Final Fantasy Ranking the 2017 NHL Entry Draft

by Peter Harling on June 12, 2017

Final Fantasy Ranking the 2017 NHL Entry Draft

Peter Harling

There are plenty of places you can go to find draft rankings. But in preparing for your upcoming fantasy hockey drafts most give you just a ranking based on what the scouts are saying and don’t translate very well to fantasy value (See Logan Stanley last year). Some will give you a scouting report on the player allowing you to take that one report and translate it into your own interoperation of fantasy value. This is the only place you can find a fantasy ranking of the draft eligible prospects, and best of all it’s a consensus ranking with contributions from some of the industry’s top independent scouts and writers.

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

We invited the following nine writers to contribute to this ranking

Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) - Draft Analyst

Ryan Wagman (@RAWagman) – McKeens Hockey

Scott Wheeler (@scottcwheeler) – Toronto Star

Mark Seidel (@MarkSeidel) North American Central Scouting

Brock Otten (@BrockOtten) – OHL Prospects

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

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

Kevin Wickersham @KWcrosscheck Dobber Prospects Senior Writer – New Jersey Devils

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

 

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

Last Ranked: 2 (+1)

A dynamic offensive force, the agile, lightning-quick Hischier will likely transition to a high-powered top-six wing spot initially – Kevin Wickersham

Top end speed, vision and processing skills. He’s incredibly gifted at finding quiet spaces and exposing defenders whose gap control is even just marginally off. His soft hands and deft puck protection allow him to work his magic down low while his quick release is deadly from the circles down. The best offensive player in this crop.  - Cam Robinson

Elite vision, playmaking mind that senses the game well, underrated two-way game. Competes hard and immense talent. He should be the selection by New Jersey and could step right into the NHL with his best-in-class skill. – Zachary DeVine

 

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

Last Ranked: 1 (-1)

Patrick is a franchise-level, big, strong, and smart top-line center with a complete game who should pay quick dividends. Often injured in recent years, whoever drafts him will do their due diligence and cross fingers hoping past injuries don’t impact future performance. – Kevin Wickersham

Big strong Centre that will be a horse for years to come, is described as a 200 foot guy but he will score a lot, smart, High IQ – Mark Seidel

 

Not scared off by the injury woes one bit with over 150+ WHL games before his draft season. We know all we can on Patrick and it’s darn good. Physically ready for NHL duty. I see a solid second line center. – Zachary DeVine

 

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

Last Ranked: 4 (+1)

Compared to John Tavares and Tyler Seguin by NHL Central Scouting, Mittelstadt is the real deal with size, elite-level skill, speed and hockey smarts revealed by his superior puck handling, positioning, and ability to initiate complex and deceptive offensive plays. In addition to his prolific scoring, he has a great work ethic and doesn’t back down when challenged by larger, stronger opponents. A lengthy, 70+ points-per-year NHL career wouldn’t surprise. Kevin Wickersham

Powerful centre somehow increases his speed with the puck than without. Owns dynamic acceleration, hands and a lethal release. Sometimes guilty of trying to do too much, which may lead to a bit longer of wait time, but he owns top end stuff. – Cam Robinson

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

Last Ranked: 5 (+1)

Concerns over hockey sense and ability to play without the puck are reasonably legit, but he owns the best shot in the draft and as such the goal scoring potential is through the roof. Needs to score more goals within five feet of the net though. – Brock Otten

One of the OHL’s top shot producers was also one of major junior’s top goal scorers. Tippett is a dual pass/shoot threat who is good enough to make plays and set teammates up for quality chances. One of the few 2017 prospects with a legitimate shot to become a 40-goal scorer in the NHL. - Steve Kournianos

Kid has a lot of Phil Kessel in him, pro shot that he gets away very quick, smart enough to create slight spaces to get the shot away, has an extra gear when he needs it, game needs to round out a bit but he will score a lot of goals. – Mark Seidel

 

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

Last Ranked: 6 (+1)

