2017 NHL Mock Draft: Projecting The Entire First Round

The 2017 NHL mock draft is sure to be one of the most interesting in recent memory. Many scouts believe that this is an extremely weak draft class, and that there's a big drop off after the top five-10 selections.

No wonder some teams gave away first-round selections like it was Christmas at the 2017 NHL trade deadline, then! Perhaps we'll see even more first-round selections moved before or during the draft this year. But enough talking about trades, because we need to get excited for the draft that's about to take place in three months' time.

With the NHL regular season drawing to a close, we now have an idea of how the standings will play out. That gives us an idea of where the league's worst teams will select. Based on the standings we have now, here is an early first-round mock draft for 2017.

31 Colorado Avalanche: Nico Hischier

via sportsnet.ca

The Avalanche are easily having their worst season in franchise history, but they will be rewarded by owning the top selection in the 2017 draft (at least by my calculations). Hischier, the Swiss native, is the top centre available in this draft and will be the key to an Avalanche turnaround.

Colorado is surely set to trade stars Matt Duchene and Gabriel Landeskog in the offseason, so they have no choice but to go with a forward. Hischier isn't an Auston Matthews-type talent, but he does have all the makings to be a quality number one centre.

Multiple scouts rave about his nice skating and puck-handling ability, and he does appear to be the best fit for Colorado. They'd be silly not to take a centre, but they'd be just as silly if they passed on Hischier.

30 Arizona Coyotes: Nolan Patrick

via sportsnet.ca

The Coyotes have a great number of young forwards to build their franchise around -- namely Dylan Strome, Max Domi, Clayton Keller and Anthony Duclair. But are any of them really set to become major impact players like Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews or Aaron Ekblad? We're not sure about that.

Arizona has plenty of youthful talent in place, but assuming Strome does emerge as a franchise centre, they will need quality number two centre. TSN's Bob McKenzie had this to say about Patrick possibly being a true first-line centre:

"While some of the scouts surveyed by TSN do not discount Patrick evolving into that role, the consensus view is Patrick is projected more as a second-line NHL centre and doesn't have the same “wow” factor as McDavid, Eichel and Matthews."

So the Coyotes may not find their franchise centre in this year's draft, but Nolan Patrick does have the makings to be on the second line. He's got good size at 6-foot-3, 200 pounds and is a talent when it comes to both shooting and passing. If Hischier isn't available, Patrick is their best option.

29 Las Vegas Golden Knights: Gabriel Vilardi

via nhl.com

The Golden Knights will be given a 10.3 chance (same odds as the third-worst team), of winning the draft lottery and will pick no lower than sixth, according to NHL.com. So that gives them a high chance of picking in the top three and landing one of the big trio of centres.

If Hischier and Patrick are taken, then the Golden Knights will be happy to select big 6-foot-3, 201 pound center Gabriel Vilardi from the Windsor Spitfires. Vilardi is talented enough to even be the possible first-overall selection. He scored 29 goals and 61 points in 49 games in the 2016-17 OHL season as well.

Vilardi is a poor man's Joe Thornton -- he's better off as a setup man than a scorer, but he's going to be capable of reaching 20-25 every year. The Golden Knights are going to be made up of third/fourth liners next season, so drafting a true center in Vilardi will be a huge win for them.

28 Vancouver Canucks: Casey Mittelstadt

via nhl.com

The Canucks were the NHL's third-worst team last year, but fell out of the top three and wound up picking fifth. Luck will be on their side this time around as they get a top-four selection for the first time since 1999 -- when they drafted both Daniel and Henrik Sedin in the top-three.

Vancouver needs another centre badly. Henrik Sedin is 37 in September, has one year left on his contract and is going through one of his worst seasons. Bo Horvat looks to be more of a fit as a number two centre, and the Canucks are rich on defence and on the wing. Mittelstadt will be the best centre available to them, and they can't mess this one up.

The top-ranked American by NHL scouts, Casey Mittelstadt brings blazing speed and nice puck-carrying skills that the Canucks forwards seem to lack. He's not big (6-foot-1, 201 pounds), but he does make up for it with his ability to transition from end to end quickly.

Mittelstadt could be a huge pickup for the Canucks, as long as they value a centre more than anything else in this draft.

