2017 NHL draft rankings: Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick lead solid class

1:00 | NHL
Who will take the top spot in this year's NHL draft?
Monday June 5th, 2017

Weak: That has been the main one-word description for the 2017 NHL draft class, which does not feature the same star power as the previous two boasted.

The thing is, most drafts don’t have a Connor McDavid. They certainly don’t have a duo as dynamic as McDavid and Jack Eichel in 2015 or Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine in 2016 atop the list—and that’s okay.

Indeed, the hockey world has been spoiled in recent years. Generational players are referred to as such because they tend not to come around very often and even when they don’t, it doesn’t make or break the collective. There’s still plenty of talent to be had in prospect pools–productive forwards, defensive wizards, brick wall-like goaltenders and so on.

The 1999 draft class was weak. Only eight or nine of the 25 players selected in the first round ever made some form of impact at the NHL level. Patrik Stefan, the first overall pick, amassed a paltry 188 points in 455 games and became a YouTube sensation for all the wrong reasons.

But this year’s draft? It’s pretty solid. There are several quality building blocks for NHL scouts and front offices to browse through and select. And while centers Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier aren’t quite as good as some of the names mentioned above, they’re still really, really good.

NHL
NHL's top prospect Nolan Patrick says he is overcoming two hernia injuries

It’s also a strong year for goalie prospects, led by Boston University's Jake Oettinger, an NCAA starter as a true freshman this season who was not fazed in the slightest.

As is the case with most drafts, there will be future stars taken in later rounds that truly define scouting and player development staffs. Denis Smirnov, a winger at Penn State, led all NCAA rookies—including Arizona’s top pick in 2016, Clayton Keller, in scoring. Cole Guttman of the USHL’s Dubuque Fighting Saints averaged over a point-per-game and finished with just as many as Eeli Tolvanen, though the latter is ranked high-up on NHL Central Scouting’s list while the former didn’t even make the list.  

Only time will tell what actually becomes of the 217 players selected on June 23rd and 24th at Chicago’s United Center. For now, here are my rankings.

NOTE: This is not a mock draft, or in any way intended to be reflective of where players might be chosen. Prospects are listed in order based on a combination of factors that determine the likelihood of graduation to the NHL.  

2017 NHL draft rankings: 1-31

1. Nico Hischier — C

2016-17: Halifax (QMJHL) - 57GP-38G-48A-86Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6'0" | WT: 179 | CSS Rank: 2NA

Scouting Report: He's fast, and an exceptional playmaker who possesses that "wow" factor on offense. He can also take care of business without the puck.

Plays Like: Henrik Zetterberg

Potential: Line 1 C

2. Nolan Patrick — C

2016-17: Brandon (WHL) - 33GP-20G-26A-46Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’3” | WT: 198 | CSS Rank: 1NA

Scouting Report: He won't be a superstar, but will likely be a very good NHL player and more of a mid-tier No. 1 center. Extremely well-rounded.

Plays Like: Eric Staal

Potential: Line 1 C

3. Elias Pettersson — C

2016-17: Timra (Allsvenskan) - 43GP-19G-22A-41Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’2” | WT: 165 | CSS Rank: 2EU

Scouting Report: His game evokes that of another shifty playmaker who lit up Allsvenskan named Filip Forsberg. Supposedly, he turned out alright.

Plays Like: Filip Forsberg

Potential: Line 1 F

NHL
Roundtable: Prospects on getting drafted, their roads to the NHL

4. Eeli Tolvanen — LW

2016-17: Sioux City (USHL) - 52GP-30G-24A-54Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 5’10” | WT: 179 | CSS Rank: 8NA

Scouting Report: He's the best pure shooter in the draft and an electrifying talent. He isn't Patrik Laine, but who is?

Plays Like: Nikita Kucherov

Potential: Line 1 W

5. Gabriel Vilardi — C

2016-17: Windsor (OHL) - 49GP-29G-32A-61Pts
Age: 17 | HT: 6’2” | WT: 192 | CSS Rank: 4NA

Scouting Report: He has the combination of size and skill that scouts crave. His skating needs some, but not too much, work. A good net-front presence.