Windsor’s coaching staff said it best recently, that he elevates the Corsi of his line mates when they play with him. He’s a possession workhorse and his pro style game will translate very well IMO, even with a lack of explosive top gear. – Brock Otten

As a 17-year-old competing against super star 19 and 20-year-old players at the Memorial Cup, Vilardi proved he can produce against higher competition. Vilardi has a very strong and heavy stick and is extremely difficult to strip of the puck, dominates possession down low. – Peter Harling

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

Last Ranked: 15 (+9)

Big, strong Centreman out of Portland will become a handful for teams, Can carry the puck and reads it well while on the rush, finds open ice. Mark Seidel

 

A terrific WHL season has shot him up the rankings and for good reason. He’s the best pure playmaker in the draft, owns a sizable frame and an underrated shot. He’s in line for a monster draft-plus one campaign and has the potential to become the best centre from the bunch. – Cam Robinson

The electric Glass soared up the prospect rankings with 32 goals and 62 assists at WHL Portland. Has drawn comparisons with Mark Scheifele. – Kevin Wickersham

 

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

Last Ranked: 16 (+9)

Insanely intelligent, but has the work ethic to match. A non-stop motor at both ends. Offensive upside is underrated. He’s just a really good all-around player who deserves to be a lottery selection IMO. – Brock Otten

The kid that most expected to be a solid 200 foot player has shown incredible offensive instincts, wants to be the best player he can be, smart, sneaky in the offensive end, reminds me of Bryan Little in his year. - Mark Seidel

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

Last Ranked: 18 (+10)

Big time draft riser may offer the most offensive skill set from any position this year. Playing in a tier II Canadian junior circuit, the right-handed defender displays dynamic speed and edgework, incredible offensive instincts, smarts and creativity to burn. His ability to run a power play with his head, hands and big shot make him a complete threat. There is some risk, but the payoff is certainly worth it. – Cam Robinson

Small, shifty, excellent on-ice vision. Makar has all the tools to be a offensively charged blue liner. I think his road to the NHL is a hard one. Risky pick, but upside provides value here. – Zachary DeVine

 

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

Last Ranked: 3 (-6)

There’s an argument to be made for Tolvanen as the third-best pure offensive player in this class, and that makes him extremely enticing in any fantasy league. Grab him while you can and hang on tight. – Scott Wheeler

A big-time gunslinger no matter the situation, Tolvanen led the USHL in shots by a hefty margin and was once again among the leaders in goals. He’s going to Boston College, so there’s always the risk of a four-year wait, but he’s still an excellent prospect to wait on. – Steve Kournianos

Some feel he is the most electric USHL player in the past decade and is the purest shooter in the draft. Despite the smaller stature, he isn’t afraid to fight his way into scoring areas and release a wicked shot. He changes the angle on his release and draws opposition defenders near, thus opening passing lanes for teammates. Throw in his elite speed and you’ve got a legit fantasy prospect. He will need to clean up the defensive side before locking down an NHL gig. – Cam Robinson

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

Last Ranked: 8 (-2)

The slight forward thinks the game a step ahead of most players his age. His top-end speed leaves something to be desired but his creativity and strong positional play make him a coach’s dream. He needs at least 20 lbs of muscle packed on before handling an NHL schedule. – Cam Robinson

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 offensive playmaking center in the NHL. Produced at a ridiculous clip for Timra against men. – Zachary DeVine

 

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

Last Ranked: 17 (+6)

Like everyone else, I was so incredibly impressed with his play at the U18’s. Dynamic skater and puck rusher. He has to be the top defenseman available at this point. – Brock Otten

The cerebral and smooth-skating defender offers the complete package of tools. He’s calm under pressure as he man’s the power play, finds lanes for shots and is rarely out of position. His mind and skating are his biggest assets. A future minute-muncher. – Cam Robinson

 

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

Last Ranked: 11 (-1)

If he were a couple of inches taller, he’d be a top-10 lock in this class. Don’t let his size fool you, Yamamoto has one of the higher ceilings in the class. – Scott Wheeler

An elusive, cerebral, diminutive scoring machine that is surprisingly physical and difficult to knock off the puck. Finished his draft year with a head-turning 42 goals and 57 assists. – Kevin Wickersham

