Good morning! I have posted mock drafts in the past before, but this year is the first where I am confident enough in my number of viewings that I can give a firm ranking of my own. As you see, I have bias for the first round; for anyone beyond that, just ask and I will give you my take. Again, to emphasize, these are drank rankings, not a mock draft. I know I'm not the most eloquent writer, but on the other hand, you're not paying twenty bucks for it.
1. LD Rasmus Dahlin, Frolunda HC (SHL)
I’m kind of going to save my breath on the top two because 31 write ups is a lot of write ups. I generally shy from taking a defenseman first overall because of the inherent volatility, but Dahlin's year was historic enough to justify it.
2. RW Andrei Svechnikov, Barrie Colts (OHL)
Only question left for me is Calder finalist or Calder winner
3. LW Filip Zadina, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
I don't have Zadina here in my mock draft (coming next week), but there is enough that I like about his game to put him at 3 for me. While he lacks Svechnikov's complete game and high-end vision, he might have a slightly better shot, which would be second only to Wahlstrom. Zadina can dance around defenders with NHL-grade dekes, memorably making several top prospects look foolish at the U20s. Better still, he uses his size to shield the puck so he's not as dependent on open ice as some of the other skill forwards.
4. LD Quinn Hughes, Michigan Wolverines (NCAA)
Hughes would already rank among the NHL's best-skating defenseman if he strapped them on today. Not only is he lightning fast with a powerful acceleration, but he is constantly able to fool forecheckers with his nimble puck-handling. By the end of the year, Michigan was basically running their offense through him, which is unheard of for a barely-18 year old freshman. True, size will never not an issue with him, but he took a few big men for surprise at the WCs.
5. LW Brady Tkachuk, Boston University Terriers (NCAA)
Tkachuk is fun to watch. He plays tenaciously and harasses his collegiate opponents into making errors. Brady was a powerhouse for the USA at the U20s, and I don't think that his numbers at BC quite reflected how well he was playing. He's a true power forward who can already use his frame to outmatch men to get to prime scoring areas, yet is cerebral enough to not have to rely on his size to make an impact.
6. RW Oliver Wahlstrom, Team USA (NTDP) to Boston College Eagles (NCAA)
No one really doubts that Wahlstrom has the best shot in this draft. It's not just that it is powerful--Wahlstrom is a creative scorer who excels at getting to the prime areas to score. This is thanks in part to a strong stride which helps him to establish his game in the offensive zone. Wahlstrom also isn't too bad in the defensive end, though I also wouldn't call it a strength.
7. C/LW Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Assat (Liiga)
Like Tkachuk, Kotkaniemi is also fun to watch, but for completely different reasons. When he is on his game. His lightning-fast hands allow him to do all sorts of trickery with the puck and make him deadly as both a scorer and playmaker. He has good offensive instincts has little trouble getting to the net, even against Liiga pros. He defense leaves a lot to be desired, and I don't really see him as a center in the NHL, but he uses his size well on the offense and should be a regular point producer.
8. RW Vitali Kravtsov, Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)
Kravtsov did some astounding things in the KHL playoffs, but what makes him stand out is not *that* he scored all those points, but *how*. You wouldn't think he was 6'2" with the way he can burst ahead of defenders in the world's second-best league. He features a wicked and illusive wrist shot and enough creativity to set up him teammates.
9. RD Noah Dobson, Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
Dobson has a impressive stride for a 6'3" defender and is a nice mix of offense and defense. While he isn't among the elite as far as IQ and playmaking, it's still a strength. Dobson loves to put the puck on net and has a decent shot, though sometimes I think he shoots at the expense of a better play elsewhere. His size makes opponent reluctant to challenge him, but I wish he would use it a bit more to force turnovers. I'm not sure he's going to be anyone's franchise guy, but there's enough to like as a 2 or 3 to justify a top 10 pick.
10. LD K’Andre Miller, Team USA (NTDP) to University of Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA)
The hill I'm willing to die on. Miller is often a treat to watch, able to fly up the ice despite his large frame. What stands out to me about him the most, though, is his vision and playmaking skills. He might have the hardest pass in the draft and is particularly deadly in transition, when he was frequently able to feed Hughes or Wahlstrom from half a rink away. Obviously his late transition to defense has led to the occasional struggle with positioning, but he's headed to a fine program at Wisconsin and I don't think its unreasonable to think he could be the second- or third-best defenseman in this draft.
