The Journey examines Dobber’s Top 200 Forward Prospects List, and assesses the fast risers in the July rankings. This month’s edition will focus on the newcomers to the Top Forward Prospects list who were drafted in the 2017 NHL Draft. Find out where they slot in below.
Nico Hischier – Center – New Jersey Devils – Debuts 2nd overall following the 2017 Draft
The number one overall pick also tops the list of newcomers to Dobber’s Top 200 Forwards list, checking in the second position behind Arizona’s Clayton Keller. The young Swiss prospect holds the highest point potential of all the 2017 draftees when paired with the probability of being in the NHL as early as this upcoming season. Hischier’s fit with the Devils should give him ample opportunity to play big minutes early in his career, but also provides the chance to man a top power play unit. He may not have as much rookie impact as Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews, but if Hischier does play his post draft season in the NHL, it’s very likely he will be in the Calder Trophy conversation.
Nolan Patrick – Center – Philadelphia Flyers – Debuts 3rd overall following the 2017 Draft
Patrick, although still a top prospect, has some factors against him going entering the 2017 season. His health is a dark cloud that has been looming since his draft year began and reared its ugly head again this month after having surgery to fix another hernia. The second overall pick in June’s draft missed prospect camp, but he hopefully will be ready for camp in the fall. Philadelphia is a good fit roster-wise for Patrick, where he will be surrounded by top offensive talent. Depending on what role he fills when he makes his NHL debut will go a long way towards what his point production ceiling will be. He should slot in nicely in the second center role with Sean Couturier getting the tough defensive minutes in the future.
Cody Glass – Center – Las Vegas Golden Knights – Debuts 15th overall following the 2017 Draft
After a 94-point eruption with the Portland Winterhawks in his draft season, Glass rose quickly up draft boards, and was the first selection of the expansion Las Vegas Golden Knights. The dynamic playmaker headlined a first-round class that also included Nick Suzuki and Erik Brannstrom to make up a solid core for the future of high-ceiling offensive options. Glass will spend the 2017-18 season serving pucks on a platter to Keiffer Bellows, his new teammate in Portland. Obviously, no one knows how Vegas will look once Glass makes the jump to the NHL, but he has the potential to be a top center for the Golden Knights in the forseeable future.
Casey Mittelstadt – Center – Buffalo Sabres – Debuts 28th overall following the 2017 Draft
Among the highest of ceilings as far as fantasy value among 2017 NHL Draftees, Mittelstadt slips a bit down the list due to the fact that he is a bit farther away from making an NHL impact. The offensively gifted pivot will attend the University of Minnesota in the fall, and will likely spend at least a season or two with the Golden Gophers building strength and refining his talents against a higher competition level. Following Jack Eichel’s talent up with a player like Mittelstadt in the second center role would be a nightmare 1-2 punch, both at even strength and on the power play. Mittelstadt’s value obviously increases in points only leagues.
Elias Pettersson – Center/Wing – Vancouver Canucks – Debuts 30th overall following the 2017 Draft
With the fifth overall pick of the draft the Canucks drafted Pettersson, whose offensive skills jump off the page at you when you see him. The biggest knock against him and why some teams and scouts were a bit skeptical is his size, but his pure talent is hard to ignore. For me, the Pettersson/Glass conversation will be one that we will remember down the road, especially since they will be in the same division for the foreseeable future. The shifty Timra product should be one of the first names off the board in your fantasy amateur drafts, so don’t be scared off by his measurables. You might have to wait a bit to reap the offensive rewards, but once he does make the jump he could be a force for the Canucks both at five-on-five and with the man advantage.
Gabriel Vilardi – Center – Los Angeles Kings - Debuts 35th overall following the 2017 Draft
One of the bigger surprises of the first round was Vilardi’s slide down the draft board before eventually falling in Los Angeles’s lap at pick number 11. The Windsor Spitfire was one of the youngest of the top prospects drafted in June, and should have a big year, taking on more responsibility in the fall. His 61 points in 49 games were impressive, especially considering he struggled with injuries throughout his draft season. A prototypical big Western Conference forward, Vilardi should grow into an all-situations player who will drive possession for the Kings and could help fantasy teams with both scoring and peripheral stats. He only took 236 face-offs a season ago, but he was over 50%. That number should grow in 2017-18.
Owen Tippett – Right Wing – Florida Panthers - Debuts 38th overall following the 2017 Draft
After the first run of centers was complete, Tippett settled in a good organizational fit with the Florida Panthers. The Mississauga sniper joins a talented team in South Florida with a young forward core of Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trochek and Nick Bjugstand all who are under 25 years old. Although he’s a few years away from making an impact, Tippett is one of a select few players from the 2017 NHL Draft who has an elite goal scoring ceiling. As he continues to round out his game and find more consistency, the winger should be a no-brainer top-six option and a frightening power play option for teams to have to account for. If you need goal scoring in your prospect draft, Tippett provides it as well as anyone.
Nick Suzuki – Center – Las Vegas Golden Knights - Debuts 41st overall following the 2017 Draft
With their second pick in the first round, the Golden Knights scooped up Suzuki who was the 13th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. The Owen Sound forward had a great draft year with 94 points in 65 games, and an even better playoff with 23 points in 17 games against the OHL’s top competition. Suzuki is a terrific playmaker whose dynamic play in all situations is something to watch for over the next couple seasons. He will be a lethal penalty killer at the next level as he forces turnovers and has the skill to finish in one-on-one situations with ease. If you want a player who is a higher risk pick who could provide a high reward, Suzuki isn’t a bad pick.
Lias Andersson – Center – New York Rangers - Debuts 64th overall following the 2017 Draft
Although his ceiling may not be as high as some of the other players on this list, Andersson’s proximity to the NHL may be much closer. He is a high-floor prospect who was labeled as one of the most “NHL ready” players in the 2017 draft class. The Swedish center went off the board to the Rangers, a team with playoff aspirations who just lost Oscar Lindberg and Derek Stepan down the middle this offseason. Andersson signed his entry-level deal earlier this week, and could surprise enough at camp to earn a spot with the Blue Shirts as early as this season. His two seasons of playing against men in the SHL, and his October 1998 birthday certainly don’t hurt his case.
Michael Rasmussen – Center – Detroit Red Wings - Debuts 79th overall following the 2017 Draft
Every year, a team falls in love with the size and skill combination that a player like Michael Rasmussen brings to the table, and decides that there is no way that they can leave that player type on the board. This year’s version in the top-10 was the Tri-City American’s Rasmussen, who certainly has the tools to be worthy of such a selection. The 6’6” forward potted 32 goals in 50 games, his season cut short due to a wrist injury. Although he’s not overly physical, the big center is a force on the power play who commands a good bit of net front attention as his soft hands allow him to deflect pucks and pounce on rebounds. He’s not NHL ready from a talent perspective, but his size and bullish style could mean that he is pushed through the system quicker then some.
Others 2017 NHL Draftees making their debuts in the Top 200:
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