2020 NHL Draft: Top 64 (Updated)

I did what I said I wasn’t going to do…sort of.  Not many changes to this list from what I had called my final list back in early July.  But I couldn’t go into the draft on Tuesday with a list that was covered in dust, despite most of these kids having not seen the ice since that time.  So, it is a new list, but there really weren’t a lot of changes to it, nor did I feel a need to do so.  Most of this write-up (even the opening past this paragraph) is the same as that piece.  There are likely a lot of parts that I missed where I needed to update what I have written, but this is over 11,000 words and I just worked 12 hours a day for 29 of the last 31 days with a new mock draft, podcast or two, one or two more blogs to get to before I go jump on a combine.  Excuse me if I refer to a players performance last season as “this season” a few times.

Something that I got away from this season, and had to remind myself of a lot as this season progressed…I’m not a scout.  Now, I believe that most people who do this independently aren’t scouts either despite what they’ll say.  We can have our lists, and that’s fine, but we (I say we, not they) need to quit this fucked narrative on twitter specifically where we’re all talking as if we are.  No, we aren’t.  If you’re being paid by someone, AND going to games, AND talking to the players you’re scouting, then you’re a scout.  If you aren’t, you’re not.  So much of what goes into this is getting to know the players themselves to get a better feel for players character and finding any red flags.

This draft is interesting.  You’ll see some guys claiming it’s one of the best they’ve ever seen and others who say it’s one of the most overrated they’ve ever seen.  I believe there are a few reasons for this.  1) I think some see a good draft as what the top of the draft is, which this is an excellent top of the draft, extremely top-heavy.  2) this draft is full of guys who independent/internet/twitter scouts adore.  I see a ton of wingers in this draft who’ll make someone like myself look stupid because if they get the right situation, they’re going to thrive.  The guy I keep feeling guilty about is Tristen Robins as some whose opinions I respect (Black Book, SPR) love him much more than I do.  But the fact of the matter is that I feel the same way about Robins as I do about most kids in the 14-60 (yes that wide of a gap) range.  It was the same way for me last season with Caufield as to why I was more down on Caufield than most.  These kids have to go to the right situations.  If they do, they’ll thrive.  I worry that Caufield didn’t, given the Habs lack of talent in the middle right now.  Conversely, if the Oilers took him with the 8th pick last season, it would have made a ton of sense because the Oilers have two stud centres who can do the heavy lifting.  Robins is a kid who can thrive if he’s in the right situation, but you can say the same for Wiesblatt, McClennon, Hanas, Sourdif, Savoie, etc and that’s just listing kids from the West!

There are just so damn many of THAT kind of player in this draft, which makes this draft very similar to the 2014 draft.  That draft had a clear cut top four (which this draft is probably more of a top three with all three guys better prospects than all of those top four were) and then is flooded with those complimentary wingers who probably need big-time centres playing with them to max out as players.  In 2014, David Pastrnak was all over the map on guys rankings.  So was Kasperi Kapanen.  So was Sonny Milano.  So was Nikita Scherbak.  So was Robby Fabbri.  So was Jakub Vrana.  There was no set order for those guys, and there are no set orders for the guys this season, and it’s causing a TON of drama on Twitter!!

As for me…the top three is as good as 2013 should have been (Jonathan Drouin was picked over Seth Jones…that was a thing that happened…in an organization run by Steve Yzerman, who is pretty good at the GMing).  I love the top ten I was able to put together too.  But the thing about that is…in this final draft, my top ten (for me, since it’s mine) was a hardened stance of a top ten.  I don’t really care about the order you may have them in, but that IS the top 10.

So, you’ll notice I’ve made some changes to the layout this time around.  Rather than the laundry list of information I’ve been putting up with my kids since post-2018’s draft, I instead have cut that down for this one and simply give you the option to read it all on Elite Prospects site.  So if you’re wondering about ANYTHING in regards to birthdate, stats, whatever…just click the player’s name.  That’s it.  Much more simple for me, and still right there for you too.

I don’t think anyone should worry too much about the rankings and anyone’s rankings are just simply opinions, we don’t have a crystal ball.  I’m so inconsistent when it comes to weighing value, I freely admit that.  I prefer ceiling to floor, but I feel like we all miss what players can be.  The guy I go into at length in this is Braden Schneider.  I’ve been so caught up in Schneider’s “low ceiling” this season that I was majorly conflicted on where to rank him.  But I talk about it in the write-up how I asked whether or not he could be several different players who he plays similar to and are top pairing D-men.  The answer to all of them was yes.  So Schneider has top pairing upside.  That’s pretty damn good!!!  Not that I’m all in on Schneider either, but it’s an example of how I maybe was getting a little too down on him (had him 31st on the last list, was ready to put him near 40th on this one until I revisited it and gave it more thought).  It’s TOUGH man!  The more time I put into it, the more difficult it seems to get.  And I can argue it so many damn ways for all these kids.

That being said, if you want to know how I rank these kids, just check out this piece I put out a while back.  I’m sure there are examples of me not following those guidelines perfectly, but it’s what I at least attempt to stick to.

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Tier 1

1. Alexis Lafrenière

Team: Rimouski  League: QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: L

Comparison: Peter Forsberg

No brainer.  One thing though, you’ll see I have him listed as a centre.  If I’m drafting Lafrenière, I’m drafting him to be a centre.  Perhaps that won’t be the plan initially, but long term I’d want to max out an elite talent like Lafrenière and I believe you do that by using him in the middle as he is tailor-made to thrive there.  I hear a lot of talk that position up front doesn’t matter, and yet the teams who subscribe to that theory never seem to go anywhere…probably not a coincidence…As for the comp, I have yet to come up with one that I feel is spot on.  I guess you could say he’s a combination of Jonathan Huberdeau and Leon Draisaitl if you’re limiting yourself to today’s players.  I say Forsberg because I see a lot of similarities, I believe he should move to the middle, and in time I believe that’s what he’ll become…should he move to the middle.  But I do worry it’ll take a team a very long time before they figure out this needs to be done.  Word is that Lafrenière isn’t a fan of the idea.

 

Tier 2

2. Quinton Byfield

Team: Sudbury  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 214  Shot: L

Comparison: Eric Staal

It’s insane how some have nitpicked his game this season.  He is producing at a better pace in his 17 year old season than Lafrenière did in his!  And he’s 6’4, 214lbs!  And he’s an amazing skater!  The upside is INCREDIBLE, and the floor is what?  2nd line winger?!  Wake up!  He’s closer to Lafrenière than he is to Stützle, don’t overthink this.  I know a lot of people are jumping on the Stützle bandwagon, and don’t get me wrong OBVIOUSLY Stützle could end up the better player.  But in my opinion, the ceiling and the floor are both in favour of Byfield, so I’m not sure why he’s not everyone’s number two guy other than they’ve had more time to pick apart Byfield’s game and Stützle is the shiny new toy.

