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2020 NHL Draft: Top 20 WHL Prospects (March, 2020)

The first year that I attempt to tackle just the WHL and focus solely on one league, and I get about the worst year possible to rank their kids!  Nobody is pulling away for me in this race and we are splitting hairs with so many of these kids.  Guhle vs Schneider, Zary vs Finley, Wiesblatt vs Neighbours, anyone can rank these kids in pretty much any order and I’m not going to put up much of a fight.  Which means the guy doing the rankings better put a HECK of a lot of time into research and going over everything with a fine-tooth comb (which is one reason I’m so late in getting this list out).  This is what I’ve done, but it’s frustrating because I might look back at this in two weeks and start kicking myself and I don’t just give myself love taps, I kick hard!!

It’s crazy.  I won’t be the least bit surprised if there are no WHL kids who go in the top 15 of the draft.  All the top kids in this year’s class have noticeable warts.  Having said that, I believe there are nine kids as of writing this who could then go in the 15-40 range.  You can make a legitimate case for any of the kids I have ranked 1-6 here being the top WHL draft prospect right now and I truly mean this that the gap from 1 all the way down to 14 is very small, so the depth here is just crazy.

I’ve decided to give you a top 20 this time around…just because I’m THAT good of a person.   Added to that are 6 honourable mentions, and 4 more kids playing tier II junior out West to bring the total to 30 players in the rankings this time around.  I’m like the Oprah of the WHL.  Souprah.

 

1. Kaiden Guhle

Team: Prince Albert Raiders

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 61  G: 11  A: 29  P: 40

Previous Rank: 1

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

He remains number one for me yet again, though this is getting even tighter.  I’ll tell you the one thing that drives me nuts this season though is anyone trying to make the case that Braden Schneider is a better prospect than Kaiden Guhle.  By no measure (in my opinion) is Schneider better than Guhle.  They are such similar defencemen, but Guhle is a better skater, not nearly as filled out at this point, just as physical, and a draft year younger.  You’re talking about a big, physical, terrific skating defenceman who is miserable to play against in his own zone and moves the puck well.  And when you’re looking at his defensive game specifically, there isn’t anything I dislike.   Positioning, angling, stick, zone entries, and puck retrievals are all high end for a draft eligible defenceman.  He reminds me a lot of two different defencemen: Darnell Nurse and Brent Seabrook.  Both guys never put up big offensive numbers in their draft years and yet one was a cornerstone for a three time Cup winner and the other is a 25 year old, top four defenceman, who just got 5.6 million per season.  Pretty good company.  If you’re looking at the here and now with Guhle, maybe you’re not as high on him.  But I believe the upside is ridiculous with Guhle.  This kid has all the tools (and I consider IQ and work ethic in those tools) to become a terrific defenceman in the show someday.

 

2. Seth Jarvis

Team: Portland Winterhawks

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 172  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 55  G: 40  A: 51  P: 91

Previous Rank: 4

Born: 02/01/02, Winnipeg, MB

The most skilled player to come out of this year’s crop of WHL kids checks in at 2 this time around, barely edged out for 1st by Guhle for me.  All season I talked about how Jarvis is in that group of kids who could be ranked anywhere from 3rd to 9th for me, and I had him as the top kid in that group the last time around, but now Jarvis is starting to separate from that group.  Skating, IQ, vision, compete are all very solid, but its the hands which are perhaps what I like about his game the most.  There are a lot of players that Jarvis reminds me of.  A bit of Jordan Eberle, a bit of Brendan Gallagher, a bit of Nik Ehlers, all players who are undersized, but all players who have a different skill set.  He needs to improve his play away from the puck, but it’s not any worse than most kids his age.  He’ll fly the zone quite a bit but that’ll likely be coached out of him in time.  He’s not on the top of my list this time around, but if he continues trending how he has of late, I can’t imagine I’d have anyone higher than him the next time around.

 

3. Jack Finley

Team: Spokane Chiefs

Pos: C  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 207  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 57  G: 17  A: 36  P: 53

Previous Rank: 10

Born: 09/02/02, Kelowna, BC

He takes a very big jump up my rankings.  And I’m well aware that many won’t agree with this, and that’s fine.  This is how I feel right now, and just hear out my POV on this.  Obviously the tool kit stands out.  He’s not just 6’5, he’s not just 207 lbs, he’s a good skater who is putting up impressive numbers when you factor in that he’s been seeing a ton of tough minutes in Spokane.  His season is actually greatly replicating the season Ryan Johansen had in his draft year, and it took scouts a while that season until they started to really recognize Johansen.  Finley is a kid who to me looks like a sure thing to play in the league, but the upside is still there.  Of course, the one guy most noticeable who I’m ranking behind Finley is Connor Zary.  When I break down Finley v Zary, I have all the edges other than raw point totals going to Finley.  Even strength scoring however, Finley is better PPG (0.78) than Zary (0.76).  If Finley were the one playing with Zane Franklin and Orrin Centazzo (shoutout to my fellow Marwayne Wildcats…) then would his numbers resemble Zary’s?  In my opinion, they’d be as good or better.  Is Finley going to make a lot of highlight reels?  No.  He’s not overly dynamic.  Luckily for Finley, I’m not big on players being dynamic.  Being intelligent and constantly on the right side of the puck isn’t sexy, but production is production.

 

4. Connor Zary

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 52  G: 34  A: 43  P: 77

Previous Rank: 2

Born: 09/25/01, Saskatoon, SK

The work ethic and the IQ really stand out when you watch Zary play and as I’ve said before the guy is a coach’s dream.  You can put him in any situation and he’s going to thrive.  My buddy Larry Fisher compares him with Bo Horvat and it really is a spot-on comparison.  I’d say you’re at least getting a Jarret Stoll type with Zary (who was similar to Horvat but simply didn’t sustain the offensive production Horvat has and will).  Captain material.  He simply does everything very well.  However, that can be viewed as a negative too, as a fellow contributor to the oilknight.ca pointed out (I won’t say who, but I’ll just say he knows the QMJHL extremely well…) sometimes it’s not so much that they do everything well as it is they don’t do anything great.  And that is fair with Zary is he doesn’t do one thing that stands out, and for me, the skating is a bit concerning.

 

5. Braden Schneider

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 209  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 58  G: 7  A: 35  P: 42

Previous Rank: 9

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

As you can see, I am coming around on Schneider.  Way too tough on him in the summertime, I tend to do that with the kids who have the late birthdays.  He’s a safe pick.  As I said earlier, he’s very similar to Guhle, I just don’t feel as though there is anything Schneider does better than Guhle, and I believe Guhle has some offensive upside where I’m not sure Schneider has much.  The comparison I’ve used all season though is Travis Hamonic, and no team is going to cry about getting a D-man like that.  I like his skating, and he’s not just a physical guy in his own zone.  Much like Guhle, good gap control, positioning, and stick.  You can really see with Schneider that he takes pride in being that shutdown/throwback defender.

 

6. Ozzy Wiesblatt

Team: Prince Albert Raiders

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 61  G: 24  A: 44  P: 68

Previous Rank: 5

Born: 03/09/02, Calgary, AB

So if you’re looking at just the skill sets on the dub kids who I have so closely bunched up (Wiesblatt, Jarvis, Neighbours, McClennon, Sourdif, etc), Wiesblatt could be the least skilled of those kids.  But on the other hand, Wiesblatt is perhaps the most likely to simply play in the NHL of the group.  So how do you rank that?!  It’s tricky, and I admit I do have to come up with more of a system to make such issues much easier to figure out.  Wiesblatt, in my opinion, is going to be the type of player who can play in any situation.  Right now he’s playing the middle for the Raiders, though I see him as a winger down the line.  Good skater, good motor, plays physical, plays a little greasy at times, he’ll be a fan favourite wherever he goes.

 

7. Jake Neighbours 

Team: Edmonton Oil Kings

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 61  G: 23  A: 45  P: 68

Previous Rank: 6

Born: 03/29/02, Airdrie, AB

I get why some people love him as much as they do.  That’s never been lost on me.  Neighbours plays a pro game, he can play a hard game, and he can play a bit of a greasy game at times too.  His IQ is high end.  I really worry about the skating though.  It’s not that it can’t improve, but it’s much more to do with a theory I have.  Neighbours is already pretty filled out at 5’11 and near 200 lbs.  That doesn’t suggest he is going to gain a whole lot more strength.  Maybe.  I’m not saying he won’t.  But I’m more willing to bet on kids making a big improvement in their skating ability who aren’t yet filled out.  If he can get his skating to where it needs to be, I love him just as much as everyone else seems to.  But I’m just not sure he can.

 

8. 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

Maybe the toughest kid to rank.  On one hand, he has exploded offensively after a slow start.  He recently went on an 11 game point streak and had 29 points in his last full 18 games played.  Why did I say “full”?  Because in his last game McClennon suffered a broken collarbone and will be out likely until the end of the WHL regular season, if not longer.  The other thing some would point to in terms of his production was that he took off once Peyton Krebs returned from his Achilles injury.  But let’s not pretend McClennon is playing on some offensive juggernaut in Winnipeg where he’s able to live off other’s accomplishments.  McClennon is a lot like Kailer Yamamoto, not just in stature but also with his drive and fearlessness on the ice.  He plays much bigger than his size.  The skating isn’t where Yamamoto’s was at this point though.  I personally believe it’s better than some have suggested, but there is no doubt it needs work.  Opposite of Neighbours though, McClennon has a lot of weight and strength to pack on still, so it’s possible it could greatly improve as he does.

 

9. Justin Sourdif

Team: Vancouver Giants

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 163  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 54  G: 24  A: 28  P: 52

Previous Rank: 3

Born: 03/24/02, Surrey, BC

A big slide down my rankings for Sourdif, but again, I have to stress that I don’t see anything of a big gap between 1st and 9th, and it’s an even smaller one between 6th and 9th.  The thing you have to remember with Sourdif that while the numbers aren’t where many believed they would be for him this season, it is the Vancouver power play that is killing his production more than anything.  So while he’s down at 9 for me at the moment, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to go on a tear at some point and shoot back up into my top 3.  It’s that tight.  And with Sourdif, the skillset isn’t in question.  I do worry though that the drive isn’t there with Sourdif.  He isn’t very assertive with the puck, and he doesn’t bring much in terms of physicality or gamesmanship.

 

10. Ridly Greig

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 162  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 54  G: 24  A: 33  P: 57

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 08/08/02, Lethbridge, AB

Greig is an intriguing prospect for a lot of people.  He plays a pro game and he has a lot of growing to do physically so that always will make people wonder where the ceiling is.  I like his skating ability and feel as though there is room for that to grow quite a bit in the next few seasons.  He has excellent hockey sense, is a decent playmaker, protects the puck well, plays a solid 200 foot game, he is willing to play a physical game, he is just simply a very complete player.  For me, I see him as potentially a terrific two-way centre.

 

11. Ronan Seeley

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 60  G: 3  A: 29  P: 32

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 08/02/02, Yellowknife, NT

The skating ability is his calling card.  You’d think that with a defencemen sub 6’0 and a great skater that he’s a big risk-taker.  But remember: he’s playing for Everett, and the Silvertips under Kevin Constantine previously, and currently Dennis Willaims, are the stingiest team in the WHL.  Don’t let the numbers fool you, this kid can move the puck very well and has a lot of untapped offensively ability.  At this point, I don’t see Seeley going in the top 62 of the draft, but he is a sneaky good prospect who has been a personal favourite of mine.  If I’m an NHL team, I’m not looking to reach to get him, but I’d slot him in the 63-124 range (3rd or 4th round) and hope he finds his way to our pick because there is a lot to work with here.

 

12. Tristen Robins

Team: Saskatoon Blades

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 174  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 58  G: 31  A: 35  P: 66

Previous Rank: NR

Born: 11/15/01, Brandon, MB

The first thing that stands out with Robins is his speed.  This kid is a burner, but he combines that with a terrific compete level which makes him lethal on the forecheck, on puck retrievals, and on the backcheck.  He plays the middle for the Blades, but for me personally, I would be drafting Robins as a winger.  Hey, if he can play the middle that’s even better!  But I see him as a winger in pro hockey and while I question if he’ll have the skill level to produce at a top six level, he sure looks as though he has the speed and work ethic to be an effective top nine winger in the show.

 

13. Dylan Garand

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: G  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 172  Glove: L

2020 Stats – GP: 39  G.A.A.: 2.23  Sv%: .922

Previous Rank: NR

Born: 06/06/02, Victoria, BC

At the start of the year I have to admit, I didn’t like Garand mainly because of his size.  And though the size hasn’t improved, and NHL organizations still prefer bigger netminders, it isn’t as though 6’1 is a size of goaltender which isn’t going to get a look in the league.  And then the season he’s having has now is so damn impressive!  His numbers are right there with Team Canada’s Joel Hofer who is playing on a more dominant team in Portland.  And it’s not as though Kamloops is some defensive juggernaut, this is a team who has played pretty wide open hockey this season.  I love the way Garand moves in net.  He’s very technically sound with terrific reflexes.  If this kid’s ability to track the puck can catch up to the rest of his game, he will be an NHL goaltender even at this size.

 

14. Pavel Novak

Team: Kelowna Rockets

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 170  Shot: R

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

Previous Rank: 7

Born: 04/16/02, Tabor, CZE

Before I get to Novak, what a mess in Kelowna this season.  As a Western guy and covering the WHL for Sean as I do, this is humiliating that this team is hosting the Memorial Cup this season.  I thought 2013 was bad with the Blades being bounced in the 1st round, it is nothing compared to what is going on with the Rockets.  And they are the last franchise I thought I’d ever type something like that about in the WHL.  Ok, Novak.  He’s the Rockets leading scorer as of writing this.  He’s a very similar prospect to Wiesblatt, McClennon, Sourdif, etc. in that he’s a bit of an undersized guy who can produce.  The thing that scares me with Novak is the skating ability isn’t great.  He has the skill to succeed, but at the moment I don’t believe his skating is good enough to get him to the next level.  If he can get it to where it needs to be, Novak will be pretty intriguing.

 

15. Alex Cotton

Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 60  G: 18  A: 47  P: 65

Previous Rank: NR

Born: 05/12/01, Langley, BC

Something that keeps me up at night when ranking kids for their drafts: the late bloomer/over-ager.  I get so locked in on certain kids that I rarely give consideration to such things!  Thankfully, I didn’t miss Alex Cotton’s incredible 3rd season in the WHL that is getting more and more attention as the year has worn on.  He moves the puck extremely well, has a great shot, and he showcases good compete.  The play in his own zone needs work, but the big concern with Cotton are the boots.  His skating is just ok, but the positive with it is that he has improved it quite a bit over the last year.  Can it continue to improve?  If it can, the team which drafts him will have quite the prospect on their hands.

 

16. Christoffer Sedoff

Team: Red Deer Rebels

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 189  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 59  G: 5  A: 14  P: 19

Previous Rank: NR

Born: 02/20/02, Helsinki, FIN

Sedoff is starting to get some love from the scouting community despite playing on a rebuilding Rebels club.  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.  Another interesting tidbit is his size.  Elite Prospects lists him at 5’11, 159lbs.  The WHL’s site has him at 6’1, 189lbs, a pretty damn big difference!  When I’ve seen him, it appears to me like the WHL size is the correct one, at least in terms of height.

