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Redrafting the Top Ten Picks of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft (Bre's Version)

Updated: Jun 14

Courtesy of Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

“With our first selection in the 2017 Entry Draft, the New Jersey Devils are proud to welcome, from the Halifax Mooseheads, Nico Hischier.” 

That was how the first overall pick of the 2017 NHL Draft was announced on June 23, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. The Devils took home the crown jewel of all the young players eligible to be chosen and make the transition to play in the NHL. 

While many talk about the 2015 and 2016 draft classes being the ones full of the most talented players that have since turned into NHL superstars, the 2017 draft class was stacked with now household names who have flourished in the league.

But of course, like any other professional sport, there are always the “what if” questions. In hockey, it’s common to look back on who teams selected in the draft and speculate about what would’ve happened if they picked someone different.

With the 2017 draft class being one of the most unique in recent memory, I took the “what if” questions to heart and redrafted the first ten picks of this draft. Knowing what we know now about each player and team, there are obviously better fits that could’ve come to be if the draft had gone differently. 

So here are the top ten picks from the 2017 NHL Entry Draft (Bre’s Redrafted Version).

New Jersey Devils

Real Pick: Nico Hischier

Bre’s Pick: Jake Oettinger

Hischier has been a beautiful fit in New Jersey as he now wears the “C” and has become an incredible 200-foot player that has certainly been crucial to the Devils’ success since he joined the team for the 2017-18 season. However, an issue that has plagued Jersey for many years and became glaringly obvious last season, is that the team doesn’t have a solid goaltender. In a division and conference that is full of teams who have generational talent between the pipes, it’s a struggle for the Devils to stay competitive with below average goaltending. 

That is why I would redraft Jake Oettinger to New Jersey as the first overall pick. Goaltenders rarely go first overall (the last was Marc-Andre Fleury to the Penguins back in the 2003 draft), but with Oettinger, the Devils would have a stellar and reliable talent in net for many years which would solidify them as a consistent Stanley Cup contender. Since that’s the team's biggest need and the missing piece for them to seemingly get to the playoffs and make a run for the Cup, this draft selection makes total sense for the Devils.

Philadelphia Flyers

Real Pick: Nolan Patrick

Bre’s Pick: Elias Pettersson

Nolan Patrick was drafted as one of the most promising talents of his draft class, but his NHL career was unfortunately riddled with debilitating head injuries. He played three seasons in Philadelphia, but he never played a full 82 games in a year and missed a whole entire season due to injury. When he was traded to the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2021 offseason, he only played 25 games with his new squad before suffering another concussion that has kept him from playing again. 

Despite making the second pick in 2017, the Flyers were left without a talent they thought would help their rebuild and bring success back to the team. Knowing how Patrick’s future unfolded, I would redraft Elias Pettersson to the Flyers with the second overall pick. Pettersson is a strong player who has the talent and skill to be a team’s top line center and leading scorer. Although he has played as a winger in recent seasons with Vancouver, Pettersson puts up stunning numbers each year and would work well with the other players that Philly has on their roster.

Dallas Stars

Real Pick: Miro Heiskanen

Bre’s Pick: Martin Necas

The Stars are currently one of the deepest and most well built teams in the NHL which has definitely contributed to the team’s success in recent seasons. And although Miro Heiskanen has become a talented defenseman that everyone wishes was on their roster, the Stars don’t have a whole lot of young talent in their forward group to ensure there is youth and skill on the team for years to come.

That’s why I would redraft Martin Necas to the Dallas Stars with the third overall pick. Necas is currently a consistent third line player for the Hurricanes and has really developed over the last two seasons, posting over 50 points two years in a row. Necas would be a great winger on the top or second line for Dallas where he would play alongside the Stars’ best players such as Roope Hintz and Mason Marchment. Not only would he bring fantastic playmaking skills to the team, he would be a key piece in the Stars future as a young core member driving the offense. 

Colorado Avalanche

Real Pick: Cale Makar

Bre’s Pick: Nico Hischier

This might be the most controversial draft pick swap ever, but hear me out. Cale Makar has exceeded expectations and has blossomed into the modern-day Bobby Orr as he continuously breaks NHL records while adding trophy upon trophy to his display case. However, one of the Avalanche’s biggest weaknesses in recent seasons has been not having a dependable second line center on the roster.

Which is why I would redraft Nico Hischier to the Colorado Avalanche as the fourth overall pick. As previously stated, Hischier is one of the best two-way forwards in the league and having him as the second line center would make the Avs an unbeatable team. Although Hischier has the skill and capacity to center the top line like we have seen in New Jersey, he wouldn’t get that job with Nathan MacKinnon ahead of him, but would be one of the most crucial players on the whole team. Hischier has scored over 20 goals and recorded over 60 points in each of the last three seasons, proving that his offense and responsible play would not only be beyond beneficial to Colorado, but would solidify him as a franchise player there as well.

Courtesy of Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Vancouver Canucks

Real Pick: Elias Pettersson

Bre’s Pick: Cale Makar

As previously stated, Pettersson is a skilled power forward who drives offense like no one else in his draft class, but if Vancouver made a different choice in 2017, they could’ve had the strongest top defensive pair in the NHL. The Canucks famously drafted Quinn Hughes, their franchise player and star defenseman, just a year later in 2018. But I would redraft Makar to Vancouver with the fifth overall pick simply because the team’s defense would be unrivaled.