27 New Jersey Devils: Michael Rasmussen

via nhl.com

The Devils lack reliable scorers outside of wingers Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri, who each hit the 50-point mark without an elite centre. Both forwards could be big parts of New Jersey's turnaround, but they need a true number one centre if the team's fortunes are to change for the better.

Tri-City Americans star Michael Rasmussen may fit the bill, and his incredible size of 6-foot-5, 200 pounds is exactly what an undersized New Jersey team needs. Rasmussen was ranked as the sixth-best North American skater by NHL Central Scouting in January, and he should have undoubtedly be a top-five selection.

If New Jersey can find their own version of a Joe Thornton in Rasmussen, this would be a great start to building a contender once again. Should Rasmussen be available, they should value him as much as any other player in this draft.

26 Detroit Red Wings: Timothy Liljegren

via 2bcsports.com

Well, the 25-year playoff streak is over and the Red Wings need to transition into a new era. This team is used to picking 15th or later, so it will feel odd seeing general manager Ken Holland and co. on the podium so early.

So any way, the Red Wings haven't come close to finding a true number one centre since Nicklas Lidstrom retired in 2012. They're enriched in young forwards with Tomas Tatar, Andreas Athanasiou, Dylan Larkin, Anthony Mantha and others -- but Detroit has to start rebuilding its frustrating blueline.

Swedish defenceman Timothy Liljegren is widely expected to be the top European skater selected in this year's draft. His rather small frame by NHL defencemen standards is a knock against Liljegren, but he's the best blueliner available in this draft. He should instantly become a reliable power play quarterback and will quickly learn how to defend in his own zone.

The streak ends, sure. But if Detroit gets Liljegren, it'll be a great consolation prize for the worst Red Wings season in decades.

25 Buffalo Sabres: Cale Makar

via nhl.com

The Sabres have shown plenty of progress in 2016-17 as Jack Eichel, Ryan O'Reilly, Kyle Okposo, Sam Reinhart and Evander Kane should end up giving Buffalo five 20-goal scorers this season. That goes without mentioning that promising prospect Alexander Nylander hasn't even made the full-time roster yet. Buffalo is loaded in the top-six, so now it's time to find some help on the blue line.

Rasmus Ristolainen has shown that he's ready to be a number one defenceman, but the Sabres need to give him a partner. Defenceman Cale Makar has all the makings to fit well in Buffalo. He's small at 5-10, 176 pounds, but Makar has terrific speed through the neutral zone and is the ideal puck-moving blueliner that teams covet. He'd be a beautiful selection for Tim Murray -- should he be available. Being one of the most overlooked prospects in this draft, Makar will be the next big thing in Buffalo.

24 Dallas Stars: Cody Glass

via winnipegfreepress.com

The Stars really need a defencemen, but if my calculations are correct, the top-two blueliners in Liljegren and Makar will not be available. If one of those is available when the Stars pick, then general manager Jim Nill better make the selection. But in our mock draft, he won't have access to either.

So with that, the Stars are best going with the next best player available in centre Cody Glass. Dallas already has a franchise centre in Tyler Seguin, but Glass would be a nice complement to an already high-flying offence.

Glass has one thing going for him that most centres in this draft don't -- a strong defensive game. Mike Morreale from NHL.com mentioned that his name has been compared to Patrice Bergeron -- who has three Selke Trophies to his name.

Dallas really needs a reliable two-way forward who can score and shut down the opposition. With that, Glass is their guy.

23 Winnipeg Jets: Owen Tippett

vis thehockeywriters.com

I'd first like to mention that the Jets should look to deal this draft selection, since they're loaded with youth and talent all over the ice. That being said, there have been no indications that they're willing to trade this pick, nor is it easy to find a possible trading scenario right now.

So with that, the Jets will take Owen Tippett in this mock draft. Mark Scheifele and Bryan Little occupy the top-two centre spots, but finding another winger in Owen Tippett would strengthen their prospect pool. And if the Jets take Tippett, it could give them a huge trade chip to make a big move.

But if they simply select a guy that they plan on keeping around for the long-run, they have another potential 20-25 goal scorer on a team that's already loaded on their top-two lines. No problem in strengthening a strength here.