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

Last Ranked: 9 (-4)

Just as desperate for mass than Pettersson, he still needs to hit the buffet and weight room. His offensive prowess is just starting to get noticed. Patience with Necas is key, but could be one of the biggest prospects in terms of scoresheet impact of the 2017 draft down the line. – Zachary DeVine

 

The quick and often-times dynamic center has shown very well against men in the Czech top league. Needs to bring the same energy every night, but has a ton of skill. Likely a longer wait, but potential to be a quality fantasy player down the line. – Cam Robinson

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

Last Ranked: 22 (+8)

Blessed with great size and skating ability, a poor WJC tournament for himself and most of the Fins has dropped his stock but a monster U18 tourney had scouts salivating once again. He possesses the potential to be a top-end power forward at the next level. – Cam Robinson

Big kid that was really good at times this year, quick stick, can pass or shoot, uses his size, played good at end of year, he could become one of the quicker kids to play in NHL. – Mark Seidel

 

Swing for the fences pick right here. All the tools you want in a NHL winger but the struggles have been real this year and following him no matter where he plays or who he plays with. Still too much talent to slide any further. – Zachary DeVine

 

 

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

Last Ranked: 7 (-8)

Smooth skating, offensive defender has plenty of raw skills, however a down season has seen his stock drop. His skating is supreme, but decision-making is a concern. How much leeway does suffering from mono a year ago get him? High-risk, high-reward player.  – Cam Robinson

Illness, lack of ice time with Rogle, passed over for WJC and shuffled around all season. It’s been a wild year for Liljegren but the fall ends here. Some of his decisions with the puck are head scratchers, and plays sometimes die on his stick but I believe he can put it all together. That said, I’d temper expectations. – Zachary DeVine

 

He has been picked apart this year just like Chychrun last year but do not doubt his abilities, can QB a PP or join the rush, will become a key defender. – Mark Seidel

 

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

Last Ranked: 10 (-6)

His power play proclivity (29 points in 50 games), time spent on the penalty kill and goal scoring prowess makes him a reasonable pick-up, even if people are knocking his even-strength production (only 3 primary assists at ES). Rasmussen for a center hangs around the net a lot and is good at using his size to collect rebounds for second-chance points. – Steve Kournianos

Missed a lot of time but was a consistent producer through his career, will go higher than most think and thus has a chance to be a fast tracked. – Mark Seidel

 

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

Last Ranked: 14 (-3)

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

Less bullish on him than most. Injury-plagued season but I see more and more of Nichushkin in him and that’s enough to drop him down the rankings. Boom or Bust selection of the highest order. But if he hits, it will be huge. – Zachary DeVine

 

The good sized Russian kid has shown he can be a point producer, some nasty in his game that will get him some room, the KHL concern is ALWAYS there. – Mark Seidel

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

Last Ranked: 13 (-5)

Big, minute-eating blueliner who can run a power play and work well with speedy forwards. Valimaki’s size and play with the man-advantage will all but assure him an NHL job, plus he likes to shoot the puck. – Steve Kournianos

The Tri-City defender is putting up very impressive numbers and has excellent offensive instincts. I think he’s a riskier pick but going upside here due to his offensive flash. – Zachary DeVine

 

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

Last Ranked: 30 (+11)

Undersized, but if we’re making a list based on the potential to impact the game from a fantasy perspective, Brannstrom has to be ranked relatively high. Was very impressed with his offensive skills at the U18’s. Did a great job working the point on the powerplay and seems to have great vision. – Brock Otten

While small, he excels at the game in the modern style of NHL defenseman. An excellent skater, high hockey IQ and offensive vision, runs the PP and creates transition offence. An underrated prospect with high fantasy upside. - Peter Harling

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

Last Ranked: 11 (-9)

Andersson will be a multi-cat stud but plenty of points to go with it as well. Love his game overall, there are no weaknesses. His year with HV71 has been great for a draft eligible. A top five player when it comes to NHL certainty. – Zachary DeVine

