. He does a lot of things very well, but perhaps not exceptionally. He’s got a great frame and moves the puck very well, thought of by most scouts as a safe bet to play in the middle of the pack of an NHL defense corps.
|30 || ||Madison Bowey, D, Kelowna (WHL) || |
A very strong skater with offensive upside, Bowey patterns his game after fellow Kelowna Rockets alumnus Shea Weber. He moves the puck extremely well with his first pass and will likely contribute to a powerplay. He continues to learn that patience is a virtue.