Plays Like: Ryan O’Reilly

Potential: Top-6 F

6. Kailer Yamamoto — RW

2016-17: Spokane (WHL) - 65GP-42G-57A-99Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 5’8” | WT: 159 | CSS Rank: 17NA

Scouting Report: If he was three or four inches taller, we'd be talking about him as a top-10 pick. He's talented enough to be there, and elusive enough to overcome the size factor.

Plays Like: Mats Zuccarello

Potential: Line 1 W

7. Timothy Liljegren — D

2016-17: Rogle (SHL) - 19GP-1G-4A-5Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’0” | WT: 192 | CSS Rank: 6EU

Scouting Report: He had an up and down season that saw his stock drop, but he's still got the most NHL upside of any defenseman in this draft until proven otherwise. Skates extremely well and can move the puck but his defense must get better.

Plays Like: Kevin Shattenkirk

Potential: 1-2 D

8. Cody Glass — C

2016-17: Portland (WSHL) - 69GP-32G-62A-94Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’2” | WT: 179 | CSS Rank: 6NA

Scouting Report: His vision and hockey sense are impressive. Has strong awareness with and without the puck. Scouts want to see more competitiveness and a bulkier frame. Nothing time can't yield.

Plays Like: Ryan Kesler

Potential: Top-6 C

9. Miro Heiskanen — D

2016-17: HIFK (Liiga) - 37GP-5G-5A-10Pts
Age: 17 | HT: 6’0” | WT: 174 | CSS Rank: 4EU

Scouting Report: Hard not to think of Ryan McDonagh while watching him play. Skating is superb and distributes the puck well. Won't always dominate a game offensively, but will almost always have an impact.

Plays Like: Ryan McDonagh

Potential: 2-12 D

NHL
Devils buck odds to win NHL draft lottery; Vegas to pick sixth

10. Casey Mittelstadt — C

2016-17: Eden Prarie (USHS) - 24GP-13G-17-30Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’1” | WT: 201 | CSS Rank: 3NA

Scouting Report: Has a solid frame and plenty of skill. Sees the ice well. His skating is above-average, but could use some work. Don't know if he's the first-line player many think he will be, but a top-six forward role is certainly within his grasp.

Plays Like: Derek Stepan

Potential: Top-6 C

11. Cale Makar — D

2016-17: Brooks (AJHL) - 54GP-24G-51A-75Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 5’11” | WT: 179 | CSS Rank: 9NA

Scouting Report: Dynamic puck mover dominated Junior A. The hope is that his game will translate to the college level when he faces tougher competition.

Plays Like: Brian Campbell

Potential: 1-4 D

12. Martin Necas — C

2016-17: Brno (Czech) - 41GP-7G-8A-15Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’1” | WT: 168 | CSS Rank: 5EU

Scouting Report: He's a good skater and a better playmaker. Reliable in all three zones. Has the potential to be a top-six forward at the NHL level.

Plays Like: Frans Nielsen

Potential: Top-6 C

13. Nick Suzuki — C

2016-17: Owen Sound (OHL) - 65GP-45G-51A-96Pts
Age: 17 | HT: 5’11” | WT: 183 | CSS Rank: 10NA

Scouting Report: His skating is a bit choppy, but it's not bad, either. There's lots of skill in his game. Smart, all situations type-player. One of the best playmakers in this draft class.

Plays Like: Joe Pavelski

Potential: Top-6 C

14. Owen Tippett — RW

2016-17: Owen Sound (OHL) - 60GP-44G-31A-75Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’2” | WT: 203 | CSS Rank: 7NA

Scouting Report: Shoots first, asks questions later. Not capable of much else if he's not scoring, so he needs to find the same role in the NHL that he currently fills in juniors.

