On Friday, 31 young men each took another step toward fulfilling his dream of playing in the NHL. Get all the picks, analysis, sights and sounds from United Center.
1. New Jersey Devils – Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 2
2016-17: 57 games, 38-48-86
Hischier (6-foot-1, 178 pounds) is the highest-drafted Switzerland-born player in NHL history. Minnesota Wild forward Nino Niederreiter had held that distinction since being chosen at No. 5 by the New York Islanders in 2010. Hischier has elite skill and hockey sense combined with competitiveness that allows him to be effective in any style of game. As a rookie in the QMJHL, he was awarded the Michael Bossy Trophy (best professional prospect) and Michel Bergeron Trophy (offensive rookie of the year) this season. Hischier is not on loan to Halifax from SC Bern of National League A in Switzerland, making him ineligible to play in the American Hockey League in 2017-18.
NHL.com analysis: In bit of a surprise, Devils get player they believe can develop into dynamic top-line center they’ve lacked.
2. Philadelphia Flyers – Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 1
2016-17: 33 games, 20-26-46
The son of former NHL forward Stephen Patrick and nephew of former NHL defenseman James Patrick, Nolan was the second-youngest captain in the Western Hockey League. A right-handed shot, Patrick missed 35 games because of an upper-body injury, but has 205 points (93 goals, 113 assists) in 163 career WHL games. Patrick (6-foot-2, 198 pounds) possesses the hockey sense, vision and skill to become a top-line center in the NHL. In 2015-16, he was tied for the WHL playoff scoring lead with 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) in 21 games and was named MVP of the WHL playoffs after helping Brandon win the Ed Chynoweth Cup.
NHL.com analysis: Flyers take most NHL-ready player in draft. He was only prospect to visit Philadelphia, and they clearly were satisfied his injury issues were behind him.
3. Dallas Stars – Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK (FIN)
NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 4
2016-17: 37 games, 5-5-10
Heiskanen (6-foot-1, 172) is a left-handed shot but also played the right point and earned top-pair minutes for HIFK as a 17-year-old, averaging more than 20 minutes in the Liiga playoffs. He was regarded as the best draft-eligible defenseman at the IIHF World Under-18 Championship for silver medal-winning Finland with 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in seven games. Heiskanen likes to join the rush and understands how to get the puck out of danger. He is by far the best international defenseman in the draft, according to Goran Stubb, NHL Director of European Scouting.
NHL.com analysis: Stars take defenseman w ho earned top-pair ice time in Liiga, the top professional league in Finland, at age 17. He joins John Klingberg, Julius Honka and Esa Lindell as defensemen with top-end puck-moving ability.
4. Colorado Avalanche – Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 9
2016-17: 54 games, 24-51-75
Makar (5-foot-11, 187 pounds) was named the Canadian Junior Hockey League defenseman of the year, and Alberta Junior Hockey League defenseman of the year and player of the year. A right-handed shot, he has great lateral movement with the puck on his stick, and is quick and elusive. He’s committed to the University of Massachusetts-Amherst for next season, and his Canadian Hockey League rights are held by Medicine Hat of the Western Hockey League. He had six points (two goals, four assists) in five games to help Brooks win a silver medal in the Royal Bank Cup, Canada’s National Junior A championship series. Makar had 135 points (35 goals, 100 assists) in 111 AJHL regular-season games.
NHL.com analysis: Makar fills Colorado’s need for a skilled defenseman. He’ll need time to develop his game next season at the University of Massachusetts, but he projects to be high-end offensive-minded defenseman.
5. Vancouver Canucks – Elias Pettersson, C, Timra (SWE-2)
NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 2
2016-17: 43 games, 19-22-41
Pettersson (6-foot-2, 164 pounds) has great instincts and can create offense with good speed and quickness. He shows poise and patience, and his best attribute might be his initial burst of speed. His brother, Emil, who is also a center, was selected in the sixth round (No. 155) of the 2013 NHL Draft by the Nashville Predators.
NHL.com analysis: Canucks with minor surprise, but select skilled center who averaged nearly one point per game (41 points in 43 games) against older competition in Allsvenskan, Sweden’s second division. He can be part of the core of the post-Sedin era in Vancouver.
