2018 NHL Draft: Top 75 Prospects

BIG movement on my final list!  I’ve done a lot of work, whether its watching video on kids, digging for my in-depth reports on kids, taking in more opinions in general on kids, etc.  I can tell you this, one thing I’ve found with me is that while I have my beliefs and my rankings reflect that, I’m very willing to listen to what other people have to say.  More so, I want to here them say the right things.  If you lay out your rationale to me, then I’ll at least listen.  And that’s all I hope you do with my rankings, just listen to them.  Anyway, probably the most movement I’ve had from my early June list to my final list.

 

Before I start, allow me to acknowledge that I’m not a scout.  I literally try to read everything I possibly can from every publication, minus what Grant McCagg puts out because the guy seems like a complete piece of shit human.  But Bob McKenzie’s list is very important, I love the work Hockey Prospect does and highly recommend buying their Black Book, Future Considerations, Sam Cosentino, Peter Loubaridas, Craig Button, Corey Pronman, Steve Kournianos, ISS, Brock Otten covering the OHL kids does awesome work, Andy Lehoux is a kid who does a lot of stuff on YouTube that is great, so I compile from a lot of different people.  Now, I do watch as much as I can get my hands on, and I read into a lot of what these people have to say to form my own opinion.  But I’m no scout and all of these people along with many others deserve a boat load of credit because without them, a nobody like myself can do a list like this.

 

It’s an odd draft year.  I had a tough time with this list which likely explains so much late movement from my top 50 list to this one.  I like centres, which this draft really lacks.  I love D-men, but they’re a much tougher evaluation.  I value wingers a distant third, but we have a lot of very highly talented wingers in this draft.  And while last year I found myself needing to expand my top prospect list from 50 to 62 because I was high on so many kids, this year I kind of lost a bit of interest after about 46 so I’m not sure if that’s just a me problem or if this draft simply isn’t as deep as last year’s was.  Obviously a much better high end this year though, and I still ended up doing a top 75 this time around because I’m apparently a sucker to do a shit ton of work for free.

 

As for what I look for?  The main thing I look to do is view it as if I were a GM.  So I like guys who have the most value above all else, but I attempt to balance that with how I believe they’ll pan out.  I really look at trends, so I put risers higher than some, and guys falling lower than most (unless of course I feel the rise or fall is unwarranted, which you’ll see right off the bat on this list).  I also like rare, so I might value things like elite speed, elite size or right handed shooting centres and D more than most.  I put a lot of stock into the birthdates.  I love kids with vision and who are playmakers.  Playmakers can play with playmakers, snipers don’t fit with other snipers.  I really believe this is becoming a playmakers league as much or more so than it is a skating league.  I’m also really into building a team not just compiling talent, so I put a big premium on centres and D-men over wingers.  Finally, I tier my prospects.  I’ve done this since I started doing a top prospects list in 2015, and this season I’m seeing a lot more people take this same approach.  It just makes much more sense.  So pay more attention to the tier a guy is in and less as to what the number is beside his name.

 

Another thing I should give warning to before I start, read what I have to say if a guy is higher or lower ranked than most have him.  I lay out my logic a lot more than most people do, and I’m not about to put a player higher or lower just because its popular opinion.  Its my list, and if I’m proven wrong that’s just fine.  It has happened a lot in the past and will happen a lot moving forward.

 

If you’re actually reading this opening, which I’m sure most of you haven’t, make sure to come back tomorrow for my final mock draft (that I will update throughout the day leading up to the draft in case any news or pick information comes in), and go back and read my stuff I did earlier this week.  My latest mock draft came out Monday, Tuesday I did a piece on what the Oilers could do in the draft, and yesterday I got in-depth as to why I favour Ty Smith slightly over Quinn Hughes.

 

Ok, let’s kick it off with the obvious.

 

Tier One (1)

1. Rasmus Dahlin  Frolunda  SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Drew Doughty

It’s the Rasmus Dahlin draft.  He looks like the closet thing to a generational defenceman that we’ve maybe ever seen.  I don’t know if people who watch him realize how big he is.  The only thing about Dahlin that is different from Doughty is the offensive ability is probably better, but I might look at Doughty differently than others.  To me, Drew Doughty had a lot of the offence and creativity coached out of his game by Daryl Sutter.  Had Drew Doughty come along playing under a Mike Babcock, he’d be more like Erik Karlsson…but with the physicality, which is what I think of when I think of Dahlin.  He just MIGHT be Erik Karlsson offensively, while able to log that 25-30 minutes a night and play in all the difficult situations.  Amazing talent, and the Sabres are extremely lucky to draft him.

 

Tier Two (5)

2. Joe Veleno  Drummondville  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Brad Richards

Nothing is changing with my second ranked player.  I laid a lot of it out here as I got in-depth about why I love Veleno and have some concerns on Andrei Svechnikov.  But the big knocks on Veleno are that he didn’t meet scouts expectations this season, and that he doesn’t have a great shot.  I wonder if these scouts realize that a shot is something that can easily be developed, and that the kid has everything you can’t teach?  Size, speed, vision, IQ, work ethic, apparently had a great interview at the combine, he’s got everything you need to be a first line centre.  He’s not going to work his balls off on his shot?  He was at a 96 point pace after being dealt from a horrific team in St. John to Drummondville.  Would have put him third in scoring in the Q.  The first time I saw Superbad I said “its not THAT great”, because some of my buddies hyped the living shit out of it as the greatest movie I’ll ever see.  A year later I went back and watched it and thought it was hilarious, loved it.  Expectations are everything, and Veleno didn’t meet most scouts expectations, but they’re forgetting that he still has everything you need to be a first line centre in the NHL.

 

3. Jesperi Kotkaniemi  Assat  Liiga

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Mikko Koivu

I say I always try to avoid the “stereotypical comparison”, yet here is as stereotypical comparison as you’ll find.  He just continues to climb my list, and ends up as my third ranked guy.  Big, skating is OK (it’s improved dramatically), plays a very responsible and understated game.  Will he be a legitimate first line centre?  He could be, but he looks like a kid whom if he’s your second line centre then you’re going to be a Cup contender.  And let’s not confuse second line centre with second line player.  In my mind, your second line centre should be at least your third best forward, if not your second best.  It’s tough to look at Kotkaniemi and not be reminded of a Koivu or Barkov.  The size and the style are just so similar between the three of them, and then of course they’re all Fins.  Simply put, you just need these types of guys to win, and they’re damn difficult to find in trades, free agency, or later in the draft.