 

Played in the top Swedish league for majority of the last two campaigns and looked strong. Doesn’t excel in any particular skill, but has a well-stocked tool belt. A very safe player.  – Cam Robinson

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

Last Ranked: 21 (-)

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. More valuable in a multi-cat. – Zachary DeVine

 

Very smart and has shown he can compete against grown men, will be ready to play sooner than some mid round picks. – Mark Seidel

22. Robert Thomas, Center – London (OHL) 6-0, 187

Last Ranked: 31 (+9)

Another in a long line of terrific forward prospects for the London Knights. Highly skilled playmaker who has tremendous vision. Needs to be more aggressive in using his shot to round out his offensive game, but there is definitely top 6 potential for the next level. - Brock Otten

London not as deep as previous years, but Thomas has shown the ability to create offense for his teammates. Feel he is more of a playmaker at the next level with silky hand and a decent shot. Solid two-way game. – Zachary DeVine

 

23. Jason Robertson, Left Wing – Kingston (OHL) 6-2, 194

Last Ranked: N/R

In on nearly 50% of his team’s goals this year. That’s just insane production given how low scoring the Frontenacs were this year. Has the potential to dominate down low if he can continue to improve his skating. – Brock Otten

Lacks skating but compensates with hockey sense to find open ice and stay ahead of the play. Has a deadly accurate shot with a sneaky quick release. Goal scoring is at a premium in the NHL and fantasy hockey – Peter harling

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

Last Ranked: 27 (+3)

Bottom line, big guys who can skate and shoot the puck like Ratcliffe can, don’t last very long in the draft. Tough to say whether some of his deficiencies are due a lack of strength or lack of IQ/ability. A project, but one who could pay off big for an NHL team someday. – Brock Otten

Ratcliffe represents the home run or bust potential, has some Jason Dickenson in him, when he wanted to be good he was very good, has consistency issues, finished the year strong but has the size and skill to score after a couple years of seasoning. – Mark Seidel

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

Last Ranked: 20 (-5)

Hague is raw and equal parts impressive and groan-inducing. His production is excellent, his defensive awareness is mixed. Defense can be taught, but there is a lot of work to be done in his own zone. Risk/reward selection here. – Zachary DeVine

 

Plays an unorthodox offensive game that causes some scouts to question whether it will translate to point totals at the NHL level. But his big point and smarts in the offensive end should make him a quality PP QB at the very least, even if he doesn’t become a huge five on five producer. – Brock Otten

He’s a great pick for a keeper league because of his size and shot power should keep him around for a while. Hague plays out of control at times and seems to always be involved after the whistle, thus inflating his PIM totals. He’s a mobile defenseman that generates plays off the rush or with long stretch passes, and he plays aggressive while manning the point on the power play. – Steve Kournianos

26. Kole Lind, Right Wing – Kelowna (WHL) 61, 185

Last Ranked: N/R

Lind is another player with a ton of upside who has gone a little unnoticed. He’s a worthwhile pick in the early 20s from a raw fantasy value perspective. – Scott Wheeler

Crafty and productive centre isn’t overly strong or fast but finds a way to create offense out of nothing. He’s on the older side of the draft which may limit his potential but if surrounded with talent he could be a top six producer. – Cam Robinson

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

Last Ranked: 23 (-4)

We all know he struggled this year but his skills are evident, if this year was an anomaly he may go back to being an offensive force, worth a shot. – Mark Seidel

 

Expected to have a massive season after putting up big numbers as a draft-minus one player, Comtois struggled to find consistency. He is blessed with size, strength and the soft hands that allow him to dominate down low. Skating will likely never be more than average. - Cam Robinson

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

 

28. Morgan Frost, Center – Sault Ste. Marie (OHL) 6-0, 170

Last Ranked: N/R

Maybe won't be taken until the 2nd rounder but this kid is a point producer, has done it at every level, Sneaky smart in the offensive end like Nick Cousins. - Mark Seidel

 

