As most of the top prospects gather for the draft combine it’s time for Mock Draft 3.0.
Kaapo Kakko certainly performed well enough at the World Hockey Championships to warrant being the first overall pick and as much as I’d love to have him in that spot, I still can’t do it.

1st Overall: New Jersey Devils

Jack Hughes – USA NTDP

The international scene hasn’t been very friendly to this year’s top prospect. Hughes was banged up at the World Junior’s and finished with zero goals and four assists in four games. He played seven games at the World Championships and finished with zero goals and three assists but the scouts still absolutely love him. I wouldn’t blame the Devils for taking Kakko but at this point, I’m still leaning towards Hughes.

2nd Overall: New York Rangers

Kaapo Kakko – Turku, Finland

Kaapo Kakko has done everything he could possibly do to make the Devils think long and hard about taking him with the 1st overall pick. You could make the case he performed just as well at the World Championship as he did at the World Juniors, if not better. The New York Rangers will sprint to the podium to get their hands on this kid.
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3rd Overall: Chicago Blackhawks

Bowen Byram – Vancouver, WHL

Bowen Byram will become a member of the Blackhawks because they simply can’t pass on him. He is by far the best defenseman in the draft and if you hear otherwise please slap that source in the face. I jokingly tweeted on Wednesday that the Devils should take him 1st overall and the more I think about it maybe it’s not a joke at all. He’s that good. He’s got the upside to be better than both Keith and Seabrook and look what those two guys were able to accomplish.

4th Overall: Colorado Avalanche

Alex Turcotte – USA NTDP

Turcotte dealt with a hip injury and a case of mono during his draft year but still managed to light things up offensively. Against USHL competition he put up a very impressive 34 points in just 12 games. If you do the math on that it’s 2.13 points per game in the USHL, the best total in the league, even better than Jack Hughes. His injuries combined with the fact that he’s the USA NTDP’s second line centre has helped him fly under the radar.
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5th Overall: Los Angeles Kings

Dylan Cozens – Lethbridge Hurricanes

He’s one of my favourite prospects in the draft and this is the first time I haven’t had him going in the top four in a mock draft. He put up 84 points with the Lethbridge Hurricanes this season would be a very nice piece for the Kings to rebuild around.

6th Overall: Detroit Red Wings

Vasili Podkolzin – SKA, Russia

I didn’t have Vasili Podkolzin going in the top ten in Mock Draft 2.0 but Steve Yzerman taking over in Detroit certainly changes things. Yzerman has never shied away from drafting Russians, in fact, it’s where he does some of his best work. Kucherov and Vasilevsky were drafted a while ago but even in 2017 Yzerman used 2nd and 3rd round picks on Russian born players.

7th Overall: Buffalo Sabres

Cole Caufield – USA NTDP

I still stand by the Sabres drafting for need here and they need goal scorers. Caufield may be the best of the bunch after scoring 72 times in 64 games with the USA NTDP. Those numbers are just ridiculous and while it might not be popular to have him going this high I do think it’s justified.
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8th Overall: Edmonton Oilers

Kirby Dach – Saskatoon, WHL

Let’s make it three for three. I’ve had the Oilers taking Dach in all three mocks so far because I just can’t see how they pass a big forward who is so good inside the blueline. The Oilers rush the puck very well but one of the things Dave Tippett talked about when he was hired was having the ability to generate offence from having some sustained pressure in the zone, Dach can do that.

9th Overall: Anaheim Ducks

Peyton Krebs – Kootenay WHL

The Ducks hit on a couple of kids out the WHL in the 2016 draft so why not go back to the well. Sam Steel and Josh Mahura look like they are going to be big pieces of the Ducks future and Peyton Krebs would be an excellent addition. He basically had no offence help in Kootenay but still put up good numbers while at the same time wearing the ‘C’ for the Ice. I’d be ok with the Oilers taking him at eight.
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10th Overall: Vancouver Canucks

Trevor Zegras – USA NTDP

The Canucks are building something strong and two highly skilled Americans are already a part of it. Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes look like homerun picks for the Canucks and getting Zegras 10th overall would be another feather in their cap. He could develop into the perfect second line centre for the club.

IT’S STILL DACH

I feel stupid having Dach going to the Oilers for a third consecutive mock draft but I just haven’t seen a way around it. Who do you think the Oilers will be targeting now that Ken Holland is in charge?

Previously by Dustin Nielson: