It’s the final few picks of the first-round Mock Draft and you know what that means — time for the teams who were sellers at the deadline to reap the benefits of that low first-rounder they got in exchange for a high-end player they didn’t want to pay in free agency.
Here are the final seven selections, made by our SB Nation NHL sites:
26. Montreal Canadiens (from Calgary Flames) — Jagger Firkus
From Eyes On The Prize:
A top-six centre was added to that pool when we took Shane Wright first overall, but you can’t always get what you want with other teams making selections, and there were few players projected to be left-wingers in the immediate range we were looking at, dominated instead by defencemen. In fact, there were so many defencemen that we figured there would still be a few quality blue-liners left at 33 no matter what, but it was unlikely that there would be a winger with an elite shot left on the board, so we settled on the right-shot Firkus.
The scoring ability might be reminiscent of Pastrnak, but the body is smaller (the Bruins draft pick was listed at 6’0” and 167 pounds ahead of the 2014 NHL Draft), which did impact Firkus’s work along the boards and will until he bulks up some with more development time.
He ended the regular season with 36 goals despite a slow start to his year, and added another six in 10 post-season games. He achieved that by making use of an exceptional shot, one that challenges Jonathan Lekkerimäki’s for best in class.
27. Arizona Coyotes (from Carolina Hurricanes via Candiens) — Lane Hutson
From: Five For Howling:
Hutson split last season between the USHL and the USDP. He had ten goals and 53 assists in 60 games with the U.S. National Under 18 Team and six goals and 26 assists in 27 games with the USNTDP Juniors team. The Under 18 World Junior Championship was the perfect stage for Hutson, who was named a member of the All-Star Team, the Best Defenseman, and one of the top three players on his team, as well as registering the most assists by a defenseman (8) in his silver medal campaign.
Either way, it will be a few years before Hutson makes the team. He is committed to Boston University, which is perfectly fine for the Coyotes.
Hutson is a risk, but with the number of draft picks the Coyotes’ have, he is a risk worth taking. He is a high-risk, high-reward pick, but he could definitely fill a role with the Desert Dogs.
28. Buffalo Sabres (from Florida Panthers) — Seamus Casey
From Die By The Blade:
Casey is an undersized, right-handed defenseman for the USNTDP. He played a significant role in the top 4 for the USNTDP. He played on the power play as well as the penalty kill for the USNTDP.
Seamus Casey possesses three skills that are truly, if not the best, then one of the best in this draft class for a defenseman. He has exceptional edges, pivots, and deception techniques, is one of the best at scanning and identifying plays before they happen at both ends of the ice, and his puck handling is of an elite nature.
Given these three skills it would seem that Casey would have no problem generating offense from the backend, and that he would be a very aggressive and puck-dominant force in transition. However, Casey is surprisingly passive in the offensive zone and defers to passing, and not carrying, the puck in transition and especially in offensive zone entries.
29. Edmonton Oilers — Jimmy Snuggerud
From The Copper & Blue:
Jimmy Snuggerud’s toolbox is one that Oiler fans would love - a good skater with a very quick release who works hard in every zone. A 6’2” 185 lb right wing, he’s made his hay with the US National Team DP. On a club with some definite 2022 first rounders, Snuggerud put up 63 points in 59 games with the U18 club. 59 points ranks him seventh on the club in 2021-22, and he’s a good bet for the Oilers if he slips through the 20s.
Snuggerud is a talented scorer with a nose for getting into the high danger scoring areas. He’s benefitted from playing with some talented players, but it’s hard to teach scoring. Snuggerud’s release is quick and deadly, something that would look good on any team.
30. Winnipeg Jets (from New York Rangers) — Filip Mesar
If you’re looking for a deceptively quick winger with exceptional puck-handling skills, look no further than Filip Mesar. While many skaters in this draft can boast about their hands and ability on the puck, not many can claim to have done so in a men’s league, and Mesar, now in his second season in the Slovakian Tipos Extraliga, can claim this feat.
If you think 14 points in 36 games as a 16/17-year-old in a professional league is impressive, then Mesar would have exceeded expectations when he improved upon this in his age 17/18 season, with 16 points in 37 games (and double the goals!).
Mesar is a player that, for being projected as a late first-rounder, has gone under the radar, and his offensive toolkit, particularly in regards to his physicals, is second to none in this draft class.
31. Tampa Bay Lightning — Owen Beck
From Raw Charge:
While nothing in his game, other than his speed, provides a big “wow” factor, Beck is more than adequate at all aspects. He plays hard all over the ice, using his speed to back check when necessary and has a tenacious willingness to defend in his own zone as well as fight for pucks in the offensive zone. The prospecting sites are definitely mixed in regards to his rankings as Dobber Prospects and Elite Prospects have him 22nd and 21st respecitvely while SMAHT Scouting has him at 41.
With his speed and puck-handling ability he is able to play the transition game very well which would be a plus for him in the Tampa Bay and Syracuse systems. He does have a tendency to look for pass-first solutions as opposed to taking shots, but, again, that would seemingly fit in line with the way the Lightning play.
32. Arizona Coyotes (from Colorado Avalanche) — Luca Del Bel Belluz
From Five For Howling:
The Coyotes need centers, and Luca Del Bel Belluz can definitely offer that. He has shown that he can score, and he is defensively responsible. He has also demonstrated a willingness to work, and he spent the canceled 2020-21 OHL season in the gym, adding 30 pounds while growing four inches to his current 6’1” 179-pound frame.
If there is a weakness in Del Bel Belluz’s game it is his skating. Most rankings highlight that his skating is a weakness, although there is a chance that he will be able to overcome that in the next few seasons.
Scouts seem unsure where to rank Luca Del Bel Belluz. NHL has him ranked 8th among North American Skaters, but Elite Prospects has him at 84th. But most people have him in the high 20s, so this move could either be a steal for the Coyotes, or a bit of a reach.
What do you think about how the first round played out? What do you think will go differently next week?