Nolan Patrick of the Brandon Wheat Kings is expected to go 1st overall in the 2017 NHL Draft
Welcome to the April edition of the 2017 Future of the Six mock draft. Many people are calling this one of the weakest draft classes this decade, but I do not see it. The top of the draft may not have any players as talented as McDavid, Eichel, Matthews, and Laine, but there are still plenty of guys who could become top NHLers. I think there will be a lot of hidden gems in this draft, especially among the European defense prospects. Let's go right into the picks!
1. Detroit - Nolan Patrick, C
Brandon (WHL) / 6'3" / 198 lbs
The Detroit Red Wings get a lot of lottery luck and pick up the 1st overall pick in the 2017 Draft. Patrick is not as hyped up as he should be due to an injury-plagued draft year, but the kid is a very talented hockey player. He is everything you want in a #1 center and is a player that the Red Wings will be able to build their future around.
2. Vancouver - Nico Hischier, C
Halifax (QMJHL) / 6'1" / 178 lbs
The Canucks also get some luck at the lottery and grab the “Swiss Gretzky”. Hischier had a very impressive showing this year in the Q and at the WJC where he almost led the Swiss to an upset victory over the gold medal-winning American squad. He is able to match his high-end hockey IQ with offensive skill and explosiveness, a deadly combination.
3. Arizona - Casey Mittelstadt, C
Green Bay (USHL) / 6'1" / 201 lbs
There is something special being built in the desert by GM John Chayka. Adding another young offensive weapon like Mittelstadt would be huge for the Yotes. The 2017-winner of the Mr. Minnesota is the complete package offensively. Great hockey IQ, great skater, great shot, and great size. He only played half of the season in the USHL, but he lead the league in points per game averaging 1.3 points. The forward depth in Arizona is going to be insane.
4. Colorado - Gabe Vilardi, C
Windsor (OHL) / 6'3" / 201 lbs
The Avalanche get unlucky and have to settle for the 4th overall pick. Vilardi is not a horrible consolation prize. He is a two-way center with great size and very high hockey IQ, but many scouts believe that he needs to become a faster skater to succeed at the professional level. If his skating improves, this could turn out to be a fantastic pick, possibly the best in the draft.
5. Vegas - Timothy Liljegren, RD
Rogle BK (SHL) / 6'0" / 191 lbs
Many consider Liljegren to have taken a step back this season, but people need to remember that he dealt with mononucleosis earlier in the season. I’m not hopping on the “Liljegren will fall outside the top 10” hype train just yet, he still has the most potential out of any defenseman in this draft. If he pans out, Vegas gets a cornerstone defenseman.
6. New Jersey - Owen Tippett, RW
Missisauga (OHL) / 6'2" / 202 lbs
The Devils are a team that desperately needs offense, Owen Tippett is a guy who can provide just that. He is power forward with a lethal shot who was able to put up 44 goals in the OHL this season. He should be able to add a much needed spark to a team that finished last in shots per game and bottom 3 in goals per game this season
7. Dallas - Miro Heiskanen, LD
HIFK (Liiga) / 6'0" / 174 lbs
The Dallas Stars add yet another Finnish blueliner to their collection. Heiskanen is a two-way defenseman who already has a top 4 role in a men’s league with HIFK. He is a fantastic player who has great defensive positioning. He does not have the highest offensive ceiling, but he is still a fantastic puck mover. He should not have trouble transitioning his game to the NHL.
8. Florida - Elias Pettersson, C
Timra IK (Allsvenskan) / 6'1" / 156 lbs
The Panthers grab a fantastic prospect at pick #8. Elias Pettersson had an incredible year in the Allsvenskan putting up 41 points in 43 games, scoring at a higher rate than players like William Nylander, David Pastrnak, and Filip Forsberg in their draft years. He is a do-it-all player who has great offensive ability to go along with his complete game
9. Buffalo - Cale Makar, RD
Brooks (AJHL) / 5'11" / 177 lbs
The Sabres need a lot of help on the blueline, a place that has produced little offense for them over the past couple of seasons. Makar is there to solve their problems. Some may question his status as a prospect since he plays in the AJHL, but his offensive talent is starting to silence the doubters and he is the biggest riser in this year’s draft class. He may be small, but if his skating and offensive ability carry over to the NHL then that won’t matter
10. Winnipeg - Martin Necas, C
HC Kometa Brno (Extraliga) / 6'1" / 168 lbs
Necas was a top 6 center in the Czech Republic Extraliga this season at the age of 18. He plays a responsible two-way game while possessing fantastic offensive ability. He can handle and distribute the puck very well. He could be the perfect fit with a sniper like Patrik Laine
11. Los Angeles - Cody Glass, C
Portland (WHL) / 6'2" / 180 lbs
The Los Angeles Kings need offensive help any way they can get it. Glass has had a very productive season in Portland, putting up 94 points in 69 games. He has made great improvements in his game this season and has been rising up the draft boards. He has quick hands and is able to make stuff happen in the offensive zone, he’s a playmaker
12. Philadelphia - Eeli Tolvanen, RW
Sioux City (USHL) / 5'10" / 170 lbs
The Flyers are set on defense for the future, so they could use this pick for some more offensive firepower. Tolvanen is a pure goal scorer. He has a very quick release and a very accurate shot that also has great velocity. He scored 30 goals in 50 USHL games this season. He combines his shooting ability with speed, offensive skills, and hockey IQ. He was the top scorer for Finland at the WJC
13. Carolina - Lias Andersson, C
HV71 (SHL) / 5'11" / 198 lbs
The Hurricanes have a big hole at the center position, so they decide to spend their 1st round pick on Lias Andersson. He is known for his two-way game, he is a fantastic player on both ends of the ice due to his high hockey IQ. He is also a fantastic skater with great offensive ability, he was the top u19 SHL scorer this season
14. Tampa Bay - Juuso Valimaki, LD
Tri-City (WHL) / 6'2" / 201 lbs
Tampa could use another young defenseman and they have a wide variety to choose from at 14. They go with Valimaki, a reliable two-way defenseman who has some underrated offensive upside. He put up 61 points in 60 games this season for Tri-City of the WHL
15. NY Islanders - Urho Vaakanainen, LD
Jyp (Liiga) / 6'1" / 185 lbs
The Isles have a lot of young offensive talent coming up through the system. He is a great puck mover, great skater, but is more known for his play on the defensive side. It is hard to find many flaws in his game, even at such a young age
16. Nashville - Klim Kostin, RW
Dynamo (KHL) / 6'3" / 196 lbs
Kostin was predicted to be a top 10 pick in the beginning of the season, but a shoulder injury has limited his season. One word I would use to describe his game is power. He is able to use his size and strength to get to the front of the net and he has the soft hands to finish. He adds a unique skillset to the Predators’ forwards group
17. Calgary - Michael Rasmussen, C
Tri-City (WHL) / 6'6" / 215 lbs
The Flames pick up a two-way center who has had a very productive season with the Tri-City Americans. He uses his 6’5” frame to his advantage, always getting in front of the net to finish. He also has solid playmaking skills to go along with his size
18. Boston - Ryan Poehling, C
St. Cloud State (NCAA) / 6'2" / 183 lbs
The Bruins love their NCAA picks and they go that route again selecting Ryan Poehling of St. Cloud State. His numbers this season may not appear to be that impressive, but as the youngest player in college hockey he was given limited duties on a deep SCSU team. He is a big, strong playmaking center who had a fantastic showing for the Americans at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament.
