2020 NHL Draft: Top 25 Western Canadian Prospects

I’m finally finishing up all these draft pieces that when the pandemic first hit, I figured I’d be able to knock out in NO time!  So while it sucks that we won’t get a June draft, it does help me out as now the heavy lifting part of doing my lists is basically done!  Likely that this list will not be my final list given we are so many months away.  We’ll hear more about players in interviews from here on, we’ll still be able to look through more video, lots of things can still happen.

Note the title here.  No WHL in that title, because this time around I’m not ranking just the WHL kids.  BCHL are in.  AJHL are in.  SJHL are in (though they don’t have anyone factoring into this).  MJHL is in (though they’re the same as the SJ).

Something I added this time around that I figured might help is a draft grade.  But it’s not A or B’s, it’s more of a “where I would take them” in the overall draft.  Perhaps will give you a better idea of how I see the kids.  Sure I might have some guy ranked way up high and some guy ranked about 12 spots lower, but 12 spots could mean that I hate the lower guy, or 12 spots could speak to there being a logjam of players.  So hopefully the draft grades help sort that.  They kind of replaced tiering guys.  Not sure why I didn’t just tier them, but I guess I’m just trying something new.

Also, if you want to know more about how I do my rankings lists, I just recently got done this blog laying out in great detail what I look at, what I value, how I rank guys, etc.

 

1. Seth Jarvis

Team: Portland Winterhawks

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 172  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 58  G: 42  A: 56  P: 98

Previous Rank: 2

Born: 02/01/02, Winnipeg, MB

Comparison: Brad Marchand

First of all, the comp because I know people see that comp and think “he’s an instigator and a chicken shit?!”  Nope, Marchand without all the BS.  I still haven’t soured one bit on Guhle, but Jarvis crushed it this season and not only have I moved him to the number one spot in my WHL rankings, he is starting to get buzz as being a top 10 pick in the draft.  Sorry Oilers fans, I know a prominent Oilers blogger/radio personality believes the Oilers can get him at 20, and trust me I would be well beyond thrilled if he were still on the board, but that seems like big time wishful thinking.  Skating, skill, IQ, and motor is all good-great.  It was really amazing to watch his progression this season.  I was pretty high on him from the get-go (4th on my first list) but didn’t see THIS coming.  But as the year went on, he grabbed the reigns of the Winterhawks and took his game to a whole new level.

Grade: Top 10

 

2. Kaiden Guhle

Team: Prince Albert Raiders

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 64  G: 11  A: 29  P: 40

Previous Rank: 1

Born: 01/18/02, Sherwood Park, AB

Comparison: Darnell Nurse

As I said, I’m still very high on Guhle.  Perhaps higher than most.  The reason I’m higher on him than most is that I see him as a kid who an organization can really develop.  He might not be ready until the 2nd season of his ELC contract, but if he is given the proper time to develop he is going to be a damn good top-four D-man.  The skating, edge he plays with, size, IQ, and work ethic he displays tell me that he could really grow by leaps and bounds in the next few years if he is brought along slowly.  Safely, I believe that Guhle is going to be a top-four defenceman who a coach can lean on to play a lot of tough minutes.  But thinking about a couple of WHL alum’s from the 2003 draft who had a lot of similarities to Guhle in their draft year, Guhle compares well which are Shea Weber and Brent Seabrook.  Guhle has similar games to those two in their draft year, but has superior skating ability to them.

