Welcome to the 2017 edition of the Hockey Wilderness mock draft. We’re doing things a little differently this time around. You’ll still be getting the same great draft profiles, but we’ve gone ahead and condensed the format to drive through all the picks in the first round in the 10 days leading up to the draft. In prior seasons we’ve brought you a pick each day up to the draft, but now we’re bringing 3 picks each day, culminating with the 31st pick right on draft day.
With the fourth pick in the 2017 Entry Draft, the Colorado Avalanche select Gabriel Vilardi of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires.
The Avalanche have struggled for some time now, with weaknesses across the board. They have a lot of decent pieces, but no way to string them together. Gabriel Landeskog is a capable NHL-er, but the shine has worn off the “youngest captain in NHL history.” Matt Duchene is a fine center, but has been rumored to leave for years. Nate MacKinnon, the eternally eighteen-year-old wonder, has produced 50+ points in three of four years in the NHL, but has failed to match his production during his first year.
The brightest spot for the Avalanche is probably in net, where Semyon Varlamov has been reliable and Calvin Pickard looks like a capable replacement. This is not to say Pickard is the only prospect worth mentioning for the Avalanche. The fact remains that the Avalanche can use help across the ice.
The Scouting Report
Gabriel Vilardi 2017 NHL draft profile & scouting report | SB ...
Could Gabe Vilardi be the sleeper of the 2017 NHL Draft?Posted by SB Nation NHL on Tuesday, May 23, 2017
With a bevy of needs across the board, the Avalanche take Gabriel Vilardi. Vilardi is a 6’2” 192-pound center from Kingston, Ontario. He has a big body, is a solid two-way forward, and has immense scoring ability. In 49 games with the Spitfires, he posted 61 points on the way to the league title and was voted to the Memorial Cup all-star team.
Vilardi is ranked fourth amongst North American skaters, Vilardi is effective in all three zones and can hold play up, make passes, or drive to the net on his own.
Vilardi brings some flexibility to the game, as he has played on the wing throughout the year, but can play center as well (and is listed that way by Elite Prospects). Windsor’s coach Rocky Thompson (in an interview posted on mynhldraft) states that Vilardi makes whoever he plays with better. Defending Big D compares Vilardi to Marian Hossa in their prospect profile. If he turns out half as reliable as Hossa, Colorado will get a great player.
Add to all this that Vilardi is an incredibly young player who is nearly a full year younger than Nolan Patrick and you have the recipe for a very good draft pick.
Would he fit on the Wild?
Big-bodied centers who can play a two-way game and score in droves? Yeah, the Wild could use one of those. Without a preposterous trade, though, there’s virtually no way Vilardi falls to the Wild. The cost for a trade into the top 3-4 of the draft would be enormous, and such a trade, even for a player like Vilardi likely doesn’t end up helping the Wild in the long or short runs.