2017 NHL Mock Draft – January 11th

With one of the biggest draft stages in the eye of public behind us in the 2017 World Junior Championships, it’s a perfect time to look forward to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in June to see where these top prospects may land. Before we get into the nitty gritty, a few notes:

– I think I speak for everyone in regards to Swiss center Nico Hischier when I say just very simply, “Wow.” The young center has been playing at a torrid pace for the Mooseheads this season, leading the QMJHL in points per game, and he really showed his stuff at the World Juniors for Switzerland. We saw the hallmarks of his game – speed, skill, and intelligence – in a performance that nearly single-handedly clinched the Swiss a semi-final berth. The World Juniors is not the end all for draft position, but couple what Hischier did with what he’s doing so far in Halifax, and he’s considered right up there with Nolan Patrick and Timothy Liljegren for that 1st Overall spot in June.

– Speaking of the World Juniors, how about Finland? That team just never really came together despite on paper having a very skilled, albeit young, roster. However, Sioux City winger Eeli Tolvanen was able to overcome his team’s adversity to put up a very impressive performance for Finland. The 17 year old winger led his team in scoring with a point per game pace, and reaffirmed why he’ll easily be a Top 10 pick in June. Elite package of skill and goal scoring ability, there’s no doubt about that.

– There are three defensemen listed below that were also apart of this year’s Finland team – Juuso Valimaki, Urho Vaakanainen, and Miro Heiskanen. None of them set the tournament on fire with their play, but that doesn’t take away from what they’ve done individually for their clubs this season. All three are very talented and composed blue liners, and I particularly admire what Juuso Valimaki has done in Tri-City this year. Out of all Finnish born defenseman in this draft, which there are 4 alone that could go in the 1st Round, the one with the most offensive punch is easily Valimaki, and in a league that moving towards skill, speed, and puck possession, I see him as a prized commodity in today’s NHL.

– As it always is, the top defensemen in this draft is quite a debate. There’s a clear #1 in Timothy Liljegren, but after that you won’t find a real consensus 2nd best defenseman in this draft among all scouts and writers. My personal favorite is Steelheads defenseman Nicolas Hague, who I can describe best as a left handed Dougie Hamilton. 6’6″ defensemen with his offensive punch are hard to find, and I imagine NHL clubs salivating at the chance to have him on their blue line.

– One defenseman that really exploded up the draft rankings was Brooks Bandits defenseman Cale Makar in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. Makar has a somewhat smaller frame at 5’10”, but he turned a lot of heads with his offensive firepower at the U19’s where he captained the Canada West team. He’s a lock to go in the 1st Round, the question is just where. I’m of the opinion that NHL clubs will favor more versatile and sizable options first, but his raw skill could easily propel him to the mid-teens in June. The Calgary native is committed to play for UMass Amherst in the NCAA next year.