 

Tier 3

3. Tim Stützle

Team: Adler Mannheim  League: DEL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 187  Shot: L

Comparison: Mathew Barzal

I was pretty early on Stützle as I had him in my top 15 last summer (that I had seen anyway, I could be wrong), and I was fully on board when he started to get top five hype.  So I get why so many love him, but the talk of him going 2nd seems absurd to me.  But don’t get that twisted, I’m a huge fan of this kid and believe he can become a number one centre.  He needs a year though before I’d be looking at him playing.  There is so much talent, but there is still quite a bit in his game that’s raw.

 

Tier 4

4. Jamie Drysdale

Team: Erie  League: OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 170  Shot: R

Comparison: Morgan Rielly

He has all the ability to become a franchise defenceman.  He also is in my opinion far and away the top defenceman in a draft class extremely thin on pure puck-moving D-men, which boosts his draft stock.  If your team needs a defenceman and he’s still available, they better have a DAMN good reason to pass on him.

 

5. Marco Rossi

Team: Ottawa  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 179  Shot: L

Comparison: Sebastian Aho

The size and how his production has really come from beating up on inferior competition scares me a little bit.  You might say “Size?!  Undersized guys are now thriving you dinosaur!!”  Not what I mean bud.  I worry about the size when it comes to him playing his style of game, and doing that as a centre.  There is a reason that you don’t see many centres under 5’10 in the league.  It’s extremely difficult and you need to have an incredible 200-foot game to thrive if you’re undersized at that position.  I’m confident that Rossi could be that guy though, which is why he’s in my top 5 for my final list.

 

6. Yaroslav Askarov

Team: SKA-Neva St. Petersburg  League: VHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 176  Glove: R

Comparison: Miikka Kiprusoff

100% against what I believe in.  I believe you take goaltenders in rounds 3-7 and you take about three every four years, if not four in five years.  But you have to be open-minded enough to recognize when the exception to the rule comes along, and I believe Askarov is just that.  When was the last time a goaltender was even talked about as being a top 10 pick?  MAYBE Vasilevskiy?  Samsonov got hype late, but not top 10 (mind you, in what might go down as a top three all-time draft).  Given Askarov’s talent, his upside, and the track record of Russian born goaltenders of late (3/3 for those taken in the 1st round since 2006) I wouldn’t be allowing him to sit there too long.  He has the potential to change a franchise, and there aren’t many of those types of talents in this draft or any draft.

 

7. Jake Sanderson

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Miro Heiskanen

He has become THE riser in this draft, to the point where while I feel I’m going pretty extreme putting him 7th, I feel even stronger in the opinion that he is going top five in the draft.  Perhaps as high as 4th to the Wings.  His skating and IQ are going to give him a chance to continually develop his offensive game, which is already maybe better than most realize, he just played on the USNTDP a year too late.  But even if the offence never truly comes, he’s so good in his own zone that it might not matter.  He could end up being like Jay Bouwmeester where he has this tremendous skating ability and IQ, you’re waiting on this break out 60-70 point season, and meanwhile, the guy is shutting everyone down, playing some of the toughest minutes in the league.

 

Tier 5

8. Seth Jarvis

Team: Portland  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 172  Shot: R

Comparison: Brad Marchand

Jarvis took his game to another level as the season went on.  His compete, confidence, and his assertiveness just went through the roof, and it leaves me with nothing I dislike about his game.  As for my comparison being Brad Marchand…I just mean in terms of his style and ability, none of the extracurricular stuff.  Now, the hype train on him scares me a bit, and the Brayden Point comps…fuck me.  “Small guy who puts up big numbers in the WHL, must be Point cause I just heard of Point and that was him.”  Yeah, Point is special.  Point needed to develop a tremendous two-way game to get noticed.  I don’t see Jarvis ever becoming “that” guy.  I believe he’s a 1st line winger at the next level and should be drafted as that.  Once you go overboard with expectations, you’re not helping anyone.  I watch Craig Button’s mock draft, and he’s comparing everyone to the top players in the game.  You’re not drawing more attention to the draft, you’re drawing more attention to yourself as a hot take artist rather than someone reliable for information, and you’re putting ridiculous expectations on these kids.

 

9. Lucas Raymond

Team: Frölunda HC  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 165  Shot: R

Comparison: Paul Kariya

Raymond had a difficult season, but you look at the speed and skill this kid oozes and there really shouldn’t be any reason for Raymond to fall out of the top five.  Some are down on what he could be, but I don’t really get it.  The upside here is enormous.  He’s going to be the type of winger who can drive his own line and really tilt the ice.

 

10. Cole Perfetti

Team: Saginaw  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Ray Whitney

SPR took a lot of heat for knocking Perfetti.  I’m not as harsh on him, but I definitely think there is something to what Sean says.  I don’t think Perfetti is a BAD skater, but he isn’t a great skater and when you combine that with how he loves to dangle and struggles away from the puck, those are legitimate reasons to be concerned.  He won’t be able to dangle pro defencemen like he can OHL defencemen.  I believe he’ll have to make a lot of adjustments to thrive in pro hockey.  But having said that, I don’t view them as ones that are difficult to make.  All the tools are there to thrive.  Understand this too going back to what Sean said…just because he’s LOWER on him, doesn’t mean he thinks he’s nothing.  In 2018 I had Svechnikov ranked 6th because of the bust rate for Russian forwards taken in the top 25 of the draft since 2004 (only 1/10 prior to the 2018 draft, which has since changed to 2/10 thanks to Gurianov finally getting his career going).  But I didn’t dislike Svechnikov AT ALL, I just found him to be a much bigger risk given that info.  Caufield is another guy for me I wasn’t ranking as high as others, but having Caufield at 16 on my board didn’t mean I thought he was trash, I simply thought others were either better gambles or were more of a certainty than Caufield (I bring up Caufield more than any other player because it is such a piss off to me how people don’t get this.  I couldn’t give a shit at this point whether he busts or pops, I’m just sick of having to explain this stance to people who want to call themselves scouts who are actually just fanboys for the kid).