22 Florida Panthers: Miro Heiskanen

via kiekkoareena.fi

The Panthers won the Atlantic Division in 2016, but saw a drastic change to their blue line that made them one of the NHL's worst teams this year. Veteran Willie Mitchell retired, standout Brian Campbell signed with the Chicago Blackhawks and the team questionably traded Dmitry Kulikov to the Buffalo Sabres.

As dominant as Aaron Ekblad is, he's not enough to carry the Panthers blue line without any help. Florida has enough reliable goal-scorers, so they have to add a defenceman with this pick.

Finnish blueliner Miro Heiskanen is probably the safest option for the the Panthers here. He can complement Ekblad with his blazing speed and can carry the puck up ice with ease. Heiskanen is also viewed as a true power play quarterback by scouts. Heiskanen could fix that power play that is ranked 25th in the NHL this season at 16.5 percent.

21 Los Angeles: Nick Suzuki

via nhl.com

The Kings are set to miss the playoffs for the second time in three years. With veterans Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik and others all reaching the end of their prime years, the Kings really need to start a rebuild. They'll have the chance with a first-round selection this year.

Center Nick Suzuki would be a nice find for a Los Angeles team that struggles to keep up with their speedy foes in the Pacific Division. Suzuki has nice speed and is one of the best two-way forwards available in this draft. He plays the exact style of hockey that head coach Darryl Sutter has implemented in L.A. -- meaning he could be an impact player right away with this team. If the Kings get Suzuki, he could be the steal of the draft.

20 Carolina Hurricanes: Klim Kostin

via nhl.com

The Hurricanes are loaded with young, promising blueliners in Justin Faulk, Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin and others. They have no need to draft another defencemen, and the goaltending tandem of Cam Ward and Eddie Lack is solid enough to carry them over the next few seasons. Next up, the Panthers need scorers to help out Jeff Skinner and Sebastian Aho, among others.

Klim Klostin is arguably the best power forward available in this draft, listed at 6-foot-3, 194 pounds. Kostin is a poor man's Alexander Oveckin, with a great shot that'll frustrate opposing goalies.

If the Hurricanes can land a pure goal-scorer like Kostin, they won't be in the Eastern Conference basement much longer. He's a must-have for Ron Francis and the front office; and should be their top target when it's their turn to select.

19 Philadelphia Flyers: Callan Foote

via nhl.com

The son of former Stanley Cup champion and Colorado Avalanche standout Adam, Callan Foote plays a similar style to that of his father. He's not quite known for his offensive ability, but as Don Cherry said about Adam -- "he's a meat and potatoes guy". Foote did have 57 points with the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL this past season, but it's unlikely those numbers transition into the NHL.

The Flyers have a TON of scoring in Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Brayden Schenn, Matt Read, Sean Couturier, Jakub Voracek and others. But they do not have a real stay-at-home defenceman, making Foote a home run selection for them.

Foote's great responsibility at his own end of the ice has drawn raves from many NHL scouts. He's the guy you want to shut down a top line in the final minutes of a game. That's a guy Philly needs in a Metropolitan Division that features the likes of Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby.

18 New York Islanders: Martin Necas

via thescore.com

The Islanders are going to have to talk to franchise centreman John Tavares about a contract extension, as he's set to become a free agent on Canada Day next year. If they aren't confident in retaining him for the long run, then drafting a new number one centre to replace him would be a solution.

At this point, Martin Necas will be the best available centre for Garth Snow to select. The Czech centre was ranked as the fifth-best European skater by the NHL Central Scouting in January. He starred for the Czech U18 team at this year's Hlinka Memorial tournament with six points in four games.

Sportsnet's Jeff Marek praised Necas for being strong defensively and having "a great engine." An Islanders team that's built entirely on speed and quick puck movement makes Necas the ideal fit for New York. An easy choice here.

17 Boston Bruins: Elias Pettersson

via thescore.com

The Bruins have done a great job loading up on young blueliners, but they need to realize that they're soon going to be deprived of talented centres. World-class star Patrice Bergeron turns 32 in the offseason and is going through arguably his worst season since the lockout. With all the wear-and-tear on his body after years of playing a fierce two-way game, it's tough to see Bergeron recapturing his old form.

David Krejci is also turning 31 in April and doesn't have many top-six years left in him. The Bruins need to prepare for the future and find their next top-line centre. That man could be slick Swedish center Elias Petersson.