Grade: Top 15

 

3. Jack Finley

Team: Spokane Chiefs

Pos: C  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 207  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 61  G: 19  A: 38  P: 57

Previous Rank: 3

Born: 09/02/02, Kelowna, BC

Comparison: Jordan Staal

Most in the internet scouting community see Finley just as a potential 3rd line centre.  But as you can see, I am very high on Finley.  I see him as a kid with all the tools to be an elite 2nd line centre, and on top of that, he’s a safe pick.  He skates well, he has a very high IQ, good hands, good vision, as you can see has outstanding size, has a great 200-foot game, and he is extremely coachable.  That’s not sexy for anyone.  He doesn’t have goals that people can put on twitter and try to “scout-splain” to everyone why he’s so great, desperate to look intelligent to their followers as their inferiority complex overtakes them…anyway…he can produce in many other ways and doesn’t need to toe drag anyone.  He uses his size very effectively to protect the puck, take the puck hard to the net, and has good hands in tight once there.  It should be noted too, this is a kid who spent much of the season in a shutdown role for Spokane.  Not much time until late in the season playing with the WHL scoring leader Adam Beckman, not much time on the top PP unit.  People like Connor Zary has had all the love as far as WHL centre’s go this season, yet the ES production of the two players in nearly identical, and Zary played on the best line in the league.  Finley is bigger, a better skater, and a full year younger.  There have been two sets of head to head battles I’ve looked at hard this season where I come away saying “by no measure should one guy be ahead of the other”.  Guhle vs Braden Schneider, and Finley vs Connor Zary.  Give me Guhle and give me Finley and if you’re truly doing your homework on these kids then I’m not sure how you can have the latter ahead of the former.

Grade: 1st round

 

4. Ozzy Wiesblatt

Team: Prince Albert Raiders

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 64  G: 25  A: 45  P: 70

Previous Rank: 6

Born: 03/09/02, Calgary, AB

Comparison: T.J. Oshie

Sometimes I really love my comparisons.  There hasn’t been one that I’ve disliked to this point, but Wiesblatt to Oshie might be my favourite thus far.  The versatility, motor, hands, skating ability, and the gritty/greasy games that both players exhibit, I just see very similar players.  Wiesblatt played the most of the second half for Marc Habsheid, but I like him better as a winger in the pros.  I believe he’s going to be best playing a complementary role again…similar to Oshie.  Such a safe pick.  Very possible that he’s only ever a very good top-nine winger, but I see Wiesblatt being a kid who rides shotgun on a big line because he can provide a little bit of everything for a line and he has the type of game where he’s an easy fit with everyone.

Grade: 1st round

 

5. Michael Benning

Team: Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 174  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 54  G: 12  A: 63  P: 75

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 01/05/02, St. Albert, AB

Comparison: Ethan Bear

Before I start here, honourable mention for all the tier II kids because again this is the first list ranking the Western kids, not just the dub kids.  I’m not going to be a slave to stats, but I’m not going to completely ignore them either.  I tracked it all year comparing Benning’s stats in this his 17 year old season vs Cale Makar’s numbers in his 18 year old season.  The end result: even.  Makar had twice as many goals, but both played 54 games, both had 75 points, and both were playing with elite teams in the AJHL so nobody can give me a “yeah but this guy played with this player and the other only played with…” save it.  They were even teams.  Don’t get it twisted, Benning isn’t the prospect Makar was.  Makar is a tremendous skater, Benning is a good skater.  Makar is a rover, where Benning plays much more cerebral.  It’s funny though, I’m seeing guys knock Benning’s skating and this is the same ridiculous logic that people had two years ago with Bouchard and Sandin where people are mistaking skating ability with pace of play.  With Benning, I think it’s best to think of a guy like Bear.  Moves the puck very well, knows when to jump in the play, rarely makes a risky decision.  He’s not going to play a “loud” game, but it’s going to be extremely effective.  It’ll be interesting to see what he does in the fall at this point.  Initially when I released this, I had in it that it was questionable whether or not Benning would go to DU in the fall with the COVID concerns.  Jim Matheson tweeted out the other day though that Benning and Savoie are planning to play at DU in the fall.  Matty said that DU will play games with no fans, though that’s nice…they still would need opponents and I’m not sure a decision on these things has been made by the NCAA…but at this point it looks as though Benning and Savoie will play at DU in the fall.  So no extra year of development for the teams that draft Benning or Savoie.