6. Vegas Golden Knights – Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 6
2016-17: 69 games, 32-62-94
The right-handed shot was primarily a top-line center who played in all situations. He’s versatile enough to play wing but is better suited to play in the middle because he’s in constant motion, has good hands and is opportunistic in the offensive zone. Glass (6-foot-2, 177 pounds) had 94 points (32 goals, 62 assists) in 69 regular-season games. He’s a skilled forward with great competitiveness and hockey sense.
NHL.com analysis: First pick of expansion Golden Knights is big (6-2, 177), rangy center who is strong in all three zones. When he adds muscle he projects as top-line center.
7. New York Rangers (from Arizona Coyotes) – Lias Andersson, C, HV71 (SWE)
NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 3
2016-17: 42 games, 9-10-19
A rugged, two-way left-handed center who is effective on faceoffs and hard to knock off the puck. Andersson (5-foot-11, 200 pounds) was interviewed by 30 teams at the NHL Scouting Combine. He competes hard, is strong in 1-on-1 battles and plays a 200-foot game. He can play wing or center. Andersson recently signed a two-year contract with Frolunda in Sweden and will report in 2017-18.
NHL.com analysis: Offensive dynamo projects to be top-six forward as he gets older and stronger). Had impressive showing in Swedish Hockey League this season as 18-year-old.
8. Buffalo Sabres – Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie (HIGH-MN)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 3
2016-17: 25 games, 21-43-64
Named All-USA Player of the Year for a second straight season and Mr. Hockey as the best senior boys’ high school player in Minnesota, Mittelstadt (5-foot-11, 199 pounds) has elite skill and compete. A left-handed shot, Mittelstadt had 30 points (13 goals, 17 assists) and led the United States Hockey League with a 1.25 points-per game average in 24 games for Green Bay. He can play center or left wing and is a proven performer at each level he’s played. Mittelstadt was named player of the game at the CCM/USA Hockey All-American Top Prospects Game in September.
NHL.com analysis: Could jump into Sabres lineup after one season at University of Minnesota. Having Jack Eichel and Mittelstadt through the middle could be start of bright future in Buffalo.
9. Detroit Red Wings – Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 5
2016-17: 50 games, 32-23-55
Rasmussen (6-foot-5, 221 pounds) is a prototypical power forward with great hands and puck skills around the net. A wrist injury in February limited Rasmussen to 50 games this season but he led Tri-City with 15 power-play goals and was tied for the team lead with five game-winning goals. He adapted to a bigger role with more minutes and was a steady contributor at 5-on-5 and on the power play in his second full season.
NHL.com analysis: The 6-foot-5, 221-pound goal scorer is power-play specialist. His skating and puck possession fits the Red Wings’ style perfectly.
10. Florida Panthers – Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 7
2016-17: 60 games, 44-31-75
Tippett (6-foot, 202 pounds) might be the best shooter in this draft class. He was recognized for having the best shot and being the most dangerous in the goal area in the Eastern Conference coaches’ poll for the Ontario Hockey League. He can play either left or right wing, and is dangerous when attacking with speed. As a right-handed shot, Tippett can move down the left wing and cut to the net really well for a good opportunity.
NHL.com analysis: Panthers get forward with NHL-caliber shot and strong skating who has been compared to Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel.
11. Los Angeles Kings – Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 4
2016-17: 49 games, 29-32-61
A right-handed shot, Vilardi makes players around him better with his relentless compete level and elite hands down low. Vilardi (6-foot-3, 202 pounds) has the ability to create in traffic when nothing is available, and can play center or wing. He won 51.1 of his faceoffs (136 of 266), and tied for the team lead in power-play goals (eight). He has 99 points (46 goals, 53 assists) in 111 games during his two seasons in the OHL.
NHL.com analysis: Surprising that Vilardi was available at this spot, but the big (6-3, 202), powerful center excels in the offensive zone below the faceoff circle. Will be great complement to Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter.
12. Carolina Hurricanes – Martin Necas, C, Brno (CZREP)
NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 5
2016-17: 41 games, 7-8-15
Necas, a right-handed shot, captained the Czech Republic to its first gold medal at the 2016 Ivan Hlinka Memorial, finishing with six points (two goals, four assists) in four games. Necas (6-1, 178 pounds) is mobile, smart and capable of making plays at top speed and with assertiveness. He’s good at handling the puck and effective in traffic.