 

Tier 6

11. Hendrix Lapierre

Team: Chicoutimi  League: QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

So difficult to rank.  I’m a huge fan with what I’ve seen, but the neck issues are troubling.  After seeing him in the Hlinka/Gretzky, I had him in my top five, but that’s about all we got to see this season.  This all depends on the medical reports obviously.  If they check out, I still believe he’s worthy of going in this range as he’s just too big of a talent, in my opinion, to pass on at a certain point.  I’ve had neck issues for a decade now that cause cervicogenic headaches.  They mimic migraines.  In fact, when I first started getting them I really believed I was having post-concussion syndrome as I had a concussion a few months prior in which I got rushed back to work running heavy equipment, so I didn’t even give any thought to it being a neck issue.  Cervicogenic headaches can be brutal, but they also aren’t overly serious (especially if your neck can constantly be worked on) and it’s nothing that a chiropractor can’t help you through.  As soon as your neck is aligned properly again, the headaches immediately go away, because they aren’t actually headaches.  Now, I’m saying all this, I don’t know that this was what the problem for Lapierre was.  I just know it was a neck issue that they thought were concussions.  But having gone through it, I would bet good money that’s what the issue has been (as long as they’re telling the truth).  Remember too, Crosby missing all that time in 2011 and 2012 with what was thought to be concussion issues, and once they figured out it was actually a neck issue, he was good to go again and hasn’t struggled with it since.  I would say in most years I wouldn’t touch him until late in the 1st, but I’m not a big fan of the depth of this draft, and it severely lacks quality centres.

 

12. Anton Lundell

Team: HIFK  League: Liiga

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 183  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan O’Reilly

He’s not a sexy player for fans to get excited about, but Lundell is going to be such a valuable addition for a hockey club.  A Ryan O’Reilly type centre who can thrive in any situation.  Others have dropped him in their rankings much further than this, but I wonder how much of that is perhaps Lias Andersson backlash?  It would be understandable as they have very similar games, and I’m not a big fan of his skating, but I wasn’t a big fan of ROR’s skating when he entered the league.  These type of players are just so damn valuable, I’d have a tough time watching a guy like this drop too far if I were a GM.

 

13. Kaiden Guhle

Team: Prince Albert  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

Comparison: Darnell Nurse

The upside is off the charts with Guhle.  Skating, size, edge, IQ, the kid checks all the boxes to at least be an NHL defenceman someday.  I believe he can be a top pair defenceman, if not a legitimate number one guy someday, but he needs time.  In my opinion, he needs two more seasons in the WHL, and one full season in the AHL.  Then we’ll see.  This is not a kid that an organization should be rushing, and if the proper time is taken, the organization which drafts will have quite the player on their hands.

 

14. Lukas Reichel

Team: Eisbären Berlin  League: DEL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 172  Shot: L

Comparison: Alex Tanguay

This was/is one of the hottest risers in this draft, and a lot of people are not only sleeping on that fact with Reichel, but also on the fact that risers always go higher than expected, and those guys always seem to pan out!  I think back to 2011, that guy was Mark Scheifele.  2012 was Hampus Lindholm.  ’13 was Bo Horvat.  ’14 Travis Sanheim.  ’15 Timo Meier.  Seeing a trend?!  Anyway, as for the player…the Alex Tanguay comparison is one of my favourite that I did in this list, I just believe it’s spot on.  Skating, vision, IQ, doesn’t shy away from but doesn’t really like being anything physical.  He makes players around him better, he is very developable, I think he can be a 1st line winger.

 

Tier 7

15. Ridly Greig

Team: Brandon  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 159  Shot: L

Comparison: Brayden Schenn

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/greasy 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.  His ceiling isn’t all that high, but the big thing for me above all else is that this kid is the type of guy who is damn near impossible to find, so grab him while you can.

 

16. Dylan Holloway

Team: Wisconsin  League: NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 192  Shot: L

Comparison: Roope Hintz

I have gone back…and forth.  How often?  About a billion times!  Here’s the thing: Holloway is playing in the NHL.  He’s at minimum a top-nine guy.  AND…he has a BIG ceiling thanks to his speed (one of the best skaters in the draft, a little like Nathan MacKinnon in how powerful his stride is) and his size (again, a little like MacKinnon in that he’s not overly tall but he’s got a thick frame).  But the problem is that in my viewings, he gets by with that size and speed and doesn’t ever showcase much skill.  At the end of the day, how often do I harp about too many independent scouts overvaluing the highlight reel shit that doesn’t win, over the subtle shit from guys who play pro games?  And that’s the deciding factor for me.  Holloway is going to play and while the pure skill upside might not be there, he is a coaches dream.  He does everything right.  He plays fearless, responsible, intelligent, he does everything his team needs of him.

 

17. Dawson Mercer

Team: Chicoutimi  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 179  Shot: R

Comparison: Jordan Eberle

I’m not super high on Mercer’s ability to improve greatly over what he is right now, but I see him as one of the safest picks in this draft.  This kid just seems like a guy who is going to step into a team’s top six in a year or two, and never leave.  Just an easy game for guys to gel with.

 

18. Ozzy Wiesblatt

Team: Prince Albert  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 183  Shot: R

Comparison: T.J. Oshie

I’m well aware that you can read the comp, but I can’t stress enough just how damn much of T.J. Oshie I see in this kids game.  Good skater, good skill, high motor, physical, versatile, he’s a kid who can be thrown into any role, any situation, and he’s going to deliver.  I really see him as a can’t miss player.  Might only end up being a 3rd line winger, but the upside is definitely there to be a fantastic complimentary piece in a top-six role.

 

19. Jack Quinn

Team: Ottawa  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: R

Comparison: Justin Williams

I didn’t like Quinn for a long time.  And I think there was a false narrative out there that he was living off Rossi, which I stupidly bought into.  But he didn’t play with Rossi five on five, and he put up 34 goals ES.  Good speed and I love his motor.  Being such a heavy “shoot first” type hurts him in my rankings as historically snipers in junior have a difficult time bringing that game to the show.  A couple other things that make me worry is the thought of how soft his minutes were playing behind Rossi, and if he plays enough of a team game to work in the NHL.  Because Quinn won’t be able play 1 on 5 in the NHL.  When I hear people talking (as a positive) someone’s ability to “create his own shot”, I don’t view that as a positive.  There are VERY few players in the history of the league who had the ability to “create their own shot”.  Maybe Quinn can, but far too many junior snipers who have had that positive of their scouting report have not only not been able to do that in the pros, but haven’t lasted in the pros.  But again, that motor suggests this kid could become more than just a one-dimensional sniper.  It’s not as though the things I have concerns on can’t be overcome.  He’ll never be a playmaker, he just will need to adjust to playing “off the puck” in my opinion and settle into being a complimentary piece.