Makar is arguably the best defenseman in the league today, followed closely by Hughes. Although the pair would’ve had a lot to learn as young players on the same pair at first, there’s no denying that the two would be almost impossible to play against on the ice as they developed into the skaters they are today. With Makar on the right and Hughes on the left, Vancouver would have a huge key to success in not only winning regular season games, but making a run for the Stanley Cup. We know Makar thrives with a skilled D partner as we’ve seen in Colorado and who better to match him than Hughes himself? 

Vegas Golden Knights

Real Pick: Cody Glass

Bre’s Pick: Miro Heiskanen

The 2017 draft was Vegas’ first time selecting a player as the franchise had just been established and were set to play their inaugural season in 2017-18. Their first ever draft pick was Cody Glass, who played parts of two seasons with the club before the Golden Knights traded him to the Nashville Predators where he has turned into a young, skilled forward although he struggled a bit this past season.

Because it obviously didn’t work out and knowing the structure of the Golden Knights team now, I would redraft Heiskanen to Vegas with the sixth overall pick. While the Golden Knights haven’t particularly struggled with defense over the years, they don’t have a franchise defenseman on the roster. It’s more like a combination of good players who make up a strong D-core. But with Heiskanen, Vegas would have one of the best defensemen currently in the league for many years which would help keep that championship caliber alive for the team. Plus, Heiskanen brings his own kind of offense to the table which would only further benefit the Golden Knights in the long run.

New York Rangers

Real Pick: Lias Andersson

Bre’s Pick: Filip Chytil

This isn’t much of a “redraft” situation since Filip Chytil was drafted by the Rangers in 2017, but my argument is based on how Chytil should’ve been drafted with the seventh overall pick instead of Lias Andersson. 

In short, Andersson ended up being a disappointment for New York despite the high expectations fans had for him as a player. He played three seasons in the Big Apple, amassing just nine points (three goals, six assists) in that span. The Rangers traded him to the Kings in 2020 where he played parts of three seasons, but is now playing with the Laval Rocket (AHL affiliate to the Montreal Canadiens). 

Chytil on the other hand has been nothing short of extraordinary for the Rangers over his seven seasons with the club. He was drafted 21st overall, but if the Rangers had taken him earlier, they could’ve avoided the loss of a higher pick that they experienced with Andersson and had another chance to draft a second player with potential to make an impact to the team.

Buffalo Sabres

Real Pick: Casey Mittelstadt

Bre’s Pick: Owen Tippett

The Sabres hold the record for the longest playoff drought in all North American professional sports at a whopping 13 seasons. Despite all the talented and potentially generational players they have drafted over the years, there is still something missing to get the team over that imaginary hump to qualify for the postseason again. In 2017, they drafted Casey Mittelstadt who was a reliable and surprising contributor to the Sabres offense during his time in Buffalo before being dealt to Colorado at this past season’s trade deadline. 

I would redraft Owen Tippett to the Sabres with the eighth overall pick in the 2017 NHL draft. Now, many people are probably going to question this one considering Tippett hadn’t really grown into his full potential until the last two seasons, scoring almost 30 goals in each of those two campaigns. But he would be the perfect fit and addition to the Sabres to help generate offense at all times while on the ice and is another young piece to Buffalo’s current core. Plus, Tippett has an edge to his game that is missing from the Sabres’ identity which would help them keep pace with the teams in their division in terms of toughness.

Courtesy of Michael Reaves/AP

Detroit Red Wings

Real Pick: Michael Rasmussen

Bre’s Pick: Nick Suzuki

The Red Wings are another one of the teams fighting to get back to the playoffs after not qualifying for several seasons, but a major part of the roster that’s been built by legend Steve Yzerman over the years is talent that is often overlooked or underestimated. Nick Suzuki was drafted by the Golden Knights in 2017 and never got a chance to play on that team as Vegas traded him to Montreal where he is now the captain while being an incredible player.

That’s why I would redraft Suzuki to the Red Wings with the ninth overall pick. Since his NHL debut in the 2019-20 season, Suzuki has never recorded less than 40 points in a campaign and has stepped up his game in the last three seasons especially. This past season, he set career highs in all three categories which shows his offense has grown to a new level. With Suzuki on the roster, Detroit would definitely be pushing to not only make it to the playoffs, but be a consistent Stanley Cup contender year after year. 

Florida Panthers

Real Pick: Owen Tippett

Bre’s Pick: Jason Robertson

And finally, one of the two teams in the 2024 Stanley Cup Final picked 10th overall in the 2017 draft. While the Panthers’ method of building a powerhouse team through the draft and trades has clearly worked, imagine if they drafted Jason Robertson instead?

Robertson has become one of the greatest young players in the NHL, but often flies under the radar of the average hockey fan. In 292 career games, Robertson has scored 133 goals and collected 314 points. Over the last three seasons, he has recorded more than 70 points in each campaign including a career high 109 points in 2022-23. The Panthers are a feisty team that have both strong offense and defense thanks to the players on the roster. Robertson would be a perfect fit on Florida’s top line with Selke winner Aleksander Barkov and Carter Veraheaghe, giving the team a boost that would continue to propel them to success for many years.

While we watch all these players every season, it’s always fun to think about what could’ve been if teams made a different choice in the draft. The 2017 draft class is one of the most unique in quite some time and has proven to be full of high end talent. So what are your thoughts about this redrafting of the 2017 NHL Draft?

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