 

17. Kasper Puutio

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 185  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 53  G: 5  A: 20  P: 25

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 06/03/02, Vaasa, FIN

A very similar prospect to Sedoff, but in a very different situation (at least he is since his trade to Everett).  The skating ability of Puutio, much like his teammate Ronan Seeley, makes him a very intriguing prospect in the middle to late rounds of the draft.  He’s very raw at this point.  Both offensively and defensively, there is a ton of room for growth.  But he’s a kid who as I already said is a terrific skater, and he moves the puck very well.  If he can refine his defensive game, there is no reason he couldn’t be a Jonas Brodin type D-man down the line.

 

18. Josh Pillar

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 174  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 58  G: 14  A: 27  P: 41

Previous Rank: NR

Born: 02/14/02, Warman, SK

When you’re just simply looking at stats, Pillar doesn’t stand out.  But this kid has been a favourite of mine all season because of his wheels.  I’m a big believer in taking kids later in the draft who have one terrific trait and looking to develop the rest, and Pillar has that in his skating.  Very similar to Tristen Robins who is in his 18 year old season, and  Pillar is already out producing what Robins did last season.  Also like Robins, he’s playing the middle for Kamloops.  If Pillar was playing the wing he’d likely have a lot more freedom offensively, and likely be getting a lot more attention than he has.  31 ES points on the season playing primarily in a checking role for the Blazers this season.

 

19. Simon Knak

Team: Portland Winterhawks

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 46  G: 9  A: 24  P: 33

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 01/27/02, Kloten, SUI

A player who does everything well, but nothing great.  Ok size, ok speed, ok hands, ok vision, ok hockey sense, an ok shot, he’s just ok.  Now, if Knak has a great work ethic than he is just scratching the surface on what he can become.  And what will help him a lot with that development is being a Winterhawk with Mike Johnston as his coach.  I’m not sure if Knak has shown enough to get himself drafted at this point, but he will have a lot more of an opportunity on a Winterhawks team which looks primed for a deep run into the WHL playoffs.

 

20. Bryan Thomson

Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes

Pos: G  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 181  Glove: L

2020 Stats – GP: 28  G.A.A.: 2.94  Sv%: .896

Previous Rank: NR

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

Nothing like Garand.  Garand gets love for the numbers he’s put up this season and the mystery of whether or not he will be just big enough to succeed.  Thomson has the size and ability but doesn’t have the numbers as he fluctuates above and below a .900 Sv% this season.  But the upside is tough to ignore with this kid.  I hate comparing him to a former Hurricane (because I worry about it coming off as lazy on my part), but he is very similar to Stuart Skinner when Skinner was 17.

 

Honourable Mention

Orrin Centazzo

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 163  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 58  G: 42  A: 34  P: 76

Previous Rank: NR

Born: 04/17/00, Marwayne, AB

This one is both interesting and fun for me to write.  A kid who’s family I know well, I watched a ton of as he was growing up, played on a line with my nephews in their U-16 Midget season, and is tearing it up on the best line in the WHL this season along with Connor Zary and fellow Marwayne Wildcat (once again, shoutout to my fellow Wildcats) Zane Franklin.  Orrin has always possessed ridiculous skill, and now he seems as though he’s putting it all together and figuring out just how good he can be.  No doubt, he benefits from having Zary and Franklin on his line.  But there are some who feel it’s Centazzo who is the offensive catalyst of that trio.  If I were a team, I’d give him a close look in the later rounds.  I think the higher level of hockey this kid plays, the more he is going to elevate his game.  He has the skill to play in the show.  Tough to rank at this point for me which is why he is in the HM section, but he’s an intriguing player to keep an eye on.

 

Michal Gut

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 48  G: 13  A: 22  P: 35

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 08/16/02, Kadan, CZE

Last time I said that Gut was a good skater, but I’m not sure that was very accurate as in my viewings since it has been the one thing about his game that has concerned me.  He is however a kid who looks to do everything right out on the ice, a very responsible 200-foot player.

 

Cross Hanas

Team: Portland Winterhawks

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 57  G: 19  A: 25  P: 44

Previous Rank: NR

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

Has some high end skill in his game scoring some highlight reel goals this season.  But the hockey sense is very questionable.  If he can learn to start playing a simpler game and improve his play away from the puck, he might be a player.  Just as the case with his teammate Simon Knak, the one thing Hanas has going for him is that his head coach Mike Johnston has one heck of a track record developing players and Hanas has a skill set Johnston can work with.

 

Daemon Hunt

Team: Moose Jaw Warriors

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 198  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 23  G: 0  A: 11  P: 11

Previous Rank: HM

Born: 05/15/02, Brandon, MB

Such a difficult kid to rank as he has been out since the 3rd of December (suffered a severe cut to his arm).  He’s nothing flashy.  Some might even say he’s boring.  But he’s effective.  Terrific in his own zone with his gap control, angles and stick, he was logging all the tough minutes for a weak Warriors squad.  The PPG might look solid at first glance for a defenceman.  Obviously having no goals in 23 games isn’t a great sign.  But if we’re talking about statistical red flags, the one for me is that of his 11 assists, only two came at even strength, and one of those was a secondary assist on an empty net goal.  On top of that, I don’t love the skating ability when I’ve viewed him.

 

Owen Pederson

Team: Winnipeg Ice

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 57  G: 23  A: 21  P: 44

Previous Rank: NR

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

Pederson plays on the top line in Winnipeg with Vegas Golden Knights 1st round pick Peyton Krebs.  For what turned out to be a short period of time, Pederson was flanked by both Krebs and Connor McClennon and they were one of the hottest lines in the league before McClennon got hurt.  As you can likely guess, it is Pederson’s skating that needs work.  His assets are obviously his size, but also he isn’t afraid to use that size which makes him an effective player on the cycle and in front of the net.  Finally, Pederson has very good hands too.  So there is a lot to work with here, but the skating needs a lot of work.

 

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: NR

Born: 05/06/02, Edmonton, AB

Hey, what do you know!  The night I do the write-up for Prokop is the night he busts out offensively!  1 goal on the season going in, 2 goals in the game!  But obviously that is not what Prokop is known for.  He’s a throwback type of D-man.  A bruiser in his own zone who will throw people around.  The skating and the hockey sense are the concerns with him.  I think the skating is OK, it’s not great but I think it’s passable, and then the hockey sense is obviously a concern.  He’s iffy to get drafted, but it wouldn’t surprise me given the tools he has in his arsenal.  You get down to the later stages of the draft and sometimes it isn’t about how good the kids are but much more about how much you’ll have to work with as an organization attempts to develop a kid.

 

AJHL

Michael Benning

Team: Sherwood Park Crusaders

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 174  Shot: R

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

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

I’ve often pointed to the comparison in his numbers to Cale Makar’s draft year this season (keeping in mind that Makar was in his 18 year old season vs this being Benning’s 17 year old season), so let’s do it again!  They finish with the exact same games played (54) and the exact same point totals (75).  Now, as mightily impressive as that is for Benning, he’s not Makar.  They are obviously very mobile offensive-minded D-men, but Makar was more dynamic than Benning is.  Benning is much more of a cerebral player and not the skater Makar was/is (even though Benning is a terrific skater).  But let’s look at other recent AJHL comparisons.  Jacob Bernard-Docker (26th overall in 2018) had 41 points in 49 games.  Ian Mitchell (57th overall in 2017) had 37 points in 53 games.  If we are comparing their games, Mitchell’s most closely resembles Benning’s.  And don’t say “yeah, but the teams they played on…” these four played for what are currently the four best programs in the AJHL.   In a way, they really aren’t even AJHL teams, but rather minor league teams for NCAA programs.  Benning is also pretty solid in his own zone.  Despite his stature, he does not get pushed around and is willing to battle in all the tough areas.  It won’t be his calling card, but he’s not at all a liability in his own zone as the Crusaders lean heavily on him defensively.

 

Carter Savoie

Team: Sherwood Park Crusaders

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 181  Shot: L

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

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

The most anticipated game of the year in the AJHL was on January 18th.  Sherwood Park vs Brooks.  At the time, the top two teams in the CJHL going head to head.  A possible preview of the AJHL final.  What did Carter Savoie do?  Plays his best game of the year.  Hatty, plus an assist (all points at even strength), Crusaders win 7-4.  The knock on Savoie is his skating.  From the get-go this season I didn’t have the issue with it that most seemed to, and as the season has worn on I feel stronger than ever in the opinion of him being a guy who just simply picks his spots and plays a much more cerebral game than most give him credit for.  His skating doesn’t stand out, but it’s fine.  He cranks it up when he needs to, and there is plenty of room for improvement.  Also, he’s a miserable SOB to play against!  He’s not afraid to go after a guy.  He’s not overly physical, but he plays in the tough area’s and will do what he has to do to create space.  He can look lazy at times, but it’s the same type of thing you see out of most goal scorers that they’re always just looking for dead ice.  50 goals in 50 games, near 2 PPG on the season, the kid has lived up to his hype in the AJHL this season.  It’ll be interesting to see what he does in the playoffs.

 

Ethan Edwards

Team: Spruce Grove Saints

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 165  Shot: L

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

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

I’m not liking that my secret player is not being kept a very good secret!  Ranked 85th by NHL Central Scouting among North American players, only 15 spots back of Benning.  Edwards plays at a quicker pace than Benning and might be a little bit better skater of the two.  Edwards can also (as you’d expect), really move the puck well.  Despite all this, he really isn’t a big risk taker in my viewings of him.  Again I am going to point out as I did last time, he isn’t a kid I’d be looking to take in the top 93 of the draft, but in the later rounds he could be a flat out steal.  Committed to Michigan, but not until the 21-22 season, meaning the team which drafts him would have as much as five seasons to allow him to develop before making a decision on him.

 

BCHL

Ethan Bowen

Team: Chilliwack Chiefs

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

He’s run into injury issues this season, likely are the big reason for his somewhat disappointing season to this point.  I still worry about the skating with Bowen, but again I’ll point to how big and gangly he is at this point.  There are other kids in the BC league challenging Bowen for top prospect, but all of them seem to also have their warts.  At this time I still believe Bowen is the most intriguing of them all, but it’ll be interesting to see where it stands once we’re a round or two into the post-season which starts soon.  Heading to North Dakota beginning next fall.

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2020 NHL Draft: Mock Draft V.1

Wow.  I was worried this season would be like the last where I had no time to do a top 32 list, and no time to do any mock drafts which are probably what I do best.  So I have to admit, I’m pretty pumped I managed to get a mid-season one out!

You have to understand one thing when reading this: It’s just for fun.  It’s a fun read, lots of people love the draft and love reading mocks.  It also helps fans who blindly say “trade a pick” to put a face to that pick.  All of a sudden, fans aren’t so eager to “trade a pick”.  This is the perfect time to do one though as we’re a little under a month away from the trade deadline.

Be sure to check out my top 32 rankings that I’m also releasing today to read up more on how I feel about each player.

***Standings as of Jan. 27th, 2020 based off points percentage

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1. Alexis Lafrenière

Team: Rimouski  League: QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 39  G: 24  A: 60  P: 84

Born: 10/11/01, Saint-Eustache, QC

SOH Rank: 1st

There is no other choice at this point.  Others have been intriguing, but Lafrenière is the pick for whoever wins this pick.

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2. Quinton Byfield

Team: Sudbury  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 214  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 36  G: 29  A: 41  P: 70

Born: 08/19/02, Newmarket, ON

SOH Rank: 2nd

This pick isn’t the slam dunk that Lafrenière is.  The Kings don’t have much in the system on the blueline and took Alex Turcotte last spring, so Jamie Drysdale would get a long look at this point.  Still, I believe if the draft happened today, Byfield would be the pick as that potential is going to be too tough for NHL teams to pass up.

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3. Jamie Drysdale

Team: Erie  League: OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 36  G: 7  A: 31  P: 38

Born: 04/08/02, Toronto, ON

SOH Rank: 3rd

This team badly needs to build up their blueline.  Ty Smith is about it.  I know they got Kevin Bahl as well, but I’m not sold on Bahl being a guy to get too excited about.  Drysdale is going to be a stud, you can’t pass him up if you’re the Devils.

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4. Marco Rossi

Team: Ottawa  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 179  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 37  G: 28  A: 53  P: 81

Born: 09/23/01, Feldkirch, AUT

SOH Rank: 4th

Not the guy I’m sure they’ll truly desire, but you aren’t going to be upset about getting a high end centre who is already in the market.

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5. Lucas Raymond

Team: Frölunda HC  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 21  G: 4  A: 4  P: 8

Born: 03/28/02, Göteborg, SWE

SOH Rank: 5th

This is maybe the biggest need for the Ducks right now, skill up front.  They have some very good young pieces, but more skill is needed and Raymond brings a ton of that.

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6. Tim Stützle

Team: Adler Mannheim  League: DEL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 30  G: 6  A: 22  P: 28

Born: 01/15/02, Viersen, GER

SOH Rank: 6th

Originally San Jose’s pick, sent to Ottawa in the Erik Karlsson trade.  Again, they will badly want Drysdale in my opinion (outside of Lafrenière), but there is no other D worth taking here (at this point).  The Sens aren’t going to be too upset with a Friday night haul of Rossi and Stützle.

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7. Cole Perfetti

Team: Saginaw  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 46  G: 28  A: 54  P: 82

Born: 01/01/02, Whitby, ON

SOH Rank: 11th

There are others who I would pick if I were the Habs in this position.  But the Habs have a knack for being poor team builders.  I really like Perfetti, but he wouldn’t be my pick in this spot and for this squad.  This is 100% a gut feeling as to what they’d here.

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8. Yaroslav Askarov

Team: SKA-Neva St. Petersburg  League: VHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 163  Glove: R

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G.A.A.: 2.36  Sv%: .923

Born: 06/16/02, Omsk, RUS

SOH Rank: 9th

A perfect pick for a team that has admitted they need to rebuild yet, but will be forced to soon.  When they do, it’ll be a big help to have it started with a stud between the pipes.

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9. Anton Lundell

Team: HIFK  League: Liiga

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 27  G: 6  A: 13  P: 19

Born: 10/03/01, Espoo, FIN

SOH Rank: 7th

Casey Mittlestadt already looks like a miss (I know it’s super early, I’m not counting him out but it’s how they have to look at it), and they don’t have that guy right now who can help Eichel out with the heavy lifting.  Lundell could fill those shoes.

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10. Dylan Holloway

Team: Wisconsin  League: NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 23  G: 3  A: 5  P: 8

Born: 09/23/01, Calgary, AB

SOH Rank: 10th

This team really needs to upgrade down the middle, but the question here would be whether or not they’d see Holloway as a centre?  They’d get to see him a lot this season though being the teammate of 2018 1st rounder K’Andre Miller.

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11. Alexander Holtz

Team: Djurgårdens IF  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 25  G: 7  A: 5  P: 12

Born: 01/23/02, Saltsjö-Boo, SWE

SOH Rank: 8th

The Jets big need is on D, but Holtz would be too big of a talent to pass on.  Add to that, the Jets would then be able to afford shipping out a guy like Ehlers or Connor for the D-man they so badly need.

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12. Noel Gunler 

Team: Luleå HF  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 34  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

Born: 10/07/01, Luleå, SWE

SOH Rank: 12th

They’re all about just taking what they view as the most skilled guy on the board.  It seems in the last few years they’ve gone all in on that philosophy, so Gunler fits them perfectly.

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13. William Wallinder

Team: MODO J-20  League: SuperElit

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 29  G: 5  A: 16  P: 21

Born: 07/28/02, Sollefteå, SWE

SOH Rank: 13th

Their blueline is now getting old.  They aren’t old yet, but by the time the 13th pick arrives no matter who it would be, they’ll be pretty hard up for someone to emerge and they don’t have a sure thing in the system at the moment.

