2017 crop struggling to stack up to past classes

Dan Stewart2017 Draft Center, IIHF, NCAA, OHL, QMJHL, USHL, WHL

The release of Future Considerations’ Winter ranking for the 2017 NHL Draft signifies we have come to the half way mark in a season of evaluating the talent this year’s class.

Over the past five months of evaluation, we have come to an obvious conclusion: The 2017 draft struggles to live up to some of the previous classes that boasted star power headlining and dotted the ranks of those recent crops.

The group of talent does not just ring true with the handful of names at the top of the draft class, but also resonates with the prospects that our crew at Future Considerations have ranked in the tail end of the first round, and into the second day of selections as well. There are many whom our crew have gone back and forth on, and view as not sure things to have any sort of substantial impact at the NHL level.

Injuries haven’t helped, either. Brandon Wheat Kings center and projected top pick Nolan Patrick has been limited to just six Western Hockey League games because of an upper-body injury. Gabe Vilardi of the Windsor Spitfires, ranked fifth, has been limited to 19 skates because of an appendectomy in November. Top-ranked defenseman Timothy Liljegren, now with Timrå IK, has had his battles with mononucleosis.  

Now, it’s not all doom and gloom in 2017.

The draft still has promising prospects, such as Patrick, Sioux City Musketeers winger Eeli Tolvanen, and Halifax Mooseheads forward Nico Hischier as those projected to play significant roles for the teams that will select them come June.

Others have been trending up the draft charts and could provide a bolster in potential to the group overall.

But having been spoiled with some top-end talent in recent years has 2017 struggling to live up to the standard. The quality is not anywhere near to the same extent as becoming the franchise defining selections that we have been accustomed to witnessing over the past couple seasons.

With that as the landscape of the 2017 NHL Draft, work will be put in to unearth those prospects that will one day make meaningful contributions to NHL clubs over the course of the next couple of seasons.

And with that comes the time for prospects to emerge in the second-half of the season to help bolster the talent that will become the class of 2017.