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.
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 2: Picks 16-31
#16 Calgary Flames: Lias Andersson, Centre
The Flames don’t have a 2nd or a 3rd round pick, so they are going to need to make this pick count. They go for the most talented player on the board, taking Swedish centre Lias Andersson. He is a strong skater, who plays the game with a non-stop motor, digging for loose pucks and trying to make plays in all three zones. Andersson also gets to the front of the net and plays in the dirty areas of the ice. He combines this all with the skill to create offense.
#17 Toronto Maple Leafs: Callan Foote, Defence
The Leafs have built an excellent group of young forwards, both at the NHL level and in the system. They also have good left-handed defencemen, but really need to add on to the right side. Inking Nikita Zaitsev to a seven-year deal helps, and here the Leafs get Callan Foote to build behind that. The son of Adam Foote, he brings more offense and puck movement than his father did, but does not have quite the same shut down defence and physicality. This is not to say he is bad in those areas, just that he does not live up to the level of his famous father.
#18 Boston Bruins: Ryan Poehling, Centre
The Bruins have built a strong system by loading up on picks in recent years. Poehling is a big and strong centre who plays the type of gritty game that exemplifies the Bruins style. He is also already a reliable defensive player at the NCAA level, even as a freshman. This two-way ability combines with his size to make for an attractive package.
#19 San Jose Sharks: Juuso Valimaki, Defence
The Sharks are another team who will be waiting for a while after making their first round pick. They do not own second, third, or fourth round draft picks. With this pick they take a talented Finnish defenceman who is already accustomed to playing a North American style of game. Valimaki put up 61 points in 60 games with Tri-City in the WHL this season.
#20 St. Louis Blues: Klim Kostin, Right Wing
The Blues have had some success with talented Russian wingers, and so are willing to take a chance on Klim Kostin despite issues with injuries and consistency during his draft year. Kostin is amongst the most purely skilled players in this draft, but is a real boom or bust pick. The Blues are a team willing to take the risk, with the hopes it turns into a high reward for them. With the Blues having two picks in the round, its easier for them to take this kind of chance.
#21 New York Rangers: Conor Timmins, Defence
The Rangers really saw the value in puck moving defencemen with the play of Brady Skjei this past season and playoffs. After years of seeing Marc Staal and Dan Girardi play huge minutes, Rangers management is being enlightened to see that mobility and puck skill on the back end are also important. Timmins fits the bill, and can also play a physical game in his own end.
#22 Edmonton Oilers: Nicolas Hague, Defence
Peter Chiarelli has done some really good things in building up the Oilers, especially on the back end. While ideally he would like a right handed defenceman, the size and skill of Hague is too much for him to pass up with this pick, as he continues to add to the blue line. Hague has been a force for the Mississauga Steelheads, helping them to the OHL Final.
#23 Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota Wild): Erik Brannstrom, Defence
Earlier Pick: Cody Glass
This pick was acquired in the Martin Hanzal trade. John Chayka continues to use an analytical, puck possession based approach to building his team. While Brannstrom is undersized, he is one of the most skilled offensive defencemen in the draft. His ability to control the play, and provide offense piques the Coyotes interest in the star Swedish defenceman.
#24 Columbus Blue Jackets: Robert Thomas, Centre
The Blue Jackets continue to build organizational depth down the middle, taking London Knights centre Robert Thomas. Getting help down the middle was a reason why they took Pierre-Luc Dubois one year ago. At this point there are questions if Dubois will be better as a centre or a winger going forward. General manager Jarmo Kekalainen looks to hedge his bets here by taking the best centre available at this point of the draft. Thomas has excellent hands and play making skill. He also plays a tenacious two-way game.
#25 Montreal Canadiens: Josh Norris, Centre
The pick of Thomas just one pick ahead of the Habs is a dagger to a team that must improve its centre situation at all levels of the organization. They now choose to go with US NTDP centre Norris. He is a very good play maker. His speed, changes of direction, and lateral agility allow him to open up passing lanes and get the puck through to his linemates. He has very good vision and hockey IQ, seeing plays develop and making smart plays. He is a bit of a project though, who must get stronger.
#26 Chicago Blackhawks: Jake Oettinger, Goaltender
The Blackhawks graduated a number of young prospects to the team this year. Strong drafting and the ability to sign undrafted free agents means that their system remains well stocked with forwards and defence. However, the Blackhawks really need a quality goalie prospect. They get the best goalie prospect in the draft in Boston University’s Jake Oettinger. He had stellar numbers as a freshman, and should be part of the U.S. World Junior team next season.
#27 St. Louis Blues (from Washington Capitals): Isaac Ratcliffe, Left Wing
Earlier Pick: Klim Kostin
This pick was acquired in the Kevin Shattenkirk trade. The Blues get a power forward prospect who combines great size, with excellent skating ability. Ratcliffe protects the puck well, and has good stick handling ability. He is strong down low, and works well in the cycle. He gets most of his points in close to the net, with the ability to tip-in pucks, bang in rebounds and finish plays close to the net.
#28 Nashville Predators: Kailer Yamamoto, Left Wing
Yamamoto may be only 5’9″, but he is blessed with pure skill. Yamamoto is a tremendous skater who creates odd-man rushes and scoring chances with his speed, and acceleration. He also has tremendous hands. He is a great stick handler and can bury goals in tight to the goalie. Yammamoto is an excellent play maker as well. This injection of up-tempo offence fits the Predators style under Peter Laviolette.
#29 Ottawa Senators: Urho Vaakanainen, Defence
The Senators have a very good stable of forward prospects. On defence they have a real blue-chipper in Thomas Chabot, but things thin out beyond that. In Vaakanainen, the Senators get a prospect with the ability to be a shut down defensive defenceman who complements Chabot’s high end offensive game nicely.
#30 Pittsburgh Penguins: Shane Bowers, Centre
The Penguins have had incredible playoff runs in recent years. Jim Rutherford continues to add skill to their lineup, and looks for the best player on the board. He takes a hard-working two-way centre, who can play a number of different situations for the team going forward. Bowers will take time to develop, but it is hoped he will eventually give the Penguins further depth and versatility.
#31 Dallas Stars (from Anaheim Ducks): Henri Jokiharju, Defence
Previous pick: Gabriel Vilardi
Dallas acquired this pick in the Patrick Eaves trade. The Stars took a power forward prospect with the third overall pick. However, they really need to address the defensive depth at some point in the draft. They take Jokiharju, who plays for the Portland Winterhawks, and continues our first round run on Finnish defencemen. After seeing all the defencemen drafted earlier, Jim Nill is pleased that he is still on the board, and is overjoyed to end the draft’s first day with a quality defender.
We’ll have a second round mock draft in a few weeks. For now though, we will continue our prospect profiles, with a new one out tomorrow.