In the grandest of blogging traditions we here at The Leaf’s Nation are bringing you our Mock Draft.
To make this a bit more relevant for Leafs fans we went two rounds on this one. You’re welcome. (Now scroll ahead to pick 53).
Helping me with this draft are our resident Ryans, both Fancey and Hobart, as well as our newly minted Site Manager, Mike Stephens, who had the honour of picking for the Leafs (so blame him, not the rest of us if you don’t agree.)
|Round One||Team||Writer||Player||Notes on the Pick|
|1||NJ||Jon||Jack Hughes||Nothing really needs to be said here.|
|2||NYR||Ryan H||Kaapo Kakko||This is an obvious one. I was going to select one of Hughes or Kakko here because there’s really no other choice. Hughes has been the consensus #1 since before this draft year even started, and Kappo Kakko has surged up to become the consensus #2 over the course of the year. He’s a play-driving winger that the Rangers could use in next year’s lineup.|
|3||CHI||Jon||Alex Turcotte||Definitely the second best center in the draft, and as good as Byram is, a center seems like a safer bet for a team that needs to rebuild.|
|4||COL||Ryan H||Bowem Byram||Byram is far and away the best defenseman in this draft, and will get an early selection as a result. The Avalanche may not be the best spot for him (I was hoping for Turcotte) but I think I took the best player available here.|
|5||LA||Ryan F||Peyton Krebs||Jon’s Thoughts: Interesting pick as Cozens and Dach seem to be getting to majority of the WHL hype, but the Winnipeg Ice seem set on being a first class development and here’s their first high profile prospect.|
|6||DET||Ryan F||Trevor Zegras||Jon’s Thoughts: Zegras goes right where he should, and makes perfect sense for the Red Wings.|
|7||BUF||Ryan H||Dylan Cozens||Cozens will be an excellent building block for the Sabres to fill in middle 6 center roles with Casey Mittelstadt. He’s nothing flashy, but just a skilled, large center that the Sabres will happily add to their core of prospects.|
|8||EDM||Jon||Philip Broberg||This seems like the worst kept secret of the draft that the Oilers are taking Broberg. Still there’s little doubt they could use a defenseman, he’s just probably not the one I’d take.|
|9||ANA||Jon||Matthew Boldy||The idea of imposing wingers seems to be a part of the Ducks philosophy and Boldy adds size and talent from the side.|
|10||VAN||Ryan H||Kirby Dach||Dach is a huge, 6’4″ center/winger that fell to the 10th spot and Vancouver would be jumping all over it if this happened for real. I don’t want to insult Dach by saying this is Jake Virtanen all over again, but it’s not that far off.|
|11||PHI||Ryan H||Vasili Podkolzin||Podkolzin is the biggest wildcard in this draft, in my opinion. He plays with a ton of skill, but the numbers just aren’t there to really scream “top 10 pick”. He should slip outside of the top 10 in the real draft as well, but Philly needs skilled forwards in their prospect pool and Podkolzin will be a welcome addition.|
|12||MIN||Ryan F||Thomas Harley||Jon’s Thoughts: Harley is a bit higher up than I thought he’d go, but there is definitely going to be defensive starved team that reaches for him.|
|13||FLA||Ryan F||Alex Newhook||Jon’s Thoughts: I’m surprised Fancey was able to wait this long before selecting the draft’s Newfoundlander. Personally I think Newhook could be the steal of the draft.|
|14||ARZ||Jon||Bobby Brink||Arizona could use some exciting American born offensive talent to draw a crowd, and since Auston Matthews isn’t walking through that door, they might as well draft Bobby Brink|
|15||MTL||Ryan H||Arthur Kaliev||Artur Kaliyev is my sleeper for this first round and it’s unfortunate I had to select him with the Habs. He’s an offensive dynamo, with size, and a hit/miss work ethic that teams hate to draft.|
|16||COL||Ryan H||Spencer Knight||Spencer Knight will be the first goalie to go in the first round in quite a few years, but Colorado need a future starter in their prospect pool for the long term development of the team (what team doesn’t?).|
