- Nico Hischier
- Nolan Patrick
- Miro Heiskanen
- Cody Glass
- Elias Pettersson
- Gabe Vilardi
- Owen Tippett
- Nick Suzuki
- Erik Brannstrom
- Lias Andersson
- Cale Makar
- Juuso Valimaki
- Timothy Liljegren
- Eeli Tolvanen
- Casey Mittlestadt
- Kailer Yamamoto
- Martin Necas
- Robin Salo
- Kole Lind
- Kristian Vesalainen
- Jason Robertson
- Nic Hague
- Jaret Anderson-Dolan
- Robert Thomas
- Conor Timmins
- Cal Foote
- Klim Kostin
- Michael Rasmussen
- Mason Shaw
- Jonah Gadjovich
- Nikita Popugaev
- Nolan Patrick (WHL)
Yes, he has only played 6 games this year. Nonetheless, he is still our top ranked for good reason. Last year he posted 132 points in 93 games (regular season and playoffs) which is tremendous for a kid who was not even draft eligible. Playing at the desired centre position he has a versatile skill set to go with his large frame. His long reach and strength makes it extremely hard for players to knock the puck off him. He has great vision and seems to always find open teammates which results in lots of scoring chances for them. He has a quick release that fools goalies. Still developing in his own end, but can play some defence when he puts in the effort. Comparable-Jeff Carter
2. Nico Hischier (QMJHL)
Hischier was able to put his high-end skill on full display at this year’s World Junior Championship. A smooth, shifty skater that creates scoring chances every time he touches the puck. He has slick hands that can make even the best defenders (Charlie McAvoy wink wink) look silly. A dynamic shot that finds the back of the net more times than not. Not the biggest in size, but battles hard against anyone. Has great vision and playmaking skills, which makes his line mates better as a whole. As a rookie in the Q, the production is evident with 54 points in 33 games. Comparable-Nikita Kucherov
3. Timothy Liljegren (SHL)
An offensive defensemen that sees the ice entirely well and a great mover of the puck. He is an efficient skater with a long stride and is quite mobile. He will run the power play and has a great shot especially off the rush. Comparable-Kevin Shattenkirk
4. Eeli Tolvanen (USHL)
A Finnish sniper first and foremost. An elite shot with a devastating release that allows him to score every way imaginable. He is producing highly in the USHL with a creative, crafty offensive game. Comparable-Rickard Rakell
5. Gabriel Vilardi (OHL)
Another guy who has been hit hard with the injury bug. Vilardi utilizes his quick, heavy shot to create many scoring opportunities. He is a very clever player and sees the ice tremendously. He has a long reach and can shield the puck with ease. Comparable-Tage Thompson
6. Juuso Valimaki (WHL)
Valimaki has produced unbelievably as a defensemen in the WHL on a very good Tri-City team. Defensively, won’t amaze you with physicality, but is the best stick checker in the draft. Has a calm, patient nature that doesn’t rush plays, but develops them. Is an incredibly smart player and can transition the puck out of his end with ease. Comparable-Jake Gardiner
7. Lias Andersson (SHL)
Solid two-way forward that checks hard, but hasn’t flashed a high-end skill set yet. Possesses a quick, deceiving shot that can beat goalies. Above-average skater that uses it to play lockdown defence. Comparable-Travis Konecny
8. Kailer Yamamoto (WHL)
He may be small, but probably has the most amount of pure skill behind Hischier. Is very crafty with the puck and generates tons of offence. Comparable-Cam Atkinson
9. Nicolas Hague (OHL)
A giant kid that is tough to play against. Equipped with enough skill to stand point on a power play. Not overly skilled, but has a good shot and can jump into the rush. His skating is improving, but is still awkward of sorts. Comparable-Travis Hamonic
10. Elias Pettersson(SHL)
Another Swede with a good two-way game. Sometimes his vision and crafty hands dominate matches, other times he seems invisible throughout games. Not very strong as he is very lean, so he will need to continue to grow physically and mentally. A very shifty skater that anticipates plays well. Comparable-Jason Zucker
Just missed the cut: Maxime Comtois, Klim Klostin, Owen Tippett
Every year it seems as if there are a select few free agents that are leaps and mounds above the rest. This year, the far and away best free agent available is Steven Stamkos. The fact that an elite player like Stamkos is a free agent at 26, now that is something that is unseen. The next few days teams will be clawing at the chance to talk to Stammer and convince him to suit up for their club next year. The first question I would ask is what do you really get if you lock Stamkos up with a mega deal? What does he bring to the table?
