My goal coming in to this years draft was to make my rankings completely independent of widely published lists. One thing I have always respected about Craig Button, is that he creates his draft list by trusting his own instincts.

With that in mind, the list below is an unconventional one. Nolan Patrick’s injury history and underwhelming production, led me to be far less impressed with him compared to a year ago.

The QMJHL has always been a high scoring league, and Hischier failed to dominate down the stretch. Hardly becoming of a player ranked first overall by many scouts.

Overall this draft is weaker at the top, but carries its value through the first round, as very little separates prospects #1-18, compared to prior years.

1 Elias Pettersson, C, Timra IK (Allsvenskan)
Climbed the public lists all year. A tall yet skinny forward who played in the 2nd teir Swedish league while putting up unprecedented offense from a draft eligible.
2 Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
Played on one of the top lines in the OHL this year, a smart, high skill player, who lead the OHL in primary point production from a 18 year-old by 11 points. Not particularly big, but is strong on the puck.
3 Nico Hischier, C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
Dazzled at the WJC, however his QMJHL numbers leave a lot to be desired. A high energy player, He was the shining light on a poor team. High offensive ceiling while also being defensively responsible.
4 Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
The darling of the draft class a year ago, Patrick has an established injury history and rumours surfaced this year regarding his work ethic and commitment to defense. Nonetheless he has an enticing package of size and skill.
5 Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle (SHL)
Played on an awful Rogle team, while also suffering a bout with mono. I’m banking on his disappointing year being largely due to health. He is still an excellent skater with a pro shot.
6 Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (SM-Liiga)
Appears to be the consensus top D available in the draft. Does everything well, a very smart player that can run a powerplay. Needs to get stronger.
7 Cale Makar, D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
A mesmerizing skater, the best in the draft class, Some scouts scream Ryan Murphy when they see him. Playing in a secondary calibre league and going to NCAA next season. Higher offensive ceiling than the two men ahead of him.
8 Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Tiny. Not particularly fast, but he’s quick. A very creative offensive player who draws comparisons to Tyler Johnson. Most scouting services have him outside the top 20, however he has the most impressive offensive numbers in the CHL this year. No one has been able to explain to me why he can’t do it at the next level.
9 Casey Mittelstadt, C, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
If I was going only based of each players highlights reels and nothing else, Mittelstadt would be my guy. However his numbers show that he gets most of his production on the powerplay and he didn’t play against top competition, splitting time between the USHL and high-school hockey.
10 Cody Glass, C, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Tall and thin with room to grow, a responsible two-way centre who can still put up numbers.
11 Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
A big and strong kid. Played mostly on the wing for Windsor this year though he is a natural C. Did not get the quality minutes of those above him.
12 Lias Andersson, C, HV71 (SHL)
Some have called him a safe pick, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that this guy could be a home-run. He has great finishing ability and is already playing in Sweden’s top league
13 Kristian Vesalainen, LW, Frolunda (SHL)
Underwhelmed in the SHL this year, but was dominant at the U18s. Better hands than Puljujarvi.
14 Eeli Tolvanen, LW, Sioux City Muskateers (USHL)
Undersized volume shooter. A little one-dimensional. McDavid’s future trigger-man?
15 Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Another volume shooter, can beat you with size, speed, and skill.
16 Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri-City Americans (WHL)
Big all-around blueliner, who put up over a point per game, including 19 goals in the WHL.
17 Jason Robertson, LW, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
Carried the Kingston offense. Great shot. Underrated playmaking ability. Poor skater.
18 Martin Necas,C, HC Kometa Brno (Extraliga)
A shifty skater, with great vision who still needs to fill out.
19 Henri Jokiharju, D, Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Elite breakout passer. Could spring McDavid in a way Kris Russel never could.
20 Nic Hague, D, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Giant D-man, with strong offensive numbers. Shutdown potential.
21 Erik Brannstrom, D, HV71 (SHL)
Brilliant skater. Outshone Liljegren at U18s.
22 Conor Timmins, D, SSM Greyhounds (OHL)
A very solid, not flashy, D.Highly competitive. One of the oldest first time eligible players in the draft.
23 Klim Kostin, RW, Moscow Dynamo (MHL)
Missed most of the year to injury. Biggest wildcard in the draft. High skill that comes in a large package.
24 Kole Lind, RW, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
A jack-of-all trades player. Nothing exceptional stands out but he finds ways to produce.
25 Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL)
Two-way C, with strong offensive numbers, coming out an impressive Waterloo system.
26 Urho Vaakanainen, D, JYP (Liiga)
A difficult D to project, most of his value will likely come on the defensive side.
27 Aleksi, Heponiemi, C, Swift Current
Very small, but more than makes up for it with his creativity and skill.
28 Ryan Poehling, C, St. Claude State University (NCAA)
Decent skater. Good size. His numbers don’t impress, but word on the street had him playing a secondary role on his college team.
29 Cal Foote, D, Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
Big, mean, tough, awkward skater, but found ways to produce offence.
30 Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
Great first step. Scores a lot of his goals in tight to the net.
31 Jake Oettinger, G, Boston U (NCAA)
.927 sv%. Top goalie in this years crop.

 

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