2017 NHL Draft Preview

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The first order of business is officially over for the NHL during the offseason as the NHL Expansion Draft is officially over.

The Vegas Golden Knights are actually a team with real NHL players now and things are getting going for the next step in the offseason.

The Knights will have another chance to add some talent to their roster and begin building depth while the other teams look to make up for the loss they suffered in the draft.

Some teams have bigger holes to fill than others and it won’t be easy to do it during this draft as it is not one that gets most people excited.

Over the last few years, the NHL Draft has had a run of players that are, essentially, can’t miss prospects.

Last year it was American Auston Matthews who everyone wanted and who essentially made the NHL Draft Lottery the real draft.

Whoever took the top pick in that year’s draft was going to take Matthews first overall with little doubt.

The Maple Leafs got the pick in a lottery and sure enough drafted Matthews who became a key piece to what is one of the more promising teams in the league.

Matthews also took home the Calder Trophy earlier this week as the league’s best rookie.

Before him was the generational talent of Connor McDavid who likely would have taken the Calder Trophy had it not been for an injury that sidelined him for more than half of the season.

McDavid was compared to Sidney Crosby and Wayne Gretzky before he was drafted and so far things are trending that way as he just took home his first Hart Memorial Trophy as the league MVP in only his second season.

In 2014 Aaron Ekblad was the easy choice as the top pick with the talent that many teams are still looking for on the blue line.

The Florida Panthers did take him first overall and he proved to be a good pick as Ekblad took home the Calder Trophy in his rookie year.

Before him it was a player that many thought of as another generational player in Nathan MacKinnon who was oddly enough from Cole Harbour, the same hometown as Crosby.

MacKinnon also took home the Calder Trophy in his first year with the Colorado Avalanche.

It has been a stretch of no-brainers in the league and despite the debate created by the media and analysts things usually went normally in terms of the top picks.

These players were just too good to pass up and so far they have all made good on their top pick status.

2017 is a little different though as there is a top prospect but he has not received the same hype than any of the previous picks received.

In the past four years, teams at the top of the draft were essentially handed the opportunity to draft a franchise-changing prospect.

Not all have been able to do it but those struggling players are often on teams struggling to put together any type of consistency.

It has been a great four years for those teams with the top pick but this year things are a little different as there is doubt at the top.hockey-sidebar

The New Jersey Devils won the draft lottery knocking off the Golden Knights and the worst team in the league last year the Avalanche.

Both were dropped far below but the celebration wasn’t necessarily what it would have been the last few years.

The Devils have a decision to make and neither one is considered a franchise-changing type of player.

Canadian Nolan Patrick seems to be the one considered the top pick and his 205 junior points make him a good option.

Unfortunately, he has had injury problems and only played 33 games last year leading to some doubt about how effective he can be in the big leagues.

Right below him is Nico Hischier who put up 86 points in the QMJHL last year but teams are often worried about selecting Europeans this high as their options are somewhat broader.

Canadians have one goal in mind and that is playing in the NHL while in Europe the breadth of professional leagues leaves things a little more open if they wanted.

Hischier is certainly an NHL player and will be for years but that biased still exists for a number of teams.

The fact for both of these players though is that they are not going to immediately bring their teams from the basement to the playoffs like McDavid or Matthews have.

What they can do is add some much-needed scoring to teams as a part of a bigger better team.

That is what is facing all of the teams in this draft as there is no one franchise-changing player in the draft.

It doesn’t mean that this is a bad draft as there is still a lot of talent on the board and all of the potential first rounders have a chance at making an impact.

For the first time in a while though the draft prospects make up a group that might not be as good as the others before them.

As they find out where they will be playing players will need to prove that thought wrong and show that this class is actually just as good.

Whether they can is a spot for debate and the teams looking for their new stars have much tougher decisions because of that.

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