A little over a week has passed since the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators in the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, so the focus of the hockey world has firmly shifted to the 2017 NHL draft Friday in Chicago.
Below is a mock for the first round of Friday's draft, followed by a breakdown for three players who are likely to be undervalued in the mid-to-late stages of the round.
2017 NHL Mock Draft—First Round
1. New Jersey Devils: Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon
2. Philadelphia Flyers: Nico Hischier, C, Halifax
3. Dallas Stars: Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor
4. Colorado Avalanche: Cody Glass, C, Portland
5. Vancouver Canucks: Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga
6. Vegas Golden Knights: Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK
7. Arizona Coyotes: Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie
8. Buffalo Sabres: Cale Makar, D, Brooks
9. Detroit Red Wings: Klim Kostin, LW/C, Dynamo Moscow
10. Florida Panthers: Martin Necas, C, Brno
11. Los Angeles Kings: Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City
12. Carolina Hurricanes: Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle
13. Winnipeg Jets: Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri-City
14. Tampa Bay Lightning: Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri-City
15. New York Islanders: Elias Pettersson, C, Timra
16. Calgary Flames: Callan Foote, D, Kelowna
17. Toronto Maple Leafs: Lias Andersson, C, HV 71
18. Boston Bruins: Nicolas Hague, D, Mississauga
19. San Jose Sharks: Kristian Vesalainen, LW/RW, Frolunda
20. St. Louis Blues: Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State
21. New York Rangers: Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane
22. Edmonton Oilers: Nick Suzuki, C, Owen Sound
23. Arizona Coyotes (from Minnesota): Maxime Comtois, LW, Victoriaville
24. Columbus Blue Jackets: Kole Lind, RW, Kelowna
25. Montreal Canadiens: Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph
26. Chicago Blackhawks: Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo
27. St. Louis Blues (from Washington): Urho Vaakanainen, D, JYP
28. Ottawa Senators: Nikita Popugayev, LW, Prince George
29. Dallas Stars (from Anaheim): Erik Brannstrom, D, HV 71
30. Nashville Predators: Pierre-Oliver Joseph, D, Charlottetown
31. Pittsburgh Penguins: Grant Mismash, LW, USA U-18
Underrated First-Round Prospects
Callan Foote, D, Kelowna
Callan Foote showed solid two-way capabilities over the last two years with the Kelowna Rockets. He had 14 goals and 79 assists in 142 games.
The 18-year-old has also reaped the benefits that come with being the son of an NHL veteran. Foote's father, Adam, played in the league for 19 years.
Foote doesn't have limitless potential, which is one of the reasons he's generally ranked behind fellow defensemen Cale Makar, Miro Heiskanen and Timothy Liljegren. Rather than a perennial All-Star, Foote more so looks like a player who will be a steady presence on the blue line for a decade or more.
Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State
Ryan Poehling didn't post gaudy numbers for the St. Cloud State Huskies in 2016-17. He scored seven goals and assisted on six more in 35 games. The low goal total speaks to the general concern about his offensive potential in the NHL.
The idea of selecting a player who potentially projects as a third or fourth-line forward in the first round doesn't spark a lot of excitement. At the same time, there's almost no chance Poehling is a complete bust who washes out of the league.
"In other words, he's a complete, coachable prospect with well-above-average size, strength, skating and two-way tools, and thus comes with a very high probability of having a long NHL career," SabresProspects.com's Kris Baker wrote. "It's just a matter of how high in the lineup scouts believe he can play."
Maxime Comtois, LW, Victoriaville
"When I go to the rink, I want to work, I want to make a difference each and every game and I don't care who's in front of me," Maxime Comtois said in December, per NHL.com's Mike G. Morreale. "I work hard, like to go to the net. I like doing extra things on the ice after practice. I want to be the one putting the puck in the net, I want to get the win for my team."
Those comments offer a solid microcosm of Comtois' game. He's not the most agile forward, nor is he a dynamic puck-hander. However, he's not afraid to throw his 6'2", 200-pound frame around, and his work ethic is beyond reproach.
Comtois scored 22 goals for the Victoriaville Tigres in 2016-17 and emerged as a reliable option in the penalty kill. An NHL team will have little trouble finding him a meaningful role at the next level.