Hockey Prospectus’ draft coverage could not be complete without a mock or two, letting you know how our scouting team sees things potentially fleshing out. Obviously, we cannot foresee which trades will shake up the draft boards in a few weeks, but we can look at the team’s recent history and put names to the trends. With the help of Craig Smith, Dennis Schellenberg, Jason Lewis, Kevin Olexson, Jimmy Hamrin and Scott Crawford, we have put together the first two rounds, with a brief comment for each pick to let you know how each drafter came to their respective decisions. Without further ado:
1. Toronto (Ryan) – Auston Matthews, C, ZSC (NLA). All things being equal, you take the C over the winger. All things aren’t equal, though. Matthews is a number 1 center in the NHL by 2017-18.
2. Winnipeg (Jason) – Patrik Laine, W, Tappara (Liiga). In any other year this guy would be the No. 1 overall. Powerful, but skilled winger whose game looks suited to excel at the NHL level.
3. Columbus (Dennis) – Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Karpat (Liiga). The top 3 this year are no-brainers. Matthews and Laine are out of reach for Columbus but Puljujarvi is one of three players who could be NHL ready next season.
4. Edmonton (Dennis) – Jakob Chychrun, D, Sarnia (OHL). The Oilers need a defender who can lead their blueline and Chychrun is that guy. Great skater, good shot and strong physical game
5. Vancouver (Kevin) – Pierre Luc Dubois. C, Cape Breton (QMHL). The Canucks are a team trying to get younger on the fly, and need help in all areas. Too early to take a d-man with the talent left, but `a versatile 2 way power forward who could play center or wing and is a complete player who could impact this team is way too good to let go.
6. Calgary (Kevin) – Matthew Tkachuk , London (OHL). The Flames need help now, and have already began building their blue line. They don’t need help down the road, so taking a d-man this early might who will take time to develop may not be the way they want to go. With Tkachuk still available they will grab the feisty winger who brings lots of energy to his game, who can score, and who plays with an edge and can be a pest.
7. Arizona (Craig) –Clayton Keller, C, USNTDP (USHL). Keller will slot in perfectly behind Dylan Strome. His elite hockey I.Q and highly rated hockey skills will make Keller a productive center. He may be slightly underrated because of his smaller size. The Coyotes have lots of big forwards coming up through the pipeline, so they can afford to take Keller. A defender to pair with Oliver Ekman-Larsson would be nice, but I suspect there will be some great value in the second round.
8. Buffalo (Scott) Jake Bean, D, Calgary (WHL) The Buffalo Sabres are solidified up front with the right mixture of young and old forwards, which is why they need to focus on their blueline of the future for this draft. They need a left shooting defenseman that is shifty and creative who knows how make good decisions with the puck in tight situations. Jake Bean provides that offensive advantage as he is known to quarterback the PP and his size and foot speed allow him to be the ideal future top D line player Buffalo is looking for.
9. Montreal (Jimmy) – Tyson Jost, C, Penticton (BCHL) The Canadiens lack a high talent center in their system and Jost seems to be an obvious fit. Jost is a smart and hard working center with great offensive upside.
10. Colorado (Jason) – Olli Juloevi, D, London (OHL) – If Juolevi falls this far it would be a massive pick up for a Colorado blueline corps that could use an injection of skill, pace, and transition ability to supplement their still young and talented forward group.
11. New Jersey (Ryan) – Alexander Nylander, LW, Mississauga (OHL) – The Devils, one of the worst scoring teams in the NHL, and with a dearth of offensive impact talent in the system (Pavel Zacha is the only legit top nine forward there), absolutely lucked out to get Nylander at 11. Based only on his puck game (shot, skills) only Matthews is clearly ahead of Nylander.
12. Ottawa (Craig) – Mikhail Sergachev, D, Windsor (OHL) – Ottawa’s prospect system is one of the worst in the NHL. It gets thin really fast beyond Colin White and Thomas Chabot. The Senators have steered clear of smaller players over the past couple years. Sergachyov has a massive range of possible outcomes. He possesses a ceiling that could see him as a number one defender and a floor as third pairing, power play specialist. Ottawa needs to swing for the fences with this pick. He has one of the best shots in the draft, as his 17 goals would suggest. His skating and puck skills also come in with a high score. Sergachyov still needs work understanding hockey and trying to become consistent defensively.
