Scouching’s 2017 Final Draft Rankings

Greetings Friend!

To start, I really dislike ranking NHL prospects. I find it unnecessarily nitpicky discussing who’s better than whom when it gets down to the details and it misses the whole point of the draft. Picking a good player is only the first step towards a successful career. What’s between their ears, where they play, who they play with, who’s coaching them, and how their progression is managed are just some of the extra factors that can make or break a career. The traditional stance is “pick who you like”, and every manager, scout, and coach will likely bring different opinions to the table. Some might be more legitimate than others, but no opinion should be ignored. To me, the draft is about taking players who are measurably talented today, with projectable NHL skills like creativity, intelligence, speed, an ability to move the puck and an ability to get the puck in the net one way or the other. If you can find players who excel in some or all of these skills, the rest of the journey is made easier ever so slightly. Drafting players who you hope gain these skills, but have assets such as size, strength, determination, leadership and work ethic is also potentially valid, but I’d argue that the “take who you like” mentality is more important in situations later on in the draft. It’s a discussion you have to have at the table when you see who’s left when you pick.

My angle when it comes to the draft is analytics. I do watch as much tape as I can find, but I rely more on measured on-ice performance. A player may pass the traditional eye test, but someone like me may have some questions about their actual measured play. The same goes in reverse as well. In my years of draft data, these two angles tend to go hand in hand more than usual. The metrics I use correlate pretty well to traditional scouts and their interpretations of a player and how they play. The guys ranked in the 1st round generally deserve to be there. The elite guys are absolutely deserving of being where they are in most cases. People like me can work hand in hand with traditional scouts to exactly identify what you’re getting in the player you’re drafting. Being able to interview these guys and see what kind of person you’re getting refines it further, and to be involved in that process would fascinate me.

The point of this preamble is to illustrate just how fuzzy and controversial ranking draft prospects can be, and how unnecessarily divisive it can get. My rankings are based mostly in how I evaluate statistics across multiple leagues, and how players actually have performed this year while on the ice. So yes, I’m succumbing to the norm by releasing a three-round ranking of this year’s draft, but after the cup is hoisted by either Phil Kessel or P.K. Subban, I’ll be releasing a tweaked version of this list that includes these 93 players split into five tiers, which should help form better discussions about who may be the guy you take over the guy you pass on, because it’s much more subjective than many make it out to be.

Without further ado, here are my Top 93 ranked players for the year, with the tiered rankings coming in the next few weeks. (D+1 )indicates undrafted 2016 prospects. If you’d like to see my current mock draft, which will also be completed after the cup final, click here. As always, you can yell and scream at my on Twitter @Scouching.