NHL.com analysis: Another top-end forward added to the Hurricanes burgeoning corps. At 6-foot-1, 178 pounds, needs to get stronger but will fit in well with what they already have assembled.
13. Vegas Golden Knights (from Winnipeg Jets) – Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 10
2016-17: 65 games, 45-51-96
Suzuki (5-foot-11, 183 pounds) climbed six spots to No. 10 on NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters after a strong second half to this season. He continually came through in the clutch, scoring 14 power-play goals, six game-winning goals, five shorthanded goals and five insurance goals. Additionally, 23 of his goals either tied the game or gave Owen Sound the lead. He also won 50.9 percent of his faceoffs.
NHL.com analysis: Championship teams are strong through the middle, and Suzuki and Cody Glass, the No. 6 pick, should form the building blocks for a strong future in Vegas.
14. Tampa Bay Lightning – Callan Foote, D, Kelowna (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 1
2016-17: 71 games, 6-51-57
The right-handed son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote has good size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), and hockey sense. He won’t be the physical presence his dad was, but he plays in all situations, plays heavy minutes and uses his reach and strength to contain opponents and gain position. He is more of a two-way defenseman with a good, hard shot.
NHL.com analysis: The 6-foot-4, 215-pound physical defenseman, who is the son of Adam Foote, has NHL-caliber size and the pedigree of Stanley Cup champion. With Victor Hedman, the Lightning could become a very difficult team to play against in a few seasons.
15. Vegas Golden Knights (from New York Islanders) – Erik Brannstrom, D, HV71 (SWE)
NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 9
2016-17: 35 games, 1-5-6
He compensates for his 5-foot-9, 179-pound frame with great mobility and speed in transition. Brannstrom is an outstanding skater and a two-way player who defends as well as he pushes the offensive pace. He has a good shot, will run the power play, is very competitive and is active on every shift. Brannstrom could turn out to be the sleeper pick of the 2017 draft class.
NHL.com analysis: A surprise with Vegas’ third selection in the first round, reaching for the undersized (5-foot-9, 179-pound) defenseman. But he’s got high-end skills and experience playing against older competition in the Swedish Hockey League.
16. Calgary Flames – Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri-City (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 11
2016-17: 60 games, 19-42-61
Valimaki (6-foot-1, 211 pounds), a left-handed shot, finished seventh among WHL defensemen with 61 points and was eighth with 22 power-play assists. He’s a dynamic offensive defenseman who became more assertive and able to dictate tempo with greater confidence this season. He left Finland at 17 to play in North America and has 93 points (26 goals, 67 assists) in 116 games in his two WHL seasons.
NHL.com analysis: With so many young forwards, selecting high-end offensive defenseman who can help get them puck, or lead the rush, is a good decision.
17. Toronto Maple Leafs – Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle (SWE)
NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 6
2016-17: 19 games, 1-4-5
Liljegren (5-foot-11, 188 pounds) missed one month with mononucleosis in November but remains a dynamic prospect. He has tremendous speed, balance and feel for the game, makes good decisions under pressure and can control the play at both blue lines. He expects to return to Sweden after the draft to further his development.
NHL.com analysis: Entered season as top defenseman in draft class, but injury and illness set him back. Maple Leafs needed puck mover and get one with top-end that some scouts said reminded them of Senators captain Erik Karlsson.
18. Boston Bruins – Urho Vaakanainen, D, JYP (FIN)
NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 8
2016-17: 41 games, 2-4-6
Vaakanainen (6-foot-1, 188 pounds), a left-hand shot, is a smooth, mobile skater with good balance and acceleration. His reliability in the defensive zone is probably his best asset. Vaakanainen, who will play for SaiPa in Liiga next season, finished tied for second among defensemen at the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship with six points (three goals, three assists) in five games.
NHL.com analysis: Steady defenseman with well-rounded game, he’ll be nice addition to Bruins defense that is poised to get younger in a few seasons as Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy, Ryan Lindgren, Jakub Zboril move into major roles.