Grade: Late 1st round

 

6. Ronan Seeley

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 63  G: 3  A: 29  P: 32

Previous Rank: 11

Born: 08/02/02, Yellowknife, NT

Comparison: Josh Morrissey

Might be a little strong on my comparison here, but I’m thinking more so about what Morrissey was in his draft year, not so much what he’s become which is a top pairing D-man.  Massive jump up my rankings for Seeley, but if you followed along since the beginning of the season then you know I’ve been pretty high on Seeley from the start.  I can honestly say, it’s been a case of me not having the balls to put him higher than most have him.  But as I always try to tell myself “fuck’em, trust what you see”.  Easier said than done…What I see with Seeley is a terrific defenceman with a lot of upside.  He will only get better the more responsibility he is given.  Standard stuff for a sub 6’0 defenceman as he is a terrific skater and can really move the puck.  But then in the D-zone he is very sound fundamentally with his positioning, angles, and stick.  Comes off as a very coachable kid and displays a very high IQ.

Grade: Late 1st round

 

7. Ridly Greig

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 159  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 56  G: 26  A: 34  P: 60

Previous Rank: 10

Born: 08/08/02, Lethbridge, AB

Comparison: Brayden Schenn

He’s a coach’s dream and just does everything right.  I was high on him entering the season, and then he was so solid in a support role at the Hlinka/Gretzky, and just simply showcased it all season.  I moved him up both these rankings and my Western rankings late because I just keep going back to how physically immature he is.  Greig is going to add another 20, maybe even 30lbs to his frame!  Playing the physical style he does and showcasing that he’s committed to playing a 200-foot game, that extra size will help him tremendously.  IQ, skating, and motor to develop a very complete game.  I thought about having him as high as 21, but one red flag would be the assists.  Half of his 34 apples came with the man advantage.

Grade: Late 1st round

 

8. Braden Schneider

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 209  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 60  G: 7  A: 35  P: 42

Previous Rank: 5

Born: 09/20/01, Prince Albert, SK

Comparison: Travis Hamonic

He’s such a safe pick.  He plays such a pro game already that I have a very difficult time seeing him not playing in the league.  I’ve used the Travis Hamonic comparison all year long, and it is just very fitting not only because of the way he plays but also given that Hamonic spent time in Brandon.  Can more offence come?  Absolutely.  His skating ability is very solid and so perhaps he starts jumping up in the play a lot more and the offensive ability starts coming along, you never know with defencemen.  But Schneider seems to really take pride in being a terrific defender.  His punishing style especially low in the zone coupled with fantastic positioning and angling makes him just miserable to play against.  A throwback, but a piece that is still very valuable as long as a player can skate and Schneider can.

Grade: Late 1st round

 

9. Connor Zary

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 57  G: 38  A: 48  P: 86

Previous Rank: 4

Born: 09/25/01, Saskatoon, SK

Comparison: Jarret Stoll

The more I dig into the film on Zary, the more concerns I’m finding.  That’s not just me, that’s pretty much everyone.  I’ve said it in every write-up I’ve had on Zary this season that the skating concerns me, and it shouldn’t be lost on anyone that his numbers are inflated playing with my fellow Wildcats Zane Franklin and Orrin Centazzo.  Now, that’s the negative.  It isn’t as though I don’t see the upside with Zary, and what’s especially intriguing in my mind is that he wasn’t a highly touted kid coming into the WHL.  He’s really had to work to get to this spot.  I use Stoll as the comp and some might see that as a slight.  You look at their 17 year old and 18 year old numbers in the dub, they’re production is nearly identical, their style is nearly identical, and if Zary were to “only” be a high end/tough minutes 3rd line centre like Stoll, that’d be a terrific get in my mind.  While I was rough on him in my write up on Finley, I really do like the player, I just don’t understand what the measure is for most to put him ahead of Finley.