19. Toronto - Cal Foote, RD
Kelowna (WHL) / 6'4" / 213 lbs
This is the pick that everyone has been waiting for. Many Leafs fans have wanted Foote throughout the season and he is available for them at pick 19. It is obvious that the Leafs need help on the blueline, especially on the right-side and Foote checks off both of those boxes. He is known for his great positioning and defensive shutdown ability, something that the Leafs desperately need in their lineup. He is no slouch on the offensive end either, possessing solid passing skills and a great shot that he is not afraid to use. For a pick this late in the 1st round, he is nearly a lock to become an NHLer
20. St. Louis - Robert Thomas, C
London (OHL) / 5'11" / 177 lbs
The Blues center core has been pretty weak since the departure of David Backes, but they grab a good one in Robert Thomas at #20. He has been a very solid offensive contributor for the London Knights this season with 66 points in 66 games. He is a fantastic skater and has high-end hockey IQ, the perfect combination needed to become a solid NHLer
21. Ottawa - Erik Brannstrom, LD
HV71 J20 (Superlit) / 5'10" / 173 lbs
The Senators are intrigued by another Swedish defenseman with great potential. He is undersized, which hurts his draft stock, but he is a fantastic puck mover. Defenseman who drive possession are big in today’s NHL and Brannstrom can do just that. He is always trying to make something happen offensively when he’s on the ice
22. San Jose - Nick Suzuki, C
Owen Sound (OHL) / 5'11" / 187 lbs
The Sharks forward core is aging and it’s time for some fresh blood. Nick Suzuki is a great offensive talent who is always trying to make things happen. Suzuki plays with hustle and creates turnovers, he can be used on the PK. He was a key part of Owen Sound’s very successful season putting up 96 points in 65 games.
23. Edmonton - Nicolas Hague, LD
Missisauga (OHL) / 6'6" / 206 lbs
The Oilers defense could use some help, so they go with a big defenseman, Nicolas Hague. Like most big defenseman, Hague is a bit of a project. His offensive ability combined with his size is what has many scouts intrigued. He is a great puck mover and has a great shot in his arsenal as well. He scored 18 goals in 65 games for the Steelheads this season
24. NY Rangers - Kailer Yamamoto, RW
Spokane (WHL) / 5'8" / 153 lbs
The Rangers cupboards are barren when it comes to prospects, so they are ecstatic to add an electric offensive talent in Kailer Yamamoto. The only real knock against him is his size, but he has the work ethic and offensive talent that allows his size to be ignored. He is a magician with the puck.
25. Anaheim - Kristian Vesalainen, LW
HPK (Liiga) / 6'3" / 207 lbs
This season has not been the greatest for Kristian Vesalainen. He was once considered to be a potential top 10 pick, but a disappointing showing in the SHL and WJC saw him drop on the draft board. The Ducks are willing to take a gamble on the skilled power forward, hoping that the production will along some day
26. Montreal - Maxime Comtois, LW
Victoriaville (QMJHL) / 6'2" / 199 lbs
Comtois is another player who saw his name fall on draft boards throughout this season. His production this season was not the greatest with 51 points in 64 games for Victoriaville. The potential is what has scouts intrigued. He is a bigger player who is very mobile and agile for his size. He also possesses solid shooting skills as well. The Canadiens could use some more offensive talent and they go for the home run pick here.
27. Columbus - Isaac Ratcliffe, LW
Guelph (OHL) / 6'6" / 196 lbs
The Blue Jackets hope to add some more size to their forwards group with this selection. Ratcliffe is a prototypical power forward who has great hockey sense and good hands.
28. Arizona (via MIN) - Jake Oettinger, g
Boston U (NCAA) / 6'4" / 212 lbs
The Coyotes use their second pick of the 1st round to select the goaltender of their choice. Mike Smith is not the answer and they do not really have any potential #1 goalies in their system. They go with Oettinger, who put up fantastic numbers (2.11 GAA, .927 SV%) for Boston U as a freshman.
