2017 NHL Draft Preliminary Alternate Rankings – Pike’s Picks

Like sands through the hourglass, the summer has sped by and with the onset of the annual Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Europe the 2017 NHL Draft season has begun.

This is the first edition of the 2017 NHL Draft Alternate Rankings here at The Hockey Writers. Starting with these preliminary rankings and updating them roughly every other month, I will attempt to rank the top players in this year’s draft class as if I were drafting a team from scratch. My main proviso? I want the players that will help my team win consistently. The usual disclaimers apply: I live in Western Canada so I see Western Hockey League players the most often, followed by the remainder of Canada’s prospects. I have to rely on video for players in the United States and Europe for the most part. I’m also hesitant to draft goalies early due to the sheer number of weird things that can go wrong and derail their development.

As always, your mileage may vary.

The Top 50

No. Player Pos. 2015-16 Primary Team
 1  Nolan Patrick C Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
 2  Timothy Liljegren D Rogle BK (SuperElit)
 3  Gabriel Vilardi C Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
 4 Maxime Comtois C Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
 5  Owen Tippett RW Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
 6  Kailer Yamamoto C Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
 7  Casey Mittelstadt C Eden Prairie High School (USHS)
 8  Urho Vaakanainen D Blues (Jr. SM-Liiga)
 9  Cal Foote D Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
 10  Eeli Tolvanen LW Sioux City Musketeers (USHL)
 11  Lias Andersson C HV71 (SuperElit)
 12  Kristian Vesalainen LW Frolunda HC (SuperElit)
 13  Juuso Valimaki D Tri-City Americans (WHL)
 14  Antoine Morand C Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)
 15  Robin Salo D Sport (Jr. SM-Liiga)
 16  Nicolas Hague D Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
 17  Cale Fleury D Kootenay Ice (WHL)
 18  Matthew Strome LW Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
 19  Nikita Popugayev RW Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
 20  Elias Pettersson C Timra IK (SuperElit)
 21  Jesper Boqvist C Brynas IF (SuperElit)
 22  Nico Hischier C HC Bern (Swiss Jr.)
 23  Scott Reedy C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
 24  Michael Rasmussen C Tri-City Americans (WHL)
 25  Stelio Mattheos C Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)
 26  Kole Lind RW Kelowna Rockets (WHL)
 27  Jack Studnicka LW Oshawa Generals (OHL)
 28  Isaac Ratcliffe LW Guelph Storm (OHL)
 29  Klim Kostin RW HK MVD Balashikha (MHL)
 30  Marcus Davidsson LW Djurgardens IF (SuperElit)
 31  Jason Robertson LW Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
 32  Adam Ruzicka C HC Pardubice (Czech Jr.)
 33  Luke Martin D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
 34  Artem Minulin D Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
 35  Max Gildon D U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
 36  Jacob Paquette D Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
 37  Miro Heiskanen D HIFK (Jr. SM-Liiga)
 38  Shane Bowers C Waterloo Blackhawks (USHL)
 39  Austen Keating C Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
 40  Ivan Lodnia RW Erie Otters (OHL)
 41  Lane Zablocki C Regina Pats (WHL)
 42  Scott Walford D Victoria Royals (WHL)
 43  Sasha Chmelelvski C Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
 44  Brady Lyle D North Bay Battalion (OHL)
 45  Dmitri Samorukov D CSKA Moscow U17 (Russia Jr.)
 46  Nick Suzuki C Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
 47  Arnaud Durandeau LW Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
 48  Cody Glass C Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
 49  Elijah Roberts D Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
 50  Evan Barratt C U.S. National Development Team (USHL)

Honourable Mentions

  • D Ian Blacker – Oakville Blades (OJHL)
  • D Markus Phillips – Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
  • D Ian Mitchell – Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)
  • F MacKenzie Entwhistle – Hamilton Bulldogs (OHL)
  • F Greg Meireles – Ottawa Jr. Senators (CCHL)
  • F Ryan McLeod – Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
  • F Michael Pastujov – U.S. National Development Team (USHL)
  • F Ryan Poehling – St. Cloud State University Huskies (NCAA)

The Rundown

After last season’s draft saw just two Canadians taken in the first 10 selections, half of my projected top 10 are from the snowy northern climes of Canada. Looking more broadly to the projected first round, half are Canadians. The top-end of the 2017 class looks to be a nice mix of size, speed and talent, along with a lot of right-shooting players.

Patrick seems to be the runaway top player right now, with a bit of a gap between him and the next group. That next group is basically a shelf of five players, from Liljegren to Yamamoto, and those five are very tightly grouped together in terms of their on-ice abilities. From there, there isn’t a huge drop-off from the 7th player to the 13th, but from that point it’s a bit of a gong-show in terms of how much the talent level is clumped together. Until we get some hockey games in, it’ll be difficult to see much divergence in the bottom-half of my projected first round.

Positionally, 2017 looks to be light on blueliners. After nine were taken in the first round last year, there are just seven projected to go in the top 30 so far this season. That could obviously change quite a bit, but as of now the defensive depth doesn’t look to be there. On the other hand, there are lots of interesting forwards from all over the world contending for top spots in this year’s draft.