2017 NHL Mock Draft: 3 Rounds
Round 1 Picks 1-15
My fifth 2017 NHL Mock Draft is now up this one is three rounds. Enjoy!
Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Last Updated: May 19, 2017 with weekly updates every Friday leading up to draft day.
New Jersey Devils: Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
- NHL Teams are completely torn on whether Nolan Patrick or Nico Hishier will be the first overall pick. Regardless of what the Devils do it feels like left winger Taylor Hall is the only franchise player on the Devils so New Jersey needs to hit on this pick and get the right player to build around him because the Devils feel like a two-year rebuilding team where you get forwards this year and defenseman in 2018. By that point, you can call MacKenzie Blackwood up and have a competitive team by 2019 if you are patient with the Devils. I believe the top player is Nolan Patrick even with his history of injuries this season. Matthews missed a few games last year, but scouts looked past that. At the end of the day, scouts may look past that again.
- The New Jersey Devils Director Of Scouting evaluated both Patrick and Hischier. I think the Devils are leaning towards Patrick based on the article I read, but its still up in the air between those two to be honest.
- The fourth overall pick in the 2013 WHL Bantam Draft has the experience and leadership you covet. He won 2014 WHL Rookie of the year despite having very limited experience.
- The 6-3 198 lb Nolan Patrick entered the 2017 NHL Draft as the clear cut first overall pick in similar fashion as Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, but not highly as touted. Patrick has better size than both McDavid and Matthews though. I still think Patrick is the front runner to be the top pick after coming back from an injury only to be named team captain of Team Cherry in the 2017 CHL Prospects Game. Patrick isn't a lock though with Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads making a case to be the top pick as well though.
- Nolan Patrick had 41 goals, 61 assists, and 102 points in 2015-2016 as an alternate captain. This season he got named team captain and has 8 goals, 9 assists, and 17 points in 11 games this season. Patrick has 4 points in his past three WHL games since recovering from a WHL injury with 2 goals and 2 assists over those 3 games. Patrick only had 20 goals, 26 assists, and 46 points in 33 games this year due to injuries, but is still the best player in the draft.
- Nolan Patrick is one of three or four players in a pretty weak 2017 NHL Draft that is NHL ready. New Jersey needs an NHL ready player at center that can compliment Hall on the top line and I believe that player is Nolan Patrick.
- Nolan Patrick did an awesome job winning face offs against Nico Hischier going 12/16 on face offs in the CHL Prospects. Patrick set up two assists despite being double teamed, but also was on the ice when Team Orr scored four of their five goals. Patrick showcased his playmaking and leadership and despite not having a great CHL Prospects game, he still played well enough to be the top pick narrowly edging out Nico Hischier and Gabriel Vilardi.
Philadelphia Flyers: Nico Hischier, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
- The Philadelphia Flyers take the best player available at 2 which happens to be the 6-0 174 lb Nico Hischier who was named the second team captain of the 2017 CHL Prospects Game for Team Orr.
- Hischier had 1 goal, 2 assists, and 3 points in the loss to Team Orr. He also went 8/16 on face offs in the 2017 CHL Prospects game. One could argue that Hischier's speed and vision should make him the top pick rather than Nolan Patrick. Hischier won't win face offs like Patrick does plus Patrick's leadership still gives him a slight edge, but Hischier is really making a strong case to jump Nolan Patrick because Hischier has the speed, agility, burst, vision, and deking that you wish Nolan Patrick would display more often. Hischier only gave up two of Team Cherry's 7 goals. Hischier got first star in the 2017 CHL Prospects game despite being on the losing team.
- Nico Hischier had 38 goals, 48 assists, and 86 points in 57 games this season along with 3 goals, 4 assists, and 7 points in the 2017 QMJHL Playoffs. Hischier is NHL ready and could play on the Flyers third line behind Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier right now. Valterri Filppula would be demoted to the fourth line as a result, but the Flyers would be more competitive after having a lackluster back 6 next season.
