2017 NHL Draft Recap

Like most years, the NHL Draft is exciting and frustrating. Exciting when a team like Vancouver overturns the apple cart and takes Pettersson at fifth overall, or Detroit selecting Ramsussen ninth. Frustrating when guys you see potential in and ranked high fall, like Tolvanen, Kostin, and Chmelevski.

I’ll keep this short and brief as I’ll be doing more podcasts on this subject this and/or next week.

Quick list of my favorite picks of the draft:

1 5 VAN Elias Pettersson C
1 11 LAK Gabe Vilardi C
1 15 VGK Erik Branstrom D
1 30 NSH Eeli Tolvanen W
1 31 STL Klim Kostin W
2 36 NJD Jesper Boqvist C/W
2 40 FLA Aleksi Heponiemi W
2 44 ARZ Filip Westerlund D
2 59 TOR Eemeli Rasanen D
2 61 NSH Grant Msimash W
3 63 NJD Fabian Zetterlund W
3 85 MIN Ivan Lodnia W
4 98 NJD Nikita Popugayev W
4 106 PHI Matthew Strome W
4 115 EDM Ostap Safin W
4 117 CBJ Emil Bemstrom C
5 127 VGK Lukas Elvenes C/W
5 129 NJD Gilles Senn G
5 146 EDM Kirill Maksimov RW
5 151 WSH Sebastian Walfridsson D
6 168 PHI Olle Lycksell RW
6 184 FLA Sebastian Repo RW
6 185 SJS Sasha Chmelevski W
7 212 SJS Ivan Chekhovich W


Draft Grades

Here’s my immediate reaction Draft Team Grades. These grades were mainly given to the number of prospective NHL players I think the team can promote out of that group, the value to pick ratio, and if they passed over someone who was obviously a better pick for them. A team like Minnesota didn’t have a pick until the 85th overall, however, they made good use of the picks they did have nabbing Ivan Lodnia and Mason Shaw at great spots. Colorado had a questionable draft. Makar at fourth overall is a huge risk for a franchise in desperate need of actual defensive prospects. Timmins, their second selection, was a safer pick but they passed up on multiple better defenders twice. I’m not a big fan of Henry, and the later picks I did like still carry tons of risk. Those are the two most extreme cases, though.

A1 Good Average Questionable

George McPhee and Scott Luce really nailed this draft for Vegas. I am not as high on Cody Glass as everyone else (and I would have picked Vilardi at 6 for Vegas….and 7, 8, 9, and 10) but I can’t fault that choice with Brannstrom picked at 15th, who was my answer to the “why pass over Makar?” question, and Suzuki at 13th, who we ranked at 26th but is a great compliment to Glass. Vegas then rattled off five more picks I liked, including Lukas Elvenes and Maxim Zhukov.

Ray Shero and New Jersey have had one my favorite draft boards in the last two years. This year they got to pick number one and that only helps. But then add Boqvist, Zetterlund, Popugayev… they even added a 21 year old Swiss back up goalie for next year named Gilles Senn. Three 7th round picks, making kids dreams. In NHL12, Shero would earn another phone.

Philadelphia, though, was the team at the draft this year. Nolan Patrick is arguably the best player in this draft and I’d venture was the #1 guy on Hextall’s list. Hextall threw around his weight at this draft. Traded Schenn for two firsts, overpaid pretty solidly to move up five spots just to take the prospect a lot of teams were hype about, as if their prospect pool needed him. The Flyers had nine picks at the end of the two days, the first eight I see value in, even if I didn’t agree with who they selected. All likelihood Philadelphia leaves this draft with three or four NHL players and another great lotto ticket–an extra 1st round draft pick in a deeper 2018 draft.

That leaves the Flyers with an insane talent pool to draw from over the next five years.


On the other end of the Farm System rankings would be the Florida Panthers, who had a good draft (B/B+) but are adding to an empty basket.

I was right to worry Florida would select Tippett at 10th overall, and though I would have picked eight or nine different guys, most notably Gabe Vilardi a consensus top 3-5 pick who fell to 11th overall, Tippett is highly thought of by scouts throughout the industry. Our On The Clock feature we lined up who we would pick for the Panthers first three picks, we pegged Heponiemi as the 2nd best available player at 40th overall and our pick, Jesper Boqvist, was already off the board. Max Gildon was one of our three sleepers for 66th pick and was ranked as honorable mention in our guide, where we said any HM could go 66th overall.

I would have prefered only one of Gildon and Inamoto (Gildon), and would have taken Sasha Chmelevski in the 5th round, or a high ceiling European forward. You see what Florida was trying to do with the Inamoto pick, though. Double chances of a D from this class making it to NHL and grab someone with good chemistry with the other. I like the Repo pick in the 6th–second year in a row they have attacked second or third year eligible European who they wanted to sign. That’s a good habit to get in and a really good investment to make with 6th and 7th round picks.

More important than how good their prospect pool is, now, the Panthers are settling into a good drafting process that is visibly noticeable between this year and last year. Building upon that will be key to finding value as their NHL club will give them worse and worse picks to use. PCS so far has shown the ability to steer draft selections in a more skilled and European direction. Tallon has a great eye for talent and tons of good draft years under his belt. Other than their current core five players: Huberdeau, Barkov, Trocheck, Ekblad, Matheson, this is currently Florida’s greatest strength as an organization/franchise.

Here’s what their prospect pool looks like now. Keep in mind Denis Malgin played too many games; Matheson,  Rau, Weegar, Haapala are too old.


Woof. At least with this prospect pool, the Panthers may not be 30th or 31st worst in the league. I know I’ll get angry, “Why is Owen Tippett ranked below Aleksi Heponiemi?” questions but that’s how I ranked them going into the draft, I don’t see why I would change my tune just because Panthers drafted him first.


That’s the best thing about these grades and rankings and prospects… they are all subject to change.


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