2017 NHL Mock Draft: Updated first round projections

Posted Apr 25, 2017 by Larry Seely
Despite losing in the opening round of the NHL playoffs, Toronto is proof positive that a team can climb the standings quickly with the right approach to the draft.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin have spent a lot of time on the ice together in the NHL - scoring points.
Daniel and Henrik Sedin have spent a lot of time on the ice together in the NHL - scoring points.
Photo by Matt Boulton
The Maple Leafs parlayed the first overall pick in 2016, Auston Matthews, into success this past season and a number of other franchises are hoping for that quick turnaround as they prepare to take the clock later this summer.
Colorado is first on the clock and the latest news and rumors from around the league have the Avalanche possibly taking a different direction. For the last few months Nolan Patrick has been number one on the player rankings, but scoring machine Nico Hischier has turned heads in recent weeks and could sneak past Patrick as the top overall selection.
No matter what happens, Vancouver will finally get some offensive help they desperately need. Both of these young men are true team leaders and centers a team can build around for the next decade. The Canucks will be in rebuilding mode, but that could get fast-tracked with either of these players.
Picking third is Las Vegas, the newest franchise in the NHL. The Golden Knights will need a good summer to start the foundation for future success and it will start in the draft. The latest mocks have the team looking at center Gabriel Vilardi, a 6'3" monster on the ice and the type of player that could become a team leader, something this group needs if it wants success in the early stages of its growth.
Teams looking for help on the back line have a few options. Timothy Liljegren is ranked as the best young defender and should get selected inside the top-10. Teams like Detroit and Dallas will likely look for help in the opening round and this 17-year-old could be key in making either of these franchises contenders for a Stanley Cup in the next few seasons.
There doesn't appear to be any goalies with a first round grade, but Keith Petruzzelli could sneak in with his combination of size, quickness, and overall athleticism. At 6'6", this youngster uses his large frame to make scoring tough on the opposition. Petruzzelli will likely get picked early in round two with Arizona and Buffalo both looking for help in the net.