Tuesday, June 20, 2017

NHL Mock Draft: Picks 16-31

With Adidas revealing all 31 teams' new (sort of, for some teams) uniforms, I'm expediting the mock draft.

16-Calgary Flames: Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane (WHL)

The Flames have had success with players like Yamamoto, as they have his contemporary height-wise in Johnny Gaudreau. Super skilled offensively, and Sam Bennett still needs wingers that can score.

17-Toronto Maple Leafs: Cal Foote, D, Kelowna (WHL)

Toronto could always use another defensive prospect, as they remain thin at that unit, a fact exposed by their third pairing of Matt Hunwick and Roman Polak getting repeatedly torched. Foote isn't a game-breaker, but he is reliable in his own end and has a little more offensive than his dad Adam, a former Colorado defender.

18-Boston Bruins: Nic Hague, D, Mississauga (OHL)

The Bruins have tried preparing for the eventuality of Zdeno Chara finally hanging it up, and though Charlie McAvoy, last year's first round pick, looks like a sure thing, the first round pick from 2015 Jakub Zboril is not as certain to be great. Hague has the size and may provide solid two-way play to go along with McAvoy's offensive prowess and Brandon Carlo's stay-at-home abilities.

19-San Jose Sharks: Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D, Charlottetown (QMJHL)

The Sharks need young defenders in the pipeline, especially since they just gave up on Mirco Mueller living up to his potential. Joseph is a puck mover that needs to gain weight, but is checking off the boxes in most other areas.

20-St. Louis Blues: Klim Kostin, RW, Dynamo Moscow (KHL)

St, Louis got pushed around a lot last year, and despite an off-year thanks to injuries and a lack of playing time in the KHL, Kostin showed what he could do when given the time to show. Provides a physical element that was missing last year.

21-New York Rangers: Erik Brannstrom, D, HV71 (Sweden)

The Rangers are getting old on the blue line, and though they just parted ways with Dan Girardi, they still have decent ability there. The future doesn't look too bright beyond that, and Brannstrom would not only be a body on the blue line, but also a puck mover that they haven't had in a while.

22-Edmonton Oilers: Robert Thomas, C, London (OHL)

Though listed as a center Thomas can play anywhere up front, and he's likely the safest pick in the first round. The Oilers would like to have better depth up front, especially when it comes to the third and fourth lines, and Thomas can bring a two-way game to those areas right away if needed.

23-Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota): Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, G, HPK Jr. (Finland)

I fully expect the Coyotes to take a goaltender either here or with their second round pick. Presuming they do like what they see in that category, it's down to Luukkonen or Jake Oettinger. Luukkonen has the higher upside, and I think he's a little closer to NHL ready.

24-Columbus Blue Jackets: Kole Lind, RW, Kelowna (WHL)

The Blue Jackets are sound defensively, but they didn't have nearly enough firepower to go toe-to-toe with Pittsburgh in the first round. Sadly, this year's draft doesn't have much in the way of offensive talent, but Lind is one of the better options available. Plus, going down the wing, the Blue Jackets could use another guy there.

25-Montreal Canadiens: Urho Vaakanainen, D, JYP (Finland)

The Canadiens just traded away Mikhail Sergachev, leaving their defensive pipeline a little less stocked. Reliability is what he will provide, but he may require a few years to develop his hockey sense a little more.

26-Chicago Blackhawks: Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph (OHL)

A project, Ratcliffe has the size that Chicago desperately needs, as they've been lacking in that lately and were pushed around by St. Louis and Nashville in recent playoff tilts, teams with at least one physical presence. He can provide a little offense, but once he gets a little more weight, his size will be his greatest asset.

27-St. Louis Blues (from Washington): Jaret Anderson-Dolan, C, Spokane (WHL)

Anderson-Dolan rose up the draft board thanks to his tournament play in the World Under-18s, and he is just now scratching the surface of his potential. With Dan Lambert now coaching Spokane, it will be interesting to see how much offense he can really provide.

28-Ottawa Senators: Jason Robertson, RW, Kingston (OHL)

Robertson could afford to improve his skating, which seems to be a theme with most draft picks this year, but if any team knows about offensive talent that needs improved skating, it's Ottawa, as Robertson draws comparisons to Mark Stone, who's done pretty well in Ottawa. Work ethic is something to watch, but the offensive skill is there.

29-Dallas Stars (from Anaheim): Kristian Vesalainen, LW, Frolunda (Sweden)

The offensive upside is there with Vesalainen, but he also had an up and down season, as he moved quite a bit. Size suggests power forward, but he may be a few years away.

30-Nashville Predators: Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCHC)

Assuming the Predators don't trade this pick in pursuit of a center like Matt Duchene or Tyler Johnson, the Predators go with the draft route, taking Poehling, who could end up a Mike Fisher clone, as in not great offensively, but very good in many areas, and can play a shutdown role if needed.

31-Pittsburgh Penguins: Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle (Sweden)

Liljegren's stock took a tumble, and with Pittsburgh needing to figure out a plan in case they don't keep Justin Schultz and/or Derrick Pouliot doesn't pan out, Liljegren would fit the Penguins system perfectly, as his offense is way ahead of his defensive game.

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