This is the last part of my first round mock draft. You can catch the first ten picks here and picks 11-20 here for more detailed analysis.
The Draft board so far:
- Toronto: Auston Matthews
- Winnipeg: Patrik Laine
- Columbus: Jesse Puljujarvi
- Edmonton: Pierre-Luc Dubois
- Vancouver: Matthew Tkachuk
- Calgary: Alex Nylander
- Arizona: Olli Juolevi
- Buffalo: Mikhail Sergachev
- Montreal: Logan Brown
- Colorado: Jakub Chychrun
- New Jersey: Michael McLeod
- Ottawa: Tyson Jost
- Carolina: Clayton Keller
- Boston: Max Jones
- Minnesota: Jake Bean
- Detroit: Luke Kunin
- Nashville: Julien Gauthier
- Philadelphia: Kieffer Bellows
- NY Islanders: Dante Fabbro
- Arizona: Riley Tufte
As usual, I used a variety of resources to compile this mock draft including: The Hockey News Draft Preview, Corey Pronman’s Top 100 draft prospects , Eliteprospects.com , and Craig Button’s List from TSN.ca . These are great resources and I recommend people checking these out.
Of course, later on, you will probably have Craig Button’s Mock Draft and Bob McKenzie’s Mock Draft closer to the draft itself.
Near the bottom I have the projected final rankings of the teams still left in the playoffs. Had to quickly switch around San Jose, Tampa Bay and St. Louis, but I feel they will draft the same players in that spot (hence why the final four teams were marked with an *).
Also next week, be on the look out for Joey’s Mock Draft!
21. Carolina Hurricanes (via the Los Angeles Kings): C German Rubtsov, Russia
The Hurricanes are lacking some high end forwards in their system. I was torn between Rubtsovand DeBrincat but I went with the Russian Centre. Impressively, Rubtsov has a good handle on the defensive side of the game with one scout from the Hockey News stating “he’s an elite skater and his defensive game is mature.” His attention to the defensive details is a coach’s dream, which is usually something that players need to buy in. He has all the ground work to be a player and screams versatility.
22. Winnipeg Jets (via the Chicago Blackhawks): D Charlie McAvoy, Boston University
Winnipeg is having a good draft. Patrik Laine and getting another first round pick? Glorious Winnipeg. McAvoy is an offensive minded defenceman that is willing to go up and join the rush and wait patiently with the puck for the right play. McAvoy was a true freshman for Boston University and had some warts in his decision making early on. However, with confidence growing, those mistakes became fewer and fewer. McAvoy possesses a heavy shot, yet only had 3 goals (along with 25 points) in 37 games this season. McAvoy also has a physical edge to his game. Also, he’s a right shot! With Byfuglien, Trouba and Myers on the roster, McAvoy will be a few years away from the NHL and that’s fine.
23. Florida Panthers: RW Alex DeBrincat, Erie
The 5’7 dynamic winger from Erie goes in the first round! I like DeBrincat, a lot. Size is obviously an issue at just 5’7 and 161 pounds but the skill is there as he posted 51 goals, 50 assists in 60 games. He does not get hit: very elusive and slick while skating, DeBrincat oozes offensive skill and potential. He has a very quick and hard shot. Not everyone can play with elite pivots but DeBrincat has: Connor McDavid, Dylan Strome and Auston Matthews in the last couple of years. I like the Panthers picking him here: in 2011 the Panthers snagged Rocco Grimaldi in the second round. Grimaldi is 5’6 and made his Panthers debut this season, appearing in 52 games and scoring a respectable 33 points.
24. Anaheim Ducks: C Pascal Laberge, Victoriaville
The Ducks are extremely deep on the defensive side of the pool and goaltending will be set for a very long time. Laberge is a chippiness which is great but loses those battles, not because of a lack of effort but a lack of strength (he lists 6’1 and 172 pounds). The Strength will get there in time. He’s very quick and thrives more offensively than defensively and stood out for all the right reasons in the CHL top prospects game where he had 2 goals and an assist in a 3-2 win. He posted 23 goals and 68 points in 56 games which led his team in scoring. The chippiness to his game is definitely a plus and scouts love the willingness to get chippy.