19. San Jose Sharks – Joshua Norris, C, USA U-18 (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 34
2016-17: 52 games, 23-28-51
Norris (6-foot, 188 pounds), who will attend the University of Michigan next season, was among the most impressive performers in the fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine, finishing first in five tests, including peak power output on the Wingate bike test. A two-way forward with a left-handed shot, Norris likes to take the puck to the net and has a good compete level.
NHL.com analysis: Surprise selection by the Sharks, but Norris led USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program under-18 team with 27 goals, and had dynamic showing at the Scouting Combine.
20. St. Louis Blues – Robert Thomas, C, London (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 22
2016-17: 66 games, 16-50-66
Thomas (5-foot-11, 192 pounds), a right-handed shot, is a highly intelligent two-way center who is impactful at both ends of the ice. He’s regarded as a gifted passer who can be trusted in any situation while excelling at making plays in traffic.
NHL.com analysis: On stacked team in London, he managed to stand out as point-per-game player. He could provide another go-to scorer when he’s NHL-ready in 2-3 seasons.
21. New York Rangers – Filip Chytil, C, Zlin (CZREP)
NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 11
2016-17: 38 games, 4-4-8
A strong skater capable of making things happen with the puck, Chytil (6-foot-2, 191 pounds) played regularly in the top Czech league. He was good in the traffic areas, has strong hockey sense and did not shy away from battles in the corners. He’s a prototypical power forward capable of playing center or left wing.
NHL.com analysis: Rangers stick with pattern, taking another European center who, at 6-foot-2. 191 pounds, needs to add muscle, but already has experience playing against older competition.
22. Edmonton Oilers – Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 17
2016-17: 65 games, 42-57-99
Yamamoto (5-foot-7, 146 pounds) is excitement personified. He possesses high-end offensive instincts, thinks the game extremely well, and is constantly moving without the puck to get himself in good position to receive it. He skates like Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (5-8, 183 pounds), who, like Yamamoto, is from Spokane, Washington. Yamamoto has 227 points (84 goals, 143 assists) in 190 games in the WHL.
NHL.com analysis: Dynamic right wing could fit nice with left-shot center like Connor McDavid. At 5-foot-7, 146 pounds, he needs to get bigger and stronger, but he’s never been pushed out of a game.
23. Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota Wild) – Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 27
2016-17: 62 games, 6-33-39
The left-handed shot had a strong second half and kept moving up the ladder; he was No. 42 on NHL Central Scouting’s midterm list of North American skaters in January. He makes smart decisions, plays a good two-way game and can distribute the puck well for a smooth transition. Joseph (6-foot-2, 163 pounds), a fluid skater, is the brother of Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Mathieu Joseph, who was selected in the fourth round (No. 120) of the 2015 NHL Draft and won a silver medal for Canada at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.
NHL.com analysis: Solid puck-mover who can get the puck to the Coyotes’ pack of outstanding young forwards.
24. Winnipeg Jets (from Columbus Blue Jackets via Vegas Golden Knights) – Kristian Vesalainen, LW/RW, Frolunda (SWE)
NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 7
2016-17: 26 games, 1-5-6
Vesalainen (6-foot-4, 209 pounds), a left-hand shot, was named MVP of the 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship for silver medal-winning Finland after finishing with 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in seven games. He dominated his age group with skating power and puck control, and is a prototypical power forward capable of going straight to the net. Vesalainen will enter the first of a two-year contract he signed with HPK (SWE) in April.
NHL.com analysis: Power forward dominated at 2017 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, will add another big body (6-foot-4, 209) on the wing.
25. Montreal Canadiens – Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCHC)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 13
2016-17: 35 games, 7-6-13
The youngest player in college hockey this season, Poehling was a 200-foot player capable of playing all situations; he was used on the power play and in penalty-killing situations. Poehling (6-foot-2, 176 pounds) has a great work ethic, according to St. Cloud State coach Bob Motzko. He is the highest-drafted player from St. Cloud State; center Matt Cullen was selected in the second round (No. 35) out of St. Cloud in the 1996 NHL Draft by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.
