Note: these picks are not subject to trade and are as is before the draft.
Wouldn’t rule out Draisaitl going in the top 4. This was made a while ago*
1. Florida: Aaron Ekblad, D
Overview: Ekblad is a future top-2 defenseman of the Panthers. He provides the complete package, and has been spoken highly of him. Ekbkad would form nicely into the prospect system consisting of Huberdeau, Howden and Barkov, and a weak defense up until this draft. The Panthers will be lucky to nab him.
2. Buffalo: Sam Bennett, C/LW
Overview: Yes, it’s not Sam Reinhart. Bennett is a good fit because he provides the dual eligibility aspect to his game. He can be moved to the LW for Buffalo, where they are lacking for prospects. The Sabres already went out and drafted Grigensons and Grigerenko, both centers, and already have Cody Hodgson. Bennett is a good fit.
3. Edmonton: Sam Reinhart, C
Overview: Edmonton may have to start having some forwards play defense in the future. Provided no trades are made for the #1 pick, it’ll be another forward year for Edmonton and Reinhart is the best choice. It would be foolish to take Fleury or McKeowen at #3 unless they would want to trade down. Reinhart is no slouch none the less.
4. Calgary: Michael Dal Colle, C
Overview: Dal Colle is an oddball at #4 at this point, but it makes sense. Dal Colle can either play LW or C, and with no top RW prospects other than Ritchie, the Flames must capitalize on taking him. He could be the #1 center of the future and the perfect playmaker for Sven Baertschi.
5. New York Islanders: William Nylander, LW
Overview: Nylander, Michael’s son, is an obvious choice for New York. He is the sniper they need in the system for Strome, and can prove to be one of the best scorers in the draft, much like when the Islanders took Mike Bossy. Nylander could be the long term solution to the Isles’ first line LW gap.
6. Vancouver: Leon Draisaitl, C/LW
Overview: Draisaitl with the drop. Projected to be top-3 midseason, we have him going #6 to Vancouver. He is another sniper and is primarily a LW player. He could be the answer to Daniel Sedin’s departure in the future but a 2nd or 3rd liner until then.
7. Carolina: Nikolaj Ehlers, LW
Overview: Ehlers is a sure fire pick. The small winger has the scoring touch to score 25-30 a year, and already has pro experience with Biel, playing with Patrick Kane and Tyler Seguin during the lockout. He also isn’t afraid to turn into a grinder.
8. Toronto: Kasperi Kapanen, LW
Overview: Kapenen not only has a winning history, but is a good leader. He shows a lot of heart, and despite not being a dynamic player, still provides a good punch for #7 overall.
9. Winnipeg: Nick Ritchie, RW
Overview: Ritchie is a great #9 pick for Winnipeg. His large size and toughness add another aspect to his game, and he is not afraid to drop the gloves. Ritchie could nestle in fine as the 2nd line RW for Winnipeg in the future.
10. Anaheim (via Ottawa): Brandon Perlini, LW
Overview: Perlini is the scoring touch Anaheim needs. He uses his big size to shield the puck well and use it to his help on getting assists. He is also unafraid to shoot and has one of the better shots in this draft when used to its ability.
11. Nashville: Ivan Barbashev, RW
Overview: Ivan Barbashev’s style is very impressive with his eyesight and dynamic plays. His fast moving offense will be complementary moving forward with Peter Laviolette.
12. Phoenix: Sonny Milano, LW
Overview: Milano’s offensive aggressiveness makes him perfect for Phoenix. The aging Coyotes need a spark at offense, and they are stacked on defensive prospects. Milano’s one on one play is fantastic, and his hands are one of the best in the draft.
13. Washington: Haydn Fleury, D
Overview: The Caps HAVE to take defense in this draft. They have enough offense, and Fleury’s two way game would fit in perfectly for the future. Fleury is primarily a playmaking defenseman, and is the 2nd best defenseman after Ekblad.
14. Dallas: Jake Virtanen, C/LW
Overview: Virtanen’s draft stock dropped due to his injury a little this year, as he is out 4-6 months. His terrific skating and soft hands make him a perfect combo to fit in with Nichuskin for the future for Dallas.
