The expansion draft is done. Everyone catch your breath.
OK! Here comes more draft coverage.
The 2017 NHL Entry Draft is upon us! The Vegas Golden Knights literally have all the picks. That's true. That's fact.
Sort of. Here’s what Vegas has to work with: Nos. 6, 13, 15, 34, 45, 62, 65, 96, 127, 142, 158, 161 and 189. That is a whopping 13 draft selections. So, yeah, literally all the draft picks.
There is only so much we can get to, so let’s start with No. 6.
Many mock drafts have been observed, numerous articles read and scouting reports were had. We will now share this with you on who Vegas will take at No. 6.
And, I should note, like with the Expansion Draft before it, there stands a great chance this management group drafts someone I did not expect. This list is far from comprehensive.
Cody Glass , C - Portland Winterhawks (WHL)
Multiple scouting reports have praised his hockey IQ, He’s a late-bloomer scoring 27 points in 65 games last season, but exploded in his draft year to the tune of 32 goals and 94 points in 69 games.
The massive increase in numbers has been attributed to the return of head coach Mike Johnston (the former Pittsburgh Penguins coach notoriously fired before the team went on their Stanley Cup run in 2015-16).
There is belief he might have another growth spurt in him. 6-foot-2 is not bad for an NHL center. His skating has also improved a lot and he drawn comparisons to Mark Scheifele or Ryan Johansen.
Gabriel Vilardi, C - Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
The 6-foot-2 forward is said to be the best player in the draft "from the dots down,” as Jeff Marek puts it. He had 29 goals and 61 points in just 49 games and is said to have a "high-end possession" game who Windsor coach Rocky Thompson (the new coach for Chicago, Vegas’ AHL affiliate) said was "the engine on (the) team because whoever plays with him, their Corsi numbers go straight up and are increased.”
The analytics fans just got excited.
He plays a complete 200-foot game, including playing both special teams for the Spitfires in the Memorial Cup.
His skating has been questioned but his physicality and net-front presence is what makes him special. He might need to fill out a bit more and put on some weight (188 pounds) if he is going to play that role at the NHL level.
Casey Mittelstadt, C - Eden Prairie (MIN-HS)
You might recognize this name as belonging to the kid who couldn't manage a pull-up and did just one rep on the bench press at the scouting combine, doing hockey players no favors in the minds of fans world-wide.
I'll do my best not to hold that against him.
Thankfully, his game is built on speed, skill and a wicked first step. His 94 points in 49 games spread amongst his high school team and his USHL team, he is said to have an elite level transition game and some slick stick skills that give him an advantage. He has a quick release on his wrister and a powerful snap shot.
Owen Tippett, RW - Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
Our own Danny Webster has already taken an in-depth look into Owen Tippett, so to learn more about this potential Golden Knight you should definitely read it.
If the Golden Knights choose to go with defense with their first pick they won't do much better than the three following blueliners.
Miro Heiskanen, D - HIFK U20 (Fin Jr.)
Ranked as the No. 3 prospect by multiple sources it is unlikely the Finnish D-man falls to the Golden Knights. But, if he does, they should take him. And send a gift basket to the five teams ahead of them in the draft.
Said to be an elite two-way defenseman in the making. Heiskanen is a smooth skating, puck moving LHD who is confident with the puck on his stick. Some treat the puck as though it were a live grenade but not this kid. Perhaps not an elite defenceman in the making he's said to be a potential top pairing guy, anyway.
Cale Makar, D - Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
The top RHD in the draft (these things matter), Cale Makar has been likened to Erik Karlsson (yeah, we'll get to that...). Still, it's high praise, and speaks to the style of game Maker plays.
An offensive defenceman with a ton of speed for a blueliner who put up 75 points in 54 games from the back end. You've got to love a D-man who has the skating ability and speed to skate pucks out of trouble similar to like what a Karlsson or P.K Subban does.
Who is better between Makar and Heiskanen? I don't know, but Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com looks at that very question.
Timothy Liljegren, D - Rogle Jr20 (SWE)
If both Makar and Heiskanen are gone by #6, and the Golden Knights are still thinking defence, Liljegren might be the guy they are looking for. And, guess what? He's had some of his game likened to Erik Karlsson.
I guess that's just a "he's a RHD that can skate well, control the puck, and doesn't play like Kris Russell or Roman Polak" comparison for most analysts these days. Strange.
Either way, Liljegren is scouted as a fantastic skater, fluid, with a good first step, lateral movement, and agility. Mike Johnston (the writer, not the coach) specifically mentions his zone entries and ability to navigate the blue line among his strengths.