14. Dallas Stars RW Alex Tuch
One of the highest ranked prospects available, Dallas goes with a power-forward with coveted size. With a lack of RW prospects, and depth on their current roster at this position, Tuch will be able to make the NHL transition, but will have to play a few seasons in the NCAA prior, providing the Stars with a Top-6 forward. As a forward who recognizes his defensive responsibilities, Tuch will be an effective two-way forward with good offensive upside. It is difficult for the Stars to pass up on physically and offensively gifted prospect that provides this team with good depth on their middle lines. He does not have elite potential, but will be able to produce the pros.
15. Detroit Red Wings RW David Pastrnak
Although this selection doesn’t fill their needs of gaining forwards with good size, Pastrnak is difficult to pass up given his skillset. It is essential that Pastrnak works on his physical traits and becomes larger to play in the NHL but he has the potential to be one of the best prospects in the draft with development. He is a dynamic playmaker with excellent skating, puckhandling and is an extremely good finisher. The Red Wings have a knack for developing prospects, and should be able to work wonders on this highly skilled forward. His potential is that of a Top 6 forward, who could play top line minutes if needed, and will be a big piece on one of their powerplay units. Pastrnak’s spot in the draft is not indicative of his talent but instead a sign that he still has development ahead of him.
16. Columbus Blue Jackets C Joshua Ho-Sang
If Columbus is able to grab Ho-Sang at this spot they should do so. While his rank is in the mid 20’s, there is no denying his offensive potential. Columbus is lacking premiere producers in their system, and would greatly benefit from this pick. After having multiple first round selections last season, grabbing all forward prospects, they have ensured depth for their future but still need prolific forwards, like Ho-Sang. He has the ability to become one of the highest producers in the NHL in time, but will need to bulk up and work on his defensive game. In grabbing Ho-Sang, Columbus will have a versatile forward who can play center or right wing and could emerge as a top-line forward playing alongside Ryan Johansen.
17. Philadelphia Flyers C Robert Fabbri
Philadelphia is in desperate need of forward prospect depth. As most of their higher talented prospects are NHL-ready, Fabbri would be able to rank among the top in their system. As the Flyers currently have a talented Top 6, and the need for Fabbri to develop, this would be an excellent pick as they can be patient with him. While Fabbri will never become an elite producer, he will provide Philadelphia with excellent work ethic and grittiness along with plenty of offensive upside. It seems likely that he could emerge as a similar player to Couturier production wise, possibly being linemates in the future. It is essential that Fabbri continues his development and bulks up. Once he becomes an NHL regular, Fabbri could emerge as an effective Top 6 center, or could be used as a 3rd line player due to his ability to play defensively.
18. Minnesota Wild D Julius Honka
There has been a growing trend for Minnesota to spend their early/ top picks on defenseman. While Honka may not be available with this pick, if he is, Minnesota needs to act quickly on selecting this prospect. A very offensively gifted defenseman, Honka has been compared as a poor-man’s Erik Karlsson. With excellent skating, passing skills and vision down the ice, he will be an effective quarterback on a top powerplay unit. The biggest issue for Honka currently is his lack of size and backchecking. It is possible that he plays in the NHL in 3 or 4 years, as he will still benefit from another season in the WHL before making the jump to the AHL. With the potential of a first or second pairing offensive defenseman, it will be hard to pass up on this player with the 18th pick, as they currently possess a talented Top 6, and would benefit more from a highly talented defenseman this late in the draft.
19. Tampa Bay Lightning D Anthony DeAngelo
Tampa Bay has been impressive this season, and largely due to their deep Top 9 and having a talented goaltender in Bishop. With little depth at defense and in their system, drafting an offensive blue-liner such as DeAngelo could really pay off. While there are concerns off the ice, including an eight game suspension this season, there is no denying his talent. His capabilities offensively can sometimes get him in trouble defensively however, where he creates a scoring opportunity for the other team. As long as DeAngelo is paired up with highly defensive d-man, he will be able to be successful and become a high producing defenseman. He projects as a top or second pairing defender that can be a top powerplay unit quarterback with his tremendous array of shots. After time, he can become a 50-60 point player if he develops to his full potential and smooth’s out his flaws.