Playing for Timra IK of the Allsvenskan league, Pettersson registered 19 goals and 41 points this season. Though he probably wouldn't be ready for big minutes in 2018, he has the makings to be a reliable and true number one centre.

Given the Bruins lack of depth at centre behind Bergeron and Krejci, Pettersson would be a logical selection.

16 Tampa Bay Lightning: Juuso Valimaki

via nhl.com

The Lightning are just fine in goal with Andrei Vasilevskiy. They're even better up front with scorers Steven Stamkos, Jonathan Drouin, Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Nikita Kucherov. They also have a perennial Norris Trophy candidate in Victor Hedman -- but they really need another legitimate top-two blueliner to help out their star defenceman.

At this point, Juuso Valimaki would be the best option for Steve Yzerman. Adam Kimelman from NHL.com called Valimaki the best offensive defenceman of the 2017 draft class -- and we are talking about a guy who scored 19 goals and 60 points with the Tri-City Americans of the WHL this year.

Valimaki and Hedman would be one dangerous defensive pairing at both ends of the ice. Valimaki would fit perfectly on a Tampa Bay team that moves as fast as...lightning. He should be atop Yzerman's wish list on draft day.

15 St. Louis Blues: Eeli Tolvanen

via 15minutenews.com

2016-17 has been an off year for the Blues, who reached the Western Conference Final a year ago. They're sure to draw a difficult first-round matchup in either the Chicago Blackhawks, San Jose Sharks or Minnesota Wild. If they're eliminated in the first round, they'll have to bring in some new speed and young forwards in to stay competitive in the Central Division.

Speedy winger Eeli Tolvanen may be the best fit for a team that relies far too much on Vladimir Tarasenko to do the scoring. Tolvanen has 25-goal potential and is blessed with a great set of wheels. He scored 29 goals and 51 points for the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL this year. Tolvanen may not be NHL-ready in 2018, but if he comes as advertised, the Blues will not be disappointed with this selection.

14 Toronto Maple Leafs: Nicolas Hague

via nhl.com

With strong campaigns from Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Mitch Marner, Nazem Kadri and James van Riemsdyk, the Maple Leafs are aware that scoring will not be a problem for the long term. But keeping pucks out of their net by giving star goalie Frederik Andersen some help is a top priority.

Morgan Rielly continues to take strides, but the Maple Leafs top defenceman doesn't seem ready nor mature enough to defend against the league's best players. Jake Gardiner is better suited as a second-pairing defenceman. You get the point? Toronto needs a shutdown defenceman, and Nicolas Hague may be their guy.

Listed at 6-foot-6, 210 pounds, Nicolas Hague also brings a nice offensive element to his strong defensive game -- scoring 18 goals and 46 points in 65 games with the Mississauga Steelheads of the OHL. Toronto could use a strong two-way blueliner like Hague -- especially his brains in his own zone.

13 Calgary Flames: Maxime Comtois

via nhl.com

It's hard to know what the Flames will do at the draft. In all honesty, I wouldn't be surprised if they traded their first-round selection for a couple of picks in the following rounds. They don't really need to stock up more at forward -- where Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik, Matthew Tkachuk and Troy Brouwer round out a formidable unit.

On defence, they have Dougie Hamilton, Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie. By the time they select, most of the quality blueliners will be gone. The Flames also won't be using their first selection on a goalie, given the relatively weak class for puck stoppers this year.

With that, Victoriaville winger Maxime Comtois (22 goals and and 51 points in 64 games), may be their best selection. Again, I'm expecting the Flames to discuss moving this selection, but assuming that doesn't happen, Brad Treliving may feel inclined to adding another standout winger to join their long list of talented players up front.

12 Nashville Predators: Kristian Vesalainen

via yle.fi

Not a whole lot of concerns across the board for the Nashville Predators. If it weren't for such a sluggish first two months of the season, they'd be in the running for the Central Division title. James Neal, Ryan Johansen, Craig Smith, P.K. Subban, Roman Josi and Pekka Rinne round out a Stanley Cup-caliber team. On draft day, David Poile will surely just look to find the best player available.

That man may be Kristian Vesalainen, one of the top wingers available. The flashy Finnish turned heads in 2015-16 when he played for Frolunda HC J20 of the SuperElit league -- scoring 15 goals and 34 points in 37 games.

