March Mock Draft: Round One

The Saskatoon blades host the Calgary Hitmen at the Sask Tel Centre Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada, December 07, 2016
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The March edition of my mock draft will include five rounds and will be up to date with all of the picks traded at the 2019 trade deadline. As I’ve said many times, this draft is a bit of a weak draft. Teams will have to do their homework in every round, not just the first round, if they want to be successful. The first round of this draft will be available to everyone, while the last four rounds of this edition will be exclusive to my patrons. You can learn more about becoming a patron here. For this mock draft, I am using NHL Central Scouting’s midterm rankings, Future Considerations’ March rankings, and my own rankings of prospects.

First Round

1. Colorado – Jack Hughes, C (USA NTDP)

                Colorado may have lost Duchene, but they get a player who will be much better than Duchene. The Avs are much better off with the first overall pick this year than the fourth overall pick last year, which is what baffles me. If Ottawa knew that they’d be as bad, if not, worse than the team was in 2018, why would they trade this pick? Colorado gets Hughes in addition to Bowers and a 2019 third.

2. Detroit – Kaapo Kakko, RW (TPS Turku, Liiga)

                Kakko will be a star player as well and is in the same place that Laine was in during the 2015-2016 season. Kakko has shown that he has the potential to be better than Aleksander Barkov in the Liiga this season, which would be a huge add for the Red Wings. Let’s hope that the Wings can actually put a good team around him now.

3. Los Angeles – Dylan Cozens, C (Lethbridge, WHL)

                Cozens is a quick player that also has size, something that Los Angeles always seems to covet. They’re a team that needs to get both younger and faster, and drafting Cozens will be the quickest way to do that. Cozens may not have as high of a ceiling as Dach, but he’s an excellent prospect, nonetheless.

4. New Jersey – Kirby Dach, C (Saskatoon, WHL)

                Dach has a lot of size and could be the second best playmaker in this draft, behind only Jack Hughes. His transition game is a little rough due to his average speed, but it has improved throughout this season. Dach has high-end offensive upside, especially if he can get his skating worked out. He’s also using his shot a little more, which is promising.

5. Anaheim – Bowen Byram, LHD (Vancouver, WHL)

                Byram is elite, and there’s no doubt about that. He’s good in his own end, has great speed, and is starting to become an impact player in the offensive zone. The sky is the limit for Byram, who has impressed me more and more as the season has gone on. There aren’t any other defensemen in this draft that stack up to him, so Anaheim gets a good one here.

6. Vancouver – Peyton Krebs, C (Kootenay, WHL)

                The Canucks may miss out on Quinn’s brother, but Peyton Krebs will be great for them in the future. He’ll need another year to work on his shooting skills and to hopefully play for a better team, but Krebs is very close to being ready for the NHL. He’s a great playmaker and a leader, and some scouts think that he could be better than he looks right now.

7. New York Rangers – Vasili Podkolzin, RW (Ska St. Petersburg, MHL)

I’m pretty sure that Podkolzin’s decision making is the reason why I don’t like him. He has the tendency to overthink things and turn the puck over because his teammates weren’t where he thought that they would be. That may keep him from being a great player in the NHL, but he’s too talented for the Rangers to pass up.

8. Edmonton – Alex Turcotte, C (USA NTDP)

                Turcotte is a great pickup for Edmonton, a team desperate for center depth. He’s primarily a playmaker and uses his elite vision and hockey sense to make plays that not a lot of players in the USHL can. Turcotte is close to being NHL ready and will only need a year or two in college before turning to the pros. How can the Oilers mess this up? A big worry for me is that the Oilers will sign him too early out of desperation.

9. Buffalo – Philip Broberg, LHD (AIK, Allsvenskan)

                Broberg is a bit of a risky pick. He’s too good for U20 hockey but isn’t good enough for the SHL, so he’s playing in the Swedish second-tier league. There’s a lot to like about him. Decent physicality, good size, great skating, strong defensive play, and more. There’s also enough about him to have him fall out of the top ten, perhaps even the top fifteen. His offensive game is weak and he’s terrible with the puck. He’s this year’s Timothy Liljegren.

10. Chicago – Matthew Boldy, LW (USA NTDP)

                Boldy is a goal scorer that can drive play against the right competition. He’s still working out a few kinks in his game and will likely need two to three years in college before cracking an NHL roster. If he can maintain this growth pattern, Boldy will be a great second line winger for Chicago.