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14. Braden Schneider

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 209  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 5  A: 25  P: 30

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

SOH Rank: 31st

Not a doubt in my mind here.  Kelly McCrimmon will know Schneider better than most and there is a massive hole in the Golden Knights organization at the moment on the right side of the blueline.

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15. Kaiden Guhle

Team: Prince Albert  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 47  G: 8  A: 20  P: 28

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

SOH Rank: 14th

Originally Arizona’s pick sent to New Jersey in the Taylor Hall trade.  I’m a massive fan of Guhle’s and can’t wait for others to catch up.  If the Devils walk out of this draft with Dyrsdale and Guhle to join Ty Smith in the system, there we go.  Now the Devils rebuild would be going somewhere.

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16. Seth Jarvis

Team: Portland  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 172  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 41  G: 26  A: 37  P: 63

Born: 02/01/02, Winnipeg, MB

SOH Rank: 15th

At the moment, they really crave talent on the right side.  I might look to the blueline here as they don’t have anyone coming, two UFA’s, an ageing star, and then Valimaki’s injuries are concerning too.  But, they seem hell-bent on addressing the right side up front and Jarvis would do that.

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17. John-Jason Peterka

Team: EHC München  League: DEL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 31  G: 6  A: 4  P: 10

Born: 01/14/02, München, GER

SOH Rank: 19th

Originally Toronto’s pick sent to Carolina in the Patrick Marleau trade.  Much like the Blackhawks, the Canes just love to go after skill and Peterka fits the bill here.

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18. Connor Zary

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 40  G: 28  A: 31  P: 59

Born: 09/25/01, Saskatoon, SK

SOH Rank: 26th

It’s maybe not the centre out of the dub who I would select here (at this time), but I have Zary right behind Finley and would have no issue with the pick.  The Oilers badly need to address the middle in their system, which is what I’ve been screaming for them to do for a few years now.  It’s enhanced now with RNH going into the final year of his deal next season.

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19. Jake Sanderson

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 49  G: 6  A: 22  P: 28

Born: 07/08/02, Whitefish, MT

SOH Rank: 23rd

From 2013-15 they aggressively looked to address their blueline.  Last year, they went back to that and I don’t believe they should be done or will be done.  He was only there for one season, but Jake’s dad Geoff did spend a season in Philly.

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20. Dawson Mercer

Team: Chicoutimi  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 31  G: 18  A: 29  P: 47

Born: 10/27/01, Bay Roberts, NL

SOH Rank: 17th

A lot of different ways the Stars could go with their 1st rounder, but the big thing I wonder is if they’ll own it come February 25th.  I doubt it.  But if they do, I’d just take the top skill on the board which I believe Mercer would be.

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21. Jack Finley

Team: Spokane  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 207  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 10  A: 26  P: 36

Born: 09/02/02, Kelowna, BC

SOH Ranking: 25th

They drafted Ryan Johansen, and the more this season rolls on the more Finley’s draft year reminds me of Johansen’s.  The size, the skating, the ascension, the production, and I just wonder if their scouts would see it the same way.

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22. Vasili Ponomaryov 

Team: Shawinigan  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 39  G: 15  A: 22  P: 37

Born: 03/13/02, Zelenograd, RUS

SOH Ranking: 20th

Again, the Hurricanes love to take skill and Ponomaryov has a lot of skill, but also has a lot of the intangibles too.  Feels to me like the Canes wouldn’t pass on him.

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23. Tyson Foerster

Team: Barrie  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 194  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 26  A: 30  P: 56

Born: 01/18/02, Alliston, ON

SOH Ranking: 21st

This organization loves their skilled size, and they have gone heavy on OHL kids over the years.  So Foerster really fits the bill nicely for the Panthers.

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24. Jacob Perreault

Team: Sarnia  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 28  A: 27  P: 55

Born: 04/15/02, Montreal, QC

SOH Ranking: 18th

The Avs are in a great spot.  That blueline is loaded moving forward, they are great up front, I’d probably look to stockpile forwards for the next few drafts.  Jacob Perreault is a forward, so take him!

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25. Justin Barron

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 27  G: 4  A: 13  P: 17

Born: 11/15/01, Halifax, NS

SOH Ranking: 28th

They took a right shot D out of the Q in 2018, and I could see them going back to that well here.  Barron has had a tough season, but he could end up being a steal for someone because of it.

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26. Rodion Amirov

Team: Salavat Yulaev Ufa  League: KHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 21  G: 0  A: 2  P: 2

Born: 10/02/01, Salavat, RUS

SOH Ranking: 32nd

With no Foote children on the board, the Lightning go back to the Russian well that has served them well over the years.

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27. Brendan Brisson

Team: Chicago  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 179  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 30  G: 17  A: 19  P: 36

Born: 10/22/01, Manhattan Beach, CA

SOH Ranking: 27th

If you’re thinking to yourself “Soups, you’re just saying this because his dad is Crosby’s agent”…you are correct.  Well, that’s not the only reason, the Pens need to put as much talent in the bank as they can, but there is no doubt that this would make a ton of sense because of the Crosby-Brisson connection.  Having said this…I would guess the Pens won’t own this pick come late June.

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28. Michael Benning

Team: Sherwood Park  League: AJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 174  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 42  G: 8  A: 49  P: 57

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

SOH Ranking: 24th

Originally Vancouver’s pick sent to Tampa Bay in the J.T. Miller trade.  Some might be asking why the Canucks pick would be 28th rather than 19th?  Because the four division champs (in the playoffs) will have the final four picks.  Since I’m not doing this based off my own projections, this is where they land.  I truly believe Benning is going in the 1st round, and the Lightning have had a strong presence in the West of late.

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29. Hendrix Lapierre

Team: Chicoutimi  League: QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 19  G: 2  A: 15  P: 17

Born: 02/09/02, Gatineau, QC

SOH Ranking: 16th

I’ve said for years that the Bruins need to get ready for the decline of Bergeron and Krejci, and while they’ve somewhat looked to address it, they need to stockpile guys in my opinion until it looks as though a few of them may pop.  Lapierre has a ton of Bergeron in his game and only would fall to this point because of his injury issues.

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30. Jake Neighbours 

Team: Edmonton  League: WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 49  G: 16  A: 35  P: 51

Born: 03/29/02, Airdrie, AB

SOH Ranking: NR

They’ve had a lot of success with skilled size, and while every team is going to be big on IQ, they seem to perhaps value it more than most do with the kids they take.  Neighbours fits both bills.

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31. Antonio Stranges

Team: London  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 44  G: 17  A: 18  P: 35

Born: 02/05/02, Plymouth, MI

SOH Ranking: NR

They’ll know him very well.  Dale Hunter is still close with a lot of people in the Caps organization, plus they already have Connor McMichael there who they’ll be watching closely.  Stranges isn’t knocking it out of the park this season, but the skill is ridiculous with this kid.

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2020 NHL Draft: Top 32 Prospects (January, 2020)

I did it!  A top 32 list during the season!  Last year, I never got around to doing this, and only ended up having time to do a top 32 list right after the 2018 draft was done, and a top 62 list right before the draft occurred.  I’d say this is at least a sign that I might get 4 or 5 updated lists done by the time the draft rolls around in June.

As I always say around this point, I’m not a scout.  These rankings are much more like Bob McKenzie’s in that I’m not getting to see these kids as much as I need to declare myself a scout.  What I do is look through every quality and trusted write up I can find on these kids, every piece of video I can find, and then form my own opinion from there.  So I rely heavily on guys like Mark Edwards and Hockey Prospect (specifically the Black Book, if you’re a draft fan it is a MUST get, amazing every year), Future Considerations, even though I don’t normally agree with how he ranks his players I read and have big-time respect for the work Corey Pronman does, same goes for Steve Kournianous (who also does a good podcast that’s a great listen), specifically with the OHL kids a couple of great guys to follow are Brock Otten and my buddy Sean Patrick Ryan do great work and have great insight.  I couldn’t do my own rankings without these guys doing far better work than what I do.  But I will say I don’t simply take the averages of where these guys rank players and call it a day.  I have my own insights on what I’m looking for, so I take their reports more so than their rankings or opinions, couple it with what I’ve been able to see and create a list of my own (and as you’ll see, I definitely do MY OWN rankings).

What do I look for?  A lot.  First and foremost skating is most vital.  Skill is obviously extremely important.  IQ is huge though you won’t see me use “hockey sense” very much as I believe in IQ in general over “hockey sense” (theory being that sometimes players are so talented they might not have to think the game coming up, but if they have a high IQ that it will come).  I MUCH prefer playmakers to snipers.  Playmakers are often more intelligent players, and playmakers can play with other playmakers while it’s extremely rare that snipers work well with each other.  I’m not near the “sizest” that I once was, but still am likely more of a size guy than most seem to be.  One thing I will now value a bit more moving forward is players being NHL ready.  The reason being with ELC’s only being three years, a team shouldn’t be wasting the majority of the contract on developing a player, so I won’t be as hot as I’ve been in years past on a player who is much more of a project.  When I dig into the numbers, I want to know who the damage was done against, who were they playing with, and what the situation was (ES?  PP?  SH?).  Something I’m not as high on as most is “dynamic”.  I get why scouts love it, and I don’t disregard it, but you don’t get style points in hockey.  If you can toe drag a junior defenceman, it really doesn’t mean much because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do that in the pros.

Is that enough for you?  Well, that is just what I like in my players.  After all that, I then look for five big things: Current production, ceiling/upside, downside, how the players game will translate, and acquireability (I’m making this a word).  I guess the most simple way to put it for “acquireability” is I put a higher value on assets or player types which are tougher to acquire mostly due to how difficult it is to make a trade in today’s landscape and how crippling UFA can be.  I don’t disregard wingers nearly as bad as I used to (2015, put Mitch Marner 7th in my rankings…OOPS…) but centres and defencemen are more difficult and more valuable pieces to land, so they get preferential treatment in my rankings.

Finally, normally I do tiering.  More people do it now thankfully, and I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t quite frankly.  Do some scouts truly believe there is a definitive gap between every prospect?  There are so many cases where kids are so indistinguishable as prospects, that a team is bound to go with the biggest need within a tiering.  You don’t pick need over the best player available (BPA).  But you also can’t ignore team building, especially in a league where it is increasingly more difficult to make trades.  So you shouldn’t disregard which tier I have players in.  That is more vital in my mind then whichever number a guy is overall.  Having said all this, being this far away from the draft I decided not to do it at this time as once we’re past about the 12th prospect, I could have a tier from 13 all the way to 35!

One more thing before I get going, I don’t go in-depth on my prospects this time around as I’m hoping to do a podcast that will accompany this piece, so be sure to subscribe to my podcast feed and watch for that very soon!  Also, I’m putting this piece out simultaneously as my first mock draft of the season, so be sure to give that a look as well!

 

1. Alexis Lafrenière

Team: Rimouski  League: QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 39  G: 24  A: 60  P: 84

Born: 10/11/01, Saint-Eustache, QC

I’m ashamed to say I had thought about putting him as low as 4th about a month ago.  Nothing at all he was doing wrong, I was just simply falling too far in love with others.  Then the World Juniors screwed my head back on straight.  One thing you’ll notice, I list him as a centre because I would draft him to be one.  Sid lined up on the wing his entire junior career too, so it’s not as though this is unheard of.

 

2. Quinton Byfield

Team: Sudbury  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 214  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 36  G: 29  A: 41  P: 70

Born: 08/19/02, Newmarket, ON

He continues to disappoint at big events (Hlinka/Gretzky, WJC, prospects game, etc.) but this kid is knocking it out of the park in Sudbury this season, and the combination of size, skating and skill is going to be damn near impossible for a team to pass up outside of the top pick.

 

3. Jamie Drysdale

Team: Erie  League: OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 36  G: 7  A: 31  P: 38

Born: 04/08/02, Toronto, ON

I’ll keep it short and sweet, I see him as a franchise defenceman.  He has every tool to become a legitimate number one guy, which is damn near impossible to find.

 

4. Marco Rossi

Team: Ottawa  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 179  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 37  G: 28  A: 53  P: 81

Born: 09/23/01, Feldkirch, AUT

I didn’t do comps again, but mine for Rossi is Sebastian Aho.  He is very small for a centre, but he’s a centre.  He plays a pro game, which I just LOVE.

 

5. Lucas Raymond

Team: Frölunda HC  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 21  G: 4  A: 4  P: 8

Born: 03/28/02, Göteborg, SWE

As I said back in the summer, the guy Raymond reminds me so much of is Paul Kariya.  So much speed and so much skill.

 

6. Tim Stützle

Team: Adler Mannheim  League: DEL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 30  G: 6  A: 22  P: 28

Born: 01/15/02, Viersen, GER

Much like Lafrenière, he’s playing the wing but I see him playing the middle in the pro’s, just because I feel you will max out his capabilities by doing so.  Phenomenal talent and solid away from the puck too.

 

7. Anton Lundell

Team: HIFK  League: Liiga

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 27  G: 6  A: 13  P: 19

Born: 10/03/01, Espoo, FIN

Complete 200-foot centres aren’t the sexiest picks, but they’ll always have a higher spot on my lists than most others.  I’m a big fan of Lundell’s complete game.

 

8. Alexander Holtz

Team: Djurgårdens IF  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 25  G: 7  A: 5  P: 12

Born: 01/23/02, Saltsjö-Boo, SWE

We’ll see if a pure sniper like Holtz can stay this high in my rankings as I’m never too high on pure snipers, but Holtz also has big time wheels and I’m a big proponent of that.

 

9. Yaroslav Askarov

Team: SKA-Neva St. Petersburg  League: VHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 163  Glove: R

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G.A.A.: 2.36  Sv%: .923

Born: 06/16/02, Omsk, RUS

Man, I’m tempted to have him much higher than this.  I was tempted by Samsonov in 2015 and wouldn’t have cried had the Oilers kept their 16th pick and taken him.  Should have.  I know the fear with goaltenders high in the draft, but you also have to recognize when the exception to the rule comes around and Askarov might be that.

 

10. Dylan Holloway

Team: Wisconsin  League: NCAA

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 23  G: 3  A: 5  P: 8

Born: 09/23/01, Calgary, AB

Again, if I had done comparisons this time around, I loved mine for Holloway which was Dylan Larkin.  Love his speed.  Stats in his first season at Wisconsin aren’t flattering, but he’s in tough to get quality ice time with the Badgers.

 

11. Cole Perfetti

Team: Saginaw  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 46  G: 28  A: 54  P: 82

Born: 01/01/02, Whitby, ON

He is tearing up the OHL right now.  I find myself being torn on him.  I like the production, and I like the fact that he’s doing it as a centre given that I see him playing the wing down the road, but the skating isn’t great.

 

12. Noel Gunler

Team: Luleå HF  League: SHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 34  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

Born: 10/07/01, Luleå, SWE

Another kid like Holtz and like Perfetti who I find myself saying “I wonder how much I’m going to like him as this process goes on” because it’s not like I have all the information yet just like everyone else!  For now, I’m ok having him here.

 

13. William Wallinder

Team: MODO J-20  League: SuperElit

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 29  G: 5  A: 16  P: 21

Born: 07/28/02, Sollefteå, SWE

As you can see, this is a big kid.  But he is a terrific skater for his size which is why I’m a huge fan.  Isn’t going to impress you with his offensive game, but he is terrific in his own zone and moves it very well.

 

14. Kaiden Guhle

Team: Prince Albert  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 47  G: 8  A: 20  P: 28

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

Ironically, Guhle is extremely similar to Wallinder, which really makes me scratch my head as to why so many people love Wallinder and don’t give Guhle more love.  If you want a more in-depth look at Guhle, check out my upcoming WHL rankings.