Nashville could use the big, skilled winger as another major weapon in their talented lineup. Vesalainen might be able to make an impact immediately in 2017-18. Even if he needs one or two more years before making the NHL, Vesalainen has the resources to be a 20-plus goal scorer in North America.

11 Ottawa Senators: Lias Andersson

via nhl.com

Kyle Turris is a very good centre, but the Ottawa Senators don't have much depth at the position after that. Expect them to take a centre with their first selection, and slick Swede Lias Andersson is probably their safest bet. Scouts note how strong Lias Andersson is defensively, meaning Andersson could be one of the best two-way forwards available in this draft.

This would be a bit of a risk for Ottawa, though. They definitely need more size up front, and Andersson isn't that big at 5-foot-11, 195 pounds. But if Andersson is the best player available at this point of the draft, they'll be wise to take him.

The draft is starting to get weaker at this point, so this isn't exactly a pick the Senators HAVE to get right. They'll take a chance on Andersson and hope for the best.

10 Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Poehling

via mnhockeyhub.com

Don't be surprised if the Oilers opt to trade this selection. They have plenty of depth all over the roster and are well built to contend for the next decade with their current roster. That goes without mentioning that Jesse Puljujarvi isn't even ready for the NHL yet.

But assuming the Oilers keep this selection, Ryan Poehling may be the best player available that can make the roster quickly. The talented centre struggled at St. Cloud State University this year with just seven goals and 13 points in 35 games, but he did have 20 tallies and 54 points last year with Lakeville North High of the USHS.

Edmonton has enough centres with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but Poehling could be a quality number three centre, or even trade bait for this team down the road. A rather save and conservative selection here.

9 New York Rangers: Erik Brannstrom

via hockeysverige.se

The Rangers need to slowly rebuild this defence, as Marc Staal and Dan Girardi have carried plenty of mileage on their respective bodies. Erik Brannstom, a stay-at-home defenceman, would be a smart choice -- though he's probably two or three years away from making the NHL.

The 5-foot-10, 172-pound blueliner has decent offensive upside, but it's not something you would exactly call "game changing." Brannstrom can move the puck up ice beautifully, but he's not an Erik Karlsson, Shea Weber or Drew Doughty when it comes to offensive upside. He's more like a Marc Staal if anything else.

It's also possible that Brannstrom doesn't reach his full potential in the NHL, but that shouldn't scare the Rangers away. He should still be a solid second-pairing defenceman that's capable of checking the league's best forwards.

8 Anaheim Ducks: Urho Vaakanainen

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The Ducks are rich with young, quality defencemen in Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler and Shea Theodore. However, Fowler is likely to be traded with one year left on his contract, plus the Ducks need to ship him out instead of losing him in the expansion draft.

It never hurts to have too many blueliners, so the Ducks taking Urho Vaakanaien would be a safe call. Unlike Lindholm and Vatanen, Vaakanainen comes without much offensive upside and is better suited as a second-pairing defenceman. The Finnish standout, like Brannstrom, can be fancy with carrying the puck on a power play, but he's not much of threat when it comes to scoring. But playing in the extremely physical Pacific Division, Anaheim could use Vaakanainen's ability to hang in tough and shut down the top players.

7 Columbus Blue Jackets: Kole Lind

via mckeenshockey.com

When the Blue Jackets traded Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Seth Jones, it was clear that the front office was willing to bring in players specifically to fit head coach John Tortorella's style of play. That means general manager Jarmo Kekäläinen has to be safe with this selection and find a player who'll work incredibly hard for Torts.

That being said, Kelowna Rockets centre Kole Lind appears to be a nice option here. He scored 30 goals and 87 points in the WHL this season. This came a year after scoring 14 goals and 41 points.

Lind has the potential to score 20-25 goals with the right linemates, and if Tortorella can maximize the production out of Lind, he should be a nice pick here. But again, the selections at this point are boom or bust.

That being said, Lind remains their best option at this point of the draft.

6 Arizona Coyotes: Nikita A. Popugayev

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*The Coyotes acquired this pick from the Minnesota Wild in the Martin Hanzal trade*

The Coyotes have wisely been loading up on first round draft selections these past couple of years, and here they have another. The Wild were willing to give away a first-round pick for a third-line centre in Martin Hanzal for a reason, though. They knew they'd be selecting late, and the Coyotes are going to have a tough time finding a potential game-changer this late.

