Fantasy Ranking the 2017 NHL Entry Draft

by Peter Harling on January 24, 2017

2017 NHL Draft

Fantasy Ranking the 2017 NHL Draft Eligible Prospects

DobberProspects is proud to bring back the experts consensus fantasy ranking for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.

Last year the first edition of the fantasy ranking was released and to this day is the highest viewed post on our sites history. We are the only site to bring you a fantasy ranking for the upcoming NHL draft for your fantasy hockey draft.

Sure there are other draft rankings, from excellent independent scouting teams such as McKeens, Hockey Prospect.com, ISS scouting to media sites such as Jeff Marek for Sports Net and Craig Button for TSN, but none of them tell you how to rank them for fantasy hockey drafts.

That’s where the scouts from DobberProspects come in, and for this project we also recruited the opinions of several prominent outside scouts as well. In total 12 scouts have contributed their own fantasy ranking the top 31 prospects and below you will find the consensus rankings. Not only is the following list focused on fantasy values, it is also not just one scouts set of eyes.

The following criteria were considered to compile the rankings:

  • Based on points only keeper leagues
  • Projected upside
  • How quickly they may develop into an NHL player and contribute to your roster
  • Probability of success, both in reaching the NHL and achieving full potential

Player comparisons are based on playing style and not a point forecast.

We invited the following 12 scouts to contribute to this ranking

Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) - Draft Analyst

Ryan Wagman (@RAWagman) – McKeens Hockey, Hockey Prospectus

Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) – Future Considerations/Pension Plan Puppets

Mark Seidel (@MarkSeidel) North American Central Scouting

Brock Otten (@BrockOtten) – OHL Prospects

Anthony Mauro (@draftbuzzhockey) – Draft Buzz Hockey

Cam Robinson (@CrazyJoeDavola3) DobberProspects Senior Writer – Vancouver Canucks

Zachary DeVine (@zakkthebear) DobberProspects Senior Writer, The Hockey Writers – San Jose Sharks

Brad Phillips (@BradHPhillips) DobberProspects Senior Writer – Ottawa Senators/St. Louis Blues

Kevin LeBlanc (@kleblanchockey) – DobberProspects Associate Editor – Carolina Hurricanes

Joel Henderson (@dathockeydoe) DobberProspects Senior Writer  - Calgary Flames

Peter Harling (@pharling) DobberProspects Managing Editor, Co-Host DobberProspects Radio (@DPR_Show)

1. Nolan Patrick, Center – Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL) 6-3, 195

Comparable: Ryan Getzlaf

People seem to have quickly forgotten how good this kid is. He will become a very good centre that is responsible over 200 feet and will put up points.  -Mark Seidel

Everything you want in a traditional first overall pick: Size, skill and a high hockey IQ. His skating isn’t a supreme plus but should allow him to transition to the NHL immediately. Safe 2C projection with 1C potential – Cam Robinson

2. Nico Hischier, Center – Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL) 6-0, 176

Comparable: Claude Giroux

A true offensive weapon. As a prospect, he is better than either Nino Niederreiter or Timo Meier. In other words, best Swiss prospect ever. Great puck skills and a very slippery skater. Offensively creative and a joy to watch play. – Ryan Wagman

Hischier’s speed will allow him to be an NHL presence sooner rather than later. – Scott Wheeler

Perhaps not a “generational player” like McDavid orMatthews but should be the first player picked in any fantasy prospect draft this season as he is the best bet to produce points and starting in 2017-18. - Peter Harling

The WJC's were his coming out party & the world saw that this kid will be a star. A dynamic offensive player that will put up points in the NHL. Is the most exciting player in the Draft.  - Mark Seidel

3. Eeli Tolvanen, RW/LW – Soiux City Musketeers (USHL) 5-10, 181

Comparable: Phil Kessel

Shot machine with size concerns, phenomenal release and hard shot for such a small player. Shifty skater with some grit in his game. – Zachary DeVine

