The 2016-17 NHL regular season will go down as the season that kept on giving to the Metropolitan Division. As mentioned above, the top two teams in the league were from the Metro as well as the first two picks in the NHL Draft, thanks to the Draft Lottery. The New Jersey Devils moved up 4 spots from 5th to draft first overall, while the Philadelphia Flyers were the luckiest as they moved up 11 spots all the way from 13th to 2nd and got a new franchise player in the process. While there were no real generational talents available according to the experts, Nico Hischier and Nolan Patrick are going to be a couple of great hockey players that Pens fans are going to get to know all too well.
Below will be a breakdown from every draft pick selected by the Metropolitan Division with a quick scouting report for each player. Some of the names will be instant NHL players, while others will be forgotten and may never see the light of day in the NHL. Either way, here’s how it all went down:
New Jersey Devils
28-40-14, 70 pts / 180GF(28th)/241GA(t-24th) / First pick: 1st (Up from 5th via draft lottery)
Did not qualify for the playoffs.
Nico Hischier, C | First round, 1st overall | Naters, SUI
DOB: 1/4/99 | 6’1”, 179 lbs | Shoots: L
Nico Hischier is a highly skilled offensive forward. Smart at both end of the ice, as he plays a reliable two-way game. Has good size and still room to get stronger. Excellent skater with good quickness and top speed. Possesses strong hockey sense and on-ice awareness for both attacking opponents and his teammates and with this ability he can escape fore-checkers and make quick plays, as he sees passing lanes before they open. Has game-breaking abilities and can turn the outcome of a game. Nico Hischier leads by example has the potential to be a top-line center and a clutch player his Team can turn to late in the game.
Jesper Boqvist, C/W | Second round, 36th overall | Falun, SWE
DOB: 10/30/98 | 6’0”, 179 lbs | Shoots: L
Boqvist is an offensive skilled player with impressive skating and puck skills. Shifty player who scores spectacular goals from time to time. There's some consistency issues, but when on top of his game, Boqvist can be quite dominant with the puck and an offensive threat.
Fabian Zetterlund, C/RW | Third round, 63rd overall | Karlstad, SWE
DOB: 8/25/99 | 5’11”, 196 lbs | Shoots: R
All in all, Zetterlund is an intriguing offensive prospect with a laser of a shot, and he’s young enough that it’s safe to expect him to continue to grow and progress in a lot of areas. He needs some coaching, some bulking up, and some work on his speed, but he has some tools that could make him a scorer at the professional level.
Reilly Walsh, RHD | Third round, 81st overall | Andover, NH, USA
DOB: 4/21/99 | 6’0”, 185 lbs | Shoots: R
Possibly the best Eastern Prep school prospect in the class. He is a bit undersized, but no one can deny his superb skating and offensive talent as he lead all scores as a dee-man. Has great pace to his game, and can get up ice in transition and put the puck right in front of his teammates, ripe for picking. As this juncture, he doesn’t have the size to handle his own end with dominance, but makes up for that with a strong work ethic, and on ice smarts. Hustles, using his feet and stick to corral the biscuit and transition it out. Terrific on the power play with his wrister and the way he uses the extra time and space to create offensive looks.
Nikita Popugaev, RW | Fourth round, 98th overall | Moskva, RUS
DOB: 11/20/98 | 6’6”, 205 lbs | Shoots: R
Enigmatic Russian import with strong puck skills who on paper had a solid pre-draft season despite struggling with consistency after a midseason trade to a deeper Prince George squad. Popugaev is a mammoth power forward with the kind of overall package designed to score goals in the modern-day NHL. His strengths are obvious the second he hits the ice, as he possesses a massive wingspan and a long stride that allows him to keep the puck away from chasing opponents. And while his shot-release combo is absolutely deadly, he can also make plays and find the open man with accuracy. Nevertheless, the effort isn’t aways there, and far too often does he come across as disengaged. He’ll never be the guy to use in a late-game faceoff or change the momentum of the game with physicality. Still, he is a dual shoot-pass threat who can be next to unstoppable when he feels like putting in the effort.