13. Carolina (Dennis) – Michael McLeod, C, Mississauga (OHL) – McLeod is a big, strong skater who possesses skills. He also has good size, something the Hurricanes organization lacks. McLeod add size combined with skills to the Canes prospect pool. Next to many smallish young guns in the organization such as Aho and Skinner, McLeod seems like a nice fit.
14.Boston (Craig) Charlie McAvoy, D, Boston University (NCAA) – The Bruins need to rebuild on the back end of their team. McAvoy is closer to being ready than most defenders in the draft and the Bruins need help sooner than later. He is a competitive player who also has good puck skills. He will be able to get the puck up to the Bruins blue chip forwards quickly and accurately.
15. Minnesota (Kevin) – Logan Brown, C, Windsor (OHL) – Minnesota definitely needs help up front, and Brown’s large frame, combined with his hands, skills, and all round game could help add some offensive depth for the Wild.
16. Detroit (Ryan) – Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton (BCHL) – Who doesn’t love high end right shot defencemen? A smooth skater with fantastic puck skills, Fabbro will require patience as he heads off to college, but that is par for the course in Detroit. In this scenario, the Wings should pounce on the last remaining high upside blueliner.
17. Nashville (Scott)-Max Jones, LW, London (OHL) This guy has a rare combination of being smooth skating puck wielding power forward. Plays both ends well enough that he will be steal for Nashville to play along side Filip Forsberg.
18. Philadelphia (Jimmy) – Kieffer Bellows, LW, USNTDP (USHL) – For a system teeming with talented young blueliners, Bellows adds some needed balance as as fiesty winger with a near elite shot. Very much a player in the Classic Broad Street Bullies tradition.
19. NY Islanders (Jason) – Riley Tufte, LW, Fargo (USHL) – He’s a big power forward who projects well in a top 9 slot. The Islanders wing group on the left side is somewhat thin, and taking the college commit lines them up to have a nice one two punch of Dal Colle/Tufte in a few years’ time.
20. Arizona (from N.Y. Rangers) (Craig) – Alex DeBrincat, RW, Erie (OHL) – DeBrincat has had back to back 50 goals seasons, one of which was as a linemate of future Coyotes number one center Dylan Strome. He has proven himself as a player who can create offense when away from the elite centers he played with in Erie. His skating and agility instantly puts him amongst the best skaters in the NHL. He has an incredible release and great accuracy when shooting. He will be one of the smallest players in the league. Don’t be fooled as he is not hindered by his small stature. He has good balance and leg strength and when combined with his agility allows him to be successful against larger players.
21. Carolina (from Los Angeles) (Dennis) – German Rubtsov, C, Russia U18 (MHL) – German Rubtsov is probably one of the most intelligent players in this draft. He can play a very effective two-way game and is excellent when using his active stick. Has smooth hands, good size and his game can be compared to Pavel Datsyuk’s. Enough said.
22. Winnipeg (from Chicago) (Jason) – Julien Gauthier, RW, Val d’Or (QMJHL) – As Craig said earlier, the defensemen in this draft are a bit less in comparison to the forwards. If Winnipeg is selecting best player available, Gauthier is probably that. Over a point per game with 79 goals between his last two seasons in the Q. Prolific scorer, wrecking ball of a forward, but some soft hands and great skating to go with it.
23. Florida (Jimmy) – Luke Kunin, C, U. of Wisconsin (NCAA) – Luke Kunin is the best player available for Florida. They could use more offensively gifted players in their pipeline and creative goal scoring center Kunin will give them that, more than any other available player at this time in the draft.
24. Anaheim (Craig) – Rasmus Asplund, C, Farjestad, (SHL) – The Ducks have a history of success with players who have worn the blue and gold. Asplund is an all round player. He’s a plus a skater and posses a plus shot.
25. Dallas (Dennis) – Tyler Benson, LW, Vancouver (WHL) – The Dallas Stars might take a risk here, but it seems to be worth it. Benson did miss quite a bit of the season due to an injury. He would have been picked earlier if healthy. He shows a good work ethic, can play effectively at both ends of the ice and is an agile skater.