Rank Player Team League
1 Nico Hischier – C Halifax Mooseheads QMJHL
2 Nolan Patrick – C/RW Brandon Wheat Kings WHL
3 Elias Pettersson – C/LW Timra IK SWE-2
4 Gabriel Vilardi – C/LW Windsor Spitfires OHL
5 Miro Heiskanen – LD HIFK SM-LIIGA
6 Cody Glass – C Portland Winterhawks WHL
7 Owen Tippett – RW Mississauga Steelheads OHL
8 Casey Mittelstadt – C/LW Green Bay Gamblers USHL
9 Cale Makar – RD Brooks Bandits AJHL
10 Timothy Liljegren – RD Rogle BK SHL
11 Eeli Tolvanen – LW Sioux City Musketeers USHL
12 Nick Suzuki – C Owen Sound Attack OHL
13 Martin Necas – C HC Kometa Brno CZE-EXTRA
14 Jason Robertson – LW Kingston Frontenacs OHL
15 Juuso Valimaki – LD Tri-City Americans WHL
16 Lias Andersson – C/LW HV71 SHL
17 Erik Brannstrom – LD HV71 SHL
18 Conor Timmins – RD SSM Greyhounds OHL
19 Kristian Vesalainen – W Frolunda HC SHL
20 Kailer Yamamoto – C/LW Spokane Chiefs WHL
21 Nicolas Hague – LD Mississauga Steelheads OHL
22 Isaac Ratcliffe – LW Guelph Storm OHL
23 Ryan Poehling – C St. Cloud State University NCHC
24 Kole Lind – RW Kelowna Rockets WHL
25 Callan Foote – RD Kelowna Rockets WHL
26 Urho Vaakanainen – LD JYP SM-LIIGA
27 Jaret Anderson-Dolan – C Spokane Chiefs WHL
28 Robert Thomas – C London Knights OHL
29 Klim Kostin – RW Dynamo Balashikha VHL
30 Ivan Chekhovich – LW/C Baie-Comeau Drakkar QMJHL
31 Jesper Boqvist – C/W Brynas IK SHL
32 Jake Oettinger – G Boston University NCAA
33 Maxime Comtois – LW Victoriaville Tigres QMJHL
34 Michael Rasmussen – C Tri-City Americans WHL
35 Aleksi Heponiemi – C Swift Current Broncos WHL
36 Robin Salo – LD Sport SM-LIIGA
37 Grant Mismash – C USA U-18 USDP
38 Austen Keating – C Ottawa 67s OHL
39 Evan Barratt – C USA U-18 USDP
40 Michael DiPietro – G Windsor Spitfires OHL
41 Markus Phillips – LD Owen Sound Attack OHL
42 Josh Norris – C USA U-18 USDP
43 Macauley Carson – LW Sudbury Wolves OHL
44 Vanya Lodnia – RW Erie Otters OHL
45 Shane Bowers – C Waterloo Black Hawks USHL
46 Henri Jokiharju – RD Portland Winterhawks WHL
47 Artyom Minulin – RD Swift Current Broncos WHL
48 Marcus Davidsson – C/W Djurgardens IF SHL
49 Scott Reedy – C/W USA U-18 USDP
50 Antoine Morand – C Acadie-Bathurst Titan QMJHL
51 Nikita Popugayev – W Prince George Cougars WHL
52 Noel Hoefenmayer – LD Ottawa 67s OHL
53 Alexey Lipanov – C Dynamo Balashikha VHL
54 Joni Ikonen – C/RW Frolunda U20 SWE-U20
55 Igor Shvyryov – C Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk MHL
56 Kirill Ustimenko – G MHK Dynamo St. Petersburg MHL
57 Lukas Elvenes – RW Rogle BK U20 SWE-U20
58 Joel Teasdale – C Blainville-Boisbirand Armada QMJHL
59 Eemeli Rasanen – RD Kingston Frontenacs OHL
60 Jonah Gadjovich – LW Owen Sound Attack OHL
61 Mason Shaw – C Medicine Hat Tigers WHL
62 David Farrance – LD USA U-18 USDP
63 Cale Fleury – RD Kootenay Ice WHL
64 Jacob Tortora – LW USA U-18 USDP
65 Kyle Olson – C/RW Tri-City Americans WHL
66 Josh Brook – RD Moose Jaw Warriors WHL
67 Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen – G HPK FIN-U20
68 Linus Nyman – LW Kingston Frontenacs OHL
69 Ostap Safin – F HC Sparta Praha U20 CZE-U20
70 Stelio Mattheos – C Brandon Wheat Kings WHL
71 Matthew Strome – LW Hamilton Bulldogs OHL
72 Scooter Brickey – RD Des Moines Buccaneers USHL
73 Emil Bemstrom – C/RW Leksands IF U20 SWE-U20
74 Ivan Kosorenkov – RW Victoriaville Tigres QMJHL
75 Kirill Maksimov – LW Niagara IceDogs OHL
76 Mackenzie Entwistle – C/RW Hamilton Bulldogs OHL
77 Alexander Chmelevski – C Ottawa 67s OHL
78 Zach Gallant – C Peterborough Petes OHL
79 Emil Oksanen – W Espoo United FIN-2
80 Morgan Geekie – C/RW Tri-City Americans WHL
81 Nicholas Campoli – C North York Rangers OJHL
82 Denis Mikhnin – RW Rimouski Oceanic QMJHL
83 Ben Jones – C Niagara IceDogs OHL
84 Patrick Khodorenko – C Michigan State U Big-10
85 Drake Rymsha – C Sarnia Sting OHL
86 Morgan Frost – C SSM Greyhounds OHL
87 Jesse Koskenkorva – C Karpat U20 FIN-U20
88 Andrei Altybarmakyan – F SKA-Neva St. Petersburg VHL
89 Tyler Steenbergen – C Swift Current Broncos WHL
90 Sam Huff – C Maple Grove High USHS
91 Cole Guttman – C Dubuque Fighting Saints USHL
92 Lane Zablocki – C Red Deer Rebels WHL
93 Juho Korhonen – D Karpat U20 FIN-U20
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