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2017 NHL Draft Preliminary Watch List

Brandon centerman Nolan Patrick stars the year as the top pick
Brandon centerman Nolan Patrick stars the year as the top pick
Marissa Baecker/Getty Images

The 2016 NHL Draft season is officially in the books, and after taking Sunday off, it's time to begin to the 2017 NHL Draft season. Obviously we're still 360+ days from next year's Draft, so this is all preliminary, but the shape of this class is starting to take some form. My list, as always, only includes players I've seen and felt comfortable enough to rank, so this isn't an exhaustive list, but thanks to the World U18s being held in the US this past year, I've got a pretty good head start on this class.

At the top of the Draft, it's looking like a two-horse race to go first overall between Brandon(WHL) tall centerman Nolan Patrick and Swedish defenseman Timothy Liljegren. As top overall picks go, the head of the class is fairly average. Patrick is a really talented, exciting prospect, but he's not quite on the same level as Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews.

With Liljegren, it's exciting to have a top tier franchise defenseman slated to go with one of the top overall picks after no defenseman went in the top four of the two most recent drafts. Then again, at this point last year, we were discussing Auston Matthews battling it out with Jakob Chychrun for the top two overall picks, so things can change.

Rounding out my top five are a pair of big, talented Europeans in Finnish forward Kristian Vesalainen and Russian center Klim Kostin, and last year's NTDP U17 leading scorer Scott Reedy.

Meanwhile, after placing three players in the top-5 of the 2016 Draft, 2017 should be another banner year for Finland. The 2016 World U18 gold medalists had 11 players that will eligible for the first time in 2017, and they should make a big impact at the front of the Draft.

But it's still early and there are going to be massive changes. The year prior to a player's draft year is all about potential. Most players are young rookies in junior hockey and not playing a huge role. Who looks like they could maybe develop into something down the road even if they're not scoring now?  But once the draft year starts, scouts start expecting to see results and the wheat starts to separate from the chaff.

Here's my list. As usual, I'm including players I've seen play and felt comfortable enough to rank. It's not complete, but it's a good start for the year ahead.

  1. Nolan Patrick-F-Brandon(WHL)

  2. Timothy Liljegren-D-Sweden

  3. Kristian Vesalainen-F-Finland

  4. Klim Kostin-F-Russia U17

  5. Scott Reedy-F-NTDP U17

  6. Kailer Yamamoto-F-Spokane(WHL)

  7. Casey Mittelstadt-F-Eden Prairie(MN HS)

  8. Eeli Tolvanen-F-Sioux City(USHL)

  9. Maxime Comtois-Victoriaville(QMJHL)

  10. Nico Hirschier-F-Bern U20(SUI)

  11. Gabe Vilardi-F-Windsor(OHL)

  12. Juuso Valimaki-D-Finland

  13. Callan Foote-D-Kelowna(WHL)

  14. Owen Tippett-F-Mississauga(OHL)

  15. Michael Pastujov-F-NTDP U17

  16. Jake Oettinger-G-NTDP U18

  17. Mikey Anderson-D-Waterloo(USHL)

  18. Lias Andersson-F-Sweden

  19. Sasha Chmelevski-F-Sarnia(OHL)

  20. Erik Brannstrom-D-Sweden

  21. Markus Phillips-D-Owen Sound(OHL)

  22. Urho Vaakanainen-D-Finland

  23. Grant Mismash-F-NTDP U17

  24. Evan Barratt-F-NTDP U17

  25. Josh Norris-F-NTDP U17

  26. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen-G-Finland

  27. Mark Rubinchik-D-Dynamo Moscow U17

  28. Luke Martin-D-NTDP U18

  29. Max Gildon-D-NTDP U17

  30. Tommy Miller-D-Victory Honda U18

  31. Nicholas Hague-D-Mississauga(OHL)

  32. Henri Jokiharju-D-Finland

  33. Adam Thilander-D-Sweden

  34. Rickard Hugg-F-Sweden

  35. Mason Shaw-F-Medicine Hat(WHL)

  36. Axel Simic-F-Lausanne U20(SUI)

  37. Nate Knoepke-D-NTDP U17

  38. Gergii Ivanov-F-Russian U18

  39. Marko Reifenberger-F-Hill-Murray(MN HS)

  40. Clayton Phillips-D-Edina(MN HS)

  41. Adam Goodsir-F-Wichita Falls(NAHL)

  42. Tyler Inamoto-D-NTDP U17

  43. Isaac Johnson-F-Anoka HS(MN HS)

  44. Ryan Poehling-F-Lakeville North(MN HS)

  45. Sami Moilanen-F-Finland

  46. Evan Dougherty-F-Fox Motors(T1EHL)

  47. Matt Miller-F-Victory Honda U18

  48. Dylan Mills-F-Hill-Murray(MN HS)

  49. Spencer Meier-D-Sartell(MN HS)

  50. Cole Guttman-F-LA Jr. Kings(T1EHL)

  51. John St. Ivany-D-LA Jr. Kings(T1EHL)

  52. Dalton Weigel-D-Breck(MN HS)