Top 15 Mock Draft – Wes Herrmann

By: Wes Herrmann (@Wes_Herrm)

A couple weeks ago, Brandon Murphy went over his top 15 picks for Philly Is Flyer in this year’s draft. Today, it’s my turn and the draft is less than a week away. So read on to see if the Flyers get Nolan Patrick or Nico Hischier and how the rest of this tight draft fills out.

devils.png1- New-Jersey Devils

  • Pick: Nolan Patrick – C – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
  • Shoots: Right
  • Size: 6’3″ – 198 lbs

Devils really can’t go wrong taking Patrick or Nico Hischier with the first pick, but going with the player who has been the projected number one pick for over a year is the smart way to go. Patrick’s biggest concern were injuries, but a lot of that has been erased after the draft combine.

He played just 33 games for the Wheat Kings this season due to those injuries, but recorded 46 points. The season prior, he had 102 in 72 contests. The Manitoba native is big and a strong two-way player that any team could use and has often been referred to as “Jonathan Toews-lite.”

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2- Philadelphia Flyers

  • Pick: Nico Hischier – C – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
  • Shoots: Left
  • Size: 6’0″ – 179 lbs

The Flyers’ job couldn’t be any easier here. They’ll take Hischier, and even though they’d be happy with either Patrick or Hischier, the Switzerland native is the player they should be taking. Hischier is a better offensive specimen with more flash and speed. Patrick is a big body with plenty of all-around talent, which Philly has in lesser fashion in Sean Couturier.

Hischier scored 86 points in 57 games for the Mooseheads this year and had one of the most impressive performances at the World Junior Championships. There’s no way Philly walks away unhappy on draft day.

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3- Dallas Stars

  • Pick: Cale Makar – D – Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
  • Shoots: Right
  • Size: 5’11” – 179 lbs

I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the Stars trade out of this spot, and even if they do, Makar could be the one taken here. According to many pundits, the defenseman headed to UMass next year is rising as the draft nears.

Makar isn’t big for a blueliner by any means — 5’11” isn’t at the top at general manager’s lists, but that likely won’t be stopping them from selecting Makar. In Canadian Junior A, the Alberta native had 75 points in 54 games and is a great skater.

COL

4- Colorado Avalanche

  • Pick: Gabriel Vilardi – C/RW – Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
  • Shoots: Right
  • Size: 6’2″ – 192 lbs.

After losing out on not only the first overall pick, but also the top three, the Avalanche will be ecstatic if Vilardi falls to them at fourth overall. The forward has long been considered a consensus top-three pick in this year’s draft.

Vilardi has nice size at 6’2″, but still needs to fill out his frame. However, that didn’t slow his offensive game when he led the Spitfires to the Memorial Cup this past season. He paced the team with 61 points, including 29 goals, in just 49 games. One area of concern is his skating, which sometimes takes players a little bit to work out.

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5- Vancouver Canucks

  • Pick: Cody Glass – C – Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
  • Shoots: Right
  • Size: 6’2″ – 179 lbs

Glass is one of the toughest competitors at the top of this year’s draft, a trait that has always been appreciated in Vancouver. He’s also a great defensive player and passer. Though, will probably never be a first-line center.

The Winnipeg native has risen all year with added responsibility from the Winterhawks, which worked out well for the team. Glass scored 94 points, 62 of them assists and his coach, Mike Johnston, compared him to Nashville Predator Ryan Johansen.

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6- Vegas Golden Knights

  • Pick: Miro Heiskanen – D – HIFK (SM-Liiga)
  • Shoots: Left
  • Size: 6’0″ – 172 lbs

Nothing wrong with taking a potential franchise defenseman as your organization’s first draft pick. Heiskanen has that potential and is battling Makar as being the best defenseman in this draft.

Heiskanen’s resume includes an impressive silver medal at the U-18 World Juniors and has been called the “most complete defenseman in the draft.” As a 17 year old, Heiskanen played 37 games in the top Finnish league. If I believed some of the teams in front of Vegas didn’t want forwards, Heiskanen could have gone higher.

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7- Arizona Coyotes

  • Pick: Owen Tippett – RW – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
  • Shoots: Right
  • Size: 6’2″ – 203 lbs

If you’re looking for goal scoring, Tippett is your guy. If you’re looking for an all-around player, you’re going to want to look elsewhere.

The right winger is maybe the best goal-scorer in this year’s draft with 44 markers last season, but his lack of defensive awareness and work ethic questions have undoubtedly caused him to drop. The Coyotes, though, have plenty of prospects, specifically centers with play-making ability, that allows them to groom and grow a prospect like Tippett.