 

4. Noah Dobson  Acadie-Bathurst  QMJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 177  Shot: R

Comparison: Seth Jones

I’m sky freaking high on this kid, and really have been since pretty early on.  There is just nothing he can’t do for a team out on the ice and it would actually surprise me if he didn’t become at least a top pairing defenceman.  The comparison to Seth Jones is one of my favourites I came up with this season.  Even the way Dobson skates and holds his stick reminds me of Jones, they’re just extremely similar both in terms of style and upside.  The mobility combined with the frame (and obviously what the size will likely be 195-210 lbs), maturity, IQ, and vision.  He doesn’t have the edge to his game you’d like, but in today’s game there aren’t many who have it.  I think he’s got legitimate number one defenceman written all over him.

 

5. Filip Zadina  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 197  Shot: L

Comparison: Nikita Kucherov

He’s one of the most exciting players in the draft.  Good size, terrific speed and elite skill.  The thing that is most intriguing with Zadina however is his five on five scoring.  44 goals, 36 of which were at even strength.  38 assists, 26 of which were at even strength.  I love how tenacious he plays too, constantly on pucks.  He’s dropping as we get closer to the draft, although as was pointed out in Bob McKenzie’s final list the other day, it likely has more to do with others moving up than Zadina doing anything wrong.  This kid is going to step into a lineup next fall and produce.  He’s NHL ready.

 

6. Andrei Svechnikov  Barrie  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 192  Shot: L

Comparison: Thomas Vanek

After giving it heavy consideration, I know this won’t appease the “race baiters” (people ACTUALLY suggested I was racist for being concerned with the track record of Russian FORWARDS in the draft), but I decided to move Svechnikov into my second tier.  When you start to read things from Bob McKenzie like (paraphrasing here) “one scout told me he’s a lot closer to Dahlin than he is to the rest of the pack”, I felt as though I had to do at least a little something different that was more fair to the talent of the prospect, so he moves into my second tier which basically means I’d take the player who best fills my teams needs of those in the tier.  I still worry about the fact that Russian forwards have been 0 for 6 in the top 15, and only 3 for 13 in the first round from 2004-2015, and I still worry about the track record of the “big, fast, unstoppable winger” and their ability to impact a game (i.e. Rick Nash).  But there is ZERO doubting this kids ability on my part.  He has everything needed to be a superstar in the league.

 

Tier Three (7)

7. Oliver Wahlstrom  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 208  Shot: R

Comparison: Phil Kessel

I almost put Wahlstrom here with my last rankings, and then I got cold feet about the questionable motor and bumped him back to 15.  But I got him now at seven because I just think there is too much with the kid to suggest that he’s going to be an elite sniper in the show.  As you’ve likely been able to tell over the years, I’m not super high on one dimensional guys.  But A) He’s a scorer, not just a sniper.  He’s got incredible skill, incredible hands, and a really high IQ.  B) I think he has 40-50 type goal potential, which is extremely rare.  C) He’s got the skill and the IQ to develop his playmaking, and the size and speed to really become a complete player.  I don’t believe he’s becoming Marian Hossa…but he could be that guy if he chose to be.  Realistically, I believe he’s an elite goal scorer who can do enough of everything else to be a high end winger in the league for a long time.

 

8. Brady Tkachuk  Boston University  NCAA

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 192  Shot: L

Comparison: Keith Tkachuk

He’s falling for everyone, but for me he’s not falling because I like him ANY less, its just that others have moved ahead.  He’s such a difficult type of player to find, and I view him as the safest pick in the draft in terms of what he’ll become, so that’s where finding the balance becomes difficult.  Couple both those things with the fact that he’s going to step into a lineup next season (ignore the story that he’s going back to BU, my theory is that its only if he doesn’t make an NHL roster) and it raises his draft stock.  Size, IQ, work ethic, coachability, hands, passion, grit, agitating, toughness, you name it he has it.  Even the speed that some knock him for, he skates fine he’s just not a high end skater.  He’s the perfect complimentary winger.

 

9. Serron Noel  Oshawa  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 204  Shot: R

Comparison: Blake Wheeler

Remember…these are MY rankings, not yours.  The big thing for me is that with Noel still physically developing he’s forced to think the game, which will serve him very well in the pro’s.  And obviously you’re drawn to that size, but for me it’s the smarts and maturity which suggests he’s going to be coachable with a great work ethic that will help him put it all together and thrive at the next level.  He’s obviously a project.  If you’re drafting him, you best plan to give this kid three years minimum before you’re trying to fit him in the lineup.  Rushing any player is a mistake, but especially a project like this. I’m prepared to look dumb on this in the short term.  I might have 12 kids behind him who are likely going to be better than him for the next few seasons.  But you can see when you watch Noel play that his strength doesn’t come close to matching his size at this point.  So the combination of size, skating ability, shot, skill, work ethic and IQ would make me feel completely comfortable taking him this high.  I doubt he will go up here, but I would do it, and I honestly won’t be surprised if he’s the “surprise guy” we normally get within the top 10.  As for the Wheeler comparison, I’m thinking both of what Wheeler was like in his draft year, and what he’s become.

 

10. Adam Boqvist  Brynas  SWE-J20

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11.5  Wt: 165  Shot: R

Comparison: Kris Letang

I hate that I used this comparison for Timothy Liljegren last season, but it’s tough to not see it with Boqvist as well.  Falls to tenth, but like Tkachuk, I don’t really like him any less it’s just that I’m not as sold on him his ability to potentially become a number one D-man.  Tremendous offensive talent.  He’s just so damn smooth out there.  Vision, skating, ability to jump in the play, he’s got 60+ point ability.  The reason for him sliding a bit in not only mine but others rankings is that he probably isn’t going to be that number one guy on a team, and he’s further away from playing than some believed earlier in the season.  Defensively, he’s got a ways to go.  But he’s also only listed at 165 lbs right now.  When he’s 185-190 it should be a tremendous boost to his defending, though the player has to show a willingness to learn and be coached up at that end of the rink.  There are also concussion concerns which could hurt the draft stock.  But the talent and potential is ridiculous, and he apparently was a great interview at the combine which is something I’m very big on.

 

11. Evan Bouchard  London  OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: R

Comparison: Larry Murphy

I despise using other people’s comparisons, especially since I really believe I come up with better ones than most.  But I think it was Craig Button who used the Murphy comparison, and the more I thought about it, the more I loved it and had to use it.  Bouchard is going to have a much better clapper than Murphy, but other than that, so many similarities.  I’ve changed my tune on Bouchard.  The more I look at clips and whatever I can find on him, the more I feel that I’m overrating how poor his skating is (it’s solid, just not spectacular), underrating how terrific he moves the puck (ELITE), and how much better his shot is going to get as he adds weight and strength (which I underrated the last time around too).  Two things still worry me with Bouchard though.  One is still the skating because this league is just getting SO fast.  But the second thing is that he has to change his game a bit because of the skating.  He jumps up in the play a ton, and with those wheels he won’t be able to recover in the NHL like he can in the OHL.  Now, because of his IQ, I believe he’s going to figure that out.  And that puck moving ability, it’s just going to be such a massive asset to a team to have a D-man back there who might have the ability to move it like Erik Karlsson does someday.  Just 35 of 87 points on the pp.  Most D-men will have around half of their production on the pp.  But keep in mind, he had basically no talent around him from January on, yet continued to produce near the same clip.  If he’s playing in Hamilton or the Soo, he’s easily over 100 points.  Simply put, he makes his teammates better, and that is maybe the number one quality for me in a player.

