NHL mock drafts are mostly similar regarding the top three picks, but there are significant differences past that point.
At the top of the class, Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin all offer potential franchise players. While Jones seems locked into the first overall pick, there is some question to which of MacKinnon or Drouin the Florida Panthers take with the second pick.
Here is a look at the latest mock draft for the first round of the NHL draft.
Selections 16-30 are subject to change based on the results of the postseason.
1. Colorado Avalanche (16-25-6): Seth Jones, D, Portland (WHL)
Is there any question that Seth Jones will be the first overall pick? The promising young defender learned to play hockey in Denver which adds to the perfect fit. The Avalanche gave up the fourth-most goals this season with 152 total allowed.
Jones has a chance to come into Denver be the Avalanche's core defender for many years. With a built-up defense surrounding around the 18-year-old Jones, the outlook seems much better for the Avs. Jones' defensive ability in addition to his offensive playmaking will have the Avalanche back to the playoffs in the next few seasons.
2. Florida Panthers (15-27-6): Nathan MacKinnon, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
The Panthers had the worst goal differential in the league as they finished last season at minus-59. They did to score some goals and Nathan MacKinnon will fit within that attack. Whether they pick him or Jonathan Drouin, the Panthers will score more goals in the future.
3. Tampa Bay Lightning (18-26-4): Jonathan Drouin, LW, Halifax (QMJHL)
Adding Drouin next to Steven Stamkos could be lethal for the Lightning as they look to rebound from a terrible season. The Lightning need to improve their defense after giving up 150 goals last season, but the better value with this pick is going offense.
4. Nashville Predators (16-23-9): Aleksander Barkov, C, Tappara (FIN)
The Predators scored the fewest goals of any team last season with 111 which equates to just 2.3 goals per game. The talented Barkov has good size and strength needed to fill the role of power forward. His puck handling and playmaking ability will be a huge improvement to the Predators team.
5. Carolina Hurricanes (19-25-4): Valeri Nichushkin, RW, Chelyabinsk (RUS)
Nichushkin is a great skater and equally good playmaker with incredible vision. At 6'4", 202 pounds, Nichushkin uses his size well and will be able to compete in the NHL. He'll spend the next couple of years in the KHL, but his talent warrants a high selection despite the Hurricanes needing immediate help.
6. Calgary Flames (19-25-4): Elias Lindhom, C, Brynas (SWE)
The Flames have three first-round picks this season, so there is a chance to go in a number of directions. With their first pick, they need a playmaker in the middle of the ice to come in and change their offensive attack. Elias Lindholm possess a strong game that won't take long to translate to the NHL.
7. Edmonton Oilers (19-22-7): Darnell Nurse, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
The Oilers need to get more physical as a team and the perfect way to do that is to grab Darnell Nurse with the seventh pick. The team finished 19th overall in goals allowed, so there is big room for improvement. Nurse adds that in a physical, tenacious package.
The other option here is selecting Rasmus Ristolainen who is also a physical presence in the defensive zone. He seems to be more NHL-ready than Nurse, but Nurse is the more shapeable talent. With all the raw skills and athleticism that Nurse has, the Oilers will take a chance on his ceiling.
8. Buffalo Sabres (21-21-6): Rasmus Ristolainen, D, TPS (FIN)
The Sabres are in a position of grabbing either Ristolainen or Nurse, depending on which defender is selected by the Oilers. In this case, the Sabres are in a position to select Ristolainen to improve their defense and take the next step.
9. New Jersey Devils (19-19-10): Sean Monahan, C, Ottawa (OHL)
The Devils took a huge step backward this season and need to add playmakers who can reverse the trend. Sean Monahan is the best option with the ninth pick. Monahan is business-like with the puck and makes very good decisions.
10. Dallas Stars (22-22-4): Hunter Shinkaruk, LW/RW, Medicine Hat (WHL)
The Stars were average last season and they need improvements around their team. WIth the 10th pick, Shinkaruk offers them the best option because of his versatility in the attack. He's incredibly skilled offensively and plays smart hockey.
11. Philadelphia Flyers (23-22-3): Nikita Zadorov, D, London (OHL)
The Flyers are in big need of defensive help after giving up the ninth-most goals in the league with 141 allowed over the season. The best option among the top defenders going is Zadorov. The large 6'5", 230-pound defender is a punishing hitter that can help get the Flyers back into the playoffs.
12. Phoenix Coyotes (21-18-9): Bo Horvat, C, London (OHL)
The Coyotes are coming off a disappointing season with no playoffs for the first time in the last four years. They have needs all over the ice so grabbing a strong, reliable center is the best option with the 12th pick. This might be considered a reach, Horvat is a relatively safe pick.
13. Winnipeg Jets (24-21-3): Valentin Zykov, LW, Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)
The Jets need more playmakers to complete there turnaround and Zykov is the next piece of the puzzle. The skilled winger has played well for Baie-Comeau and proven himself to be excellent with the puck. His addition could help the Jets get into the playoffs for the first time since coming to Winnipeg.
14. Columbus Blue Jackets (24-17-7): Ryan Pulock, D, Brandon (WHL)
The Blue Jackets have three picks in the first round because of various trades. That allows them to focus on getting the best prospects with good value. At this point, the best option for them is adding defender Ryan Pulock to help make him a more physical team.