26. Washington (Jason) – Tage Thompson C/W, U. of Connecticut (NCAA) – The Caps are loaded right now, but they will need some prospects to be ready a few years down the line. Thompson, a hulking 6’5″ center out of the NCAA ranks, is a perfect fit in terms of his blend of power and skill. He has time to develop on a slower path, and could also be a nice shot in the arm to the Caps center group when he is ready to graduate and turn pro in a few years.
27. Tampa Bay (Kevin) – Vitali Abramov LW – Gatineau (QMHL) – Tampa is a deep team, and they aren’t afraid to take chances on a smaller forward. In fact it seems to work well for them, and Abramov would be no exception. Tampa likes speed, and this speedy, highly offensively skilled, hard working and very productive winger would fit in nicely in their future plans.
28. St. Louis (Scott) – Nathan Bastian RW, Mississauga (OHL) – Has an offensive side that was beneficial for his linemates but was an overall good physical player that was equally relied upon to play the penalty kill. Potentially could be an up and coming third liner that St. Louis could use on the penalty kill as well.
29. Boston (from San Jose) (Craig) – William Bitten, C, Flint (OHL) – This is a happy conclusion to a very frustrating year for Bitten. There was lots of drama in Flint and Bitten’s best teammates were traded away. That didn’t stop him from producing some impressive numbers and showing his leadership ability in the process. He plays well in all three zones and will be able to stay at center in the NHL.
30. Toronto (from Pittsburgh) (Ryan) – Wade Allison, RW, Tri-City (USHL) – In this scenario, the Leafs grab the biggest pop-up player in the USHL – and maybe all of prospectdom, in Tri-City’s shot generating machine and the USHL playoff MVP. Allison, a plus skater who competes in all three zones, will be afforded plenty of time to get ready at Western Michigan, starting next season.
1. Toronto (Ryan) – Victor Mete, D, London (OHL) – Toronto’s London connection (Mark Hunter) comes to the fore with Mete, the highly mobile puck moving blueliner who makes up for his size deficiencies with good stick work and a highly skilled game.
2. Edmonton (Dennis) – Carter Hart, G, Everett (WHL) – After getting their much needed leader on the blueline with Chychrun, the Oilers address another need – Goaltending. Not too much depth at this position this year so the Oilers want to make sure to draft a goalie early and they believe that big, technically-skilled Carter Hart is the best option.
3. Florida (from Vancouver) (Jimmy) – Jonathan Dahlén, RW/LW, Timrå (Allsvenskan) – More offense coming to Florida. They probably need an offensive defenseman more but with Dahlén still available I think he is the best pick here. Dahlén was one of the best forwards in Sweden’s second highest senior league last season, especially in the second half of the season. Kind of a late blooming star with a good chance of becoming a top six player in the NHL. That’s a good second round pick.
4. Columbus (Dennis) – Brett Howden, C, Moose Jaw (WHL) – Big forward who plays a solid two-way game. Uses his size and long reach to protect the puck well and does not shy away from physical battles. Is no superstar-level talent but could end up being a solid 2nd line scorer.
5. Calgary (Kevin) – Filip Gustavsson – G (SHL) Calgary, who also need goaltending help, choose the top ranked goalie out of Europe to help solidify their future needs. A solid butterfly goalie with poise, a quick glove and blocker, and good rebound control would be a nice addition to the Flames goaltending depth.
6. Winnipeg (Jason) – Libor Hajek, D, Saskatoon (WHL) – With Byfgulien and Enstrom aging, the Jets are going to need someone to be able to eat up big minutes in the future. Hajek had a good introduction to North American hockey this past season and is a big toolsy player that the Jets can develop slowly into a potentially competent rear guard.
7. Arizona (Craig) – Cam Dineen, D, North Bay (OHL) – This is this pick I imagined when selecting Clayton Keller in the 1st. Dineen is incredible at escaping the forecheck and getting the puck up the ice. He is not the fastest skater on the ice, but his agility scores highly, which is more important for defenders. Dineen will be a top 4 defender in the NHL.
