I don’t do mock drafts, but with this year’s edition of the draft full of more plot twists than a Whodunit, I thought it might be fun. Hope you enjoy it!
- Colorado at #1: L Jonathan Drouin. Drouin’s outstanding season is too difficult to ignore. Does more than anyone else to contribute to goals, the most difficult thing to do in the game. I think he is a special offensive player.
- Florida at #2: C Nathan MacKinnon. Absolutely a plug and play, he should step in immediately and should be an early Calder favorite.Could certainly go number one overall.
- Tampa Bay at #3: D Seth Jones. Incredible that he could fall this far, and the Lightning would have to consider themselves extremely fortunate to land a franchise defenseman at this number. If the two Q players do go off the board as I’ve described, suspect the Lightning will receive a lot of offers for this selection.
- Nashville at #4: C Sasha Barkov: This is the selection I’m most comfortable with in the top 5. Nashville needs a franchise C and Barkov is a plug and play.
- Carolina at #5: L Valeri Nichushkin. The big Russian had an enormous impact on the draft at this year’s NHL combine. I think he has a huge impact on the Oilers selection at #7.
FIVE THROUGH TEN
- Calgary at #6: C Elias Lindholm. Lindholm has an impressive resume and could come to the NHL next season. Among the best offensive players available in this year’s draft.
- Edmonton at #7: C Sean Monahan. Outstanding 2-way center with enough offense to be considered a strong 2line C candidate when he arrives in the NHL. This is a ‘perfect fit’ for Edmonton.
- Buffalo at #8: D Darnell Nurse: If Monahan isn’t there, I expect the Oilers to take Nurse or deal down. Buffalo takes Nurse and he could come quickly to the NHL.
- New Jersey at #9: D Rasmus Ristolainen: A nice range of skills, could play sooner than later. NJD will like the fact that he has played in a league against men and flourished.
- Dallas at #10: C Curtis Lazar: Another perfect match for team and player. Lazar impresses with spirited play and attention to defensive detail, and is tough to play against. The offense helps too.
ELEVEN THROUGH TWENTY
- Philadelphia at #11: C Fred Gauthier. Perfect Flyer selection. Don’t worry, Oilers will have their chance to get him when Holmgren decides to trade good players again.
- Phoenix at #12: C Hunter Shinkaruk: Phoenix takes the best pure offensive player remaining in the draft. They’ll have to wait a couple of years (probably) but he should impact the offense on arrival.
- Winnipeg at #13: C Bo Horvat. Winnipeg stays where they are and get an outstanding center who probably has enough offense to play on the second line when he arrives as an NHL player. Great value.
- Columbus at #14: C Max Domi. Solid offense and a determined player, I do think his draft number suffered a little because of his Memorial Cup performance.
- New York Islanders at #15: L Anthony Mantha. Scored 50 goals in the QMJHL this past season, and there is some talk he is NHL ready. The Islanders have to like the combination.
- Buffalo at #16: C Alex Wennberg. Taking a defenseman in the top 10 allows the Sabres to reach a little for this lanky Swede who has a nice range of skills.
- Ottawa at #17: L Kerby Rychel. A trending prospect, skilled and with a mean streak. Ottawa passes on some nice defensive options to take him, reaching a little.
- Detroit at #18: D Ryan Pulock. A nice selection at this number, Pulock can do it all and has a plus shot. Best of all, the Red Wings will be very patient with him.
- Columbus at #19: D Josh Morrissey. Fast, skilled and a player who impressed everyone with his season.
- San Jose at #20: C Nicolas Petan. Small but very skilled. His offensive potential gets him here.
TWENTY-ONE THROUGH THIRTY
- Toronto at #21: D Nikita Zadorov. Big Russian defender falls with the other blue in this draft, but represents solid value for the Leafs at this number.
- Calgary Flames at #22: G Zachary Fucale. The Flames start the march of masked men in this draft by taking the highest ranked G on Craig Button’s board.
- Washington Capitals at #23: L Adam Erne. Skill winger has some toughness, should cover this bet.
- Vancouver Canucks at #24: C JT Compher. Skill C is also an agitator.
- Montreal at #25: C Laurent Daupin. Impressive skill, maybe a slight reach.
- Anaheim at #26: L Artturi Lehkonen. Undersized skill winger with terrific potential.
- Columbus at #27: D Mirco Mueller. Smart defender with plenty of skill.
- Calgary at #28: D Madison Bowey. Terrific skater, good value at this number.
- Dallas at #29: R Valentin Zykov. Physical skill player, he’s the return for Jaromir Jagr. Quality NHL prosect.
- Chicago at #30: C Ryan Hartman: Physical player, tough to play against.
As for the Oilers, I think they could pick 4th, 7th, 10th, 13th or trade out of the first round altogether. Completely unpredictable. What a week!