Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2017 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here.
Now that the order of 29 of the first 31 picks have been determined, I will be releasing my 2017 NHL mock draft.
1) No trades except for those that have already been made by NHL teams.
2) A two-round Mock draft will be done in four parts. The first part comes out today. More parts will be added in time.
3) Clicking the Player’s name will bring you to a full scouting report.
4) For Picks 27-30, we will assume that the team with home ice advantage will win each of the three series. Mocks will be updated as each series end, if that changes the draft order.
So with that out of the way, I present the LWOS 2017 NHL Mock Draft.
2017 NHL Mock Draft Second Round, Part 2
#47 Ottawa Senators (From Calgary): Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Goaltender
Previous Pick: Urho Vaakanainen
The Senators acquired this pick in the Curtis Lazar trade. Craig Anderson is getting older and it will take time to develop a goaltending prospect. Backup goaltender Mike Condon is a free agent. Andrew Hammond and Matt O’Connor are probably not long term answers. The Senators have Marcus Hogberg, but with the volatility of goaltending prospects, it’s probably not a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. The Senators take a potential goalie of the future in Luukkonen.
At 6’4″ tall, Luukkonen has the ideal size that NHL teams are currently looking for. He also gets out well, cutting down angles and taking up a lot of net. Luukkonen has strong legs, giving him an excellent push off the post. He gets side-to-side extremely quick. Luukkonen keeps his shoulders square to the puck when moving across the crease, and when tracking rebounds.
#48 Tampa Bay Lightning (From Toronto): Luke Martin, Defence
Tampa has already taken a pair of talented European forwards with their first two picks in this draft. With this pick, acquired in the Brian Boyle trade, they go for a big defenceman. Martin’s defensive game is very good. His skating makes him very difficult to beat in one-on-one situations. He has very good positioning and gap control. Martin keeps himself between his man and the net, and forces attackers to the outside and to less dangerous areas of the ice. He uses his long stick to effectively cut down passing lanes and take away scoring opportunities. While Martin is not afraid to use his size and strength to clear the front of the net or to win battles in the corners, he is also not the type to throw big hits. Martin plays a simple game, but also a very effective one.
#49 New Jersey Devils (From Boston): Matthew Strome, Left Wing
The Devils acquired this pick when they traded Lee Stempniak to the Boston Bruins in 2016. Ray Shero has massively increased the Devils forward pool with his first two picks, and he would love to draft a defenceman here. However, taking one at this pick would be a big reach when looking what is currently on the draft board. Instead he grabs a power forward prospect. Matthew Strome has great bloodlines, and is an extremely intelligent player. He also can crash the net, and plays a more physical game than his older brothers. He also has a very good shot. However, he needs some work on his skating.
#50 Anaheim Ducks (From San Jose, Via Toronto): Joni Ikonen, Centre
The Ducks didn’t have a first round pick. This pick has shifted around a bit. The Leafs acquired it when Nick Spalling and Roman Polak were traded to San Jose in 2016. The Ducks got the pick last summer when they sent Frederik Andersen to Toronto. The Ducks love to see all the forwards on the board. They have an excellent group of young defencemen, and a young starting goaltender. They can focus on adding more forward skill.
Ikonen pairs excellent skating with top notch offensive skill. His ability to stick handle in tight spaces and weave through traffic gives defenders difficulties. He has a non-stop motor, chasing down loose pucks as well as getting in quickly on the forecheck. Despite his size, he is not afraid to play physical, or get to the dirty areas of the ice. He has the vision and creativity to set up teammates and make plays. If defenses back off too far on him on the rush, he can pull up, slow the play down, and make a tape-to-tape pass to a teammate. Ikonen is also a dangerous goal scorer. In fact, he is more of a shoot-first type. He has heavy and accurate wrist shot, and a quick release. He also shows the quick hands to pounce on rebounds in front of the net, and to beat goaltenders in close.
#51 St. Louis Blues: Scott Reedy, Centre
Many of the Blues best prospects are on defence, and in goal. They have taken two forwards in the first round, but are comfortable grabbing a third here. A right-handed forward with versatility to play centre and wing is a perfect fit for the team. Reedy controls the puck extremely well, especially when moving at top speed, or making quick cuts. He can make very creative plays to get by a defender. Reedy cuts hard to the net, and uses his soft hands to finish. A pure goal scorer, he has a very good wrist shot and release. If defenders back off too far when defending Reedy off the rush, he can use the defender as a screen and fire the puck. Reedy is also a strong play maker. His agility and edge work allows him to open up passing lanes, and get the puck to teammates.
