The Dallas Stars have the third overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and it’s one of the most intriguing spots in the draft.
Brandon Wheat Kings center Nolan Patrick and Halifax Moosheads center Nico Hischier are considered the top prospects in this draft class. There is some debate whether Patrick or Hischier will go first overall, but there seems to be a consensus opinion that neither will make it past the second pick.
That means the Stars could go in any direction at No. 3 and it’s not a bad spot. While this draft is considered weaker than past years, Dallas will still get a very good prospect at No. 3 and a player that should make an impact in the NHL.
Since the NHL Draft Lottery I’ve taken time to watch video and spoken with others that have watched these draft prospects closely to create my own scouting reports for 12 players that Dallas could consider at No. 3. Yesterday we took a look at Casey Mittelstadt, today we’re taking a look at Gabriel Vilardi.
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(6-foot-3, 201 pounds)
Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
Stars fans should watch the 2017 Memorial Cup closely when it’s hosted by the Windsor Spitfires later this month.
It’s going to be a chance to watch Gabriel Vilardi — the fourth-ranked North American skater by NHL Central Scouting — against the CHL’s top teams and the 17-year-old could be the Stars selection when they pick third in June’s draft.
A two-way center who checks in at 6-foot-3 (190.5 CM) and 201 pounds (91.17 KG), Vilardi is the offensive catalyst for the Spitfires. He has 61 points in 49 OHL games heading into the Memorial Cup and has continued to develop despite missing time with a knee injury and an appendectomy this season.
He’s a natural playmaker that has good instincts around the net and he’s improved positionally this season. Vilardi holds onto the puck well and often makes the smart pass to teammates.
Vilardi is a hard working player in all three zones and has a knack for creating turnovers in the defensive zone. That may be one of his best qualities. While some uber-talented offensive players in the OHL coast defensively, Vilardi has shown a dedication to playing a 200-foot game and is hard worker off the ice as well.
In fact, his off-ice work ethic may be one of the reasons he recovered so well from injuries.
His skating has improved, but that is a slight area of concern for teams as they assess Vilardi. His injuries look more like flukes (for example, he won’t be needing a second appendectomy), and he shook those off pretty well as the season progressed and durability doesn’t seem to be a long-term concern.
Overall there aren’t many flaws in his game and all reports indicate he’s a coachable player that would be willing to adapt to any role.
Vilardi spent some time at wing this season, but he still projects as a long-term center in the NHL and could be ready for NHL duty within a couple seasons. The Stars, and the rest of the NHL, will be watching the Memorial Cup closely and the 17-year-old will have a nice final showcase to prove he should be the third selection.