The Journey: Redrafting the 2017 NHL Entry Draft
New York Rangers player/prospect Lias Andersson requesting a trade last weekend got me thinking about about his relative value amongst NHL prospects. Without going into too much detail, I thought that one of the more fun ways to envision the trajectory of his value would be to have a look back at the entire 2017 NHL draft… which overall, isn’t looking great.
- New Jersey Devils: Cale Makar (+3)
Original Pick: Nico Hischier
The return of Kevin Bahl as part of the Taylor Hall trade is a solid add for the Devils’ future blueline, but a refined Cale Makar in exchange for the top-six forward Nico Hischier would put the team significantly ahead. January 4 will be Makar’s first game versus the Devils (assuming he has returned from injury by then), giving the team a first-hand exposure to the type of player that they could have had.
- Philadelphia Flyers: Elias Pettersson (+3)
Original Pick: Nolan Patrick
The questions surrounding Nolan Patrick’s ceiling began early in his draft year after the Brandon Wheat Kings forward had been long-favored as the top pick for 2017. Pettersson’s ceiling, on the other hand had been underestimated severely, even at the time of his selection. In his second full NHL slate, the Swedish sniper is on pace for 84 points and something tells me there’s even more to come.
- Dallas Stars: Miro Heiskanen (-)
Original Pick: Miro Heiskanen
Dallas picked well. A year ago, we might have ranked Heiskanen even higher. He was the first defenseman to emerge from this draft class, but Makar’s innate offensive nature makes him slightly more valuable.
- Colorado Avalanche: Martin Necas (+8)
Original Pick: Cale Makar
The Avalanche made one of the savviest picks of the first round in 2017 by selecting future All-Star and NCAA bound defenseman Makar at fourth overall. If Makar had been unavailable in the four-slot, however, who would’ve been the best selection for the Avs?
- Vancouver Canucks: Nico Hischier (-4)
Original Pick: Elias Pettersson
The disappointment in going from one of the best young players on the planet to Nico Hischier would be devastating for Canucks fans. However, if three other teams had been much wiser, it could have been a reality.
- Vegas Golden Knights: Filip Chytil (+15)
Original Pick: Cody Glass
The 2017 NHL Entry Draft was especially unique due to it being the first to include brand-new expansion franchise Vegas Golden Knights. Nabbing the skilled Czech inside the top-ten would’ve been a highly unlikely ploy at the time, however, in hindsight, Chytil has been a steal for the Rangers at 21.
- New York Rangers: Robert Thomas (+13)
Original Pick: Lias Andersson
Ah, here we are… what could the Rangers have had with their seventh pick back in June of 2017. Well, Lias is still available, however, the player that they were aiming to select in the early 20’s has already been picked off. Robert Thomas has gradually developed the way that the Blueshirts likely envisioned Andersson to. His game isn’t purely focused on offense; however, he has already developed an awareness that will surely make him a top-6 forward in the NHL for a long time.
- Buffalo Sabres: Morgan Frost (+19)
Original Pick: Casey Mittelstadt
The Sabres are currently experiencing an impatient appetite to have their actual selection in Mittelstadt take on a sizable role with the big club. Unfortunately for them, Mittelstadt still just isn’t quite ready to take that step. His skating hasn’t quite reached the level that it’s needed to be at to have an impact at the NHL level. On the other hand, later selection Frost is currently having exactly the type of success with the Flyers that Buffalo is salivating for from Mittelstadt.
- Detroit Red Wings: Juuso Valimaki (+7)
Original Pick: Michael Rasmussen
The Michael Rasmussen pick seemed to be a winner early into the development stages of this draft class. The now 20-year-old had nearly cracked Jeff Blashill’s lineup the Autumn of his draft year, but has since stumbled. Juuso Valimaki would be a valuable addition to the Wings’ day-to-day lineup, disregarding injuries of course.
- Florida Panthers: Cody Glass (-4)
Original Pick: Owen Tippett
Tippett’s value inflated following his selection by the Panthers due to his extended training camp with the team in his first eligible season. The now 20-year-old has carved out a significant role with the AHL’s Springfield Thunderbirds, but the Panthers would likely be a bit happier with a player like Glass who would fit nicely into a system with other similar molded players like Alex Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau.