29. Chicago - Henri Jokiharju, RD
Portland (WHL) / 6'0" / 174 lbs
The Blackhawks defensemen are not getting any younger and it is time to start preparing for the next generation. They go with an offensive minded Finnish defenseman who is able to move the puck well and quarterback the power play
30. Pittsburgh - Pierre Olivier-Joseph, LD
Charlottetown (QMJHL) / 6'0" / 161 lbs
This pick comes as somewhat of a surprise, but Joseph still has a lot of growing left to do as one of the youngest players in this draft. He is a solid skater and is an intriguing player on the offensive end
31. St. Louis (via WSH) - Scott Reedy, RW
USNTDP (USHL) / 6'2" / 204 lbs
The Blues draft Reedy with their second 1st round pick. He’s a powerful forward who can play either wing or center. Not only is he powerful, he is also a great puckhandler who is able to make plays in tight. He could have some untapped offensive potential, he’s one of those guys many teams could regret passing up on a couple of years down the road.
Adam Brooks has been one of the top players in the WHL for the past two seasons
Adam Brooks, known by some as “Prairie Jesus”, is a name that most Leafs fan have heard this year. The 20 year-old centreman from Winnipeg was selected in the 4th round, 92nd overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2016 NHL Draft. He has been an absolute stud for the Regina Pats of the WHL these past two seasons, posting 120 points in 2015-16 and 114 points this season with games still to be played. The road to being drafted was not easy for Brooks as he was passed over in the NHL Draft not once, but twice, seeing 512 players get their names called before his. It’s not that often that you see players selected in there 3rd year of draft eligibility, but that’s exactly what happened to Adam Brooks and he could prove to be quite the selection for the Leafs.
Coming out of Bantam, Brooks was a highly sought after player, putting up 90 points (53 goals, 37 assists) for the Winnipeg Hawks AAA club. He went on to be selected in the 2nd round of the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft, 25th overall by the Regina Pats, the same round as Jayce Hawryluk (drafted 32nd by Florida in 2014) and Haydn Fleury (drafted 7th overall by Carolina in 2014). The following season, Brooks had a very solid year in Midget for the Winnipeg Thrashers AAA team. He helped lead Team Manitoba to a silver medal in the 2011 U16 Western Canada Challenge Cup posting 5 points in 4 games. He was also chosen to represent Team Canada at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck, Austria, one of the top tournaments in the world for his age group. Adam Brooks had 7 points in 6 games, the 8th most points in the tournament. He outscored guys like Kasperi Kapanen and Jack Eichel in the tournament and was one of Canada’s most impressive players as they would go on to win the bronze medal.
Adam Brooks (#24) represented Canada at the 2012 Youth Olympic Games
The 2012-13 season saw Brooks make the move to the WHL for the Regina Pats. Many expected some of the offense to carryover for him his rookie, but he was only able to put up 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) in 55 games for the Pats. The next season was a big one for him as it was his draft year. Since he was known by many as a goal scorer, scouts expected him to produce some offense, maybe even be a big time scorer in the WHL. But he would be relegated to the 3rd and 4th lines as an “energy guy” by his coach Malcolm Cameron. His role did not allow him to produce much offense and his point totals would actually drop to 11 points in 60 games. When the 2014 NHL Draft rolled around, Brooks’ 1st year of draft eligibility, most NHL teams did not even consider drafting him. For most players in junior hockey, disappointing seasons in their draft year are the beginning of the end for their NHL hopes and dreams, but Adam Brooks stayed motivated.
The 2014-15 season, saw the Pats with a new man behind the bench, former head coach of the Jets and Senators, John Paddock. The new coach combined with his increased role as one of the team’s alternate captains saw Brooks’ numbers skyrocket. He became more relied upon for offense and he was the team’s leading scorer with 62 points (30 goals, 32 assists) in 64 games, almost tripling his combined point totals from the previous two years. He would be rated the 176th best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting heading into the 2015 NHL Draft. But, once again, all 30 teams would pass on Brooks. There was still some NHL hope for him as he had one more season of draft eligibility in 2016.
Before the start of the 2015-16 season, Adam Brooks received an invite and attended the New York Rangers rookie camp. He was also given an increased leadership role as he got the C on his sweater for the Regina Pats. This would be the season that Adam Brooks would show off all of the scoring potential he had built up over the years. He would go on to lead the WHL in points with 120 (38 goals, 82 assists) in 72 games for the Pats and he led his squad to another playoff appearance. He would go on to torch the defense of the top-seeded Lethbridge Hurricanes as the Pats finished them off in 5 games. They lost the next round to Red Deer in a very tough 7-game series. Adam Brooks scored an impressive 23 points in only 12 WHL playoff games. His breakout season was filled with accolades as he won the Bobby Clarke Trophy (most points in WHL) and was named a 1st Team WHL All-Star. Heading into the 2016 NHL Draft, the opinion surrounding Adam Brooks amongst NHL teams had changed. He was now expected to be drafted, which is rare for a player in his 3rd year of draft eligibility. Just a couple of months after his 20th birthday, Brooks was selected 92nd overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Heading into the 2016-17 season, Adam Brooks was in a very unique situation for a WHLer. The Toronto Maple Leafs had the option to put Brooks on the Toronto Marlies or they could send him back to the WHL as an overager. After some time spent at the Marlies camp in September, the Leafs opted to send him back to Regina for a 5th WHL season. He was given the perfect opportunity in Regina this season to contend for a WHL Championship and the Memorial Cup as they have a very strong squad. Brooks has not disappointed with 112 points in 60 games so far this season and the Pats are closing off the regular season as one of the top teams in junior hockey.
Adam Brooks won the Bobby Clarke Trophy with 120 points in the 2015-16 season
When it comes to predicting the future role of Adam Brooks, it is difficult to gauge, but one thing is certain: he is one resilient hockey player. After not being passed over in two drafts, he continued to put in the work and put up a WHL-leading 120-point season. After being sent back to juniors from the Marlies training camp, he continued his offensive dominance by putting up even better numbers for the Pats this season. He is not dominating junior hockey simply because of his size or his age like some other players, he is dominating because he finally uncovered his true offensive potential that was hidden his first two years in juniors.