 

15. Seth Jarvis

Team: Portland  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 172  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 41  G: 26  A: 37  P: 63

Born: 02/01/02, Winnipeg, MB

He’s definitely the most exciting prospect coming out of the WHL this season.  Jarvis isn’t too big, but he’s highly skilled and plays bigger than his size.

 

16. Hendrix Lapierre

Team: Chicoutimi  League: QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 19  G: 2  A: 15  P: 17

Born: 02/09/02, Gatineau, QC

He was so good at the Hlinka/Gretzky that I just can’t forget it.  Obviously he has missed most of the season, but that performance was just too good and while Cole Perfetti stole the headlines, I felt it was Lapierre who was the MVP of that Canadian team.

 

17. Dawson Mercer

Team: Chicoutimi  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 31  G: 18  A: 29  P: 47

Born: 10/27/01, Bay Roberts, NL

He has been so good this season.  I like that he seems to be able to produce in every way.  The skill to find guys and snipe, and the willingness to go wherever he needs to on the ice to get the job done.

 

18. Jacob Perreault

Team: Sarnia  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 28  A: 27  P: 55

Born: 04/15/02, Montreal, QC

Playing the middle in Sarnia, but I love him as a winger in the pros.  Less responsibility and a chance to utilize that big shot of his much more.

 

19. John-Jason Peterka

Team: EHC München  League: DEL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 31  G: 6  A: 4  P: 10

Born: 01/14/02, München, GER

I really like this kids wheels.  He’s a safe pick based on that, but he has a lot of skill to go with that skating ability.

 

20. Vasili Ponomaryov 

Team: Shawinigan  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 39  G: 15  A: 22  P: 37

Born: 03/13/02, Zelenograd, RUS

It isn’t often with Russian kids that one of the big things which stands out is the motor and the compete.  But last year that was what I liked about Podkolzin, and again this year with Ponomaryov.  Not crushing it in the Q as some may have expected him to this season, but I’m still a fan.

 

21. Tyson Foerster

Team: Barrie  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 194  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 26  A: 30  P: 56

Born: 01/18/02, Alliston, ON

Much like Perreault, playing the middle in Barrie but I like him a lot more as a winger in the pros.  My buddy SPR compares him to James Neal and even though I don’t know the OHL near as well as he does, I definitely agree with what I’ve seen of Foerster.

 

22. Jan Mysak

Team: Hamilton  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 31  G: 9  A: 4  P: 13

Born: 06/24/02, Litvinov, CZE

Those stats are a combination of what he’s done all season as he has freshly moved to North America and to the OHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.  So far so good with 3 goals in 4 games, but this will give everyone a much better chance to grade Mysak.  A lot of people like him but hadn’t seen him a ton, but now we all have our chance.

 

23. Jake Sanderson

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 49  G: 6  A: 22  P: 28

Born: 07/08/02, Whitefish, MT

Stats are a combination of his season.  Great skater just like his old man was.  Not following in the family footsteps in terms of position however.  A ton of raw talent with Sanderson.  It’ll be interesting to see where he plays next season.  Committed to North Dakota, but for the 21-22 season.  BCHL?  AJHL?

 

24. Michael Benning

Team: Sherwood Park  League: AJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 174  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 42  G: 8  A: 49  P: 57

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

Keeping with the D-men, keeping with the bloodlines, keeping with kids going the college route.  I talk a ton about Benning both on Twitter and in my WHL write-up’s (where I also talk a lot about the AJHL kids), but the bottom line I keep coming back to is that so many people are missing that this kid is simply a 1st round pick.  He has the skating, the skill, the size is good enough, and the one I keep pointing out is his PPG numbers have been better than Cale Makar’s were in his draft year until this past weekend (which that was Makar’s 18 year old season, this is Benning’s 17 year old season).

 

25. Jack Finley

Team: Spokane  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 207  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 10  A: 26  P: 36

Born: 09/02/02, Kelowna, BC

He is being slept on at the moment.  He is a full year younger than Connor Zary, and he’s producing near the same even strength numbers as Zary despite seeing tough matchups, where Zary is on the top line in the WHL.  The more people dig in on Finley, the more I expect him to rocket up draft boards assuming the production levels stay the same.

 

26. Connor Zary

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 40  G: 28  A: 31  P: 59

Born: 09/25/01, Saskatoon, SK

Well I just got done trashing Zary, now let me build him back up…not trashing the kid at all, I’m a big fan of his.  I just simply can’t find much reason to have him ahead of Finley.  The wheels aren’t great, but should be good enough, and the kid is a coaches dream in that he can thrive in any situation.

 

27. Brendan Brisson

Team: Chicago  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 179  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 30  G: 17  A: 19  P: 36

Born: 10/22/01, Manhattan Beach, CA

The son of super agent Pat Brisson, the younger Brisson has very good wheels and is very skilled.  He’s always making something happen on the ice.

 

28. Justin Barron

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 27  G: 4  A: 13  P: 17

Born: 11/15/01, Halifax, NS

This kid has had one rough season with inconsistency and injuries.  But I’m still finding myself to be pretty high on him.  What might work to his advantage too is that this draft isn’t deep on the blueline, and even more thin in terms of offensively skilled blueliners.

 

29. Ty Smilanic

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 29  G: 9  A: 16  P: 25

Born: 01/20/02, Denver, CO

Like with Sanderson, stats are a combination of his season.  I love this kid’s motor.  He plays with a ton of energy and a ton of passion for the game.  His game reminds me a bit of Liam Foudy’s at this point where I’m not sure where he’ll end up fitting, I just think he’s a pretty safe pick for someone.

 

30. Ryan O’Rourke

Team: Sault Ste. Marie  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 36  G: 6  A: 20  P: 26

Born: 05/16/02, Pickering, ON

O’Rourke is a kid who I might continue to win me over more and more as we go on here.  Again, not the undersized puck mover on the blueline we’ve seen so much of the last few drafts.  He’s terrific in his own zone, but he also has a bomb of a shot.  A lot to like here.

 

31. Braden Schneider

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 209  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 43  G: 5  A: 25  P: 30

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

I’ve been much lower on him than most, but now I’m just a bit lower on him than most because I was too hard on his upside and ignoring the fact that he’s such a safe pick.  He’ll play in the league, it’s just a matter of whether he’ll be a Matt Benning type, or a Travis Hamonic type.

 

32. Rodion Amirov

Team: Salavat Yulaev Ufa  League: KHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 21  G: 0  A: 2  P: 2

Born: 10/02/01, Salavat, RUS

Stats are misleading, as he’s had 19 points in 19 games combined VHL and MHL.  Another kid like Ponomaryov who isn’t the “prototypical” Russian forward.  Amirov has good speed and skill, but plays a very responsible game.

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2020 NHL Draft: Top 10 WHL Prospects (November, 2019)

It’s that time again.  Vader time?  I wish!  I still remember when Vader hit the “Vader bomb” on HBK at In Your House International Incident (that was held in Vancouver) and I thought “that’s it for HBK’s title reign, Vader is taking it at Summerslam!”  But it was not to be for Vader.  Oh yeah, prospects!  It’s time to take another look at the 2020 draft-eligible prospects from the Western Hockey League.  Quite a bit of movement from my pre-season (pre Hlinka/Gretzky really) rankings.  Added to the top 10 are 6 honourable mentions.  Why 6 you may ask?  Why not a more common number of 5 or 10?  Well if you’d quit being an asshole about it maybe I’ll tell you!!!  Sorry, that was wrong of me.  ANYWAY…the number is 6 because I also include 3 kids out of the AJHL which I’m high on and 1 out of the BCHL.  That makes 20.  So I’m giving you 20 write-ups for the price of NONE!  Can’t beat that deal!

It isn’t a great year for the WHL.  Nobody to this point is truly separating from the pack.  But while the league lacks the high-end guys that the OHL does, and the superstar the Q has, it at least matches those leagues, and maybe even surpasses them in depth.  I’m not sure we’ll see a WHL kid go in the top 10, maybe not even in the top 15!  But from 16 to 50, I believe (at least at this point) we’ll see a big run on Western kids.

So here we go with number one, and at the moment for myself personally, it isn’t all that close of a race for the top spot.

 

1. Kaiden Guhle

Team: Prince Albert Raiders

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 20  G: 2  A: 11  P: 13

Last Rank: 1

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

So if I’m saying off the top “nobody is really separating from the pack”, what then makes Guhle (still) the top guy on my list?  Upside.  And I’ve maintained this entire time that the upside on Guhle is off the charts.  Right now, I see Guhle as a potential Jacob Slavin type.  Not a big contributor offensively, but a terrific skater, moves the puck well, and a terrific pure defender (angles, stick, and positioning are all very advanced for a player in his 17 year old season).  Added to all that, Guhle has a lot of physicality in his game which a guy like Slavin doesn’t.  Not to compare his style to Slavin, but if you’re drafting Guhle I believe that is the type of D-man he can realistically become.  If the offensive game comes though (and there are signs that it is developing), the sky is the limit.

 

2. Connor Zary

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 19  G: 13  A: 17  P: 30

Last Rank: 6

Born: 09/25/01, Saskatoon, SK

In my pre-season rankings, I had Zary 6th, mostly due to playing it safe.  He was I believe the 37th pick in his bantam draft, so he had very little fanfare.  It’s become pretty clear that he indeed is for real.  His 17 year old season nearly matched Kirby Dach’s, who of course went 3rd overall last season and has stuck with the Blackhawks this season.  Zary has a better 200-foot game.  In fact, if you listened to the podcast I did with SPR and Larry Fisher, Larry (who has seen Zary a ton) RAVED about Zary’s game and compared him with one of my favourite players in the NHL Bo Horvat.  Quite a compliment in my books.  Zary isn’t just putting up great numbers, he is a coach’s dream.  A player who can be placed in any role and thrive.  The skating isn’t concerning, but it is likely the key area he’ll need to improve as he continues to develop.  One other concern to keep an eye on: half of the production thus far has been on the power play.

 

3. Justin Sourdif

Team: Vancouver Giants

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 163  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 18  G: 9  A: 8  P: 17

Last Rank: 2

Born: 03/24/02, Surrey, BC

Sourdif slips a spot in my rankings, and he is off to a slower start than most believed he’d have, but having said this I am still pretty confident in his ability to reclaim one of the top two spots by June on this list.  Sourdif has good edge work, a really good first step, but his top-end speed could use a little work, which I wonder if that is just a lack of lower body strength at this point.  Someone who looks as though he has the frame to get up to 190-200lbs currently being only 165, that is very possible.  It’s funny, many will tell you his playmaking is better than his numbers suggest.  I know that’s what I’ve seen with him, but it has yet to play out that way.  What perhaps hurts his assist totals is the poor Giants powerplay which currently sits 19th in the league at 13.8%.  Sourdif actually has just one less point 5 on 5 than Connor Zary.  Another thing I really like with Sourdif is his willingness to get his nose dirty.  Might end up as a winger in the pros, but I do believe as of writing this that he is a true centre.

 

4. Seth Jarvis

Team: Portland Winterhawks

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 172  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G: 9  A: 13  P: 22

Last Rank: 4

Born: 02/01/02, Winnipeg, MB

Off to a really good start this season and I often talk about the “glut” of wingers in this draft.  It can be argued that Sourdif is in that group, I have no problem with that.  For me, Sourdif’s ability to play the middle slightly separates him from that group, and it really starts here with Jarvis.  Only 5’10, and only 172lbs, but he is very willing to engage in the battle and play in the tough areas.  I love kids who have a little gamesmanship and Jarvis brings that to the table as well.  But his calling card is his blend of speed and skill, and while I wouldn’t go as far as to say both are a elite, both are really high end.

 

5. Ozzy Wiesblatt

Team: Prince Albert Raiders

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 182  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 20  G: 7  A: 16  P: 23

Last Rank: 5

Born: 03/09/02, Calgary, AB

Another thing Larry Fisher said during our podcast was speaking about the motor that Wiesblatt has which is my favourite quality about the Calgary native.  You are getting a max effort every shift from a kid who skates well, isn’t tall but he’s pretty thick, shows no fear of going to all the dirty area’s on the ice, will throw his weight around and will play in your face all game long.  Combine that with really good skating ability and a high IQ, and Wiesblatt just feels like a kid who will be a very safe pick for any team that drafts him.

 

6. Jake Neighbours 

Team: Edmonton Oil Kings

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 20  G: 4  A: 19  P: 23

Last Rank: 7

Born: 03/29/02, Airdrie, AB

I’m still not AS high on Neighbours as some are.  That’s not to say I don’t like him, I do.  But the skating does concern me a little, and he doesn’t get the pass some would for concerning skating from me because he’s already mostly filled out.  Hovering around 200lbs, it’s tough to suggest that his lower body strength will improve to gain more power in his stride.  It isn’t as though he needs to improve his skating by leaps and bounds to make it, but he needs to improve it quite a bit to become a top-six forward.  The IQ though is impressive with Neighbours.  He’s an extremely intelligent player, coupled with good hands, and good vision.  I won’t lie though, for me it is a concern that everything other than his IQ I just view as good, not great.

 

7. Pavel Novak

Team: Kelowna Rockets

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 170  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 19  G: 10  A: 11  P: 21

Last Rank: NR

Born: 04/16/02, Tabor, CZE

The WHL rookie is tearing it up right now for the Memorial Cup hosts.  Like Zary, I find myself deferring to Larry Fisher who watches Kelowna on a nightly basis.  “He’s a real offensive catalyst.  He thinks attack when he gets the puck, he’s always looking to attack.”  One thing I read in the summer prior to his arrival in Kelowna, was that his skating was a concern.  But I haven’t seen it being an issue (or if it was, it improved a lot over the summer).  One thing I don’t love with Novak is the fact that slightly over half of his production has come on the power play (as you can figure out by now, I put a lot of stock into even-strength scoring).  But this kid has really impressed thus far and given that he’s still likely getting adjusted to life in North America, his game may only get better from here.

 

8. Connor McClennon

Team: Winnipeg Ice

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 156  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 19  G: 5  A: 11  P: 16

Last Rank: 3

Born: 06/25/02, Wainwright, AB

A bit of a disappointing start for me to McClennon’s season.  Not just the 16 points, but half of that production is with the man advantage.  And this Ice team isn’t near as bad as last years group was.  They don’t have Vegas 1st rounder Peyton Krebs back yet, but Michal Teply, 2021 draft-eligible Carson Lambos is putting up big numbers on the blueline (keep an eye on him for next season, an 03 who is putting up numbers that would have people buzzing if he were an 02 draft-eligible D-man), and I’ve just frankly expected more.  Undersized, but has a lot of weight and strength still to be put on.  He is never going to cheat you with his compete level, and his speed and skill is as good or better than any of the draft eligibles out of the dub, but it’s just been an underwhelming start.  Obviously lots of time for the kid from my neck of the woods to turn it around though.

