Gabriel Vilardi of the Windsor Spitfires. Photo by Terry Wilson / OHL Images.

A return to health ensure a pair of top forwards of maintaining a top five ranking.

After missing much of the early portion of the season, Nolan Patrick with an abdominal injury and Gabriel Vilardi with a knee injury, both have returned to good health and to producing on the ice for the respective teams. Nolan's well-rounded game is well suited for a quick transition to the NHL and his overall skillset is allowing him to live up to the pre-season hype. With four points in his first game back from a three month layoff, he has been catching up on his teammates. Since then, he has filed to score in only three games, while producing at least two points eight times.

Vilardi’s situation was not quite as extreme. He missed just over one month, leading up to Christmas, but also returned to action with a four point game. Although he falls slightly short of Patrick in his overall giftedness, he plays a smart, pro-style game and is one of the most NHL-ready players in this draft class. The Spitfires star is thus the most significant early riser since our last ranking, jumping up from 13th overall to a spot in the top five.

Another player making a leap of note into the top ten is Martin Necas, the highest profile player to come out of Czechia since Tomas Hertl five years ago. We project Necas to go higher than Hertl was in 2012, although this is perhaps less a reflection of their relative standings as prospects than a comment on the strength of this year’s class. The 2012 draft class was a notoriously weak one (Nail Yakupov says “Hi!”) but Hertl would have gone substantially higher had the draft been re-run today. Ranked 14th last time, Necas now comes in at #10.

The biggest drop has been seen by Tri-City’s Finnish defenseman Juuso Valimaki, slotted in at #6 last time, and now down at #16. Then again, we had mentioned that his previous ranking was a big rise for him, so perhaps this is just a case of a young man returning, like water, to his level.

The strength of the 2017 draft seems to be in European players. In addition to the North American-based quartet of Europeans in the top 17 (Hischier - #2, Tolvanen - #9, Valimaki - #16, Popygaev - #17), we have listed another nine European players still developing across the ocean, including three in the top ten.

Players moving up into the first round (we only included 30 in our last release - corrected here) include USNTDP forward Josh Norris (#31), Owen Sound dynamo Nick Suzuki (#28), Spokane mighty mite Kailer Yamamoto (#29) who is two inches and 20 pounds away from going 20 spots higher, and Guelph power forward Isaac Ratcliffe (#30).

As junior leagues around the world are entering their stretch drives, we have taken the rankings now through two full rounds, 62 players in total - the full list is available to subscribers only found here . In our second round, we see an influx of promising netminders, some of whom would have been likely first rounders as recently as three years ago, before the industry as a whole began to eschew the idea of the first round goalie. We begin with Finnish talent Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen at #32, and included five more by the end of the top 62.

With a draft this close, there is still plenty of room for changes in rankings over the next three months, but here is where the future is slotted today.

RANK PLAYER POS TEAM HT/WT DOB GP-G-A-PTS
1 Nolan Patrick C Brandon (WHL) 6-3/200 19-Sep-98 24-16-21-37
2 Nico Hischier C Halifax (QMJHL) 6-1/175 4-Jan-99 48-37-42-79
3 Michael Rasmussen C Tri-City (WHL) 6-6/215 17-Apr-99 50-32-23-55
4 Casey Mittelstadt C Eden Prairie (USHS-MN) 6-1/200 22-Nov-98 25-21-43-64
5 Gabriel Vilardi C Windsor (OHL) 6-3/200 16-Aug-99 39-24-26-50
6 Owen Tippett RW Mississauga (OHL) 6-1/200 16-Feb-99 52-39-29-68
7 Elias Pettersson C Timra (Swe 2) 6-1/160 12-Nov-98 40-16-21-37
8 Timothy Liljegren D Rogle (Swe) 6-0/190 30-Apr-99 19-1-4-5
9 Eeli Tolvanen RW Sioux City (USHL) 5-10/175 22-Apr-99 39-23-17-40
10 Martin Necas C Kometa Brno (Cze) 6-0/170 15-Jan-99 38-7-7-14
11 Miro Heiskanen D HIFK Helsinki (Fin) 6-0/170 18-Jul-99 37-5-5-10
12 Cale Makar D Brooks (AJHL) 5-11/180 30-Oct-98 50-19-44-63
13 Cody Glass C Portland (WHL) 6-2/180 1-Apr-99 60-26-56-82
14 Ryan Poehling C St. Cloud State (NCHC) 6-2/185 3-Jan-99 31-7-6-13
15 Lias Andersson C HV 71 (Swe) 5-11/200 13-Oct-98 37-7-10-17
16 Juuso Valimaki D Tri-City (WHL) 6-2/205 6-Oct-98 52-18-37-55
17 Nikita Popugaev LW Prince George (WHL) 6-5/205 20-Nov-98 63-26-36-62
18 Robert Thomas C London (OHL) 5-11/185 2-Jul-99 56-15-38-53
19 Conor Timmins D Sault Ste Marie (OHL) 6-1/185 18-Sep-98 57-6-46-52
20 Kole Lind RW Kelowna (WHL) 6-1/175 16-Oct-98 60-28-49-77
21 Erik Brannstrom D HV 71 (Swe) 5-10/175 2-Sep-99 32-1-5-6
22 Klim Kostin C Dynamo Moscow (Rus) 6-3/195 5-May-99 8-0-0-0
23 Cal Foote D Kelowna (WHL) 6-4/215 13-Dec-98 61-5-41-46
24 Maxime Comtois LW Victoriaville (QMJHL) 6-2/200 8-Jan-99 55-19-23-42
25 Kristian Vesalainen LW Frolunda (Swe) 6-3/205 1-Jun-99 24-1-5-6
26 Urho Vaakanainen D JyP Jyvaskyla (Fin) 6-0/185 1-Jan-99 37-2-1-3
27 Shane Bowers C Waterloo (USHL) 6-1/185 30-Jul-99 47-18-21-39
28 Nick Suzuki C Owen Sound (OHL) 5-11/185 10-Sep-99 55-34-44-78
29 Kailer Yamamoto RW Spokane (WHL) 5-8/160 29-Sep-98 53-35-41-76
30 Isaac Ratcliffe LW Guelph (OHL) 6-5/200 15-Feb-99 56-23-21-44
31 Josh Norris C NTDP (USA) 6-1/195 5-May-99 44-18-23-41
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