Brooks is a player who does not necessarily stand out with one aspect of his game, but he is good at a lot of things and has a lot of tools in his toolbox that allow him to be a very good offensive player. He is not just an offense guy either, as he has the ability to play a multitude of roles on the ice and has a very sound defensive game. His leadership ability should not go unnoticed as he has been the captain of a very successful Regina Pats team for the past two seasons. He is more than just a guy who puts up big points in juniors, then ends up the ECHL and then some second-tier European league. Adam Brooks has a lot of dimension to his game.
The best way to judge whether Brooks can succeed at the professional level is really his time with the Marlies over these next couple of years. We saw a guy like Connor Brown, who was a late round pick, come in and put up huge numbers for the Marlies in the AHL after a monster season with Erie Otters of the OHL. If Adam Brooks is able to come in and do the same thing for the Marlies next year, then Leafs fans should be very, very excited. If he comes in and has a disappointing season, I would not be that worried because Brooks has showed time and time again that he is able to bounce back from disappointing offensive seasons. He went from an 11 point player in his draft year to a 120 point player in the WHL in just a short span of two years.
Since Adam Brooks plays the centre position, he is a very valuable prospect to the Maple Leafs organization. Currently, the Leafs have Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri locked up down the middle long-term. Tyler Bozak’s time as a Leaf is likely coming to a close. William Nylander is a guy who the Leafs want to move to centre in a couple of years, so if that conversion happens then the Leafs are already have the top 3 spots locked up. I believe, if all goes well with his development, Adam Brooks could slot in as a non-traditional 4th line center who can be relied on defensively, but is given opportunity on the offensive side as well. Or maybe the Leafs decide to move him to wing to provide some scoring ability if he cracks the NHL someday.
Whatever his roles is, Toronto Maple Leafs fans should be very excited about Adam Brooks. It’s not often that you can draft an overage player in the NHL Draft who is as exciting and has as much potential as Brooks. He’ll have all Leafs fans cheering “Go Pats Go!” during the WHL Playoffs this spring and (hopefully) the Memorial Cup as well.
Jack Hughes of the Toronto Marlboros is currently the top prospect for the 2019 NHL Draft
It's never too early to start talking about the 2019 NHL Draft…alright maybe it is too early, but I’m going to talk about it anyway. These players may have just recently celebrated their 16th birthdays, but they have already been scouted for years. All of the WHL players in this class have already been drafted, many players have already committed to colleges, and the OHL and QMJHL will hold their respective drafts this spring for many of the players in the 2019 NHL Draft class. The hockey world is changing as many of the top talents in the game are recognized before they are old enough to get behind the wheel of the car. Livestreams and video scouting allow prospects from the other side of the globe to be analyzed by scouts with ease.
I picked out ten of the most intriguing players in the 2019 NHL Draft that all hockey fans should keep their eye on over the next couple of years. Now this isn’t a top 10 ranking by any means, but these are all guys who should be selected at the top when June 2019 rolls around.
F, Toronto Marlboros (GTMMHL)
Jack Hughes is a huge talent coming from the Toronto Marlboros program, many believe (including myself) that he is the best to come out of the GTHL since Connor McDavid. The best way to describe his game is elite. He has that elite hockey sense combined with fantastic speed and skill that will make him a fantastic NHLer someday. The Hockey News rated him the 47th best player under the age of 21 this fall. That is very high praise for a guy who is still playing AAA hockey. He is expected to go 1st overall to the Barrie Colts in the 2017 OHL Priority Selection Draft, but there is still an outside chance that he could opt for the US National Team Development Program like his brother, Quinton. However, the rumor is that Jack plans to go to the OHL and represent Team Canada (since he is Canadian but born in Orlando, FL he has a choice). At this point in time, Jack Hughes is the frontrunner to go 1st overall in 2019. I think he has the skill to be considered a Matthews/Laine/Eichel-level talent, he won’t be a weak 1st overall pick.
F, Kootenay Ice (WHL)
Peyton Krebs was the 1st overall pick for the Kootenay Ice in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. The young forward from Okotoks, AB got a taste of WHL action this year appearing in 6 games for the Kootenay Ice and putting up 6 points. That is very impressive considering the fact that Kootenay is the worst team and has the least goals scored in the WHL. He possesses fantastic speed along with great skill that should make him a very dynamic player. He plays an up-tempo game, doing everything at high speed. In his handful of games with the Ice, he was arguably the best palyer on the ice at the young age of 15. He is a real big talent who should be headlining the very strong group coming out of the WHL for the 2019 NHL Draft.
C, Saskatoon (WHL)
Kirby Dach has great height already as he is 6’3” and turned 16 just a couple of months ago. He was the 2nd overall pick for Saskatoon in the 2016 WHL Bantam Draft. He is finishing off this season in the WHL and has registered 9 points in 16 games so far. He is well known for his amazing hockey IQ and he is no stranger to scoring highlight reel goals with his long reach and quick hands. He makes the impossible plays look easy. He broke the U14 scoring record in the AMBHL (Bantam) putting up 100 points in 33 games, topping Tyler Benson’s previous record of 84 points. I would compare him to Nolan Patrick as a prospect, but he certainly has the talent to possibly be better.
D, Ak Bars Kazan U18 (Russia U18)
At this point in time, Artemi Knyazev is considered the top Russian prospect in the 2019 Draft and, surprise, he’s a defenseman. His bread and butter is his offensive game. He is a fantastic skater, a very mobile defenseman, with fantastic hands. He also has all the hockey IQ to go along with his dynamic talent, which should give him the opportunity to become a very good defenseman in the NHL. In the new age of hockey, where dynamic offensive defenseman are heavily valued, Knyazev should thrive.
