The SBNation NHL mock draft continued yesterday with picks fifteen through seventeen. Over the next few days, the NHL sites here at SBN will run through the first round deciding who they think their teams should pick. The Lightning don’t have a first round pick this year, so we won’t be included. Even so, we’ll be keeping an eye on the proceedings so that you know what to expect come Friday, June 22nd when the draft starts.
We’ll cover picks 15, 16, and 17 today. Compared to the previous stretch of picks, these were tame. No trades. No major surprises. Just three good players taken reasonably within the range they are expected to go on draft night
To start, we’ll look at pick 15 for the Florida Panthers via Litter Box Cats followed by the Philadelphia Flyers via Broadstreet Hockey and the New Jersey Devils via All About the Jersey. The Flyers are picking 16th because they made two trades earlier in the draft first sending Petr Mrazek to Dallas to move up one spot and then trading back to acquire extra picks from Colorado.
The 15th Pick - Bode Wilde
If you want to pick a spot to complain about a pick among the three covered today, this is the spot to do it. But I’m not not sure how strenuous an argument you could make. The last version of our consolidated rankings had Wilde ranked 18th and the next two players to be drafted were both ahead of him but that hardly qualifies as a reach.
Here’s what the Mile High Hockey crew wrote about him in their profile:
In his second NTDP season, with a new coach at the helm, Wilde has shown NHL scouts, and me, what people were getting excited about him for in the first place. Playing on the same pairing as fellow top 2018 draft prospect K’Andre Miller, Wilde has brought his offense back up, made tremendous strides in his play in his own end, and although he is a righty, has proven he is adept at playing on either side of the ice. Leading into the upcoming World Under-18 Championships, Wilde has 11 goals and 36 points across all competitions. He is expected to play top-end minutes for the favored Americans as they seek their eleventh title at the tournament.
Because this draft’s crop on the blue line is so highly-touted, especially on the right side (Adam Boqvist, Evan Bouchard, Noah Dobson), Wilde tends to get overlooked by mainstream scouts and publications. But it would be a huge mistake if he falls out of the lottery. He will probably spend two years at Michigan, which has been great for top-end defense prospects this decade (Jacob Trouba, Zach Werenski, Quinn Hughes), and will likely be a part of two US World Junior teams. I don’t think he’ll require very much time in the minor leagues, and he should be ready at 20 or 21 to carve out a lengthy NHL career.
Wilde scored 41 points in 61 games as part of the US National Team Development Program this past season. He has prototypical size for a defender at 6’2 and nearly 200 pounds. I probably would have gone a different direction but I can’t fault the LBC crew for their pick here. Lots of people like Wilde and he has a chance to be a very good NHL player,
The 16th Pick - Rasmus Kupari
Rasmus Kupari is the sixteenth pick and I’m a fan of this decision by BSB. I think he’s the best player left on the board at this point. I also have a highly scientific theory that he’s being underrated because he shares a first name with the clear number one overall pick Rasmus Dahlin. What’s my evidence for this theory? I don’t have any. I just believe it to be true.
For some actual good reasons to like the selection of Kupari, here’s what BSB wrote about their pick:
We’ve discussed Kupari a bit on this site before, as he grabbed the No. 13 spot on our Community Big Board earlier this month. (He was the highest player left on our board when we made this pick, so really, this was a pick for you, the people.) Kupari is a dynamic player who you first notice because of his speed, as he’s probably one of the quickest pure skaters in this draft class. That speed is supplemented by a good offensive skill set; Kupari has nice hands and a pretty good shot, to go along with decent size. (Kupari also performed well in testing at the Combine, for however much weight you put into that; he had the top bench press results of all prospects at the event, and did well in overall fitness testing on top of that.)
Kupari’s year involved a lot of time being spent playing at levels that should normally be above the weight class of a 17-year old. He played in a minor role on Finland’s under-20 World Juniors team, which lost in the quarterfinals to the Czech Republic in a shootout. He also played at Finland’s highest level in the Liiga, getting into 39 games with Karpat and posting 14 points in those games, second only to Jesperi Kotkaniemi (who went 11th in this very mock draft) among under-18 players in that league.
The combination of results at a young age playing in a pro league and impressive display of raw physical talent makes him an intriguing prospect. The Flyers made a good bet here at this stage of the draft.
The 17th Pick - Barrett Hayton
Hayton is another perfectly reasonable pick. This is the range where he’s expected to go and the Devils added a solid two-way center prospect to their (mock) pipeline. All About the Jersey wrote about their decision here:
In the OHL, Hayton returned to the Greyhounds for his second season. As a 16-year old, Hayton played in 63 games and nine playoff games, but his usage was limited. According to the OHL website, Hayton only put up nine goals, eighteen assists, and 97 shots in the regular season; and only two goals and twelve shots in the playoffs. But he turned it up in 2017-18 and ended up being the second-line center on one of the OHL’s best teams. Hayton’s production jumped. According to the OHL website, in 63 regular season games, Hayton scored 21 goals, picked up 39 assists, and took 158 shots. These points included eight power play goals, thirteen power play assists, and two shorthanded assists. Hayton won about half of his total faceoffs and kept his penalty minutes to around a half-minute per game. In the postseason, Hayton put up eight goals, thirteen assists, and 65 shots in 24 playoff games. Again, this did include four power play goals, eight power play assists, and one shorthanded assist. Again, Hayton did not take many penalties, but he did win way more draws (56.3% winning percentage on faceoffs). Remember: Hayton was 17 throughout 2017-18 and he made an impact in multiple ways on a team that boasted the likes of Morgan Frost, Taylor Raddysh, and Boris Katchouk.
And with that, we’re through the top seventeen picks of the draft. Tomorrow’s article will cover the next four picks as we approach the end of the mock draft later this week.
SBNation NHL Mock Draft Recap:
- Buffalo Sabres - Rasmus Dahlin
- Carolina Hurricanes - Andrei Svechnikov
- Montreal Canadiens - Filip Zadina
- Ottawa Senators - Quinn Hughes
- Arizona Coyotes - Brady Tkachuk
- Detroit Red Wings - Adam Boqvist
- Vancouver Canucks - Noah Dobson
- Chicago - Oliver Wahlstrom
- New York Rangers - Evan Bouchard
- Edmonton Oilers - Martin Kaut
- Washington Capitals (via New York Islanders) - Jesperi Kotkaniemi
- New York Islanders - Ty Smith
- Colorado Avalanche (via Philadelphia, via Dallas) - Joe Veleno
- Dallas Stars (via Philadelphia) - Joel Farabee
- Florida Panthers - Bode Wilde
- Philadelphia Flyers (via Colorado) - Rasmus Kupari
- New Jersey Devils - Barrett Hayton