 

12. Ty Smith  Spokane  WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

Comparison: Brian Rafalski

WHL scholastic player of the year.  To quote someone who knows him very well “he’s a genius”.  To go with that ridiculous IQ, he’s got the skating, work ethic, leadership and coachability to be a legitimate number one defenceman someday.  I got him ranked about where most have him, but I’m sure some of the D-men whom I have him ranked higher than will be puzzling for a few compared to other lists.  But I know Smith has both the skill set and the mental makeup to potentially thrive at both ends of the ice.  And that seems to be REALLY underrated by the scouting community.  I get that you can coach a kid up to be solid in his own zone, but how willing are the large majority of those kids to learn it?  Smith shows he’s willing to do it already, and that’s a big deal in my books.  The biggest knock I’ve heard on him is that he’s not “dynamic”, which has been a word I’ve despised from scouts.  It’s as though they truly believe you get extra points for style.  He was over a PPG player this season, PPG in the playoffs.  I don’t care if any of those were highlight reel quality.  I’m not expecting it because of the size, but if Smith ended up becoming a number one D-man in the league I wouldn’t be anything shocked.  To me, he’s a lock to be a top four, but he’ll need another year in Spokane before he’s ready for the show.

 

13. Quinn Hughes  Michigan  NCAA

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 168  Shot: L

Comparison: Phil Housley

Did I ever love hearing him interviewed at the combine.  He’s 18 going on 35.  But I just don’t know if he is ever going to be that legitimate number one defenceman, so right off the bat I feel his upside is limited.  The big question then becomes does he have the type of offensive ability where he’s simply able to dominate like an Erik Karlsson or back in the day Paul Coffey or even the guy I compare him to Phil Housley?  He honestly might.  I believe that’s what others think, but I’m just not willing to bet on that because I haven’t seen THAT at Michigan or the WJC or the World’s.  Probably the best skater in the draft, and he can really drive play.  And you might say “well he’s only an inch and a half or so smaller than Smith and you think he can be a number one”, and that’s fair.  But Smith is already showing a commitment and ability to handle things in his own zone, where Hughes would have to change a lot of his game to be that guy.  For me, Hughes is a lot like Tkachuk with his ranking in that I really like him, and I’m not saying I wouldn’t draft him in the first round or anything along those lines.  Hell, his mom follows me on Twitter!!  So I’m a big fan!  I just prefer the kids who show a more complete game.  He’s going to go much higher than this though, I guarantee it.

 

Tier Four (11)

14. Nils Lundkvist  Lulea  SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 173  Shot: R

Comparison: Nick Leddy

Sometimes you have to just not bull shit anyone.  Last year, I had read up on Martin Necas and whoever it was I read wasn’t overly high on him.  So around the week of the draft I read up on Necas (I believe I stumbled upon some stuff), and everyone else was sky high.  I admitted my mistake, got him ranked accordingly on my final list, and have smiled ever since.  It is the same thing here with Lundkvist.  I actually was going to put him in the late first after reading up and seeing him a LITTLE.  Then someone (I won’t say who, but his name sounds a lot like Porey Cronman….) shit all over him.  So I still kept him on my list because I didn’t get it.  Then, I heard some more stuff on him, was going to bump him up a bit, and then I came across a very detailed report on him.  WOW!  Throw out what Porey Cronman has to say, this kid is a first round pick and is going in the first, MAYBE even higher than where I got him going (as risers tend to do), and the kid is going to be a player.  Not only is he a tremendous skater, has an extremely high IQ, RH shot, offensive tools, awesome in his own zone, doesn’t shy away from the physical play…..not only ALL of that, but he apparently was an incredible interview at the combine.  That seals it for me.  He’s a year from playing, and he needs to put on 15-20 lbs, but that’ll come.

 

15. Barrett Hayton  Sault Ste. Marie  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 190  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan O’Reilly

Complete centre.  Scholastic player of the year in the OHL.  I don’t see him ever becoming that legitimate first line centre, but definitely has potential to be one of those elite second line centres who a coach can use in any situation (very similar to O’Reilly in that way as well).  Of course when most other people say that, it’s looked at as a second LINE player.  In my mind, your second line centre should be at least your third best forward, and probably your second best.  He’s not dynamic, but he’ll do everything right to constantly put himself in the best position possible to produce for his team.  My fondness so to speak for the player doesn’t reflect the ranking, as I believe it does with a lot of other scouts.  I love his game too, but the skating worries me too much to put him any higher than this.  O’Reilly would be the ceiling, but I believe the level he’ll get to will be more of a Jordan Staal type in terms of production.

 

16. Isac Lundestrom  Lulea  SHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: L

Comparison: Frans Nielsen

He gets a lot of comparisons to Lias Andersson whom the Rangers took 7th last year, while most had him going in the 15-20 range.  Centres are more vital than wingers, I don’t know how many times I have to say it.  And I think right now Lundestrom has some knocks that people are paying more attention to than his tremendous game.  Speed, vision, shot, 200 foot game, frame (currently 183 lbs, but simply looking at his frame I’d say he’ll be close to 200 lbs in a few years), strength, puck protection, compete level.  I just love this kids game and can’t really see why he’s getting underrated by some.

 

17. K’Andre Miller  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 198  Shot: L

Comparison: Ed Jovanovski

Currently, he’s very raw.  And a lot like Serron Noel, the warning has to be there that he needs time to develop.  Apparently he was an amazing interview at the combine, a lot of teams loved him, and that’s how he moved from I believe 29th last time around to 17th on this final list.  I’m perhaps to a fault, insanely high on the interview process, especially with a kid like Miller because the talent is so ridiculous.  He’s only been a D-man for a very short period of time, yet he was perhaps the best D-man for the USNTDP this season (perhaps better than Wilde).  If that’s the case now, how good is he going to be in two or three years?  If he had a low IQ I wouldn’t suggest that, but Miller seems to be a really intelligent kid.  If he ends up being a number one D-man someday, it really wouldn’t shock me.  Again, like Noel, he has all the physical ability to do it, and he’s been forced to think the game which will benefit him greatly moving forward.