LW, Kelowna (WHL)
Nolan Foote is the son of long-time NHLer Adam Foote and the brother of top 2017 Draft prospect, Callan Foote. He has been playing with his brother on the Kelowna Rockets this season and has recorded an impressive 31 points in 46 games at just 16 years old. He already has great size at 6’3” and he is able to combine that with soft hands and high hockey IQ. His shot is the deadliest weapon in his arsenal, he can fire it and score from anywhere on the ice. What he has been doing in the WHL at his age is very impressive. If he continues to work on his skating, there’s no doubt in my mind that he’ll be a 1st round pick in 2019
D, Jukurit U20 (Jr. A SM-Liiga)
The amount of young defensemen that Finland has been producing over the past couple of years is pretty amazing and Mikko Kokkonen is another Finnish defenseman who looks like he could be a premier talent. This season he became the youngest player to play in Liiga at just 15 years and 9 months of age, but he got under 3 minutes of ice time and many called it a publicity stunt, but it was still impressive nonetheless. He is a slightly smaller defenseman at only 5’11”, but he is still young and should continue to grow. He put up 8 points in 15 Junior A SM-Liiga games on one of the worst teams in the league, outproducing guys like Olli Juolevi and Rasmus Ristolainen at the same age. He certainly has the potential to be a top 10 pick, maybe even the best defenseman in the 2019 Draft.
LW, KalPa U18 (Jr. B SM-sarja)
Many Finnish hockey fans consider Leevi Aaltonen to be the best forward prospect from Finland since Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi. He is on the smaller end when compared to those two, but he’s an elite skater and has the smarts to go along with his natural ability. He is not only a fast skater, but he is very strong on his skates and has great edgework. Aaltonen may already have NHL-level skating at the age of 16. He put up 38 points in 23 games (1.65 PTS/G) in the Finnish Junior B league which is similar production to Mikael Granlund and Sebastien Aho at the same age. If Aaltonen continues to progress, he will join the very talented core of Finnish forwards already in the NHL.
C, Chicago Mission U16 (HPHL)
Alex Turcotte is a very electrifying American prospect who currently plays for the Chicago Mission U16 team. He has some NHL bloodlines as his father, Alfie, spent time with the Canadiens, Jets, and Capitals. The most recognizable part about Turcotte’s game is his stickhandling ability. Considering the fact that his grandpa, Real, runs Turcotte Stickhandling Hockey School, that’s not that surprising. For a 16 year-old, his hands are unbelievable, he is able to do some Datsyuk-like stuff out on the ice. He has phenomenal hockey IQ and is an excellent skater, so he’s more than just a player with good hands. He has already committed to University of Wisconsin, but he is also considered a top prospect for the upcoming OHL Priority Selection where he should be a top 5 pick if interested in the OHL.
D, North Jersey Avalanche U16 (T1EHL)
Marshall Warren is considered to be the top American defenseman in this draft class. Warren is just a pure athlete out on the ice, a very dynamic defenseman. He is a great skater and has a great shot which allows him to score a good number of goals for a defenseman. He is no slouch on the defensive end either as he has great positioning and IQ. If necessary, Warren is not afraid to lay a big hit on an opponent. He is a very smooth player and moves the puck with confidence and ease. With all his talent and athleticism Warren’s potential is sky high. He is currently committed to Harvard University, but the OHL is still a possibility.
F, College Esther-Blondin Phenix
Xavier Parent is a player who has been on a lot of scouts’ radars for a very long time. The one downside about him is his size as he is around 5’7” and is not expected to grow much taller. But size is never a problem if a player has enough talent and Parent is a guy who is loaded with talent. He is a fantastic skater and stickhandler, overall he’s just a really good offensive player, one of the best to come out of Quebec in recent years. I believe that he will be a stud in the QMJHL where he is expected to be a top 5 pick in the QMJHL Draft this spring. He may not be as hyped up as he was a couple of years ago, but that is really no knock against him as Parent should still be a top pick in the 2019 NHL Draft.
Kasperi Kapanen is ready to make an impact at the NHL level
Welcome to the 1st edition of the Future of the Six Prospect Rankings. Now I believe you can divide most prospect rankings on the internet into two categories: those who heavily favor the older, more proven guys and those who heavily favor the flashy young guys with potential. With my rankings, I like to think that I find the happy medium between these two schools of thought. With my first set of rankings, I decided to rank the top 20 guys because that’s when I believe the rankings have the most meaning. Once you get it to the 20s, there’s not much difference between the 22nd best prospect and the 28th best prospect in the organization.
*CLICK ON PLAYER'S NAME TO GO TO THEIR PLAYER PROFILE*
Honestly, this was probably the easiest choice I have made all day. Kasperi Kapanen is already a very solid professional hockey player with 42 points in 42 GP with the Marlies this season. Great offensive skills, sound defensive ability, the guy is pretty much a lock to be an NHL player. He probably would have gotten some games with the big club earlier this season if not for the injury he suffered in January that set him back 7 weeks. I honestly believe that he should be up with the Leafs right now, but he should be a full-time, valuable player with big club next season, maybe he could even contend for a Calder if given the right opportunities.
Dermott at #2 may be controversial for some, but I think he is clearly the #2 prospect in the organization. For a young guy, he is very solid defensive player who has high hockey IQ which is always great to see in your young, developing defenseman. Not the biggest player, but he does not shy away from the physical game. Offensively, he’s doing fantastic at the AHL level with 20 points in 42 games (0.48 PTS/G). He’s scoring at a similar rate as other prospects such as Travis Sanheim and Madison Bowey, and is scoring at a higher rate than prospects such as Oliver Kylington and Hayden Fleury. With his offensive game transferring over to the professional level, there’s a lot for Leafs fans to be excited about.
Carl Grundstrom is the type of guy that Mike Babcock will love. He’s a hard-nosed, in-your-face player who can also chip in offensively. I was shocked when he fell to 57th overall in the 2016 Draft as I had him pegged as an early 2nd round pick who could possibly sneak into the late 1st round. It’s not often that you can draft a guy who is a safe bet to become an NHLer in the late 2nd. He has had a very solid year playing professionally in the SHL, putting up 12 goals and 6 assists in 42 games. He leads all U20 players in the SHL in goals. Down the road, I could see him replacing Zach Hyman on Auston Matthews left side.