- Los Angeles Kings: Erik Brannstrom (+5)
Original Pick: Gabriel Vilardi
Although Brannstrom has since been moved by the team that had originally drafted him, the crafty Swede has already begun to emerge as an NHL capable defender. The 16th overall selection would make the Kings’ current woes slightly more tolerable than their actual selection in Gabe Vilardi, who has struggled mightily with a nagging back injury since being drafted.
- Carolina Hurricanes: Maxime Comtois (+36)
Original Pick: Martin Necas
The Canes did well drafting Martin Necas with the 12th pick in the draft. The team was widely expected to be targeting a forward with the pick, however, at the time, Max Comtois, who had been ranked as high as the top-10, has seen his stock drop all the way out of the first round. In hindsight, Comtois was in fact worthy of a first-round pick, however, just falling out of the top-10.
- Vegas Golden Knights: Nick Suzuki (+1)
Original Pick: Nick Suzuki
With their second pick of the draft, the Knights did well to select Nick Suzuki. Despite being moved out of the desert and onto colder pastures, Suzuki is well on his way to proving his value at the NHL as a rookie with the Canadiens.
- Tampa Bay Lightning: Henri Jokiharju (+15)
Original Pick: Cal Foote
The Lightning desired a defenseman to slide into their top-four with the 14th overall selection. With several blueliners projected to go in the second half of the first round, Al Murray opted for Foote. The Kelowna Rockets product tallied three more points than Henri Jokiharju in his draft year, but the latter has begun his professional career on a more intriguing note.
- Vegas Golden Knights: Nolan Patrick (-13)
Original Pick: Erik Brannstrom
After losing draft stock in the weeks leading up to the draft, Nolan Patrick maintained his draft value and was selected by the Flyers in the two-hole. Unfortunately, he hasn’t managed to meet the expectations of a second overall selection, and has been outshone by several of his peers. Nonetheless, he is currently forecasting as a satisfactory middle-six center, value worthy of a 15th overall pick.
- Calgary Flames: Emil Bemstrom (+101)
Original Pick: Juuso Valimaki
Few players recognition has grown as much over the previous twelve months than the Blue Jackets forward Bemstrom. It seems plausible that three years from now, Bemstrom could find himself being drafted as high as the top-six in a re-draft such as this one, however, today, he looks like the type of a supplement that the Calgary Flames’ forward corps could really use.
- Toronto Maple Leafs: Alexandre Texier (+28)
Original Pick: Timothy Liljegren
At 17th overall, the Leaf’s took a swing on a player whose draft stock had plummeted in the months leading up to the draft. While Liljegren appears little more than a year away from getting a full-time role on the team’s blueline, a middle-six forward to supplement their uber-skilled top-six is something that would be favored by Brandon Pridham’s cap projections.
- Boston Bruins: Drake Batherson (+103)
Original Pick: Urho Vaakanainen
The Bruins seem to be working Vaakanainen along at a healthy pace, and quite honestly, considering the team’s current status, it’s difficult to critique their drafting angle – it’s entirely possible that they made the right pick. That being said, what fun would it be if we only had one player jump 100-spots in our re-draft. Batherson was worthy of a first-round draft-pick, and Boston would be as good a team as any to make the pick.
- Ottawa Senators: Cal Foote (-5)
Original Pick: Josh Norris
As mentioned above, Foote’s value hasn’t dropped much since draft day amongst his peers. The Lightning currently have him marinating in the AHL, but he doesn’t appear to be far off.
- St. Louis Blues: Aleksi Heponiemi (+20)
Original Pick: Robert Thomas
With Thomas being selected 13 picks earlier in our re-draft, the Blues find themselves in a difficult spot in attempting to find any kind of an equivalent. Their closest target might have been the Finnish forward from the Swift Current Broncos in Heponiemi. The skilled center is still making his way to the NHL, and doesn’t play quite the same style as Thomas, but chances are that his ceiling could eventually match up.
- New York Rangers: Cale Fleury (+66)
Original Pick: Filip Chytil
As mentioned, the Rangers did well to select Chytil here. In his time with the Rangers since last fall, he’s been an impact player. At the time, however, the team was in the market for improving their team from the back, out. The 20-year-old Cale Fleury has only just made his way into the league, but he’s on his way to becoming an impact defender. Like some others, Fleury could climb this list even more, but to be safe, 21 is a good spot.