 

18. Bode Wilde  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 198  Shot: R

Comparison: Jacob Trouba

I’m slightly tapping on him.  The news of him de-committing to Michigan, after switching his commitment from Harvard to Michigan in the fall, something about it just bothers me and I can’t help but wonder if it goes hand in hand with his question mark which is the IQ.  And don’t get me wrong here, nobody is going to suggest Wilde is dumb.  But to be a top end D-man in the NHL, perhaps the most important quality is high end intelligence.  But I’ve said all along and I’ll still say it here: a top four defenceman who leaves you wanting more is still a top four defenceman.  Jay Bouwmeester, Dion Phaneuf, Zach Bogosian (when he was healthy) were all guys who left most of us pulling out our hair that they couldn’t be number one guys and so they got underrated.  But they were still very good top four defencemen.  So I wonder if all, including me, aren’t being a little unfair to Wilde.  No concerns about his work ethic or passion he plays with, and he literally possesses all the physical ability.

 

19. Akil Thomas  Niagara  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 177  Shot: R

Comparison: Mitch Marner

Draft him assuming he’s a winger, and if he ends up playing the middle, consider it a huge bonus.  Good skater with silky smooth hands and tremendous vision.  As for the comparison, consult what I said in the opening, it’s much more about style.  Having said that, I don’t see why Thomas can’t rival what Marner does (as a ceiling).  I could be wrong about this, but I don’t believe Thomas seen much five on five time with Kirill Maksimov this season, instead playing strictly on the Ice Dogs second line with essentially nobody.  I know for some they’ll be worried about nearly half his assists coming on the PP, but that was the only time he was playing with the top finishers on his squad.  In his draft year, Marner was playing with Max Domi and Christian Dvorak most of the season.  So it might not be just the style and stature that’s similar with the two players.  Just love his vision though, and I’m sky high on playmakers right now.  You can never have too many, and they can all play with each other.

 

20. Martin Kaut  Pardubice  CZE  Extra

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: R

Comparison: Alex Steen

Apparently the heart (literally, not figuratively) issues are a thing of the past and he’s deemed good to go, so he’s a kid who drastically shoots up my list.  Its funny with me, because I have no problem calling out guys for underrating centres and D all year leading up to the draft (I think of kids like Cody Glass, Robert Thomas, Pierre Luc-Dubois, Mathew Barzal who got underrated by most throughout the process), yet these types of wingers do too.  The guys who aren’t AS skilled as others, yet do everything so well.  I just love these types of wingers who can play in any situation, and Kaut is going to have the size too.  Only 176 lbs right now, he looks as though he has the frame to get up to 205-210 lbs without hurting his speed and quickness.

 

21. Jonatan Berggren  Skelleftea  SWE J-20

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Jaden Schwartz

One of the biggest risers in the draft this season.  Berggren has real high end vision, speed, IQ, and has the work ethic to go with it.  I view him as one of the safest picks in the draft.  I think what has me higher on him than some, and others maybe not as high as I believe they should be on him, is he’s not overly “dynamic” out there (here comes another rant on it from me).  Scouts LOVE their “dynamic” guys, and I just really believe that it is so overrated.  I want the smarts, because in the NHL the “dynamic” guys often won’t be able to do too many “dynamic” things.  They won’t be toe dragging anyone, they won’t be dangling defenders deep in the zone, unless you’re a McDavid, Crosby, Ovechkin, Matthews, Seguin, MacKinnon, Hall, etc. you aren’t doing these things to NHL defencemen, so you better know where to go at all times, as Berggren does.

 

22. Vitali Kravtsov  Chelyabinsk  RUS

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 184  Shot: L

Comparison: Filip Forsberg

The “Soups Russian factor” comes to the fore front.  But one thing to take note of here, I now have him in my very wide open fourth tier.  For me, that’s huge.  Others will look at it and think “well you still got him 22nd you racist” (again, some have literally claimed I’m RACIST for pointing out the fact that Russian forwards have proven to be risky to take in the top 15, going 0 for 6 since 2004). Thing is that with Kravtsov, I really like what I read in regards to his style of play (hence the Forsberg comparison).  Skilled, fast, physical, great with the puck, a terrific shot, and he’s still filling out.  184 lbs at the combine, probably will get up to 200-205 in a few seasons.  I’m finding it very difficult to keep him down here, but the Russian forwards who have come before him is what makes me nervous to pick him in the top 15-20.

 

23. Rasmus Kupari  Karpat  Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1.5  Wt: 189  Shot: R

Comparison: Matt Duchene

I tap on him being a centre, everything screams winger so I’m listing him as such.  Kupari is a kid who is more about the upside than about the production.  I seen a debate about this with a kid last year: Casey Mittelstadt.  Analytics guys were down on Mittelstadt because so much of his damage was done five on four, while more traditional scouting services loved him because of the skill set.  Wheels and skill.  I understand maybe more than most about the IQ concerns, but if you draft him assuming he’s a winger and you look at his attributes, those concerns are much easier to live with.  I’ve seen guys with lower “hockey smarts” succeed in the league on the wing.  They can’t at centre, but can on the wing.

 

24. Joel Farabee  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 162  Shot: L

Comparison: Kyle Palmeri

Like Hughes, Farabee is a kid who I really like!  But I keep dropping him because I have trouble justifying him over others.  He can FLY, one of the best skaters in the draft.  One of the best motors in the draft too.  But while he has good vision and good skill, I’m not sure it’s at the level where he’ll be that winger who can really carry a line.  I get the draw though, and while the weight isn’t where you’d like it now, he’s going to be 175-180 lbs before too long.  Like him a lot, just trying not to confuse how much I like the player vs the upside.

 

Tier Five (4)

25. Ty Dellandrea  Flint  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 184  Shot: R

Comparison: Elias Lindholm

An example of how you should stick to your guns.  Start of the reason I brushed up on Dellandrea and thought “man, I love what I can find on this kid!”  And then throughout the season, scouts were way down on him.  Now?  He’s rising back up.  The big concern for me is the organization he’s with.  Flint is a complete tire fire.  So, is he a flower in a land fill?  Or are they wrecking his development?  After his prospects game performance, then his U-18 performance, he’s looking like a kid who is a lot better than what he looked like throughout the season.  He’s one of these kids who does everything well, nothing spectacular.  But the book is that he’s a really intelligent and hard working kid, so if the tools are there, he should at least turn into something in the show.

 

26. Dominik Bokk  Vaxjo  SuperElite

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: R

Comparison: Martin Havlat

As Chris Berman would call him “Dominik Bokk like an Egyptian”.  The kid has ridiculous one on one skills which can help make a kid an online sensation.  A lot of people questioning his play away from the puck.  He put up points and he can make beautiful plays, but if you’re much more of a liability out there than an asset, you’re not going to see the ice.  Another minor concern is his skating.  He has speed, but you’d like to see him clean up his stride and edge work that would help take him to another level.  Skill set is without a doubt there for this kid to become a front line player though.  Hands and vision are real high end, and the size will be good too once he fills out. 

