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.