Photo Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA Today Sports

The Toronto Maple Leafs will officially pick 17th in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft

It is officially, official.

After the St. Louis Blues were eliminated by the Nashville Predators in the Western Conference Semifinals, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be selecting 17th in the upcoming NHL Entry Draft.

The first round elimination at the hands of the Washington Capitals may still sting but this placement in the draft is still, very good.

Just outside the lottery, you can find difference making players to fill out your roster.

Past players selected at 17 in the NHL draft: Jake Gardiner (by the Anaheim Ducks), Martin Hanzal, Tomas Hertl and Zach Parise

The 2017 NHL Entry Draft takes place in Chicago and will be June 23-24.

    • Gary Empey

      Rasmussen is expected to be taken before the 17th pick

      Michael Rasmussen
      Ht/Wt: 6′ 5″/205 lbs
      Position: C
      Team: Tri City (WHL)

      Michael Rasmussen’s Player Profile
      ISS Hockey – Mar. 8th: “Out of lineup with lower body injury – almost impossible to move once parked in front of the net.”

      Jeff Marek of Sportsnet – Mar. 8th: “A wrist injury will cost him three months, but scouts still rave. Rasmussen can score goals and for a 6-foot-5 player, scouts are impressed at how well he gets around the ice. Has been great on the PP.”

      Mike Morreale of NHL.com – Feb. 16th: “[Rasmussen] has either the best natural instinct or willingness to get to the net and go around the net,” Tri-City coach Mike Williamson said. “And it sounds simple, but a lot of guys play on the perimeter, are not willing to go there, or just are off to the side enough to make it easy for a goalie. But his natural first instinct when he gets over the blue line is to get around the net.”

      ISS Hockey – Feb. 7th: “Skilled big man w/the size that scouts fawn over & the best is yet to come from him.”

      Mike Morreale NHL.com – Jan. 20th: “He knows how to use his 6-foot-6, 215-pound frame to his fullest advantage. He has shown more confidence this season with 51 points (30 goals, 21 assists) in 46 games. Does a fine job getting to the dirty areas to provide screens and get deflections, and knows how to protect the puck with his reach.”

      Dennis Schellenberg Hockey Prospectus – Nov. 9th: “A big kid with strong puck protection skills. Works hard all over the ice and has good playmaking skills. Uses his good vision and passing skills to distribute the puck effectively. “

  • Gary Empey

    Here are my 3 favourite picks at 17th.
    Callan Foote
    Ht/Wt:6′ 3″/198 lbs
    Team: Kelowna (WHL)

    Callan Foote’s Player Profile
    ISS Hockey – Mar. 9th: “Two-way defenseman with high hockey IQ in all three zones. Almost never out of position on a play.”

    Jeff Marek of Sportsnet – Mar. 8th: “Will be a 12-year NHLer. A really solid, safe pick.”

    ISS Hockey – Feb. 8th: “Rock solid. Defensively shuts down the rush extremely well w/good positioning & active stick.”

    Mike Morreale NHL.com – Jan. 20th: “The 6-3, 213-pound son of former NHL defenseman Adam Foote probably won’t be the physical presence his father was, but plays all situations and uses his smarts, reach and strength to contain his opponent and gain position.”

    Dennis Schellenberg Hockey Prospectus – Nov. 9th: “He is not afraid of playing physical and benefits from his big body and strength in battles. Possess decent shooting tools and is not only limited to a pure big and mean defender, but also distributes the puck smoothly and creates offence.”

    Nicolas Hague
    Ht/Wt: 6′ 6″/210 lbs
    Position: LHD
    Team: Mississauga (OHL)

    Nicolas Hague’s Player Profile
    ISS Hockey – Mar. 13th: “9 pts in last 8 games. Big, mobile dman, gearing up for OHL playoffs. Makes smart plays w/ puck.”

    Jeff Marek of Sportsnet – Mar. 8th: “Plays in all situations, can anchor a PP. Some scouts think skating still an issue, others not that concerned about his feet. Very poised, well controlled now.”