 

Tier 8

20. Alexander Holtz

Team: Djurgårdens IF  League: SHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: R

Comparison: Nail Yakupov

For me, he’s this season’s Cole Caufield AKA a sniper everyone is much more in love with than I am.  So let’s go back again to the fact that I freely admit I don’t have the time to truly scout guys.  What I mostly do is absorb as much information from respected people who do scout and I have big respect for what they see.  Not that I haven’t seen Holtz, I have, but I more so rely on those eyes rather than my own.  But then I started to dig into scouting reports on him and found myself saying “wait, maybe I did see it right that he doesn’t skate well” because I had read/heard from a few different people that they thought he did and basically disregarded my own opinion.  Yeah, he doesn’t.  He’s an average skater.  He also struggles away from the puck and in his own zone, I had information suggesting otherwise.  Went back and dug into some video on him and yeah, not pretty.  And here is where I bring up the comp I use which will not have gone over well with some.  Holtz is damn near identical to Yak on paper.  Amazing shot, but he relies too heavily on it (constantly shooting from far out) and doesn’t seem to know how to find the open ice.  Now, he does play hard.  He’s got a good motor.  But he also doesn’t really accomplish much, which was Yak.  The book on Yak coming out of Sarnia was “look how much energy this guy plays with!  And he hits!”  Holtz isn’t physical, but he is active on the forecheck.  But there is an art to that as well and I’m not sure with his skating that he can be effective on the forecheck.  Now, does all this mean he’ll bust like Yak?  Yak’s rep in Edmonton was that he refused to work on his weaknesses.  As long as Holtz is a coachable kid, he’ll succeed.  So don’t get this too twisted.  I still have him 20th, not 120th.  But I completely disagree with the hype he’s been getting this season.  This is a very flawed player and typical of so many in the scouting community, they’re drooling all over someone’s shot…a skill that can be developed.  I do not get this logic from scouts.  Brandon Pirri can’t stick in the league, and he might have one of the best shots in the game.  Remember 2017 when people were gushing over Eeli Tolvanen and Owen Tippett?  What about 2018 and Oliver Wahlstrom?  Holtz has serious bust potential, and while he has the ability to be a nice complementary piece, this isn’t a piece that teams should be desperate to get near the top of the draft.  But again, it all depends on how coachable he is, and the situation he lands in.  If Holtz lands with a loaded roster which has the pieces he’ll need around him, this ranking won’t look great…but whatever, it’s my opinion.  I’m cool with your opinion’s, so be cool with mine.

 

Tier 9

21. Jack Finley

Team: Spokane  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 207  Shot: R

Comparison: Jordan Staal

I’m pulling back a bit on my boy.  Nobody has changed my mind (and I fully admit, as an open-minded guy, I can be too easily influenced by what others have to say!) but I feel like putting him at 15 the last time around I was getting too caught up in his upside and not being more realistic about it.  However, I still stand by the thought that people are sleeping on him, and some of the stuff I’ve read as to why people don’t like him (believing that he played a ton with Adam Beckman, believing he was getting top PP unit time all season, his skating which is not only good for a big kid but is certain to get better as he gains strength) just is flat out dumb.  Again, I really wonder if he is so badly underrated just because people have been burned too many times by the oversized centre?  His game is so much different than so many of those guys though given he is terrific 200 feet, has a good motor, and a very high IQ.    That type of player is going to develop rapidly.  This might sound odd, but I like that he still has to think the game and doesn’t rely on his size to get by.  So I probably went too far having him at 15 the last time around as there are much safer bets, but I still see him as a certainty to play as a Brian Boyle type, probably a Michal Handzus, and a solid chance to be who I compare him to.  Not saying he won’t need time.  Two more years in the dub and then a year in the AHL is what’s likely needed.  But I like him long term.  Greig moved ahead of him for me because the more I thought about it, the more I like how hard Greig is to play against.  Both guys have 2nd line centre potential, and in my mind are safely 3C’s.  So with that in mind, give me the guy who puts the opponent’s head on a swivel.

 

22. Marat Khusnutdinov

Team: SKA-1946 St. Petersburg  League: MHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 165  Shot: L

Comparison: Pavel Datsyuk

IN TERMS OF THE STYLE HE PLAYS!!!  Don’t get that comp completely fucked.  Truth be told, I had a very difficult time thinking of anyone other than Sebastian Aho, and that’s been the comp I’ve used for Rossi all season and love it.  So best case, Khusnutdinov could maybe be a poor man’s version of one of the best two-way centres in league history.  But I love this kids upside and again I go back to that damn Russian forward bust rate as the only reason I don’t have him much higher.  An amazing skater who also possesses tremendous vision, terrific hands, and even is a good 200-foot player for his age.  But he had consistency issues, and maybe more than that is that size is a little scary to play the middle even though I believe he can (especially in the East where you have more finesse centres).  I love the potential here though.

 

23. Braden Schneider

Team: Brandon  League: WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 209  Shot: R

Comparison: Brent Seabrook

I hate myself when it comes to Schneider.  I have gone back and forth on this for a year now.  Last summer, I didn’t have him in my initial top 10 WHL list while others had him at the top.  Then I came around on him, then I soured on him a bit more, and now I have him here.  What I’ve fought with is ceiling vs floor.  He’s playing in the NHL, I don’t have any doubt about that.  What’s his ceiling?  He can skate, and is physically developed, so why wasn’t he dominant in the dub this season?  I keep coming back to that.  Don’t get me wrong, probably the top shutdown D-man in the league, but he wasn’t overwhelming.  He missed being drafted in ’19 by six days.  A guy I constantly found myself comparing him with is Matthew Robertson, and I’m not overly sure why so many love Schneider, but didn’t love Robertson the same.  It’s not just the stats, Robertson has a little more size, as good or possibly better mobility, probably better puck skills, moves it better, I just don’t get it.  It came down to this for me: What was Travis Hamonic (the comp I used all season until this final list) when he was with the Islanders?  Top pair D-man.  Can Schneider be Brent Seabrook?  Yes.  Can he be Nik Hjalmarsson?  Yes.  Vlasic?  Yes.  Muzzin?  Yes.  Pesce?  Yes.  All these guys either were or are top pairing guys.  So I’m not going to lie, I’m nervous about this final ranking, and even more so thanks to next years draft being so rich with defencemen.  I fear a big reason some love Schneider is the lack of defencemen in this draft.  But he will likely play for a long time, and there are guys who I have ahead of him who may not.

