The NHL’s Central Scouting Department has released the final version of their 2017 draft rankings. There is no surprise at the top, Nolan Patrick heads the North American skater list while Nico Hischier and Casey Mittelstadt round out the top three. Over in Europe, Klim Kostin heads the list while their top three is rounded off with Elias Pettersson and Lias Andersson.
Most everyone expected to see Nolan Patrick top this list after a productive, but injury-filled season with the Brandon Wheat Kings. He only played 33 games this season, but still managed 46 points, and that combined with over 100 points last season was enough to secure the top spot for the big center.
Swiss-born Nico Hischier is second on the list and is a player who looks real good coming into the draft. Despite playing this season in the QMJHL, he has vital pro league experience from the season before when he played 15 games in the NLA (Swiss Division 1) and 7 games in the NLB (Swiss Division 2). That makes it more likely that Hischier will adjust to the NHL quicker, and for a team wanting instant impact, he could well be a good pick up.
Cale Makar is the number one blue liner on the list at number nine. He is the best of what doesn’t look to be a standout bunch and while he could provide depth in a few years, he doesn’t look like turning into a genuine number one defenseman. Makar likes to get involved with play at both ends of the ice and has registered over a point per game in his last two seasons in the AJHL.
Over in Europe Klim Kostin tops the list and that should still translate to a first round draft pick. However, he is only 17 and may be a long term project and due to injury, he has only played 18 games this season. Of those, 8 came in the KHL, and he has already signed to play there again next season, he is very much one for a few years down the line, not for anyone looking to find a player that can play now.
Lias Andersson, third on the European list is a player who is very intriguing. He should go in the first round, although if he drops into the second he would represent a tremendous value. He has vital pro league experience, 42 games in the SHL this season and 22 last season when he split time between the men’s and u20 team for HV71. This season he scored 19 points, very respectable in a professional league.
For anyone looking for a netminder, Jake Oettinger is the number one ranked North American goaltender and is projected to be taken in the second round. He played in the NCAA this season, posting an impressive 2.11 GAA from 35 games for Boston University.
This draft class doesn’t look the best or deepest but value can still be found. A lot of teams are looking for a defenseman, but there aren’t too many high-class prospects this year so it will be interesting to see how teams draft with that in mind.