Plays Like: Thomas Vanek

Potential: Top-6 W

15. Antoine Morand — C

2016-17: Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) - 67GP-28G-46A-74Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 5’9” | WT: 170 | CSS Rank: 53NA

Scouting Report: Small player, but he's one of the best playmakers in the QMJHL. Potential steal.

Plays Like: Tyler Johnson

Potential: Top-6 C

16. Klim Kostin — C

2016-17: Dynamo (KHL) - 8GP-0G-0A-0Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’3” | WT: 196 | CSS Rank: 1EU

Scouting Report: Missed a lot of playing time with injuries, but has impressed when healthy. Prototypical power forward. Needs to show he can be engaged in the play more often.

Plays Like: Charlie Coyle

Potential: Top-6 W

17. Erik Brannstrom — D

2016-17: HV71-U20 (SuperElit) - 19GP-9G-14A-23Pts
Age: 17 | HT: 5’10” | WT: 179 | CSS Rank: 9EU

Scouting Report: Mobile puck mover excelled on a pairing with Liljegren (7) for Team Sweden at the Under-18 tournament. Could be a Jared Spurgeon-type player, but has the offensive chops to be more productive.

Plays Like: Torey Krug

Potential: 1-4 D

Cal Foote — D, Kelowna Rockets
Marissa Baecker/Getty Images

18. Cal Foote — D

2016-17: Kelowna (WHL) - 71GP-6G-51A-57Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’3” | WT: 209 | CSS Rank: 12NA

Scouting Report: The next product off the assembly line at Kelowna's defenseman factory. Like his father, Adam, he's a good two-way rearguard. There's some offense there, too, and he has a cannon of a slap shot.

Plays Like: Dion Phaneuf

Potential: 1-4 D

19. Kole Lind — RW

2016-17: Kelowna (WHL) - 70GP-30G-57A-87Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’1” | WT: 176 | CSS Rank: 23NA

Scouting Report: Scoring winger got better as the season went on. Needs to bulk up, but he's got hands and a heck of a release.

Plays Like: Justin Williams

Potential: Top-6 W

20. Jake Oettinger — G

2016-17: Boston U. (NCAA) - 35GP-2.11GAA-.927SV%
Age: 18 | HT: 6’4” | WT: 205 | CSS Rank: 1NA G

Scouting Report: Has the size and athleticism to be a star goaltender at the NHL level. Performed excellently between the pipes for Boston University as a true freshman.

Plays Like: Matt Murray

Potential: No.1 G

NHL
Top-ranked goalie prospect Jake Oettinger ready to realize his next dream at NHL draft

21. Joni Ikonen — C

2016-17: Frolunda (SHL) - 40GP-22G-19A-41Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 5’10” | WT: 168 | CSS Rank: 17EU

Scouting Report: He's very smart and can get around the ice smoothly. His size might scare off a few teams, but that's becoming less and less of a detractor in today's NHL. Probably more of a winger than a center at the next level.

Plays Like: Jordan Eberle

Potential: Top-6 F

22. Ryan Poehling — C

2016-17: St. Cloud State (NCAA) - 35GP-7G-6A-13Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’3” | WT: 185 | CSS Rank: 13NA

Scouting Report: He's competitive and has outstanding hand-eye coordination. Should have more of an impact next season than he did in his first taste of college hockey. Second line forward potential.

Plays Like: Travis Zajac

Potential: Line 2 C

23. Aleksi Heponiemi — C

2016-17: Swift Current (WHL) - 72GP-28G-58A-86Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 5’10” | WT: 143 | CSS Rank: 26NA

Scouting Report: Two-way pivot makes some passes that few players in this draft can, and has an accurate shot. Skating could use a bit of work, but doesn't require a major overhaul. Needs to bulk up.

Plays Like: Tomas Plekanec

Potential: Line 2 C

24. Michael Rasmussen — C

2016-17: Tri-city (WHL) - 50GP-32G-23A-55Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’5” | WT: 203 | CSS Rank: 5NA

Scouting Report: Ranked much higher by a lot of scouts, but you'd like to see more production. Effective net-front presence, and has the tools to be a solid top-six forward in the NHL, but he's likely a tweener.