At this point, talented Russian swinger Nikita A. Popugayev could be the best available player to help them in the long run. He scored 29 goals and 69 points in the WHL this season, split with the Moose Jaw Warriors and Prince George Cougars. Popugayev has plenty of upside, and could form nice chemistry with Dylan Strome and the other young players in Arizona.

5 Pittsburgh Penguins: Josh Brook

via nhl.com

The Penguins have the league's best offence, and there's absolutely no need to draft more guys up front. But this defence has been exposed miserably with Kris Letang injured in 2016-17. They need to upgrade that blue line if they want to contend for more championships, and Josh Brook could be a nice find.

The 6-foot-2, 185-pound put up nice numbers with the Moose Jaw Warriors in 2016-17, scoring eight goals and 40 points in 69 games. Brook is a solid offensive defenceman who may be able to overachieve (if you will), on a Penguins team that consists of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and the aforementioned Letang.

We've seen Olli Maatta transition nicely into the Penguins lineup as a late first-round selection before. Brook could be Maatta 2.0 here.

4 San Jose Sharks: Shane Bowers

via hockeyprospect.com

Many classify the San Jose Sharks Stanley Cup window of being open a while, but it's really closing fast. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are pending 38-year-old unrestricted free agents, so the Sharks are possibly saying good-bye to their franchise icons after this season. Furthermore, Joe Pavelski is approaching his mid-30s -- so the Sharks have to start grooming their next wave of future forwards.

Centre Shane Bowers would be a nice start. He scored 21 goals and 49 points in 56 games this season for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL. Listed at 6-foot-1, 170 pounds, Bowers brings decent size and speed that the Sharks are built around.

This is another low-risk and potentially high reward selection for San Jose. His possible upside makes him a steal of the draft candidate.

3 Montreal Canadiens: Isaac Ratcliffe

via nhl.com

The Canadiens have all the makings to be a championship contender -- a pure goal-scorer in Max Pacioretty, a Norris-caliber defenceman in Shea Weber and a world-class goalie in Carey Price. But the problem with Montreal is they're a fairly undersized team -- making their star players vulnerable in the playoffs.

So taking towering 6-foot-4, 192-pound left winger Isaac Ratcliffe could finally give this team their first true power forward since...?

Isaac Ratcliffe scored 28 goals and 54 points in 67 games with the Guelph Storm this past season. That was a big boost from the mere 13 points he posted in 46 games during the 2015-16 season. Ratcliffe is projected by many scouts to be a late first-round selection, and the Canadiens just might be the ones who land a hidden gem here.

2 Chicago Blackhawks: Henri Jokiharju

via dubnetwork.ca

The Blackhawks' defence looks loaded with Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Nklas Hjalmarsson. But Keith and Seabrook are well over the wrong side of 30 and carry plenty of mileage on their bodies, meaning they only have so many effective seasons left. General manager Stan Bowman has stressed the importance of keeping his first-round selections and preparing for the future.

Chicago's had plenty of success finding hidden gems from overseas (see Artemi Panarina and Hjalmarsson). Henri Jokiharju could be a great pickup and may be ready to play in the NHL within the next two seasons. Jokiharju scored nine goals and 48 points with the Portland Winterhawks, and has great offensive upside.

Jokiharju may be the defenceman of Chicago's rebuild, when they're likely staring at a rebuild in five or so years time. Bowman needs young blueliners in the system, and Jokiharju would be a nice start.

1 St. Louis Blues: Kailer Yamamoto

via nhl.com

*The Blues acquired this pick from the Washington Capitals in the Kevin Shattenkirk trade*

Listed at 5-foot-8 and 159 pounds, Kailer Yamamoto's small size may force teams to pass on him early, but he has the chance to be another hidden gem in the 2017 draft. He's coming off an excellent season with the Portland Winterhawks, scoring 45 goals and 99 points in just 65 games. Yamamoto also had seven goals and 14 points in just nine games for the U.S. National U18 Team during the 2015-16 season for USDP.

Before you discount Yamamoto because of his size, just remember that guys like Johnny Gaudreau and Martin St. Louis turned out fine. Yamamoto brings blistering speed and plenty of skills with the puck.

The Blues had no choice but to move Shattenkirk. But they can make up for it if they take Yamamoto (should he be available), and help him reach his full potential in the big leagues.

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