11. RD Evan Bouchard, London Knights (OHL)
Bouchard is a well-conditioned athlete who, indeed, lacks that top gear that most top defensive prospects have. That said, he's still a strong skater who has high-end playmaking skills and can feed a breaking forward with ease. Bouchard has a fiesty wrister and remarkable puck control. He needs to step up his aggressiveness in the defensive zone because crease clearing will be a major part of his future.
12. LD Ty Smith, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Smith is an offensive machine who is probably second only to Merkley in terms of playmaking skills among defensemen. Unlike many of the other offensive D in this class, though, Smith excels at creating ice for himself and getting into the slot. I worry a bit about this translating, though, as his size is a hindrance in the other zones. His defensive positioning is good, but he is slow to adapt to his opponents--Wahlstrom and Hughes ate him alive at the U18s.
13. RD Adam Boqvist, Brynas IF (SuperElit/SHL)
Boqvist is a highly skilled defenseman who I worry might have issue translating to the pro level. He'll amaze you one shift with his ability to create open ice for himself (and his stellar shot), and then overestimate himself the next by instigating a physical battle he can't win at his size.
14. RW Jonatan Berggren, Skelleftea AIK (SuperElit/SHL)
I've been annoying fellow Hawks fans most of the year about how much I like this guy. Berggren demolished the Swedish U20 circuit this year, topping the league in points with a 17-point gap between him and his nearest teammate. He's a nimble skater who is capable of a solid burst of speed. He has a nice wrister and shows a good instinct for getting into scoring areas.
15. C Isac Lundestrom, Lulea (SHL)
Lundestrom isn't the most thrilling prospect, but I don't think that his drop in most mocks is justified. Lundestrom is a smart player with a good burst of speed who gave Lulea solid play on both ends of the ice. His keen awareness of his teammates make him a strong playmaker and he has pretty good hands to deke when he needs to fool a defender. He has one of the highest floors of any player this year, even if his ceiling might not blow people away.
16. Serron Noel, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
I liked Noel throughout the year, where he was second only to Svechnikov in 5v5 rate stats among FYE forwards in the OHL, but he won me with his U18 performance, where I thought he was Canada's top eligible forward. He definitely plays too conservative a game for his size, which could definitely be a hindrance down the road, but I feel like that is something that can be "fixed" relatively easy compared to other traits. He moves fluidly for a big man.
17. RW Dominik Bokk, Vaxjo Lakers HC (SuperElit/SHL)
Bokk excites me as a prospect. In his first year in high-end competition, Bokk was able to make an immediate impact in the Swedish J20s, earning himself some time with his SHL club. The rawness of his game gives more room to grow, which is a great sign given his already swift hands. Skating still needs some work, but there is a lot to like.
18. LD Rasmus Sandin, Rogle BK (SHL)/Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
A smart defenseman with a big shot, Sandin is patient and picks his chances well. He doesn't have elite speed, but is a good puck-mover nonetheless. Sandin is excellent under pressure and isn't afraid to battle for pucks. Obviously he was on a powerhouse team, but his season was really impressive for a player who never played in North America before--and he just seemed to get better as the year went on.
19. C Ty Dellandrea, Flint Firebirds (OHL)
Partially a victim of his team's mediocrity (thanks to their idiot owner), Dellandrea is a well-rounded forward with a nasty shot. Dellandrea plays a hard-nosed game, willing to fight to get to the prime scoring areas, but also has superb puck control when he's the handler. I wouldn't say he has high-end top speed, but he accelerates well.
20. C Jake Wise, Team USA (NTDP) to Boston University Terriers (NCAA)
Some of the lustre may be gone from the super-prospect, but Wise still has the tools to be a strong first-round selection. His speed isn't gamebreaking, but he is a high-level playmaker who excels at feeding teammates in the slot. Wise is also very solid defensively, capable of harassing forecheckers and then turning around play in transition. While only 5'10", Wise has a good, sturdy frame.