First off, Stamkos is an offensive dynamo that scores at an unreal rate. You can easily count on him for 40 goals if healthy. His production is above and beyond what an average first liner contributes. Obviously, Steven is not your average player. That is why he will have buckets of cash thrown at him the first chance any team gets. I want to be clear about something, you’re not paying him to help you out defensively. Guys like him and Ovechkin aren’t there to keep the puck out of his own net, Stamkos’ job is to fill the opposing teams net. He can add firepower to any team as he makes others around him better in the offensive zone. When Steven is on the ice more times than not, his team controls the tempo and possession. If your team is the one to land him, I can promise you he is making them a lot better by his lonesome.
So what teams will and should be interested in him?
Tampa Bay Lightning
Why leave a great thing? Its already proven that Tampa is an elite team that has surrounded Stamkos with plenty of talent. He might have to take less than he would get on the free agent market, but if he wants a cup, and one soon he would be wise to stay. Stamkos brings Tampa a consistent level of scoring throughout the roster and they need him more than they may think.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Man has Toronto ever turned a new page in their franchise. The front office is loaded with competent, smart people and have one of the best coaches in the game in place. Toronto has a ton of promising youngsters from Marner, Matthews, Rielly, Nylander, and many more. This could be the piece that fully reboots the rebuild and puts the team on the right path. Toronto doesn’t have a big-time sniper in the fold and why not add one without having to give up anything, even if it comes with a hefty price tag.
With Terry Pegula and co. taking over this mediocre franchise, Tim Murray has the reigns to spend what he needs to make this team a contender. Having said that, they will offer Stammer upwards of 12 million, they must be looked as a real possibility. Adding Stammer would allow Buffalo to roll three legit scoring lines next season. This is what it takes to win a cup nowadays in this copycat league.
Detroit Red Wings
Ken Holland does it again! How he pulled off trading Datsyuk’s contract with no repercussions was a brilliant move, which allows them the opportunity to even go after Stamkos. The feeling that their playoff streak is in jeopardy is a big deal to this team. They take pride in making it to the playoffs every year and should. They need an impact player desperately, to add some scoring to this team in Stamkos would take care of a very apparent need. The roster is aging and crusty, Stamkos can be the spark that allows this team to remain in the playoff hunt.
New York Rangers
It seems like it’s now or never for this squad. The Rangers couldn’t keep up with the speed and playmakers teams like the Capitals and Penguins are equipped with. The defence is falling apart, King Henrik looks to be on the back 9 of his career, and the offence couldn’t get it down at a consistent level. The Rangers would be ecstatic to add Stamkos’ pedigree for being able to put the puck in the net. They need to make some big moves, what would be bigger than the addition of Stamkos?
Other teams that could be making serious offers to Stamkos are Vancouver, Montreal, New York Islanders or Philadelphia.
Personally I believe its in Steven’s best interest to take a little pay cut and stay with Tampa. Do I think that will happen, not a chance. He wants to be paid like the Patrick Kane and Jonathon Toews types because it’s a sign of respect. He believes he’s worth the 11 or 12 million that teams will offer and he would be stupid to not consider taking a deal in that range. On July 1st, I think you will see Steven Stamkos taking his talents to the “6” and becoming the next member of the Toronto Maple Leafs. The contract in my opinion will be 7 years, 77 million dollars, which averages out to 11 million dollars a year. Who knows, in five years this could be the reason Stamkos is wearing that elusive ring that he covets so very much.
- Toronto Maple Leafs-Austin Matthews, C, Zurich (SUI)
The big American centre has the ability to play a strong two-way game with few flaws. He should step into the line-up from day one and have an impact at both ends of the ice. This foundational piece for the Leafs won’t amaze you offensively, but has the speed, shot, and playmaking skills to be a productive player for a long time.
