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“Game Time” PROSPECT SUNDAY: Previewing The NHL Entry Draft, Part 1

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News and notes for players on the updated “Game Time” Silver Seven listing.

2016 NHL Draft - Round One
Who will hear his name called by the Blues to join Tage Thompson in the organization at this year’s NHL Entry Draft?
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

ADVANCE WARNING: The format of this article is not optimized for “smart” phones or tablets, but is readable on those devices. Our advice to you is, for maximum enjoyment of this article, please un-glue your nose from your “smart” phone and read this on a REAL computer. Thank you.

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The 2017 NHL Entry Draft is now less than one week away, and your “Game Time” Prospect Department has been gearing up for months now, getting ready.

Unfortunately, our request for press credentials through SBNation has been denied, so we will not be live on the draft floor as we had hoped when the Blues make their picks in the first round — or deal them away for additional picks or whatever.

We’re shifting gears, however, and are in the process of having the editors and publishers of this site and the “Game Time” paper petition the Blues on our behalf for credentials to cover the Development Camp here in a few weeks. Any friendly pressure that can be applied on our behalf on the Blues, or on either (or both) Brad or Ms. Hildy, would be greatly appreciated.

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Now, a few words about the Game Time” Silver Seven list, and the process we used in compiling it.

(NOTE: These excerpts are taken from “Tomorrow’s Blues” columns that appeared in the “Game Time” paper during the closing weeks of the regular season).

In years past, your GTPD has put together a “Silver Seven” list for each draft year based primarily on gut feeling. We'd look at the Central Scouting rankings, take that information and throw it into a blender with the player's size and position, and add in our own impressions of what positions or characteristics the Blues were short of as an organization. Mix it all up, and out would come a list of anywhere from ten to twenty players we thought would be likely candidates for selection by the Blues in that year's draft.

That list would then be whittled down, again based primarily on gut feeling and our own understanding of the Blues' organizational needs, to what we started calling our ‘Silver Seven,’ a list of seven players that we felt were the most likely possibilities to hear their names called when the Blues made their first selection of a draft, whenever that first selection happened to be.

That approach has been only moderately successful in identifying players who were eventually selected by the Blues in any given draft, so this year, we're going to try a slightly different approach. Instead of picking players willy-nilly out of the CSS Midterm rankings, what we've done this year is to take a number of first-round mock drafts and determine a preliminary list of players who would probably be available based on the average rankings of the players in the mocks.

Here's how it works.

We started with these eight mock drafts:

  • Adam Kimelman's January mock draft at NHL dot com
  • Mike Morreale's January mock draft at NHL dot com
  • The March 1 mock at MyNHLDraft dot com
  • The March 1 mock at DraftSite dot com
  • Future Considerations dot ca January rankings
  • Hockey Prospect dot com January rankings
  • International Scouting Services January rankings
  • McKeens Hockey January rankings

We assigned a value from 1 to 31 to each player ranked in each draft, based on where each player was ranked in each draft, then added the total and divided by eight to get the player's average ranking across all eight drafts. If a player was not ranked in a particular mock, he was given a value of 32 for that draft.

For example, Brandon Wheat Kings' forward Nolan Patrick is considered the most likely player to be drafted first overall this summer, and he was ranked first in every mock except the DraftSite dot com mock, where he was ranked third. We added up his total rankings (7 x 1, plus 3) and got a total of 10, then divided by 8 to get an average ranking of 1.25 for Patrick.

Patrick's teammate, center Stelio Matheos, is also considered a top prospect available for this draft, but he was not ranked nearly as high in the mocks. Matheos was ranked as high as 19th (by ISS), as low as 31st (by both Morreale and Kimelman), and not at all on five mocks. 32 x 5, plus 31 x 2, plus 19 equals a total of 241, divided by eight is an average ranking of 30.13 for Matheos.