11. Colorado – Arthur Kaliyev, RW (Hamilton, OHL)

                Kaliyev is the most polarizing forward in this draft without question. Reasons to love him are his shot, hockey sense, and strong playmaking ability. Reasons to dislike Kaliyev are compete level, inability to carry a line, and average speed. The Avs have a solid group of forwards, and with the addition of Jack Hughes, they can afford to take a risk with Kaliyev.

12. Florida – Victor Soderstrom, RHD (Brynas, SHL)

                Soderstrom is a very safe pick for the Panthers. They’re a team that has needed to get over the bubble for years now, and Soderstrom helps. He’s likely going to be an NHL player, but there are questions about his ceiling. He likely peaks as a second pairing defenseman. Soderstrom’s two-way game is close to being NHL ready and we’ve seen his offensive game evolve this season.

13. Minnesota – Trevor Zegras, C (USA NTDP)

                Minnesota lucks out with Zegras here. He’s a player that’s capable of doing a lot at the NHL level, particularly in terms of playmaking. There are issues with his compete level that should not be ignored, and there are times where he’s content with just going through the motions. He’ll have one more year in the USHL before attending Boston University.

14. Arizona – Ryan Suzuki, C (Barrie, OHL)

                Suzuki has fallen a bit out of favor with me as the season has gone on. I love his hockey sense and the way that he passes, but I’ve come to realize that there’s not a lot else to how he plays. He’s not a shooter and will pass on an empty net if he sees a teammate. Suzuki does skate a lot better than his brother does, so that’s encouraging.

15. Philadelphia – Cam York, LHD (USA NTDP)

                York is a prospect with a very high ceiling. There’s enough potential to make me think that he could be a top pairing defenseman someday. There’s also a good chance that he isn’t able to make it to the NHL. York’s vision and ability to skate into the zone with speed are great assets and will propel him to NHL success. All he needs is work in his own end.

16. Dallas – Cole Caufield, RW (USA NTDP)

                Caufield is a natural goal scorer with a lot of potential. He could easily hit 30 goals a year in the NHL, but what could hold him back is average skating and below average defensive play. His goal scoring strength is too good to pass up, though, especially since Dallas has a lack of depth in their system.

17. Montreal – Raphael Lavoie, C (Halifax, QMJHL)

                Lavoie is yet another perplexing prospect. He has elite offensive instincts and can be dangerous if he wants to. His issue is consistency and the fact that he’s not all that impressive outside of the offensive zone. He struggles with carrying the puck in on occasion and he just doesn’t do a good job of dominating play on a consistent basis. High end potential is enticing but there’s also a high chance for Lavoie to be a bust.

18. Anaheim (via St. Louis) – Moritz Sieder, RHD (Mannheim, DEL)

                Sieder is the only good prospect to come out of the DEL this season, and he’s capable of a lot. Sieder has a ton of speed, defensive skill, and can move the puck well. The fact that he’s playing in a men’s league is also great, even though it’s not a great league. He’ll need a few years in order to develop into a top four defenseman.

19. Vegas – Thomas Harley, LHD (Mississauga, OHL)

                Vegas traded away their best defensive prospect for Mark Stone. Why not replace him with a prospect that could be excellent down the road? Harley is a little erratic at times and will sometimes lose track of what he’s doing. There are other times where he can’t be stopped in the offensive zone and he’s an absolute pest. If he can find out how to do the latter more often than the former, he’ll be one of the most annoying defensemen to play against.

20. Ottawa (via Columbus) – Alex Newhook, C (Victoria, BCHL)

                The “meh” return for Matt Duchene results in a “meh” pick for the Senators. Newhook has been consistently great in the BCHL for quite some time now, which would be amazing except for the fact that it’s the BCHL. It’s not a great league and it will likely mean that Newhook will struggle against better competition. If he can end up being a consistent player, it’s possible that he develops into a second line center. Still, not getting an A-tier prospect for a guy like Matt Duchene is not good.

