NHL Entry Draft: With the NHL Entry Draft Just Right Around the Corner, We’re Going to do A Mock Draft to See Exactly Who Falls Where and Who Suits Them Best!
The NHL Entry Draft is just three months away which gives everyone a bunch of time to speculate on who their favorite team is going to select in the first round. With this year not being as deep as the years of yesterday, there are still some top notch guys available.
So let’s dive into the mock draft and see who lands where! I will also have a full second round mock coming soon!
LW, Prince George (WHL)
With Tanner Kero, Vinny Hinostroza, and Jonathan Toews down the middle for a very long time, Nikita Popugaev is a perfect fit for their depth on the wing. He’s spent two and a half seasons so far in the WHL putting up 116 points in 141 games.
C, Hamilton (OHL)
Ottawa is pretty solid down the middle already with Kyle Turris, Derick Brassard, and Zack Smith. Mackenzie Entwistle would be a perfect fit as a fourth line center who can provide some grit and tenacity since that’s what he already does in the OHL.
C, Timra (SuperElite)
Elias Pettersson sat in the top 20 in central scouting for quite awhile this year, but after some international tournaments, he has fallen to the bottom of the first round. But don’t let that discourage you on him, he still has the elite level talent he just needs to get used to playing against the bigger bodies.
C, St. Cloud State (NCAA)
Playing as a freshman this year in the NCAA hasn’t stopped Ryan Poehling from having himself a solid season. He’ll most likely return to the NCAA next season, but he’s still a top-notch player and prospect.
C, Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL)
Shane Bowers is a very well rounded player, who is having a very solid season in the USHL where he’s put up 47 points in 53 games so far. Bowers is penciled in to start next season in the NCAA for Boston Univ.
Dec 31, 2015; Foxborough, MA, USA; Montrel Canadiens fans enter the gates prior to the Winter Classic alumni hockey game between the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
C, London (OHL)
The Blues second pick acquired from Washington in the Kevin Shattenkirk deal, Robert Thomas is having himself one heck of a season. He’s put up 66 points in 66 games, meaning he’s been a point a game player. He’ll most likely spend the next season or two back in London before finally making it into a pro system, but that’s all well and fine since he’ll be even better and more well rounded.
C, Kelowna (WHL)
Kole Lind has been dynamite this year for Kelowna in the WHL, and with David Desharnais now gone to Edmonton. Kole Lind would be a great fit for the Canadiens in this mock draft.
LW, Hamilton (OHL)
The youngest of the Strome brothers, Matthew Strome will be the second player out of Hamilton of the OHL taken in this draft. With the majority of the Leafs prospects and top players currently playing on the right side or down the middle, Strome is a perfect prospect to fill a spot on the left.
C, Owen Sound (OHL)
Having himself a career year in the OHL with 96 points in 65 games thus far, Nick Suzuki would be a perfect third line center for the Flames behind Sean Monahan and Mikael Backlund.
D, JYP (Liiga)
The second of Arizona’s two picks, this one acquired from Minnesota in the Martin Hanzal deal. The Coyotes would be smart to select Urho Vaakainen to boost their backend. Urho has been quite solid this year in Finland, but not with the Jr. Squad but with the professional JYP team.
May 17, 2015; Anaheim, CA, USA; Anaheim Ducks fans and bench react after center Nate Thompson (not pictured) scores a goal against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period in game one of the Western Conference Final of the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Honda Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
RW, Frolunda (SHL)
The Rangers have a lot of youth depth on the left side and down the middle, so selecting Kristian Vesalainen is a smart pick. Because by the time he is pro ready he would fit well with Jimmy Vesey and Mika Zibanejad.
LW, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
The Ducks only have two solid players on the left side as of right now, Jakob Silfverberg and rookie Ondrej Kase. If they want another who will score in bunches and mold perfectly with Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, their best option is to choose Maxime Comtois.
C, Portland (WHL)
The Penguins are thin down the middle, with Nick Bonino more of a fourth line center than a third and Matt Cullen nearing retirement. The Penguins are going to need someone who can come in and step into a third/fourth line center role, and the best option for that is Cody Glass. And this year he’s been dynamite for Portland in the WHL with 94 points in 69 games.
RW, Spokane (WHL)
The Blues first pick, Kailer Yamamoto is a very skilled player, this year with the Spokane Chiefs of the WHL, Kailer has put up 99 points so far in 65 games. And since he’s a right winger and Robert Thomas is a center, why not have them grow together and eventually play together in the NHL.
RW, Balashikha (MHL)
Klim Kostin has been hurt all season long over in Russia, but that hasn’t put a damper on his overall projection. He’s still a highly skilled forward and since Boston doesn’t have much youth on the right side, he would be a perfect selection for the team.
Jan 3, 2016; Brooklyn, NY, USA; New York Islanders fans celebrate an Islanders goal against the Dallas Stars during the third period at Barclays Center. The Islanders defeated the Stars 6-5. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
D, HV71 U-20 (SuperElite)
Nashville loves to build their club from the backend, and a player like Erik Brannstrom is a perfect fit for them. So far this year he has split the season between the HV71 U-20 team and the HV71 pro team in Sweden. With the U-20 team Brannstrom has put up 23 points in 19 games and with the pro team has put up 6 points in 35 games.
D, Kelowna (WHL)
The Islanders have way more top prospects up front than they do on the backend, so how can they fill that void? By selecting stud defenseman Cal Foote. He’s having himself a tremendous year so far for the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL putting up 57 points in 71 games, not bad for a defenseman.
