1. New Jersey Devils – Nolan Patrick (C/Brandon WHL)
Unlike previous years, there is no slam-dunk top pick for this draft, and it may cause the Devils to ultimately trade this pick. If they do decide to stand pat, it comes down to Patrick and Nico Hischier. Patrick is the most well-rounded player in this draft whose play away from the puck is ahead of the curve for players his age.
2. Philadelphia Flyers – Nico Hischier (RW/C/Halifax QMJHL)
While Patrick is the more well-rounded prospect, Hischier is the flashier player who can score in creative ways. With the Devils and Flyers both in the Metropolitan Division, the two could become a storyline to follow for years if both teams keep their pick.
3. Dallas Stars – Miro Heiskanen (D/HIFK Liiga)
A two-way defenseman who would fill a major need for the Stars. Don’t be surprised if the Stars trade up with New Jersey to get the top pick.
4. Colorado Avalanche – Gabriel Vilardi (C/Windsor OHL)
With Matt Duschene likely being traded this summer, there is an opening in the top six for an offensive playmaker and that is exactly what Vilardi is. He averaged 1.19 points per game for Windsor last season.
5. Vancouver Canucks – Casey Mittelstadt (C/Green Bay USHL)
There is no doubt that Mittelstadt is a talented scorer, but he is definitely going to need to hit the gym if he expects to survive in the NHL.
6. Las Vegas Golden Knights – Cody Glass (Portland WHL)
With the first ever pick for the expansion franchise, they get their hands on a scorer who they can build as the face of the franchise.
7. Arizona Coyotes – Cale Makar (D/Brooks AJHL)
After spending the past few years focusing on offense, Arizona finally looks for a blue line defenseman.
8. Buffalo Sabres – Owen Tippett (RW/Mississauga OHL)
Buffalo is in desperate need for guys who can bury the puck in the net. Tippett is a big-bodied player who has drawn comparisons to Phil Kessel.
9. Detroit Red Wings – Martin Necas (C/RW/Brno Czech)
His defense isn’t quite there yet, but Necas is a solid contributor both with and without the puck on offense. He would give Detroit a new top-six option at forward.
10. Florida Panthers – Michael Rasmussen (C/Tri-City WHL)
Rasmussen is a big-bodied winger that General manager Dave Tallon covets. He doesn’t his 6’6″ frame as well as he should, but it’s something that can be developed over time.
11. Los Angeles Kings – Elias Pettersson (C/LW/Timra IK Sweden)
As the Kings rebuild, they will look to add a young scoring threat. Pettersson scored in bunches in Sweden, but at 6’2″, 160 pounds, he needs to add some muscle.
12. Carolina Hurricanes – Nick Suzuki (C/RW/Owen OHL)
A high-scoring player with a non-stop engine and effort in all three aspects of the game. Suzuki would fit in well with Carolina’s young core.
13. Winnipeg Jets – Juuso Valimaki (D/Tri-City WHL)
Valimaki is probably the best two-day defenseman in this draft. He excels at creating scoring chances on offense while shutting down opposing wingers on defense. Winnipeg’s defensive core is aging, so injecting youth is a must.
14. Tampa Bay Lightning – Erik Brannstrom (D/HV71 SHL)
Another undersized, two-way defenseman from this draft class. Brannstrom has the makings of someone who can be elite at running the power play.
15. New York Islanders – Eeli Tolvanen (LW/Sioux City USHL)
Tolvanen is a bit undersized and isn’t speedy, but he comes with great instincts and should develop into a deadly scorer on the wing.
16. Calgary Flames – Callan Foote (D/Kelowna WHL)
Foote has shown potential as a two-way player, but he will likely be a true defenseman at the NHL level.
17. Toronto Maple Leafs – Nicolas Hague (D/Mississauga OHL)
Toronto has a ton of talent on offense, so I can see them targeting defense early in this draft Hague is 6’6″ and comes with a hard slap shot.
18. Boston Bruins – Klim Kostin (C/RW/Dynamo VHL)
Patrice Bergeron (31), David Krejci (31) and David Backes (33) all at the tail end of their primes, Boston needs to inject some youth at center.
19. San Jose Sharks – Lias Andersson (C/HV71 SHL)
With Joe Thornton turning 38, San Jose may look for his heir. Andersson plays much better than his 5’11” frame should allow and has the makings of someone who could be a future captain in the NHL.
20. St. Louis Blues – Timothy Liljegren (D/Rogle BK SHL)
With Kevin Shattenkirk officially gone, St. Louis is on the hunt for a new blue liner.
21. New York Rangers – Ryan Poehling (C/St. Cloud State NCHC)
The youngest hockey player in NCAA history, Poehling turned 18 on Jan. 3 and has a lengthy build that helps create plays on offense.
22. Edmonton Oilers – Kailer Yamamoto (RW/Spokane WHL)
At 5’8″, Yamamoto looks like he is too small for the NHL but he is one of the most skilled offensive weapons in this class. Him and Connor McDavid would be a nightmare matchup.
23. Arizona Coyotes – Jason Robertson (LW/Kingston OHL)
Arizona took a defenseman with their first pick, so I think they’ll target a winger with the second pick. Robertson is great with the puck on the stick, but his skating needs to improve.
24. Columbus Blue Jackets – Isaac Ratcliffe (LW/Guelph OHL)
Columbus are in need of another goal scorer. At 6’5″, 200 pounds, Ratcliffe is a big body who wreaks havoc in front of the net, and has room to bulk up.
25. Montreal Canadiens – Shane Bowers (C/Waterloo OHL)
Bowers had modeled his game after Jonathan Toews and will continue to develop in college, but when he is ready for the NHL, he has the makings of a top six forward.
26. Chicago Blackhawks – Conor Timmins (D/Sault Ste. Marie OHL)
Chicago’s defense is starting to get long in the tooth, so injecting some youth isn’t a bad idea.
27. St. Louis Blues – Maxime Comtois (LW/Victoriaville QMJHL)
St. Louis went after a defenseman with their top pick, so now they look for a forward here. Comtois can play all three positions on the wing.
28. Ottawa Senators – Jake Oettinger (G/Boston University NCAA)
The run on goaltenders begins. Oettinger is 6’4″ with great mobility who operates from the butterfly. Ottawa has no prospects at goalie.
29. Dallas Stars – Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (G/HPK FIN)
Dallas is another team who is in need of young talent int he crease. Like Oettinger, Luukkonen is also 6’4″ and doesn’t get frazzled easily.
30. Nashville Predators – Robert Thomas (C/London OHL)
Nashville may lose team captain Mike Fisher this offseason either via free agency or retirement. The team is thin at center, so finding a young replacement will be a necessity.
31. Pittsburgh Penguins – Urho Vaakanainen (D/Espoo FIN)
If the Penguins have shown any flaws in their team this postseason, is it their lack of depth at defense, especially with Kris Letang injured.