15. Detroit: Jared McCann, LW
Overview: McCann is the perfect two-way forward for Detroit’s system. He has the ability to make plays, as well as get back on defense and kill penalties effectively. His skating is already top notch as well.
16. Columbus: Robby Fabbri, LW
Overview: Fabbri is a sure fire pick. He posted 86 points in 58 games, the small forward is one of the purest scorers in this draft. His scoring style would fit perfectly with Ryan Johansen.
17. Philadelphia: Dylan Larkin, LW
Overview: Larkin is one of the better power forward in the draft. His big body helps him create unique plays and plays similar to Wayne Simmonds’ play.
18. Minnesota Wild: Thatcher Demko, G
Overview: Demko is the best goalie prospect in this draft, and the Wild can’t risk waiting until round 2 for him, much like teams did with Zach Fucale. Demko has great positioning, and could take over Kuemper as the Wild’s best prospect goalie.
19. Tampa Bay: David Pastrnak, LW/RW
Overview: Pastrnak improves the Lightning’s depth at left wing from this draft. His offensive instinct would come in handy with Nikita Kucherov, although is a little scrawny and needs to add weight to become a dynamic player.
20. San Jose: Alex Tuch, C/RW
Overview: San Jose needs to start looking for a long term replacement for Joe Thornton. Tuch’s big frame and soft hands are exactly like Big Joe, with a little more of a scoring touch. Tuch also has a lightning quick release.
21. St. Louis: Nikita Scherbak, LW
Overview: Scherbak fits well into St. Louis’ gritty play. He’s not afraid to go in on the forecheck and pressure defenseman to their limit. His quick plays also allows for quick entries into the zone and odd man rushes.
22. Pittsburgh: Josh Ho-Sang, RW
Overview: Ho-Sang is an explosive player perfect for Pittsburgh. His playmaking abilities are great, and has quite the goal scoring touch as well. He is a streaky player however, and high risk at stints.
23. Colorado: Jakub Vrana, RW
Overview: Vrana’s smallish size drags his down in the draft rankings a little bit. His deking is great, although he only posted 3 points in 26 games last season. His defense needs a little work, however.
24. Anaheim: Adrian Kempe, C
Overview: Kempe’s lack of scoring last season really drags him down this draft. This gritty grinding forward is not afraid to go on the forecheck or kill penalties. His ethic to drive toward the net is also evident in every game.
25. Boston: Nikolay Goldobin, RW
Overview: Goldobin is a scary scorer. He compiled 94 points in 68 games last year, and has some of the best instincts for being this low in the draft. He’s a threat wherever he goes in the offensive zone.
26. Montreal: Connor Bleakley, C
Overview: Bleakley is yet another two-way forward. He gets almost as many goals as assists, and is a grindy type forward. He is an aggressive forechecker as well.
27. Chicago: Julius Honka, D
Overview: Despite being small, Honka is one of the purest offensive defenseman in this lackluster draft of defensemen. His playmaking ability and defensive awareness make him a sure fire guy to add to Chicago’s blueline.
28. Tampa Bay (via New York Rangers): Nick Schmaltz, RW
Overview: Schmaltz is offensively toned for greatness. He is always in scoring position, however, is a slow skater. If he works on that, combined with his shot, he could become a prominent 2nd/3rd liner of the future.
29. Los Angeles: Roland McKeowen, D
Overview:McKeowen is the tough guy of the draft. He’s not afraid to fight, and is the shut down defensive defenseman that LA needs to complement their offensive core with Doughty and Voynov.
30. New Jersey (penalty taken away for Ilya Kovalchuk situation): Ryan MacInnis, C
Overview: MacInnis, at 6’4, is able to not only use his size to create plays, but to finish them too. He is not afraid to get out in front of the net and get garbage goals.
Notable snubs that could be taken: Anthony DeAngelo, Travis Sanheim, Eric Cornell, Anton Karlsson, Kevin Fiala, Brendan Lemieux.
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-Kevin, @KMartinTNF, @TheNHLFiles