Plays Like: Nick Bjugstad

Potential: Line 2 C

25. Conor Timmins — D

2016-17: Sault Ste Marie (OHL) - 67GP-7G-54A-61Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’1” | WT: 181 | CSS Rank: 18NA

Scouting Report: He's been pigeonholed as more of a two-way defenseman, but added a ton of offensive production to his repetoire this season. Could be a real strong prospect.

Plays Like: Cody Ceci

Potential: 1-4 D

26. Nicolas Hague — D

2016-17: Mississauga (OHL) - 65GP-18G-28A-46Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’6” | WT: 214 | CSS Rank: 20NA

Scouting Report: Criticism of his skating is a bit exaggerated, and he has size, skill and strength. Which of those traits he places emphasis on at the next level is anyone's guess, but whatever the outcome, there's probably an NHLer here.

Plays Like: Colton Parayko

Potential: 1-4 D

27. Fabian Zetterlund — RW

2016-17: Farjestad Jr. (SuperElit) - 40GP-16G-20A-36Pts
Age: 17 | HT: 5’11” | WT: 196 | CSS Rank: 40EU

Scouting Report: He can skate, has a great shot and playmaking ability. He also backchecks. Come to think of it, there isn't much he doesn't do. A potential steal in this draft.

Plays Like: Ryan Callahan

Potential: Top-6 W

28. Henri Jokiharju — D

2016-17: Portland (WHL) - 71GP-9G-39A-48Pts
Age: 17 | HT: 6’0” | WT: 170 | CSS Rank: 19NA

Scouting Report: Player of the Game in the CHL Top Prospects Game is hardwired for the modern NHL. Smart, mobile puck-moving defenseman. Might not be a top-scoring blueliner, but will probably be a good complimentary option.

Plays Like: Dan Hamhuis

Potential: 1-4 D

29. Joshua Norris — C

2016-17: USNTDP (USHL) - 61GP-27G-33A-60Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’1” | WT: 192 | CSS Rank: 34NA

Scouting Report: Best offensive player to come out of the NTDP this year. Skates pretty well, works hard. Plays a 200-foot game and is a jack-of-all-trades type of forward.

Plays Like: Brock Nelson

Potential: Middle-6 C

30. Juuso Valimaki — D

2016-17: Tri-City (WHL) - 60GP-19G-42A-61Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 6’2” | WT: 201 | CSS Rank: 11NA

Scouting Report: His skating needs to get better, but he's been a productive defenseman at every level. Not sure if that's going to be his primary function in the NHL, but there's something here.

Plays Like: Zach Bogosian

Potential: 1-4 D

31. Lias Andersson — C

2016-17: HV71 (SHL) - 42GP-9G-10A-19Pts
Age: 18 | HT: 5'11” | WT: 198 | CSS Rank: 3EU

Scouting Report: Probably more of a defensive forward. Offense is there, but not on a consistent basis. Regardless, he's a player most coaches would be happy to have in their toolboxes.

Plays Like: Mathieu Perreault

Potential: Middle-6 C

2017 NHL draft rankings: 32-100

 

Rank

Player

Pos

Team

Age

HT

WT

GP

G

A

Pts

CSS RK

32

Jaret Anderson-Dolan

C

Spokane (WHL)

17

5'11"

185

72

39

37

76

21 NA

33

David Farrance

D

USNTDP (USHL)

17

5'11"

187

64

7

30

37

46 NA

34

Mason Shaw

C

Medicine Hat (WHL)

18

5'9"

181

71

27

67

94

55 NA

35

Kristian Vesalainen

RW

Frolunda (SHL)

18

6'3"

209

26

1

5

6

7 EU

36

Pierre-Olivier Joseph

D

Charlottetown (QMJHL)

17

6'0"

161

62

6

33

39

27 NA

37

Sasha Chmelevski

C

Ottawa (OHL)

17

6'0"

187

58

21

22

43

43 NA

38

Nikita Popugaev

LW

Prince George (WHL)