Grade: Late 1st round

 

10. Connor McClennon

Team: Winnipeg Ice

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 157  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 42  G: 21  A: 28  P:  49

Previous Rank: 8

Born: 06/25/02, Wainwright, AB

Comparison: Brendan Gallagher

His draft stock took an even bigger hit than most with this shutdown, seeing that he broke his collar bone in his 42nd game of the season (right when he was on fire).  I just love the combination here of his motor, skill, and determination he plays with.  This kid is fearless.  But I can’t bring myself to put him any higher than this on my list because of his skating concerns and obviously we didn’t get to see him dominate for an overly long stretch as he was when he got hurt.  Man though, when Krebs came back, obviously Krebs is a great player, but it just gave McClennon ONE guy to help and the game just went through the freaking roof.  17 goals, 22 assists in his final 29 games, a 91 point pace.

Grade: 2nd round

 

11. Jake Neighbours 

Team: Edmonton Oil Kings

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 201  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 64  G: 23  A: 47  P: 70

Previous Rank: 7

Born: 03/29/02, Airdrie, AB

Comparison: Alex Killorn

I said it all season, I just didn’t understand why he was getting the hype that he was.  I like him, but a lot of people believed he was the best prospect in the dub, and that just was never the truth.  The skating isn’t great, the motor isn’t always going (it’s not as though he’s lazy, but there are times he leaves you wanting more in terms of intensity), and though I don’t say this very often…he needs to shoot more.  There is a reason you don’t see power wingers being playmakers.  So those are the cons.  But he’s still a 2nd rounder for sure with a very high IQ and good size.  But a more assertive game with the puck is definitely something I’d like to see, and I believe he’ll need to really work hard on his conditioning.  As a guy who has put on weight with ease all his life, I can tell you that I need to burn 1000 calories a day to safely say I’m shedding weight, and that’s with a proper diet.  The point I’m getting at is that Neighbours looks like he has that kind of build where it’ll be a little more difficult for him to not so much shed weight, but change his body type a bit which would likely really help his skating.  The potential is here, it’s just that it’s quite a bit that needs work.

Grade: 2nd round

 

12. Tristen Robins

Team: Saskatoon Blades

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 174  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 62  G: 33  A: 40  P: 73

Previous Rank: 12

Born: 11/15/01, Brandon, MB

Comparison: J.T. Compher

So here is the thing about Robins.  You see him at 12 on the rankings and you say “why does Soups hate Robins?”  I really don’t.  But A) it’s a deep class in the dub, and even deeper when I factor in the tier II kids (specifically the AJ), and B) when I’m doing my rankings, sometimes guys will get punished because of what I see them becoming and not being a difficult type of player to find as some of the things I take into consideration with my rankings aren’t the same as how most do it.  Take Braden Schneider earlier in this list for example.  I really love the way Schneider plays, but even if he maxed out I see him as a number four defenceman.  That’s a nice piece, but it’s not overly difficult to find that piece.  So if I’m a GM, I don’t see his “draft stock” being as high as someone who is perhaps a little more likely to bust.  I’m a big fan of Robins game, which is speed and a very high motor.  He’s terrific on the forecheck.  Wouldn’t write off the possibility of him playing the middle in pro hockey, but more likely that he plays the wing.  I see him as a safe bet to be a top-nine winger, with a chance to be a top-six guy.