 

24. Mavrik Bourque

Team: Shawinigan  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 165  Shot: R

Comparison: Kevin Fiala

One word comes to mind watching Bourque: crafty.  I love the IQ with this kid.  And even though he’s only 5’10, if that 165lbs is accurate, then he has 15-20lbs still to put on which could help his skating.  The skating is passable, but an extra gear for Bourque could be massive for his game.  Having said that though, I view him as one of the safest picks in this draft (which is basically all the Q kids to this point, three for three!)  I think he can play in anyone’s top six and produce because he plays a game that’s easy for other players to gel with.

 

25. John-Jason Peterka

Team: EHC München  League: DEL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 192  Shot: L

Comparison: Kyle Palmieri

Peterka is a burner.  I know there is some question out there about his ceiling, but he’s a very safe bet in my mind given the speed, given the motor, and he does have some pretty good skill to go with it.  He’s got a raw game right now, so the team that drafts him likely needs to give him three full years before looking at him for a roster spot.  But again, to my eye he’s a safe bet to fill a top-nine role on any club.

 

Tier 10

26. Connor Zary

Team: Kamloops  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Jarret Stoll

It is simply amazing to me as I go back to the Finley thing for a second.  People shit on Finley because of this misconception that he played all season with Beckman, yet ignore the fact that Zary played on the best line in the WHL with two of the best players in the league (shoutout to my fellow Marwayne Wildcat alums) and trust me, that wasn’t because Zary was carrying them.  But that’s in the context of people sleeping on or shitting on Finley, not looking to hate on Zary.  There’s a lot to like here.  Two-way centre with a great work ethic, high IQ, and very good vision.  But again, I feel his stats got tremendously inflated this season, and his ES numbers aren’t anything special.  Then the skating is worrisome.  Projecting on him, I just believe he’s already maxing out and doesn’t have much more of a ceiling than this.  But there is nothing wrong with someone who is a safe bet to be a 3C who can take on a lot of tough minutes.

 

27. Ronan Seeley

Team: Everett  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

Comparison: Vince Dunn

He’s much like Finley in terms of this likely being a bit of a stunner, but I’ve watched the dub closely this season believe that people aren’t just sleeping on Seeley, they’re in a coma.  A very slow start, and he was a victim of playing on maybe the best blueline in the WHL.  The offensive numbers will come (though they actually did, 30 of his points came in his final 46 games).  He is a terrific skater, very good puck-mover, and is very reliable in his own zone.  I highly doubt anyone picks Seeley in the 1st round, but when it’s all said and done I believe a ton of people could be really kicking themselves that they didn’t.

 

28. Victor Persson

Team: Brynäs IF J20   League: SuperElit

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 192  Shot: R

Comparison: T.J. Brodie

I admit, didn’t know much about Persson.  Ryan Barr who does great work with his scouting mentioned him on Twitter on one day, and so I started looking into him.  Hockey Prospect also were pretty big on him, which piqued my interest even more.  Give me D prospects who can skate and move the puck.  That’s why you see Seeley in the spot above, is he can really skate and really move the puck.  Same with Persson.  And much the same with Seeley, I doubt Persson ends up being a 1st round pick, but he would be for me.  Recently was taken in the CHL import draft by the Kamloops Blazers, it could be a tremendous opportunity for Persson if he chooses to come over.  Expect some terrific offensive numbers as the Blazers have a great team returning despite losing their captain Zane Franklin.

 

29. Luke Evangelista

Team: London  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

Comparison: Artturi Lehkonen

I was REALLY late on Evangelista.  But the more hype he got, the more I thought “I better do my homework”.  For me, I love his skating, love the IQ he displays, love his play away from the puck and in all three zones, and I love his playmaking ability.  So those are three massive checkmarks for me.  He plays a very cerebral game, and he isn’t flashy, but I personally love those players.  Every goal is worth one in hockey, you don’t get any more for it getting on highlight reels.  Plus as I’ve read some major publications say, this is a typical London Knights draft-eligible player.  Draft-eligibles rarely play up in their lineup, so their stats are always down.  So for me, I just look at all the traits, combine it with the Hunter’s ability to develop their kids, and Evangelista sneaks into the 1st round on my board.

 

30. Jan Mysak

Team: Hamilton  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 176  Shot: L

Comparison: Patrick Sharp

Performed very well in his 22 games after coming over to the OHL.  A kid who I list as a winger and would draft him as a winger, but the potential is definitely there to continue playing the middle in pro hockey, which is always a nice bonus with a prospect up-front.  The comp to Sharp comes from the fact that while he can put the puck in the net and is a shoot-first guy, he has shown that he can be trusted in any situation which will obviously win him big points with coaches as he furthers his development.  So he’ll get a ton of opportunity to succeed.

 

31. Jacob Perreault

Team: Sarnia  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 198  Shot: R

Comparison: Mike Hoffman

I worry about the work ethic.  It’s tough to look past the whole “privileged kid” thing when you combine what you see on the ice with the fact that he’s the son of a former NHL player (Yanic).  All the tools though to thrive in the NHL.  It’s funny with the bloodlines in this year’s draft.  Most of the time, kids play a lot like their fathers.  But in this draft you have Sanderson who is a stud two-way defenceman rather than goal-scoring winger, Finley is a giant centre rather than a puck-moving defenceman, Michael Benning is the closet because at least he plays the same position as his old man but he’s much more skilled than Brian was, Greig plays a bit like his old man but I see him as a likely centre where Mark was a winger, and now Jacob Perreault being gifted and a bit lazy where his dad couldn’t skate and really got by with his IQ and work ethic.

 

32. Rodion Amirov

Team: Tolpar Ufa  League: MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 168  Shot: L

Comparison: Kyle Connor

I have made no bones about how I feel about drafting Russian born forwards the last few years…I’m leery.  Andrei Svechnikov obviously is fantastic and this theory had me moronically drop him to 6th (though 2nd tier) in my final 2018 rankings, but the track record on these kids in the 1st round for over a decade has been pretty brutal.  It’s not all Russian born players, just the forwards.  So Amirov gets punished for that coming in at 30, but I’m well aware that he has tremendous talent.  I actually really like his game, and if I’m just taking that into account I’d probably rank him up around 15.  But there is just WAY too much evidence that Russian born forwards are a total crapshoot.  Fully expect him to be drafted earlier than this would indicate.

 

33. Brendan Brisson

Team: Chicago  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 179  Shot: L

Comparison: Andrew Mangiapane

I’m not sure what you could say about Brisson that you can’t about most sub 6’0 wingers?  High IQ, terrific skill, great shot and great vision.  He’s essentially the poster child for that type of player (at least one who would be of interest).  What does have me a little worried is the skating, though it’s passable.  The other is that as you’ll notice or perhaps you read my blog on how I rank guys, those who love Brisson really love his shot.  Go back to my write-up on Holtz as to what I think of guys and their amazing shots.  For me with Brisson, I feel it’s his hands and vision make him a late 1st/early 2nd rounder.