Andrew Nielsen is a guy whose potential is sky high. He put up 24 points in 59 games for Lethbridge in his draft year then went on to put up 71 points in 70 games for them in his post-draft year. He has been able to carry that offensive success over to the professional level putting up 33 points in 55 games with the Marlies as a 20 year-old. He’s tied for 7th in AHL defenseman scoring. His offensive ability is undoubtedly the premier aspect of his game, however, there is concern that his defensive ability and skating mechanics will hold him back from becoming a solid NHL defenseman. All of these are aspects of his game that can be fixed, but only time will tell when it comes to his skating. He is somewhat of a risky prospect, but his potential is very high, maybe has the highest ceiling out of any prospect in the organization.
Many questioned this pick when it happened because Korshkov was an overager who was not supposed to go until the middle rounds, but it turned out to be a pretty solid pick. He has showed off some of his offensive game in the KHL putting up 19 points in 36 games this season. His season hit a bump in the road when he broke his leg, but he has returned to Lokomotiv for the KHL Playoffs. The big Russian is a very intriguing prospect, it will be very interesting to see if he could continue to elevate his game in the KHL next season.
Brendan Leipsic has been putting up very good numbers at the AHL level for the past couple of years. His numbers with the Marlies this season have been very impressive with 38 points in 34 games. He turns 23 this May and the question is when the Leafs will give the guy a chance to prove himself in the NHL. He got a couple games in the NHL last season and was not horrible putting up 3 points in 6 games. I would like to see him get another call-up when he returns from his injury. In my mind, he’s an ideal bottom 6 guy. He’s small, but he’s a pest who is able to chip in offensively, similar to Brendan Gallagher. Definitely a guy you want to have on your side.
Andreas Johnsson is a smaller player who is known for his offensive ability. He put up very big numbers for a young, late round pick over in Sweden and came over to North America for this season. Like most guys on the Marlies, he has been improving as the season went on, putting up 16 points in his last 16 games. He might not be as hyped up as he was back in 2014, but I still think he has the ability to provide some scoring depth at the NHL level.
Frederik Gauthier is one player who is difficult to place in prospect rankings. Sure, the Goat has some NHL experience playing 21 games with the Leafs this season, but he really is not that exciting of a player. He’s just a big center who is more known for his defense than his offense. Since he played a quarter of a season in the NHL and was not a liability, I will award him with the 8th spot. However, he will always be known as a bad 1st round draft pick when guys like Andre Burakovsky and Shea Theodore were still on the board.
Dmytro Timashov was not very impressive at the start of the season with the Marlies, but he has really turned it on as of late. He had just 7 points in his first 34 games and then went on to put up 15 points in his last 16 games with Leipsic and Kapanen out of the lineup. He is very talented offensively and has great creativity, definitely a fun player to watch. I was beginning to doubt his ability as a prospect, but his recent hot streak has made me a believer and has moved him ahead of Bracco in my rankings.
This may be a very unpopular pick amongst some Leafs fans, but I am not as high on Jeremy Bracco as others. I love his skating ability and his offensive ability, but he has been struggling to put up points since his trade to the Spitfires with only 19 in 22 games. A guy who relies on his offensive ability as much as he does needs to be putting up bigger numbers at the OHL level, I thought he would be dominating. However, there’s still some hope that Bracco can be an NHLer, he’ll just need to prove it when he gets a shot with the Marlies.
Joseph Woll was off to a great start with Boston College, but the Eagles have been pretty horrible as of late. This has caused Woll’s numbers to drop, but he’s still having a very solid freshman campaign. He is always a beast in net for USA during international competition, was very solid at the WJC this season. He definitely has the talent to become the Leafs goalie of the future, but is still very young.
Sometimes I forget that Kerby Rychel is even in the Leafs system. He’s been having a solid year in the AHL with 38 points in 55 games, but the clock is ticking on him. The 22 year-old former Blue Jacket 1st round pick does not look like he will be able to live up to the expectations, but maybe he can develop into a bottom 6 guy at the NHL level.
Adam Brooks has been dominant in the WHL, posting back to back 100-point seasons for the Regina Pats. He has all the tools offensively, but is not really elite in any one category. Maybe he’s just putting up big numbers because he’s an overager or maybe he is just having a late resurgence like Connor Brown. He is one of the players I’m most interested in seeing with the Marlies next season. If he’s able to put up solid numbers in the AHL, he will shoot up these rankings. However, right now he’s a little difficult to rank due to his age and level of competition. The Prairie Jesus is definitely an intriguing prospect.
Players like Nikita Korostelev are the reason I always like when teams draft highly skilled Russian players in the 7th round. He has blossomed in the OHL this season, especially after his trade to Peterborough. He is a guy who is capable of scoring highlight reel goals on a nightly basis, that’s just the type of player he is. His game still has long way to go to make it in the NHL, but I am just in love with his offensive creativity.
Jesper Lindgren was a 4th round pick in 2015 who has taken a big step forward in the Allsvenskan this season with 24 points in 50 games, tied for the 6th most points for a defenseman in the league. He is a defenseman whose game is very offense oriented, his puck skills and high hockey IQ give him great potential, but he still has a long way to go. It’s never a bad thing to have Swedish offensive defensemen in your system.
Rinat Valiev has seen a drop off in his numbers in the AHL this season (0.38 to 0.26 PTS/G), but he’s the only defensive prospect who has seen NHL action, seeing 10 games with the Leafs last year. He’s still young as he turns 22 this May, but the time is running out for him to make an impression if his offensive game does not come along.
Trevor Moore put up great numbers at Denver University on the Pacific Rim Line with Danton Heinen and Dylan Gambrell. He impressed the Leafs enough to sign him to a 3-year, two-way ELC this summer. He has been very good for the Marlies, putting up 26 points in 40 games in his first pro season. He has high hockey IQ and is a great passer, it will be interesting to see if he can continue to progress.