15. New York Islanders (24-17-7): Frederik Gauthier, C, Rimouski (QMJHL)
The Islanders were even in terms of goal-differential and need to improve both their scoring and defending. Adding Gauthier will improve their scoring while giving them a ridiculously verastile prospect who will do various things when on the ice.
At 6'5", 210 pounds, Gauthier has the size to have an impact for the Islanders. The brilliant skater has a good hockey-IQ and it shows. He's incredibly smart with the puck as well as overall spacing of the game. With more time to grow, Gauthier could be a special player for this team.
16. Buffalo Sabres (via Minnesota Wild 26-19-3): Anthony Mantha, LW, Val-d'Or (QMJHL)
After going defense with their first pick of the round, the Sabres can freely turn their attention to getting an offensive playmaker. Mantha has a great combination of size and speed that makes him a big threat to score goals.
17. Detroit Red Wings (24-16-8): Alexander Wennberg, C, Djurgardens IF (SWE)
The Wings barely made the playoffs this season and need to take some further steps to revitalize the franchise. Wennberg is a smart pick that offers the team a reliable player who is capable of making plays anywhere on the ice. Wennberg has flashed tons of talent, but needs to capitalize on that to have an impact.
18. Ottawa Senators (25-17-6): Curtiz Lazer, C, Edmonton (WHL)
The Senators put together a nice performance this season, but need to keep making smart decisions to further improve. Lazer is another smart prospect that understands the game incredibly well. He has athleticism to watch, making him a coveted prospect.
19. Columbus Blue Jackets (via New York Rangers 26-18-4): Adam Erne, LW/RW, Quebec (QMJHL)
After adding a defender with their first pick, the Blue Jackets need to focus on improving their offense. With the sixth-fewest goals scored in the league, the Blue Jackets need to add a player that can make plays for himself and others. The speedy winger will do just that when given the chance for the Blue Jackets.
20. San Jose Sharks (25-16-7): Max Domi, C, London (OHL)
The Sharks have had plenty of success over the past few seasons, but could get even better with a strong offensive attack. Domi has a ton of potential, but there is risk involved due to his diminutive stature. At 5'10", 190 poounds, Domi would need to overcome some barriers to have success, but he's capable.
He's found success against smaller opponents, which should give him the confidence to come in and just play hockey. With a great scoring record, Domi is worth the risk for the Sharks. Hitting on this pick could be huge for the Sharks' future.
21. Toronto Maple Leafs (26-17-5): Ryan Hartman, RW, Plymouth (OHL)
The Maple Leafs have some nice pieces and an overall fairly talented bunch. Adding the physical, hard-hitting Hartman would just be add to the group. While he's not afraid to punish opponents, Hartman has other aspects to his game.
22. Washington Capitals (27-18-3): Andre Burakovsky, LW, Malmo (SWE)
Burakovsky has incredible talent, but he still has plenty to do to be ready to play at the NHL level. The Capitals have the roster to stash Burakovsky and allow him to develop into a significant player. The high-risk, high-reward pick is worth it with the 22nd pick.
23. Columbus Blue Jackets (via Los Angeles Kings 27-16-5): Josh Morrissey, D, Prince Albert (WHL)
Following the addition of a defender and a winger with their first two picks, the Blue Jackets are in a position to get the best value at the end of the first round. At this point, adding another defender in Josh Morrissey gives them a physical defender capable of having an impact.
24. Vancouver Canucks (26-15-7): Mirco Mueller, D, Everett (WHL)
The best word to describe Mirco Mueller is smooth. The Canucks finished with a goal differential of just plus-six so they have plenty to improve on. Adding Mueller will help them defensively as well as getting the attack started.
25. Calgary Flames (via St. Louis Blues (29-17-2): Zach Fucale, G, Halifax (QMJHL)
The Flames are in a position of needing a new goalie. They finished second in most goals allowed with 160, which equates to 3.3 goals per game. Fucale is the best in the class and should definitely come off the board first.
The Flames, with three first-round picks, should be able to wait until their second pick in order to snag Fucale. There doesn't seem to be a huge demand at the position heading into the draft. They can then use their final pick of the round on a different position.
26. Boston Bruins (28-14-6): Jason Dickinson, LW, Guelph (OHL)
The Bruins are in a position of being able to grab some talent to stash while the current group continues to find success. Dickinson has dominated in league play with a huge overall impact. His upside matches the production he's put in thus far.
27. Montreal Canadiens (29-14-5): William Carrier, C/LW, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
The Canadiens could use some more versatile players in the mix and Carrier is truly versatile. He plays an interesting style of hockey with a tremendous hockey-IQ. His overall talent is enough to take a risk on late in the round.
28. Anaheim Ducks (30-12-6): Nicolas Petan, C, Portland (WHL)
The Ducks turned in a tremendous performance this season rising to second in the Western Conference. They are in a position of being able to grab a solid prospect and allowing him to grow.
29. Calgary Flames (via Pittsburgh Penguins 36-12-0): Kerby Rychel, C, Windsor (OHL)
After adding a center forward and a goalie with their first two picks, the Flames are in a position of getting the most talented prospect and hoping he pans out quickly. Kerby Rychel was extremely productive last season in the OHL and possess tremendous playmaking ability. If they hit, the Flames could be huge better in the next few seasons.
30. Chicago Blackhawks (36-7-5): J.T. Compher, C, US-NTDP
The Blackhawks are sitting pretty with a great team with tremendous depth. The best option for them at the end of the first round is to grab the talented Compher and hope that he develops over the next few seasons.
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