 

27. Kirill Marchenko  M. Yugry  MHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

Comparison: Marian Hossa

DO NOT GET THE COMPARISON TWISTED HERE!!!  I found it difficult to find a good comp for him.  But there are a lot of parts of his game that are very similar to Hossa.  Size, puck protection, 200 foot game, etc.  Is he going to be Hossa?  I HIGHLY doubt it.  Does he play exactly like Hossa?  No, just in certain area’s.  Having said all this, he’s so damn intriguing!  He’s a power forward who has a great motor and has shown a willingness to play a 200 foot game.  His drawback right now is his skating and its basically just that he doesn’t have the strength to match his body type right now.  Once he gets that strength, look out!  It’s a bit concerning that he never came over for the combine, so you wonder how intrigued he is by the idea of the NHL, but I’d watch for one of these teams with an extra first rounder in the 26-31 range to perhaps take a swing on a kid this talented.

 

28. Grigori Denisenko  Yaroslavl  RUS-JR

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: R

Comparison: Sergei Samsonov

Again, the “Soups Russian factor” ranking.  It’s another one of those stereotypical comparisons, but it’s really tough not to look at the way Denisenko plays and not be reminded of Samsonov being that smaller, gritty Russian who was a righty shot playing on his off wing while being a highly skilled pass first guy.  And I love the intensity and grit he’s shown from time to time.  But I put him down here primarily because he’s Russian, and no “race baiting” can change my mind on this.  Absolutely LOVE the skill with this kid, and won’t be anything shocked should he prove me wrong to have him this low.

 

Tier Six (15)

29. Jack McBain  Toronto  OJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 201  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan Johansen

In regards to my rankings, McBain is a poor man’s version of Joe Veleno.  I believe scouts expected so much out of him this season, they were just waiting for him to obliterate the OJHL, and when he didn’t then he fell off the map for a lot of them….at least in terms of being a first round pick.  I still like him though because the book on the kid is still that he’s a tremendous worker, his skating has improved to the point where it’s not a concern, still has tremendous skill, and that size is nothing to scoff at.  And again like Veleno, he’s a playmaker.  Those 58 points in 48 games could become 78 points in 48 games if he has the right guy to finish for him.  I thought just the way he got around the big ice at the U-18’s might alleviate some concerns on him, but it doesn’t seem like that happened.  He’ll need time, but he’s going to BC in the fall and a team drafting him having three years (let’s be honest, if a player gets to his fourth year then he’s gone) before they need to sign him is going to be good for him.

 

30. Jacob Olofsson  Timra  SHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 189  Shot: L

Comparison: Alex Wennberg

Another stereotypical comparison I know, but I couldn’t avoid it.  By the way, THN, Ryan Kennedy, whichever one of you I have to blame….quit stealing my comps!  First off, if we’re grading the hair on these kids, he’s 5/5!  Solid two way centre.  It’s not anything that anyone will get excited over, and Olofsson doesn’t seem like an excitable guy out on the ice.  Just plays 200 feet, good size, good shot, good vision, and the IQ most of all is his calling card.  I think he’s worst case scenario a terrific third line centre, best case scenario he’s an elite second line centre.  You know earlier in the year I had seen someone rave about his speed, and this was after I had watched him play.  I thought maybe my eyes deceived me, and of course instead of going back and double checking, I went with what the guy said.  Just goes to show you that even with some of the guys who really push their stuff, you can’t take them at their word.  Sometimes they’re just guessing.  I’m never guessing, I’ll tell you what I do or don’t know, but I should have more detail than that.  Anyway, Olofsson is NOT a great skater despite what this one guy said.  He is an ok skater, decent speed, nothing special, though not a big flaw either.  Not really really a flaw in his game actually, just does nothing at an elite level which is something I like a first round pick to have is that one elite quality to work with.

 

31. Ryan McLeod  Mississauga  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 190  Shot: L

Comparison: Andrew Cassels

McLeod has everything you need to be a number one centre, except he just doesn’t show that he’s very willing to do what it takes.  I don’t know if that’s the case off the ice, but on the ice it is in that he’s a perimeter player and really doesn’t like the traffic.  But he’s a tremendous skater, has great vision, and actually plays a pretty solid two way game.  Maybe it’s a case of a kid who is trying to play too cautious?  I doubt it, but you never know.  I put Andrew Cassels as the comparison, but the guy I worry that he’s exactly like is Peter Holland who had a very similar scouting report coming out of the OHL.

 

32. Nicolas Beaudin  Drummondville  QMJHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

Comparison: Torey Krug

Late riser, especially for me.  I was well aware of him prior to this, but just hear/seen a lot of people who I really respect raving about him, starting researching him more, and felt somewhat the same.  Beaudin was very consistent all season, and as you can see at only 172 lbs he still has about 20 lbs to pack on.  IQ is really high (terrific combine interview), high end passing abilities, high end speed isn’t great but he makes up for it with his foot speed and edge work which are both elite.  Honestly, I’d much rather a kid be able to cut, stop/start at an elite level than be able to win a 100 foot race because its a skill that’s rarely needed.

 

33. Rasmus Sandin  Sault Ste. Marie  OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 186  Shot: L

Comparison: Andrej Sekera

Not in love with the skating, but it’s a lot like Evan Bouchard in that he does everything else so well that it minimizes the problem.  Vision is high end, and IQ is high end.  And as we’ve seen with Vegas, it’s so much more about the transition than the actual speed of the individual players.  So if you got a kid like Sandin who can really move the puck, it’s a huge boost to your blueline.

 

34. Ivan Morozov  M. Yugry  MHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 178  Shot: R

Comparison: Tomas Plekanec

I’ve harped on the Russian forward factor throughout my rankings, but once we get into the early second round that really goes away for me because now the risk factor isn’t nearly as large and you can find some real good value with some of them.  Marchenko is a kid I find myself getting higher and higher on, and the same can be said for Morozov.  The kid is just a very complete centre.  Very skilled in the offensive zone with great vision, a terrific shot, plays a very sound 200 foot game, seems to have a real high IQ, and has a great motor.  The more I read about him, the more I find myself saying “this is my kind of player”.

 

35. Jet Woo  Moose Jaw  WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 200  Shot: R

Comparison: Travis Hamonic

Here’s another kid who gets knocked because he’s not “dynamic”.  Who cares how effective a player is right?  As long as they can toe drag someone…He’s a stay at home type, but a new age stay at home type and that gets undervalued in today’s game.  And it’s not as though Woo is a 6’5 coke machine who can’t skate in the Derrian Hatcher mold.  Great skater and plays in your face.  The offensive potential is there too, and if that ever gets tapped into teams will deeply regret passing on Woo.