21. Carolina – Jakob Pelletier, C (Moncton, QMJHL)

                There aren’t many options for the Canes at this point. There are a few defensemen available, but that’s nowhere near the biggest need for the team as it stands right now. I also wanted a player that shoots right handed, but there aren’t many of them either. Pelletier is a great player that has tons of skill both with and without the puck. He’s more of a playmaker but has an excellent shot to go along with that. Pelletier will need time to develop outside of the QMJHL, but once he makes it to the NHL, he could be a very good player. I’m still an advocate for trading the pick if the right deal comes across.

22. Nashville – Connor McMichael, C (London, OHL)
                McMichael is a player that’s great in the offensive zone and is getting better elsewhere with each game. He has elite offensive skills, which cause some scouts to believe that he could be a great second line player. Some scouts do think that he is only good because of his teammates and that there are some issues with consistency.

23. Pittsburgh – Matthew Robertson, LHD (Edmonton, OHL)

                Robertson has good hockey sense and projects as a second pairing defenseman. There are some who think that he could be one of the best two-way defenders taken in this draft, while there are some that are still on the fence. He’s been inconsistent in my viewings of him, but I do see potential in how he plays.

24. New York Rangers (via Winnipeg) – Simon Holmstrom, RW (HV71, SHL)

                The Rangers have gone to Europe for all but one of their five first round picks in the past two years. Chytil has been excellent for the Rangers, while Andersson has been a bit underwhelming thus far. Kravtsov and Lundkvist look to be NHL players, and K’Andre Miller was one of the best freshmen in the NCAA this season. The Rangers will likely go for another safe pick in this draft, choosing Holmstrom. He’s a good albeit unimpressive forward that is more of a playmaker. He’s similar to Lias Andersson, so I wonder if the Rangers will actually draft Holmstrom or not. I’ve heard that they’re not very happy with Andersson’s potential.

25. New York Islanders – Samuel Poulin, LW (Sherbrooke, QMJHL)

                Poulin compares to Jordan Staal in the sense that he’s a big forward that plays an excellent two-way game. His offensive potential is that of a third line forward, however, so there isn’t a very high ceiling here. He’ll likely end up being a third line player capable for 30-40 points, but rarely any more than that.

26. Washington – Bobby Brink, RW (Sioux City, USHL)

                Brink is the version of Jakob Pelletier that scores goals as opposed to makes plays. He’s quick, capable of scoring in bunches, and can capitalize on turnovers. He’s just not all that great in his own end and can be a liability away from the puck.

27. Los Angeles (via Toronto) – Brett Leason, C (Prince Albert, WHL)

                Leason’s ceiling isn’t all that high. As a double overage player, you’d hope that he would start to dominate the WHL. He’ll likely be a third line player if he makes it to the NHL, but he does bring some much needed speed into Los Angeles’ lineup. Leason is a big forward, which is something that LA historically goes for in the drafts.

28. Buffalo (via San Jose) – Philip Tomasino, C (Niagara, OHL)

                Buffalo can’t pass up on a player that can be dangerous almost every time he steps onto the ice. There are concerns that Tomasino is only as good as his teammates are, but I’ve seen him play and know that he can be dangerous by himself. He’s a pain in the ass to play against and should be a very fun player in the future.

29. Boston – Nolan Foote, LW (Kelowna, WHL)

                Foote may not have as high of a ceiling as a lot of his competition in the WHL this year, but he’s likely an NHL player. His grit, speed, and shot make him a very valuable prospect for a team that could use some depth on the third line in a few years.

30. Calgary – Spencer Knight, G (USA NTDP)

                The Flames need goaltending, and Spencer Knight could easily be the goalie of the future for the Flames. He’s been lauded as the best American-born goalie prospect since Jonathan Quick, which should excite Flames fans. Knight will need a year or two in college and then some AHL time before being ready for the NHL but will be able to step into an NHL lineup immediately after that and become the starter.

31. Tampa Bay – Nils Hoglander, LW (Rogle, SHL)

                Hoglander may be small, but he has a lot of potential. He’s surprisingly strong for a player his age and has a shot that surprises goalies. Tampa turns undersized players into stars, so it’s very possible that they do it again. Still, this pick could belong to the Rangers if Tampa wins the Cup.

This is a weird draft. You could make an argument that almost any player outside of the top ten or fifteen players deserve to be picked in the second round. The Hurricanes have their work cut out for them if they want to make this draft a successful one.

1 Comment
  1. MoonDragn says

    There is no way NJ would pass up Byram at #4. Their biggest need is a #1 D-man right now.

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