8. Buffalo (Scott) – Cliff Pu, RW, London (OHL) Buffalo can always use more talent for their bottom two lines. Cliff Pu is great physical player with extra foot speed that can make for a good forechecker. He is a smart two-way forward that can perform well when he is away from the puck.
9. Montreal (Jimmy) – Jordan Kyrou C/RW, Sarnia (OHL) A solid 2nd round pick for Montreal. Kyrou is a smart and hard working two-way player with speed and skill. He has NHL potential in various roles for the team.
10. Colorado (from Colorado via San Jose) (Jason) – Pascal Laberge, C/W Victoriaville (QMJHL) – The Avs have loved going to the Q in recent years. Laberge not only comes from the Q but he has a nice package of two-way skills that could end up landing him a top 9 job in the NHL. At worst if his offensive ability doesn’t pan out his defensive work and forechecking ability could make him a nice energy line player.
11. New Jersey (Ryan) – Sam Steel, C, Regina (WHL) – The Devils are playing the board as it falls and increasing the amount of skill in their organization. With 16 points in 12 playoff games, Steel proved that he can step up at crunch time. A plus skater with a two way game.
12. Ottawa (Craig) – Cameron Morrison, C/LW, Youngstown (USHL) – Senators need to continue taking the best available player. Morrison’s numbers place him as a top 30 player in this draft. His goal and assist numbers (34G, 32A , 64GP) combined with a birthdate that puts him only weeks of being eligible for the 2017 draft indicate a very high ceiling. He has traits the Senators love in size and hockey sense.
13. Carolina (Dennis) – Carl Grundstrom, LW, MoDo (Liiga) – This guy comes to play, each and every game. Two years of pro hockey helped him to raise his compete-level even more. He might not have high-end skills but his compete level, determination and willingness to go into the dirty areas will help him to get scoring chances. With lots of skilled prospects in their pool, the Canes could use a guy like Grundstrom.
14. Tampa Bay (from Boston) (Kevin) – Logan Stanley, D, Windsor (OHL) – Tampa loves big defenseman, and with this player still available there is no reason for them not to pick him. A mammoth 2-way defenseman with great reach, who asserts his physical presence regularly with a bit of a nasty side to him, and has some offensive upside. He plays a simple game, is very consistent, and will be a nice project with a huge rewards for the Lightning who will boast one of the biggest defensive cores in the NHL.
15. Montreal (from Minnesota via Buffalo) (Jimmy) – Samuel Girard, D, Shawinigan (QMJHL) – Seeing Shayne Gostisbehere maybe there is an age of smallish skilled defenseman coming. Girard is an offensive and flashy defenseman who produced big numbers this season.
16. Detroit (Ryan) – Ivan Kosorenkov, RW, Team Russia U18 (MHL) – A bit of a one-dimensional player, but it’s the right dimension. A plus skater with a goal scorer’s mentality. Under the radar due to the Russian U18 Meldonium scandal, Kosorenkov is the second best draft eligible from Russia this year, after Rubtsov.
17. Nashville (Scott) – Josh Mahura D, Red Deer (WHL) Another young defenseman that Nashville can use to build their blue line. Well known stay at home defenseman that uses his body to block shots or throw a hit. Missed most of last season to injury but when healthy he could be a another hard hitting player that Nashville needs to solidify their second and third pairings.
18. Philadelphia (Jimmy) – Yegor Korshkov, RW, Yaroslavl Lokomotiv (KHL) – Late blooming 96-born Korshkov was a sensation at the World Juniors. A big sized forward with great reach and puck skills. Plays a regular role on a big club in KHL.
19. Boston (from N.Y. Islanders) (Craig) – Kale Clague, D, Brandon (WHL) – Boston continues the rebuild on the back end. Thanks in part to a fantastic playoff, Clague has seen his stock sky rocket. He is an offensive minded defender who fits in with the changing game.
20. Carolina (from N.Y. Rangers) (Dennis) – Dennis Cholowski, D, Chilliwack (BCHL) – After drafting two centers in the first and another forward in this round, the Hurricanes are going to add a defender. Although they already have a couple of offensive-minded defenders in their prospect pool, Cholowski is worth the pick. Some concerns if he can play at higher level but Cholowski has the raw tools to become a puckmoving offensive-minded dman who shows great poise with the puck. He will need to add muscle to his rather big frame.