Grade: 2nd round

 

13. Cross Hanas

Team: Portland Winterhawks

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 60  G: 22  A: 27  P: 49

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 01/05/02, Highland Village, TX

Comparison: Ondrej Kase

BIG jump for Hanas on my board.  First of all I should say, I’m not a fan of this comp, but he was an extremely difficult guy to find a good one for.  Basically my thinking is a very talented kid who has yet to put it all together, and I came up with Kase.  Something I kept coming back to with Hanas is “what’s he going to be once he fills out?”  Because he looks to me like he might be a little bigger than his listing of 6’1, he’s SO lanky.  So when he fills out and is playing around 190-200lbs and has some legitimate strength…he could be lethal!  That added weight/strength could especially help his skating, which is below average in my opinion at the moment but appears to be from a severe lack of lower body strength.  And so you might then say “his stats aren’t very good compared to others” but you have to look deeper than that.  Only 9 of his 49 points were with the man advantage.  Also, according to pick224.com, Hanas estimated TOI was just under 14 minutes a game, which places him 13th of 15 among the forwards who made this list (I’m guessing on Carter Savoie but it’s a pretty safe guess).  Add on top of all this, have you seen exactly how this kid scores?  In looking to review some stuff on Hanas I went to YouTube to see if there was a highlight pack just to grade his goals or points or whatever I can find (do it with all players).  Four times this season he had the WHL highlight of the night goal.  The second time he pulled off the lacrosse goal he didn’t win it.  So realistically he probably should have had that five different times.  Now, I’m far from a guy who gets wowed by lacrosse goals (Mike Legg played how many NHL games?…) but the point is that this kid has a TON of skill.  Finally, pound for pound he protects the puck better than anyone else in the WHL, which is a trait that’ll serve him well in pro hockey.  He was someone who I underrated all season (despite liking what I had seen) due to concerns over the production.  But once I had the chance to dig deeper on him, those concerns are history and I’m really intrigued by Hanas.  He could make this ranking look pretty stupid in a few years.

Grade: 2nd round

 

14. Carter Savoie

Team: Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 54  G: 53  A: 46  P: 99

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 01/23/02, St. Albert, AB

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

I hate using a comp that I used a year ago.  Last year this was Caufield’s comp, now it’s Savoie’s.  It fits better for Caufield than Savoie in my mind, even though there are a lot of similarities.  Some worry about Savoie’s skating, but I don’t.  I don’t because I don’t believe that many people saw it showcased to its maximum ability this season.  Savoie looked bored at times.  There were times though that he would turn it on, whether it be in a big game, or when (for lack of a better term) someone would piss him off, as he isn’t afraid to go after someone.  He plays what I would call a “bitchy game”, and I know that sounds like an insult but I really don’t mean it to be.

Grade: 2nd round

 

15. Justin Sourdif

Team: Vancouver Giants

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 57  G: 26  A: 28  P: 54

Previous Rank: 9

Born: 03/24/02, Surrey, BC

Comparison: Sam Reinhart

Nobody is going to question his talent.  Great skill and a very good skater.  I am concerned about the determination though.  It’s where the Sam Reinhart comp comes from in that the talent is there, but how bad does he want it?  If you look at Reinhart, while he isn’t EXACTLY what we thought he’d be, he’s pretty good.  And again, Sourdif gets hurt by the dub being so deep this season.  If I did grades on these kids like most of the NFL guys do, I’d have a 2nd round grade on Sourdif.  It’s very likely he is still in my top 62 when I get around to putting that out.   What makes me nervous about having him this low, his ES numbers.  Only 7 of the 54 points came on the man advantage.  But again having said that, it just feels like the passion is lacking.  This is a scenario where I’d put a ton of stock into his interview.

Grade: 2nd round

 

16. Kasper Puutio

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 185  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 56  G: 5  A: 23  P: 28

