Over at TSN, Bob McKenzie has released the TSN Draft Rankings ahead of the draft lottery. By surveying plenty of scouts from around the league, McKenzie gives us a good indication of what to expect in terms of the Top 15 going forward. Although we are still two months out, there are a few key trends to keep an eye on.
You can find the rankings here, which highlight a close race between Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier to become the first overall pick. The Maple Leafs will pick either 17th or 18th, depending on if the Nashville Predators win their series against the St. Louis Blues, so the top 15 carries significant implications here: who’s out of reach, and who we might hope falls into our range.
Let’s look at a few interesting names.
The Leafs would love to add a right-shooting defenceman, especially one with tons of offensive upside. Enter Timothy Liljegren. Although he was ranked #2 on most boards at the start of the season, he’s fallen to #12 in these rankings.
This mimics what Corey Pronman of ESPN told us a few days ago:
Several NHL execs expressed skepticism that Liljegren will be in their top 10. Believe Miro Heiskanen/Cale Makar fighting for top D in 2017.— (((Corey Pronman))) (@coreypronman) April 19, 2017
This begs the question: as the 12th rated prospect, could Liljegren fall to the Leafs at #17 or #18? If he falls out of the top 12, I think there is a serious argument to be made for trading up. I still have Liljegren firmly inside my top 10, and he can make a breakout pass look special. Liljegren’s position will be worth keeping an eye on in the weeks ahead, especially if you want the Leafs to draft a defenceman.
Finnish LW Eeli Tolvanen just missed the top 15, and although the Leafs have plenty of undersized wingers already, he might be the best finisher in this draft class:
Top 30 USHL seasons in recent history from D-1 players. Note how many played for USNTDP. Also, B. Tkachuk & A. Svechnikov look great (2018). pic.twitter.com/Pl2D4dxjya— Zac Urback (@Zac_Urback) April 15, 2017
Tolvanen’s shot is simply elite, and he’s posted impressive goal scoring numbers internationally. He’s only 5’10”, and he will not dominate off the puck, but he’s a lethal weapon on the powerplay and generates plenty of scoring chances. If Tolvanen is available at #17, he’s too talented to pass on.
I profiled Lias Andersson here, admiring his combination of strength and scoring ability. He ranks 14th on the TSN rankings, so it looks like he will be right around the Leafs range. I’d take Liljegren or Tolvanen over him at this point, but Andersson should definitely be on the short list of potential options.
Nic Hague & Cal Foote
When our poll asked who the Leafs should draft, the most popular choices were CHL defenders Nicolas Hague and Cal Foote. Neither player was listed in the top 15, so there is a solid chance that at least one of these two will be available.
This is another name I will throw out there. Centre Nick Suzuki’s scoring numbers for the Owen Sound Attack are extremely impressive. He’s not listed in the top 15, but deserves serious consideration if he is available outside of this range. Suzuki can play in all situations, and I expect him to challenge for a spot on this year’s Canadian World Junior team.