Scouching’s Complete 1st Round Mock Draft

The day is finally here. The 2017 NHL Draft order is finalized. Now that Phil Kessel is once again a Stanley Cup Champion, I can finally wrap a bow around my mock first round and look forward to the big weekend to come. I’d like to thank you all for the patience throughout this process. Three posts is two too many, but I get excited around draft time, and breaking up the draft into smaller digestible chunks seemed like the way to go. Luckily for you, this one will be short, as there are just four picks remaining.

First off, here’s a recap of where we’re at:

  1. New Jersey Devils – Nolan Patrick (C) – Brandon (WHL)

  2. Philadelphia Flyers – Nico Hischier (C) – Halifax (QMJHL)

  3. Dallas Stars – Casey Mittelstadt (C/LW) – Green Bay (USHL)

  4. Colorado Avalanche – Gabriel Vilardi (C) – Windsor (OHL)

  5. Vancouver Canucks – Elias Pettersson (C) – Timra (Allsvenskan)

  6. Vegas Golden Knights – Timothy Liljegren (D) – Rogle (SHL)

  7. Arizona Coyotes – Miro Heiskanen (D) – HIFK (SM-Liiga)

  8. Buffalo Sabres – Eeli Tolvanen (RW) – Sioux City (USHL)

  9. Detroit Red Wings – Martin Necas (C) – Brno (CZE-Extra)

  10. Florida Panthers – Cale Makar (D) – Brooks (AJHL)

  11. Los Angeles Kings – Michael Rasmussen (C) – Tri-City (WHL)

  12. Carolina Hurricanes – Owen Tippett (RW) – Mississauga (OHL)

  13. Winnipeg Jets – Juuso Valimaki (D) – Tri-City (WHL)

  14. Tampa Bay Lightning – Cody Glass (C) – Portland (WHL)

  15. New York Islanders – Nick Suzuki (C) – Owen Sound (OHL)

  16. Calgary Flames – Lias Andersson (C/LW) – HV71 (SHL)

  17. Toronto Maple Leafs – Erik Brannstrom (D) – HV71 (SHL)

  18. Boston Bruins – Ryan Poehling (C) – St. Cloud St. University (NCAA)

  19. San Jose Sharks – Kailer Yamamoto (RW) – Spokane (WHL)

  20. St. Louis Blues – Callan Foote (D) – Kelowna (WHL)

  21. New York Rangers – Kristian Vesalainen (LW/RW) – Frolunda (SHL)

  22. Edmonton Oilers – Nicolas Hague (D) – Mississauga (OHL)

  23. Arizona Coyotes – Isaac Ratcliffe (LW) – Guelph (OHL)

  24. Columbus Blue Jackets – Urho Vaakanainen (D) – JYP (SM-Liiga)

  25. Montreal Canadiens – Klim Kostin (RW) – Moscow (KHL)

  26. Chicago Blackhawks – Shane Bowers (C) – Waterloo (USHL)

  27. St. Louis Blues – Conor Timmins (D) – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)

  28. Ottawa Senators – Kole Lind (RW) – Kelowna (WHL)

    It’s around this point where I throw up my arms and have zero clue as to what direction these teams could go. It’ll come down to who likes whom, and my gut has Ottawa heading out west to take skilled winger Kole Lind. Ottawa is not shy of high-skill in the 1st round landing huge playmaker Logan Brown, CHL superstar puckmover Thomas Chabot, and recent NCAA addition Colin White in the last two seasons. Well over two primary points per hour at even strength, over a 30%INV, and a primary point on over 60% of goals scored while on the ice are all very promising signs. He isn’t the greatest skater, but his production is quite promising. From my limited viewings, he appears to be able to do it all. He can skate, shoot, pass, and has good vision of what’s going on on the ice. I never found myself particularly wowed by him, but he seems to simply get it done. An underrated metric of his is his ability to drive goal scoring as well as keep goals against relatively suppressed. In my Cat% metrics, he is a 53.6% boost offensively in goal scoring at even strength, and an 18% boost in goal scoring against, which is among the best of WHL prospects. His ceiling is high, but he could make a strong auxilliary scoring winger to add to a growing crop of talented young forwards in Ottawa.