#52 Carolina Hurricanes (From New York Rangers): Aleksi Heponiemi, Centre/Left Wing
Ron Francis has four picks in the first two rounds. This pick comes from last year’s Eric Staal trade. Francis has already taken two big centres with his first two picks. With that in mind, and another pick to come, he can take a gamble here. The Hurricanes take one of the most purely talented players in the draft class, though Heponiemi is undersized. He measured 5’10.5″ tall and 149 lbs at the recent NHL Draft combine.
Heponiemi has outstanding hands. He can make dekes in a phone booth, and is extremely dangerous one-on-one as a result. Heponiemi sees plays developing, and makes smart passes as a result. He is an excellent play maker, who can make tape-to-tape passes through tight openings. He also uses his stickhandling and skating to extend plays, waiting for a teammate to get open. Heponiemi has an accurate wrist shot, with a good release. However, he must work on adding power.
#53 Boston Bruins (From Edmonton Oilers): Mackenzie Entwistle, Right Wing
Previous Pick: Ryan Poehling
The Bruins receive this pick as compensation for the Oilers hiring Peter Chiarelli as their general manager. Entwistle is a Bruins type of player. He is a big forward who plays a north-south style of game. He is willing to get dirty in the corners and in front of the net, as well as play a grinding game on the cycle. Entwistle gets to the front of the net where he can bang in rebounds, or quickly one-time passes. He also grabs loose pucks and keeps the offense going by moving them quickly to teammates. Most of his goals come close in to the net. Entwistle’s wrist shot is a work in progress. The release is average, and he lacks accuracy when shooting from further out. He also could stand to add upper body strength and power.
#54 Buffalo Sabres (From Minnesota): Morgan Frost, Centre
This pick was traded to the Sabres as part of a 2015 Trade Deadline move that landed Chris Stewart in Minnesota. The Sabres have a number of talented young players, and continue to add to that group, taking the best player available here. Frost uses his speed, quickness, and agility to challenge defenders in one-on-one situations. He is extremely hard to contain off the rush, as he can use his skating to create openings. Frost also recognizes if a defender is playing too far off of him; he can slow up. This creates passing and shooting lanes. He sees the ice extremely well, as well as anticipating movements of his linemates. As such, he makes smart plays with the puck, and sets up scoring chances. He can also create in the offensive zone, especially on the powerplay where he quarterbacks from the point.
#55 Vancouver Canucks (From Columbus): Antoine Morand, Centre
The Vancouver Canucks receive this pick as compensation for the Blue Jackets hiring John Tortorella. They continue to look for offensive talent, and take Morand who has skill, but also faces size concerns. Morand combines great skating ability with soft hands to control the puck and make plays in tight spaces and at top speed. He is deadly in one-on-one situations. Morand is especially effective in tight. He can make a quick deke on a goaltender, fire the puck to the top of the net, or pass to a teammate. He is more of a play maker than a goal scorer. Morand has outstanding vision, and the passing skill to put the puck through tight openings. His lateral agility opens up passing lanes. Morand also has excellent hockey IQ, always making the right play with the puck.
#56 Montreal Canadiens: Sasha Chmelevski, Centre
Previous Pick: Josh Norris
As mentioned the last time the Canadiens were on the board, the team has a serious need for talented offensive centres. They again go with the best centre on the board, taking another American. An incredible skater, Chmelevski has outstanding speed as well as excellent acceleration. He is dynamic off the rush, and can use his ability to change speeds as a weapon. Chmelevski reads the play extremely well and makes good decisions with and without the puck. His stick handling is very good, with the ability to control the puck and make fancy moves while moving at top speed. Chmelevski can control the puck, protect it, and make plays in very tight spaces.
He also has a strong wrist shot and a quick release. He couples this with an excellent one-timer, and the ability to score in tight to the net to be a pure sniper. Chmelevski also has good passing skills, but can sometimes focus a little too much on his own shot. When he is moving the puck effectively, he has good vision and the ability to feather the puck through tight areas.
#57 Chicago Blackhawks: Ivan Lodnia, Centre/Right Wing
Previous Pick: Jake Oettinger, Goaltender
Lodnia may have flown under the radar a bit, playing a lower line role on a stacked Erie Otters team. The Blackhawks got a good look at him while they were following the progress of Alex DeBrincat, their 2016 second rounder. Lodnia has a non-stop motor. He fights for loose pucks in the corners, and continually drives the net looking for tips, rebounds or just to create havoc. Lodnia also has the quick hands to pounce when an opportunity presents itself, as well as the soft hands to beat a defender one-on-one and create opportunities. He also has a heavy and accurate shot, but could use some work on his release. He could also stand to use his one-timer more often. Lodnia has good vision and passing skills. He is creative with the puck, putting it through seams that other players would not try.