D, Tri-City (WHL)
Besides Victor Hedman, the Bolts don’t have a lot to showcase on their backend. But that could all change with the selection of Juuso Valimaki. In 2014-15 he played for the Ilves U-20 team in Finland before spending last season and this season in the WHL. This year he’s been more than a point per game player as he’s put up 61 points in 60 games, pretty awesome for a defenseman.
D, HIFK (Liiga)
With Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, and Derek Forbort the Kings could use one more key defenseman on their team. So selecting Miro Heiskanen would be the perfect player. This year he’s playing for the HIFK pro team in Finland and so far has been quite good, he’s got 10 points in 37 games and even made an appearance in the World Juniors this year.
C, HV71 (SHL)
Right behind Jordan Staal and Victor Rask would fit Lias Andersson, he’s split this season between the HV71 U-20 team and the HV71 pro team. Lias only played in three games for the U-20 squad but scored two goals while doing so. With the pro team he’s managed to stick it out for 42 games and in doing so has put up 19 points but is also a plus 21. Andersson also played for Team Sweden this year at the World Junior’s and in the seven games played, Lias scored three goals.
Mar 15, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Detroit Red Wings fans react to a goal by center Andreas Athanasiou (72) in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
D, Mississauga (OHL)
Mississauga has been pumping out top prospect after top prospect as of late and Nicolas Hague is one of those players. With aging vets on the Panthers blue line, the only young and talented d-men they have are Aaron Ekblad and Michael Matheson. So why not add another? And selecting Nicolas Hague would be a perfect choice.
C, Tri-City (WHL)
Already possessing a pro size frame at 6 foot 5 and 203 pounds, Michael Rasmussen could very well jump right into the NHL next season. And with only Claude Giroux, Brayden Schenn, and Sean Couturier down the middle, Rasmussen could very well fill a fourth line role.
C, HC Kometo Brno (Extraliga)
Buffalo has three awesome centers already in Jack Eichel, Zemgus Girgensons, and Ryan O’Reilly. So selecting Martin Necas would be a smart decision, he can come in and fill a fourth line energy role since that’s what he already does in the Czech Republic. And so far for the HC Kometa Brno pro team, Necas has put up 15 points in 41 games.
D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
Probably one of the most skilled defensemen in the entire draft, Cale Makar is lighting it up in the AJHL this season for the Brooks Bandits where so far he’s put up 75 points in 54 games. And with all of the offensive prospects, the Jets currently possess, selecting one for the backend would be the best decision and why not start it off with one of the best.
C, Eden Prairie (Minnesota H.S.)
It’s a rare occurrence to see a player get drafted straight out of highschool, but Casey Mittelstadt is one of those players. This year for Eden Prairie High he’s put up an astonishing 64 points in 25 games. Now with Henrik Zetterberg nearing retirement and Detroit not having much when it comes to centers, Casey is their best option. And while he’s a few years away from being a pro, when he is ready he’s going to be a very serious player.
LW, Sioux City (USHL)
Vancouver is going to have to start preparing for when Daniel Sedin retires, and when he does having someone like Eeli Tolvanen in the system can help you get over it pretty quickly. He’s having himself a career year in the USHL this season for the Sioux City Musketeers where he’s put up 47 points in 45 games. He’s scheduled to play for Boston College in the NCAA next season, but where he plays after that could very well be in the NHL or the AHL.
Apr 14, 2016; Dallas, TX, USA; The Dallas Stars fans celebrate after the Stars score against the Minnesota Wild during the third period in game one of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at American Airlines Center. The Stars shut out the Wild 4-0. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
C/RW, Windsor (OHL)
Arizona’s first pick in this mock draft they would have to take a center, and the best one on the board behind Nolan Patrick is Windsor center, Gabe Vilardi. With Christian Dvorak, and Peter Holland the only young centers the Coyotes really possess, Gabe Vilardi can step right into this young team and play a second to fourth line role. He’s also doing quite well this year for the Spitfires with 61 points in 49 games, and with Windsor hosting the Memorial Cup this year and depending on how far they make it could boost his stock even more.
C, Halifax (QMJHL)
With both Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog having the ability to play either wing or center, Nico Hischier would be great on that top line. He’s a pure offensive dynamo who can score and put up points by a boat load. This year he’s been loaned to the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL and in 57 games Nico has put up 86 points.
RW, Mississauga (OHL)
New Jersey selecting Owen Tippett would be a very smart decision because last season they selected his teammate Michael McLeod. So why not let these two grow together and eventually play together in the NHL. Owen is having a career year with Mississauga this season putting up 75 points in 59 games thus far as well as a plus 24 rating. While he’s expected to return to the OHL next season, he could very well be an NHL regular the following year.
The Vegas Golden Knights already signed their first player ever, now they can select their first player ever and have him as a cornerstone franchise center. Patrick has elite level skills and is the number one ranked player by all scouting sources. Last season Nolan put up 102 points in 72 games for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL. But due to injury this season he’s only put up 46 points in 33 games, but this lack of production due to injury doesn’t stall his overall projection and potential ceiling one bit.
D, Rogle U20 (SuperElit)
Timothy Liljegren is an absolute workhorse and is the best defenseman in the entire draft. The reason why I have him going to Dallas first is quite simple, besides John Klingberg and Esa Lindell they don’t really have anyone else on the backend that is young and talented. And by the time he’s comfortable in the NHL, Esa will have his own defensive partner while Tim and John make a dynamic pairing of their own. Plus the Stars don’t need an elite franchise center in Nolan Patrick because they already have one in Tyler Seguin.
Now all of these teams were randomized as I stated from at the start, but if these picks were to play out like this, I strongly believe these are the best choices per team. I will have a full second round mock for you as well very soon!