21. RD Ryan Merkley, Guelph Storm (OHL)
A tough guy to place. It's pretty hard to ignore his superhuman playmaking skills--he can finesse a puck right on the tape of a teammate in close and under coverage. He has good top-end speed and can easily create ice for himself. You know most of the warts. He plays as if he is too good for a mediocre team in Guelph and isn't willing to challenge opponents at the blueline. That playmaking, though…
22. C Barrett Hayton, Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds (OHL)
Hayton may not be the Patrice Bergeron he was billed to be, but he's still the best defensive player in the draft and it doesn't come at the expense of too much offense. He has great hand-eye, though I think he will feature as more of a playmaker down the road.
23. RW Jesse Ylonen, Espoo United (Mestis) to Pelicans (Liiga)
The Pride of Scottsdale, Arizona, Ylonen is unfortunately a difficult prospect to follow, playing in the second-tier Finnish pro league and furthermore ineligible for U18 events this year. That said, he was terrific in last year's U18s and this year's U19 and U20 5 Nations. Ylonen is a high-end skater who is aggressive on the puck. His offensive skills are well-rounded with a particularly nice wrist shot. He still needs to fill out, but I think that he'll surprise with Pelicans next year.
24. LW Joel Farabee, Team USA (NTDP) to Boston University Terriers (NCAA)
Farabee was a favorite of myself (and many others it seems) for the USA this year. He is relentlessly aggressive on the puck and can use his quickness and tenacity to force turnovers. That said, as much as I love his style, he generally lacks in other high-end traits. I think that he will be excellent for BU but might only top out as a middle six guy in the bigs.
25. RD Calen Addison, Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)
Addison is a powerplay QB with a nasty wrister. He's a smart puck distributor, though he doesn't quite have the vision or playmaking abilities that some of the others in this class do. He's a very good skater who was a top-flight puck mover for Lethbridge. Addison struggled with his size much more than some of the other smaller D this year, but he still has intriguing upside.
26. LD Nicolas Beaudin, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
Beaudin hasn't received much love because he's *another* small-ish defenseman this year. However, I think that he has a really keen eye for the game and is great at establishing scoring opportunities for his forwards. Beaudin excelled as the QB of the Drummondville powerplay, but will definitely need to bulk up.
27. C Joe Veleno, Drummondville Voltigeurs (QMJHL)
I want to want Veleno so much more than I do. There's no question that he is a sublime skater for his size, but his shot (which he seems kind of shy about) is slow and deliberate and I'm not sure it can translate at the next level. He has really good instincts in the offensive zone, but I usually found myself wanting more out of him in the defensive zone
28. C Rasmus Kupari, Karpat (Liiga)
While it's true that Kotkaniemi kind of left him in the dust, Kupari is still a promising player who made the most of the opportunities he was given on a deeper (league champion) Karpat club. He's a particularly strong defensive player, and forced his opponent into a lot of bad shots, protecting the slot. He's also good in transition, owing to his sleek stride, but is too passive in the offensive zone. He has some good tools there, so maybe there's hope of turning it around there with more offensive-oriented linemates.
29. LW Filip Hallander, Timra IK (Allsvenskan) to Timra IK (SHL)
Hallander is a likable do-it-all forward who controls the puck well and has great vision on the ice. He has a fairly heavy shot, but I haven't seen much creativity with it. Instead, he'll be a playmaker at the NHL level with nice two-way play. He also doesn't shy away from the tough areas, though he'll need more bulk if that's to be his game.
30. LD Jonny Tychonick, Penticton Vees (BCHL) to University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks (NCAA)
Tychonick is a smart defenseman with a BIG personality. While I wouldn't say he has high-end speed, he impresses his ability to quickly accelerate. He definitely needs to add more strength to win puck battles, but a few years at North Dakota playing against men should help.
31. LW Grigori Denisenko, Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)/Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (KHL)
Denisenko is one of the best puck protectors in the draft; once has had the puck settled, MHLers had little choice but to wait for his next move. While he excels at making crisp passes, his shot is underwhelming. He was pretty good at challenging puckholders, using his nimble hands to knock the puck loose, but he'll have more problems with that at his size at higher levels.