20. San Jose Sharks LW Dylan Larkin
After moving Burns up to forward for the season it became apparent that they could benefit from some help on the wing, as they have no depth in their system at these two positions. Although grabbing a RW prospect would be more beneficial, Larkin is the best player available and is considered a two-way power forward that plays a complete game in all three zones, not neglecting his defensive responsibilities. With most of their top prospects already in the NHL, San Jose will need to rebuild their system, starting with a prospect that brings excellent versatility, as he can play multiple positions and different roles. Going the NCAA route, he will need at least 2 or 3 seasons before going pro in the AHL. As more of a shooter, you will see him on the score sheet but he doesn’t project as an elite scorer. Instead, he could be a 40-50 point player that plays a very complete two-way game as mentioned earlier.
21. St. Louis Blues C Ivan Barbashev
The Blues have a good deep roster, but could use some help up the center. Lacking at center in their system also, it would make sense to grab a mid ranked Barbashev who is a true sniper. Constantly improving all areas of his game, Barbashev has a high ceiling and is a project second line center in the NHL. There have been concerns about the Russian factor and whether he could move across the pond to the KHL, which while unlikely, still needs to be considered. If he can reach his potential, he could take over Sobotka’s second line role and could produce 20-30 goals each season. There are still aspects of his game that need to be improved, such as his defensive game and overall skating, but will come with more development. If he slides this far in the draft, Barbashev would be a quality pick here for St. Louis.
22. Pittsburgh Penguins C Kevin Fiala
The Penguins need more depth in their system up front. This issue however is they already possess a lot of high-risk/high-reward, long-term project prospects, which is exactly what Fiala would be considered as. While Fiala is a dynamic skater and sniper, where he is very effective on the forecheck, his defensive game is absolutely atrocious. Fiala is very coachable and can improve his backchecking tremendously; his game in that regard is so poor that he may never reach his full potential/make the transition to the NHL. If Pittsburgh can develop this talented prospect, he could become an effective second line center. There are less risky players still available in the draft but they are in a good position to gamble with a late first round selection.
23. Colorado Avalanche RW Jakub Vrana
While there is some debate as to whether they should grab a defenseman or forward, the general trend for Colorado has been to draft a forward with their first round pick (5 of last 6 were forwards). Colorado is deep at every position and they currently possess three quality defenders in their system, which is why they would benefit from another offensive player who could round out their Top 9. Vrana is a highly talented prospect offensively with tremendous skating abilities. He provides versatility as he can be used as a center or winger. His biggest concern at this time is gaining muscle/bulking up as well as improving his defensive game. Once Vrana develops, he looks like he could become an effective Top 6 forward, who may play Top 9 minutes due to the depth on this roster. This organization will be able to be patient with Vrana until adequate roster space becomes available, making this a very solid pick for this team.
24. Anaheim Ducks LW Sonny Milano
After selecting a defenseman with their 1st first round selection in this mock draft, Anaheim looks to add a very impressive forward to their system. With a deep prospect group, Anaheim does lack top left wing talent, making this an excellent pick that would make sense if available at this time. Milano is lethal when he has the puck, as he has excellent puckhandling skills complimented by a very accurate, hard shot. He is very determined and a hard worker but will need to work on his coasting when he doesn’t have the puck as well as backchecking more consistently; all coachable flaws at the next level. Milano is a project second line winger who can be very effective offensively, even contributing on the powerplay. While there is a possibility he is drafted earlier, if Milano is still around at this pick Anaheim needs to jump on this prospect.
25. Boston Bruins D Roland McKeown
McKeown is a very interesting prospect displaying a very complete game. With elite skating and speed, he has become a very mobile defenseman that plays a two-way defensive game. He has an effective shot, although not extremely fast or hard. He does not shy away from his defensive responsibilities or the physical element of the game. He has good positioning and does not create scoring chances for the other team often. Boston has a very deep offensive core, and equally deep system full of forwards. With Chara aging, it is best to consider adding another defenseman, especially one like McKeown, who is a solid two-way defender capable of playing on the powerplay showcasing his offensive upside or used on the penalty kill. It seems likely that he will still be available at this time, and Boston would be lucky to grab a projected two-way, second pairing defenseman who can contribute in all areas of the game.