 

9. Braden Schneider

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 209  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 20  G: 2  A: 11  P: 13

Last Rank: NR

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

I said it on the podcast I did with SPR and Larry Fisher, I fully admit I was flat out STUPID to have Schneider as an honourable mention the last time around.  I got too caught up in other kids upside and while I don’t like being “hot take guy”, that came off very “hot takey” in hindsight.  Not to say that I’m as high on him as most others seem to be, because I’m still not.  But I went overboard.  Schneider is a very safe pick.  Is the offensive production ever going to come?  I have my doubts.  But he’s a very good skater who makes a great outlet pass.  You’d think that would translate to more points (though in fairness, the Wheat Kings have struggled the last few seasons).  The guy Schneider reminds me of a lot is Travis Hamonic, who isn’t a point producer in the NHL but was a terrific top four defenceman during his time with the Islanders and able to log all the tough minutes.  Right shot, good size, plays a safe and physical game, plays for the Wheat Kings, you can see why the Hamonic comparison would come to mind for me.  And like so many of the WHL kids this season, I understand why so many have him higher, but I’m a tough grader on over-agers and believe we should be seeing more out of Schneider.  But again, very safe pick here, just not a big upside.

 

10. Jack Finley

Team: Spokane Chiefs

Pos: C  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 207  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G: 3  A: 12  P: 15

Last Rank: NR

Born: 09/02/02, Kelowna, BC

The son of former NHL defenceman Jeff Finley.  Obviously the size is the first thing you notice about Finley, but his skating ability is terrific for a kid with his size.  Again I defer to Larry Fisher who has seen Finley more than I to this point, and he made a great point on how Finley has been placed in a shutdown role in Spokane.  To put up the numbers he has while seeing some very tough minutes is impressive.  Add to that only 4 of the points have come with the man advantage, and he is one of the youngest players in the 2020 draft.  There is a lot to like with Finley and I could see a lot of teams getting hot and bothered by his upside before we get to late June.

 

Hounourable mention

Ridly Greig

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 162  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G: 4  A: 8  P: 12

Last Rank: 9

Born: 08/08/02, Lethbridge, AB

I don’t know what I can add from my last write up that I don’t want to say about Greig now.  But I’ll re-iterate that he has a lot of weight still to be put onto that frame, and with the weight could come the strength that he needs.  He plays a very understated game.  He seems to be a very coachable kid which was evident at the Hlinka.  Will he ever become a 1st or 2nd line centre in the NHL?  Unlikely.  You know who he reminds me of a BIT is Anthony Cirelli in his draft year.  A lot of similarities, and obviously if he were to pan out the way Cirelli has it would be a home run of a pick.  But that is the upside.

 

Michal Gut

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 15  G: 4  A: 7  P: 11

Last Rank: NR

Born: 08/16/02, Kaden, CZE

I can’t wait for Corey Pronman to make “Gut-check” jokes when writing about the Silvertips forward this season…A lot to like about Gut.  A good skater who is a very responsible 200-foot player.  One thing I like about him from a production point of view is again the lack of it coming on the power play as just 3 of his 11 points have come with the man advantage.  He’s not tearing it up by any means but putting up very respectable numbers thus far.  With any European rookies in the CHL, I give them more time to get adjusted to life in North America.  Perhaps he starts to really pop as the season goes on.

 

Daemon Hunt

Team: Moose Jaw Warriors

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 198  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G: 0  A: 10  P: 10

Last Rank: 10

Born: 05/15/02, Brandon, MB

Hunt falls out of my top 10 this time around but is still very much in the discussion.  He is nothing flashy, and it’ll be difficult for the Brandon native to get a lot of attention (barring his numbers going way up) leading up to the draft.  But he defends very well (stick, angles, positioning are all strong) and moves the puck well too.  The skating is a LITTLE concerning.  He can make it with how it’s progressing to this point, but he could stand to add an extra gear.

 

Simon Knak

Team: Portland Winterhawks

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G: 5  A: 9  P: 14

Last Rank: NR

Born: 01/27/02, Kloten, SUI

A pun lover’s dream.  If Simon gives draft junkies any glimmer of hope to be a high pick this season all we are going to hear about is what he has a Knak for…although I’ve heard his name pronounced ck-nak, so perhaps it’s all for not.  Regardless, this is a kid who I know has had SPR’s eye for over a year now.  He’s had good numbers in the WHL thus far but hasn’t truly impressed to this point to make the jump into my top 10.  Again, I have a lot of time for European’s in their first season in the CHL as they need time to adjust to such a massive lifestyle and game change.  Knak does appear to have a very good all-around game.

 

Kasper Puutio

Team: Swift Current Broncos

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 185  Shot: R

2020 StatsGP: 17  G: 1  A: 7  P: 8

Last Rank: NR

Born: 06/03/02, Vaasa, FIN

Mr. Fisher talked to Sean and myself on the podcast about seeing him live and how the skating jumps out at you so much more than watching on TV.  That’s interesting because a right shot D-man who moves the puck really well and has great skating ability is someone I’m going to be pretty intrigued by.  One more time I’ll state (it’s getting old, I know), I look to give European’s playing their first year in the CHL more time to adjust, so he may only be scratching the surface at this point.  It’s a rebuilding Swift Current club, so he will get a little bit of a break on his point totals as we move forward as well.

 

Ronan Seeley

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 17  G: 0  A: 3  P: 3

Last Rank: 8

Born: 08/02/02, Yellowknife, NT

Truthfully, he only gets an honourable mention because he was on my initial top 10 list.  A disappointing start to the season for Seeley, at least for me.  I was anticipating a big jump in his game offensively and it simply hasn’t happened for the Yellowknife born, Olds Alberta raised Seeley (had to work that in somewhere to clarify).  Still, the skating ability remains, the puck-moving ability remains, he’s not an undersized kid by today’s standards, and therefore he’d be an intriguing kid to take late in the draft at this point.  There is a lot of season to go and still a great opportunity for Seeley to rocket up my rankings, but it is imperative he gets going.

 

AJHL

Michael Benning

Team: Sherwood Park  Crusaders

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 175  Shot: R

2020 Stats – GP: 23  G: 6  A: 27  P: 33

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

What stands out about Benning is his skating ability.  Lately, the stats have started to come with that skating ability is the numbers.  His PPG at the moment is better than Cale Makar’s in Makar’s 18 year old season.  This is Benning’s 17 year old season (although as I pointed out last time, the age difference from Makar then to Benning now is only a little over 2 months).  Another thing to keep in mind is that Benning’s goal totals at the moment aren’t at the same rate Makar’s were, and simply put I do not believe Benning is as good as Makar was.  But the PPG numbers combined with the skating suggest Benning should be getting more attention than he is.  Makar plays highly dynamic where Benning plays cerebral.  A good comparison might be Jared Spurgeon.  Not a ton of flash, not always jumping in the play, but extremely intelligent.  If I were to have him ranked with the WHL kids, I’d put Benning 4th, but could make the case for him as high as 2nd.

 

Carter Savoie

Team: Sherwood Park Crusaders

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2020 Stats – GP: 23  G: 26  A: 19  P: 45

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

So far this season, Savoie has done nothing to discredit my pre-season ranking of him being 24th on my top 32 overall.  Too ambitious?  It may have been.  I can be guilty of that and am never afraid to say so.  But we’re talking about a kid in a quality league putting up 2 points per game, and over a goal per game.  He gets overshadowed a bit by his teammate and good friend Michael Benning, but the fact of the matter is both these kids are putting up insanely good numbers in the AJHL right now and at least in the conversation to be a late 1st round pick (which in this draft can also mean that he doesn’t go until 62).  He’s a sniper with a terrific shot, but who is also very willing to play in traffic and go to the dirty areas.  He has an edge in his game that will serve him well moving forward.  If I were to rank him with the WHL kids, I’d likely have Savoie 6th (I guess 7th if both he and Benning were in there).

 

Ethan Edwards

Team: Spruce Grove Saints

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 155  Shot: L

2020 StatsGP: 21  G: 5  A: 5  P: 10

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

Edwards isn’t a kid who I’d anticipate going in the top 100 in the draft, and it is probably more likely at this point that he doesn’t get drafted.  So why am I discussing him?  In my viewings, I see a kid who could really develop in the next few seasons and in my opinion would be worth using a late pick on.  Ironically, Edwards grew up with Benning and Savoie in St. Albert (despite being listed from GP).  Their bantam AAA team featured these three, Savoie’s younger brother Matthew (who as most of you know has a lot of people pumped for the 2022 draft along with Shane Wright and Brad Lambert), and a total of 12 players who are now playing either in the WHL, BCHL or AJHL (and will move to 13 once Matthew Savoie is eligible for full-time duty with the Winnipeg Ice).  Anyway, Edwards is every bit as good of a skater as Benning is.  The size will be a concern, and the numbers don’t jump off the page at this point.  But he’s a Michigan commit and will not be playing for big blue until the 21-22 season, meaning that a team who potentially drafts Edwards would have up to four seasons to allow him to develop before a decision is needed to be made on him.  Talent, going to a great program, and a lot of development time is a recipe for a late-round steal.

 

BCHL

Ethan Bowen

Team: Chilliwack Chiefs

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2020 StatsGP: 24  G: 8  A: 17  P: 25

Born: 05/14/02, Chilliwack, BC

Property of the Kelowna Rockets, he passed up the Memorial Cup hosts in favour of heading to North Dakota beginning next fall.  I wouldn’t say Bowen is a poor skater, but he lacks power in his stride.  Obviously, at 6’2 and only 170lbs, that should come as he puts more weight on his frame.  I won’t pretend to know a ton about Bowen, but he has been on my radar all season and I have made a point to check out a few Chilliwack Chiefs games on Hockey TV the last few weeks.  He’s a cerebral player.  He’s not a player who is going to wow you with a dynamic game.  Similar to Ridly Greig in the frame, lack of strength, and intelligent style of play.

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2020 NHL Draft: Top 32 Prospects

I sure hope this doesn’t go as last year did.  Last year I did my first list right after the 2018 draft, and then didn’t have time to do even a second list until just days before the draft.  By those standards, I’m already well behind.  But the plan/hope is that this year I’ll be on top of things much better and by season’s end I’m hoping to have as many as eight different lists, but at least five.  We’ll see, life has a way of getting in the way, but I’m an ambitious person.

 

The timing on this first list is pretty coincidental.  It looks good with the Canadian Hlinka/Gretzky lineup just announced yesterday, but the truth is that I’ve been working on these rankings for a month now (literally hours after the draft wrapped up), and I had actually finished the list itself on Monday.  It’s a deep draft, much deeper than last season’s.  At this point, I’d say 2016 would be a fair comparison, but it’s far too early to tell.  Last year at this time I thought the 19 draft was full of studs, but the truth was that the studs weren’t as “studly” as I thought, and very few surprises emerged as the season went on.  So we’ll see.

 

As I always say around this point, I’m not a scout.  These rankings are much more like Bob McKenzie’s in that I’m not getting to see these kids as much as I need to declare myself a scout.  What I do is look through every quality and trusted write up I can find on these kids, every piece of video I can find, and then form my own opinion from there.  So I rely heavily on guys like Mark Edwards and Hockey Prospect (specifically the Black Book, if you’re a draft fan it is a MUST get, amazing every year), Future Considerations, even though I don’t normally agree with how he ranks his players I read and have big-time respect for the work Corey Pronman does, same goes for Steve Kournianous (who also does a good podcast that’s a great listen).  Also this season I’m working with Yannick St. Pierre covering the QMJHL, Sean Patrick Ryan covering the OHL, and I’ll be covering the WHL.  Not sure how my work will stack up, but these two do a tremendous job covering those leagues.  I couldn’t do my own rankings without these guys doing far better work than what I do.  But I will say I don’t simply take the averages of where these guys rank players and call it a day.  I have my own insights on what I’m looking for, so I take their reports more so than their rankings or opinions, couple it with what I’ve been able to see and create a list of my own (and as you’ll see, I definitely do MY OWN rankings).

 

What do I look for?  A lot.  First and foremost skating is most vital.  Skill is obviously extremely important.  IQ is huge though you won’t see me use “hockey sense” very much as I believe in IQ in general over “hockey sense” (theory being that sometimes players are so talented they might not have to think the game coming up, but if they have a high IQ that it will come).  I MUCH prefer playmakers to snipers.  Playmakers are often more intelligent players, and playmakers can play with other playmakers while it’s extremely rare that snipers work well with each other.  I’m not near the “sizest” that I once was, but still am likely more of a size guy than most seem to be.  One thing I will now value a bit more moving forward is players being NHL ready.  Reason being with ELC’s only being three years, a team shouldn’t be wasting the majority of the contract on developing a player, so I won’t be as hot as I’ve been in years past on a player who is much more of a project.  When I dig into the numbers, I want to know who the damage was done against, who were they playing with, and what the situation was (ES?  PP?  SH?).  Something I’m not as high on as most is “dynamic”.  I get why scouts love it, and I don’t disregard it, but you don’t get style points in hockey.  If you can toe drag a junior defenceman, it really doesn’t mean much because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do that in the pros.

 

Is that enough for you?  Well that is just what I like in my players.  After all that, I then look for five big things: Current production, ceiling/upside, downside, how the players game will translate, and acquireability (I’m making this a word).  I guess the most simple way to put it for “acquireability” is I put a higher value on assets or player types which are tougher to acquire mostly due to how difficult it is to make a trade in today’s landscape and how crippling UFA can be.  I don’t disregard wingers nearly as bad as I used to (2015, put Mitch Marner 7th in my rankings…OOPS…) but centres and defencemen are more difficult and more valuable pieces to land, so they get preferential treatment in my rankings.

 

Finally, I do tiering.  More people do it now thankfully, and I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t quite frankly.  Do some scouts truly believe there is a definitive gap between every prospect?  There are so many cases where kids are so indistinguishable as prospects, that a team is bound to go with the biggest need within a tiering.  You don’t pick need over the best player available (BPA).  But you also can’t ignore team building, especially in a league where it is increasingly more difficult to make trades.  So you shouldn’t disregard which tier I have players in.  That is more vital in my mind then whichever number a guy is overall.

 

Allow me to say this right now: I’m still getting to know these kids.  So I’m not doing comparisons this time around.  I do have comparisons I like for some, but not most.  Another bigger difference in my early rankings opposed to my final rankings is I’ll lean much more towards potential at this point in the process.  Take Kaiden Guhle for example.  I put him first in my WHL top 10 rankings, and have him MUCH higher in my top 32 than anyone else.  But the kid has the tools to be elite.  So while others are down on him, I believe he’s about to break out this season.

 

Speaking of WHL kids, the Western influence in this draft might be getting a bit underrated at this point.  There very easily could be 0 Western kids taken in the top 10 (we have a ridiculously long way to go though).  But the depth this season is better than last, and couple that with two kids out the AJ who are threats to be taken in the first round, and we have nine Western kids in my top 32 (10 if you include Dylan Holloway).  I don’t have a Western bias, yet fully admit that at this point I know those kids better than others and it does contribute.  So while we just may see nine kids from the West go in the first round this season, I fully admit that I know those kids the best and it has an influence.

 

This season I’m hoping to do podcasts as an accompanying piece to my prospect rankings and my mock drafts, so click here for more of my thoughts on these rankings, or perhaps to listen to while you read them.

 

Ok, down to business.

 

For the last four drafts, not only has a Canadian not gone number one in the draft, but only one has even been a contender for that spot (Nolan Patrick in 2017).  That is going to change this season, as a Canadian looks like a lock to go first.

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Tier One

1. Alexis Lafrenière

Team: Rimouski  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 61  G: 37  A: 68  P: 105

Born: 10/11/01, Saint-Eustache, QC

There are only two questions: Will he go 1st, and whether he’s a star or superstar?  That’s it.  He will step right into the league for the 20-21 season and be a force.

 

Tier Two

2. Quinton Byfield

Team: Sudbury  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 214  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 29  A: 32  P: 61

Born: 08/19/02, Newmarket, ON

I believe Byfield is the only player who has the ability to contend with Lafrenière for top spot in the draft.  A centre who is 6’4 and can fly is pretty damn difficult to find.