|17||VGK||Ryan H||Cole Caulfield||Cole Caufiled has been held up among the top 10 picks in most mainstream rankings, but he fell all the way to 17 in this draft. The risk-happy Vegas Golden Knights will leap at an opportunity to get a player with the goal scoring talent of Caufield. His size is his major limiting factor, but he should compliment what is a pretty big Vegas team sometime in the near future.|
|18||DAL||Ryan F||Cam York||Jon’s Thoughts: This would be Dallas slowly fixing their defense through the draft, and doing a good job of it.|
|19||OTT||Ryan F||Victor Soderstrom||Jon’s Thoughts: It would pain me to see Ottawa continue to land good defensemen.|
|20||WPG||Ryan F||Alex Vlasic||Jon’s Thoughts: Vlasic absolutely seems like a fit for Winnipeg and what has worked for them on their blueline so far.|
|21||PIT||Ryan F||Raphael Lavoie||Jon’s Thoughts: Lavoie has the potential to be another finisher for Crosby or Malkin in the near future which benefits the Pens and Lavoie|
|22||LA||Ryan F||Ryan Suzuki||Jon’s Thoughts: A great grab for a team that already has Krebs in the draft. The Kings would be strong up the middle post rebuild|
|23||NYI||Ryan F||Moritz Seider||Jon’s Thoughts: Lou taking a big defenseman seems on brand, but Seider is pretty good for a defense first guy.|
|24||NAS||Ryan H||Jakob Pelletier||I’ll be honest – at this point I really started guessing. Pelletier is a scoring winger out of the QMJHL that most teams will probably want to avoid, but Nashville will be looking for some scoring threat in their prospect ranks and Pelletier should fit that bill well.|
|25||WAS||Ryan H||Lassi Thomson||When you start guessing at prospects, there’s a significant chance that the funniest sounding name wins a tie, and that’s what happened here with Lassi Thomson. This moderately sized, high scoring RHD should tempt many teams in this draft, and with the Capitals flirting with a rebuild in their not-so-distant future, adding a project player like Thomson could be a smart add.|
|26||CGY||Jon||Albin Grewe||Matthew Tkachuk worked out pretty well for the Flames, so I’m assuming they stick with drafting players that promise to be a sour pain in the ass.|
|27||TB||Jon||Pavel Dorofeyev||Good teams always find ways to acquire talent. Tampa certainly hasn’t shied away from swinging for the fences at the draft.|
|28||CAR||Jon||Nils Hoglander||Carolina has done well with drafting defensemen, but it’s time they chased some scoring in the draft. Hoglander seems like a strong option the Canes in the late first.|
|29||ANA||Jon||Ville Heinola||Having already picked a scoring forward, the Ducks could chase a talented defenseman to help their youth movement. Of course, with this being a team that employs Dave Nonis, I probably should have looked at Matt Robertson instead.|
|30||BOS||Ryan H||Brayden Tracey||Brayden Tracey hasn’t seen a lot of love in the scout rankings, so I have to wonder if something is going on, because he’s a good-size scoring winger on a decent Moose Jaw team. With 81 points in 66 regular season games, Boston will be happy to reach for this future middle six winger as they did in the past with Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn.|
|31||BUF||Ryan H||Samuel Poulin||Poulin is another good-sized winger that isn’t very high in the rankings, despite a solid offensive season. I expect Buffalo to be thrilled about adding this scoring talent to their pool.|
Honestly, I think we provided a surprise free first round. Nothing too shocking, maybe a few names a bit earlier than you expected and a few names that you’re seeing a little later than expected, but a pretty controversy free first round. Hopefully the GMs make it a bit more of an adventure than we did, although I forbid participants from making trades in this exercise, and with the way things have gone this week, we can probably expect some trades.