Dallas Stars: Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
- The Dallas Stars have the luxury of ignoring a need and taking the best player available at 3 now thanks to getting the Anaheim Ducks first round pick which they can use on defense. In many ways the Stars are like the San Francisco 49ers of the NHL Draft and what they do at 3 will dictate how the rest of the first round plays out. With Ken Hitchcock at head coach, Ben Bishop at goalie, and two first round picks, like the Flyers this team will be able to rebuild their squad pretty quickly.
- Offense is the safest option and there are two sure fire top 5 prospects according to scouts in both Gabriel Vilardi and Casey Mittelstadt who I believe is a top 15 prospect from Minnesota where Dallas used to play NHL back in the North Star days. Miro Heiskanen plays in Finland and is an international defenseman like the Stars current best defender John Klingberg who hails from Sweden, and will be the pick if Dallas goes defense at 3.
- Right now you got 4 centers in Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Radek Faksa, and Cody Eakin on your top 4 lines. Spezza is 33-years-old while Faksa and Eakin both underperformed this season. Jason Spezza was drafted by the Windsor Spitfires in 2001 by the Ottawa Senators. Gabe Vilardi another Windsor prospect is the perfect successor to Jason Spezza, plus Dallas can play Vilardi right away as a rookie on the wing with his versatility or keep him in the OHL until Spezza's contract runs out only to promote him to the second line. Either way it's a win-win situation for Dallas.
- Gabriel Vilardi has good ability on both offense and defense. The second overall pick in the 2015 OHL Priority Selection is ready to play in the NHL. Vilardi shot a hockey puck in between tires when he was 11-years-old plus he's versatile enough to play left wing or right wing making him a top 3 pick and a very complete forward in my eyes after dominating the 2017 CHL Prospects Game. Vilardi has the speed, deking, vision, quick reaction, wrist shot power, wrist shot accuracy, slap shot power, and slap shot accuracy. Vilardi is a very complete player on tape despite what the stats say.
- I'm going to say that this pick will either be Vilardi or Heiskanen. Dallas will see Spezza in Vilardi and Klingberg in Heiskanen despite his lack of size at this point. At the end of the day, it will probably come down to what Dallas likes more between those two. Right now I'm leaning Vilardi because I like his tape the best among those three plus I think Dallas will see the same thing I see with Vilardi resembling Spezza the most, but could easily see Heiskanen or even Mittelstadt in Dallas.
Colorado Avalanche: Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
- Colorado is going to have Nate MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, and 2016 first round pick Tyson Jost as their top 3 centers for the next two seasons as well as Connor Bleackley, their 2014 first round pick in their farm system. Colorado has team captain Gabriel Landeskog and Miiko Rantanen as long-term pieces on the wing, but no other building blocks on the wing are there for Colorado. The Avalanche need to take the top winger or defenseman on the board at 4. The 6-2 203 lb Owen Tippett is the top winger available at this pick.
- Tippett had 44 goals, 31 assists, and 75 points in 60 games. Tippett is a guy that had 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, and a -2 +/- ratio in the 2017 CHL Prospects game meaning he gave up 4 goals and looked sloppy on defense. Tippett did much better with a +15 +/- ratio. Tippett may have disappointed in the 2017 CHL Prospects game, but he's made up for it with a strong showing in the 2017 OHL Playoffs with 9 goals, 9 assists, 18 points, and a +11 +/- ratio with Tippett playing much better on defense. Owen Tippett helped Mississauga get to the 2017 OHL Championship game, and that's more you can say about any top 5 prospect at this point. I honestly think Tippett can be a line 2 player on Colorado right away plus he gives you a player that can compliment Matt Duchene or Tyson Jost perfectly on the second line.
Vancouver Canucks: Cody Glass, C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
- The 6-2 179 lb Cody Glass is a top prospect. Glass had 32 goals, 62 assists, 94 points, and a +31 +/- ratio during the regular season and had 4 goals, 5 assists, and 9 points in 11 games in the 2017 WHL Playoffs. Glass has the best chance of cracking the top 5 with all the momentum he's built.