21. Los Angeles (Jason) – Boris Katchouk, LW, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) – If we are playing the board, the Kings first pick of the draft would have to go to the winger out of the OHL. While nothing really jumps off the page with Katchouk, he does a lot of things really well. LA loves their OHL draftees and they love their multi-faceted, all-around forwards. They have had good luck with Soo products in the past and are likely looking to bolster a thinner group of wing and forward prospects.
22. Philadelphia (from Chicago) (Jimmy) – Jacob Moverare, D, HV71 (SHL) – Having selected two forwards the Flyers draft a defenseman with this pick. Moverare is a defensive defenseman with good puck-mobility. Has leadership qualities and had a great performance at the U18 Worlds in April.
23. Arizona (compensation pick) (Craig) – Adam Fox, D, USTNDP (USHL) – Outstanding production during the regular season and at the U18 Worlds. Offence is Fox’s strength but he is also strong defensively and has very good stick work. His stick work and agility allow him to defend well when against bigger players. Right hand shot defender who can hopefully slot in with OEL.
24. Calgary (form Florida) (Kevin) – Lucas Johansen – D Kelowna (WHL) Calgary uses this pick to select Lucas Johansen from the Kelowna Rockets who have a history of being a defenseman producing factory. Johansen is a smooth skating, slick puck moving defenseman who is solid in his own end and makes great decisions with the puck. The younger brother of Ryan Johansen, he’s already being groomed for a solid NHL career.
25. Pittsburgh (from Anaheim via Vancouver) (Scott) – Sean Day, D, Mississauga (OHL) – A talented skater that has not reached his potential because of a lack of maturity. Under the leadership of Mike Sullivan and Sidney Crosby he may have a chance at an NHL career. He carries with him a strong slap shot from the point but needs to work on his accuracy. Played a bit of LW this season with the Steelheads and looked more comfortable so he may be in transition to play both positions rather than just D.
26. Calgary (from Dallas) (Kevin) – Dillon Dube, C, Kelowna (WHL) – The Flames will take another Western player here as they select Dillon Dube from the Kelowna Rockets. Dube is a speedy winger who ‘s a great skater, he plays a complete 200 foot game, works extremely hard all over the ice and is a playmaker with high with high IQ and plays in all scenarios. Will impress coaches and team mates with his hard work ethic and skills and should be a viable forward for the Flames.
27. Toronto (from Washington) (Ryan) – James Greenway, D, USNTDP (USHL) – This is a real boom/bust pick for Toronto. Generally a defensive defenceman, for the USNTDP, Greenway has some tools, which peek out once in a while that remind the viewer of Dustin Byfuglien. Greenway heads to Wisconsin to play for the Badgers next year.
28. Tampa Bay (Kevin) – Markus Niemelainen, D, Saginaw (OHL) – The Lightning follow trend here by taking another tower on defense. The Finnish defender Niemelainen is a smooth skating mobile defenseman that has great size and strength and is a solid 2 way defenseman.
29. St. Louis (Scott) – Keaton Middleton D Saginaw (OHL) St. Louis have always been big fans of tall defenseman in front of their net. Middleton is no exception as he stands at 6’5. He is built strong and has proven to be a capable defenseman who can close gaps and be a nightmare for forwards trying to get in front of the net. Offensively he is not gifted but he is a smooth puck handler that plays the game simple without making flashy plays.
30. San Jose (Jimmy) – Taylor Raddysh, RW, Erie (OHL) – Questions about his ability to produce without All-World prospects like Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat alongside him are quiet enough at this point for his high end production in his draft year, coupled with good acceleration, a plus shot and big, strong frame.
31. Pittsburgh (from Pittsburgh via Toronto) (Scott) – Jonathan Ang C, Peterborough (OHL) Ang is a fast skater that compliments the Penguin’s style of play. He proved in the 2015-16 playoffs that he can be a reliable offensive weapon when he had 9 points through 7 games. His defensive smarts are what make him even more valuable as his ability to locate the moving puck and disrupt the play against him and turning it back into an offensive transition for his team.