Finnish-born sniper with a lethal shot who’ll move on to Boston College after what should be a memorable USHL career. Tolvanen is an expert sharpshooter with a quick release, and his ability to pick corners off the pass is reminiscent of countryman Patrik Laine. Tolvanen doesn’t have Laine’s size, but he’s strong on the puck and escapes from the tough battles right into shooting position. He’s a strong skater who likes to speed down the wing before unloading a labeled shot. – Steve Kournianos

Tolvanen has quickly become one of the most exciting prospects in this year’s class and his fantasy ceiling is high because of the way he generates offence. - Scott Wheeler

4. Casey Mittelstadt, Center/LW- Eden Prairie High (USHS) 5-11,192

Comparable: Rick Nash

Casey might be further away than some prospects, but his combination of size and skill will be worth the wait. – Scott Wheeler

Left with nothing to prove, Mittelstadt bolted the USHL as its top scorer for an emotional return to Eden Prairie, Minnesota, where he is the undisputed top high school hockey prospect in America. Mittelstadt is a goal scorer with an excellent shot/release who can set up line mates, kill penalties and control the tempo of a power play. He’s by no means menacing, but his size, skill and compete level present him as an intimidating player who can be impossible to stop. – Steve Kournianos

Not the biggest Centre in the draft but built like a pit bull. Tremendous stick skills and has ability to really help on the power play. - Mark Seidel

5. Owen Tippett, RW – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) 6-1, 202

Comparable: Kyle Okposo

After a very slow start, he's been sensational the last few months. Takes over games with his speed and ability to drive the net/scoring lanes. Will shoot from anywhere on the ice. His two-way game is slowly improving. - Brock Otten

Maybe the best shot in the entire draft, he’s a sniper. Good size and skating to go with it, if he lands on a team with a true top center, it could be explosive. - Zachary DeVine

A goal scorer with speed is a highly desired commodity in the NHL. Tippett loves to shoot the puck, has a terrific release and an accurate shot. Tippett also has impressive size that will translate well at higher levels and skating is an asset as well as he possesses good two-step acceleration and a fast top gear. He was underwhelming at the Ivan Hlinka tournament to start the season, but was impressive for team OHL in the Canada Russia series, albeit a small sample size. – Peter Harling

6. Gabriel Vilardi, Center – Windsor Spitfires (OHL) 6-3, 201

Comparable: Sean Monahan

Hasn't skipped a beat since returning from an appendectomy and has been the straw the stirs the drink for the Memorial Cup hosts lately. Not an elite skater, but has absolutely everything else. Strong two-way center with a great head for the game. - Brock Otten

Big-bodied playmaker with a phenomenal understanding of the game that shook off some early-season injuries and went on a scoring binge, tallying eight goals in the first eight games back. His strengths are puck control and vision, but his hands are incredibly soft for someone who doesn’t look all that graceful on the move. If you can live with his average mobility, he’ll be sure to reward you with a blistering shot, eye-popping passes and treat every shift as an opportunity to create. - Steve Kournianos

A strong player that can play all three forward positions. Boasts strength and skill in a package that should help him translate to the NHL sooner than some prospects. There is a lot to like about his game. –Cam Robinson.

7. Timothy Liljegren, Defence – Timra (SHL-2) 6-0, 191

Comparable: Erik Karlsson

Liljegren is the best defenseman in the Draft. Loves to create offense but his defensive game is solid too. - Mark Seidel.

Smooth skating; offensive defender has plenty of raw skills. Has been compared to Drew Doughty and Erik Karlsson. However, a down season has seen his stock drop a bit, but demotion to tier two league in Sweden is an opportunity to dominate. Big time potential. - Cam Robinson

Superb skating bluelilner wasn't getting the minutes in the SHL with Rogle. Should have more chances to shine in the Allsvenskan with Timra. - Ryan Wagman

8. Elias Pettersson, Center/LW – Timra (SHL-2) 6-1, 161

Comparable: Kyle Turris

Playing with adults in the Allsvenskan and scoring at a point per game clip. - Ryan Wagman

