2017 NHL Draft Results: Team-by-Team Grades for Notable Picks

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistJune 24, 2017

Nico Hischier went first in the NHL draft to the New Jersey Devils.
Nico Hischier went first in the NHL draft to the New Jersey Devils.Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

The 2017 NHL draft did not have the hype it carried in either of the last two years.

While those drafts featured Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, two superstar players who were ready to jump into the league and show off their immense skills, the 2017 draft at the United Center in Chicago was somewhat more low key.

While there are plenty of players who will earn spots on NHL rosters in the years to come, none of them came with the hype of McDavid or Matthews.

That does not mean that Nico Hischier or Nolan Patrick, the two players taken at the top of the draft, are not going to become key contributors to the New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers, respectively. Both of these players should become impact players, and they may even show off their skills during the 2017-18 season.

Here's the final review of each selection and our grades for all 30 teams coming out of the seven-round draft.

We'll also look at some of the more notable picks in the draft.


NHL Draft Grades

Anaheim Ducks, B+
Arizona Coyotes, B
Boston Bruins, C
Buffalo Sabres, B
Calgary Flames, B-
Carolina Hurricanes, A-
Chicago Blackhawks, C-
Colorado Avalanche, A
Columbus Blue Jackets, C-
Dallas Stars, C+
Detroit Red Wings, B+
Edmonton Oilers, B
Florida Panthers, C+
Los Angeles Kings, A-
Minnesota Wild, B-
Montreal Canadiens, B+
Nashville Predators, B+
New Jersey Devils, A
New York Islanders, B+
New York Rangers, C+
Ottawa Senators, B+
Philadelphia Flyers, A
Pittsburgh Penguins, C
San Jose Sharks, C-
St. Louis Blues, B+
Tampa Bay Lightning, B-
Toronto Maple Leafs, B
Vancouver Canucks, B+
Vegas Golden Knights, B+
Washington Capitals, D (first pick came in fourth round)
Winnipeg Jets, B-


Best Player

Center Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils

Hischier has a chance to become a bona fide scorer and get to that level quickly. That's what the Devils need him to become, because they struggle to put the puck in the net and have not been to the playoffs since 2012.

New Jersey Devils @NJDevils

Then and now. @nicohischier was destined to be a Devil. #N1CO https://t.co/vD7hzgVDC3

Hischier scored 38 goals and 48 assists for Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last year, and he has the speed, quickness, puck-handling ability and skill to take over a game and put his signature on it. 

In addition to his physical gifts, he has the hockey instincts to move to the openings and jump on loose pucks. He understands how to play in the defensive end and should be able to make a quick adjustment to NHL hockey.


Best Defenseman

Defenseman Cale Makar, Colorado Avalanche

Makar has the kind of skating ability that scouts and coaches hope to find in top-of-the-line defensemen. Makar had a dominant year for the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and he's aggressive when it comes to jumping in at the offensive end.

RMNB @russianmachine

Junior player gets destroyed on Cale Makar’s highlight pack, becomes star of NHL Draft’s first round https://t.co/tbDMenc5tT https://t.co/gXwKKcMI0Y

He has the kind of hockey intelligence that NHL teams want in their top prospects, and his instincts keep him from leaving his team in a vulnerable position when he makes the transition from defense to offense. He has the ability to walk the blue line, find the opening before shooting and then fire a laser on goal.

He may be an especially good pick for the Avs because this team does not have a lot of highly skilled defensive prospects in its system. If Makar continues to develop at UMass-Amherst next season, he could make the jump to the NHL at the end of the season or in 2018-19.

Most Powerful

Center Michael Rasmussen, Detroit Red Wings

Rasmussen is not the kind of player who is going to jump into the league and dominate in the next year or two. He has plenty of tools to work with—most notably size and strength at 6'5" and 221 pounds—but he needs to work on his skating to get up to NHL speed.

Helene St. James @HeleneStJames

Story & video: Meet the big center the Wings drafted in the first round https://t.co/UwDjFTXcTI via @freep

That's the only part of his game that is lacking at this point. He can go in the corners and win the battle against smaller players, and he has a wonderful pair of hands that allow him to deliver sensational passes to his teammates.

Rasmussen is an excellent defensive center who understands how to get in the passing lanes, steal the puck and start the transition game. Rasmussen brings his talent and size to a Red Wings team that needs to get bigger, stronger and better.

Most Dynamic

Center Nick Suzuki, Vegas Golden Knights

Suzuki has a chance to be the player Vegas fans notice as soon as he steps on the ice. He is a fast skater who can accelerate, change directions and keep his balance in the tightest situations. 

Corey Pronman @coreypronman

This is Nick Suzuki @GoldenKnights fans https://t.co/9nTO3rFAfs

He is not a huge man at 5'11" and 183 pounds, but he is strong enough to take a hit and remain in control of the puck so he can make a play. Suzuki has great instincts with the puck, and he can make moves and dangle to the delight of the fans.

Suzuki's scoring instincts and ability to make plays with the puck on his stick should allow him to play center or wing when he reaches the NHL. That could come as soon as the 2018-19 season.

Biggest Risk

Center Joshua Norris, San Jose Sharks

Norris will have a chance to improve his skills at the University of Michigan in 2017-18, and he has quite a bit of work to do.

Josh Norris @JoshNorris

Thank you for acknowledging that I was selected in the 1st rd of the NHL Draft by the @SanJoseSharks Now I need to learn to skate backwards

He appears to be a decent skater, but he needs work on his puck-handling, playmaking ability, shooting and passing. That's a tall order, but he will be in a positive environment with the Wolverines.

Norris looks like a decent penalty-killer at this point, but the Sharks did not draft him because they like him as a specialty player. They need Norris to take several steps up before he can move to the NHL.


Best Draft

New Jersey Devils

Hischier is obviously the key to their draft, and he appears to be a brilliant offensive player who is skilled at putting the puck in the net and setting up his teammates with sharp passes.

The Devils also picked up a fine offensive player in Jesper Boqvist of Sweden, who has the speed and quickness to become a dazzling offensive threat. He scored four goals and four assists in four games during the Swedish Under-20 tournament last season.

The Devils also picked up winger Fabian Zetterlund of Sweden with the first pick in the third round. Zetterlund scored 16 goals and 20 assists for his Swedish junior team (Farjestad), and he has the strength at 5'11" and 195 pounds to handle himself in the corners.


Worst Draft

Columbus Blue Jackets

The Blue Jackets did not have a pick until the second round, and they used their first selection on Alexandre Texier, a center from France. The level of competition was not high, and the Blue Jackets are hoping the 6'0", 187-pound Texier can develop into a productive player. Texier scored 10 goals for Grenoble last season in 40 games, and he has a long way to go.

Columbus selected Russian goalie Daniil Tarasov in the third round, and while he has the size, at 6'4", that scouts are looking for in up-and-coming goalies, his experience is limited.

Fourth-round selection Emil Bemstrom of Sweden scored 21 goals in 28 games for Leksand of the Swedish Junior League, but he needs quite a bit of improvement to make it to the NHL.


Washington Capitals

The Capitals have been going for it in each of the last two years, and they did not have a pick until the fourth round.

That gamble has not paid off because the Caps have been eliminated in the second round by the Pittsburgh Penguins two years in a row.

While the Caps re-signed T.J. Oshie, they were not in a position help themselves in the draft.


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