  29. Dallas Stars – Jake Oettinger (G) – Boston University (NCAA)

    Usually you don’t draft on need, but with Dallas coming away with Mittelstadt early in the 1st, and with someone as talented as Jake Oettinger available at 29, Dallas can hopefully take another swing on a highly touted American goaltender. Jack Campbell fell flat on his face in Dallas after skipping on the NCAA to go to Windsor, and is only finding his feet at 26 years old in Los Angeles with the Ontario Reign. Oettinger’s pedigree is more attractive to me, however. As a young freshman, he has been lights out as Boston University’s goaltender, registering a .927 SPCT this year with 5 shutouts in 35 games. According to Rob Vollman’s definition of a Quality Start (SPCT>Season Average, or <.885 if 20 shots against or less) Oettinger managed a 54.3% QS rate, putting him right with Mike DiPietro’s 56% and man-on-my-radar Stephan Dhillon’s 50%. I always caution against drafting a goaltender in the 1st round, but with Dallas hitting a home run winning the lottery, and with a pick acquired for an expiring Patrick Eaves, they can afford to take a risk on an exceptionally talented NCAA freshman goaltender. He has a heck of a resume across multiple leagues, and as a supplementary first round pick, he’s a worthwhile experiment that could solidify the notoriously weak Dallas net in the near future.

  30. Nashville Predators – Jason Robertson (RW) – Kingston (OHL)

    I gave Nashville an “A” grade based on their draft last year, especially with reference to the defencemen they selected. I love what they’ve been able to put together, and clearly the system is there for Nashville to maximize a player’s potential judging by their Stanley Cup Final appearance. Names like Forsberg, Aberg, Fiala, Ellis, and Josi were focal points, and were largely developed in Nashville. Robertson is one of my favourites for this year. While he didn’t cross 2 even strength primary points per hour, Kingston was an absolutely anemic team offensively, and he still managed to register a 45%INV. The Over-40% club is an exclusive one, with just three other CHL players in that group: Nolan Patrick, Kailer Yamamoto and Nico Hischier. Furthermore, Robertson had a primary point on 73.6% of even strength goals scored while on the ice, which puts him in company with just one other draft eligible player across the CHL+USHL, the USDP’s Jacob Tortora. With nearly 10 even strength shots on goal per hour, and 12 expected NHL even strength goals this year, Robertson is a bonafide scorer. You may as how such a statistics darling could fall all the way to 31. His major weakness is his skating. He isn’t the fastest player around, and he takes a while to get to his top speed, but my line of thinking is, he still manages to produce at the rate he does, so he must be doing something right. The skating is something that can be worked on, and it will definitely need to be a focal point of his development, but his tools cannot be denied. He may be gone well before this pick, but if he’s there at 30, Nashville should jump at the chance to land such a skilled shooter.

  31. Pittsburgh Penguins – Alexey Lipanov (C) – Dynamo Balashikha (VHL)

    Repeating as Stanley Cup Champions in the salary cap era is a remarkable achievement. The only way they’ll be able to sustain this is by taking advantage of great young talent on ELC’s, and maximizing value at this pick will be vital. The Penguins are another team that are not shy of drafting raw skill throughout the draft. Jake Guentzel, Daniel Sprong, and Kasperi Kapanen, are all high-octane talents at varying levels of development, but they all are on promising trajectories. Lipanov may be one of the most underrated players in the entire draft, and my eye-test has been nothing but positive. His skating is exceptional, and his vision is great. His production in the VHL (Russia’s professional minor league) crossed 2 points per hour in all situations, which is among the best for all players, even when you include D+1 players like Andrei Altybarmakyan and Roman Krikunenko. He is decently sized, and has all the tools needed to become a steal in Pittsburgh. His shooting rate crossed 5 shots on goal per hour in all situations, putting him ahead of fellow VHL prospect Klim Kostin. His U18 was very promising visually, but it didn’t translate to the production I would have expected. He was doing all the right things, but the puck just wasn’t going in. It may be a few years before Lipanov can crack the lineup, but as a centre behind names like Crosby and Malkin, he could be a tremendous addition to Pittsburgh’s already excellent lineup.

 

There you have it, folks. My first ever mock first round completed. I imagine I’m completely wrong on a number of these picks, but it gives you a good rundown of what I think about players and the teams picking them. We’re just a week and a half away, and I’m counting down the days.

Be sure to give me a follow on Scouching where we can all yell and scream about teenagers together!

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