The Latvian is a smaller, high energy player who is a fantastic skater. He would be higher on this list, but he has not been producing at the same rate as he was last season with Rouyn-Noranda in the Q. He is definitely a very entertaining player to watch, I would just like to see more production from him at the junior level.
The big 2014 5th round pick on Ohio State is usually forgotten about by Leafs fans, but he is one of my favorite Leafs prospects. He is a power guy with great hands that allow him to finish around the net or find the open man. He went from a 0.59 PTS/G player last year to 1.07 PTS/G this year. That increased production is great to see from the big man who continues to improve his offensive game.
JD, the brother of Jordan Greenway, is an absolute monster at 6’4” and 205 lbs. He is currently a freshman at Wisconsin and has struggled to produce much offense only putting up 7 points. But his size will allow him to develop into a big, bruising defenseman at the professional level. It’s not like he’s void of offense either, he has some sneaky offensive talent that he shows off from time to time. The NCAA path is perfect for him as he continues to develop and add strength, this guy could be something down the road.
Cale Makar (#8) of the Brooks Bandits is a rising star in the 2017 NHL Draft
It may only be January, but now is the perfect time for the first ever Future of the Six Mock Draft. For this mock draft, since it is still so early, I only did the 1st round. The draft order was determined through an online draft lottery simulator.
Many are quick to call this a weak draft year, but it is way too early to make that call. The top-end talent may not be as good as 2015 and 2016, but there are still a great number of talented players to be had throughout the 1st round of this draft. 2014 was called a weak draft but guys like Ekblad, Reinhart, Draisaitl, Bennett, Nylander, Ehlers, Larkin, Fabbri, and Pastrnak have all proved to be valuable NHL players.
1. Detroit - Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon (WHL)
Last time the Red Wings picked 1st overall was in 1986 when they selected Joe Murphy. They haven't picked in the top 10 since 1991. They get a little bit of lottery luck and select Nolan Patrick with the 1st pick. He has been injured most of this season, but he has size, smarts, and can score. He's everything you want in a #1 center.
2. Colorado - Timothy Liljegren, D, Timra (Allsvenskan)
The Avalanche are just a dumpster fire right now, they could really use a puck-moving defenseman, so they go with the best one in the draft. He is an elite skater and a fantastic playmaking defenseman.
3. NY Islanders - Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
This guy could honestly end up being the most talented player in the Draft. He is a very dynamic player with incredible offensive abilities. But he is no slouch on the defensive end, his great work ethic really makes him a complete player. Tavares, Barzal, and Hischier would make a very solid forward core for the Isles.
4. Arizona - Gabe Vilardi, C, Windsor (OHL)
John Chayka and co. are a very unpredictable, but I believe they will select Vilardi who is the BPA. He is a big, strong skater who has a high hockey IQ and possesses great offensive abilities. He is a creator as well as a finisher and has #1 center potential. Domi, Duclair, Strome, Keller, Vilardi, Dvorak, Perlini, and Fischer would be a very talented group for the Yotes.
5. Vegas - Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie (USHS)
This is where things start to get a little tricky. To start off their franchise, the Knights select the future Gopher from Eden Prairie High. Mittelstadt is a complete package of size, skill, and hockey IQ. His offensive creativity is through the roof and he has hands of silk.
6. New Jersey - Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City (USHL)
The Devils are a team that simply needs more talent. His greatest asset is definitely his shot which helped him put up 16 goals in 23 USHL games. All he needs to do is add a little strength when he goes to Boston College and he could become a top NHL sniper.
7. Winnipeg - Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City (WHL)
The Jets select the big, skilled center, Michael Rasmussen. He plays a great two-way game and his potential is through the roof. This spot may be too high for him, but we'll see where he ends up in June.
8. Buffalo - Elias Pettersson, C, Timra (Allsvenskan)
Some Sabres fans may have a heart attack if they pass on defense in the 1st round yet again, but I don't see any defenseman at this point who would be a solid pick at 8. The Sabres add more offensive talent with Pettersson who is putting up big numbers in the Allsvenskan. He didn't produce much at the WJC for Sweden, but his talent was apparent.
9. Vancouver - Klim Kostin, RW, Dynamo (VHL)
Always difficult to predict where Russians will be drafted, especially a guy like Kostin who started off the season rated very highly but has been falling due to his lack of production. Plays a gritty, power game with great playmaking skill. I think he could still sneak into the top 10.
10. Dallas - Cal Foote, RD, Kelowna (WHL)
It's very difficult to predict who will be the second defenseman taken in this draft. I think, at this point, it will be Adam Foote's son, Cal. He is a sound defensive player with a booming shot and good passing skills. He has future captain written all over him with his leadership abilities.
11. Tampa Bay - Nicolas Hague, LD, Missisauga (OHL)
Due to their overflow of offensive talent, I think Stevie Y decides to go with the big man on defense, Nic Hague. He is a 6'6" d-man who can produce offensively, just needs to work on his skating to take his game to the next level.
12. Florida - Owen Tippett, RW, Missisauga (OHL)
This is a guy who could be selected a lot higher than #12, but Florida has a very talented offensive player fall into their laps. He has put up 33 goals in 39 games so far this year.
13. Nashville - Martin Necas, C, Kometa Brno (Czech)
Necas could end up going much higher than 13th come June. He has top 5 potential and was one of Czech Republic's best forwards during the WJC. He has impressed at every level he's played at.
14. Boston - Lias Andersson, C, HV71 (SHL)
The Bruins could use some centers in the pipeline, so they select Lias Andersson. Not very flashy like the Nylander brothers, but he does the little things right and has shown the ability to put up solid point totals.
15. Carolina - Kristian Vesalainen, LW, HPK (Liiga)
The Canes loves their Finns and there is a very good one available at 15 in Vesalainen. He has great potential with his size, skating, and hands.
16. Calgary - Juuso Valimaki, LD, Tri-City (WHL)
Calgary already has a great amount of defensemen, but I think Valimaki at 16 could be too good to pass up. In June, he could end up being the second defenseman taken in the draft. He is another solid Finnish defenseman with great potential.
