The SBNation NHL mock draft continued yesterday with picks three through five. Over the next nine days, the network of 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.
The third and fourth picks have an emerging consensus, and the SBN mock didn’t deviate from that order. The Montreal Canadiens - via Habs Eyes on the Prize - took winger Filip Zadina with the third pick, and the Ottawa Senators - via Silver Seven Sens - took defender Quinn Hughes with the fourth pick.
The Sens picking Hughes isn’t a lock, and that would start the fun if they go in another direction. But in this scenario, the fun starts with the fifth pick. After the top four, most draft lists start to diverge. The Arizona Coyotes Crew at Five For Howling took winger Brady Tkachuk. That’s not an unexpected pick, but it does remove one of the more divisive players of the early first round from the board.
The Third Pick - Filip Zadina
In discussing their pick, the HEOTP crew wrote,
While we discussed a few other possibilities to draft in the number three slot, notably Finnish centre Jesperi Kotkaniemi and American defenceman Quinn Hughes, it was a unanimous decision to select Zadina. The feeling is that he holds more value than the other two options, both immediately and thanks to the goal-scoring prowess he projects to show over an NHL career.
Zadina scored 82 points including 44 goals for the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) last season. His scoring numbers are impressive, but that isn’t all he brings to the game according to HEOTP:
There’s one aspect in Zadina’s toolkit that separates him from others and it is his ability to protect the puck. He routinely switches to one hand on his stick when he has possession to put as much of his body in front of the puck, using his other arm and knees to shield the puck from what are sometimes multiple opponents. With his shifty stickhandling and strong balance, he seems almost immune to takeaways when he is at the top of his game.
Zadina complements this ability with an almost instinctive usage of deception, opening up his hips, going 10-and-two with his skates to fool opponents into thinking he is going in one direction, before exploding in the other. He can also use head fakes just as well to attract defenders onto him before passing to open teammates, creating lanes to the net for them.
Interestingly, this quote from Zadina came out in an article a couple days ago at the National Post:
“Montreal, I know very well,” he said. “I’ve been to the city many times and the fans are awesome. But they’re looking for a centre or a D. Ottawa, I’ve been there when we played in Gatineau. It’s the capital of Canada, so it would mean a lot to play there. It will be good if it’s either Montreal or Ottawa.”
We probably shouldn’t read too much into it, but passing on Zadina would be quite a risk for the Canadiens to take. He’s been the consensus third best player in the draft all season. Conversely, letting him slide would be a big win for the Senators who pick fourth.
The Fourth Pick - Quinn Hughes
This is the first pick with any real suspense. The Sens have options here, but Hughes appears to be the best one of those options. He scored 29 points in 37 games as a freshman at the University of Michigan this year and is generally considered the second best defender in the draft after Rasmus Dahlin.
The crew at Silver Seven Sens were happy with their pick:
Players like Hughes are a rare breed in the NHL. First, he’s from Orlando, Florida, and could be the first NHLer from the city. But more importantly, he has an incredible skillset, with big emphasis on his skating ability and hockey IQ. At 5’10”, he’s undersized compared to your average NHL defenceman. Although, considering his high-end ability to process the game, he’s shown no weakness in playing against top competition. He’s been tagged as the proto-typical new-age defenceman in the NHL — he’s a monster when it comes to zone transitions, and can limit the opposition’s chances using his speed and positioning. In a league where speed is becoming more and more valuable, you’d be glad to know that Hughes has been touted by many as the draft class’ best skater.
The Fifth Pick - Brady Tkachuk
This is where things start to get more interesting. Based on the scouts I follow, I don’t see a consensus developing here. Adam Boqvist, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Tkachuk all seem equally likely to go in this slot.
The crew at Five for Howling chose Tkachuk. The winger scored 31 points in 40 games as a freshman at Boston University last season. He has prototypical NHL size at 6’3” and almost 200 pounds. He’s one of the safest picks in the draft as he’ll almost certainly be a quality NHL player. The questions about Tkachuk center around how high his ceiling is. Some scouts feel player like Wahlstrom or Boqvist have higher ceilings.
Here’s what FFH had to say about their decision:
In addition to all the size and skill he brings to the table, Tkachuk also fits with the team. He’s played with Clayton Keller in the USNTP Junior program in the 2015-16 season. Since Christian Dvorak and Christian Fischer have both played with his brother Matthew Tkachuk they are also likely to be familiar with Brady. Tkachuk’s playing style is one that Head Coach Rick Tocchet is sure to like since he battles in the hard areas, goes to the net and never gives up on a play. Tkachuk is projected to be a power forward and is likely able to enter the league as early as this season or next. If he decides not to return the NCAA he could also end up playing in the AHL.
And with that, we’re through the top five picks of the draft. We’ve already had some interesting choices, and things will only get more uncertain from here.
We’ll update you with the next three picks tomorrow. That’ll be picks six, seven, and eight with Detroit, Vancouver, and Chicago on the clock.
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