Believe it or not, but the NHL draft is only a few months away. Even though the Blackhawks don’t have a first round pick, it’s still interesting to scout other players and see where they may end up. We all know the prized gems of this years draft class, Erie Otters center Connor McDavid and Boston University center Jack Eichel. McDavid, who registered 120 points in just 47 games is the consensus first overall pick. He looked like a man against boys in the OHL this season and showcased his incredible talent, a talent worth tanking for. Jack Eichel also dominated the college ranks registering 67 points in 37 games. Eichel is another incredible young talent that will take the NHL by storm next season. Enough about these two guys. What about the prospects that don’t have this sort of hype surrounding them?
Pavel Zacha, C, Sarnia Sting
Pavel Zacha is guy who has taken a bit of a hit in this years draft rankings. Last year around this time many mock drafts had Zacha as high as the number three spot, just after McDavid and Eichel. Coming into this season, his first in North America, Zacha struggled to find his game, but has come on as of late which has sent him flying up the draft boards. He is a big guy at 6’3 210 pounds, and knows how to use that big frame of his. In 37 games with the Sting this season Zacha has recorded 34 points. He has the ability to be a top line forward and a force in the NHL.
Adam Kimelman’s mock draft: 8th to the Philadelphia Flyers
Mike Morreale’s mock draft: 18th to the Minnesota Wild
Draft Utopia: 12th to the San Jose Sharks
Mikko Rantanen, RW, TPS(FIN)
Mikko Rantanen has really caught the attention of scouts the past couple of months. He was always projected as a first round pick, but now he’s looking like a top ten pick. Rantanen has the makings of an NHL power forward. With a 6’4 209 pound frame he isn’t afraid to force his way to the front of the net or play the puck along the boards. In Finland this year Rantanen has 28 points in 56 games. That doesn’t sound like off the chart numbers, but keep in mind that he is playing in Finland’s top professional league as an eighteen year old. Rantanten is an excellent skater for his size and although he hasn’t played in North America he should adjust quickly to the pace and style of the North American game.
Adam Kimelman’s mock draft: 7th to the New Jersey Devils
Mike Morreale’s mock draft: 9th to the Dallas Stars
Draft Utopia: 13th to the Florida Panthers
Travis Konecny, C, Ottawa
Travis Konecny is a guy that has remained in the middle of the pack for most of the season when it comes to mock drafts. He won’t turn any heads with his size, 5’10 176 pounds, but he will turn heads with his explosive wrist shot and puck skills. In the OHL this season Konecny has 68 points in 60 games. Not McDavid type numbers, but still averaging more than a point per game. Will Konecny be a guy who will be able to play in the NHL next season like Zacha or Rantanen? If he can add a little more to his frame, and depending on the team who drafts him he could see some NHL time as early as next year.
Adam Kimelman’s mock draft: 23rd to the Buffalo Sabres (Via NYI)
Mike Morreale’s mock draft: 19th to the Washington Capitals
Draft Utopia: 7th to the New Jersey Devils
Keep in mind that the regular season isn’t over, so the draft order is subject to change. Hopefully this helped you take your mind off the recent struggles of the Blackhawks, but don’t fret Hawks fans, where there’s a mustache there’s a way. I think that’s how the saying goes. Until next time my friends and don’t forget to follow us on twitter and facebook.