 

Tier Three

3. Lucas Raymond

Team: Frölunda HC J20  League: SuperElit

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 47  G: 15  A: 35  P: 50

Born: 03/28/02, Göteborg, SWE

Didn’t do comparisons this time around, but if I were this one was my favourite.  Paul Kariya.  Speed, IQ, playmaking, stature, they’re very similar to one another.  Needless to say, that’s not an insult.

 

Tier four

4. Jamie Drysdale

Team: Erie  League: OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 7  A: 33  P: 40

Born: 04/08/02, Toronto, ON

A right-shot D-man who is one of the top skaters in the draft, the upside with Drysdale is ridiculous.  He reminds me a lot of Morgan Rielly.

 

5. Kaiden Guhle

Team: Prince Albert  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 65  G: 3  A: 14  P: 17

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

He is raw, but the skill set is incredible.  Franchise defenceman type ability, though he hasn’t had the opportunity to truly show that.  But he will this season.

 

6. Anton Lundell

Team: HIFK  League: Liiga

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 48  G: 15  A: 19  P: 34

Born: 10/03/01, Espoo, FIN

Complete 200-foot centres aren’t the sexiest picks, but they’ll always have a higher spot on my lists than most others.

 

Tier Five

7. Cole Perfetti

Team: Saginaw  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 37  A: 37  P: 74

Born: 01/01/02, Whitby, ON

He may have only been an 02 kid by a day, but those numbers are scary good for an 02 born kid.

 

8. Alexander Holtz

Team: Djurgårdens IF J20  League: SuperElit

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 38  G: 30  A: 17  P: 47

Born: 01/23/02, Saltsjö-Boo, SWE

Maybe the best pure goal scorer in the draft.  One of the most exciting players to watch in the draft.

 

9. Marco Rossi

Team: Ottawa  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 179  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 29  A: 36  P: 65

Born: 09/23/01, Feldkirch, AUT

Normally I write off a kid who is smaller than 5’11 and especially smaller than 5’10.  But Rossi is extremely skilled and a very committed 200-foot player, so he’ll have a chance in the middle and if he can’t cut it he can always thrive on the wing.

 

Tier Six

10. Dylan Holloway

Team: Okotoks  League: AJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 40  A: 48  P: 88

Born: 09/23/01, Calgary, AB

Most have him as a winger, but I like his talents better to play the middle.  Off to Wisconsin this season for a much stiffer test than the AJ.

 

11. Justin Barron

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 192  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 9  A: 32  P: 41

Born: 11/15/01, Halifax, NS

I love Barron’s skillset, but I’m not a big fan of the numbers given that last season was his 17 year old season.  Then again, they’re similar to Evan Bouchard’s who was also an older draft eligible.

 

Tier Seven

12. Hendrix Lapierre

Team: Chicoutimi  League: QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 48  G: 13  A: 32  P: 45

Born: 02/09/02, Gatineau, QC

Terrific skater and terrific vision.  When you have those two traits, I’m likely to put you pretty high on my list.

 

13. Justin Sourdif

Team: Vancouver  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 23  A: 23  P: 46

Born: 03/24/02, Surrey, BC

Much like Guhle, the opportunities that Sourdif will get this season will be far greater than he got playing on a top team in the WHL last season.

 

14. Tim Stützle

Team: Jungadler Mannheim  League: DNL U20

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 21  G: 23  A: 32  P: 55

Born: 01/15/02, Viersen, GER

A lot to like here.  Only thing that keeps him lower than Lapierre and Sourdif at the moment (for me) is the league he plays in.

 

15. Noel Gunler

Team: Luleå HF J20  League: SuperElit

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 31  G: 27  A: 19  P: 46

Born: 10/07/01, Luleå, SWE

Another fantastic sniper playing in the SuperElit league last season.  At the moment, he might have the best shot in the draft.  Gunler reminds me a lot of Brock Boeser.

 

16. Jan Mysak

Team: HC Litvinov  League: Czech

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 31  G: 3  A: 4  P: 7

Born: 06/24/02, Litvinov, CZE

Maybe the two best attributes that Mysak brings to the table are his IQ and his skating ability, which are the two things I value most in a prospect.

 

Tier Eight

17. Yaroslav Askarov

Team: SKA-Varyagi im. Morozova  League: MHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 163  Glove: R

2019 Stats – GP: 31  G.A.A.: 2.37  Sv%: .921

Born: 06/16/02, Omsk, RUS

Pretty rare for a goaltender to be this highly touted these days.  Even more rare to be one in a good draft year.  Yet here we are, with Askarov entering the season with a shot at being a top 10 pick.

 

18. Jean-Luc Foudy

Team: Windsor  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 168  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 8  A: 41  P: 49

Born: 05/13/02, Scarborough, ON

Foudy has two things I simply love which would be speed for days and is a pure playmaker.  I like him a little more than most.

 

19. Vasili Ponomaryov 

Team: MHK Krylia Sovetov Moskva  League: MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 37  G: 9  A: 20  P: 29

Born: 03/13/02, Zelenograd, RUS

The one negative with Ponomaryov has is his skating isn’t GREAT.  But he counters that negative with one of the best motors in the draft.

 

20. Antonio Stranges

Team: London  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 66  G: 13  A: 21  P: 34

Born: 02/05/02, Plymouth, MI

I have a feeling that people now know who he is thanks to a certain goal he recently scored?  The kid has insane skill, the question is if he has more than that?

 

21. Connor McClennon

Team: Winnipeg  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 154  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 46  G: 14  A: 15  P: 29

Born: 06/25/02, Wainwright, AB

One of three WHL undersized wingers who I have an extremely difficult time separating from one another.  McClennon should be on at least a competent team this season, which should drastically improve his numbers.

 

22. Seth Jarvis

Team: Portland  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 61  G: 16  A: 23  P: 39

Born: 02/01/02, Winnipeg, MB

Jarvis is the second of those WHL kids.  He had the best numbers of the three kids last season.

 

23. Ozzy Wiesblatt

Team: Prince Albert  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 15  A: 24  P: 39

Born: 03/09/02, Calgary, AB

The third of the three WHL kids (as Shooter McGavin would say: “oh you can count, good for you”), Wiesblatt has the best size and perhaps plays the most in your face of the three.

 

24. Carter Savoie

Team: Sherwood Park  League: AJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 58  G: 31  A: 42  P: 73

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

The lesser-known Savoie as his younger brother Matthew is already being hyped (along with Shane Wright who was the 1st overall pick in the OHL draft last spring) to be the first pick of the 2022 draft.  Why Carter Savoie didn’t get an invite to the Hlinka/Gretzky camp, I REALLY don’t know.  He was more than worthy and will likely prove why this season.

 

Tier Nine

25. Jacob Perreault

Team: Sarnia  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 30  A: 25  P: 55

Born: 04/15/02, Montreal, QC

Might end up being a better fit on the wing than the middle, largely thanks to having a terrific shot.  Much better skater than his old man (Yanic) was, but a questionable motor.

 

26. Connor Zary

Team: Kamloops  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 174  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 24  A: 43  P: 67

Born: 09/25/01, Saskatoon, SK

Interesting kid as he came a little out of nowhere to get on the map, especially late last season.  Was it a kid getting hot, or has he taken his game to another level?

 

27. Ty Smilanic

Team: U.S. National U17  League: USDP

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 54  G: 20  A: 18  P: 38

Born: 01/20/02, Denver, CO

High-end speed with a high-end motor.  Smilanic’s scouting report is so similar to what Josh Norris scouting report was just three years ago.

 

28. Will Cuylle

Team: Windsor  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 201  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 26  A: 15  P: 41

Born: 05/02/02, Toronto, ON

Power forward with a big shot, but average skating ability.  He reminds me a lot of James Neal.

 

Tier Ten

29. Jake Sanderson

Team: U.S. National U17  League: USDP

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 44  G: 4  A: 20  P: 24

Born: 07/08/02, Whitefish, MT

Like his dad, tremendous skater.  Very raw defenceman but thanks to those wheels he has a chance to be a heck of a defenceman.

 

30. Michael Benning

Team: Sherwood Park  League: AJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 170  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 60  G: 10  A: 51  P: 61

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

Consider this: Benning had almost identical stats last season as Cale Makar had in his 17 year old season.  This season will be Benning’s 17 year old season…

 

31. Dawson Mercer

Team: Drummondville  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 30  A: 34  P: 64

Born: 10/27/01, Bay Roberts, NL

The Voltigeurs are set to have another strong team this season, but with Joe Veleno and Max Comtois off to pro hockey, a lot more offensive responsibility/opportunity will go to Mercer.

 

Tier Eleven

32. Helge Grans

Team: Malmö Redhawks J20  League: SuperElit

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 192  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 34  G: 5  A: 12  P: 17

Born: 05/10/02, Ljungby, SWE

Great combination of size and mobility, coupled with the fact that he’s a right-shot defenceman means that Grans could find himself going a lot higher than this come June.

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2020 NHL Draft: Top 10 WHL Prospects

Welcome to the first edition of my top ranked WHL prospects for the 2020 NHL draft!  My buddy SPR was looking for someone to keep an eye on the WHL for him this season and so I’m going to be that guy!  And even though I’m saying WHL, I’ll also be keeping a close eye on the tier II junior leagues in Western Canada as well.

 

Not the sexy class of dub kids that we just saw with the 2019 draft class, but at this point, I wouldn’t call it a down year for the league either as 2018 was.  It’s probably deeper than last year’s was, with as many as eight kids of this top ten getting consideration for spots on my initial top 32 list for the 2020 draft.

 

A couple things before I get to the list.  I didn’t do comparisons for the kids this time around as my comp’s tend to change drastically as the year goes on, I have more viewings, and simply more information in general.  Also, even though this should go without saying, I look at this as if I were a GM.  So I’m projecting, and I’m considering not necessarily need but things I view as most valuable.  If you want to see who the best point producers are of these kids, the WHL has a quality website and others do as well to check out the stats.

 

With all that said, here is the list:

 

1. Kaiden Guhle

Team: Prince Albert Raiders

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 65  G: 3  A: 14  P: 17

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

He’s number one for me.  I know he’s not for most, but at the moment I have a difficult time putting him behind anyone in the dub given his overall pedigree.  Guhle was the number one pick in the 2017 WHL draft, captain of the U17 team, and a VERY complete defenceman.  Obviously, he doesn’t have tremendous stats, but a lot of that was the team he played on this season.  Guhle had to take a backseat to many this season as the only regular on the Raiders blueline who wasn’t a 99 born kid.  A phenomenal skater who is already very effective in his own zone and loves the throw his weight around.  The big thing that everyone will be watching with him this season is whether or not the offence is going to come.  His puck skills are a bit in question at this moment, but I’m personally willing to cut some slack to a kid who was in his situation this season.  Had he been playing for most other teams in the league, he’d have seen a lot more quality minutes.  Even without improving his puck skills however, he will be a very solid pick.  However, if those do come around, the offence should follow.  And if the offence comes, the scouting community is going to be gushing over him.

 

2. Justin Sourdif

Team: Vancouver Giants

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 23  A: 23  P: 46

Born: 03/24/02, Surrey, BC

For me, Sourdif was the only one in consideration for me with Guhle for top kid in the WHL.  When you look at the numbers with Sourdif, keep in mind most of his damage was done either five on five or PK (20 goals, 20 assists).  Really thin at the moment too, Sourdif has the framed to easily put on another 20lbs.  The big thing for Sourdif will be continuing to improve his skating.  Right now, he’s quick, but he’s not real fast.  He’s not slow, but as you can read he is currently listed as 5’11 so if you’re drafting someone sub 6’0 then you hope to get a great skater.  The stats indicate he isn’t much of a playmaker, but in my opinion, those numbers were hurt by having to play most of the season on the wing and playing a game the Giants needed.  I see him as a natural centre and expect his assist totals to really shoot up this season, especially given much more PP time.

 

3. Connor McClennon

Team: Winnipeg Ice

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 154  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 46  G: 14  A: 15  P: 29

Born: 06/25/02, Wainwright, AB

2nd overall in the 17 draft behind Guhle.  Tough to judge playing on such a terrible team last season, it wouldn’t stun me with the Ice now being on much more solid footing as an organization if McClennon were to rocket up some scouting lists.  The downside is that a lot of McClennon’s points were on the PP (3 goals, 8 assists).  The upside is that 12 of his 15 assists were primary.  He was also terrific at the U-17’s last year, putting up 8 goals and 11 points in 5 games.  I’d say that tournament gives you a much better indication of what McClennon is playing on a competent team.  He’s a sniper.  He has a hell of a shot.  Zero issue with getting his nose dirty and going to the tough area’s on the ice, and while his top speed isn’t elite, he’s an extremely quick player.  McClennon is first in a group of three kids who I had a very difficult time separating.

 

4. Seth Jarvis

Team: Portland Winterhawks

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 61  G: 16  A: 23  P: 39

Born: 02/01/02, Winnipeg, MB

Just barely edged out by McClennon who got the nod for me mainly due to playing on such a terrible team and being the higher pick in the bantam draft.  But Jarvis had a tick better PPG, much better five on five numbers, and even though both are small kids he has a bit more size.

 

5. Ozzy Wiesblatt

Team: Prince Albert Raiders

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 15  A: 24  P: 39

Born: 03/09/02, Calgary, AB

Wiesblatt is a little different of a prospect than Jarvis and McClennon in that he has a little more size as you can see, and he plays with a lot of edge.  Good numbers in the regular season, and good numbers in the playoffs too with 5 goals and 5 assists in 23 games.  It is so close with all three of these kids.  Wiesblatt was the lowest drafted of the three and has the lowest PPG.  You could also point to seeing some PP time and five on five minutes with some real good players.  But then on the other hand, he’s got better size than Jarvis are McClennon and not just that but he uses that size to play a more in your face and physical game.

 

6. Connor Zary

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 174  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 24  A: 43  P: 67

Born: 09/25/01, Saskatoon, SK

Just missing this past draft by 10 days, Zary’s numbers stack up decent against a guy like Kirby Dach on a less talented team than the Blades were in Kamloops.  Zary actually had three more points than Dach at five on five, only playing one more game.  Obviously there is much more to this than the numbers, but that is one big positive for Zary.  At this point in the process however I still need to compare his 2018 numbers to the other kids in this class, and that’s where he falls a little down these rankings as his 17 year old numbers are lower (29 points in 68 games).

 

7. Jake Neighbours 

Team: Edmonton Oil Kings

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 201  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 47  G: 11  A: 13  P: 24

Born: 03/29/02, Airdrie, AB

I like the size (obviously more so the thickness), and he’s has great hands, but Neighbours best trait is his IQ.  He is an extremely cerebral player.  The big concern I have though is the skating.  I’ll need to see some improvement in his top end speed next season, but if he does that he’ll start getting serious buzz come next season.

 

8. Ronan Seeley

Team: Everett Silvertips

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 52  G: 1  A: 8  P: 9

Born: 08/02/02, Yellowknife, NT

He’s 8th right now, but Seeley has the ability to jump all the way to tops on this list in the next 11 months.  This kid has a lot of talent but was stuck in Everett as a bottom pair guy every night.  Terrific skater, and though his puck skills aren’t tremendous, like Guhle in P.A. it could just be a case of not getting to handle it much thanks to a lack of ice time.  This one is much more about projecting than anything.  Others would have guys like Braden Schneider or Daemon Hunt ahead of Seeley, but Seeley has a much higher ceiling than both.