Previous Rank: 17

Born: 06/03/02, Vaasa, FIN

Comparison: Damon Severson

The thing that I’ve really liked from the get-go with Puutio was his skating.  And then Larry Fisher told me earlier in the season when he watched Puutio live, the skating jumped out even more at him.  He moves it really well too, and only 7 of his 28 points came on the man advantage.  Statistically, a guy who came to mind was Henri Jokiharju who went 29th in 2017.  Jokiharju had 30 ES points in that season.  Puutio was at a 26 ES point pace this season.  Same size, Puutio might be a better skater, not as aggressive as Jokiharju but that might be better!  He’s like Hanas where the numbers aren’t showing, but I worry that in a few years I’m going to feel embarrassed about where I ranked him.  Some might wonder why he’s so much lower than Seeley despite having similar numbers on the same team, and it’s simple.  I feel Puutio’s game is tailor-made for Everett’s system, where Seeley I believe gets restricted by it.  But while it’s a 10 spot gap in these rankings, they wouldn’t be much further apart than that in the actual draft for me.  Benning/Seeley is where the Western logjam begins for me, and this is where it ends.  One more note with Puutio, he’s done with Everett.  Headed back home for the 20-21 season.

Grade: 2nd round

 

17. Pavel Novak

Team: Kelowna Rockets

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 170  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 55  G: 25  A: 33  P: 58

Previous Rank: 14

Born: 04/16/02, Tabor, CZE

Comparison: Frank Vatrano

Yet another victim of it being such a deep year in the West (are you sick of me mentioning this yet?!)  It’s actually not much deeper this year though than last year.  The 17th WHL/tier II kid to come out of the West went with the 77th pick.  I think the 17th kid to be picked from the West this year will likely be around that range, so while it looks like I’m down a bit on some of these guys in the 10-20 range, I’m really not.  Anyway, Novak isn’t the best skater, but it’s definitely passable and has room to grow.  He has a pretty good motor to go with good hands and vision.  Would have been VERY interesting to see Kelowna’s season continue in particular as they were really getting it going after the coaching change.  10 more regular-season games, combined with (what I would have guessed as a max) maybe 14 playoff games, and of course they were hosting the Memorial Cup.  Could have given a huge boost to Novak’s stock as he was playing very well right before the break (6 points in his last 3 games).

Grade: 3rd round

 

18. Ethan Edwards

Team: Spruce Grove Saints (AJHL)

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 50  G: 9  A: 24  P: 33

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 06/06/02, Grand Prairie, AB

Comparison: Jordan Oesterle

He’s only ranked 18th for me, but Edwards has me as fired up as anyone out of this list.  He’s committed to Michigan but isn’t going until the 21-22 season, meaning that the team which will draft him will get four years before they need to look to sign him (yes, I’m well aware that you can sign him after his senior season, but by then it’s highly unlikely a player wouldn’t go to free agency).  And as much as I like Edwards, it’s mainly because of his upside.  That development time combined with his skating ability makes him extremely intriguing to me.

Grade: 3rd round

 

19. Alex Cotton

Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 63  G: 20  A: 47  P: 67

Previous Rank: 15

Born: 05/12/01, Langley, BC

Comparison: Cody Franson

The first OA checks in at 19 on the list.  Cotton, as you can see, was 15th last time around, so he essentially only moved down one spot as the AJHL kids weren’t factored in the last time around.  The mobility is a concern and is what likely kept him from being drafted last June.  Great size though and a hell of a shot.  It’s a big “if”, but IF he can clean up his skating and take it to another level, he would be one very exciting prospect.  Obviously the concern though is how many points came from being paired with Calen Addison?

Grade: 3rd round

 

20. Dylan Garand

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: G  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 172  Glove: L

2020 Stats – GP: 42  G.A.A.: 2.21  Sv%: .921

Previous Rank: 13

Born: 06/06/02, Victoria, BC

Comparison: Carter Hutton

I’m not a goaltending guru, but it’s tough to ignore the season Garand had playing for a squad in Kamloops who definitely weren’t known for their defensive prowess!  Highest scoring team in the WHL, yet 17 year old Garand still put up those ridiculous numbers.  And to my eye, Garrand moves very well and is pretty technically sound for this stage of his development.  My buddy Kirk Morris had a pretty good write up on Garand earlier this season that you can find here.  The big question is the size.  He’s right on the fence for being too small.  Obviously he has some more filling out he has to do, I’m talking about the height, but it’ll be interesting to see how teams view him.  This is essentially a 3rd round grade for Garrand, which seems about right as to where he could go in the draft.