Good not great skating but the hockey IQ is excellent. Big frame that needs to fill out, Pettersson will take a year or two but teams and owners will have their patience rewarded. Very easily see Elias as a #2 center in the NHL. – Zachary DeVine

9. Martin Necas, Center – HC Kometa Brno (CZE)6-0, 168

Comparable: Clayton Keller

Really liked what I saw from him at the World Juniors. Skating and puck handling ability appear to be elite. Just needs to get stronger to play through traffic. Excited to see what he can do at the U18's this year. – Brock Otten

 

Had a good WJC & showed that along with his offensive skills, he displayed some impressive leadership. – Mark Seidel

A quick and often-times dynamic center, has shown very well against men in the Czech top league. Likely a longer wait, but potential to be a quality fantasy player down the line. – Cam Robinson

10. Michael Rasmussen, Center – Tri-City Americans (WHL) 6-5, 203

Comparable: Kevin Hayes

Rasmussen is an all-around top center who can do anything that is asked of him. He was one of Canada’s few bright spots during a disappointing finish at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, centering the first line and anchoring an effective penalty kill. Thus far, he leads all WHL first-year eligibles with 30 goals in 48 games while playing an aggressive style bolstered by an NHL-ready frame. Rasmussen covers ground in a hurry thanks to a long, powerful stride. – Steve Kournianos

The big Tri-City center has the frame that scouts drool over. He is likely more valuable in multi-cats, but has the offensive chops, especially in the shooting department, that he can’t fall further than this. – Zachary DeVine

Really liked what I saw from him at the Hlinka in the summer. Big kid who knows his role on the ice, which is to operate near the crease. Good hands in close and got himself in good scoring situations. Heavy player who could definitely be an NHL power forward. – Brock Otten

 

11. Kailer Yamamoto, Center/LW – Spokane Chiefs (WHL) 5-8, 159

Comparable: Martin St. Louis

Don’t let his size fool you; the team that gets Yamamoto gets one of the most talented players in the class. – Scott Wheeler

Small, fast and full of creativity. He Won’t be selected nearly this high in the NHL draft, but when it comes to pure fantasy potential, he has loads of it. Will need to go to the right organization and be developed properly, but owns game-breaking ability. – Cam Robinson

Another small guy but the offensive game is complete. He can shoot, pass, create with the best of them in the draft class. If Kailer was 5’11 we’d be talking about top 5 in the Entry Draft. This is fantasy, and he has everything you want in a prospect. – Zachary DeVine

12. Lias Andersson, Center/LW – HV71 (SHL) 5-11, 198

Comparable: Sean Couturier

Andersson will be a multi-cat stud but plenty of points to go with it as well. Love his game overall, there is no weaknesses. His year with HV71 has been great for a draft eligible. NHLer for sure. – Zachary DeVine

A versatile forward that can play a variety of positions in a variety of situations. He may not be overly tall but is a strong player and is already dominating physically against his age group. He is also very skilled offensively and is an above average skater and drives the play. He projects as a safe NHL prospect with better value in multi-cat leagues – Peter Harling

13. Juuso Valimaki, Defence – Tri-City Americans (WHL) 6-2, 201

Comparable: Ryan McDonagh

One of the older players in the draft, the 18-year-old defender combines ideal size, speed and offensive upside to be a top ten pick this June. He owns a heavy shot and quick outlet passes. A future top four defender. – Cam Robinson

Another offensive force from the blueline. Did not have a very good WJC, but is killing it with Tri-City. Very good puck mover. - Ryan Wagman

Valimaki is a highly attractive prospect as he has size, skating skill and the ability to create transition offence and run a power play. He will provide offensive stats and peripheral stats from the back end. – Peter Harling.