Vegas Golden Knights: Casey Mittelstadt, C, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
- The Vegas Golden Knights are going to need a center to anchor their team. Casey Mittelstadt is a unanimous top 5 prospect and a guy that Vegas can develop in the NCAA while they rebuild this roster through the Expansion Draft and the 2018 NHL Draft.
- The 6-1 202 lb Casey Mittelstadt is versatile enough to play left wing, center, or right wing. He entered the season as my second best USHL prospect, but is now considered a consensus top 5 prospect despite me having a mid first round grade on him.
- Mittelstadt was the team captain of Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota where he had 21 goals, 43 assists, and 64 points as well as 5 points 2 High School Playoff games. Mittelstadt also had 13 goals, 17 assists, 30 points, and a +3 +/- ratio with the Green Bay Gamblers in the USHL this season.
- Mittelstadt is someone who is going to play for the Minnesota Golden Gophers in the fall. He won't make the jump to the NHL right away, but will give Vegas a future player to build their offense around.
Arizona Coyotes: Miro Heiskanen, D, Helsingfors IFK (SM Liiga)
- The 6-0 174 lb Miro Heiskanen was the top SM Liiga prospect back in the preseason. He did well enough to win SM Liiga rookie of the year and improved this season getting a 9 seed Helsingors IFK team to the Semifinals of the SM Liiga league. Unlike Timothy Liljegren who came one spot shy of a roster spot on Sweden's World Junior Championship team, Heiskanen has been a line 1 defender for Finland in each of the last two years in the World Junior Championships and this year Heiskanen led defenseman with assists so Heiskanen may be consistent enough to warrant a top 10 pick and be the first defender drafted at 7. Arizona can continue to develop him in the SM Liiga league while he gets bigger and stronger.
Buffalo Sabres: Cale Makar, D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
- The Buffalo Sabres draft the top defensive player here. The 5-11 179 lb Cale Makar has been a cornerstone player for the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. While the AJHL does not produce talent like the CHL, Makar is an exceptional talent the same way Tyson Jost was an exceptional talent coming out of the British Columbia Hockey League in last years draft which is why Makar should go top 10.
- Cale Makar led the Brooks Bandits to back-to-back AJHL Championships. Makar had 10 goals, 45 assists, and 55 points in the 2015-2016 AJHL Regular Season. In the 2016 AJHL Playoffs, Makar had 3 goals, 11 assists, and 14 points when leading the Brooks Bandits to their first AJHL Championship.
- Cale Makar had 24 goals, 51 assists, and 75 points in 2016-2017. Makar had 3 goals, 13 assists, and 16 points in the 2017 AJHL Playoffs when leading Brooks to repeat.
- Cale Makar will go to Massachusetts where he will skate with the Minutemen for a year. Once he's ready, he can come up to Buffalo and give Jack Eichel a quarterback on the power play which may be something Buffalo desperately needs.
Detroit Red Wings: Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City Americans (WHL)
- There are a lot of different directions the Detroit Red Wings could take here at 9. I think Michael Rasmussen and Timothy Liljegren are the top 2 options at 9. Detroit tends to draft for size though. Rasmussen is someone that can play on Detroit's third line right now behind Henrik Zetterberg and Dylan Larkin. Rasmussen can play behind Larkin on the second line as early as 2018 or 2019 depending on whether Rasmussen makes the Red Wings roster right away which I believe he's capable of.
- The 6-5 203 lb Michael Rasmussen had 32 goals, 23 assists, and 55 points in 50 games. Rasmussen is the best center at winning face offs in the entire draft. Rasmussen has 50 penalty minutes along with a -13 +/- ratio. Rasmussen had a -1 +/- ratio despite scoring in the CHL Prospects game so that should tell you that Rasmussen is a defensive liability even though he went 4/4 on face offs in that game.
