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.
The big day has come and gone, and now we look back to see how each team did in the NHL draft. Look, we know that it is way too soon to evaluate a draft and that the true evaluation will be seen four or five years from now. However, we don’t want to wait, instead we follow our yearly tradition and do our draft grades now.
LWOS 2017 NHL Draft Grades
Note: We include trades in the grades. The moves for players like Travis Hamonic, Artemi Panarin, Brandon Saad, Derek Stepan, Brayden Schenn, Jordan Eberle, and others from the last week will be included in our draft grades.
A second note: VALUE PICK does NOT mean best player drafted. It means best value. For Example, Nico Hischier was the first player taken in this draft. However he is not our best value pick for the Devils. Why? Because anyone can take the best player with the first overall pick, we are looking for value here, what steal did the team get in the draft that went later than we thought he would? If it was merely an exercise in naming the best player drafted, might as well just name the team’s first pick, as that is who their own scouts felt was their best player.
A third note: The links lead back to our scouting reports.
Click Here for PART ONE; or for PART TWO.
Nashville Predators: A-
The Predators got an absolute steal when Eeli Tolvanen fell to the bottom of the first round. They have to be thrilled to get the Finnish sniper. His shot and release is tremendous, and has been compared to some of the best snipers in the NHL. In Mishmash, they took another strong player who inexplicably fell. One of the top players on the US NTDP, Mishmash has versatilty to play wing and center, and plays a power forward’s game. In David Farrance they get a defenceman with smooth skating and offensive skill.
Vomacka gives the team a large goalie project who is headed to the University of Connecticut next year. In Koltygin, they get a centre who loves to get to the front of the net and play in the dirty areas of the ice. Paquette is a strong defensive defenceman with a good physical game and excellent positioning.
New Jersey Devils: A-
Picks: Nico Hischier, Jesper Boqvist, Fabian Zetterlund, Reilly Walsh, Nikita Popugaev, Gilles Senn, Marian Studenic, Aarne Talvitie, Jocktan Chainey, Yegor Zaitsev, Matthew Hellickson,
Best Value: Popugaev
The Devils choose to go Nico over Nolan. While we had Nolan ranked as the better prospect, the difference between the two was razor thin, and they really couldn’t go wrong with either one. Nico is a dynamic offensive centre who will be top line player in New Jersey. In the second round they got another great offensive talent. Boqvist combines excellent skating ability, with the quick hands to make stick handle in a phone booth. Zetterlund is a stocky winger, who has excellent balance and a powerful stride. He can fight through checks and is tough to knock off the puck. Popugaev is a huge forward who can score in front of the net and create on the power play. However, he has issues with consistency.
Senn is a large 21-year-old goalie who had a strong season for Davos last year. Studenic has good height, but must pack on weight. He is a strong skater, with a good shot. Chainey is a good skater, and transitions the puck well. A shoulder injury cost him time and he fell in the draft as a result. Overall the Devils stocked up on late rounders. The really value here is early in the draft though, and they did really well.
New York Islanders: C
A puzzling Expansion Draft trade cost the Isles their first round pick. However, the Islanders did much better with their two trades in Chicago. They got a lot of value for Travis Hamonic, as well as gettting a big upgrade in turning Ryan Strome into Jordan Eberle.
The Islanders used their first three picks on defencemen. Salo may never be a big-time scorer, but a solid second unit power play player, and the ability to be used on the penalty kill could be in his future. Mirageas is a strong defender. He works hard in his end to contain forwards along the boards, win battles and clear the front of the net. He must get stronger. Aho was passed over twice in the draft. He is undersized, but can generate offence from the backend.
New York Rangers: B-
Picks: Lias Andersson, Filip Chytil, Brandon Crawley, Calle Sjalin, Dominik Lakatos, Morgan Barron, Patrik Virta
Trades: Traded Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta for 7th overall and Anthony DeAngelo
Best Value: Stepan trade
The Rangers got very good value in their trade with Arizona. They wanted to clear salary and got a top 10 pick in the process. Stepan has consistently put up over 50 points, but is yet to hit the 60 point mark. He’s not amongst the group of top tier centres in the NHL, and the Rangers need the cap room. However, picking Lias Andersson at 7 feels like a major reach. He’s a player we had ranked in the middle of the round.
In Filip Chytil the Rangers get a centre who has been one of the biggest risers in the second half of the season. He had an excellent under 18, and looked as good as countryman Martin Necas in the tourney. The Rangers didn’t pick again until 102 picks later. Crawley is a third year draft eligible with a booming shot and good physical game. In Sjalin, they get a solid defender who is good in many areas, but does not have any standout skills.
Ottawa Senators: C
Lack of picks really hurts the Senators grade here. There is only so much that can be done with just four picks. Bowers is a good skating centre with two-way ability. He will be headed to Boston University. Formenton is a very good skating winger, who got limited ice-time on a strong London Knights team. Look for him to break out next year. Batherson started the year slow, but really took off in the second half of the year. He is a good skater with both passing and shooting skill. Hollett gives the Senators a project in the crease.
Philadelphia Flyers: A
Picks: Nolan Patrick, Morgan Frost, Isaac Ratcliffe, Kirill Ustimenko, Matthew Strome, Maksim Sushko, Noah Cates, Olle Lycksell, Wyatt Kalynuk
Trades: Traded Brayden Schenn for Jori Lehtera and Two First Rounders
Best Value: Strome
Nolan Patrick was our top ranked prospect. The Flyers have a big centre, who they can build their offence around in the coming years. With the depth the Flyers have upfront they could afford to trade Brayden Schenn and did a great job in getting back two first rounders, while taking on a contract dump. The Flyers used one of those picks on Morgan Frost who is an excellent playmaker. They then stepped up early in the second round and got Isaac Ratcliffe, a powerful winger who most had as a possible first rounder.
The Flyers have a really strong group of goalie prospects, but added to it with Ustimenko who can develop in Russia. Matthew Strome is a smart winger, who plays a power game. He really needs to work on his skating to make the next level though. Sushko is a shoot first forward, who isn’t afraid to take a hit to make a play.
Pittsburgh Penguins: B-
The trade for Ryan Reaves was a clear loss for the Penguins. Oscar Sundquist is likely to be an NHLer last year, and the Penguins moved down twenty spots in the draft. Jim Rutherford hasn’t made many bad moves since taking over the Penguins, but this is a puzzling deal.
Lauzon is a defensive defenceman, who is willing to block shots and play physical. Phillips converted from forward to defence a couple of years ago. He has made a very good transtion, but still needs to work on his defensive game. Phillips skates well and handles the puck efficiently. Drozg is a winger with good vision and playmaking skill. Olund is a third year eligible, who plays as a two-way centre.
San Jose Sharks: B+
In Josh Norris the Sharks got a hard working two-way centre who was one of the top players on the US NTDP. He also absolutely dominated at the NHL Draft Combine. Ferraro is a smooth skater who covers a ton of ice. He transitions quickly from offense to defense and vice-versa. Reedy was the number two centre behind Norris on the NTDP. He scored nearly as many points, and is a talented play maker.
We had Sasha Chmelevski rated as a late second rounder. The Sharks traded up in round six to get him. That’s a real steal. He is a smart centre with a lot of skill but needs to work on his defensive game. McGrew is an undersized offensive defencemen. Chekovich has an excellent shot. He finds soft spots in the defense and can fire home a shot when his teammates find him and get him the puck.