14. Klim Kostin, Center – Dynamo (KHL) 6-3, 196

Comparable: Valeri Nichushkin

Big and strong with a mix of nastiness, he has that typical Russian skillset. His feet are good but he cheats occasionally defensively. – Mark Seidel

Kostin is a polarizing figure; he can dominate a shift withhis size and skill and then go dormant for games at a time. The fact that he refuses to come to North America despite being the top selection in the CHL import draft only adds to the fear of the dreaded ‘Russian factor’. – Cam Robinson

Has the size and the skill, but where are the points? He needs a good second half more than anyone on this list. – Ryan Wagman

15. Cody Glass, Center – Portland Winterhawks (WHL) 6-2, 170

Comparable: Ryan Johansen

Glass was a regular for the Winterhawks last year and made huge strides during this campaign. He leads Portland in scoring and he is the straw stirring the offensive drink. Needs mass, but pro-size frame. – Zachary DeVine

Loads of skill and some improved foot speed has helped push him up the draft rankings. Still has filling out to do, but has the potential to be a quality top six centre. Cam Robinson

16. Nick Suzuki, Center – Owen Sound Attack (OHL) 5-11, 183

Comparable: Joe Pavelski

One of the highest scoring draft eligible forwards this year. Criminally underrated. Doesn't possess elite size, but he's got everything else. Just a real work horse out there who thinks the game at another level. Has the skill to match the head though. - Brock Otten

Like Yamamoto, Suzuki’s talent helps him rise above other concerns. He’ll be an NHLer. – Scott Wheeler

Built for today’s version of the NHL – loads of speed and skill and a willingness to create offense out of nothing. Will need more strength but in the right situation, could be a dynamic player. - Cam Robinson

Suzuki is an undersized offensive center who in the past may have been overlooked due to his size, 5-11, 183. But by today’s standards and the way the game is trending in favor of skilled players Suzuki is an attractive prospect. He has excellent skating ability and offensive vision that makes him a very effective player. Described as a playmaker, as a 17-year-old in the OHL his 23 goals are showing scouts he not only has playmaking skills and vision, but the ability to finish as well. Suzuki may be one of the more underrated prospects in the draft and by the end of the year could be within most rankings top 31 lists. - Peter Harling

17. Miro Heiskanen, Defence – HIFK (Liiga) 6-0, 174

Comparable: Nick Leddy

High, high level skating ability and puck skills. Already playing with men with HIFK in Liiga and not looking out of place. Ryan Wagman

You can make a strong case for Heiskanen being the draft-eligible defenseman with the shortest path to the NHL, especially when you consider the big minutes he’s logging for IFK in the Finnish Liiga. He’s a cerebral puck mover with above-average speed who is rarely caught out of position, and he accumulates shots and chances by aggressively dropping down well below the dots. Heiskanen may not have cornerstone potential, but he would be an excellent top-pairing option or No. 3 to anchor a key minute-eating duo. – Steve Kournianos

18. Cale Makar, Defence – Brooks Bandits (AJHL) 5-11, 179

Comparable: Brian Campbell

Explosive and dynamic offensive defenseman who can beat you with a variety of elite skills. Makar’s understanding of the game and his ability to read plays keeps him two and three steps ahead of opponents, who treat his puck handling as the most dangerous course of action. He is extremely fast — probably the fastest among his draft-eligible peers — and whips the puck from tape to tape with authority. – Steve Kournianos

Big time draft riser may offer the most offensive skill set from the back-end this year. Playing in a tier II Canadian junior circuit, the right-handed defender displays speed, smarts and creativity to burn. His ability to run a power play as well as competent defensive abilities makes him a complete threat. - Cam Robinson

19. Nikita Popugaev, Right Wing – Prince George Cougars (WHL) 6-6, 203

Comparable: Corey Perry

Big offensive threat that should dominate on a nightly basic but he cheats defensively and his effort level varies. Tremendous offensive tools that will create points in the NHL if he figures it out. - Mark Seidel

47 points last year as a 16-year-old in the WHL, over 1.2 PPG this year. Popugaev will be interesting to watch away from Moose Jaw where his puck control skills, mixed with above-average vision and high-end skating were able to shine. – Zachary DeVine

