The Top 69: A #Nice Draft List for a Weak Draft

Yeah, I’ve spent the year complaining about this draft, and it’s finally here. I didn’t feel the need to be too excited, but now that my team, the Vegas Golden Knights, are stockpiling picks I guess I have to care a little.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I really only watched the WHL this year. It’s what’s on where I live. I’d get the occasional OHL or Q game on Sportsnet, but I definitely didn’t watch those Q games. I watched the World Juniors, and the U-18s, but generally that ruins draft opinions more than it helps them. In fact, I’ll go out on a limb and say pretty much everyone has trash draft rankings. It’s unavoidable. No one gets it right, but everyone wants to kick dirt that their team didn’t take the guy they like, be it for stupid reasons like size or smart ones like not taking a chance on a 100 point scorer because he doesn’t interview well.

Draft rankings are a selfish exercise for most of us, where we just want to see how our rankings compare to what actually happens, knowing full well they won’t. The only rankings that are really worth a damn are Bob McKenzie’s scout survey, and I believe Sportsnet is doing the same. Use those to inform. Everything else is for fun and playing scouting cliche bingo on the profiles.

Enjoy my #Nice list that is really just for me to look back at in two years to go “see, I told you he’d be good.”

1. Nolan Patrick- Center- Brandon Wheat Kings

Patrick is #1 because I’m from Manitoba and grew up loving the Wheat Kings. I know a sports hernia is bad news, but it’s not enough to make me put him behind Hischier. Besides I think the Q is a garbage league.

2. Nico Hischier- Center- Halifax Mooseheads

It pains me to put someone from the QMJHL this high, but this isn’t a great draft year and everyone else has him up here. I think he’s capable of being the next Ryan Nugent-Hopkins which reminds us how underwhelming this draft is.

3. Miro Heiskanen- Defense- HIFK

People really seem to like Heiskanen, and I’m just going along with it. I have no trouble believing he’s decent, but I’ll be secretly disappointed if I team I care about selects a defenseman with a top three pick.

4. Timothy Liljegren- Defense- Rogle BK

Dude had mono and everyone hates him now. That seems silly. Guy was in talks to go first overall before the season, and while I’m comfortable believing a few guys may have passed him, I’m not ready to drop him to the middle of the round like a crazy person. He’s gonna be alright or maybe not. How the fuck would I know?

5. Kailer Yamamoto- Forward- Spokane Chiefs

I watched a ton of this guy and think he’s the cat’s meow. Top five is where everyone would be placing him if he was taller, but he’s short and some team that was competing for the cup a couple of weeks ago will swoop in and get him with a late first and we’ll all wonder “why are they always so good?”

I was right about Sam Steel being good last year so I feel I am now an authority on all things WHL. Trust me on this one and ignore my love of Curtis Lazar.

6. Owen Tippett- Forward- Mississauga Steelheads

The guy scores goals, and on a recent survey it was found that goals get a favourable rating from players, coaches, and fans alike. Take the guy who scores goals well instead of the rinky-dink two way forward your geriatric scout loves.

7. Gabe Vilardi- Center- Windsor Spitfires

To be fair Vilardi seems like one hell of a two-way center and appreciation for him should be limited to geriatric scouts. He’s likely a good second line center on most teams in a couple of years, which may not sound too exciting, but realistically second line forwards and second pairing defensemen are what the first round is all about.

8. Casey Mittelstadt- Center- Green Bay Gamblers

I haven’t fully wrapped my head around taking USHL players in the top ten yet, but that’s a bias I’ll need to grow out of soon. Mittelstadt seems like good swing for the fences pick, and some people have him as high as 3rd overall. I’m playing it safe.

9. Martin Necas- Center- HC Kometa Brno

Kids who play against adults are another bias that I’m not quite ready to rid myself of. I won’t pretend that I watched a minute of the Czech League, but I have heard many nice things about Necas.

10. Klim Kostin- Forward- Dynamo Moskva

Maybe I’m actually biased towards players who barely played in their draft year. I love Patrick, Liljegren. I loved Barzal. Galchenyuk and Rielly turned out okay…

Anyway, a big highly touted Russian is usually a good thing or at the least a reasonable pick.

11. Nick Suzuki- Center- Owen Sound Attack

Lotsa points, plays center, what’s the problem? Nothing in my opinion, but be prepared for him to fall because he’s not six feet yet.

12. Lias Anderson- Center- Frolunda

At this point it should be clear I don’t have a lot to say about anyone in the draft. I’m going to do you all favour and limit my comments the rest of the way.

13. Ryan Poehling- Center- St. Cloud State

14. Juuso Valimaki- Defense- Tri-City Americans

15. Callan Foote- Defense- Kelowna Rockets

16. Cale Makar- Defense- Brooks Bandits

Okay, this one probably needs some explaining since he apparently got consideration at first overall from a scout in McKenzie’s rankings. I can fully appreciate that everyone wants to find the next Erik Karlsson. I can appreciate that Colton Parayko came from this league and he’s really good. I’m also able to wrap my head around Makar in the first round, but anything beyond the middle of the round for a Junior-A defenseman is a leap of faith I’m not ready to take.

17. Kristian Vesalainen- Forward- HPK

18. Elias Pettersson- Center- Timra

19. Cody Glass- Center- Portland Winterhawks

Call it being burnt one too many times by getting excited over Portland players. Glass is another player who could reasonably be a reliable second line center for years to come, but when I see him I always think Matt Stajan. Matt Stajan in his prime, but Matt Stajan.