|Round Two||Team||Writer||Player||Notes on the Pick|
|32||OTT||Mike||Kaeden Korsczak||Jon’s Thoughts: We welcome Mike into the draft for Fancey, and he starts off with bringing in another RHD for the Sens.|
|33||LA||Mike||Ryan Johnson||Jon’s Thoughts: I don’t often think of the USHL for defensemen, but there is no doubting that Johnson seems to have the skill to be successful.|
|34||NJ||Jon||Connor McMichael||I probably should have the Devils chasing a defenseman, but with a few more picks in the second round, I’m opting for one of the better offensive options left.|
|35||DET||Mike||Jackson Lacombe||Jon’s Thoughts: His name makes him sound like a Montana rancher, but instead he’ll be joining Ryan Johnson at the University of Minnesota.|
|36||CAR||Jon||Philip Tomasino||The theme of this draft for the Canes is to find offensive talent anywhere they can, and Tomasino is one of few likely first rounders to slide to the 2nd, and Canes grab the speedster with this pick.|
|37||CAR||Jon||Michal Teply||Canes/Whalers have a long history of going with Czech players, and I really like Teply. I think he’d be a good fit here, even if this pick is reaching a bit.|
|38||EDM||Jon||Nathan Legare||Legare has been a strong complimentary winger to Lafreniere this season. I’m connecting some dots to him serving in that role to McDavid or Draisaitl in the near future, assuming the Oilers don’t win the lottery for Lafreniere next summer.|
|39||ANA||Jon||Nolan Foote||Like the Boldy pick, this is an assumption that the Ducks like size on the wing. Foote has his issues with skating, and there are questions if he can score at the pro level, but they can afford a swing for the fences pick.|
|40||VAN||Ryan H||Vladislav Kolyachonok||Once again, the funny names are winning here for me. Kolyachonok is a really good player though, and Vancouver will happily add him to their future D core.|
|41||PHI||Ryan H||Vladislav Firstov||Firstov, I want to say that I’m not only doing this for the puns, but because he’s a really good offensive player and Philly will be happy to add him along with Podkolzin for the re-tooling of their forward core.|
|42||MIN||Mike||Alexander Campbell||Jon’s Thoughts: Alex Campbell is an example of good risk on a 2nd round pick.|
|43||CHI||Jon||Anttoni Honka||An offensively gifted defenseman who plays the same polarizing style as his brother.|
|44||OTT||Mike||John Beecher||Jon’s Thoughts: Beecher seems like he slid a little here, considering he’s a big guy who can skate. You’d hate to see him end up in Ottawa.|
|45||ARZ||Jon||Nick Robertson||Another player who could have gone in the first, Robertson is a good offensive option for a Coyotes team that needs to be more exciting.|
|46||MTL||Ryan H||Shane Pinto||I swear that Shane “Ford” Pinto is the last guy I picked on name-comedic-value. College players always carry a bit of risk with them, since they have the option to tell you to shove it once they’re finished their 4 years at school. I think that teams will feel Pinto is worth the risk though, as he’s a big winger that had a decent scoring season in the USHL.|
|47||COL||Ryan H||Egor Afansyev||In hindsight, Afanasyev is probably deserving of a much higher selection by me. Like Pinto, he’s a big scoring winger that had a pretty good season in the USHL. Teams will probably jump on him a little earlier than we have here, but in this spot he’s a good pick in my opinion.|
|48||VGK||Ryan H||Robert Matrosimmone||Yet another player from the USHL comes up, and Vegas changes it up a bit this time with a smaller 5’10” winger in Matrosimone, similar to Caufield. Their development resources will certainly be spent on beefing up these kids to get them ready for trying to earn the same scoring space at the NHL level.|
|49||NYR||Ryan H||Daniil Misyul||Miisyul is a tricky player coming from a not-very-well understood MHL junior league in Russia. The solid defender has several of his Yaroslavl teammates in this draft, but himself or centerman Nikolaev shapes up to be the most coveted of the bunch, but I think if the Rangers have any interest in this area it will be with the defender.|
|50||MTL||Ryan H||Brett Leason||Leason is a weird prospect, since he’s actually 20 years old. Finally putting things together at a suspiciously late stage in his development, some team will be looking to take a swing on him since he can jump right into their AHL system next year.|
|51||WPG||Mike||Matias Maccelli||Jon’s Thoughts: After reflecting on Who’s the Boss for a bit, I refocused and realized that Maccelli is a great pick and good shot at finding offensive upside in the 2nd round.|
|52||FLA||Mike||Mikhail Abramov||Jon’s Thoughts: There might have been some adjustments to North America that hampered his production last season, but he’s done well in international play.|
|53||TOR||Mike||Nikita Okhotyuk||Jon’s Thoughts: Since this is the Leafs pick, we’ve got a lot more on him below.|
|54||DET||Mike||Maxence Guennette||Jon’s Thoughts: My initial thought was “who?” and that thought still stands. I’m assuming Mike knows more about him than I do. Though he is a RHD.|