32. C Akil Thomas, Niagara Ice Dogs (OHL)
33. C Ryan McLeod, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
34. LW Kirill Marchenko, Mamonty Yugry (MHL) to SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (KHL)
35. RW Niklas Nordgren, HIFK (Jr. A/Liiga)
36. C Ivan Morozov, Mamonty Yugry (MHL) to SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (KHL)
37. C Logan Hutsko, Boston College Eagles (NCAA)
38. C Jacob Olofsson, Timra IK (Allsvenskan) to Timra IK (SHL)
39. LD Alexander Alexeyev, Red Deer Rebels (WHL)
40. LW Jakub Lauko, Piráti Chomutov (Czech)
41. RD Bode Wilde, Team USA (NTDP) to University of Michigan Wolverines (NCAA)
42. RW Ruslan Iskhakov, Krasnaya Armiya Moskva (MHL)
43. RW Martin Kaut, HC Dynamo Pardubice (Czech)
44. C Jan Jenik, HC Benatky nad Jizerou (Czech2)/Bili Tygri Liberec (Czech)
45. C Jay O'Brien, Thayer Academy (USHS-MA) to Providence Friars (NCAA)
46. C Alexander Khovanov, Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
47. LD Filip Kral, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
48. LW Cole Fonstad, Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)
49. C David Gustafsson, HV71 (SHL)
50. RD Joey Keane, Barrie Colts (OHL)
51. C Cam Hillis, Guelph Storm (OHL)
52. LW Tyler Weiss, Team USA (NTDP) to University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks (NCAA)
53. C Allan McShane, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
54. LD Slava Demin, Wenatchee Wild (BCHL) to University of Denver Pioneers (NCAA)
55. LW Alex Steeves, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) to University of Notre Dame Fighting Irish (NCAA)
56. RD Ty Emberson, Team USA (NTDP) to University of Wisconsin Badgers (NCAA)
57. C Jack McBain, Toronto Jr. Canadiens (OJHL) to Boston College Eagles (NCAA)
58. RD Nils Lundkvist, Lulua HF (SuperElit/SHL)
59. LD Mattias Samuelsson, Team USA (NTDP) to Western Michigan University Broncos (NCAA)
60. LW Oliver Okuliar, HK Dukla Trencin U20 (Slovakia U20)
61. RW Albin Eriksson, Skelleftea AIK (SuperElit/SHL)
62. C Oscar Back, Farjestad BK (SuperElit/SHL)
63. LW Johnny Gruden, Team USA (NTDP) to Miami University Redhawks (NCAA)
64. LD Toni Utunen, LeKi (Mestis)/Tappara (Liiga)
65. LW Gabriel Fortier, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
66. C Kristian Tanus, Tappara U20 (Jr. A SM-liiga)
67. LD Martin Fehervary, IK Oskarshamn (Allsvenskan)/HV71 (SHL)
68. LD Scott Perunovich, University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs (NCAA)
69. LD Jared McIsaac, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
70. LD Danila Galenyuk, SKA St. Petersburg (MHL/KHL)
71. RW Matej Pekar, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) to Miami University Redbirds (NCAA)
72. C Liam Foudy, London Knights (OHL)
73. RD Jacob Bernard-Docker, Okotoks Oilers (AJHL) to University of North Dakota Hawks (NCAA)
74. C Jachym Kondelik, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL) to University of Connecticut Huskies (NCAA)
75. LW Philipp Kurashev, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
76. C Curtis Douglas, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
77. G Jakub Skarek, HC Dukla Jihlava (Czech)
78. C Kyle Topping, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
79. C Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, Peterborough Petes (OHL)
80. RD Jett Woo, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
81. RW Marcus Karlberg, Leksands IF (Allsvenskan)
82. LW Bulat Shafigullin, Neftekhimik Nizhnekamsk (MHL/KHL)
83. RD Sean Durzi, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
84. RW Nikolai Kovalenko, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (MHL/KHL)
85. C Matthew Struthers, North Bay Battalion (OHL)
86. LW Justin Almeida, Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
87. LD Mike Callahan, Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) to Providence College Friars (NCAA)
88. RD Matthew Kellenberger, Oakville Blades (OJHL) to Princeton University Tigers (NCAA)
89. LW Marcus Westfalt, Brynas IF (SuperElit/SHL)
90. LD Danila Zhuravlyov, Irbis Kazan (MHL)
91. LW Adam Mascherin, Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
92. LW Blake McLaughlin, Chicago Steel (USHL)
93. C Milos Roman, Vancouver Giants (WHL)