NHL

BOTP First Round Mock Draft

September 24, 2017

We’re now just a week away from the draft (Sunday, October 1st at 7PM/8PM, but I’m sure you’re well aware by now), and the BOTP staff are going to take a stab at predicting how the first round of non-keeper picks will go. These are based on no prior knowledge of who people are intending to pick – rather, our writers looked at who each manager had kept, which players were available, and made a selection based on what we thought the right pick would be.

Will we be completely off? Only a week left until we find out! For now, here’s our predictions for how the first round will shake out:
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Round 8, Pick 97, Steve – Anze Kopitar

As our newest manager, Steve inherited a team that finished last in the standings overall last year, which while his team maybe didn’t perform as well as hoped, gives him the benefit of picking first overall. There’s no denying that Kopitar had a pretty disappointing season last year which lead to him joining the ranks of free agents for this draft. But he’s got too much skill to fall too far, and he’s good enough to be chosen first overall. It’s pretty solid bet – Kopitar saw his shooting percentage plummet from a career average of 12.1% to only 8.0% last year, a phenomenon which likely won’t happen again this year. The Kings have a new coach preaching an aggressive forechecking style that should play to Kopitar’s strengths. Everything is poised to see Kopi return to his usual place as a Top 10 center.
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Round 8, Pick 98, Sohayl – Viktor Arvidsson

Like many of our managers Sohayl chose to keep a ton of centres, and with Matthews, MacKinnon, Marner and Barkov he’s set for the long-term. With Hoffman (LW), Werenski (D), and Gibson (G) as his other keepers, that leaves a Viktor Arvidsson-sized hole at right wing. It might be a stretch for Arvidsson to match his 31 goals from last season – his previous career high was 8 – but he’s looking like a surefire scoring threat for the Preds.
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Round 8, Pick 99, Frank – Martin Jones

Frank is absolutely loaded up front (Tavares, Pavelski, Kane and Toews? Wow), and with Letang and Ekblad already locked up on defence, Frank will pounce on a high-end goaltender right away. There’s a bunch of candidates available – Rinne, Crawford, Quick and Anderson are all in the same tier – but Martin Jones hears his name called. The Sharks are still a powerhouse in the wide-open Pacific Division, and Jones has been a Top 10 goalie for years. He’s a safe, smart pick.
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Round 8, Pick 100, Brett D – James van Riemsdyk

Brett is a really interesting case. He’s the only manager who kept three defencemen in Hedman, Byfuglien and Subban, he has possibly the best player in the world in Connor McDavid, two top centers in Giroux and Backstrom, and arguably the best goaltender in Braden Holtby. That’s a pretty incredible foundation to build a team off of. To fill out his wings, Brett goes with the best available in James van Riemsdyk, who can play both sides of the ice for a surging Leafs team. If JVR gets significant ice time with Matthews, Nylander and/or Marner, he could be looking at his best year yet.
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Round 8, Pick 101, Brennan – Jordan Eberle

Brennan is strong on the backend with Talbot, Weber and Keith behind the blueline. He’s stacked at left wing with Simmonds and Ehlers (and probably Domi who is listed as a center but plays mostly on the wing). He could go for a center, but with this pick he grabs Jordan Eberle as his top right wing. A disappointing season in Edmonton led to Eberle’s trade to the Island, where he’s expected to start the year on the top line with John Tavares. This seems like a risk, but Eberle is coming off the worst shooting percentage of his career, and he’s a proven scorer. I think he’s going to bounce back in a big way.
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Round 8, Pick 102, Davin – Alex Pietrangelo

Davin has a fearsome forward group set up, running a platoon of Draisaitl, Johansen, and Eichel down the middle with Ovechkin and Pastrnak able to play both wings. He’s also got Penguins star goaltender Matt Murray locked up (who, with Fleury finally out of the picture, is basically guaranteed 55+ starts) so this pick is a no-brainer defenseman. He goes with a known commodity in Alex Pietrangelo, a stalwart of Davin’s defense last season. A staple of the Blues defense core, Pietrangelo has been quietly one of the better fantasy defensemen each year.
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Round 8, Pick 103, Steve (via Chris) – Jonathan Quick

With two of the first seven picks (and another coming in at 13th overall), Steve can afford to make a position of strength even stronger. By adding Jonathan Quick to his goalie platoon with Frederik Andersen, Steve has pretty much guaranteed himself 130+ starts out of his two top goalies. That’s a pretty solid strategy for a team that struggled to pick up points last year, and make it easier to tinker with the rest of the roster later in the draft.
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Round 8, Pick 104, Brock – Corey Crawford

Brock’s team is chock full of guys who look to be the next big stars. He’s pretty strong up front, so taking a strong starter who plays a bunch of games for a playoff-bound team makes a lot of sense. Goalies are notoriously fickle in fantasy hockey, but Corey Crawford is as close to a sure thing as you can get. He’s averaged 55+ starts and 32+ wins over the past four seasons, and most analysts expect the Blackhawks to continue to be a playoff team.
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Round 8, Pick 105, Brett D (via Brett R) – Vincent Trocheck

Trocheck is one of those players that kind of lurks in the background until one day you look at his stats and say “wait, who is this guy scoring 25 goals on the Panthers?” He’s only 24 years old, entering his 4th season in the league with two straight 50+ point seasons under his belt. His faceoff percentage ticked over 50% last season and he pumped 230 shots on goal (good for 30th in the entire NHL). It’s looking like he’s the real deal.
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Round 8, Pick 106, Jace – Evgeni Kuznetsov

Whereas most teams loaded up at center with their keepers, Jace has his studs on the wings with Tarasenko, Benn, Pacioretty and Hall. He’s got one strong center in Monahan, but adding to that strength is going to be important. Kuznetsov is the perfect choice, an assist machine who gets a ton of power play minutes for the Caps second unit.
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Round 8, Pick 107, Chris (via Cal) – Mikael Granlund

Chris has a very balanced team where four of his non-centre keepers (Price, Karlsson, Voracek, Marchand) could very easily be Top 3 in their positions. And even with that, his centres – Malkin and Nylander – are nothing to sneeze at, a good mix of current and future superstars. So without any obvious holes to fill, Chris can choose the best player available, and he goes with Granlund, a C/RW who can easily put up 55-60 points and 175+ shots.
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Round 8, Pick 108, Rhys – Andrei Vasilevskiy

Rhys is stacked down the middle with Crosby, Seguin, Bergeron and O’Reilly (despite being listed as a primary right wing, we all know O’Reilly is a true center), a top defenseman in Brent Burns, and strong first line wingers in Gaudreau and Wheeler, the only major piece missing is a goalie. Rhys elects to go with Andrei Vasilevskiy, a slightly-risky-yet-high-reward pick for his number one goalie. This will be Vasilevskiy’s second season as the defacto starter, and with Bishop shipped off to Dallas, Vasy will be getting a ton of starts. The big question is, are this year’s version of the Bolts the team that made the playoffs in 15-16? Or are they the 16-17 team that faltered down the stretch and missed the playoffs?

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