 

34. Noel Gunler

Team: Luleå HF  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 174  Shot: R

Comparison: Anthony Mantha

Not quite as good of a skater as Mantha, but the rest really checks out, especially in terms of someone leaving you wanting more.  Gunler is another “amazing shot” guy who doesn’t bring a whole lot more to the table.  But having said that, the ability is there.  He’s still pretty thin, and he skates well, so if in time he can develop his play away from the puck there could be a pretty valuable player here.  But I have a difficult time ranking him where others do (mind you, that can be said for every “amazing shot” guy).

 

Tier 11

35. Helge Grans

Team: Malmö Redhawks J20  League: SuperElit

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 192  Shot: R

Comparison: Jeff Petry

He’s a project, and so I’d look to take him near the top of the 2nd round.  I’d wait at least three years before truly looking to sign Grans.  If he were ok with it, I’d wait the full four years to max out his development time (but obviously he’d have to be good with that, otherwise he could just become a UFA after the fourth season).  Assuming you sign him after three years, I’d be willing to burn the first season of his ELC with him remaining in Sweden.  Then I’d look to bring him over for a season in the AHL, without any thought of bringing him up to the big club.  Finally, in the 6th season of his development, THAT is when I’d start giving him looks if he’s progressed the way I assume he would.  So you’re looking at a SIX YEAR development plan!  Obviously, it’s possible it doesn’t take that long, but at this point, that’s what I’m game planning for if I’m drafting him, and that’s why I’m not touching him in the 1st round.  He might be one of the top D-men in this draft when it’s all said and done because of how talented he is.  But it’s going to take a long time if you want to do it right.  He is a terrific skater, moves the puck well, and has great size, so the tools are here.  But it’ll take some time.

 

36. William Wallinder

Team: MODO Hockey J20   League: SuperElit

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 192  Shot: L

Comparison: Rasmus Ristolainen

See Grans, which is why I have them back to back and in their own tier.  Not the same player, but extremely similar in how I see them needing to be developed.  The difference between Grans and Wallinder is that Grans has shown a great ability to move the puck, and the same can’t be said for Wallinder.  But Wallinder is probably the more physically gifted of the two players.  I’d say it’s possible that Wallinder could become a tremendous shutdown guy who if paired with someone who does move the puck well could thrive in the league.  But again with both these guys, a ton of development time is likely needed if the teams who draft them want to max out their talent.  If they do that, both guys could be well worth the wait.

 

Tier 12

37. Topi Niemelä

Team: Kärpät  League: Liiga

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 163  Shot: R

Comparison: Andrej Sekera

I’ve used the Sekera comp a few times before, but I can’t get it out of my head with a kid like this who moves it really well, has good puck skills, good IQ, and is a very good skater despite not having that top-end speed.  And as I often wonder with kids who have 20lbs or so to put on their frame, how much might that improve once he gains strength?  In a draft so weak on puck-moving D, I do worry that I’m maybe overrating him a bit, but as I often point out, his top-end speed will likely improve a ton as he packs on more muscle and gains the strength he needs.

 

38. Michael Benning

Team: Sherwood Park  League: AJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 174  Shot: R

Comparison: Ethan Bear

Most are being completely ridiculous with him.  He matched Cale Makar’s pre-draft year production, and his draft year production (pre-draft they both had one more point than games played, and then this season they had the exact same 75 points in 54, and Makar’s team in those years was just as good as the Crusaders this season), except these have been Benning’s 16 and 17 year old seasons, for Makar they were his 17 year old and 18 year old seasons.  I don’t like going into stats too heavily, but this is a case where I seem to be the only one pointing this out all season while understanding that Benning has all the tools to be a top-four NHL defenceman, and yet he is getting zero 1st round buzz.  He’s not Makar, I’d never suggest that.  They play different games, and Benning doesn’t have THAT kind of upside.  But just because he’s not Makar doesn’t mean that Benning is going to be damn good.  Good skater (some have disputed this, and in my opinion those people are confusing pace that a player plays at with actual skating ability), high IQ, terrific vision, size is good enough for today’s game.  It’s funny with both Benning and Seeley, scouts will tell you that you should ignore the stats and just look at the player.  Ok…so then explain why you don’t like Seeley.  Others will tell you that stats matter.  Ok…so then explain why you don’t like Benning.  Call me crazy, but I like mobile, puck-moving defencemen and so I’m willing to take some swings on guys who fit the bill of what works in today’s game.

 

39. Justin Barron

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 187  Shot: R

Comparison: Nate Schmidt

I thought specifically of Barron vs Braden Schneider.  This is what I’m basically hearing from everyone on Barron: “it’s too bad he had such a bad season, looks like a kid who still has the upside be a top-four defenceman, but likely just a bottom pairing guy”.  Now what it seems like I’m hearing from everyone on Schneider: “what a great prospect!  He looks like a kid who the upside to be a top-four defenceman!  But for sure he’s a bottom pairing guy!”  Like………WHAT?!?!  Even if Barron’s offensive game isn’t going to come, he’s still more skilled than Schneider, and can become a great defender in time.  It’s not exactly a glowing recommendation that I have Barron at 39, and then having Schneider at 24 (again, 14-60 in this draft isn’t much of a difference in this draft in my opinion), but when I compare those two it definitely becomes more clear to me that people have gone overboard on Schneider, and maybe have been too rough on Barron for a season that got derailed by a blood clot.

 

40. Yan Kuznetsov

Team: UCONN  League: NCAA

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 201  Shot: L

Comparison: Marcus Pettersson

There is no flash here at all with Kuznetsov.  But I view him as an extremely safe pick as he’s an A+ defender who skates well and can move it well too.  He’d be a perfect compliment for an active defenceman much the way Marc Methot was for Erik Karlsson.

 

41. Jake Neighbours

Team: Edmonton  League: WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 201  Shot: L

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.  So those are the cons.  But he’s still a 2nd rounder for sure with a very high IQ and good size.  Wouldn’t stun me if he’s this years Raphael Lavoie, and what I mean by that is at the draft last year, Lavoie looked a little out of shape.  But when Lavoie got to the World Junior showcase just a month later, he looked like a completely different guy basically by just cleaning up his diet.  It’s possible that’s all Neighbours needs to go to another level is just a diet to follow because there are some who believe his weight might have held him back a bit this season.