Gilles Senn, G | Fifth round, 129th overall | Saas-Almagell, SUI
DOB: 3/1/96 | 6’5”, 192 lbs | Catches: L
In a draft of mainly 18-year-olds, the Devils selected a 21-year-old goalie from Switzerland. And a big goalie at that at 6-foot-5 and while he’s listed at 195 pounds, he’s added size and played at 220. He has played for Davos HC in the Swiss-A League the past four seasons and also for the national team along with Jonas Hiller. It’s conceivable he could immediately come to North America and compete for a spot with the Devils.
Marian Studenic, RW | Fifth round, 143 overall | Holic, SVK
DOB: 10/28/98 | 6’0”, 165 lbs | Shoots: L
Explosive winger with game-changing abilities who followed up a strong rookie season in the Slovak elite Extraliga with an up-and-down North American campaign with Hamilton. Studenic’s skills are undeniable — he is super fast, super agile and super aware. The problem was he couldn’t get a consistent job in the top six or on the power play, so he was forcing things while relegated to a depth role. Still, 14 of his 18 goals and 23 of 30 points came at even strength, and he is good for a couple of great chances a game. One underrated aspect of Studenic’s game is his vision, especially on zone entries.
Aarne Talvitie, C | Sixth round, 160th overall | Espoo, FIN
DOB: 2/11/99 | 5’11”, 198 lbs | Shoots: L
A feisty, hard-working forward who skates well and boasts a very good shot, especially off the pass. The versatile Talvitie is a jack-of-all trades who can be utilized on the power play or penalty kill. His shot/release combo is his bread and butter, but he’s a smart player in the defensive zone, using quick feet and formidable upper-body strength to lean on puck possessors and finish them with clean checks. Talvitie also can pass the puck and make tape-to-tape connections off the rush. His strong performance (7 points in 7 games) as Finland’s second line center at the U18 worlds should boost his draft stock, but he already distinguished himself at previous international events and in the regular season for Blues Jrs.
Jocktan Chainey, LHD | Seventh round, 191st overall | Asbestos, QC, CAN
DOB: 9/8/99 | 6’0, 198 lbs | Shoots: L
Promising two-way defenseman with excellent footwork and sound instincts. Chainey reacts to dangerous situations with both poise and confidence, and being a very good skater helps maintain a tight gap and win a fair amount of footraces. Although he shared power play ice with Nico Hischier, Chainey was Halifax’s nominal power play quarterback. He has a good, accurate shot and a quick release, and when pressured will use bank passes effectively. Getting stronger will be important as he struggles with one-on-one battles, but his defensive-zone play is quite good for a puck mover.
Yegor Zaitsev, LHD | Seventh round, 205th overall | Moskva, RUS
DOB: 5/3/98 | 6’0, 185 lbs | Shoots: L
There seems to be a dozen Zaitsev’s playing hockey in Russia on the current NHL radar, but we think this kid will turn out to be the best of the group. Yegor is a well-built puck-moving blueliner with solid offensive instincts and the ability to lay bone-crushing hits. He battled the injury bug while shuffling between the MHL and VHL, but a top-six role in Russia’s competitive senior circuit is a discernible goal for 2017. Zaitsev is a rare blend of skill and aggression — he’ll drop down to the hash marks for a shot, then belt an opponent in the chops if the chance doesn’t materialize. In other words, this kid doesn’t get cheated, as he will play the man and finish his check multiples times per shift. Zaitsev may come across as cocky, but it’s somewhat understandable when you can move and hammer the puck the way he can. The kid is listed at 6’0, 180 pounds, but he hunts down and obliterates like a linebacker from the 1970’s. Zaitsev is an opposite point option for the power play and is competent at killing penalties.
