With the Stanley Cup Final in the rearview mirror, the focus of all 31 NHL teams has officially shifted toward the 2017 NHL draft, set to begin Friday.
The debate atop the draft is between dynamic forwards Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier, and while there are no perceived "sure things" in this year's class, there is no shortage of intriguing prospects with high ceilings behind the two top guys.
As the 2017 NHL draft approaches, here is a look at the final, first-round draft order, along with a first-round mock draft predicting all 31 picks.
2017 NHL Mock Draft
1. New Jersey Devils: Nolan Patrick, C, Brandon (WHL)
2. Philadelphia Flyers: Nico Hischier, C, Halifax (QMJHL)
3. Dallas Stars: Casey Mittelstadt, C, Eden Prairie HS (MN)
4. Colorado Avalanche: Miro Heiskanen, D, HIFK U20, (Finland Jr.)
5. Vancouver Canucks: Cale Makar, D, Brooks (AJHL)
6. Vegas Golden Knights: Gabriel Vilardi, C, Windsor (OHL)
7. Arizona Coyotes: Martin Necas, C, Brno (Czech)
8. Buffalo Sabres: Timothy Liljegren, D, Rogle Jr20 (Sweden)
9. Detroit Red Wings: Cody Glass, C, Portland (WHL)
10. Florida Panthers: Michael Rasmussen, C, Tri City (WHL)
11. Los Angeles Kings: Elias Pettersson, C, Timra IK (Sweden)
12. Carolina Hurricanes: Eeli Tolvanen, RW, Sioux City (USHL)
13. Winnipeg Jets: Lias Andersson, C, HV71 (Sweden)
14. Tampa Bay Lightning: Cal Foote, D, Kelowna (WHL)
15. New York Islanders: Owen Tippett, RW, Mississauga (OHL)
16. Calgary Flames: Ryan Poehling, C, St. Cloud State (NCAA)
17. Toronto Maple Leafs: Nick Suzuki, RW, Owen Sound (OHL)
18. Boston Bruins: Josh Norris, C, USA NTDP (USHL)
19. San Jose Sharks: Juuso Valimaki, D, Tri City (WHL)
20. St. Louis Blues: Kailer Yamamoto, RW, Spokane (WHL)
21. New York Rangers: Shane Bowers, C, Waterloo (WHL)
22. Edmonton Oilers: Conor Timmins, D, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
23. Arizona Coyotes (from MIN): Erik Brannstrom, D, HV71 (Sweden)
24. Columbus Blue Jackets: Isaac Ratcliffe, LW, Guelph (OHL)
25. Montreal Canadiens: Kristian Vesalainen, LW, Frolunda (Sweden)
26. Chicago Blackhawks: Klim Kostin, RW, Dynamo (Russia)
27. St. Louis Blues (from WAS): Pierre-Olivier Joseph, D, Charlottetown (QMJHL)
28. Ottawa Senators: Kole Lind, C, Kelowna (WHL)
29. Dallas Stars (from ANA): Nicolas Hague, D, Mississauga (OHL)
30. Nashville Predators: Matthew Strome, LW, Hamilton (OHL)
31. Pittsburgh Penguins: Alexei Lipanov, C, Balashikha (Russia)
Breaking Down Top Picks
Coming off an injury-plagued season, there are plenty of question marks surrounding Patrick and his ability to stay healthy.
Although he appeared in only 33 games during the 2016-17 campaign, he still managed 20 goals and 46 points on the heels of a 2015-16 season that saw him rack up 102 points.
According to the Associated Press (h/t Sportsnet), Patrick said he had two sports hernias last season and that he elected to let the second heal rather than undergo surgery.
Patrick acknowledged he isn't yet 100 percent but believes the trials and tribulations could be a positive for him moving forward: "Obviously, it wasn't the ideal season for me. But I don't think it's the worst thing for me. I think a little adversity for a young kid makes you stronger as a player."
Concern about Patrick's durability is understandable, but he has shown he's an elite-level talent when healthy.
Hischier is something of a one-year wonder who wasn't on the radar until this past season, whereas Patrick has an undeniable body of work.
Assuming the New Jersey Devils take that into account, Patrick stands to be the No. 1 overall pick and the new face of the franchise along with the already-established Taylor Hall.
After showing little during limited action in Switzerland throughout 2015-16, Hischier made the move to the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL and exploded onto the scene in 2016-17.
Hischier put up 38 goals and 86 points in 57 regular-season games, along with seven points in six playoff contests.
He was also a standout performer in the World Junior Championship for Switzerland and proved he could perform at a high level against the world's top players in his age bracket.
Per Jordan Hall of CSNPhilly.com, Halifax general manager Cam Russell believes the team that selects Hischier will get a player who rises to the occasion:
"You're getting a star and you're getting a star for a long time. You're not getting a second-line center. You're getting a first-line center that's going to lead your team and play lots of minutes and bring you lots of fans in your building because he's just going to be a treat to watch—he's going to be exciting. If you look at the big games that he's played, that's when he's played his best hockey. He's a competitor, he's a gamer and he'll definitely be a star in the NHL."
While Hischier may be considered a one-year wonder by some, he is a complete player who excels both offensively and defensively.
Patrick may be a more traditional center because of his size and skill set, but Hischier is the type of player who may be helpful in more situations.
It is essentially a coin flip between them, and if the Devils pass on Hischier at No. 1, then the Philadelphia Flyers will have a potential stud on their hands at No. 2.
The draft appears to be a virtual crapshoot after Patrick and Hischier, but there is a lot to like about Casey Mittelstadt based on his potential alone.
The 18-year-old tore up the competition in high school before appearing in 24 games for the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers last season.
Mittelstadt once again looked like the best player on the ice most nights in Green Bay, putting up 13 goals and 30 points to solidify his status as one of the top prospects in the draft.
While the Minnesota native could conceivably go anywhere from No. 3 to the outer reaches of the top 10, it can be argued he didn't help himself at the NHL combine by doing just one bench press rep of 150 pounds and completing no pull-ups.
When asked about his struggles, Mittelstadt was unconcerned about what it means for him as a hockey player, according to Chad Graff of the Pioneer Press:
"I try to work on being a hockey player; I don't try to work on my bench press or pull-ups. I want to be a hockey player and that's what I train to do. ... I think it's good to be strong, and I think there are things I can get stronger at and work on, but I don't think being able to do a pull-up is going to make me be able to handle the puck better or be a better shooter."
Mittelstadt could stand to add some muscle to his frame, but his on-ice skills are deserving of a high selection in the draft.
The Dallas Stars have some elite talent up front in the form of Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn, and adding Mittelstadt to the mix could make them a powerhouse a couple of years down the line when he fully develops.