25. Dallas Stars: D Logan Stanley, Windsor
Another Windsor player taken and the Stars take the biggest one yet as Stanley stands in at 6’6 and 216 pounds. There’s not too much offense to Stanley’s game (posted 17 points in 64 games) so he would be more of a shutdown defender. Stanley skates well for his size, but skating could still use some work. He’s progressed well according to scouts, especially when compared to a year ago. Is Stanley an exciting pick? No, but he’s a meat and potatoes type of player that is still serviceable in the NHL.
26. Washington Capitals: LW Tyler Benson, Vancouver
Want skill? Tyler Benson has it. He had the season from hell however: playing only 30 games for Vancouver this season missing the top prospects game. He was considered a top ten prospect before injuries derailed his season and he just never got back on track. Skating is an issue with Benson and has been prior to injury. That said, there’s plenty of positives with Benson: he has a solid work ethic, manages to get the puck to his teammate and has the right offensive instincts making him capable of making the right choices with the puck. Injuries really hurt him this year (no pun intended) and after being a 1st overall pick in the WHL I’m rooting for the Edmonton product to bounce back.
27. St. Louis Blues*: C Brett Howden, Moose Jaw.
The Blues need some size down the middle, especially if David Backes leaves. Howden brings that size from the get go standing at 6’3, 190 pounds. Howden is described from one scout from the Hockey News as “a Good skater, hard worker and average skill set. Compete level is a little in and out.” Howden also plays a 200 foot game which will be of interest to teams.
28: Tampa Bay Lightning* 😀 Markus Niemelainen, Saginaw
I almost went with Samuel Girard here but I figured he was a bit too similar to Anthony DeAngelo. Niemelainen is not a flashy defenceman and is quite lanky at 6’6 200 pounds. Needs some bulking. That said, Niemelainen is a great skater, able to move from end to end with ease. He has an excellent reach thanks to that 6’6 body. He’s good at everything, but is not remarkable in any area. Doesn’t scream exciting, but that’s not a bad thing as he’s a capable defender.
29. San Jose Sharks *: RW Vitali Abramov, Gatineau
The Sharks have an aging core of forwards. Abramov is small at 5’9 and 170 pounds but is an offensive wizard. In his rookie year in Gatineau, Abramov had 38 goals and 93 points in 63 games. This was good for the team lead and the QMJHL rookie scoring crown. He has quick feet, hands and intelligence. Abramov won’t get hit often but that does not mean he will not fight for the puck. Very high end skill wise offensively, defensive game, as typical for young forwards, needs some work.
30. Toronto Maple Leafs* (via Pittsburgh Penguins): D Samuel Girard, Shawinigan
Wrapping up the first round, the Maple Leafs with their second pick take the small yet offensively combustible Samuel Girard. The pros to Girard’s game is his offensive instincts and his elite skating ability. Girard is amazing at creating space for his teammates. Obviously, his game is high risk high reward and only stands at 5’9. Very competitive but won’t win those big board battles too often. Again though, that’s not what you’re drafting him for.
Conclusion to the Mock Draft
With the first round wrapping up, I have Carolina double dipping for Rubtsov who is by all accounts a very solid two way player. Winnipeg adds more defensive depth with McAvoy and the Panthers draft the small but extremely skilled DeBrincat. Anaheim takes a centre in Pascal Laberge while Dallas goes for the towering Logan Stanley. I have Washington taking the talented Tyler Benson who had his season derailed by injuries. Brett Howden goes to St Louis as a set two way player and the Lightning take a jack of all trades defenceman in Niemelainen. Abramov of my hometown team, The Gatineau Olympiques goes to San Jose, while the Leafs close the first round with Samuel Girard.
Once again, thank you for reading this Mock Draft. It’s been a pleasure. Hopefully I get more than 9 picks right this year!