This ranking process weeded out a number of quality prospects who will likely be off the table by the time the Blues make their first pick. These included three centers ranked 1, 2, 3 in North America by Central Scouting: Patrick, Nico Hischier (Halifax/QMJHL), and Gabriel Vilardi (Windsor/OHL). Any of these players would be well worth trading up for, in our estimation, but the cost would be prohibitive.

That initial “Silver Seven” list was later updated using more recent data, and the updated “Silver Seven” list is comprised of players who graded out between 19.0 and 25.6, in order to obtain a listing of players more likely to be available when the Blues make their first selection at 20th overall. We used ten mock drafts this time rather than eight, and the mocks used are as follows:

  • Draftsite dot com NHL Mock Draft dated 5-23-17
  • MyNHLDraft dot com Mock Draft dated 5-10-17
  • International Scouting Services Top 31 for NHL Draft dated 5-3-17
  • TheDraftAnalyst dot com NHL Mock Draft First Round dated 5-1-17
  • DraftBuzzHockey dot com rankings dated 4-30-17
  • DobberProspects dot com rankings dated 4-28-17
  • FutureConsiderations dot ca rankings dated 4-15-17
  • Craig Button’s “Craig’s List” dated 3-21-17
  • McKeensHockey dot com rankings dated 2-26-17
  • HockeyProspect dot com rankings dated 2-20-17

Following are the seven players (in alphabetical order) who graded out as being in the Blues’ range at 20th overall based on the results of those mocks... also known as the “Game Time” Silver Seven list for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft:

Erik Brännström (D), grade 25.6

Callan Foote (D), grade 19.4

Nicolas Hague (D), grade 23.5

Klim Kostin (C/LW,) grade 19.9

Isaac Ratcliffe (LW), grade 24.6

Kristian Vesalainen (L/RW), grade 19.0

Kailer Yamamoto (C/LW), grade 23.1

Your GTPD’s Analysis:

Brännström is intriguing; he’s fairly under-sized for an NHL defenseman, but he has a ton of skill, and served as the team captain for the HV-71 junior squad in his stint there, as well as wearing an “A” for Sweden’s entry at the U18 World Juniors.

Foote and Hague are contrasts in style, with Foote being more the defensive defenseman type that his father Adam Foote was in his NHL career, while Hague has quite a bit more offensive upside. Foote is a right-handed shot, which may give him an edge where the Blues are concerned, because the system is currently short of right-handed shots in general on defense, and lacks a physical presence from that side.

Yamamoto is an offensive dynamo who racked up big numbers despite being pretty much the only offensive weapon on a poor Spokane club out West, and his skill level would be hard to pass on at 20th overall, despite his lack of size. Our best guess, however, is that someone in the Eastern Conference, like Detroit or Ottawa, will snatch this kid up before the Blues get a crack at him.

Your GTPD’s choice for the Blues at 20th overall pretty much boils down to one of the three big forwards on the list — Kostin, Ratcliffe, and Vesalainen. There is a lot to like about each of these players, but they all three come with some question marks as well.

Kostin maintained his top ranking among European skaters this year despite having season-ending shoulder surgery in February and missing the showcase U18 World Juniors. If he has recovered fully from the surgery, he could be off the board before the Blues pick as well.

Ratcliffe is a big kid with very good hockey sense and puck protection skills, but his skating is said to need a good bit of work, especially in the areas of acceleration and quickness. Once he gets going, however, his size and strength make him hard to stop.

Vesalainen is almost a carbon copy of Patrik Berglund from ten years ago... a big guy with skill, but one who does not use his size to his advantage, and who does not project a sense of urgency or intensity on the ice. Still, he is a talent, and most of the mock drafts have him going well before the 20th pick.

Brännström might be the most bang for the buck as far as skill level is concerned, but we feel that, for the Blues, it will ultimately come down to the condition of Kostin’s shoulder; if he is recovered fully, or on the way to being so, we think the Blues will select him if the is available with the 20th pick, and could even trade up to select him under the right circumstances. Otherwise, flip a coin between the power forward Ratcliffe and the physical right-handed defenseman Foote.