 

36. Jacob Bernard-Docker  Okotoks  AJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 187  Shot: R

Comparison: Trevor Daly

“Trevor Daly?!”  Some of you might think that, but I think pretty highly of Daly, always have.  And if he came along now I believe he’d be a lot more revered than he’s been.  Great skater, great puck mover, but real dependable in all situations rather than a big point producer and that’s what I see with Bernard-Docker.  I saw…three Okotoks games this season I believe?  Played my nephew twice, though neither of those games I got to see (nothing gets in the way of me watching the Super Bowl).  Anyway, when I did see him play it was impressive to see an 18 year old be such a key contributor to a top team in the AJHL.  He’ll be joining good friend Jonny Tychonik at UND either this fall or in the fall of 2019.

 

37. Calen Addison  Lethbridge  WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 178  Shot: R

Comparison: Alex Goligoski

Pretty standard analysis with Addison.  Small, fast, quick, right handed shooting puck mover.  He’ll never be a number one defenceman, but he could thrive in the right situation and be a solid second pairing kid.  As of right now, he has a long ways to go in his own zone.  But with his offensive abilities, as long as he gets it to a level where he’s not a liability, he’ll be ok.  I probably trust Addison to get to a level defensively where he can be a number four guy who runs a pp more than I can trust a kid like Quinn Hughes to get to a level where a coach is willing to use him in all situations.

 

38. Jonathan Tychonick  Penticton  BCHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11.5  Wt: 177  Shot: L

Comparison: Tobias Enstrom

He’s exciting.  Terrific skater (the first step in particular is what I love), terrific passing ability, terrific shot (more so talking about his wrist than clapper), and all reports are that Tychonick is a great kid who has a great attitude.  The slight concerns that remain with a kid playing in a CJHL league should have been nullified with his play at the U-18’s where he looked just fine.  Off to UND next season.

 

39. Alexander Alexeyev  Red Deer  WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 196  Shot: L

Comparison: Matthias Ekholm

I’ve seen someone describe him as the best defender in the draft.  And that’s not to suggest he has no offensive game…37 points in just 45 games this season on a weak Red Deer Rebels team.  It’s not eye popping for a 99 born, but it’s not far off the type of production Flames 2017 first rounder Juuso Valimaki had last season as a 98 born on a much better Tri-City team.  He’s a kid who I really worry that I’m ranking too low and other people are too due to his lack of “wow” which as I’ve said in the past I find a bit ridiculous.  This time around, I got him six spots higher, had trouble putting him any higher than this, but I’m starting to see what a few others are in him.  Not to mention, I didn’t know until recently about some of the personal problems he went through this season.

 

40. Adam Ginning  Linkoping  SHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 206  Shot: L

Comparison: Erik Gudbranson

I could have gone stereotypical with the comparison here.  Mattias Nordstrom, Niklas Grossman, Adam Larsson (whom he even says he plays a lot like), those type of stay at home Swedish D-men.  But Gudbranson fits this mold too.  You have to remember that when Gudbranson was drafted, he went third in 2010 because he looked as though he had untapped offensive potential.  Obviously he’s never tapped into that, but that doesn’t mean Ginning can’t.  While he’s a killer on the blueline, and looks as though he’ll be an effective shutdown defender, he has a good point shot and moves extremely well for a kid his size.

 

41. Jesse Ylonen  Espoo  FIN

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 160  Shot: R

Comparison: Gustav Nyqvist

He’s a lot like Jonatan Berggren in that he has great wheels, great skill, and there’s just a question of whether or not he’s willing to play in traffic.  But the IQ appears to be extremely high.  Like most kids with dad’s who played in the NHL, he just seems to have that next level of smarts out on the ice.  A quiet prospect, not much flash in his game, but I could see him being one of those early second round picks who this time next year has people questioning why he didn’t go until the second round.

 

42. Jay O’Brien  Thayer Academy  USHS

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: R

Comparison: Joe Pavelski

Playing high school hockey for the large majority of the season, coupled with him being a late 99 birth, its tough to rank him.  Last time around, I had him in mind for the top 50, but I wasn’t sold.  Obviously I’m much more sold now, but I still have hesitation.  Off to Providence next season where we’ll get a much better gauge on what he can do vs top competition.  Going off what I’ve seen of him (not a lot) and his stats, I’d suggest that he’s better suited for the wing than centre.  But again I’ll state, I do like him playing the middle and view it as a big bonus because it forces kids to do more in their own zone at the lower levels.

 

43. Liam Foudy  London  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 174  Shot: L

Comparison: Andrew Cogliano

A burner and a shoot first guy, so chances are he’s better suited for the wing much like Jay O’Brien.  But nevertheless he’s got a lot of people buzzing despite underwhelming numbers this season as a whole, but great numbers in the second half.  Once the Knights cleared out the vets at the trade deadline Foudy got his opportunity and capitalized, and continued his strong play at the U-18’s.  For me, I worry about how he can perform while playing “off the puck” offensively (like that?  I doubt I use it again).  In the NBA or basketball in general, a popular term is “playing off the ball”.  Lebron James handles the ball, but some wonder if he ends up signing with the 76ers and playing with Ben Simmons if he’s willing to play “off the ball”.  It reminds me of Foudy.  If you look at his goals, A LOT of them are him just burning average OHL defencemen, really not using or needing the help of his linemates.  He doesn’t have great vision (or at least has yet to display that), and he’s really just using his speed and shot.  It reminds me of Ryan Murphy even though he was a D-man.  Maybe its a bad observation, and in no way am I suggesting that he won’t be successful or that I don’t like him.

 

Tier Seven (9)

44. Jake Wise  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 195  Shot: L

Comparison: Daniel Briere

I’m not sure he’s a centre at the next level, but much like with O’Brien and Foudy, I don’t view that as a knock.  I prefer kids who play centre in junior.  In MLB, teams constantly take shortstops.  Why?  Because a kid who is playing shortstop can be developed to play pretty much anywhere defensively.  A centre can’t play anywhere, but its likely he’ll be able to play on either wing in addition to the middle.  Anyway, Wise had a tough year.  Looked like a sure fire first rounder entering the season, ran into injury problems, and had trouble really gaining traction.  Even then, he still put up 43 points in 38 games on the season.  The foot speed is what’s concerning for me.  Being only 5’10 and likely not being able to add much more weight than he’s listed at, the foot speed will need to improve a lot.  If it does though, someone is going to have a damn good player on their hands!