|55||NJ||Jon||Simon Holmstrom||Holmstrom probably shouldn’t still be available at this point, but since he is, I’ll add him to the Devils, who I have loading up on offence with their first three picks.|
|56||WAS||Ryan H||Ilya Nikolaev||The aformentinoed Nikolaev ends up going to the Capitals, who will be happy to get this dynamic center into the mix of their prospect pool. They’re one of a few teams who are clearly not afraid to risk it with Russian players, and with Ovechkin there to be a hero for these prospects, they can only hope that pursuades them to cross the pond when the time comes.|
|57||NYI||Mike||Leevi Aaltonen||Jon’s Thoughts: A strong international performer who got his cup of coffee in Liiga this season. Definitely a solid late 2nd pick.|
|58||NYR||Ryan H||Patrik Puistola||Puistola is another sleeper in this draft, I think. He played 16 games against men last year (with just the 1 point) in the Finnish major league as a defender. Bob Mackenzie has him ranked 71st, and given that he’s the most tapped in to NHL teams I think that’s reflective of where he’ll actually go. But in this draft, the Rangers are ecstatic to add him to their Defense pool.|
|59||CAR||Jon||Samuel Fagemo||I’m normally not a fan of drafting overagers in the first couple of rounds of the draft, but Fagemo has taken huge steps as he’s jumped into the SHL, and that’s more meaningful than a good overage year in junior hockey.|
|60||DET||Mike||Henri Nikkanen||Jon’s Thoughts: A center with size is always a worthwhile pick. Skating is a bit of an issue, but not a deal breaker.|
|61||NJ||Jon||Tobias Bjornfot||I finally have the Devils taking a defenseman! Honestly if the Devils are able to pull of landing Bjornfot with this pick, they are having as good a Saturday as they did a Friday.|
|62||STL||Jon||Ryder Donovan||If you’ve just won the Stanley Cup you can swing for the fences at the draft with little push back from your fans. Donovan has done well in High School and will face much different competition next season, if he meets the challenge this will be a solid pick.|
Certainly a more wide open second round, and a few interesting names not making an appearance on the draft board. Matthew Robertson is very likely to be a first rounder this week, but he’s slipped through both of our rounds. I can certainly understand why as he’s a solid defender at the WHL level, with a lot size, and good speed, but it’s difficult to know what that looks like in the pro level and I’m personally not one to put a lot of faith in the Oil Kings system.
No one selecting Mikko Kokkonen seems like a huge oversight, and one that I personally feel some shame about. Still, not much we can do about it now other than realize that there is a very good chance that NHL GMs like Finnish defenders more than we do.
There’s also a good chance they like goaltenders a bit more than we do, as this is a pretty good goaltending draft and no one took one except for the mandatory Spencer Knight selection. There seems like little chance that Mads Sogaard falls to the third round, especially with so many teams with 3 or more picks in the first couple of rounds and the opportunity to take a chance on a future NHL starter.
We should probably give a bit of attention to Mike’s pick for the Leafs.
The Russian defender on the Ottawa 67’s was ranked 46th overall by HockeyProspect.com, and they had him the highest of all the scouting services.
A snippet of their report on him includes:
He is a very solid, physical defender in his own zone; he showed some offensive ability throughout the year with 17 points from the backend. He was an excellent penalty killer for Ottawa as well. He shows good mobility on the defensive side of the rush and exhibits an active stick which was good for knocking pucks off of opponents’ sticks. In transition, Nikita shows very strong gap control and has the ability to angle his opponents into low percentage areas of the ice allowing him to separate players from the puck with contact.
At 6’1, 191 lbs, Okhotyuk has pro size already, and that might be helping him in the junior ranks. The fact that he’s got a strong shot addresses a need for the Leafs blueline, although his puck carrying and distribution doesn’t seem to fit with the current makeup of the Leafs. And because we all know what the Leafs need most, I will point out that Okhotyuk shoots left.
While Okhotyuk may not have been my first choice, I’ll concede that he’s an interesting one. Considering I’m still trying to get over that we all forgot about Mikko Kokkonen, I’d say that he’d be my preferred defense option in this situation, and based on our picks, I’d say that either Ilya Nikolaev or Patrik Puistola would be strong offensive options in my eyes.
The real takeaway is that these are good players populating the the entirety of the first two rounds, and it seems like there are more than enough good options that the third round should yield strong results too.