2. Winnipeg Jets- Patrik Laine, LW/RW, Tappara (FIN)
The youth movement is finally taking shape in the ‘Peg. Laine has an elite shot and is always in scoring position. Put him with a group of Scheifele, Connor , Little, Ehlers, Wheeler and the Jets will have one of the scariest top six for years to come.
3. Columbus Blue Jackets- Jesse Puljujarvi, RW, Karpat (FIN)
There have been mumblings about the Jackets not wanting this pick, but if they stay at three they will surely be taking Puljujarvi. Having performed at every major tournament, he brings a dynamic all-around game capped with elite skating. The hockey sense and size are there, definitely the potential that this kid has outweighs the concerns of Columbus needing a centre.
4. Edmonton Oilers- Matthew Tkachuk, LW, London Knights
Everything the Oilers don’t have at forward, screams out Tkachuk. A gritty, energetic player that brings unreal net presence. He has the meanness in his game that allows for his teammates to have more time and space. Can you imagine Connor McDavid with an extra second or two? Downright scary.
5. Vancouver Canucks- Pierre-Luc Dubois, C/LW, Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
PuckStuff favourite, G.M Jim Benning loves going with his old school mentality. Don’t be surprised if you see Sergachyov or Brown picked here. Anyways, Dubois has the size, skill, and will to be a impact player.
6. Calgary Flames- Alex Nylander, LW/RW, Mississauga Steelheads
Loaded at the backend, Calgary will be looking to add scoring and goaltending this offseason. Nylander is the perfect fit, he’s a sniper with a great shot and fine-tuned skating. When he physically matures, will be a tremendous player that could slide in with Monahan and Gaudreau to create one of the top scoring threat lines in the league.
7. Arizona Coyotes- Mikhail Sergachyov, D, Windsor Spitfires
Many have Juolevi penciled in here, but Sergachyov simply is a more complete player with a higher ceiling. Equipped with NHL-ready physical traits, he has the size, positioning, and shot to be a fantastic defender in the NHL. If he improves on his skating, he will be a top pairing defenseman.
8.Buffalo Sabres- Olli Juolevi, D, London Knights
A smooth-skating defender with a great amount of hockey sense. He has the ability to be patient and not rush plays, makes the first pass, and won’t physically overpower you, but it strong defensively.
9. Montreal Canadians- Logan Brown, C, Windsor Spitfires
Montreal have way more holes throughout their roster then you can see at the surface. The gigantic 6’6″ Brown has tremendous reach and power which allows himself to bully his way to the net. Didn’t have a great start to the OHL season, but turned it on after the World Juniors and finished red-hot. Once he adds to his frame and improves his skating, he has shown the skill-set to become a big-time 1st line centre.
10. Colorado Avalanche- Jacob Chychrun, D, Sarnia Sting
The Avalance brass have been pretty vocal about improving their defense this offseason. Chychrun won’t be the saviour for that putrid defense Colorado has had in the past, but he is a great start. Chychrun has the size, speed, and agility to transition the puck from his end. Sometimes, he is caught out of position trying to do too much and that can burn him. Once, Chychrun begins comfortable with the high-paced game that Roy likes to run his team, he can be a solid second-pairing defenseman.
11. New Jersey Devils- Clayton Keller, C, USHL
An ultra-talented player with a skill-set that demands the puck on his stick in all situations. Keller makes up for his size with elusiveness and tremendous hockey IQ.
12. Ottawa Senators- Tyson Jost, C, Penticton Vees
Jost is an awesome leader with the speed and vision to make plays happen fast. Will probably end up as a second-line centre due to his smaller size and incredible energy that he brings to the table.
13. Carolina Hurricanes- Kieffer Bellows, C/LW, USHL
Bellows has a pure talent to score goals. He has a nose for the net and brings a hard forechecking game with the drive to win every battle. Great stick-handling and a fine-tuned skater.