Draft order based on NHL Standings as of January 11, 2017

1.  – Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon (WHL)
Season Stats: 6 GP, 4 G, 5 A, 9 P, +4, 8 PIM
2.  – Timothy Liljegren, D, Timra (SWE-2)
Season Stats: 3 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, -2, 2 PIM
3.  – Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
Season Stats: 33 GP, 26 G, 28 A, 54 P, +17, 14 PIM
2017 WJC (SUI): 5 GP, 4 G, 3 A, 7 P, -1, 2 PIM
4.  – Casey Mittelstadt, C/LW, Eden Prairie (USHS)
Season Stats: 13 GP, 10 G, 15 A, 25 P, 2 PIM
5.  – Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor (OHL)
Season Stats: 22 GP, 14 G, 17 A, 31 P, +13, 8 PIM
6.  – Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City (WHL)
Season Stats: 44 GP, 29 G, 19 A, 48 P, -9, 44 PIM
7.  – Nicolas Hague, D, Missisauga (OHL)
Season Stats: 38 GP, 14 G, 17 A, 31 P, +7, 66 PIM
8.  – Cal Foote, D, Kelowna (WHL)
Season Stats: 42 GP, 3 G, 27 A, 30 P, +13, 24 PIM
9.  – Eeli Tolvanen, LW, Sioux City (USHL)
Season Stats: 23 GP, 16 G, 11 A, 27 P, +9, 8 PIM
2017 WJC (FIN): 6 GP, 2 G, 4 A, 6 P, -1, 2 PIM
10.  – Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
Season Stats: 39 GP, 33 G, 19 A, 52 P, +11, 20 PIM
11.  – Kristian Vesalainen, LW/RW, HPK (FIN)
Season Stats: 9 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 P, -1, 0 PIM
2017 WJC (FIN): 6 GP, 1 G, 1 A, 2 P, -4, 0 PIM
12.  – Elias Pettersson, C, Timra (SWE-2)
Season Stats: 27 GP, 12 G, 15 A, 27 P, +6, 8 PIM
2017 WJC (SWE): 6 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, +1, 0 PIM
13.  – Klim Kostin, RW, Dynamo Balashikha (VHL)
Season Stats: 9 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 P, -1, 4 PIM
14.  – Juuso Välimäki, D, Tri-City (WHL)
Season Stats: 35 GP, 12 G, 26 A, 38 P, +2, 24 PIM
2017 WJC (FIN): 6 GP, 2 G, 0 A, 2 P, +1, 6 PIM
15.  – Kailer Yamamoto, C/W, Spokane (WHL)
Season Stats: 35 GP, 25 G, 29 A, 54 P, +13, 20 PIM
16.  – Nikita Popugaev, RW, Prince George (WHL)
Season Stats: 43 GP, 23 G, 30 A, 53 P, +4, 14 PIM
17.  – Lias Andersson, C/LW, HV-71 (SWE)
Season Stats: 24 GP, 5 G, 4 A, 9 P, +9, 16 PIM
2017 WJC (SWE): 7 GP, 3 G, 0 A, 3 P, +2, 6 PIM
18.  – Urho Vaakanainen, D, JYP (FIN)
Season Stats: 23 GP, 2 G, 1 A, 3 P, -5, 12 PIM
2017 WJC (FIN): 6 GP, 1 G, 0 A, 1 P, -2, 4 PIM
19.  – Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (FIN)
Season Stats: 25 GP, 3 G, 4 A, 7 P, +8, 2 PIM
2017 WJC (FIN): 6 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, -2, 0 PIM
20.  – Maxime Comtois, C/LW, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
Season Stats: 41 GP, 13 G, 17 A, 30 P, -7, 48 PIM
21.  – Erik Brannstrom, D, HV-71 (SWE)
Season Stats: 18 GP, 0 G, 1 A, 1 P, +2, 2 PIM
22.  – Robin Salo, D, Sport (FIN)
Season Stats: 32 GP, 1 G, 9 A, 10 P, +2, 8 PIM
23.  – Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL)
Season Stats: 40 GP, 20 G, 33 A, 53 P, +23, 22 PIM
24.  – Artem Minulin, D, Swift Current (WHL)
Season Stats: 41 GP, 7 G, 25 A, 32 P, +9, 12 PIM
25.  – Jesper Boqvist, C, Timra (SWE-2)
Season Stats: 19 GP, 3 G, 9 A, 12 P, E, 0 PIM
26.  – Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCHC)
Season Stats: 19 GP, 4 G, 3 A, 7 P, -4, 8 PIM
27.  – Martin Necas, C/RW, Kometa Brno (CZE)
Season Stats: 30 GP, 6 G, 7 A, 13 P, +2, 4 PIM
28.  – Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL)
Season Stats: 32 GP, 12 G, 31 A, 43 P, 8 PIM
29.  – Matthew Strome, LW, Hamilton (OHL)
Season Stats: 39 GP, 20 G, 15 A, 35 P, +7, 38 PIM
30.  – Jake Oettinger, G, Boston University (H-EAST)
Season Stats: 16 GP, 1.94 GAA, .930 SV%
31.  – Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL)
Season Stats: 40 GP, 22 G, 30 A, 52 P, +25, 8 PIM

No 1st Round Picks have been dealt.
________________________________________________________

For more from this writer, follow on Twitter @BHolmes_Hockey

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