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.
The San Jose Sharks are in that awkward stage of a franchise where they probably should be focusing on a rebuild, but their roster is too good to be adequately bad. There is still a fair amount of talent on the Sharks, especially on the defensive side. However, this late into the first round it’s likely that the draftee will not contribute to the pro squad for multiple years, so drafting for need is never wise. And so with the 19th pick, the Sharks will be taking defenseman Erik Brannstrom from HV71 of the Swedish Hockey League.
The Scouting Report
Brannstrom is another silky smooth skating defenseman from Sweden. He is best known for his ease in transitioning from forward to backward skating. Think Jonas Brodin, but with an offensive flair. He finished with one goal and five assists in 35 games last season in the SHL, which isn’t overly impressive from a numbers standpoint, but the fact that a 17 year-old managed to play significant minutes in a high quality league of grown men goes to show the maturity of Brannstrom’s game. Like many of the smooth skating Swedes, Brannstrom is slightly undersized at 5’-10”, 180 pounds, but there is no doubt his strong skating indicates that he is a player who would not be pushed around by larger players.
The upside of Brannstrom is not overly exciting, but his skating ability and smooth puckhandling reek of a guy that could eat up quality minutes in a top four role once his body matures.
How He Fits the Wild
A team can never have too many smooth-skating, puck-moving, reliable defensive prospects. Brannstrom’s game is similar to Gustav Olofsson, minus a little bit of size and plus a little bit of offense. Players with Brannstrom’s mobility is the direction the league is heading on defense, so it would make sense for the Wild to stockpile players of his ilk.
How Could the Wild Get Him?
Being that the window for the Sharks is not completely closed, I suppose it is realistic to think the Wild could move somebody like Scandella or a mid-tier, seemingly NHL-ready prospect like Jordan Greenway for San Jose’s 20th pick. Though I don’t think the Wild have their eyes set that far in the future.