 

9. Ridly Greig

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 159  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 14  A: 21  P: 35

Born: 08/08/02, Lethbridge, AB

Greig just needs to add strength.  He’s rail thin at the moment.  And because of this, Greig is getting knocked off the puck relatively easy and isn’t generating the power in his stride that he needs to be a good-great skater.  Yet he put up 35 points?  28 at even strength?  14 of the 21 assists were primary?  Keep your eye on him.

 

10. Daemon Hunt

Team: Moose Jaw Warriors

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 198  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 57  G: 7  A: 13  P: 20

Born: 05/15/02, Brandon, MB

Similar to Guhle, Hunt was playing with a very good blueline this past season.  Dissimilar to Guhle however is that Hunt was getting a lot of minutes with Josh Brook and Jet Woo.  That might have helped him out a lot defensively, but also maybe hurt his offensive production.  Only one of those goals and two of those assists were on the PP, while Brook and Woo lit it up on their PP.  Pretty good skater and very solid defensively.

 

Hounourable mention

Braden Schneider

Team: Brandon Wheat Kings

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 209  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 58  G: 8  A: 16  P: 24

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

Certainly, the biggest omission from the top 10 as others have him much higher than I.  Hell, I even seen that Corey Pronman gave him a special mention and he only did a top 21 list (top 28 with those extra names) and Pronman NEVER likes this type of player!  For me, 24 points in his 17 year old season isn’t much to get too excited about.  He only missed the draft by five days.  I like his skating, and his defensive play is very sound, but the production is uninspiring for me at this point.  But it’s VERY early in this process, plenty of time to make me look like a jack ass.

 

Josh Pillar

Team: Kamloops Blazers

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 7  A: 15  P: 22

Born: 02/14/02, Warman, SK

Scary good wheels.  His numbers this past season don’t stack up with the other kids in my top 10 so I couldn’t put him in there, but this kid is going to be one of the best skaters in this draft.  He’s going to be interesting to track playing on what I expect to be a pretty good Blazers team.

 

Carter Savoie

Team: Sherwood Park Crusaders (AJHL)

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2019 StatsGP: 58  G: 31  A: 42  P: 73

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

Obviously he’s in the AJHL and not the WHL, but I’m still going to be tracking him closely this season as I said off the top.  The Winnipeg Ice tried to get him, but in the end Savoie is sticking with the Crusaders and then it’ll be off to the University of Denver for the 20-21 season.  It may have “only been the AJHL”, but leading an elite AJHL team in scoring as a 16 year old is no joke.  In fact, his 73 points were good for 5th in the league.  One scouting service currently has him 80th.  It’s only my opinion, but I’m predicting that scouting service is going to give better “consideration” to their next list.  Dylan Holloway is top 10 for a couple of scouting services right now, no lower than 11th that I’ve seen.  Holloway (who missed being a 2019 pick by eight days) had 88 points in the AJ this season and was only at a PPG pace the year before.  So if he had played the 58 games in 2018 which Savoie played this past season, let’s assume he has 58 points.  So obviously a 30 point in improvement from last season to this.  Savoie has a 30 point improvement and we’re talking about a 100 point player.  The skating is great, the IQ is high, I know the hype is around his brother but the elder Savoie is going to be a damn good one too.

 

Michael Benning

Team: Sherwood Park  Crusaders (AJHL)

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 170  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 60  G: 10  A: 51  P: 61

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

Along with Savoie, the Crusaders also have defenceman and very close friend of Savoie’s, brother of Oilers defenceman Matthew Benning, Michael Benning.  The big thing I can’t take my eyes off of with Benning is the stats in comparison to AJHL alumn Cale Makar.  In Makar’s 17 year old season, he was a shad over a PPG with 10 goals and 45 points in 54 games.  As you can see, Benning put up extremely similar numbers in his 16 year old season (although in fairness, Benning is only a little more than two months younger than Makar was at the time).  However, while the numbers are so similar, the style of play is not.  Makar was as dynamic of a defenceman as you’ll see, while Benning plays a much more understated/cerebral game.

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2019 NHL Draft: Recap

As I say every year, I do this piece for fun.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Yes, I have strong opinions on the draft.  But I’m not dumb enough or delusional enough to believe that I’m right and everyone else is wrong.  Some of what I say today is going to look dumb as shit in 5-10 years!  A few things that I say are going to look pretty good!  But it really means nothing because this is just life.  A lot of shit is going to change, the draft is a crapshoot, and everyone is just looking to bat between .300-.400.

 

I did this just like last year where I go through all the teams alphabetically and speak my mind.  I left the Oilers until last (and their’s is much more detailed) so all you Oilers fans will have to read through EVERY DAMN WORD of what I have to say before reading on the Oilers (or else you’ve already scrolled to the bottom).  Also, I have added draft grades this year!  Probably dumb of me to do so, but I figured I would try that on and see how it fits.

 

Anaheim Ducks

Pretty solid outing for Bob Murray’s staff.  Trevor Zegras falling to nine I’m guessing was thrilling for them as I felt that was their need with that pick.  Didn’t love the Brayden Tracey grab at 29 but he definitely had solid numbers this season to justify it.  And I really like Jackson LaCombe at 39.  Not a draft I was super high on, but solid nonetheless.

Grade: B

 

Arizona Coyotes

Not bad, not great.  I didn’t like moving up for Soderstrom and giving up their 45th overall pick in doing so.  That said, I do like Soderstrom.  John Farinacci at 76 was pretty good value, and the one I really loved of theirs was Alexander Daryin at 107, someone I had in my top 50.  Most of their draft I didn’t really care for to be honest, but they came out of it ok.  I haven’t been the biggest fan of their drafts over the years.  While I believe they have a tremendous GM, it feels to me like they might need to be overhauled on the amateur scouting side of things.

Grade: C

 

Boston Bruins

Not many picks, but I wasn’t a big fan of what they did with any of them.  Pretty off the board grabs.  The Beecher pick at 30 is interesting though.  I wonder if he is more “Josh Norris” than he got credit for this season?  Easy to get buried on that USNTDP team this season with Hughes, Turcotte and Zegras all studs who often were playing the middle, bumping Beecher’s ice time down a lot.

Grade: D

 

Buffalo Sabres

WOAH!  I actually liked their draft for once!  Cozens at seven I believe is going to crush it as long as he is brought along as a winger.  He could be the big time sniper I thought they might be getting in Tage Thompson.  Ryan Johnson was solid value at 31 along with helping fill their need on the blueline.  Erik Portillo was a tendy I was intrigued by in last years draft and seemed to be one of the more desirable OA’s in this years draft class.  Finally, Aaron Huglen at 102, that is awesome value for a kid who can skate and has a lot of skill.

Grade: B+

 

Calgary Flames

Meh.  Maybe it is because I’ve felt they’ve done such a good job since Brad Treliving took over as GM, but I’m not a big fan of what they did.  Pelletier is fine at 26 and I can’t say I wouldn’t be swayed by how he apparently did in his interview, but there are skating concerns so you have to ask yourself if the kid hasn’t topped out already?  That is always tough to tell with a kid who gets by on work ethic.  On one hand, he might will his way to the league.  On the other hand, he might not have much more talent to improve enough on what he is despite that determination.  So we’ll see.  The rest of the draft I wasn’t a big fan of.  Much like the Bruins, they went off the board a lot, something I’m likely to say a lot as this wasn’t a very deep draft.

Grade: C

 

Carolina Hurricanes

CRUSHED.  IT.  12 picks.  So just with that, they should be landing a few players in this draft.  Suzuki was great value and fit at 28.  Not the biggest fan of his, but the talent is undeniable.  Kochetkov was right there as one of the highest ranked tendy’s in the draft and has all the tools.  I fucking LOVE Jamieson Rees (not just love, fucking love).  Had Patrik Puistola in my top 62.  Had Anttoni Honka in my top 62.  Had I gone with a top 100 then I believe Domenick Fensore would have been in it.  Cade Webber was someone I believed the Oilers would have big interest in.  Tuukka Tieksola would have been in a top 100 of mine.  Kirill Slepets would have been in a top 100 of mine.  Blake Murray big time disappointed this season but prior to the year most loved him as a 1st round pick and they got him at 183rd.  And finally, Massimo Rizzo is a really skilled kid that they got at 216.  The only one I didn’t read much on was Kevin Wall.  But, WOW!  Just WOW!

Grade: A

 

Chicago Blackhawks

Loved their draft last year, wasn’t a big fan of what they did this year.  I’m really high on Kirby Dach long term, but not over Alex Turcotte.  I had it in my final mock draft (though Sam Cosentino was reporting that Friday afternoon), but I wouldn’t have taken him over Turcotte and I especially wouldn’t have done it if I was working for the Blackhawks.  Alex Vlasic was taken around where I had him so that was ok.  The rest was just ok.  Dominic Basse was a kid I looked into late in the process and found him intriguing so using a 6th on him was good in my mind.  But all in all could have done better.

Grade: C

 

Colorado Avalanche

In rounds 3-7 I didn’t like much of what they did other than taking a flyer on Trent Miner in the 7th round (as I always love taking one goaltender late in a draft).  But they win the draft in my mind just because they got my top-ranked player with the fourth pick.  Best young blueline in the league now.  I really like Alex Newhook.  Had you told me before the draft they would get Newhook at 16 I’d have been thrilled for them.  Over Peyton Krebs though was dumb in my mind.  Similar players, so I guess we’ll see, but had they grabbed Krebs this would without a doubt be my favourite draft just with those two.  Drew Helleson at 47 was great value.  They didn’t need another D-man, but to get a stay at home right shot guy with what they already have and when you consider a very similar guy in Conor Timmins currently has concussion issues, could be a very shrewd grab.

Grade: A-

 

Columbus Blue Jackets

Only had three picks, didn’t know any of them.  Don’t confuse the grade I’m giving them with what they did, it’s MUCH more just a result of hardly having any picks.

Grade: D-

 

Dallas Stars

The Stars only had four picks, so not much more here to work with than the Blue Jackets.  Having your first is key though and they took Thomas Harley which was solid both in terms of value and fit.  They have one of the best young blueline’s in the league right now, but in the system, it is completely bare and Harley addresses that.  Sjolund, Porco and Brinkman were…fine, I guess.  Wasn’t a big fan of the latter two when reading on them and didn’t see anything on Sjolund.  Again, the grade is much more of a reflection on the lack of picks than what they actually did.

Grade: D

 

Detroit Red Wings

11 picks.  So four more than the Blue Jackets and Stars combined!  And they did…fine, I guess.  Obviously, I was as shocked as anyone with the Seider pick at six.  That is tremendously risky.  Even if you trade back with the Coyotes and get the 45th pick, that’s still better than reaching.  We’ll see.  I do know that Seider like Philip Broberg for the Oilers is a pretty safe bet to be a top-four D-man, and unlike Broberg he moves it extremely well and shows a high IQ on the ice.  The pick I LOVED was Albin Grewe at 66.  The kid is a total POS and I mean that in the most complimentary of ways!  Ethan Phillips was another pick I was a fan of at 97 as he was in my top 62.  All in all though with 11 picks including 6th overall, pretty disappointing.

Grade: D

 

Florida Panthers

Pretty good.  Not overly surprised by the Spencer Knight pick as a few guys had that mocked pre-draft and when you see a guy mocked somewhere a lot, chances are someone knows something (no matter how badly I may not want to believe it…)  Kolyachonok at 52 for me was a HEIST.  Easily one of the steals of the draft in my mind, as I don’t see Kolyachonok being much different from Philip Broberg (had them 18 and 19 in my rankings).  Carter Berger in the 4th round was solid, and Owen Lindmark in the 5th round I liked quite a bit too.

Grade: B

 

LA Kings

Well Turcotte falling to them was great fortune in my mind.  That feels like a home run of a pick to me.  Bjornfot I wasn’t a big on as others due to a lack of offensive potential, but if you’re just looking for a safe pick for your blueline he was definitely it.  Kaliyev was pretty decent value at 33, Fagemo was a kid who a lot of people liked and will view as great value at 50.  Wasn’t a big fan of anything else they did, but again this wasn’t a deep draft so I’m putting more into what teams did in rounds 1-3 more this season than most.

Grade: B

 

Minnesota Wild

Did ok.  Boldy slightly fell to them you might say?  I had him 11th, most had him top 10, fell to 12 thanks to two more D-men then most thought would go in the first 11.  I seen Mike Russo’s headline for his write up on the pick was something like “Minnesota got a steal”.  I don’t know who said that to him, but fuck me the least difficult thing to do is find someone who liked a teams pick and then calls it a steal.  They got a good pick in a spot where they should have known they were going to take a good kid (if they wanted to).  After that, not a big fan.  I had Hunter Jones 59th or 60th in my rankings and they got him at 59.  Adam Beckman is a little interesting as is Marshall Warren, but nothing I liked or hated too much here.

Grade: B-

 

Montreal Canadiens

Did ok.  Most view Cole Caufield as falling to them, I had him 16th so he’s perfectly in range, but hated it over both Peyton Krebs and Alex Newhook, though in the Habs defence they have loaded up with centres in the last two drafts and don’t have anyone in the system I’d say is a sniper like Caufield.  Jayden Struble was solid where they got him, he’s a kid I really liked in the 2nd round.  Mattias Norlinder I felt was good value at 64.  Rhett Pitlick to me was awesome value at 131!  And I like that they took a tendy late (Frederik Nissen at 138).  Solid showing, but for me passing on Krebs by that point knocks the grade down a bit.

Grade: B-

 

Nashville Predators

Loved it.  Tomasino at 24 was tremendous, don’t know what else to say about it.  Afanasyev at 45 wasn’t something I would have done, but with him, in particular, I’ll praise them for it because of the upside.  The kid has the tools to be star in the league if he ever puts it together.  I loved Alex Campbell (not because of the last name).  The kid just has a non-stop motor.  Oh and look at this, a goaltender in the 5th round (148th).  I can’t tell you much on Ethan Haider, but I’m always a fan of doing that in the draft.

Grade: A-

 

New Jersey Devils

11 picks including 1st overall, so they better have crushed it!  Hughes was obvious (for them).  Didn’t really like Nikita Okhotyuk at 61, but then I loved Daniil Misyul at 70 so for me they kind of made up for it.  Graeme Clark and Michael Vukojevic were both real good value late in the 3rd round.  Case McCarthy in the 4th was kind of interesting as I and others had him ranked probably 40-27th or so before last season.  Shitty year, but potential as he can skate and has decent size.  Cole Brady in the 5th is a goaltender so you know I like that.  And their last two picks of Patrick Moynihan and Nikola Pasic (who was in my top 62 and went 189th!) were AWESOME value!  They did good and combined with Hughes, tough to not give them this grade.

Grade: A

 

NY Islanders

You might have thought that I had the reigns on their draft at certain points!  Only five picks, but Holmstrom at 23 was surprising to me!  I had him 22nd in my top 62 but in no way believed he’d go 1st round.  And then my late round (or what I thought was going to be late round) sleeper was Reece Newkirk and they snagged him at 147.  Two kids with HIGH motors and who aren’t afraid to get into the opposition’s face.  Samuel Bolduc was in between those two picks and while I wasn’t too high on Bolduc (opposite motor of Holmstrom and Newkirk), the kid is very talented.  For what they had to work with, I like what they did.

Grade: B

 

NY Rangers

Pretty easy pick at two so I won’t spend any time on that.  Matt Robertson at 49 was awesome value.  Karl Henriksson was a kid a lot of people liked more than I did and they got him at 58.  Same can be said for Zac Jones who they took at 68.  And then the one I personally loved was Leevi Aaltonen at 130.  Had him in my top 62 knowing he’d go much later than that, but he’s a hard worker and a great skater.  For me personally, I was looking for kids who could really skate this year seeing how it wasn’t a good draft in terms of depth.  They did well.