 

45. Niklas Nordgren  HIFK  SM-Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 169  Shot: R

Comparison: Jonathan Drouin

On skill, he’s a top 25 pick, if not a top 15 pick.  But his skating is weak.  Now, the weight is under 170 lbs, so perhaps once he packs on another 15-20 lbs.  Increasing his lower body strength could go a very long way for him.  If he does increase his speed, no matter how he might do it, someone is getting a hell of a player.

 

46. Cole Fonstad  Prince Albert  WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 159  Shot: L

Comparison: Ray Whitney

He’s under the radar for a lot of guys, but Fonstad is an intriguing kid and one I’d have big interest in if I’m the Oilers for example with the 40th pick should he still be on the board.  Put up PPG numbers (21 goals, 73 points total, 16 goals, 47 points ES) on a P.A. team this season which overachieved but isn’t overly skilled.  Higher ranked than most will have him, but the more I’ve read on him the more I’ve liked him and when he gets his weight up to 175-180 lbs the size will be just fine with the way the game is played today.

 

47. Adam Mascherin  Kitchener  OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 196  Shot: L

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

He’s back!  And while he doesn’t have incredible upside, I really believe he’s going to be a consistent scorer in the league, along the lines of a Cammalleri, or Michael Ryder, or Jordan Eberle.  In other words, he won’t do much else for you, but he’ll fill the net.  Add in the fact that he’s close to playing, and for me I’d have him as early second…maybe even late first round value.  But don’t confuse this ranking with where he’ll go.  He won’t go until at least the second round, and might fall to the third or fourth.  GM’s normally don’t like kids who re-enter the draft.

 

48. Jared McIsaac  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 189  Shot: L

Comparison: Brayden Coburn

I worry about his IQ.  He’s mobile, and he has ok size.  I’m just not sure he’s going to put up much for offensive numbers.  I could see him breaking into the league, looking great initially, all the analysts will tell us what tremendous potential he has, and then he’ll stagnate as a player.  It’s actually something we see often with defencemen.

 

49. Mattias Samuelsson  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 218  Shot: L

Comparison: Marc Staal

Son of Kjell, not Ulf, which I’m sure will be asked by plenty of 30+ year old readers.  To my eye when I’ve seen him, I really don’t like the skating ability.  Not that he’s a poor skater, but I personally am looking more for kids now with high end skating ability, especially on the blueline.  As of now I’m not seeing the offensive upside, and believe he’ll just be a stay at home guy who if he’s in the right organization and gets the right fit could be a number four, but that’s a lot of things needing to go right.

 

50. Jan Jenik  Benatky N.J.  CZE 2

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 171  Shot: L

Comparison: Valtteri Filppula

From what I can gather, he played the wing this season (which is why some list him as a RW) yet is a natural centre.  I like this kid because his only real flaw is that he’s thin.  Maybe the biggest issue in his game is that he doesn’t generate enough power in his stride.  Well, he’s carrying around a 6’1 frame with only 161 lbs this season (at least that’s what he was listed at during the season).  At the combine he weighed in at 171 lbs.  Once he gets up around 190-200 lbs, I’m going to guess that problem is going (assuming he puts it on properly).  Nobody has anything bad to say about his game either.  Gets his nose dirty, smart player, does a great job of protecting the puck, good vision (SOMEONE made the statement that he isn’t a “dynamic” playmaker….I’m not even sure what that means!).  So I got him a lot higher than most do and really believe someone could be getting a big steal when they take him.  Another bonus is that he’s the youngest kid in the draft, born on September 15th, 2000.

 

51. Albin Eriksson  Skelleftea  SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 207  Shot: L

Comparison: Ulf Dahlen

I’m going a little old school on this comp, mainly because he’s a tough kid to find a comp on!  I think of a few guys from the 90’s when I think of Eriksson.  Eric Daze was another.  Anyway, that size makes him very intriguing, and while he has some skating issues, its things like edge work and foot speed which we’ve seen a lot of guys overcome.  As you’d expect, he’s difficult to handle down low and on the wall, he takes the puck to the net, and has a heavy shot.

 

52. Jakub Lauko  Chomutov  CZE

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 179  Shot: L

Comparison: Carl Hagelin

He’s a total burner, one of the best skaters in this draft.  And for me, I LOVE kids who have an elite quality like that.  On top of that, the kid has no issues getting his nose dirty and going to the tough spots on the ice.  Don’t let any publication tell you differently, he’s a winger in the pro’s.  He played some centre this season, that’s fine, but his game is 100% winger.

 

Tier Eight (9)

53. Ryan Merkley  Guelph  OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 168  Shot: R

Comparison: Ryan Murphy

All the talent in the world to be an elite defenceman in the game, yet it sounds like the kid just simply has a few screws loose.  Big time shame.  I would take him mid-late second round, as long as he indicated that he’s open to it I’d get him some mental help.  When he’s giving up on plays, is he just being far too harsh on himself?  Is he quitting on his team?  And if he’s quitting on his team, why?  Some of the stuff like being rough on teammates I honestly believe could just be a case of him being so talented that he craves being surrounded with similar talent.  That sounds egotistical if the case, but it might not be intentional on his part.  Think of some of the best minds and talents in different walks of life, they can be extremely difficult to work with because people aren’t on their level.  Not that Merkley is the kind of talent we’ve never seen before or anything along those lines, but he is ridiculously talented.  If he’s handled right, someone could have one of the all time best draft steals, because he truly is a top five talent.  But I hope that whoever drafts him have a plan on how they need to work with him and can get him on board for fixing the issues that are currently holding him back.

 

54. Allan McShane  Oshawa  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Stephen Weiss

I’m not sure what the upside is with McShane, but I really believe this kid is as safe of a pick as you’ll find in this area of the draft.  He’s going to be a real versatile guy who can play anywhere in your bottom nine (has anyone ever called it a bottom nine?)  I’m not saying he’ll only be Mark Letestu, but I believe that’s going to be the floor.  He’s a really cerebral player.  But the big knock on him like with a lot of these kids I’ve got in the second round range is whether or not he’s willing to play in traffic or else how will he hold up when playing in traffic.  McShane is the former more than the latter.  Everyone is cool with smaller players, but they need to be fearless and have some bite.  He hasn’t shown a lot of that to this point.

 

55. Filip Hallander  Timra  SWE-Als

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 188  Shot: L

Comparison: Phillip Danault

Hallander is a very typical two way centre with size.  No flash in his game at all, but extremely intelligent player.  Far more of a sure thing to play in the league, but the ceiling maybe maxes out as a third line guy.  The high end speed isn’t as good as you’d like, but his foot speed is terrific, and for me that’s a much more important quality in a player.