18

6'6"

203

40

22

29

51

28 NA

39

Michael DiPietro

G

Windsor (OHL)

17

6'0"

192

51

0.917

2.35

 

4 NA G

40

Robert Thomas

C

London (OHL)

17

6'0"

187

66

16

50

66

22 NA

41

Urho Vaakanainen

D

JYP (Liiga)

18

6'1"

187

41

2

4

6

8 EU

42

Nick Henry

RW

Regina (WHL)

17

6'0"

190

72

35

46

81

25 NA

43

Matthew Strome

LW

Hamilton (OHL)

18

6'3"

201

66

34

28

62

33 NA

44

Filip Chytil

C

ZPS Zlin (Czech)

17

6'0"

179

38

4

4

8

11 EU

45

Grant Mismash

LW

USNTDP (USHL)

18

6'0"

183

65

26

35

61

24 NA

46

Isaac Ratcliffe

LW

Guelph (OHL)

18

6'5"

203

67

28

26

54

15 NA

47

Alexei Lipanov

C

HK MVD (MHL)

17

6'0"

170

11

0

3

3

13 EU

48

Shane Bowers

C

Waterloo (USHL)

17

6'0"

170

60

22

29

51

16 NA

49

Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen

G

HPK U20 (Jr. A Liiga)

18

6'4"

196

35

0.917

1.78

 

1 EU G

50

Maxime Comtois

LW

Victoriaville (QMJHL)

18

6'2"

201

64

22

29

51

30 NA

51

Noah Cates

C

Stillwater (USHS)

18

6'1"

170

25

20

45

65

121 NA

52

Jonah Gadjovich

LW

Owen Sound (OHL)

18

6'2"

201

60

46

28

74

39 NA

53

MacKenzie Entwistle

C

Hamilton (OHL)

17

6'3"

181

54

12

13

25

44 NA

54

Noel Hoeffenmayer

D

Ottawa (OHL)

18

6'0"

190

62

14

26

40

75 NA

55

Jake Leschyshyn

C

Regina (WHL)

18

5'11"

181

47

17

23

40

42 NA

56

Maxim Zhukov

G

Green Bay (USHL)

17

6'3"

181

31

0.913

2.25

 

9 NA G

57

Cale Fleury

D

Kootenay (WHL)

18

6'1"

201

70

11

27

38

62 NA

58

Jason Robertson

RW

Kingston (OHL)

17

6'2"

194

68

42

39

81

14 NA

59

Artyom Minulin

D

Swift Current (WHL)

18

6'2"

198

70

8

42

50

58 NA

60

Maxime Fortier

RW

Halifax (QMJHL)

19

5'10"

176

68

32

55

87

181 NA

61

Eemeli Rasanen

D

Kingston (OHL)

18

6'7"

205

66

6

33

39

32 NA

62

Marcus Davidsson

C

Djurgarden (SHL)

18

6'0"

192

45

5

4

9

12 EU

63

Ivan Lodnia

C

Erie (OHL)

17

5'10"

181

66

24

33

57

36 NA

NHL
Vegas Golden Knights are ready to make a deal ahead of inaugural season

Rank

Player

Pos

Team

Age

HT

WT

GP

G

A

Pts

CSS RK

64

Ostap Safin

LW

Sparta Prague (Czech U20)

18

6'4"

198

24

6

12

18

14 EU

65

Robin Salo

D

Sport (Liiga)

18

6'0"

185

54

1

15

16

20 EU

66

Olle Eriksson Ek

G

Farjestad Jr. (SuperElit)

17

6'2"

187

30

0.924

2.16

 

2 EU G

67

Stelio Mattheos

C

Brandon (WHL)

17

6'1"

194

69

26

35

61

38 NA

68

Alex Formenton

LW

London (OHL)

17

6'1"

159

65

16

18

34

29 NA

69

Jesper Boqvist

LW

Brynas (SHL)

18

6'0"

