With the 25th pick in the 2017 SB Nation Mock Draft, the Montreal Canadiens have selected Urho Vaakanainen.
Vaakanainen is a puck-moving defenceman from Finland. He has great awareness and elite-level speed, and that makes him very effective on the defensive side of the puck.
While his puck-moving skills are one of his most lauded abilities, they aren’t complemented by the offensive output you might expect from such a talented player. The lack of production is the main reason why Vaakanainen is available so deep in the first round, and not among the top 10 to 15 selections.
At EOTP, the internal debate when we were making our choice was between Vaakanainen and left-winger Isaac Ratcliffe. In our consensus ranking that was finalized later, which takes the main scouting outlets’ lists and compiles them into a single one, those two finished 24th and 25th, indicating that our assessments were fairly accurate (look for a report on that ranking on the site soon).
At the time of the selection (June 8, while the Stanley Cup Final was still taking place), we felt those two options were the best players remaining on the board. Ultimately, the staff felt that Vaakanainen was the better of the two, with the Finnish defenceman coming out on top after a vote.
Now almost two weeks later, the Canadiens have traded top prospect Mikhail Sergachev, as well as Nathan Beaulieu, while declining to present a qualifying offer to Nikita Nesterov, creating a need for left-handed defenders in the system. Vaakanainen now fills both the best-player-available and organizational-need criteria, and could very well be near the top of the Canadiens’ list when they head to the draft table on Friday night.
Just before us, the Columbus Blue Jackets site, The Cannon, chose Maxime Comtois at 24th. Now on the clock is Second City Hockey, who will be making the 26th selection on behalf of the Chicago Blackhawks. See all the selections made so far here.
Be sure to catch up on all of our 2017 Draft prospect profiles right here.
Check out the previous picks in the mock draft by clicking here.
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