17. Los Angeles - Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCAA)
The Kings need desperately need more forwards in their system. Poehling has not put up big numbers at SCSU, but he has great talent. Craig Button called him the best player at the Hlinka.
18. St. Louis - Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo (USHL)
Bowers is committed to BU who has been very good recently with developing NHL talent. His potential combined with BU's program could make this a fantastic pick.
19. Toronto - Cale Makar, RD, Brooks (AJHL)
The Leafs need defense, in particular right-handed defenseman. Some may view this as a risky pick, but I think the Leafs go with Cale Makar out of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. He has probably been the biggest riser in this draft class due to his performance at the WJAC. It could be due to inferior competition, but this guy is one of the most exciting players to watch in this whole draft class. And we saw three guys come out of the BCHL in the 1st round last season (Jost, Fabbro, Cholowski), so NHL GMs aren't afraid to draft guys high from other Junior A leagues if the talent is there. Craig Button referred to him as a Karlsson-lite due to his very unique offensive skillset. Behind Liljegren, Makar has the most potential out of any defenseman in this draft class, he could end up as a player similar to Shayne Gostisbehere. Bob Mckenzie wrote a very interesting article about his performance at the WJAC. Below I added a video clip that includes my favorite goal of his.
20. Philadelphia - Maxime Comtois, LW, Victoriaville (QMJHL)
Comtois has been a big faller in this draft class as he was once regarded as a top 5 pick. Having him at 20 may be a little harsh, but we see guys, especially those who struggle in their draft year, fall every NHL Draft. He only has 30 points in 41 games in the Q, but the potential is certainly there. He was arguably Canada's best player at the Hlinka.
21. Edmonton - Miro Heiskanen, LD, HIFK (Liiga)
The Oilers really need some help on defense and Heiskanen is here to answer their call. He is a smaller offensive defenseman with a high hockey IQ. Finland trusted him with big minutes at the WJC this year as well. If the Leafs want to play it a little safer then Heiskanen could be their guy if available at 19.
22. Ottawa - Kailer Yamamoto, LW, Spokane (WHL)
Yamamoto is a guy who has tons of talent but is knocked down due to his size. I do not think that his size is that big of a problem because he is one of those guys who always finds a way to put up points. The Sens are silently assembling a very impressive group of young players.
23. Anaheim - Matthew Strome, LW, Hamilton (OHL)
The Ducks love big wingers and they add another one with the third Strome to be a 1st round selection. Maybe not as talented as his brothers, but still a very reliable player.
24. San Jose - Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL)
The Sharks grab Glass who has been producing for the Winterhawks this season. He has the coveted combo of skill and size.
25. Chicago - Jake Oettinger, G, Boston U (NCAA)
Corey Crawford is 32 years old and Scott Darling is 28. There is not a lot of talent in net coming up through the Hawks pipeline either. They go with the BU Terrier as their goalie of the future.
26. Montreal - Robert Thomas, C, London (OHL)
Thomas is another guy who shot up draft boards this season. He has great vision, hockey sense, and hands. He has put up some very solid number with London this season. The Knights have a knack for discovering solid two-way centers.
27. NY Rangers - Urho Vaakanainen, LD, JYP (Liiga)
The Rangers prospect pool is abysmal, but the talented Vaakanainen will help them out. He is offensively gifted and plays with great confidence. His potential is very high.
28. Pittsburgh - Nikita A. Popugaev, LW, Prince George (WHL)
He is a risky prospect who could potentially fall into the 2nd round. He is a big man at 6'6". This skill is there but scouts have great concerns about his overall game. If he pans out, he would be quite the pick for the Penguins.
29. Washington - Marcus Davidsson, C, Djurgardens (SHL)
The Caps add another Swedish center. Davidsson, is an energetic player who plays with an edge.
30. Minnesota - Erik Brannstrom, LD, HV71 (SHL)
We have seen the Wild's forward prospects perform at the WJC. Now they just need some help on the defensive end. He's smaller but is not afraid to play physical and has great offensive ability.
31. Columbus - Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL)
The Jackets are not afraid to take smaller players, so they decide to take the highly skilled Nick Suzuki who has the most points out of any draft-elgible player in the OHL.
Welcome to Future of the Six, the best place for Leafs prospect coverage. One may be wondering what a Sabres fan from Buffalo is doing writing a Leafs prospect blog. Well there happens to be many reasons. First off, there is already a great guy, Kris Baker, who is dedicated to covering Sabres prospects over at sabresprospects.com, so creating a blog about Sabres prospects would be a little redundant. Even though many believe that Sabres fans hate Leafs fans, I do not find that to be the case for myself. I have always had great respect for Leafs fans who had to suffer through the dark ages. I can relate being a Buffalo sports fan, I am almost 20 years-old and I am too young to remember the last time the Bills were in the playoffs. The Toronto Maple Leafs have the largest fanbase of any hockey team in the world along with a plethora of writers dedicated to Leafs coverage, but very few cover Leafs prospects. I wanted to change that with the creation of this blog.
My goal is to keep Leafs fans, the greatest fanbase in hockey, up to date with all prospects in the organization. Whether they are playing in Medicine Hat, Balashikha, or down the road at Ricoh Coliseum, I'll be analyzing players and posting highlights. Following prospects is probably the most entertaining part of hockey because unlike basketball and football, there are many more paths a player can take to make the big leagues than just the NCAA. You feel like you were with the player along their journey to the NHL when you follow them from draft day, to juniors, to the minor leagues, all the way up to the big stage. I plan to give all Leafs fans that same, special experience.
On this blog, I will be posting weekly recaps and various articles on all Leafs prospects. I will also be covering prospects in the upcoming NHL Dratfs, especially those who the Leafs may target. Be sure to follow my twitter account @FutureOfThe6 for even more updates on Leafs prospects. Thank you for viewing The 6 Blog and be sure to spread the word to other fans about the Future of the Six.