Welcome to the 2017 edition of the Hockey Wilderness mock draft. We’re doing things a little differently this time around. You’ll still be getting the same great draft profiles, but we’ve gone ahead and condensed the format to drive through all the picks in the first round in the 10 days leading up to the draft. In prior seasons we’ve brought you a pick each day up to the draft, but now we’re bringing 3 picks each day, culminating with the 31st pick right on draft day.
The St. Louis Blues are one of a couple teams who will enjoy multiple picks in this years entry draft. With both picks coming in the bottom third of the draft (picks 20 and 27) the chances that the Blues get a sure thing are not great, but they have 2 shots at a first round stud, and with their first pick in the 2017 Hockey Wilderness Mock Draft, the 20th overall selection, the St. Louis Blues select center Nick Suzuki from Owen Sound in the OHL.
Born: August 10th, 1999 - London, Ontario - Canada
Height: 5’11” - Weight: 185lbs
I was quite frankly surprised Nick Suzuki fell down this far in our mock draft. His size seems to be the major question mark with this kid, as depending on where you go for scouting reports he could be ranked anywhere from 5th in the Pronman Scouting Report, to 28th by McKeens Hockey. Throwing size out the window, Suzuki is one of the most complete players in this years draft class.
The Owen Sound Attack utilized Suzuki in all phases of the game. He’s strong defensively, a big time threat on the attack, and found work on both the power play as well as the penalty kill. The kid has the ability to make defenders miss in open ice situations and can dish the puck with the best of them. He might be undersized for some, but he is not one to shy away from hits or fighting for a puck along the wall.
Just look at those stats. Last season in the OHL he notched 45 goals along with 51 assists. Those 96 points were good enough to rank him 5th in the OHL during the regular season scoring race and 45 goals puts him at 4th in the league for goals scored. Add to that 8 goals and 14 assists during a post season with the Attack that helped lead his team to the conference finals (where they lost to eventual OHL Champion Erie Otters) and you see that this kid shines when the lights are the brightest.
Wild about Suzuki?
There isn’t a whole lot to get excited about in this summers draft class. If you’re picking outside the top 3, you’ll find most of rest of the class have some kind of downside that could really impact their development. For me, Suzuki feels like one of the more complete forwards in a shallow class, and with the biggest question about the kid being his size (which for me is not an issue) I’m sure the Wild could find a home for him, even if they needed to slide him over to wing from center.
You would definitely want to line him up with a bigger body. His decision making makes him a perfect fit for lining up alongside Nino Niederreiter or Charlie Coyle. If you decide to push him out to the wing, you could see him slotting in with the savvy veteran Mikko Koivu and finding success at the NHL level.
How can the Wild get him?
That’s a tough one. I think Suzuki will get swooped up a little earlier than 20th. If he happens to fall this far in the draft, the Wild would have a little easier time trading into the first round to pick him up. The Wild have no worthwhile draft picks this year to trade up with, so it would likely cost them a roster guy to get into the first round. Mike Yeo knows this team pretty well, so he would probably have a few suggestions as to who he might want.
It would be a good get for the Wild too. While you’re losing a guy now, Suzuki will be a big time asset for you down the road. With his hockey IQ and tenacity and drive, he feels like a kid that will be ready for the NHL sooner rather than later. While I’m not convinced the Wild will be able to trade into the first round, if they found a way to get this guy there is a decent chance I would not be upset by it. The kid is good, his effort is off the charts and he is useful in all phases in the game. What’s not to like?