BUF

8- Buffalo Sabres

  • Pick: Casey Mittelstadt – C/LW – Eden Prarie High (USHS)/Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
  • Shoots: Left
  • Size: 6’1″ – 201 lbs

The first American taken off the board, Mittelstadt has become infamous as the prospect that couldn’t do one pull-up at the Draft Combine. Despite that, his skating ability and skill still has him ranked high in this year’s draft.

The Minnesota native split last season between high school hockey and the USHL, a very strange rout for a top prospect. That isn’t scaring scouts, though, and Mittlestadt produced with the Gamblers, recording 30 points in 24 games.

I’m not as high on Mittelstadt, but most rankings have him higher than eighth. Don’t be surprised if that does come true.

DET

9- Detroit Red Wings

  • Pick: Elias Pettersson – C – Timra IK (SWE)
  • Shoots: Left
  • Size: 6’2″ – 161 lbs

Pettersson is ranked all over the place. As low as 20th by ISS and as high as fifth by Hockeyprospect.com. Scouts like his complete game and size, but don’t like his slim frame and weak resume.

The Red Wings love their Swedes, and Pettersson has been compared to Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg. There doesn’t seem to be a more perfect fit in this draft, but Pettersson does need to prove himself next year in the Swedish Hockey League.

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10- Florida Panthers

  • Pick: Timothy Liljegren – D – Rogle BK (SHL)
  • Shoots: Right
  • Size: 6’0″ – 192 lbs

A year ago, Liljegren was projected to go second overall. On Friday, he may fall into the double-digits as a draft pick.

After playing 19 games in the SHL in 2015-16, Liljegren was expected to take an even bigger step forward. He managed just the same amount of games in the SHL and scored at a lower rate in the SuperElit.

When he’s on his game, though, the Swede can make an impact. The Panthers have young players contributing at both offense and defense and can afford to take a small risk with a higher reward with the 10th pick.

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11- Los Angeles Kings

  • Pick: Martin Necas – C – HC Kometa Brno (Czech)
  • Shoots: Right
  • Size: 6’0″ – 168 lbs

Like many of the prospects in this draft, Necas is speedy and a strong two-way player. Again, like many of these prospects, he needs to fill out his frame.

The Kings need young players that can add talent after overpaying for many veterans. Necas should be able to provide that. He scored three points in five games for the Czech Republic at the WJC as a 17-year-old and plays in the top Czech league already.

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12- Carolina Hurricanes

  • Pick: Michael Rasmussen – C – Tri-Ciry Americans (WHL)
  • Shoots: Left
  • Size: 6’5″ – 203 lbs

It’s easy to see why NHL scouts like Rasmussen just by looking at his size. Any 6’5″ 18-year-old that can score is going to draw eyes, but the British Columbia native has drawn criticism for his 5v5 production.

Rasmussen scored 32 goals for the Americans last season. 15 of them came on the power play and two on the penalty kill, leaving just 15 for even-strength. But a goal’s a goal and Rasmussen can also play in his own zone making him a top-15 prospect.

WPG

13- Winnipeg Jets

  • Pick: Callan Foote – D – Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
  • Shoots: Right
  • Size: 6’3″ – 209 lbs

This is where the water starts to muddy a little bit, as it will in this range of any NHL draft. Foote is a right-handed defenseman with plenty of size and a hard shot.

He’s also the son of Adam Foote, and NHL management loves heritage among generations. Callan scored 57 points this season, but couldn’t represent Canada at any international tournaments because he hadn’t live in the country long enough.

TBL

14- Tampa Bay Lightning

  • Pick: Nicholas Suzuki – C – Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
  • Shoots: Left
  • Size: 5’11” – 183 lbs

The Lightning just stocked their defensive prospects in the Jonathan Drouin for Mikhail Sergachev trade. Now they’ll replace Drouin somewhat by selecting Suzuki.

The Ontario native is small, but oozes talent. Suzuki is fast, has quick hands and great hockey IQ. Unsurprisingly, he does need to add weight, but the talent is undeniable.

NYI

15- New-York Islanders

  • Pick: Klim Kostin – RW – Dynamo Moskva (KHL)
  • Shoots: Left
  • Size: 6’3″ – 196 lbs

It’s hard for anyone to get a good read on Kostin. The Russian suffered a shoulder injury eight games into his KHL season that sidelined him for the rest of the season.

Before then, though, he was compared to Evgeni Malkin and scored seven points in five games at the Hlinka Memorial. NHL Scouting Agency had him ranked as the number one European skater due to his skating and possession ability. He could end up being the steal of the draft.

All statistics and sizes are taken from Eliteprospects.com.

All photo credit goes to NHL.com and Wikipedia.

Wes Herrmann

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