Frost possesses buttery soft hands with crafty playmaking ability. Accused of playing too much on the perimeter at times, the 5-11 centre manages to produce through exceptional offensive instincts, often finding the quiet, high-danger areas of the ice. – Cam Robinson

 

29. Aleksi Heponiemi, Center –Swift Current (WHL) 5-10, 148

Last Ranked: N/R

Started the year on fire at the Hlinka for Finland and carried that momentum into the WHL and was named WHL rookie of the year. Size will see him drafted outside of the first round but he is a first round fantasy option. – Peter Harling

5-10 and just 150 lbs, Heponiemi is one of the top playmakers in this draft. His vision is tremendous and threads the needle on a consistent basis. His skating isn’t top end, which it needs to be at his size, but as he builds strength in his lower half, the extra step should come. – Cam Robinson

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30. Josh Norris, Center – USA (USDP) 6-1, 192

Last Ranked: N/R

Norris plays with boundless energy on both ends of the ice. A careful puck handler and shifty, fast skater, he is quite calculated with his passes and highly accurate shots. Solid in all phases of the game, he is an effective fore checker and very hard worker, particularly when driving to the net or fending off defenders. Protects the puck well and has a nose for rebounds and greasy goals. – Kevin Wickersham

Norris is a University of Michigan commit where he will add more strength and play against older players. He should do well there as he plays a strong two-way game but has the offensive upside in his shot and playmaking vision to be a great fantasy pick - Peter Harling

31. Grant Mishmash, Center – USA (USDP) 6-0, 183

Last Ranked: N/R

He’s going to be a fantasy darling because he scores at even strength and on the power play, gets a bunch of shot attempts per game and is as undisciplined as they come. He can’t a game or two without taking at least one minor. – Steve Kournianos

A fast-skating, physical playmaker with excellent stick-handling ability and a wicked shot. A hard checker who wins most tough battles against the boards and fights well for position in front of the net. Can really overpower opponents when charging toward the net on offensive chances. – Kevin Wickersham

 

 

Honorable Mentions:

Robin Salo: No U20 Liiga defenceman, Miro Heiskanen included generates offence as well as Salo. He could develop into the sleeper of your fantasy draft, if you’re OK with being patient. Get on the Salo hype train while it’s still fashionable. – Steve Kournianos

Mason Shaw: Shaw had one of the quietest 94-point seasons you’ll ever find of a first-year draft eligible. He plays in all situations, takes a lot of offensive-zone draws and provides offense on both the power play and on the penalty kill. His like of size and explosiveness likely prevents him from becoming a sure-fire superstar, but I can see him become a 45-50 point support player on a good team. - Steve Kournianos

Shane Bowers: Bowers has proven a hardworking player who excels in all zones and uses explosive bursts of speed to create distance from opposing defenders. Willing to play tough in the corners and elsewhere, it takes a lot to knock him off the puck. Shows impressive hockey smarts and a gritty defensive game that accents his effective all-around play. – Kevin Wickersham

Filip Chytil: Finished up the year on a tear, rising quickly and has shown he'll score, CHL Import Draft may quicken his progression to the NHL. – Mark Seidel

 

Jaret Anderson-Dolan: A week away from being eligible for the 2018 draft, the solid and skillful centre offers a complete game. He has great awareness, quick hands and solid speed. He continued to produce big numbers while teammate Kailer Yamamoto was on the shelf but a blanking at the U18 tournament may have some down on him. He’s in line for a huge draft-plus one campaign. – Cam Robinson

Jesper Boqvist: Looked strong in both the top and second tier of Sweden’s professional league as an 18-year-old. Has the agility, speed and playmaking ability of a future top six winger in the NHL. A riser all season. – Cam Robinson

Alexi Lipanov: I’m a firm believer in the Russian factor but Lipanov has been the most impressive comrade on the ice nearly every time I’ve seen him. He’s been a leader for Russia internationally as well. Talent is all there and I like his compete level. – Zachary DeVine

 

Antoine Morand: A complete offensive weapons package despite the smaller stature. I see a lot of untapped potential in Morand and a competitive player with another level left to grow. – Zachary DeVine