With the draft lottery determining the order of the top 15, the time for mock drafts have arrived.
The New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers, and especially the Chicago Blackhawks were the latest to benefit from the lottery system. They all got what non-playoff teams desire with a spot in the top 3 including Chicago making the jump from 12 to 3. Meanwhile Colorado and LA fell three spots and Vancouver continued their trend of falling as they have fell for the 4th consecutive year.
Ottawa management may have breathed a sigh of relief after seeing Colorado fall as the decision to draft Tkachuk may very likely now be justifiable. Colorado instead is probably a bit irritated as they fell to four after owning the best odds for the second time in three seasons. Both to New Jersey.
Out of the four times that the lottery has taken place in its current state, Colorado is the only team with best odds going in to fall thus far as Buffalo and Toronto have had the fortune of winning first overall.
Besides the misery and happiness from lottery movement, every team in the lottery will have a top 15 pick which typically can garner a solid player.
Players like Hughes and Kakko are going play sooner rather than later and have much more NHL certainty but in a couple years hockey fans may look back at the draft and think of a player that went later as a player who should’ve gone at three.
The process of drafting 18 year olds can be tough and it’s often hard to judge how good some will be due to unpredictability with growth curves and trajectory.
Disclaimer: These rankings are less of a traditional mock draft where I’d predict what team takes what player and more about who I’d take if I was the GM for each team. I considered my personal rankings, positional needs and recent draft history to assemble this list.
New Jersey Devils: Jack Hughes - C
Winning their 2nd first overall pick in 3 years must be an amazing feeling and it only gets better with a centre core featuring Hughes and Hischier for potentially the next decade or more. Hughes is Patrick Kane-esque and the combination of his insane skating, situational awareness and understanding of when to attack, hands, and passing give him all the tools to become a lethal offensive threat at the NHL level.
New York Rangers: Kaapo Kakko - RW/C
The first time that the New York Rangers have a top 3 pick in the expansion era and it couldn’t come at a better time. Kakko would be a remarkable addition to the rebuild and could be a player that the Rangers build around going forwards. The big Finn plays around the boards and uses his strength and hands to protect the puck in effort of creating a better play. Like Hughes he has that awareness of the situation that will trouble other teams and make him all the more harder to defend.
Chicago Blackhawks: Alex Turcotte - C
If I were Chicago, I would be looking at adding a forward after drafting tons of defensive prospects over the last two drafts. Turcotte is a determined and very complete player. The speedy two-way playmaker also currently leads the USHL in points per game and while he has suffered from a from injuries early this season, what he’s done in his limited time has been great. The only NTDP player that currently has a higher points per game is Jack Hughes meaning that he’s outproduced peers such as Zegras, Caufield and Boldy, mostly done while centring his own line away from Hughes..
Colorado Avalanche: Bowen Byram - LHD
I almost had a forward like Zegras here but they could add a forward with their next pick. Besides, a future top pairing of Byram-Makar would be fantastic and that paired with their already amazing first line could give many teams trouble in the future. Byram is another great skater that can weave past players and create opportunities offensively. Also gives the effort defensively and can be seen making the right plays. Set the record this season for most WHL overtime goals in a single season.
LA Kings: Trevor Zegras - C/LW
The LA Kings lack top end prospects and this draft could be a great place to start. They have the opportunity to add to their bare pool of defensive prospects if Byram’s available but if not, shooting for a potential 1C makes sense. Especially if the concerns with Vilardi’s back are valid.
Detroit Red Wings: Dylan Cozens - C/RW
Detroit selecting Dylan Cozens is something that I could definitely see. Cozens is a bigger centre that skates really well for his size and has a hard shot and those qualities could be used in Detroit. He could be a fantastic 2C behind Larkin but he can also can play right wing adding to his versatility.
Buffalo Sabres: Matthew Boldy - LW
It was a hard decision between Boldy and York but I think that the Sabres could use a winger like Boldy a bit more right now. The American is a complete winger possessing very few flaws and is great at anticipation. Nice hands and shot too. Could compliment Eichel or Mittelstadt/Reinhart very well.
Edmonton Oilers: Peyton Krebs - LW/C
The Albertan winger has played on a bad Kootenay team that is relocating to Winnipeg this following season. He’s a smart, tenacious, pass-first forward who like Boldy could compliment a line well. On a team like Edmonton who is in dire need of scoring from the wing, Krebs could be perfect as an addition.
Anaheim Ducks: Kirby Dach - C
The big, playmaking centre who is also physically engaged draws comparison to fellow Duck Ryan Getzlaf. Dach has the potential to be special but concerns with pace and consistency may hold him back. If I’m the Ducks, the risk certainly could be one worth taking.
Vancouver Canucks: Cole Caufield - RW
The Canucks aren’t scared of smaller players and that is easily seen when looking at their recent top 10 picks. With Caufield, he’s a risky pick due to concerns about how his transition to higher levels of hockey would work out. He’s much smaller than the average NHLer and plays on a superteam with the NTDP on a line with Jack Hughes but there is no denying the skill present with Caufield. Near a goal per game, Caufield set the record for most goals with the US program and has the potential to be elite.
Philadelphia Flyers: Cam York - LHD
The Flyers may not need York but he is the best player available in that spot in my eyes and it doesn’t hurt to add depth to one of the best prospect pools in the league. As mentioned often, York is a new age type defenceman. He skates well, has a solid shot, and is great in transition.
Minnesota Wild: Alex Newhook - C
Another risky pick. Newhook has the potential of an elite centre but also has some red flags. He’s played in the BCHL and the numbers produced are at a rate lower than that of Tyson Jost. Internationally he’s also either not been invited or had a disappointing tournament for the most part. He still possess excellent offensive skills and has the ability to change a game. Minnesota has lacked an elite centre and embarking on the retool by attempting to address that spot could be the way to go. For Newhook, the upcoming u18’s will be massive for his stock.
Florida Panthers: Victor Soderstrom - RHD
The Swedish defenceman is the top ranked right handed defenceman and has played 44 games in the SHL. A team like Florida could really use another option on defence and that guy option be Soderstrom.
Arizona Coyotes: Arthur Kaliyev - LW
Arizona is a team that would benefit from more firepower on offence and Kaliyev could provide that. Getting a sniper to put alongside players like Keller or Hayton would be ideal for the Coyotes as they lack that type of prospect. Concerns about his effort and all around game are out there and are there for a reason but he still put up 50 goals and 100 points at age 17. An extremely impressive feat.
Montreal Canadiens: Bobby Brink - RW
Montreal’s centre pool has grown tremendously in recent years with players like Kotkaniemi, Suzuki, and Poehling in the system. The next step would be to add a winger and Brink is one who has risen on people’s rankings throughout the year. Playing in the USHL, he leads all u18 players in goals and assists and is 3rd among all USHL players in points per game, only trailing Hughes and Turcotte.