14.Boston Bruins- Jake Bean, D, Calgary Hitmen
Bean has a offensive gift from the backend who skates the puck up with confidence and smarts. He has a heavy, accurate shot from the point and will lead a power play one day. He controls the play when he’s on the ice and brings a shiftiness element to his game that can be hard to gauge. Has a good stick and is generally well-posistioned to defend. Is awhile away from suiting up in the NHL, but is exactly what the Bruins desire.
15. Minnesota Wild- Michael McLeod, C, Mississauga Steelheads
A player that hards to defend, has top-notch speed and skill to match his size. Don’t question his hands or playmaking abilities, his competitiveness is bar-none.
16. Detroit Red Wings- German Rubtsov, C, Team Russia U18
Out with one Russian, in with another. The uber talented centre brings another set of crafty hands to a bare roster. Very skilled and true power which makes him a matchup nightmare.
17.Nashville Predators- Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton Vees
In all situations, at both ends of the ice, Fabbro is the man for the job. He’s calm and reliable, always making the right plays with the puck. Has the mobility that teams love, and his intelligence is the best of any defensemen in this draft class.
18. Philadelphia Flyers- Max Jones, LW, London Knights
A fierce power-forward that plays a big game and is hard to play against. He’s strong on the puck and don’t try to take it away from him. With a wide array of skills he will help out defensively, while adding points her and there.
19. New York Islanders- Charlie McAvoy, D, Boston University
Strong two-way defender that has a swift skating ability which gives him the opportunity to jump up into the rush or get back into position.
20. Arizona Coyotes- Luke Kunin, C, Wisconsin (NCAA)
A smart, edgy player that beholds a quick release and sharp hands that allow him to finish around the net. Not a great skater, but fast.
21. Carolina Hurricanes- Julien Gauthier, RW, Val-d’Or
A great work-ethic with a large frame. He has a knack for scoring goals and brings a physical presence that the Hurricanes crave. Great hockey sense and elite speed which is uncommon for a power-forward of this build.
22. Winnipeg Jets- Logan Stanley, D, Windsor Spitfires
A huge defender standing at 6’7″ plays a mean, rugged game. Incredible reach that is hard to beat, not super fast, but is not a weak point. His offensive game needs work, his shot could be a strong point in his game.
23. Florida Panthers- Brett Howden, C, Moose Jaw Warriors
Howden is big and plays the 200 foot game that you like to see from not so overly skilled centres. Plays smart and uses his creativity to make the correct decisions.
24. Anaheim Ducks- Riley Tufte, LW, Blaine High School (Minnesota)
Unproven? Sure. Talent? Undeniable. He may be a bit of a risk-reward project, no doubt. He’s worth the gamble. With an athletic 6’5″ power-forward frame he plays with a competitive nature and tons of skill.
25. Dallas Stars- Pascal Laberge, C/RW, Victoriaville
Laberge is a quick, stealthy playmaker who has the ability to pot goals with ease.
26. Washington Capitals- Dennis Cholowski, D, Chilliwack Bruins
Cholowski has risen up draft boards since the World Junior A challenge. Having watched him from an early age, I can tell you he has unbelievable speed and the ability to read plays at a high speed. Dennis has great IQ and puck skills, a bit raw and will enjoy a few successful years at St. Cloud State before making the jump to the pros.
27. Tampa Bay Lightning- Tage Thompson, C, UConn (NCAA)
Large, skilled player with a nice two-way style. Questions around his scoring all coming from the power play are valid. He’s going to help you on special teams and bring some grit.
28. St. Louis Blues- Vitali Abramov, RW, Gatineau
Small in stature, big in skill. Enough said.
29. Boston Bruins- Lucas Johansen, D, Kelowna Rockets
Another slick defender who makes timely passes and contributes in both ends.He sees the game very well and can skate like the wind. Bruins need defense, Johansen and Bean would be a vital start to revamp the aging defensive group.
30. Anaheim Ducks- Alex Debrincat, RW, Erie Otters
If he’s 6 feet tall, he’s going to be a lottery pick. All he does is score goals, no matter who he is playing with. He makes others around him better and can skate with the best of them. He plays nasty for his size and is hard to handle for any defenseman.