Revisiting the top 5 picks of the 2017 NHL Draft

2017 NHL Draft (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
2017 NHL Draft (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

With the 2020 NHL Draft potentially approaching soon, let’s revisit the 2017 NHL Draft’s top five picks.

With the first overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, the New Jersey Devils selected 6’1″ center Nico Hischier. At just 18 years old, Hischier went on to finish 10th in scoring as he racked up 86 points in his first and only season playing for the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL.

In his rookie season with the Devils, Hischier went on to tally 20 goals which was good enough for seventh among all rookies and 32 assists for 52 points which helped him finish sixth overall amongst rookies in 2018. Needless to say Hischier missed out on the Calder Trophy as Islanders breakout phenom and 2015 16th overall pick, Mathew Barzal went on to record 83 points that season, 63 coming by way of the assist.

It’s worth noting that Hischier played through injury during his rookie season, and would end up missing time in his second season as an NHLer. In 2018-19, the former first overall pick would go on to amass 17 goals and 47 points while missing 13 games to injury.

As of now Hischier has played in a total of 209 games and has racked up 51 goals and 135 points on some not so great Devils teams.

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With the second overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft, the Philadelphia Flyers chose to select Nolan Patrick, the perceived obvious choice at number two with Hischier off the board.

Patrick excelled in the WHL playing for the Brandon Wheat Kings, registering 92 goals and 205 points in 163 regular season games with the club.

At just 17 years old, Patrick finished eighth in the WHL in goals (41), tied for third in assists (61) with Barzal, and finished fifth in the league in total points with 102, out pacing players like Braydon Point (88) and Barzal (88) by a wide margin.

After winning the CHL’s Top Prospect Award with the Wheat Kings, Patrick seemed primed to go first overall in the 2017 NHL Draft, but speculation grew of his durability throughout his career in the WHL. Patrick missed a number of games to various reasons and was even labeled as “injury prone” by some.

Knowing all of this, former Flyers GM Ron Hextall was more than happy to land Patrick with the second overall pick. “There’s some stuff out there you want to prove wrong and we did. We’re comfortable with the injury part of it. He is a really good young man.”

Through 145 games played for the Flyers, Patrick has compiled 26 goals and 61 points in 145 games. Patrick would go on to miss his entire third season with the Flyers with what is believed to be a migraine disorder. A real shame as I believe he would have excelled playing under current Flyers head coach Alain Vigneault.

With the third overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, the Dallas Stars selected 18 year old Finnish defenseman Miro Heiskanen. In the season leading up to the draft Heiskanen excelled playing against grown men for Helsinki as he recorded 11 goals and 23 points in just 30 games in his second season for the club.

These numbers were good enough for 24th among all defenseman but Miro had done it having played 30 less games than most of the players on this list who all happened to be 21 years of age and older. According to Stars GM Jim Nill, “Miro was too good to pass up”

Heiskanen would spend the aforementioned one more year in Liga before joining the Stars in 2018-19. He would go on to play in all 82 games while consistently playing well north of 20 minutes per games as a 19 year old.

Miro would go on to finish fourth in Calder voting that season behind eventual Calder Memorial winner Elias Petterson, 2019 Stanley Cup winner Jordon Binnington, and 2018 first overall pick Rasmus Dahlin.

In 150 career NHL games, Heiskanen as amassed 20 goals and 68 points in 150 regular season games played and will be a stalwart on the Dallas blue line for many years to come.

With the fourth overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, the Colorado Avalanche selected now phenom star, Cale Makar. Out of the top five players selected in this draft, Makar was the only one who played NCAA where he tallied 21 goals and 70 points in 75 games played for the University of Massachusetts.

Makar also led his team in scoring as a defenseman in 2018-19 and would go on to win the Hobey Baker award, the first in the history for the school. Makar had a more than unique breakout with the Avs as he was called up to play for the team in the 2018-19 playoffs, where he adapted almost immediately, registering a goal and six points in 10 playoff games, cementing himself undoubtedly into the Avalanche roster for years to come.

This season for Colorado, Makar was arguably the top candidate for the Calder Memorial Trophy, having racked up 12 goals and 50 points in just 57 games played. Makar was essentially a human highlight reel in 2019-20.

With the fifth pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, the Vancouver Canucks were fortunate enough to be able to draft arguably the best of the top 5 in Elias Pettersson. While playing a season for Vaxjo HC of the SHL, Petterson lead the league in scoring with 56 points in just 44 games played among men as a 19 year old.

Vaxjo would go on to win the league title that year as Petterson also lead the team in playoff scoring with 19 points in 13 games, winning not only the Rookie of the Year Award but also the Stefan Liv Memorial Trophy as the MVP of the SHL playoffs.

The very next season would be Pettersson’s first in the NHL and he broke out in a big way, recording 28 goals and 66 points in route to becoming the Canucks second ever Calder Trophy winner and first since Pavel Bure in 1992.

Since beginning his career in the NHL, Pettersson has not disappointed for a second as he’s continued his top form in 2019-20, recording 27 goals and 39 assists in just 68 games played, on pace to shatter his career high as a rookie before the season was cut short.

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In my opinion, it is almost no contest to say Vancouver picked the best player out of the top five selected in the 2017 NHL Draft. I will say it’ll be fun to revisit this topic again next summer!