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Now that the order of 27 of the first 31 picks have been determined, I will be releasing my 2017 NHL mock draft.
For those who haven’t read the LWOS mock before here are the rules.
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 Part 1 – The Lottery Picks
#1 New Jersey Devils: Nolan Patrick, Centre
New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero knows the importance of building down the middle. He built the Pittsburgh Penguins 2009 Stanley Cup Champions. In 2006, he had the second overall pick in the draft, as well as Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin in the fold. This didn’t stop him from drafting Jordan Staal.
New Jersey may already have Pavel Zacha and Michael McLeod in the fold, but that won’t stop them from wanting to be three-deep down the middle. Of course this group is not as good as Shero’s Pittsburgh trio, which also goes to show why he will want it to be stronger. While question marks around Patrick’s health have emerged, he has the biggest upside of any player in this draft, and so the Devils grab him.
#2 Philadelphia Flyers: Nico Hischier, Centre
The Flyers have spent years building one of the best groups of young defencemen in the NHL. With their big move up in the lottery, they are gifted the golden opportunity to now add a top line centre to their group. Patrick and Hischier are the clear top-two in this draft, and with Patrick off the board, this is an easy selection for the Flyers.
#3 Dallas Stars: Gabriel Vilardi, Centre/Right Wing
Here is where the draft gets interesting. Of course the Stars could use defence prospects. However, adding a talented forward is not a bad move either. Jason Spezza is not getting any younger, and Jim Nill also believes in building strength down the middle. Villardi’s powerful game will provide a nice contrast to Tyler Seguin soon, though it may not be this year.
#4 Colorado Avalanche: Miro Heiskanen, Defence
Joe Sakic has a lot of work to do in rebuilding this club. He’s already stated that almost every player is available for the right price, with the exceptions of Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, and Tyson Jost. It seems that the team already has a plan for the forward group. They are overjoyed to see the best defenceman in the draft still on the board, and pounce here.
#5 Vancouver Canucks: Timothy Liljegren, Defence
Recent comments from Canucks general manager Jim Benning have strongly hinted that he is enamored with the idea of drafting this Swedish defenceman. In previous years, Benning has telegraphed picks of Jake Virtanen and Olli Juolevi. Given that, there is little reason to believe he is attempting to be deceptive with his intentions. Liljegren would join Juolevi in building the Canucks blue line of the future.
#6 Vegas Golden Knights: Casey Mittelstadt, Centre
As a new team, Vegas starts with a near blank slate here. They are going to need young talent, and will need it in every position. The Golden Knights take Middlestadt here, the best available player. The fact that he is an All-American centre that they can market to a new fan base and build around, is just a bonus. This is a pick that pleases both owner Bill Foley and general manager George McPhee. Its the ultimate win-win.
#7 Arizona Coyotes: Cody Glass, Centre
John Chayka believes in the analytics, and Cody Glass has the points to get his attention. He also plays a two-way game, that is all about puck-possession, generating scoring chances in the offensive end, and preventing them in his own end. Sure, the Coyotes already have a stable of young centres in Christian Dvorak, Dylan Strome, and Clayton Keller, but that does not change their plans. They continue to go for the best player available regardless of position.
#8 Buffalo Sabres: Cale Makar, Defence
New Sabres general manager Jason Botterill mentioned the Sabres strength down the middle in his introductory press conference. This just states the obvious. Its clear to see that the Sabres all well-stocked up front, but really need to find some support for Rasmus Ristolainen on the blue line. They get that help in Cale Makar. He played Junior A hockey this year to keep his college eligibility, but it is clear that the skills are there to play better competition. He will get that chance at UMass next year.
#9 Detroit Red Wings: Elias Pettersson, Centre/Right Wing
The Red Wings are not accustomed to picking this high in the draft. After losing their 25 season playoff streak, its now time for Ken Holland to rebuild the franchise. Holland sees a two-way centre with a high ceiling on the board, and pounces. The fact that Pettersson needs to gain weight is not a big concern for a club that usually allows their prospects plenty of time to develop in the minor leagues.
#10 Florida Panthers: Owen Tippett, Right Wing
Dale Tallon and the Panthers are overjoyed to see Owen Tippett on the board here. They have a solid young team, that is especially well stocked up the middle. The Panthers add a sniping winger, who can also play a bit of a power game, to compliment their young centres.
#11 Los Angeles Kings: Martin Necas, Centre
In recent years, the Kings have used plenty of draft picks, and young prospects in trades made to supplement their team and chase Stanley Cups. It worked as the Kings took home the 2012 and 2014 Championships. However, the farm system was stripped along the way, and that is now starting to haunt the Kings franchise that has won just one playoff game in the last three years. Necas has the potential to be a two-way, top six centre at the next level. With his speed and play making ability, as well as his work in his own end, he seems a perfect fit for the Kings.
#12 Carolina Hurricanes: Michael Rasmussen, Centre
The Hurricanes also have an outstanding stable of young defencemen, both in the NHL and in their prospect ranks. General manager Ron Francis is happy to see a big, two-way centre on the board in Michael Rasmussen. Rasmussen is the best player available and fills a positional need. He will eventually step into the role that Jordan Staal has done in recent years.
#13 Winnipeg Jets: Nick Suzuki, Centre/Right Wing
Nick Suzuki’s late season rise up draft boards is reminiscent of the first draft pick that Kevin Cheveldayoff made as Jets general manager. Things worked out well with Mark Scheifele and so the Jets try to replicate that. This is a young team on the rise, and their prospect ranks are well stocked. Adding Suzuki will only help them going forward.
#14 Tampa Bay Lightning: Eeli Tolvanen, Left Wing/Right Wing
The Lightning have done an excellent job of drafting in recent years. The organizational depth that they have developed was one of the biggest reasons that the team was able to keep its head above water, and nearly made the playoffs despite the significant injuries that they have faced all year. In Tolvanen, the Lightning add a pure sniper who scores goals in a variety of different ways. He’s the best player available, and with a deep farm system, that is the way to go.
#15 New York Islanders: Kristian Vesalainen, Right Wing
A versatile player, Vesalainen has experience playing both wings. He has excellent size, and uses it to protect the puck along the boards and extend plays in the cycle. Vesalainen was downright dominant at the 2017 IIHF Under 18 tournament. The Islanders hope that he will finally solve the team’s need for a big, talented power forward to play with John Tavares.