#58 Montreal Canadiens (from Washington): Stelio Mattheos, Centre
This pick was acquired in the Lars Eller trade. With Nolan Patrick‘s injury issues this year, Stelio Mattheos was put into a bigger than expected role with the Brandon Wheat Kings. He excelled in that role. Mattheos is a very good skater. He has a powerful stride which generates very good speed. Mattheos scores goals in tight to the net. He has the quick hands to pounce on rebounds, and the quickness to beat goalies when driving to the net. Mattheos also has the hand-eye co-ordination to get deflections, as well as to quickly one-time passes in close. From further out his wrist shot is heavy and features a quick release. Mattheos is dangerous on the rush due to his speed. When defenders back off to avoid getting beat wide, he can pull up and fire a shot on net.
Mattheos’ assists also mainly come out of his power game. He is not an overly creative player, but prefers to play a north-south type of game. He can win battles in the corners, dig out pucks, and get them to teammates.
#59 Toronto Maple Leafs (from Ottawa): Josh Brook, Defence
Previous Pick: Callan Foote
This pick was acquired as part of the 2016 Dion Phaneuf trade. The Leafs current team, and prospect pool is filled with talented young forwards. They filled a major need by adding a right-handed defenceman in the first round, and continue that trend here. Brook transitions the puck from defence to offence quickly. He can stick handle and skate the puck out of danger. He also has good skills in making a first pass or controlling things at the blue line. Brook’s bread and better is his defensive game. He maintains very good gap control, and can be very hard to beat one-on-one. He also clears the front off the net effectively and battles hard in the corners. Brook is not afraid to fight for pucks and to use his frame to contain an opponent, but he is not the type to go looking for a big hit.
#60 Anaheim Ducks: Alex Formenton, Left Wing
Previous Pick: Joni Ikonen
The Ducks added a talented centre earlier. With this pick, they add a winger who may have flown under the radar in a third line role with London. Formenton is an outstanding skater with an excellent first step, and very good acceleration. His top-end speed is amongst the best in this draft. Formenton uses skating as a weapon, forechecking quickly, pressuring defenders and creating turnovers. Formenton also gets behind the defence, taking long breakaway passes. He can also take the puck wide on a defender and cut to the net. If the defence back off, respecting his speed, he uses the screen and fires a shot. Formenton has a good release and accuracy on his wrist shot. However he can bulk up, and add power. His one-timer can also improve. Formenton isn’t the type of player to create his own shot, but if set up by a teammate can score.
#61 Nashville Predators: Adam Ruzicka, Centre
Previous Pick: Kailer Yamamoto
The Predators got high end skill with their first pick, though Yamamoto lacks size. Here they take a big centre. At 6’3.5″ Ruzicka plays a power game. When he is at his best, he works the puck along the boards, out of the corners and drives the net. He has the hands to bury pucks in close. Ruzicka has an excellent wrist shot and snap shot. He can also play the role of play maker. Ruzicka can make saucer passes, and get the puck through tight spaces. He has vision and patience to wait for a play to develop. His size and power make him very effective protecting the puck, and working the cycle. The issue here is that there are far too many nights when Ruzicka is not on his game. He needs to be more consistent.
#62 Carolina Hurricanes (from Pittsburgh): Keith Petruzzelli, Goaltender
This pick was acquired in the Ron Hainsey trade. With their fourth pick in the draft, the Hurricanes add a goaltending prospect. They have Alex Nedeljkovic in the minors, and he might be their goalie of the future, but there is not much beyond him. He also had a rough first season in the pros, though that really is not a reason to give up on him. In any event, as mentioned earlier goaltending prospects are volatile and teams would be well served to have more than one in the system.
Standing 6’6″ tall, Petruzzelli has the ideal size that NHL teams have been favoring when drafting goalie prospects. He covers a lot of net. With his good skating ability, he is able to come out to challenge shooters and further minimize the amount of net seen. When Petruzzelli drops down into his butterfly, his long legs take away much of the bottom of the net. His shoulders still reach the crossbar, and there is not a lot for a forward to look at. Petruzzelli also has a good glove and blocker. Petruzzelli does have some areas to work on. Like many young goaltenders, he will need to improve upon his rebound control.