Grade: Late round

 

21. Christoffer Sedoff

Team: Red Deer Rebels

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 61  G: 5  A: 14  P: 19

Previous Rank: 16

Born: 02/20/02, Helsinki, FIN

Comparison: Luca Sbisa

He is their horse, chewing up a ridiculous amount of minutes a lot of nights for Brent Sutter’s club.  He’s a very smooth skater, good puck mover, and despite not having stats that jump off the page he has displayed some pretty good offensive skills at times.  He’s solid in his own zone also with good gap control, a good stick, and a willingness to compete down low and in front of the net.  There is a lot to work with here.

Grade: Late round

 

22. Daemon Hunt

Team: Moose Jaw Warriors

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 198  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 28  G: 0  A: 15  P: 15

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 05/15/02, Brandon, MB

Comparison: Michael Stone

He basically ends up 22nd for me because of pedigree.  I don’t believe that people have done the homework they maybe should on Hunt.  I’m still seeing him in people’s top 62, and essentially as the 6th or 7th best prospect out of the west, it just makes no sense at all to me.  Not at all to suggest Hunt is a bad prospect or can’t make it, but we have to be honest, the shortcomings are tough to ignore.  He doesn’t bring a lot of offence to the table despite getting all the gravy time for the Warriors when he was healthy (of his 15 assists, only 3 were even strength, and I believe of those three only 1 of them was a primary assist), his skating is questionable, it’s not as though he has a lot of physical development left as he is already near 200lbs, and he essentially missed a season of development.  I’m not saying he can’t be higher than I’ve got him, but if someone has him in their top 62 they obviously haven’t spent a second actually looking into him.

Grade: Late round

 

23. Josh Pillar

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 174  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 63  G: 14  A: 30  P: 44

Previous Rank: 18

Born: 02/14/02, Warman, SK

Comparison: Conor Sheary

I really wonder if we end up seeing a similar jump in Pillar’s production next season as we saw with Tristen Robbins this season.  They have a ton of similarities, and with Zane Franklin moving on from the Blazers next season, a spot is open on that top line (although he’ll have Logan Stankhoven to contend with).  Really love Pillar in the later rounds because of that speed.  In rounds 4-7, just give me guys with one elite quality, and Pillar’s speed is just that.

Grade: Late round

 

24. Orrin Centazzo

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 163  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 63  G: 44  A: 37  P: 81

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 04/17/00, Marwayne, AB

Comparison: Tyler Ennis

Finished 2nd in the WHL with 44 goals on the season and there were very few “cheapies”.  Centazzo has always had a ton of skill, and know that this is someone I’ve watched since he played Atom hockey.  This season he REALLY started to put it together and has so much room to grow both in his game and physically.  Most see a 19 year old who has been twice passed over as someone who doesn’t have much of a ceiling, but Centazzo is the exception to that rule.  Truth be told, I had a tough time coming up with a comp, but I settled on Ennis for a few reasons.  Obviously the size is very similar.  Also, the numbers in their 19 year old seasons are very similar.  Finally, the skill is very similar.  Ennis is a better skater, but Orrin might get there once he starts filling out.  I strongly believe a team should be taking a swing on him late in the draft.  I have a lot of reasons to believe he’s a late bloomer.

Grade: Late round

 

25. Kyle Crnkovic

Team: Saskatoon Blades

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’7  Wt: 161  Shot: L

2020 StatsGP: 63  G: 21  A: 43  P: 64

Previous Rank: NR

Born: 02/10/02, Chestermere, AB

Comparison: Johnny Gaudreau

Obviously, that comp is much more in terms of style than upside.  I’m pretty stunned that you literally don’t hear a thing about this kid.  No doubt that the size is a concern, and the skating isn’t great for someone this small.  But he’s also very slight as you can read, so with added weight/strength he can perhaps take his skating up a few levels and if he adds that to his skill, now it gets pretty interesting.

