11. New Jersey Devils (John Iadevaia) – Clayton Keller, C, U.S. NTDP
Ray Shero continues his focus to rebuild the New Jersey Devils‘ offensive corps by selecting Clayton Keller, center from the U.S. NTDP. He is a very smart player with tremendous skating skills, high intensity, and uses this to complement his playmaking and scoring abilities. Most impressive is that Keller has proven in previous international tournaments he can be trusted to participate in critical situations, like defensive zone draws, pitching in on the penalty kill, zone entries, and more. While his size is a concern, he has the complete package required to become a top-line threat, similar to that of Patrick Kane.
12. Ottawa Senators (Kristopher Bras) – Jake Bean, D, Calgary Hitmen
The Ottawa Senators could use help at left wing and at center, but Logan Brown is already taken and the general feeling in Ottawa is that the team will need to sign a left winger that can help right away. What the team really needs is defensemen that can fit in with the up-tempo puck possession style that any team with Erik Karlsson, Cody Ceci and a developing Thomas Chabot needs to run in order to be successful. The team already has a few very potential shutdown defenders developing overseas (Andreas Englund and Christian Jaros), so the team could use another puck-mover – and that is Jake Bean. He is the most talented young defenseman in the WHL, and his offensive tools will make the Senators an intimidating opponent to face if they can keep their defensive core together and if Chabot continues to develop as planned. Those are high-percentage ‘ifs.’ Like Chabot, he is extremely responsible defensively as well.
13. Carolina Hurricanes (Justin Lape) – Michael McLeod, C, Mississauga Steelheads
The Carolina Hurricanes need to address their center depth after the departure of Eric Staal. While the team may find a replacement via trade, Carolina could go with forward Michael McLeod with the 13th overall pick here. McLeod averaged over a point per game in the OHL during the 2015-16 season and would fit well within Bill Peters’ system. Besides top prospect Sebastian Aho, Carolina lacks a blue-chip forward prospect within the farm system. While this pick is not flashy, it addresses the offense as the defense is currently set with top prospects Noah Hanifin, Jaccob Slavin, Haydn Fleury and Brett Pesce.
14. Boston Bruins (Pat O’Rourke) – Dante Fabbro, D, Penticton Vees
Dante Fabbro, a defenseman out of the BCHL, is considered by many to be a close-to-NHL-ready player at 17. Fabbro is a strong, two-way player who skates well and is strong on the puck while possessing good instincts without it, and he was the best defenseman in the BCHL in 2015-16. He will go to Boston University to play for David Quinn, whose resume includes the development of defensemen such as Kevin Shattenkirk, Matt Gilroy (a walk-on who went on to win the Hobey in 2009), Tyson Barrie, and Charlie McAvoy, among others, which certainly shouldn’t hurt Fabbro’s prospects.
15. Minnesota Wild (Peter Prohaska) – Tyson Jost, C, Pencticton Vees
Although the idea of cheering for the University of North Dakota next season might cause some cognitive dissonance for many Minnesota Wild fans, Tyson Jost is the kind of scoring threat the Wild needs. Jost is a good skater, scorer, and playmaker, so he should enjoy the kind of breakout season that Vancouver prospect Brock Boeser did under Brad Berry. Jost was Canada’s best player at the U18 World Championship, and one of the best in that tournament, so his obvious talent may keep him from landing in the Wild’s lap.
16. Detroit Red Wings (Ken McKenna) – Kieffer Bellows, LW, U.S. NTDP
The Detroit Red Wings may have more of a need at defense than they do at forward, but with the top defensive prospects off the board, they could do worse than to select budding left wing talent Kieffer Bellows. Bellows, son of former NHL forward Brian Bellows, has the makings of a skilled power forward who possesses a good shot and isn’t afraid to use it. That shot was on display often at the 2016 U18 World Championship, where Bellows captained the U.S. squad to a bronze medal while turning in a solid performance throughout the tournament. Bellows may eventually be a good candidate to ride shotgun with NTDP alum Dylan Larkin.
17. Nashville Predators (Tony Piscotta) – Charlie McAvoy, D, Boston University
The Nashville Predators have generally taken the proverbial “best player available” approach in recent years, but with Charlie McAvoy sliding down they have an ideal situation with a skating defenseman who fits the “five-man” attack game they like to play, so he fits in well with their other young, mobile defensemen. With the decision of the now traded Jimmy Vesey to pursue free agency, there could be some hesitancy on the part of David Poile to draft an NCAA player this high, but McAvoy’s upside, plus the likelihood that he is NHL-ready before completing all four collegiate seasons makes him a good fit.
18. Philadelphia Flyers (Jashvina Shah) – Luke Kunin, C, University of Wisconsin
Luke Kunin is a good pick for the Philadelphia Flyers because he fills their need for forwards, in particular forwards with some offensive ability. He fits the Flyer mold of being a hard worker but also brings a combination of skills, versatility and a great shot. Kunin will likely spend another season at Wisconsin, but he may be close to NHL-ready at this time.
19. New York Islanders (Christian Litscher) – German Rubtsov, C, Russia MHL 98
German Rubtsov is a strong, two-way center who plays a North American-style game. He plays a hard-nosed game but still has offensive talent as he was one of the top scorers for the Russian Under-18 team this past season with 26 points in 28 games. Rubtsov can fill the shoes of Frans Nielsen on the third line with further development and would complement the likes of John Tavares and Mathew Barzal well. With a strong and deep defense pool, the New York Islanders will be pleased to add to their forward core.
20. Arizona Coyotes (from NYR) (Dave Hahn) – Max Jones, LW, London Knights
With Mikhail Sergachev on board, the Arizona Coyotes turn to the grittiest power forward in the draft in London’s Max Jones. While most will focus on his oftentimes reckless physicality, Jones possesses a goal-scorer’s mindset. He is uniquely agile for his size, and gets to top speed with seemingly little effort. With a number of Knights away at the World Junior Championship, Jones stepped up his game and offered a glimpse into his future. The Coyotes are thrilled to land this explosive forward that could easily assimilate into the bottom-six in the next few years.