179

16

0

6

6

10 EU

70

Markus Phillips

D

Owen Sound (OHL)

18

6'0"

207

66

13

30

43

50 NA

71

Dylan Samberg

D

Hermantown (USHS)

18

6'3"

190

25

10

18

28

67 NA

72

Evan Barratt

C

USNTDP (USHL)

18

5'11"

187

63

18

38

56

65 NA

73

Joshua Brook

D

Moose Jaw (WHL)

17

6'2"

185

69

8

32

40

49 NA

74

Ian Scott

G

Prince Albert (WHL)

18

6'3"

168

50

0.895

3.69

 

3 NA G

75

Morgan Geekie

C

Tri-City (WHL)

18

6'2"

168

72

35

55

90

45 NA

76

Adam Ruzicka

C

Sarnia (OHL)

18

6'4"

209

61

25

21

46

37 NA

77

Ivan Chekhovich

LW

Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)

18

5'10"

172

60

26

33

59

71 NA

78

Alex D'Orio

G

Saint John (QMJHL)

18

6'2"

198

28

0.903

2.4

 

13 NA G

79

Adam Tilander

D

North Bay (OHL)

18

6'0"

190

64

6

29

35

96 NA

80

Cole Guttman

C

Dubuque (USHL)

18

5'10"

163

53

27

27

54

NR

81

Matthew Villalta

G

Sault Ste Marie (OHL)

18

6'2"

170

33

0.918

2.41

 

16 NA G

82

Max Gildon

D

USNTDP (USHL)

18

6'3"

187

61

11

22

33

54 NA

83

Lukas Elvenes

RW

Rogle Jr. (SuperElit)

17

6'0"

174

41

15

30

45

18 EU

84

Jarret Tyszka

D

Seattle (WHL)

18

6'3"

192

54

6

19

25

41 NA

85

Filip Westerlund

D

Frolunda (SHL)

18

5'11"

181

33

0

4

4

15 EU

86

Morgan Frost

LW

Sault Ste Marie (OHL)

18

6'0"

170

67

20

42

62

31 NA

87

Mario Ferraro

D

Des Moines (USHL)

18

5'11"

179

60

8

33

41

78 NA

88

Stuart Skinner

G

Lethbridge (WHL)

18

6'4"

207

60

0.905

3.26

 

5 NA G

89

Ivan Kosorenkov

RW

Victoriaville (QMJHL)

19

6'0"

181

68

34

29

63

186 NA

90

Pavel Shen

F

Mamonty (MHL)

17

5'9"

179

46

16

29

45

22 EU

91

Dylan Ferguson

G

Kamloops (WHL)

18

6'1"

192

31

0.922

2.74

 

8 NA G

92

Leon Gawanke

D

Cape Breton (QMJHL)

18

6'1"

181

54

8

24

32

200 NA

93

Dylan Coghlan

D

Tri-City (WHL)

19

6'2"

190

71

15

38

53

77 NA

94

Jacob Tortora

LW

USNTDP (USHL)

17

5'8"

161

51

18

20

38

165 NA

95

Ian Mitchell

D

Spruce Grove (AJHL)

18

5'10"

165

53

8

29

37

35 NA

96

Drake Rymsha

C

Sarnia (OHL)

18

6'0"

187

65

35

27

62

118 NA

97

Pavel Koltygin

F

Drummondville (QMJHL)

18

6'0"

192

65

22

25

47

83 NA

98

Austen Keating

C

Ottawa (OHL)

18

6'0"

170

67

22

41

63

115 NA

99

Sean Durzi

D

Owen Sound (OHL)

18

5'11"

185

60

2

36

38

124 NA

100

Denis Smirnov

LW

Penn State (NCAA)

19

5'10"

185

39

19

28

47

167 NA

SI Apps
We've Got Apps Too
Get expert analysis, unrivaled access, and the award-winning storytelling only SI can provide - from Peter King, Tom Verducci, Lee Jenkins, Seth Davis, and more - delivered straight to you, along with up-to-the-minute news and live scores.