Grade: Late round

 

Honourable Mention

Ethan Bowen

Team: Chilliwack Chiefs (BCHL)

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 41  G: 12  A: 19  P: 31

Born: 05/14/02, Chilliwack, BC

Bowen had a disappointing season with quite a few injury problems.  Admittedly I didn’t see all that much of Bowen outside of a few games on Hockey TV.  But a kid with a lot of intriguing qualities that’ll make him of interest at the draft in the later rounds.

 

Cole Fonstad

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2020 StatsGP: 60  G: 15  A: 59  P: 74

Previous Rank: NR

Born: 04/24/00, Estevan, SK

After being drafted in the 5th round (128th overall) by the Habs in 2018, they announced that they will not be giving Fonstad a pro contract.  So barring his rights getting dealt before the new signing deadline, he will be re-entering the draft.

 

Gage Goncalves

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2020 StatsGP: 60  G: 33  A: 38  P: 71

Previous Rank: NR

Born: 01/16/01, Mission, BC

1 goal in 67 games last season, and 33 in 60 this season.  Pretty massive turnaround.  He’s played centre all season, but I believe he’ll end up moving to the wing in pro hockey which is why I list him there.  Pretty good skill.

 

Michal Gut

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 51  G: 13  A: 23  P: 36

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 08/16/02, Kadan, CZE

His offensive totals do take a hit as he plays further down the lineup for the Silvertips and sees a lot of tougher minutes.  Pretty good two-way game, nothing flashy.

 

Landon Kosior

Team: Prince Albert Raiders

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’ll  Wt: 190  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 64  G: 5  A: 18  P: 23

Previous Rank: NR

Born: 08/15/02, Regina, SK

Played a lot of minutes with Guhle this season, some might say overshadowed by Guhle.  Good skater, moves it well (as you could guess from a sub 6’0, 23 point defenceman) and a high IQ.  Could be a kid who really pops next season.

 

Owen Pederson

Team: Winnipeg Ice

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 61  G: 28  A: 22  P: 50

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 03/27/02, Stoney Plain, AB

His skating needs a ton of work, but the hands and ability to finish are definitely there with Pederson.  The fear from most with him will be that he basically lived off Peyton Krebs.

 

Luke Prokop

Team: Calgary Hitmen

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 218  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 59  G: 4  A: 19  P: 23

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 05/06/02, Edmonton, AB

Tremendous size and not a bad skater either.  But I just really don’t see it with Prokop.  Definitely a chance he gets drafted simply based on his size and ok skating, but I feel he’s only on some people’s radar due to being a top 10 pick in the 2017 Bantam draft.

 

Lukas Svejkovsky

Team: Medicine Hat Tigers

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2020 StatsGP: 52  G: 18  A: 20  P: 38

Previous Rank: NR

Born: 11/28/01, Point Roberts, WA

Some people really love what they’ve seen from Svejkovsky.  Speedy and skilled, but while I’m not a stats whore, I also can’t ignore that this was his 18 year old season and he’s well under a PPG pace.

 

Bryan Thomson

Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes

Pos: G  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 181  Glove: L

2020 Stats – GP: 30  G.A.A.: 2.83  Sv%: .898

Previous Rank: 20

Born: 04/09/02, Moose Jaw, SK

Thomson has a lot of tools to work with.  Obviously he has the size for a goaltender that NHL GM’s crave.  A lot of work is needed, but you can say that about basically every goaltender taken in any draft!

 

Ilya Usau

Team: Prince Albert Raiders

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 58  G: 22  A: 30  P: 52

Previous Rank: NR

Born: 08/03/01, Minsk, BLR

Performed well in his first season in the WHL.  Doesn’t really do anything exceptional but does everything well.  It seemed from afar that he was a very coachable kid for Marc Habsheid this season.

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