- Edmonton Oilers: Ryan Poehling (+3)
Original Pick: Kailer Yamamoto
Yamamoto’s professional trajectory is a curious case. The 21-year-old has spent some time with the Oilers but just hasn’t been able to stick. He still may have a future in the NHL but at this time, yet Poehling seems like more of a sure thing, at least for a middle-six role.
- Arizona Coyotes: Lias Andersson (-16)
Original Pick: Pierre-Olivier Joseph
Alas, Lias Andersson, in my opinion, remains of first-round calibre. The actual seventh-overall selection drops sixteen places to the Coyotes – the team whose pick he was actually selected with.
- Winnipeg Jets: Casey Mittelstadt (-16)
Original Pick: Kristian Vesalainen
Casey Mittlestadt is yet another example of the premature hype that began to surround the 2017 NHL draft class approximately a year after the draft. With such an uncertain top 5, it seemed as if many people were eager to crown a group of more worthy players. With Vesalainen dropping a single spot to Montreal, the Buffalo forward could’ve found a more suitable home in Winnipeg.
- Montreal Canadiens: Kristian Vesalainen (-1)
Original Pick: Ryan Poehling
The Jets forward has come extremely close to finding a home in the NHL, yet, sadly has failed to lock down a spot. Despite possessing an apparent valiant work-ethic and strong lower-body, his success in both the Finnish Liiga and the KHL have not translated to North America. For all the uncertainty surrounding his current trajectory, this seems like an appropriate spot for Vesalainen.
- Dallas Stars: Conor Timmins (+6)
Original Pick: Jake Oettinger
American goaltender Oettinger has begun to carve out a role for himself with the AHL’s Texas Stars; however, Dallas could’ve likely found that sort of talent in the second or even third round another year. While the team is already rich with young talented defensemen in John Klingberg and Miro Heiskanen, the early second-round selection, Conor Timmins would look good in a Stars uniform.
- Philadelphia Flyers: Owen Tippett (-17)
Original Pick: Morgan Frost
With Morgan Frost taking the spot of Owen Tippett’s original selection in our re-draft, it’s purely a coincidence that Tippett drops 17 places to take Frost’s original slot. Tippett is making his way in the AHL, and looks like he still certainly has a positive and productive future in the NHL.
- Colorado Avalanche: Sebastian Aho (+111)
Original Pick: Shane Bowers
In his rookie professional slate with the Colorado Eagles, Shane Bowers is off to a modestly productive pace, although the Avs would likely be a tad happier to have another NHL calibre defenseman in their arsenal. Sebastian Aho would be the first over-ager selected in the draft, and he would’ve certainly deserved it.
- Chicago Blackhawks: Jason Robertson (+10)
Original Pick: Henri Jokiharju
The Blackhawks have begun to restock their forward depth since the 2017 Entry draft, however, if they had been unable to select Jokiharju at 29, they may have started a little earlier.
- Nashville Predators: Lucas Elvenes (+97)
Original Pick: Eeli Tolvanen
Tolvanen’s file reads much the same as other players selected in the summer of 2017. His value peaked the following year, and has since stumbled. On the other hand, Lucas Elvenes has quietly been climbing to the point where he currently leads AHL rookies in scoring. It’s possible that he finishes his career as a player who may’ve justified a top-15 pick.
- St. Louis Blues: Klim Kostin (-)
Original Pick: Klim Kostin
It was a painful wait to 31 for Kostin, who was ranked as high as the top-15 in mock drafts. Unfortunately, the pain hasn’t burned deep enough to get him any higher in our re-draft. The Russian played in his first NHL game this November, and scored his first goal a week later – it could be a sign of what’s to come.
Well, there you have it. As I mentioned above, I still think Lias Andersson is worthy of a first round pick, although just barely. At the time it seemed like a bit of a stretch by many – Lias was considered a safe pick, but by no means a home run. That’s essentially what the Rangers has on their hands.
On the other hand, here are the players that, in my opinion, no longer justify their first-round selection:
Thanks for reading, @olaf1393
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