- You can easily make a case that Rasmussen has everything you want from a line 1 center in terms of size, winning face offs, and making plays on offense goes. He was on the ice when Tri-City gave up goals, but he did well defensively down the stretch despite struggling early in the season in that area and has ability to play offense or defense. Outside of our top 5 picks Nolan Patrick, Nico Hishier, Gabriel Vilardi, Owen Tippett, and Cody Glass, this is the only player in the top 10 who I believe has a shot to play right away in 2017-2018.
- Detroit would be better off keeping him in the Juniors and letting him improve his skills while Zetterberg plays out his contract. At the same time, I can easily see Rasmussen making the Red Wings opening day roster if they draft him at 9.
Florida Panthers: Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle B.K. (Elitserien)
- First Liljegren is the only player left who has a realistic shot of going straight to the NHL even though he's not ready in my mind. Luckily for Florida, Liljegren is the best player on the board at 10 plus he has a contract with Rogle B.K. that runs out after the 2017-2018 season so the Panthers can develop him for a year and then bring him up to the NHL in 2018.
- Liljegren had 1 goal, 4 assists, and 5 points on Rogle B.K.'s Elitserien team in the SHL in 16 games in 2016-2017. He entered the season as the challenger to Nolan Patrick to be the top pick in the 2017 NHL Draft before being surpassed by numerous prospects.
- Lots of people hyped up Liljegren to be the player who challenged Nolan Patrick to be the top prospect. I felt like Liljegren would bust when I first saw his tape back in August, but I feel a lot more confident in that statement now even though Liljegren should get picked in the top 10 mainly because of a weaker than usual defensive group since Liljegren is still a top 10 prospect and top 3 defender even with his struggles this season.
Los Angeles Kings: Elias Pettersson, C, Timra IK (Allsvenskan)
- Elias Pettersson is a consensus top 10 pick by most with the versatility to play left wing, center, or right wing. Pettersson will play for the Vaxjo Lakers in the Elitserien league in Sweden next season. He can develop there and add more muscle before being Nick Shore's eventual replacement on the Los Angeles Kings here at 11.
Carolina Hurricanes: Martin Necas, C, HC Kometa Brno (Extraliga)
- There are a lot of different directions the Carolina Hurricanes could take here at 12. Martin Necas is now considered a consensus top 10 prospect so Carolina can take him here and develop him into a future back 6 forward with him being the top player on the board at 12. I think Necas would be a reach here, but if every scouting service in the country has a top 10 grade on him, it's unlikely he falls out of the top 15.
Winnipeg Jets: Klim Kosten, RW, UHC Dynamo Moscow (KHL)
- The 6-3 196 lb Klim Kosten is the top Russian prospect from the KHL. Some have Kosten as a top 10 prospect. Winnipeg takes Klim Klosten here at 13.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Eeli Tolvanen, LW, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
- Tampa Bay doesn't take size into account when drafting. I feel like they could go with either Kailer Yamamoto who I still believe is a top 10 prospect even though he will fall to the back half or they will get another undersized skater in Eeli Tolvanen here who many consider to be a consensus top 15 prospect.
- Eeli Tolvanen was my top USHL prospect at the beginning of the season. This is a good spot for him to fall to at 14 with many considering him a top half of the draft prospect.
New York Islanders: Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri-City Americans (WHL)
- There are a lot of different directions the Islanders could go with at 15. The Islanders have a lot of high draft picks from 2013-2016 ready to be called up to the NHL after developing in the Juniors and the AHL for a few years on both offense and defense. I would not be surprised one bit if they tried to move out of this spot considering how much value this pick holds. If the Islanders stay put this is a player I see them taking at 15.
- The 6-2 201 lb Juuso Valimaki had 19 goals, 42 assists, and 61 points this season. This crafty offensive defenseman has great size and once he improves defensively, he could have a sound career in the NHL.
Other 2017 NHL Mock Drafts