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SBN Mock NHL Draft Day 3: The Vegas Golden Knights' first-ever draft pick is...

An offensive power to complement Marc-Andre Fleury's netminding.

Mississauga Steelheads v Guelph Storm

Yesterday, the NHL continued to kill our joy by putting a ban of silence on leakers of expansion draft news before the (super lame) NHL awards, undoubtedly to give people some kind of enticement to watch them.

Fine, I’ll watch the damned awards. But until then, we can still speculate. Also yesterday, the SBN Mock Draft continued its run through the draft order and touched upon the Vegas Golden Knights at 6th overall, Arizona Coyotes at 7th overall, and the Buffalo Buffalo Buffalos, at 8th overall.

Here are the picks so far:

  1. New Jersey Devils, via All About The Jersey, select center Nico Hischier.
  2. Philadelphia Flyers, via Broad Street Hockey, select center Nolan Patrick.
  3. Dallas Stars, via Defending Big D, select center Casey Mittelstadt.
  4. Colorado Avalanche, via Mile High Hockey, select defender Miro Heiskanen.
  5. Vancouver Canucks, via Nucks Misconduct, select center Gabe Vilardi.

What happened yesterday?

The Vegas Golden Knights had their very first draft pick ever, and brand-new SBN site Knights on Ice (Katya named this site, by the way) decided upon...

OK not that. The VGK went with a winger to complement Shipachyov, Reid, Hyka, and (probably) Marc-Andre Fleury. I keep hearing “build from the net out” from people like Jeff Marek, and I’m beginning to think this kind of team building is totally at odds with “best player available” at the draft. How do people even judge teenagers, anyway? Who knows.

6. Vegas Golden Knights, via Knights on ice, select winger Owen Tippett

Owen Tippett can score. A lot. He’s also 18 years old.

That’s the kind of guy the Vegas Golden Knights need to build around for the future, and that’s who Knights On Ice selects with the No. 6 pick in our NHL Mock Draft at SB Nation.

The Golden Knights are going to be drowning in draft hulabaloo next week. Of course, with the expansion draft, but there’s the matter of getting young talent to groom. Marc-Andre Fleury could be a Vegas resident by this time next week, and the thought of getting a quality netminder with a few good years left is exciting. He’ll probably love the Paris Hotel & Casino.

But as good friend of the site Jesse Granger of the Las Vegas Sun pointed out on ESPN Radio Las Vegas Monday, the offensive firepower will be limited in the expansion draft. Vegas has an opportunity to shore up its defensive lines with really good players. Offensively, not so much.

That’s why Tippett is the right choice.

Every team wants right-hand D, and snagging a good one in the draft is the way to do it. Victor Hedman took a good six years to develop, after he was drafted, into the Norris-caliber guy he is now — so maybe Arizona will have a defensive core to be jealous of in half a decade. Think John Chayka actually makes this pick?

7. Arizona Coyotes, via Five for Howling, select defender Timothy Liljegren.

Liljegren has the potential to be the type of player to play the right side with the likes of Cam Dineen or Jakob Chychrun for a long time. He reminds me of Erik Karlsson and Oliver Ekman-Larsson rolled into one.

The Coyotes would be bolstering their right-handed depth with this pick, something that they are looking to do.

If the Coyotes do select Liljegren, he would most likely be finishing out his contract with Rögle BK before coming to North America. This could do well for his development as he is playing in the Men’s division of the SHL, unless he has a good showing at camp like Jakob Chychrun and steals someone’s job his rookie year.

Liljegren would add more depth to the right side on defense, something that the Coyotes have been looking to do for the last season or so. Liljegren isn’t going to be a quick fix, but he could a long term plan.

The Die by the Buffalos selected an interesting, short, NCAA defender. It’s hard to say what their actual GM, Jason Botterill (not Jack Eichel) would do, but he seems pretty smart. Would he trade down for picks? Would he go for an NCAA guy? Given that the Penguins had more NCAA players on its cup-winning roster than any other team, has Botterill found a market inefficiency?

8. Buffalo Sabres, via Die by the Blade, select defender Cale Makar.

Makar has been one of the fastest risers in this draft process, thanks to an impressive set of offensive skills that has quickly become highly valued at the NHL level. His skating, puck moving, and stickhandling are all at an elite level, and he’s become the prototype prospect for a new breed of NHL defenseman that values mobility and possession over size and toughness.

Speaking of size, that’s obviously Makar’s weakness. Standing only 5’11’’ means he won’t be cross-checking guys in the head a la Ristolainen, but Makar is Karlsson-lite on the ice, keeping the puck on his or his teammates’ sticks and limiting his opponent’s opportunities. He’ll be spending next season playing NCAA hockey for UMass, which will be a good chance for him to learn to play against bigger, stronger competition.

Here’s the schedule for today:

10 AM: Detroit

1 PM: Florida

3 PM: Los Angeles

6 PM: Carolina

Poll

Which team got the better player?

This poll is closed

  • 27%
    Vegas — Owen Tippett
    (114 votes)
  • 47%
    Arizona — Timothy Liljegren
    (201 votes)
  • 25%
    Buffalo — Cale Makar
    (107 votes)
422 votes total Vote Now