Matthew Hellickson, LHD | Seventh round, 214th overall | St. Louis Park, MN, USA
DOB: 3/21/98 | 6’0, 187 lbs | Shoots: L
-No in depth scouting report.
39-33-10, 88 pts / 212GF(t-20th)/231GA(19th) / First pick: 2nd(moved up from 13th via draft lottery)
Did not qualify for playoffs.
Nolan Patrick, C | First round, 2nd overall | Winnipeg, MB, CAN
DOB: 9/19/98 | 6’2”, 198 lbs | Shoots: R
A highly skilled and all-round player. Patrick has few, if any, holes in his game and stands out in many aspects. His hockey sense and competitiveness is top notch. At the same time he has above average skating, shooting and puck skills. Furthermore, Patrick is a reliable two-way player and will do an excellent job on the penalty kill. Very capable scorer and passer.
Morgan Frost, C/LW | First round, 27th overall | Barrie, ON, CAN
DOB: 5/14/99 | 5’11”, 172 lbs | Shoots: L
Frost showed significant development in his 17-year-old season, being a top player for the Greyhounds. His hockey sense is what stands out to me. Frost is a great playmaker who is often a primary creator of scoring chances. While he's great when he has the puck on his stick in general, I'd like to see him improve away from the puck. He also isn't a fierce competitor in puck battles. Moreover, his skating doesn't look explosive. His top gear is just OK, though he shows great agility and burst in his first few steps. I see a lot of potential in Frost's game, but he'll need time to round out some of those deficiencies.
Isaac Ratcliffe, LW | Second round, 35th overall | London, ON, CAN
DOB: 2/15/99 | 6’5”, 203 lbs | Shoots: L
The most notable strength Ratcliffe brings is his size. Ratcliffe, at 6’6” and 203 pounds, is one of the tallest players in the OHL Still, he’ll need to add some mass to his frame to compete with pros at the NHL level, but if you can find an 18-year-old who doesn’t need to add muscle mass in his draft year not named Ekblad, I’d love to meet him. He protects the puck well, which should be expected of someone this massive, but he also has deceptively soft hands, making him both difficult to move out of the crease, and dangerous every second he stays there. Ratcliffe is a decent skater, and if he can improve his skating along with his strength, he has a legitimate shot to be a top 6 winger in the NHL.
Kirill Ustimenko, G | Third round, 80th overall | Gomel, BLR
DOB: 1/29/99 | 6’3”, 179 lbs | Catches: L
Ustimenko is a 6-foot-3, 189-pound goalie who played for MHK Dynamo St. Petersburg in the MHL last season. There, he recorded a 1.74 GAA and .938 save percentage in 27 games last season and got into two games for Team Russia at the World Junior Championships (0.50 GAA, .984 save percentage). Ustimenko is extremely athletic, tracks pucks well and controls rebounds effectively.
Matthew Strome, LW | Fourth round, 106th overall | Mississauga, ON, CAN
DOB: 1/6/99 | 6’3”, 201 lbs | Shoots: L
Matthew Strome stands at 6′ 3” and 200 pounds. He is the largest of the three Stromes to enter the NHL. Matthew plays a very sound two-way game. He is a gifted offensive player who uses his big body to his advantage around the net. He is one of the better possession players in Major Junior hockey and his ability translates into a fluent three-zone game. Matthew can be actively involved on the power play and the penalty kill.
Maksim Sushko, RW | Fourth round, 107th overall | Brest, BLR
DOB: 2/10/99 | 6’0”, 179 lbs | Shoots: L
Maxim Sushko is a dynamic offensive minded winger with good size and impressive speed. A player who analyzes his options quickly and makes good decisions with the puck, Sushko thrives on the power play were he excels running things off the half boards. Sushko possesses a deceptively strong shot that comes off a quick release and packs impressive velocity, he can beat you as a goal scorer or a playmaker. A player who shows a relentless in puck pursuit, Sushko really hunts the puck and wants to take possession, leading to a strong compete in puck battles. Lacks engagement away from the puck, puck watches and gets caught flat footed defensively, Sushko’s upside at this time is purely offensive and even then there he is certainly far from a finished product.