20. Eeli Tolvanen- Forward- Sioux City Musketeers

21. Erik Brannstrom- Defense- HV71

He’s being hyped a lot. This is me punching my ticket to get on the hype train. Choo-Choo!

22. Conor Timmins- Defense- Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds 

The fact that there is only one N in Conor makes me think he’s no nonsense, and I like that. Also he has pointz and shoots right.

23. Urho Vaakanainen- Defense- JYP

24. Nicolas Hague- Defense- Mississauga Steelheads

25. Grant Mismash- Center- USNTDP

Seems weird to have so many Americans listed and this to be the first USNTDP guy.

26. Kole Lind- Forward- Kelowna Rockets

27. Isaac Ratcliffe- Forward- Guelph Storm

He’s really tall.

28. Mason Shaw- Center- Medicine Hat Tigers

If he was taller a team would actually pick him here, instead be excited for when your team drafts him in the third or fourth round.

29. Nikita Popugayev- Forward- Prince George Cougars

Also really tall.

30. Maxime Comtois- Forward- Victoriaville Tigres

31. Jake Leschyshyn- Center- Regina Pats

The depth at center worked against Leschyshyn as far as the draft goes. He’s mainly a two-way center, but he’ll do better offensive now that Steel and Brooks are likely departing for their pro careers next season.

Round Two and Beyond…

32. Jason Robertson- Forward- Kingston Frontenacs

I probably dropped him lower than he should be just to piss off @puckdontlie

33. Robert Thomas- Center- London Knights

34. Henri Jokiharju- Defense- Portland Winterhawks

35. Stelio Mattheos- Center- Brandon Wheat Kings

36. Marcus Davidsson- Center Djurgardens

I don’t know why I’d mention this here, but I really like Anton Lander.

37. Matthew Strome- Forward- Hamilton Bulldogs

The rule of brother trilogies requires him to fall out of the first round.

38. Jaret Anderson-Dolan- Center- Spokane Chief

Kailer Yamamoto’s center.

39. Shane Bowers- Center- Waterloo Black Hawks

40. Ivan Lodnia- Forward- Erie Otters

41. Antoine Morand- Center- Acadie-Bathurst Titan

He’d be one hell of a second round pick even though he’s from the QMJHL.

42. Adam Ruzicka- Center- Sarnia Sting

I like him in the second round, but I will judge the hell out of the team that reaches for him in the first. No one is projecting him there, but I still think it happens.

43. David Farrance- Defense- USNTDP

44. Filip Chytil- Center- HC Zlin

45. Artyom Minulin- Defense- Swift Current Broncos

Some team will do very well with this pick.

46. Igor Shvyryov- Center- Metallurg Magnitogorsk

I’m going way off the board on this one, but I think Shvyryov is a #good #risk and think teams need to stop being afraid of the KHL. I like him so much, I’m willing to overlook my general distaste for drafting someone a year after they were first draft eligible.

47. Robin Salo- Defense- Sport

48. Morgan Frost- Center- Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds

49. Noel Hoefenmayer- Defense- Ottawa 67s

I respect 14 goals from Ottawa’s blueline.

50. Michael Rasmussen- Center- Tri-City Americans

Hey it’s that guy who is normally in the top ten of a draft list!

Did I hot take him a little lower than he should be? Maybe.

Did too many others hot take him higher because of power play goals and height? Absolutely.

Truth is he’s a good second round player and you probably shouldn’t be upset if your team takes him in the late first either.

51. Josh Brook- Defense- Moose Jaw Warriors

52. Michael Pastujov- Forward- USNTDP

53. Alexander Polunin- Forward- Lokomotiv Yaroslavl

I really like old Russians this year. That’s what a weaker draft does. He just turned 20 and has two years of KHL experience.

54. Cale Fleury- Defense- Kootenay Ice

55. Jesper Boqvist- Center- Brynas

I’ll kick myself for not having him higher on my list.

56. Filip Westerlund- Defense- Frolunda

57. Eemeli Rasanen- Defense- Kingston Frontenacs

58. Jack Studnicka- Center- Oshawa Generals

59. Markus Phillips- Defense- Owen Sound Attack

60. Morgan Geekie- Forward- Tri-City Americans

I’m as bad as everyone else. I should have him ahead of Michael Rasmussen.

61. Ryan Hughes- Forward- Portland Winterhawks

Another small forward that I think is worth a look.

It’s probably ridiculous to put him at 61, but I’m not making a long list and I want him on here.

62. Fabian Zetterlund- Center- Farjestad

He’s the perfect balance of Fabian Brunnstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, and Mikael Backlund.

63. MacKenzie Entwistle- Center- Hamilton Bulldogs

Big and late birthday seem to be why everyone loves him in the early second round. I’d prefer to think of him as an early third round option

64. Linus Weissbach- Forward- Tri-City Storm

Leaving Sweden for the USHL is a bold move, but I like the University of Wisconsin, and look forward to seeing if he can keep his offensive numbers up there.

65. Clayton Phillips- Defense- Fargo Force

66. Rickard Hugg- Center- Leksands

67. Austen Keating- Center- Ottawa 67s

68. Jonathan Smart- Defense- Regina Pats

I’m probably giving him too much of a bump for being on a good team.

69. Zach Solow- Center- Dubuque Fighting Saints

69 points last year from the 69th ranked player. #nice

This Concludes My Rankings

Thanks for reading this. You must really like the draft. I look forward to hearing how I’m wrong and I regret nothing.




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