The future of the NHL will be altered on Friday and Saturday when the league's 31 teams make their selections in the 2017 NHL draft.
Chicago's United Center will play host to the first round Friday night before continuing with the rest of the draft throughout the day on Saturday. Although there are more question marks among the top prospects than there have been in recent years, there is undoubtedly some elite talent to be had.
NHL Draft TV Schedule
Round 1: Friday, June 23 at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Rounds 2-7: Saturday, June 24 at 10 a.m. ET on NHL Network
2017 NHL Mock Draft
1. New Jersey Devils: Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon (WHL)
2. Philadelphia Flyers: Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
3. Dallas Stars: Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie HS (MN)
4. Colorado Avalanche: Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK U20, (Finland Jr.)
5. Vancouver Canucks: Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL)
6. Vegas Golden Knights: Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor (OHL)
7. Arizona Coyotes: Martin Necas, C, Brno (Czech)
8. Buffalo Sabres: Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle Jr20 (Sweden)
9. Detroit Red Wings: Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL)
10. Florida Panthers: Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri City (WHL)
11. Los Angeles Kings: Elias Pettersson, C, Timra IK (Sweden)
12. Carolina Hurricanes: Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City (USHL)
13. Vegas Golden Knights (from WPG): Lias Andersson, C, HV71 (Sweden)
14. Tampa Bay Lightning: Cal Foote, D, Kelowna (WHL)
15. Vegas Golden Knights (from NYI): Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
16. Calgary Flames: Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCAA)
17. Toronto Maple Leafs: Nick Suzuki, RW, Owen Sound (OHL)
18. Boston Bruins: Josh Norris, C, USA NTDP (USHL)
19. San Jose Sharks: Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri City (WHL)
20. St. Louis Blues: Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane (WHL)
21. New York Rangers: Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo (WHL)
22. Edmonton Oilers: Conor Timmins, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
23. Arizona Coyotes (from MIN): Erik Brannstrom, D, HV71 (Sweden)
24. Winnipeg Jets (from CLS via LV): Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph (OHL)
25. Montreal Canadiens: Kristian Vesalainen, LW, Frolunda (Sweden)
26. Chicago Blackhawks: Klim Kostin, RW, Dynamo (Russia)
27. St. Louis Blues (from WAS): Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
28. Ottawa Senators: Kole Lind, C, Kelowna (WHL)
29. Dallas Stars (from ANA): Nicolas Hague, D, Mississauga (OHL)
30. Nashville Predators: Matthew Strome, LW, Hamilton (OHL)
31. Pittsburgh Penguins: Alexei Lipanov, C, Balashikha (Russia)
Breaking Down Notable Prospects
While much of the focus entering the draft is on highly touted forwards Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier, there is some impressive defensive depth near the top of the draft, and it starts with Miro Heiskanen.
According to International Scouting Service, he has everything teams look for in a top-notch blueliner:
"Go-to guy on the back end. Rising up the rankings—has added size since start of the season. Mobile with good vision and rarely panics or turns the puck over. Always under control and made very few mistakes. He has all the tools to be an effective two-way defender in the NHL."
While Heiskanen seemingly continues to move up the ranks, Marco Bombino of McKeen's Hockey believes he should have been viewed that way all along:
Marco Bombino @marco_bombino
To me, it's a bit odd that many consider Miro Heiskanen a big riser for the draft. He was already great in juniors before this past season.2017-6-13 13:09:59
Several teams near the top of the draft could use an elite rearguard, but perhaps none more so than the Colorado Avalanche.
Colorado caught a tough break by getting the No. 4 overall pick despite having the best odds at No. 1, but it may not matter if Heiskanen is still available.
The Avs have plenty of young talent up front, but if they're going to get out of the basement, they desperately need to make major improvements defensively.
If Heiskanen is the first defenseman off the board, Cale Makar isn't likely to be far behind him.
Although Makar has played at a lower level of competition than most draft prospects in recent seasons, his offensive ability from the blue line is something special.
Makar is coming off a season that saw him register 75 points in 54 games for the AJHL's Brooks Bandits, and he admitted to being compared by some scouts to Ottawa Senators superstar defenseman Erik Karlsson, according to Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun:
"This season, a lot of people were comparing me to somewhat of an Erik Karlsson. Before that, I always really liked his play and never noticed that we had such similar tendencies around the puck. So I've been watching a lot of clips of him and also Shayne Gostisbehere of Philadelphia, because his deceptiveness is one of the key traits to my game, as well."
The thought of Makar becoming anything close to Karlsson could be enough for a team to jump on him early, but he likely needs plenty of seasoning first.
Per Tom Martin of News 4 Buffalo, Makar doesn't plan on going pro immediately after getting drafted:
Tom Martin @4TomMartin
Possible #Sabres draft target Cale Makar thinks he'll need 1-2 years of NCAA development before AHL/NHL jump. Committed to UMass. https://t.co/mRw7sq1xBb2017-6-3 14:50:56
One team that can afford to wait on Makar's development is the Vancouver Canucks, who are selecting fifth overall.
The Canucks don't appear close to contention, and with the exception of the Sedin Twins, they have transitioned into being a much younger team than usual.
There are some good, young pieces at forward, but getting an offensive defenseman like Makar would change the teams outlook for the better in the coming years.
After contributing a modest 27 points in 2015-16, Glass exploded for 94 points on 32 goals and 62 assists in 2016-17, as well as nine points in 11 playoff games.
Glass has good size, versatility to play anywhere up front and a playmaking touch that makes him an ideal linemate for shoot-first players.
Per Zachary DeVine of Hockey Prophets, Glass also stresses the importance of playing a two-way game with defensive responsibilities never taking a backseat:
"I think I play a good, strong, two-way game, and I think I use my vision really well, finding my teammates, and a good pass-first kind of guy. So I think if scouts see that, they'll see that I'm a good playmaker. [Portland] Coach [Mike] Johnston really pushes us in the defensive zone, more defense first and then offense. So, that's something I try to take pride in."
Glass could conceivably go anywhere from No. 3 to the back end of the top 10, as perhaps the one thing preventing him from being solidified in the top five is that he only has one great year under his belt.
The Winnipeg native really came into his own in 2016-17, though, and if he is still on the board for a team like the Detroit Red Wings at No. 9, it is worth gambling on him continuing to make strides.
Source : http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2715395-nhl-draft-2017-tv-schedule-order-and-mock-draft-predictions-for-top-prospects