 

56. Filip Johansson  Leksands  SWE-J20

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: R

Comparison: Jonas Brodin

Nothing flashy in anyway, you can see some offensive tools, but what he is and likely to stay being is a defensively sound defenceman who’ll probably be best used on a top pairing…but as a complimentary guy to the number one guy.  A Jonhansson type would look incredible beside a Doughty, Keith, Subban, Hedman, Rielly, etc.

 

57. Kevin Bahl  Ottawa  OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 216  Shot: L

Comparison: Joel Edmundson

Watching this kid in the U-18’s, he was active, skilled, and yet still showed his toughness.  Similar to how he performed at the top prospect’s game.  It makes you wonder if he’s being poorly coached or if there isn’t the belief in him there should be in Ottawa.  Again I go back to Vegas, loo at how great Engelland and McNabb were this season.  It’s not as much the skating ability as it is coaching the players to stay on their toes and play with speed.  I really believe if Bahl went to the right situation, he could become something really special.

 

58. Benoit-Olivier Groulx  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 193  Shot: L

Comparison: Yannic Perreault

The wheels are just too concerning.  If he can fix the skating, he’ll play in the NHL, because he’s so smart out there and is willing to do anything that is asked of him.  But he’s too slow right now.

 

59. Gabriel Fortier  Baie Comeau  QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 170  Shot: L

Comparison: Bryan Rust

One of the top skaters and best motors in the draft, this kid always gives a max effort.  The offensive upside is questionable, but has the ability to be a complimentary top nine winger.  Apparently was an awesome interview at the combine.

 

60. Sean Durzi  Owen Sound  OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 188  Shot: R

Comparison: Alec Martinez

Thing that I honestly see as a positive for a team drafting Durzi, much like with Mascherin, is that he can step right into the AHL and be an asset to your organization.  I could see that having some value with teams in the second round tomorrow, specifically those who are thin at the AHL level.  The IQ with Durzi is definitely there to play in the NHL.  And I love the fact that he’s a righty who has a lot of damn good offensive tools.  So end of the second round is where I’d look at him based off all that.  His skating still needs to improve though.  For a guy only 6’0, you’d like to see better wheels.

 

61. Dennis Busby  Flint  OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 180  Shot: R

Comparison: Kimmo Timonen

This is as high or higher than most will have Busby.  He missed all but two games this season with a broken collarbone.  But he’s a kid who was looking like a first round pick after last season and has all the tools to be a damn good D-man in time, though in time because he now has a full season to make up for.  But he has great wheels, great vision, can tilt the ice, and has shown to be pretty committed to learning how to play in his own zone too which as I’ve discussed can be difficult to find with these undersized puck movers.  A ton of the decision on him would have come down to the interview, but from everything I can find on the kid it sounds like the IQ and the work ethic really check out.

 

Tier Nine (14)

62. Jacob Ingham  Mississauga  OHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 191  Glove: L

Comparison: Mike Smith

He had a bad year.  Really bad, really inconsistent.  And this is higher than pretty much anyone has him.  But here is what I know: he has the size, the talent, and the work ethic to be a starting goaltender in the NHL.  For goaltenders, its all mental, and that’s what it was for Ingham this season.  He gets that part figured out, he’ll thrive.  He’s a kid who I meant to mention and forgot to when writing my piece on the Oilers draft on Tuesday and how I could see the Oilers taking him.  Reminds me a lot of both Dylan Wells and Stuart Skinner.

 

63. Philipp Kurashev  Quebec  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 190  Shot: L

Comparison: Joe Juneau

A ton of skill, a pure playmaker, some really worry about the motor but I wonder if Quebec just wasn’t a bad spot for him to play.

 

64. Axel Andersson  Djurgarden  SWE-J20

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 178  Shot: R

Comparison: Dennis Wideman

A lot of tools at his disposal to be developed into a very solid offensive defenceman.

 

65. Martin Fehervary  Oskarshamn  SWE-Als

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Dan Hamhuis

Good skater, high IQ, and very physical.  Was apparently an excellent interview at the draft combine.

 

66. Nico Gross  Oshawa  OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Calvin de Haan

Complete defencemen with a high IQ and good skating ability, offensive ceiling isn’t high though.

 

67. David Gustafsson  HV71  SHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1.5  Wt: 196  Shot: L

Comparison: Jay Beagle

No flash here, just a very dependable centre.  The ceiling isn’t all that high, but Gustafsson looks like he can play in the league as a 3rd or 4th line centre.

 

68. Bulat Shafigullin  Reaktor  RUS-Jr.

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 165  Shot: L

Comparison: Benoit Pouliot

A sneaky draft favourite of many.  Very raw talent and will take a while but he could be a very nice reward for a team someday if they’re patient.

 

69. Olivier Rodrigue  Drummondville  QMJHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 156  Glove: L

Comparison: Ryan Miller

Lacking the size, but doesn’t lack the talent.  He’s right on the edge of being too small for today’s NHL.

 

70. Chase Wouters  Saskatoon  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 176  Shot: R

Comparison: Casey Cizikas

I’m not writing much on the kids past 62, but he gets an exception.  This might be a bias to have Chase here, but I’ve watched this kid most of his life and since about his second year pee-wee I said “he’s going to play in the show”.  I always felt as though he modeled his game after Jonathan Toews when I’d watch him play.  51 points as a playmaker on a weak Blades team is nothing to scoff at, yet what the scouts like about him is his 200 foot game, lack of flaws, and his motor.  He could be a flat out steal for someone because he just works his balls off, has an extremely high IQ (runner-up to his buddy Ty Smith for WHL scholastic player of the year), and does anything asked of him by his coaches.  Probably tops out as a third line centre, but I have a ton of faith in this kids ability to get to the show knowing what I know.

 

71. Milos Roman  Vancouver  WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 188  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan Spooner

Looked like a fringe first round pick at the start of the season before injuries derailed him.  A lot of speed and skill.

 

72. Martin Pospisil  Sioux City  USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1.5  Wt: 173  Shot: L

Comparison: Nazem Kadri

Skilled, has filling out to do, and plays really dirty.  You can’t teach edge, but you can tame it.  Not saying he’ll be Kadri, but maybe a poor man’s version.

 

73. Jakub Skarek  Jihlava  CZE Extra

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 192  Glove: L

Comparison: Robin Lehner

Most have him as the best goaltender in the draft.  Has everything needed to be a starter.

 

74. Oskar Back  Farjestads  SWE-J20

Pos: C  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 204  Shot: L

Comparison: Carl Soderberg

Just a very smart 200 foot centre who plays a very heavy game.

 

75. Luke Henman  Blainville-Boisbriand  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 150  Shot: L

Comparison: David Krejci

Has a lot of skill and as you can see he’s yet another kid who has a lot of filling out to do that’ll help him in a ton of area’s of his game.  The comparison to Krejci is about style, but also how Krejci was so rail thin when he was drafted.

 

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