 

42. Tristen Robins

Team: Saskatoon  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 174  Shot: R

Comparison: J.T. Compher

I probably like Robins as much as others who have him ranked much higher than this (13th for HP) and see the same things they do.  A) again I’ll say it that from 14-60 in this draft, I view it as airtight (which in some years might be a compliment, this year it’s more of an insult as I view these players as late 1st or 2nd rounders in most years).  B) while I’m high on the idea of Robins making it into the league, his ceiling, in my opinion, is a 2nd line winger.  Even if he hits that ceiling, it’s not a difficult piece to find.  A player who you love, but replaceable.  Add to that, statistically I found a troubling trend.  38 of his 73 points this season came against the six teams in the WHL which didn’t make the playoffs.  If you add two more teams to that mix (Calgary and Medicine Hat), it accounted for 50 of his 73 points.  I feel as though some got too excited about the fact he had 24 points in his final 13 games, but 21 of those 24 points came in eight games against Swift Current, Moose Jaw and Regina (who were bottom feeders in the dub this season, and obviously following the trade deadline they were even worse).  Now, not his fault three of the six worst teams in the league were in his division, but if you look at a kid like Wiesblatt who had the same deal, his numbers were much more balanced and Wiesblatt drove his own line where Robins was aided by fellow draft-eligible Kyle Crnkovic.  As if I haven’t shit on Robins enough here…his skating is good, it’s not great.  I feel the need to explain my stance on the Western kids since I covered them this season, which is why I’m going long with this write-up.  But don’t get it twisted, I really like Robins and believe he’s a kid who will play.  I just personally wouldn’t take him until the 2nd round.

 

Tier 13 (I could argue for the rest of these guys in any order)

43. Theodor Niederbach

Team: Frölunda HC J20  League: SuperElit

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: R

Comparison: Frans Nielsen

This draft is SO devoid of centres.  There are a few guys who might translate as centres, but very few sure things.  That’s part of the reason why I have Niederbach up here, but also, I believe Niederbach is a very safe pick.  Skates well, is committed to playing a 200-foot game, good vision, and has a very high IQ.  It’s funny, these types of centres always get overlooked due to the lack of flash in their game, and they seemingly always overachieve.  Ryan O’Reilly, Shawn Horcoff, Tyler Bozak, William Karlsson, the aforementioned Nielsen (obviously I’m meaning Nielsen in his prime when I use that comp)  I’ll gladly bet on that guy mid 2nd round.

 

44. Jean-Luc Foudy

Team: Windsor  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 168  Shot: R

Comparison: Andreas Athanisiou

A little bit of a twist here with the comp of Athanisiou.  He’s essentially the evil Athanisiou (Foudy is a pure playmaker rather than a shoot-first guy), but I use AA for a few reasons.  1) the speed both players possess.  2) how difficult both players can be to play with given how they both need to be the drivers of the lines they play on.  3) the poor draft years both players had statistically.  I’m not a big fan of Foudy at this point, but I have a tough time watching him fall too far thanks to possessing raw tools that you just can’t teach.  Terrific speed and a pure playmaker, two tremendous assets to thrive in today’s NHL.  But he has to learn to play in traffic, not just stay on the perimeter.  If the right team gets a hold of Foudy then it could be a little scary for the rest of the league.  He definitely has the ability to at least play in the league.  It’s a bit like Philip Broberg last year where so many people (myself included) got caught up in disagreeing with what his ceiling is and completely missed the fact that he’s still basically a lock to be a top-four D-man.  Foudy might be unlikely to hit his enormous ceiling, but I’d still say he’s likely to be a top-nine winger.

 

45. Daniel Torgersson

Team: Frölunda HC J20   League: SuperElit

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 205  Shot: L

Comparison: Joel Armia

A lot of tools to work with here.  Great skater for someone so big, and he combines that with a terrific motor and good IQ.  It remains to be seen if his game will translate that much offensively, but given that he checks the IQ, speed, and size boxes, he could end up doing a lot of damage as a complimentary guy for a good duo (think MacKinnon/Rantanen, or maybe Matthews/Marner).  Even if that situation never presents itself though, he has all the tools to be an effective bottom-six winger and terrific penalty killer.

 

46. Emil Heineman

Team: Leksands IF J20  League: SuperElit

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Michael Frolik

Maybe I just think all Swedes look the same?  Because I have Grans and Wallinder back to back and can’t make up my mind on which one I like better long term, and it’s the same story with Torgersson and Heineman!  I went with the younger and bigger prospect, but only slightly.  They don’t play an overly similar game, but like Grans and Wallinder I see them possibly having a similar impact on a roster.  The difference with these two however is the floor, as both players look like safe bets, just lack big ceilings.  Heineman is a great skater, has a tremendous motor, and is always finishing his checks.

 

47. Will Cuylle

Team: Windsor  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 201  Shot: L

Comparison: Brett Connolly

Loved him last summer, and flat out had a shitty season.  Still, he’s big, skilled and can skate.  It’s funny, if he had a big offensive season, I’d likely be much more down on him because scouts would love that shot.  But he didn’t, so I’m likely ranking him higher than most because he’s got very developable tools.  That’s difficult to watch fall too far in the draft.  Probably not a coincidence that both he and Foudy faltered this season both playing for Windsor.  Makes me wonder if there were other issues.

 

48. Sam Colangelo

Team: Chicago  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 205  Shot: R

Comparison: Jimmy Vesey

I’d like to see him learn to play much more of a give and go game.  So many kids have trouble making the show simply because they can’t learn to defer.  And it’s completely understandable.  You’ve been the man your entire life playing hockey, it’d be tough.  So that’s my main concern, but the tools are without a doubt there for Colangelo to be an effective winger at some point.  He’s off to Northeastern to begin his NCAA career this fall.

 

49. Eemil Viro

Team: TPS  League: Liiga

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 168  Shot: L

Comparison: Mark Pysyk

I really love his skating.  Technically, he’s one of the best skaters in this draft.  But the offensive upside is questionable, and he doesn’t move the puck overly well for someone who will need to.  A bit of a project in my eyes, but he definitely has some tools to become something pretty good in time.

 

50. Jérémie Poirier

Team: Saint John  League: QMJHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 192  Shot: L

Comparison: Marek Zidlicky

You can’t let him fall forever.  I’m not a fan of his game at all to be really honest about it, but the skill that Poirier has makes him much more worthy of being taken by a certain point than those who are safer bets because you’ll be able to find those guys in trades, free agency or even on waivers.  If Poirier figures it out, he’s a stud.  Sounds great, but I also don’t like the odds of him figuring it out.  Probably will go higher than this because you’ll have teams who’ll be able to swing for the fences.  Some have suggested converting him to a forward.  It wouldn’t be much of a conversion, as he was initially a forward converted to a D-man.