NHL.com analysis: Canadiens got better through the middle with player who can play both ends of the ice and never looked out of place as the youngest player in NCAA hockey this season.
26. Dallas Stars (from Chicago Blackhawks) – Jake Oettinger, G, Boston University (H-EAST)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking for goalies: 1
2016-17: 35 games, 21-10-3, 2.11 GAA, .927 save percentage
Oettinger (6-foot-4, 218 pounds), the second-youngest player in college hockey, became the ninth BU goaltender named to a Hockey East All-Star Team. He possesses NHL size and covers a lot of the net. Oettinger, who served as the third goalie for gold medal-winning United States at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship, has great rebound control and plenty of confidence.
NHL.com analysis: First goalie in the draft is big (6-foot-4, 218 pounds), composed and skilled. He should be NHL ready near the end of Ben Bishop‘s six-year contract.
27. Philadelphia Flyers (from Washington Capitals via St. Louis Blues) – Morgan Frost, C, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 31
2016-17: 67 games, 20-42-62
An excellent playmaker with good stickhandling ability, Frost (5-foot-11, 173 pounds) is very energetic. He’s a solid skater, difficult to contain in a 1-on-1 situation and drives puck possession. He was usually running the half-wall on the power play and exhibited plenty of poise and composure in that assignment.
NHL.com analysis: Flyers traded forward Brayden Schenn to Blues to to grab smart center whose skating improved dramatically this season.
28. Ottawa Senators – Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 16
2016-17: 60 games, 22-29-51
A reliable two-way player who has a strong 200-foot game and is effective in the faceoff circle, Bowers (6-foot-1, 178 pounds) has good hockey sense and speed, is good on the penalty kill and can drive the net hard. A projected middle-six forward, he’s scheduled to attend Boston University in 2017-18.
NHL.com analysis: Bowers is really good at moving the puck and shielding it from the opposition. He’ll gain the offensive zone and is hard to defend at both ends of the ice.
29. Chicago Blackhawks (from Dallas Stars via Anaheim Ducks) – Henri Jokiharju, D, Portland (WHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 19
2016-17: 71 games, 9-39-48
The Finland-born, right-handed shot is an excellent skater and very elusive with the puck on his stick. Jokiharju (6-foot-0, 187 pounds) can beat the forecheck with a pass or by taking the puck himself and using his excellent vision and mobility. He had 18 points (four goals, 14 assists) on the power play and was named most valuable player for Team Don Cherry after getting three assists in a win against Team Bobby Orr in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game on Jan. 30.
NHL.com analysis: The right-handed shot is very smart and makes few mistakes. He’s a good skater in all directions and can move the puck. Jokiharju has been compared to defenseman Ben Lovejoy.
30. Nashville Predators – Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City (USHL)
NHL Central Scouting final North American ranking: 8
2016-17: 52 games, 30-24-54
Tolvanen (5-foot-10, 189 pounds), a left-handed shot, is always noticeable in a game because of his speed, intelligence and skill. He has a great work ethic, is energetic and has a high compete level. Bound for Boston College next season, Tolvanen led Sioux City with 54 points (30 goals, 24 assists) and a 1.04 points-per game average in 52 games. He had eight points (four goals, four assists) in 10 USHL playoff games for the Clark Cup champion.
NHL.com analysis: The left-handed forward is one of the elite shooters of this draft class, and is regarded as a skilled forward with deceptive speed.
31. St. Louis Blues (from Pittsburgh Penguins) – Klim Kostin, C/LW, Dynamo Moscow (RUS)
NHL Central Scouting final international ranking: 1
2016-17: 8 games, 0-0-0
Kostin (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) can play in the NHL or the American Hockey League next season as an 18-year-old because he has been drafted out of his native Russia. He played 18 regular-season games, including eight for Dynamo in the Kontinental Hockey League, before having season-ending shoulder surgery in late January. He has a very good release, is a good puck-handler and is effective in traffic. Kostin views himself as a power forward and likes to model his game after that of Winnipeg Jets right wing Patrik Laine.
NHL.com analysis: Kostin uses his size to dominant down low and has a good understanding of the game. He’ll certainly benefit from playing beside fellow Russian countryman Vladimir Tarasenko at some point in the future.