Noah Cates, LW | Fifth round, 137th overall | Stillwater, MN, USA
DOB: 2/5/99 | 6’1”, 165 lbs | Shoots: L
Cates, a '98 birth year, spent the majority of the season with Stillwater High School leading the Ponies to the Minnesota State Tournament. The forward netted 65 points (20g, 45a) in 25 games. After the conclusion of the high school season Cates joined the Lancers. In 11 games in Omaha the forward tallied seven points (2g, 5a), but ended the season with five points (2g, 3a) in his last four games.
Olle Lycksell, C | Sixth round, 168th overall | SWE
DOB: 8/24/99 | 5’10”, 163 lbs | Shoots: L
Lycksell spent time in three different leagues in Sweden this year, beating up on the under-18 levels at both the Allsvenskan and the Superelit league before playing at the U20 Superelit level. There, he posted 9 points in 29 games.
At 5’10” and 163 pounds, Lycksell does not loom particularly large, so the hope here is that there’s skill that will show as he gets more familiar with higher levels of competition.
Wyatt Kalynuk, LHD | Seventh round, 196th overall | Virden, MB, CAN
DOB: 4/14/97 | 6’1”, 174 lbs | Shoots: L
Kalynuk is an overage player, as he’s a 1997 birthday and is currently 20 years old, meaning this was his third draft. He’s been with the Bloomington Thunder of the USHL for the past two years, and posted six goals and 25 assists in 60 games.
The 6’1” Manitoba native will begin at the University of Wisconsin this upcoming season.
New York Islanders
41-29-12, 94 pts / 239GF(10th)/238GA(23rd) / First pick: 46th
Did not qualify for playoffs
Robin Salo. LHD | Second round, 46th overall | Espoo, FIN
DOB: 10/13/98 | 6’0”, 185 lbs | Shoots: L
Salo played for Sport Vaasa in the Finnish Liiga last season, putting up a goal and 15 assists in 65 games during the 2016-17 season. He’s also part of Finland’s international set up, playing for their U-18 and U-20 teams.
-All NYI scouting reports via Lighthouse Hockey
Ben Mirageas, LHD | Third round, 77th overall | Newburyport, MA, USA
DOB: 5/8/99 | 6’1”, 174 lbs | Shoots: L
Mirageas, another defenseman, was traded from the Bloomington Thunder to the Chicago Steel, where he struggled initially but found his form in the post-season, helping the Steel win the USHL championship while posting 10 assists in 14 games.
Sebastian Aho, LHD | Fifth round, 139th overall | Umeå, SWE
DOB: 2/17/96 | 5’10, 176 lbs | Shoots: L
Aho is an overager who was eligible for the 2015 NHL Draft, but he went undrafted due to concerns about his size. Now 21, Aho is 5’10” and weighs in at 165 pounds. However, his play has continued to stand out for Skellefteå AIK in the SHL, as he put up 10 goals and 20 assists in 50 games with the Swedish club.
Arnaud Durandea, LW | Sixth round, 165th overall | Beaconsfield, QC, CAN
DOB: 1/14/99 | 5’11”, 183 lbs | Shoots: L
Arnaud Durandeau, a 5’10” left wing from the Halifax Mooseheads in the QMJHL. The 18 year old put up 41 points in 64 games with 70 PIM.
Logan Cockerill, LW | Seventh round, 201st overall | Detroit, MI, USA
DOB: 3/3/99 | 5’9”, 165 lbs | Shoots: L
Logan Cockerill, a 5’8” left wing from the US National Team Development Program in the USHL. Cockerill put up 10 points in 16 games with the USNTDP, and will be attending Boston University.
Part two will be posted tomorrow. Thanks for reading!