 

51. Ryan O’Rourke

Team: Sault Ste. Marie  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Olli Maatta

I like O’Rourke, but I view him as the opposite of Poirier in that I believe he’s a safe pick without much of an upside.  Bottom pair I think is likely, wouldn’t rule out him becoming a top-four guy, but don’t love the upside.

 

52. Tyson Foerster

Team: Barrie  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 194  Shot: R

Comparison: James Neal

High IQ, a lot of skill, one of the best shots in this draft.  So why is he ranked all the way down here?  Two reasons.  1) skating.  It’s bad.  While I no longer believe skating can’t be improved (as an Oilers fan, I watched Jordan Eberle and Leon Draisaitl massively improve their skating) Foerster has a long ways to go with his.  2) his PP production.  Half his goals and nearly half his points were with the man advantage.  I think back to 2017 when I first started paying closer attention to numbers and two guys who were dominant with the man advantage were Casey Mittlestadt and Michael Rasmussen.  We have a LONG ways to go in both careers, but neither kid looks all that intriguing at the moment.  As much as I like Foerster and am pulling for him, I can’t put him any higher than this.

 

53. Thomas Bordeleau

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 179  Shot: L

Comparison: Nikita Gusev

I probably like Bordeleau a lot more than ranking him 53rd would suggest.  But while I like his game, I’m concerned that he doesn’t have a whole lot of upside from what he currently is.  Skilled playmaker though, I’ll draft those guys all day in rounds 2-7.

 

54. Connor McClennon

Team: Winnipeg  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 157  Shot: R

Comparison: Brendan Gallagher

McClennon was on a 91 point pace in his final 29 games.  If he had hit 91 points this season, even with the concern that he lived off Peyton Krebs, guaranteed scouts would have him in their top 30.  The skating is the concern as it’s only average for a kid who is 5’8.  But he works his ass off, is highly skilled, and fearless.  A lot of rankings don’t have him even listed…that’s a mistake.  He’s well worth taking a flier on.  Maybe mid-late 2nd would be too early for that flier, but I know this player well and would be willing to roll the dice in this range.

 

55. Cross Hanas

Team: Portland  League: WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 165  Shot: L

Comparison: Ondrej Kase

This is me projecting.  Hanas made the highlight reels this season, but didn’t exactly tear apart the WHL.  Couple reasons for that though.  1) didn’t see a ton of ice time.  2nd lowest for the forwards (15) that made my last Western prospects list.  2) very little of his production was with the man advantage.  40 of his 49 points came at ES.  His skating isn’t great at the moment, but when you watch him play you can see that it’s purely a case of having no lower body strength.  Zero power in his stride.  Once he fills out (likely has 30lbs still to put on, if not 40) that will come.  And then…what will he be?  Bit of a project, but I love the potential here.

 

56. Justin Sourdif

Team: Vancouver  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

Comparison: Sam Reinhart

Three straight dub kids on my list, but if you’ve followed my stuff this season then you know that I really believe in the depth out West this season.  Sourdif isn’t one of my favourites, but he checks in here thanks to his ES production.  Vancouver had an awful PP last season, and because of that Sourdif ended up with only 7 of his 54 points coming on the PP this season.  That’s damn good ES production.  Good skater, good IQ, good skill.  But what I worry about is that he’s a tweener.  I don’t know if he has enough skill to play in a top-six someday, and while I wouldn’t say he plays a perimeter game, he doesn’t get involved at all physically.  Teams aren’t looking for outright grinders and plugs like they used to in their bottom six, but you still want guys who can bring something extra to the table.  Still, he has some great assets that make him very developable if the right organization gets their hands on him.

 

57. Martin Chromiak

Team: Kingston  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: R

Comparison: Victor Olofsson

Another “terrific shot” guy, but more so than that with Chromiak is that I worry he’s lived off 2022 1st overall pick Shane Wright (for those of you wanting a sneak preview for my 2022 list), and I’m also concerned with how soft he plays.  His skating and hands are going to give him a chance to succeed though.  We’ll see how the rest comes along.

 

58. Tyler Kleven

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 201  Shot: L

Comparison: Jack Johnson

Another project, Kleven has size, mobility and edge that is going to give him a great shot at being an NHL defenceman.  He’s got the same upside as Braden Schneider, but he’s much further off than Schneider.  Even with him going the collegiate route, there is a chance a team is going to use all three years of his ELC developing him.

 

59. Eamon Powell

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 170  Shot: R

Comparison: Thomas Hickey

Skates well, can really move it, and pretty solid in his own zone.  There is next to no flash with Powell, but I believe he can be a solid bottom pairing guy.

 

60. Joni Jurmo

Team: Jokerit U20  League: U20 SM-sarja

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: L

Comparison: Noah Hanifin

There is one reason I love Jurmo and it’s his skating.  Jurmo is one of the best skaters in the draft.  He needs a lot of time to develop though.  The skating and size are going to give him a terrific chance to become something really nice, but he needs to go to the right organization, he needs a ton of time, and he needs to be coachable.

 

61. Carter Savoie

Team: Sherwood Park  League: AJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

People who are down on him will tell you he’s lazy and can’t skate.  People who are higher on him (as I am) will tell you his role on his line all season was to be the trigger man, and when he was challenged or needed to step up, he did exactly that.  I think he was bored this season.  He has the talent and I believe once he’s challenged again as he will be at DU, his stats won’t be great, but people will see a much more well rounded and hard-working player.

 

62. Dylan Peterson

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 192  Shot: R

Comparison: Colin Wilson

There are too many tools with Peterson for me not to want to take him at some point.  It would completely depend on how many picks I have.  If I don’t have many and I don’t have a great system, too risky.  Think of a team like the Sens though who have a boatload of picks and a great system.  Then all of a sudden a kid like Peterson is well worth a gamble at some point with one of those four 2nd rounders they own.  Great size, great skater for that size, he doesn’t have the hockey sense to play the middle as some have him listed as, but given the right amount of development time, he has a chance to be molded into a very effective player.  I feel as though he’s getting written off by people because they don’t think he can become a top-six player, all the while they’re missing that he has all the tools to become a bottom-six player.

 

63. Roby Jarventie

Team: KOOVEE  League: Mestis

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Viktor Stalberg

A project.  Good size, good skater, good skill.  But he needs time to develop.  The skillset is far too intriguing to let fall past the early 3rd round.

 

64. Ty Smilanic

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 170  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan Dzingel

I really love his skating which is why I still have him in my top 64, but he was a big disappointment not only for me, but seemingly for everyone this season.  When that happens, much more often than not those players tend to not come close to making it.  But we’ll see.  He needs time.

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