I released my first mock draft a few weeks ago on Twitter (@JokkeNevalainen), and now that the playoffs are over and we know the final draft order, I figured I’d release my final mock draft. By the way, in case you were expecting to see Hayden’s ramblings today, he was busy this weekend and we switched spots. You’ll probably see something from him on Wednesday now.
Please remember that the purpose of a mock draft is trying to guess how the actual NHL Entry Draft goes, so it’s not my personal ranking of players. For those of you who love rankings, I have some good news: Cam Robinson will release his final ranking on Thursday right here at DobberProspects. Cam is definitely one of the best in the business, and I can’t wait to see what his final ranking looks like.
But while we all wait for Cam to finalize his ranking, let’s get back to my mock draft for a moment. I won’t go through all the players because my mock draft is for two full rounds, so that’s 62 players. But instead, I’ll focus on selections you readers might find curious. If you don’t agree with my selections or you want to ask about someone I didn’t explain here, feel free to leave a comment below or contact me on Twitter. But let’s get going now – here’s my Top 10.
I think the first two selections are obvious and I’d be very surprised if something odd happened there. Even the Carolina GM said it’s safe to assume they’ll take Andrei Svechnikov assuming they don’t trade the pick and the Sabres take Rasmus Dahlin as expected. But things get very interesting with the Montreal pick because I could honestly argue any of the top 10 picks there. I do think they eventually go with Filip Zadina but they could surprise us all and go with Brady Tkachuk because they believe in NHL pedigree and want more grit in their lineup, Jesperi Kotkaniemi who is the best center in this draft class, or perhaps a high-end defenseman like Evan Bouchard, Noah Dobson or Quinn Hughes.
You can mix and match the order of these players from Zadina to Adam Boqvist but I do think this is the group of players who will go in the top 10 this year and that there’s some separation from them to the next group. If Boqvist slips to the Oilers like I think he does, he’ll be a great fantasy hockey option because he’ll be running their top power play as soon as he hits the NHL.
The Islanders are getting two high-end prospects in Ty Smith and Joe Veleno. Even though I said there’s some separation from the top 10 to this group, these two are really close and deserve consideration there. Another team getting great value here is Philadelphia. They have lots of young defensemen and their depth at center is good as well, so they add two high-end wingers in Joel Farabee and Dominik Bokk. Both of them have top-six upside. Farabee is the better two-way player but Bokk has loads of offensive talent. The Metropolitan Division has won three Stanley Cups in a row now, and it’s not getting any easier because the Flyers will be a powerhouse team soon enough.
The most difficult decision in this group was the selection for the Devils because I felt like they need to draft a defenseman here but couldn’t find anyone good enough, so I ended up going with Rasmus Kupari instead. Kupari isn’t going to challenge Nico Hischier for top-line center duties but he’d be a good second-line center option if Pavel Zacha can’t take ownership of that spot. Either Zacha or Kupari could eventually play wing but selecting Kupari at least gives them options down the line.
The most interesting name in this range might just be Ryan Merkley who has loads of talent but has issues defending which is sort of important for a defenseman. Apparently there are also some attitude issues which may be just because he’s a young, passionate kid who needs to mature. The Rangers have lots of draft picks this year, so I believe they’ll take their chances with Merkley. If everything goes perfectly, he could end up being one of the best players from this draft class. The only problem with that selection is that the Rangers already have a similar player with similar baggage in Anthony DeAngelo, so they may not want to add another.
Jared McIsaac and Ryan McLeod are two players I wouldn’t personally want to draft this high but I think this is the range where they end up going. Their NHL certainty is pretty high but I don’t see them having the kind of upside you’d want from players drafted in the first round. NHL teams often go with safe players because the decision-makers on teams can get fired if their player never reaches the NHL.
I think all the players in this range from 32nd to 47th deserve consideration late in the first round. The Red Wings have two picks early in the second round, and I have them taking Mattias Samuelsson and Jake Wise with those picks. Add in Kotkaniemi and Calen Addison who I selected for them in the first round, and that’s a lot of talent at center and on the blue line – and that’s important for them because players like Zetterberg, Nielsen, Kronwall and Ericsson aren’t going to be around much longer.
And since I cover the Florida Panthers here at DobberProspects, I’m obliged to comment that I have them adding two right-handed shot defensemen in Bode Wilde in the first round and Nils Lundkvist here in the second round. They don’t have much talent on the right side behind Ekblad, and these are also players who provide great value in their draft spots.
The Rangers need a killer draft because they’re rebuilding and have a lot of draft picks this summer. If they end up getting Oliver Wahlstrom, Merkley, Rasmus Sandin, David Gustafsson and Niklas Nordgren, I think they’ll be very satisfied with those results. They added some really good centers last summer in Filip Chytil and Lias Andersson, and they also traded for Brett Howden, so that’s why I only selected one center for them in Gustafsson. Wahlstrom has perhaps the best shot in this draft class, and Nordgren is another right-handed shot winger with a good nose for the net. Add in some talent on the blue line in the form of Merkley and Sandin, and that’s a recipe for success.
Montreal is another team with lots of draft picks this summer. I have them taking Zadina, Ty Dellandrea, Nicolas Beaudin, Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Filip Johansson. They are a team that needs a little bit of everything but centers and puck-moving defensemen seem to be their biggest needs, so that’s what I tried to add for them. Dellandrea and Groulx may not become top-line centers but they could become good middle-six centers. Beaudin and Johansson may not become top-pair defensemen but they could become good middle-pair guys. Add in the second-most talented winger in this draft class, and that’s a nice group of players.
Defenseman Sean Durzi was passed over last summer but had a monster season in the OHL where he scored 15 goals and 49 points in 40 games. Durzi turns 20 in October which means he’s eligible to jump to the AHL right away, and that makes him an interesting option for a team like the Penguins who want to stay competitive.
There were some players like Philipp Kurashev, Kevin Bahl, Milos Roman, Jack Drury and Scott Perunovich who I considered for the final few picks in the second round but eventually went with someone else. There will be some really solid players available in the third round as well but not enough that I’d expand my mock draft there. And yes, I don’t have any goalies going in the top two rounds, so I think many of them will go in the third round. I also know there’s zero chance the NHL Entry Draft goes exactly like my mock draft but I like doing mock drafts, so I figured I’d share it with all of you. I hope you enjoyed reading it!
And that’s all for now. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to write in the comments below or contact me on Twitter @JokkeNevalainen.
All team logos and images used on the main collage courtesy of NHL.com