20. Nicolas Hague, Defence – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL) 6-6, 214

Comparable: Brent Burns

Hulking defender who continues to put up points by playing aggressively in the offensive end. Plays the game a lot like Brent Burns offensively in the sense that he loves to play deep in the offensive zone, using his size to work the boards and he loves to use his booming shot, jumping up as the 3rd or 4th man in. – Brock Otten

Elite size defender with a plus offensive game. This is not another Logan Stanley. Concerns about his mobility but knows how to contribute on offense and fantasy hockey is all about the O. – Ryan Wagman

 

Massive defender with a long wingspan that helps him in the defensive zone but he has offensive skills that are surprising. Has a shot that will be on par with Shea Weber. – Mark Seidel

 

The NHL is clearly trending towards a speed game, and favors defencemen that can move the puck in transition from the defensive zone. By looking at the tale of the tape, you may think Hague is a throwback to the old days where defencemen had to be big hulking physical defensive defencemen. At 6-6, 214 pounds it would be easy to see Hague fit that mold. However, skating is far from a deficiency in his game and he is equally adept offensively as he is defensively. He has a  cannon of a shot from the point and can run the power play. – Peter Harling

 

21. Ryan Poehling, Center – St. Cloud State (NCAA) 6-3, 185

Comparable: Ryan Johansen

 

Poehling bypassed his senior year of high school to head to St. Cloud State early. Might have been a misstep. More of a two-way, second line center, but has some offensive chops as well. – Zachary DeVine

 

Producing in flashes as a true freshman with St. Cloud State, playing with his older, twin brothers. There is a lot to like about his game, but also more uncertainty than most, considering his relative ice time. – Ryan Wagman

 

22. Kristian Vesalainen, LW/RW – HPK (Liiga) 6-3, 207

Comparable: Mark Stone

 

He has already played a ton of pro hockey and it won’t take him long to adapt to the NHL game. – Scott Wheeler

 

Blessed with great size and skating ability, a poor WJC tournament for himself and most of the Fins has dropped his stock. He still possesses the potential to be a top-end power forward at the next level. – Cam Robinson

 

Good skater with intriguing puck skills. Now back in Finland with HPK after he struggled to make his mark in Sweden with Frolunda earlier in the year. Plays a power forward game.  – Ryan Wagman

 

23. Maxime Comtois, Left Wing – Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL) 6-2, 201

Comparable: Gabriel Landeskog

 

Quick, speedy player with great hockey sense and a complete game, some concerns about how his offensive game translates in terms of total output but there are no glaring holes in his game. Would be more valuable in a multi-cat. – Zachary DeVine

 

Thus far he has shown that he can score and create points but we aren't so sure. Big strong kid that gives defenseman fits along the wall and in front but his offensive upside isn't as good as many think. – Mark Seidel

 

24. Matthew Strome, Left Wing - Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL) 6-3, 201

Comparable: Johan Franzen

 

A different player than his brothers Ryan and Dylan. Power winger who plays a very solid north/south type of game. Has great vision for a big guy and excels as a playmaker in the offensive end. Has his brothers' feet though. – Brock Otten

 

Strome is the 3rd brother in the family and much like his brother Dylan, his skating is a concern. Beyond that, the kid is one of the smartest in the Draft & has very good hands. – Mark Seidel

It is difficult to separate the bias of the surname when looking at families with a pedigree of NHL success such as the Staal’s, Subban’s, and now the Stromes. Matthew is slightly different from his brothers in that first off he is not a center, he plays left wing. Currently his skating is a deficiency in his game and needs to improve to be able to keep pace at higher levels. There have been plenty of prospects that have overcome skating shortcomings in their draft year and made that a strength of their game. For now, it may keep Strome out of the first round, but in time if he can refine his skating he could be a steal in the draft. - Peter Harling

 

25. Shane Bowers, Center – Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL) 6-0, 170

Comparable:  Joe Pavelski

 

Bowers has a good compete level and skating to go with excellent offensive instincts. He has high level plays with the puck in his toolbox, but hoped to see a bigger step forward in his second USHL year. – Zachary DeVine

 