    Mike Morreale – Feb. 23rd: “He brings an offensive dimension to his game,” Hockey Canada head scout Ryan Jankowski said. “He’s also effective in a shutdown role with that range, reach and the size he has. He’s growing into his body and growing into his ability. I feel he’s more than your typical huge physical defenseman; he’s a guy who moves the puck very well and brings an offensive component to his game.”

    ISS Hockey – Feb. 12th: “Moves the puck well & shows good offensive instincts. Uses long reach to take away time/space.”

    Mike Morreale NHL.com – Jan. 20th: “Hague (6-5, 206) is a fluid skater and can move the puck extremely well, enabling his team to create a lot of offense. He also has five power-play goals, second on Mississauga. The left-shot defenseman also is tough in the defensive end.”

    Future Considerations: “Hague has a great mix of size, skating and skill…shuts down the oppositions’ top lines and is a driver of the play…is physical and will give that extra shot to his opponent to leave a mark and an impression for the next time…doesn’t give his man room to breathe in front of the net…not shy with stepping in to lay the body, standing up his man with a solid check…controls the gap very well with strong position and good stick work…very balanced and surprisingly mobile for a big kid, he possesses a powerful lateral step”

    Juuso Valimaki
    Ht/Wt:6′ 2″/200 lbs
    Team: Tri City (WHL)

    Juuso Valimaki’s Player Profile
    ISS Hockey – Mar. 11th: “Underrated offensive upside. Very good shot/gets it to the net rarely using a slap shot”

    Jeff Marek of Sportsnet – Mar. 8th: “A good all-around blueliner who’s enjoyed great experience at the junior and international level. Not huge, but possesses great awareness. Has drawn comparisons to Olli Juolevi (VAN).”

    ISS Hockey – Feb. 11th: “Smart w/great passing skills. Very good shot & gets it to the net; rarely using a slap shot.”

    Mike Morreale NHL.com – Jan. 20th: “The two-way defenseman has brought more assertiveness to his game in his second WHL season. Valimaki (6-1, 204) has 39 points (12 goals, 27 assists) in 38 games and has shown more offensive drive and confidence in his game.”

    Future Considerations: “A strong, minute-munching, two-way, dependable blueliner…not a lot of high-end offensive flash or dash to his game, but just makes the right play consistently…good vision and puck moving ability, has no panic to his game and waits for his options…can sling the puck around with strong accurate passes…his hockey sense allows him to read and react to the play well in advance…very committed to blocking shots”

    Dennis Schellenberg Hockey Prospectus – Nov. 9th: “A mature and responsible two-way defenceman who makes good decisions with the puck. Not the most flashy player but he shows poise with the puck and plays very reliably at both ends. Shows some leadership skills, especially when quarterbacking the powerplay. “

    • Kevin

      All three players would be strong selections. I really like Valimaki but would be surprised if he fell to 17 (Leafs would probably need to trade up to get him). Cal Foote seems like he’ll definitely be a player, someone who can contribute and play on the top two pairings. Nicolas Hague seems to be a riskier pick (as bigger players in junior can sometimes have inflated statistics) but has the potential for high reward.

      • Gary Empey

        I agree with you that bigger players often are able to dominate and may have reached their full development, at the junior level. A lot of them have trouble at the NHL level where all the players are stronger, smarter, faster, quicker than what they have been used to. We read the prospect reports, then wonder why they seem to struggle at the AHL level. I think judging the future development of 18 year old hockey players is likely one of the most difficult jobs in the NHL. Not only are they usually not fully developed physically, but their personality and character are still changing. At 18 there are major changes in a person’s social life. Things like girls, drugs, cars, alcohol, facebook, twitter, etc. can easily become distractions to what lies ahead, if one of your goals is to be a professional hockey player. The gigantic amount of money a player receives on signing an ELC. The sudden celebrity status that comes with being a top pick. Players like Mich Marner can not longer do simple things like going out for breakfast or popping into to Canadian Tire, without causing a big stir. Nothing in life can prepare you for this.