With the NHL Draft just a day away, we present to you our final mock draft of the summer. Every year there is that one player that falls later than expected and this time it could be another defenseman. Just like Seth Jones in 2013, Aaron Ekblad could be the one that falls down the draft board for a lucky team to unexpectedly draft. Last year, it happened to Dallas with Valeri Nichushkin and we've been dancing ever since.
The issue with mock drafts is that we can't use trades as a method for our picks, even if I'm still skeptical the Panthers hold onto their pick. If a team does move up, then who knows which player is going first overall.
For the Dallas Stars, No. 14 could either be a great spot or a horrible spot depending on how the draft shakes out and trading down has to be seen as a very real option. This draft is fairly even after the top five or so and there's no reason for the Stars to not maxmize on value when making their pick.
Here is the full first round mock below:
|1||Florida Panthers||Sam Reinhart||WHL||
Huw: The Panthers take the top center in the draft and help add to their already intimidating forward grouping. He'll help a lot and could make the jump next year.
Brandon: The Panthers need help everywhere, but they definitely could use a player with Reinhart's ability, versatility and ability to play in the NHL next season. I also don't think they keep this pick.
|2||Buffalo Sabres||Sam Bennett||OHL||
Huw: The Sabres go after this talented young center who could use to gain some upper body strength but is still hugely talented. It adds to their depth up the middle.
Brandon: Bennett has incredible upside and is exactly the sort of young offensive prospect the Sabres need to kick off this rebuild.
|3||Edmonton Oilers||Leon Draisaitl||WHL||
Huw: The Oilers appear to be high on this huge German forward even with Ekblad on the board. They've got some depth on the backend in the prospect pool and need size up front. Draisaitl over Ekblad it is.
Brandon: The Oilers should take Ekblad here, but when's the last time they did something logical?
|4||Calgary Flames||Nikolaj Ehlers (C/RW)||QMJHL||
Huw: Nikolaj Elhers is hugely talented. The Flames are rebuilding and need wingers who could do everything. Edlers could be one of the best in the draft.
Brandon: Ehlers is the most underrated player in this draft class.
|5||New York Islanders||Michael Dal Colle||OHL||
Huw: The Islanders need big wingers who could potentially make an impact in the NHL relatively soon. Dal Colle fits that bill. He's a big power forward that will certainly add some intimidating force to the Islanders top six of the future.
Brandon: Dal Colle is the type of versatile winger the Islanders desperately need, and will go well with Tavares in the near future.
|6||Vancouver Canucks||Aaron Ekblad||OHL||
Huw: He's fallen to sixth. He won't fall anymore. Canucks take the drafts top defenseman.
Brandon: Ekblad is this year's falling star.
|7||Carolina Hurricanes||William Nylander||SHL||
Huw: Nylander fits the model that the Hurricanes have been going after recently: High end playmakers. He'll join fellow Swede Elias Lindholm in a dangerous pairing.
Brandon: The Hurricanes continue to add a deeping forward prospect pool with one of the best playmaking forwards in the draft.
|8||Toronto Maple Leafs||Nick Ritchie||OHL||
Huw: Ritchie is just the type of forward that is Maple Leafs hockey. He's a big, powerful and creative forward. He's the Leafs' management dreams come true.
Brandon: I look forward to 2019 when the Maple Leafs are trying to trade him.
|9||Winnipeg Jets||Jake Virtanen||WHL||
Huw: The Jets need some more gritty forwards who can score. Virtanen provides that.
Brandon: Virtanen is a player that could go anywhere from No. 5 to No. 20.
|10||Anaheim Ducks (Via Senators)||Brendan Perlini||OHL||
Huw: The Ducks have one of the best prospect pools in the NHL and Perlini just adds to that. He's a smooth skating talented winger who looks like he can be a big time goal scorer in the NHL.
Brandon: I could see the Ducks grabbing Fabbri or Fiala here as well. Anaheim will have their pick of skilled forwards at this spot.
|11||Nashville Predators||Haydn Fleury||WHL||
Huw: Seth Jones. Haydn Fleury. That could be a very impressive defensive pairing in a few years time. Have they found their new Weber-Suter pairing?
Brandon: Don't be surprised to see the Stars nab Fleury if he falls to No. 14.
|12||Arizona Coyotes||Alex Tuch||NCAA||
Huw: The Coyotes, with their new name, need some big power forwards to help out their smaller and uber talented forward prospects. Alex Tuch can do that and he could surprise with his offensive production.
Brandon: I could see McCann also going in this spot.
|13||Washington Capitals||Kasperi Kapenen||SM Liiga||
Huw: The Capitals go for this small but interesting prospect out of Finland. He's got lots of potential going forward and has some two-way game as well. Has done pretty well in the SM-Liiga this year
Brandon: Let's see how he does away from Father.
|14||Dallas Stars||Robby Fabbri||OHL||
Huw: The Dallas Stars add to their center depth by drafting this uber talented but small center from the Guelph Storm. He might be small but he's fast and has a pretty good two-way game as well even if he can be pushed around by much larger opponents. He'll challenge for the top center spot in the Stars prospect pool with Devin Shore.
Brandon: The Stars can afford to shoot for the stars (!) with this pick, and grab the uber-talented Fabbri with that chance. A tenacious puck handler with one of the sickest highlight reels you'll see, Fabbri is boom or bust with one of the highest ceilings in the draft.
|15||Detroit Red Wings||Kevin Fiala||SHL||
Huw: The Red Wings aren't afraid to get with the talented but undersized. His offensive game is among the top in the draft. He's going to score a lot of goals, Detroit can find other players to play defence.
Brandon: It's almost comical. The Red Wings grabbing another incredibly talented forward out of Sweden...
|16||Columbus Blue Jackets||Sonny Milano||USHL|
|17||Philadelphia Flyers||Dylan Larkin||USHL|
|18||Minnesota Wild||Nick Schmaltz||USHL|
|19||Tampa Bay Lightning||Julius Honka (D)||WHL|
|20||San Jose Sharks||Conner Bleackley||WHL|
|21||St. Louis Blues||Nikita Sherbak||WHL|
|22||Pittsburgh Penguins||Josh Ho-Sang||OHL|
|23||Colorado Avalanche||Ivan Barbeshev||QMJHL|
|24||Anaheim Ducks||Jared McCann||OHL|
|25||Boston Bruins||Jack Dougherty||USHL|
|26||Montreal Canadiens||Roland McKeown||
|27||Chicago Blackhawks||Nikolay Goldobin||QMJHL|
|28||Tampa Bay Lightning (Via Rangers)||Travis Sanheim||USHL|
|29||Los Angeles Kings||David Pastrak||Swe|
|30||New Jersey Devils||Thatcher Demko||NCAA|