Dynamic two-way player with a high IQ to compliment his many puck skills. Bowers can create or finish plays on the rush, and is very crafty and creative. He makes difficult plays look easy, especially in traffic while acting strong on the puck to handle harassment as he’s controlling in tight spaces. Committed to Boston University, Bowers looks to slip away into an open area with the hammer cocked, as he owns a lethal shot and can fire it with accuracy even if the puck is behind, in front of or in his skates. He’s deceptive on zone entries as he can use a speed burst for a cage rush, or slow it down and dump it off to a cutter or trailer. - Steve Kournianos

26. Callan Foote, Defence – Kelowna Rockets (WHL) 6-3, 209

Comparable: Brandon Carlo

Adam Foote's kid. Not as much snarl but much more offensive potential. – Ryan Wagman

Remember a guy named Adam Foote? This kid, not surprisingly, plays a similar game. Plays heavy & physical and has shown some offensive creativity at times. – Mark Seidel

27. Isaac Ratcliffe, Left Wing – Guelph Storm (OHL) 6-5, 194

Comparable: Patrick Maroon

Hulking winger who's just scratching the surface of how good he could be. Good skater for a big man. Committed at both ends of the ice too. Once he fills out, he could be an absolute load for defenses to handle. Continues to improve every month. – Brock Otten

Big time goal scorer with a massive frame. – Cam Robinson

Ratcliffe had a tough rookie year but his sophomore season has been impressive. Uses his massive body to shield the puck, has good hands in tight and gets to the scoring areas. He needs to improve his first few steps but his long stride is good. – Mark Seidel

28. Urho Vaakanainen, Defence – JYP (Liiga) 6-1, 187

Comparable: Roman Josi

Vaakanainen is one of a handful of heralded 2017-eligible Finnish defenders who were the only thing right about his country’s abysmal showing at the recent WJC. He’s a heady, non-nonsense puck mover who held his own in the Finnish Liiga before going to the junior level. Vaakanainen is a very good skater who can attack openings and make plays under pressure. He also has a plus shot and likes to hammer it off the pass. Don’t expect him to step right in and punish opponents with physicality — that’s not his style. But he has the kind of upper-body strength, footwork and active stick to win his one-on-one battles and slip the puck onto the blade of a counterattacking teammate. Easily the safest pick of any of the European-trained defensemen as he will be no worse than a five or six at the NHL level. – Steve Kournianos

29. Robin Salo, Defence – Sport (Liiga) 6-0, 185

Comparable: T.J. Brodie

Underrated two-way defender already playing top line minutes for Vaasan Sport in SM-Liiga. Recent played LW during a game, didn’t look out of place outside of needing to fill out. He’s one that could slide in your draft but keep an eye on him. Really like his puck distribution skills. – Zachary DeVine

30. Erik Brannstrom, Defence – HV71 (SHL) 5-10, 172

Comparable: Ryan Ellis

Heady defender with excellent offensive skills who would have challenged for first overall had  been two inches taller. Brannstrom is a high-end puck distributor with a booming shot who uses powerful leg drive and upper-body strength to make up for his lack of length. He was the top scorer among defensemen in goals and assists for HV71’s junior squad before getting a bump to the pros, where he’s had a tough time adjusting.  – Steve Kournianos

31. Robert Thomas, Center – London Knights (OHL) 5-10, 176

Comparable: Chris Drury

Huge fan of this kid. Has a million dollar head for the game at both ends. Looks terrific on the powerplay. His stats will likely take a bit of a hit with all the guys London brought in at the deadline, but don't let that fool you. He's a player. – Brock Otten

Thomas never has a poor game thanks to his smarts, work ethic and elite skating skills. – Ryan Wagman

He has a little Bo Horvat in him. Plays well in all 3 zones and just keeps getting better. His offensive game will evolve as he gets more opportunities in London. – Mark Seidel

 

Honorable Mentions

Ivan Lodnia

Michael DiPietro

Sasha Chmelevski

Jason Robertson

Antoine Morand

Jake Oettinger

Aleksi Heponiemi

Alexi Liponov

 

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