Chris Ransom follow @DraftUtopia Last Updated: April 1, 2017.
Colorado Avalanche: Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
- I will be adding the second round today. April Fools. Ok seriously, the Avalanche got a top 4 picked locked up and I probably will do the second round after the regular season ends even if we don't know the lottery right away because I prefer to have an even number of picks for each team.
- 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. Colorado is loaded with centers though so Patrick may start out on the third line behind Matt Duchene and Nate Mackinnon.
- 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.
Arizona Coyotes: Nico Hischier, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
- The Arizona Coyotes 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 points so far in the 2016 QMJHL Playoffs. Hischier is NHL ready and could play with 2015 third overall pick Dylan Strome and 2016 seventh overall pick Clayton Keller next season to form a deadly center tandem for the Arizona Coyotes.
Vegas Golden Knights: Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
- The Vegas Golden Knights are going to need a center to anchor their team. This expansion team needs an identity and a face of the franchise. The 6-2 192 lb Gabriel Vilardi had 29 goals, 32 assists, and 61 points in 49 games.
- 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.
New Jersey Devils: Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City Americans (WHL)
- 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. Being a defensive liability is the only thing that kept Rasmussen from potentially being the top pick when you assess his tape. Rasmussen may return to the CHL in 2017 to continue developing, but his upside is greater than Timothy Liljegren if he can correct his defensive problems on tape.
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 has 4 points so far in the 2017 WHL Playoffs. Glass has the best chance of cracking the top 5 with all the momentum he's built.
Previous Pick: Nicolas Hague, D, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Dallas Stars: Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
- The 6-2 203 lb Owen Tippett is the top player 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 really blew a golden opportunity to put himself potentially in the top 5 with a poor showing at the CHL Prospects game. It's hard to see Tippett slipping past Dallas though at 6 since he's the top prospect on the board at this point with 5 goals, 1 assist, and 6 points in 5 games during the 2017 OHL Playoffs.
Previous Pick: Callan Foote, D, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Detroit Red Wings: Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle B.K. (Elitserien)
- There are a lot of different directions the Detroit Red Wings could take here at 7. I ultimately settled on giving the Red Wings the 6-0 198 lb Timothy Liljegren for two reasons.
- 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. Second this draft is extremely thin at defense after Liljegren and Adam Foote's son Callum Foote with other second round prospects getting pushed up the boards.
- 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 Nico Hischier, Gabriel Vilardi, Michael Rasmussen, Cody Glass, and Owen Tippett.
- 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 7 mainly because of a terrible defensive group overall.
Buffalo Sabres: Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
- The Buffalo Sabres draft the top player available at this pick. Kailer Yamamoto has Conor Sheary's size and Nail Yakupov's speed. Yamamoto is easily the fastest prospect on tape I've seen since Yakupov in terms of his overall speed and its not even close. Kailer Yamamoto has lined up at left wing, center, and right wing on Spokane's top line in 2016-2017 and even Yakupov wasn't considered that versatile.
- Kailer Yamamoto would be a top 10 potentially a top 5 pick if he wasn't 5-8 159 lbs. His lack of size puts him in jeopardy of being a first round pick, but I honestly believe he's a top 10 talent when you watch his tape.
- Yamamoto had 19 goals, 52 assists, and 71 points in 57 games in 2015-2016. Yamamoto had 42 goals, 57 assists, and 99 points in 43 games this season.
- Kailer Yamamoto had 1 goal, 1 assist, 2 points, and a +/- ratio of 0 in the 2017 CHL Prospects game. The only thing Yamamoto really struggled with was winning face offs with his size at 5-8 159 lbs. Yamamoto is a future top 6 winger if you can develop him in the WHL and make sure he adds more muscle and plays a little more aggressive in terms of reacting and executing on face offs. Even with his lack of size, Yamamoto is fly as a mother when it comes to playing wing on either side in the NHL.
- Most scouts won't look past his size. I will because I think he's physically and mentally tough enough to play at the NHL level despite being extremely undersized.
Previous Pick: Casey Mittelstadt, C, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
Florida Panthers: Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
- The Panthers get the 5-11 183 lb Nick Suzuki. Suzuki had 45 goals, 51 assists, and 96 points in 65 games this season. Suzuki's defense has improved despite being undersized. Suzuki is an excellent skater with the offensive awareness and vision that you look for.
Previous Pick: Cody Glass, C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
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 to round out the top 10.
Previous Pick: Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Los Angeles Kings: Miro Heiskanen, D, Helsingfors IFK (SM Liiga)
- The 6-0 174 lb Miro Heiskanen was the top SM Liiga prospect back in the preseason. Los Angeles needs one more defenseman for depth so this is a good pick.
Previous Pick: Matthew Strome, LW, Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
Philadelphia Flyers: Cale Makar, D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
- Cale Maker is a top 15 talent. The Flyers can take him and add one more defenseman with Makar as the best player on the board at 12.
Previous Pick: Maxime Coitos, LW, Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
New York Islanders: Martin Nicas, C, HC Kometa Brno (Extraliga)
- There are a lot of different directions the New York Islanders could take here at 13. Martin Nicas is a top 10 prospect in some boards and is the best player available at 13.
Previous Pick: Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph Storm (OHL)
Carolina Hurricanes: Eeli Tolvanen, LW, Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
- 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.
Previous Pick: Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Tampa Bay Lightning: Callan Foote, D, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
- The 6-3 209 lb Callan Foote rounds out the top 15. The son of Adam Foote had 6 goals, 51 assists, and 57 points in 2017. Foote has the offensive and defensive awareness to play in the NHL and dominated the 2017 CHL Prospects Game.
Previous Pick: Klim Kosten, RW, UHC Dynamo Moscow (KHL)