2017 NHL Draft Ranking: New Year’s Edition

Nolan Patrick.

Yes, in case you were wondering, and as you will see in the full ranking below, Patrick is still the top player available at the 2017 NHL Draft despite having played in just six games at the turn of the calendar. Although his 2016-17 season has been marred by injury, TSN’s Director of Scouting Craig Button believes Patrick has “all the capabilities to be the number one center teams can build around.”

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The perfect combination of size and skill, Patrick stands a towering six foot three and is a proven and consistent offensive producer. Blessed with quick hands and a nose for the net, Patrick is a lethal goal scorer who will find ways to adapt, and score, on a nightly basis. Named team captain of the Brandon Wheat Kings mere weeks after turning 18-years-old, Patrick is a solid all-around player, both on and off of the ice, and one who has the talent to become a long-term star at the NHL level.

However, while Patrick’s ranking has yet to budge, the same cannot be said for a seemingly endless number of others eligible for the 2017 event.

Players of Interest

Nico Hischier

While many were unsure of how Nico Hischier would adapt in his first season of play in North America, the answer now appears to be quite clear.

Selected by the Halifax Mooseheads sixth overall in the 2016 CHL Import Draft, Hischier’s play has been nothing other than explosive, lethal and consistent in his first QMJHL campaign. A native of Naters, Switzerland, Hischier has quickly shot up respective Draft rankings and, thanks to a fantastic showing at the 2017 WJC, now finds himself a likely top-10 pick ahead of the coming Draft.

An uber-skilled center who is flush with creativity and ability, Hischier is comparable to Nikolaj Ehlers of the Winnipeg Jets, a former Mooseheads star himself, as he is agile on his feet as well as a terrific playmaker.

Owen Tippett

Although injuries cut Owen Tippett’s rookie OHL campaign short in 2015-16, the strong, physical winger has yet to miss a stride in his second season of play.

[Related: 2017 NHL Draft Profile: Owen Tippett]

Despite the presence of Michael McLeod, Nathan Bastian, Spencer Watson and Nicolas Hague, among other highly skilled players in Mississauga, it is Tippett who has stood out above all. Checking in at six foot two and over 200 pounds, Tippett has an NHL-caliber shot, as well as the size to match.

Capable of getting off a wicked wrister in a split-second, Tippett’s shot is hard and accurate, and has the ability to simply overpower opposing netminders on a nightly basis. Further, given his strength, Tippett can protect the puck well and has the vision to be a complementary playmaker.

Maxime Comtois

Following an incredible rookie season in the QMJHL in which he scored 26 goals and 60 points, much was expected from Maxime Comtois in his second season with Victoriaville. However, despite retaining an immense amount of skill, Comtois’ game has failed to develop as many had expected in his second season with the Tigres.

As such, Comtois’ Draft stock has fallen heavily. In fact, after placing fifth in Button’s September ranking, Comtois fell all the way to 23rd in his November edition, a clear indication of how his play has failed to progress as those evaluating him would have liked.

Compared to Pierre Luc-Dubois by TSN’s Bob McKenzie, Comtois is a strong, big-bodied winger who plays a heavy game. Alongside his size, Comtois also has a terrific shot and like Tippett can use it to beat opposing goaltenders. In addition to these traits is Comtois’ speed, which he can use to drive the net in order to create offensive opportunities for both himself and his teammates.

If Comtois can combine his broad skill-set and play a strong, complete game on a consistent basis, he could truly become an elite yet developing talent. However, until he does so, it appears as though NHL organizations will view him as more of a project than a high-end prospect.

Cal Foote

The son of long-time NHL defenseman Adam Foote, Cal Foote is, like his father, a strong and stable defender.

However, the similarities between the two run much deeper. Standing six foot three and 210 pounds, Foote also has great size and strength and can use his large frame to either protect the puck or, more commonly, knock opposing players off of it.

[Related: Kelowna Defender Could Be Steal of 2017 Draft]

Further, Foote’s game is also solid in the offensive zone. Like his Father, Foote is a consistent producer and is intelligent when it comes to jumping up in the play. Considering his strong defensive instincts, Foote won’t try to force scoring opportunities, but rather, will opt to set up his fellow teammates with crisp and accurate passes.

As much more of a playmaker than a shooter, Foote has the size, defensive prowess and skills to develop into an anchor and top-four blueliner in the NHL.

While I, personally, believe Foote will be a fringe top-10 prospect, others have thought slightly differently. In fact, Foote placed 20th on Button’s pre-season ranking and has since fallen to 24th in his November edition, while conversely, McKenzie ranked Foote the ninth best prospect in his pre-season edition.

So, given all of the thoughts, opinions, and perspectives surrounding the 2017 Draft class, here is my current top-31 ranking as of the turn of the calendar.

New Year’s Ranking

Ranking

Player Team Position

Height/Weight

1

Nolan Patrick Brandon C/RW 6’3”/200
2 Timothy Liljegren Rogle D

6’/200

3

Gabriel Vilardi Windsor C 6’2”/195
4 Nico Hischier Halifax C

6’0”/175

5

Owen Tippett Mississauga RW 6’2”/205
6 Klim Kostin Dynamo Moskva RW

6’3”/195

7

Eeli Tolvanen Sioux CIty LW

5’10”/180

8

Casey Mittelstadt

Green Bay

C/LW 6’1”/200
9 Michael Rasmussen Tri-City C

6’5”/205

10 Kristian Vesalainen Frolunda LW/RW

6’3”/210

11

Callan Foote

Kelowna

D

6’3”/210

12

Juuso Valimaki

Tri-City

D

6’2”/200

13 Urho Vaakanainen JYP D

6’1”/190

14

Kailer Yamamoto Spokane C/LW 5’9”/160

15

Nic Hague

Mississauga

D 6’6”/215

16

Erik Brannstrom

HV71

D

5’10”/170

17 Maxime Comtois

Victoriaville

LW

6’2”/200
18 Nikita Popugaev Moose Jaw RW

6’6”/205

19 Martin Necas Kometa Brno C

6’/170

20

Ryan Poehling St. Cloud State C 6’3”/185

21

Elias Pettersson

Timra IK C/LW 6’2”/160

22

Shane Bowers

Waterloo C 6’/170
23 Lias Andersson HV71 C/LW

5’11”/200

24

Cody Glass

Portland C 6’2”/170

25

Miro Heiskanan HIFK D 6’0”/175

26

Nicholas Suzuki Owen Sound C

5’11”/185

27 Michael DiPietro Windsor G

6’/190

28 Ivan Lodnia Erie RW

5’10”/180

29

Jason Robertson Kingston LW 6’2”/195
30 Robin Salo Sport D

6’/185

31 Matthew Strome Hamilton LW

6’3”/200

Agree or disagree? Think a player who wasn’t included should have been?

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