Grade: B+

 

Ottawa Senators

Lassi Thomson, Shane Pinto, and Mads Sogaard in the top 40.  Their grade is likely going to make me look stupid in the years to come because on one hand, I didn’t like what they did at all.  On the other, this is one of the best drafting organizations in the league.  I have no problem shitting on a teams draft if I know they don’t draft well, but the Sens do.  This one is going to be interesting to read back in 5-7 years.

Grade: D

 

Philadelphia Flyers

To be honest, the only pick I REALLY liked for them was Bobby Brink at 34.  York at 14 was fine, but I feel they passed up much bigger talent to take him.  He does address what would have started to be a need had they not done anything about in this draft.  I loved Brink as I already alluded to.  Mason Millman was the only other pick I found interesting.  I considered him for my top 62 at one point as he’s a pretty talented kid.  Took Roddy Ross (tendy) late, so points for that, but all in all I wasn’t the biggest of fans.

Grade: C

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

I liked the pick of Sam Poulin at 21.  Surprised they went with a kid who is further off than others they could have gone with.  Nathan Legare was great value in my mind at 74 as the kid can really shoot the puck.  Other than that, not much of a fan of what they did.

Grade: C

 

San Jose Sharks

Won’t take a whole lot of time on the Sharks as they only had five picks, no first rounder, and I wasn’t a big fan of the kids they took.  The one who I find a bit interesting is Leduc’s Dillon Hamaliuk.  Had a tremendous start to the season before going down with a season-ending lower body injury.  Not a fan of their draft, but much like the Sens the Sharks have real potential to make me look like a moron here.

Grade: D

 

St. Louis Blues

Only five picks for the Blues too, and again didn’t really like what they did at all.  And again, it’s a team who have the ability to make this draft grade look really stupid because they draft and develop extremely well.  The other thing with the Blues though is…who the fuck cares?!?!  They won the Cup!!!

Grade: D-

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

And yet ANOTHER team who draft well and I didn’t like what they did!  This time it’s not just a team who draft well, it’s a team who might draft better than any other in the league!!  But I hated it.  Nolan Foote was a MASSIVE reach.  The only one I liked was getting Maxim Cajkovic at 89.  I guess Mikhail Shalagin at 198 was one I’d say I liked too (can you tell I’m just typing this as I read?)  All in all though, a surprisingly weak looking draft.  But I say weak looking because yet again they have the ability to make a schmuck like myself look very stupid down the road.

Grade: D

 

Toronto Maple Leafs

They didn’t have a first but crushed it with what they had.  Just went value the whole way.  Nick Robertson was value.  Mikko Kokkonen was value.  Mikhail Abramov was value.  Just value throughout just like what they did last year.  The grade gets hurt a little from not having the first rounder (I’m not sure I like that I factor in how many picks a team has into the grade).

Grade: B

 

Vancouver Canucks

They did very well.  I can’t quite say that they crushed it, but did well.  I’m stunned they were the team who stepped up to grab Podkolzin.  The more I believe that they’re going to do the wrong things thanks to Francesco Aquilini wanting so badly to put a playoff contender on the ice, the more than seem to make the smart and responsible decision!  Nils Hoglander was a GREAT pick at 40.  Again, in the Hockey Prospect Black Book someone called him the Swedish Bobby Brink, and he really is.  Ethan Keppen at 122 was the other pick I really loved.  Definitely would have had Keppen in a top 100 had I gone that far with my list.  Finally…yet again…tendy late in the draft (156th).  Don’t know Arturs Silovs, but I always give points for that move.

Grade: B+

 

Vegas Golden Knights

Three kids who I felt were INSANE value where they got them.  Peyton Krebs first and foremost, had him 6th, they got him 17th.  Pavel Dorofeyev, I had him 32nd, they got him 79th.  Layton Ahac I had 45th, they got him 86th.  Then I also liked where they got Ryder Donovan and Mason Primeau, and once again a team who took a goaltender late (Isaiah Saville, 5th round, 135th overall).  Knocked it out of the park.

Grade: A+

 

Washington Capitals

Their draft is pretty simple to explain.  They went with skill on every pick.  It could be argued they just simply took the most skilled player on the board.  Speed wasn’t big on their list, size looks to have been, but more than anything just getting as much skill as they could.  Didn’t hate it, didn’t mind it.

Grade: C

 

Winnipeg Jets

I don’t mean to be going shorter with these the longer I go, but I didn’t say a lot on the Caps and don’t have a lot to say here either as I find myself not hating or loving what they did.  Ville Heinola at 20 was one I liked as I had him 14th in my top 62.  The rest was just ok, though one more time you’re going to read this…took a goaltender late (one of five taken in the 5th round), so points there, though not enough to really affect the grade.

Grade: C

 

Edmonton Oilers 

Some Oilers fans need to understand that this is an opinion and an opinion on how the organization is run rather than not pulling for or having anything against these kids personally.  People don’t like negativity, and I get it, neither do I.  It wears you out.  But are some of these people trying to get away from negativity, or hide from the truth?  There’s a difference, and the latter isn’t very becoming on a person.  ANYWAY…I really didn’t like the Oilers draft.  I can honestly say that this is what I would have done:

8 – Peyton Krebs

38 – Vladislav Kolyachonok

85 – Maxim Cajkovic

100 – Reece Newkirk

162 – Blake Murray

193 – Samuel Hlavaj

So we’ll see.  I hope I’m WAY off and they make me look like a fool.  But having said this, it isn’t as though I feel they’ve got nothing here.  As much as I hated the Broberg pick, the fact of the matter is that he’s a pretty safe bet to be a top-four defenceman thanks to his skating ability and size.  It’s the fact that it’s just such a huge gamble when the large majority of people believe that several forwards who fit the Oilers organizational need perfectly were sitting there for them.  So it’s not even a case of Broberg needing to hit.  Broberg needs to be a home run AND Holland will have to turn some of his mountain of young D-men (ten who are 25 and under and under contract, eight of the ten being either in the NHL or knocking on the door, another four including Broberg whom they own the rights to, three of them are very legitimate prospects) into some quality talent up front.

Raphael Lavoie was a value pick.  I’ve seen a lot of people being giddy about the pick, and I do love his talent.  But he is a player with a very low motor and there are whispers that the work ethic is poor off the ice as well.  Apparently, he was viewed as a poor interview by a lot of teams at the combine, and in just watching his draft day scrum I didn’t get the best impression of him.  Of course, that’s just one interview and you could chalk it up to him not being completely comfortable with his English (it is very strong in my opinion).  Nobody will deny the talent he has.  He has the ability to be top six power forward who can fill the net, but very much so feels like a boom or bust pick.

The one pick I’m excited about is Ilya Konovalov.  Very rare to see a near 21 year old kid be drafted, and I’m guessing that it is his size that has held him from being drafted previously, but the numbers in the KHL this season as a 20 year old were off the charts.  Compare him with other highly touted Russian goaltenders at the same age. Ilya Samsonov (Wsh prospect) .926 Sv% in 26 games played (though in fairness in his 19 year old season the Sv% was .936 in 27 games played).  Igor Shestyorkin (NYR prospect) .912 Sv% in just 7 games.  Ilya Sorokin (NYI prospect) .929 Sv% in 39 games.  He’s right there with these guys.  There is one video I found of him on Twitter.  It’s from November, and the camera is on him the entire time so it’s difficult to see what exactly was coming at him.  But he looked bigger to me than the 6’0 he’s listed at (Bob Green alluded to this post draft that he believes he’s bigger than he’s listed), and what I saw reminded me a lot of Marc-Andre Fleury.  Tracked the puck well, very quick feet, very agile, flexibility looked very high, he appeared to me like a kid who has high-end ability.  If in reality he’s let’s just say 6’2 (maybe a reach), he has tremendous potential.  Even if he isn’t that though, he’s still an intriguing kid.  An added bonus as I’m sure you’ve heard elsewhere by now is that he’ll be playing for Craig MacTavish.  With two years left on his deal, Mac T will have plenty of time to get him ready for life in North America and specifically Edmonton.

I’ll have more on Broberg, Lavoie, and Konovalov in my upcoming top 20 Oilers prospects list along with write up’s on Matej Blümel, Tomas Mazura and Maxim Denezhkin, but I will say that all three are very raw, but have some skill.

Grade: D+

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2019 NHL Draft: Edmonton Oilers

I’ve done my top 62 list.  I’ve done my mock draft (subject to change).  I felt like putting out more content this morning though and felt as though a piece on the Oilers draft was the best route to take.  If you follow my work, you’re likely an Oilers fan.  Not all are, but most.

 

I won’t spend much time setting this up as it’s pretty long, but since it’s the most accurate I slotted the later picks using McKenzie’s list.  So if I’m talking about a guy for the 85th pick and you’re questioning it, chances are he’s around that area on Bob’s list.  I’d never use my own list because simply put I have my own views that I believe strongly in, so we won’t see much alignment with my list and what NHL teams do.

 

We’ll start by looking at what the team needs.  Unlike certain TSN personalities who did a mock draft the other night where picks were made based on immediate team needs, the reality is that teams are looking at what the needs are organization-wide.  That can include what is needed on the big club, but more so looks at what is in the system.  After that I’ll go through each of the picks and just simply give some players I like in that range.

 

Let’s begin.

 

Organizational needs

Speed and skill up front – I’ll put this as a blanket first and foremost.  They’re very thin on the big club, and even though there are kids I like in the system, a lot of those kids have skating concerns.

Wing – More so on the left than the right side, but neither side is stacked.  I’d say they have two quality LW’s (Benson and McLeod) and two quality RW’s (Yamamoto and Maksimov).

Centre – Some of you are likely screaming right now “McLeod is a centre!!!!!”  Fair enough, but better safe than sorry in my books to consider him a winger.  That leaves just Marody.  Obviously the age and contracts of both McDavid and Draisaitl impact, but it is STILL (despite me screaming about it for three years now) bare in the system.

Gamesmanship/spark plugs – You’ll see me harp on this throughout this blog, but I’ve said it before and will say it again, if “miserable pricks” could be measured analytically, the Oilers would rank 31st.  And they have nobody coming who plays a hateable game.

Goaltender – This ends up 5th on the list mainly because the blueline is so loaded in the system.  But they probably should take yet another goaltender in this draft.  I like Skinner, I like Wells, and they took Rodrigue…not to mention Starrett, but none of those guys are close to certainties and until someone is an organization needs to stockpile at the most important position in hockey.  I wouldn’t take one before the 100th pick, and I’d look to Europe or the USHL to find a project who you’ll have time to assess his game before deciding if he is worthy of an ELC.

Defencemen – They’re pretty stacked on both sides at the moment, but you can never have enough D-men.

 

8th overall

I believe it’s safe to say that the top four is set in stone.  It’s Hughes, Kakko, and then I strongly believe it’ll be Turcotte/Byram to the Hawks and Avs, though I’m not 100% on which to whom.  I THINK the Kings take Dach, but if they want speed (as they’ve been pretty loud about) then Zegras might make more sense for them.  So I believe they’re looking at six possibilities with that pick.  I’ll speak on them, plus two guys whom I can’t believe they from all accounts aren’t giving consideration to.

Philip Broberg

Team: AIK  League: SWE-Als

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 41  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

DOB: 06/25/01

Comparison: Jay Bouwmeester

Let’s just get right to this one.  I hate the idea, most hate the idea, and there is a shit ton of smoke here.  It does sound like more teams than just the Oilers love the idea of Broberg up around this point though.  Buffalo and Vancouver are definitely up there, and I also wonder if the Wings aren’t too.  All three teams BADLY need D, which is what makes Broberg most interesting is that the Oilers in their organization have very little need to take (let alone reach) on a D-man here.  I’m really wondering if it’s not a smokescreen because it’s very unlike Ken Holland to let things get out.  Maybe someone within the organization knew that the teams colour analyst wouldn’t shut up if he got what he believed was juicy information and so a seed was planted?  Very conspiracy theory type shit, but it just doesn’t make ANY sense to take Broberg and I can’t believe this would be lost on people in the organization, even given how awful they’ve been.  Should they do this though, as fans we shouldn’t be overly distraught about it.  Broberg does have the size and skating ability to become a number one D-man someday.  You listen to him interviewed, he seems very humble and to have a very high IQ which is intriguing.  If they give him two or three years to develop, we might all be singing a very different tune on him.  But it is a scary gamble in this particular draft with the 8th pick.  Those who want to tell you “just make a trade down the line” are not giving any thought to how insanely difficult it is these days to make a trade.

 

Kirby Dach

Team: Saskatoon  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 25  A: 48  P: 73

DOB: 01/21/01

Comparison: Ryan Getzlaf

I don’t have Dach getting past five.  But if he does, this becomes very realistic in my mind.  I believe if the Oilers had their way, he’s who they badly want at eight.  And Dach has the potential to be a home run.  You can’t find 6’4 playmaking centres like this.  I know he has a questionable motor, but don’t confuse that with doesn’t put in the work.  He’s captain serious away from the rink.  I’ve been told he doesn’t party, doesn’t drink, and his life is hockey.  So when you look at it that way, he’s very similar to Draisaitl.  I don’t think fans would be pissed about getting a right-handed Leon Draisaitl.

 

Trevor Zegras

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 173  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 27  G: 14  A: 26  P: 40

DOB: 03/20/01

Comparison: Mathew Barzal

He could go 5-7, easily.  But you can also make the case that Zegras falls to the 8th pick.  Kings take Dach, Wings take Podkolzin, Sabres take Broberg.  That order wouldn’t stun me in the slightest.  My buddy SPR doesn’t like him and he is the only one.  Reason being, he is a VERY flashy player who looks to make a lot of plays with the puck which are extremely high risk.  He’s big-time flash.  But the question I and others have is once he stops having success playing that way if he’ll adjust and start making much more intelligent plays with the puck?  I believe he will, but you can name a lot of kids over the years who never wanted to change their game.

 

Dylan Cozens

Team: Lethbridge  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 34  A: 50  P: 84

DOB: 02/09/01

Comparison: Chris Kreider

Again I’ll state: you draft him as a winger and he’s a home run of a pick.  If you’re hoping he can play the middle, you’re asking for trouble.  But I fully believe had he played the wing all season we’d be talking about Cozens in a much different light and most would have him in their top five.  Size, speed, shot, physical.  Going into the Hlinka/Gretzky last year I did my top 32 list and I had him compared to Iginla.  I’ve changed it to Kreider, but when I say that I don’t mean that Kreider is his ceiling.  He has 30-40 goal, 70-80 point potential, just that his game is like Kreider in that he’s big, fast and physical.  I love the idea of the Oilers building with speed AND size and Cozens definitely brings both.

 

Cole Caufield

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’7  Wt: 163  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 29  A: 12  P: 41

DOB: 01/02/01

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

He’s the choice of the Oilers Twitter world!  So as you can read, I’m not as high on him.  I LIKE the kid, and I’m pulling for him because he’s exciting to watch, but a lot of people who are screaming for the Oilers to take him are missing what the concerns are on him.  It’s not his size.  It’s his skating for being that size isn’t very good.  It’s probably better than DeBrincat’s was, but still not where you want or need it to be.  His play away from the puck is very suspect.  He had a very nice luxury of not needing to play away from the puck all season, but I know those who have tracked him a lot more than I have, say it’s not good.  Finally, the big one for me is that he displayed no playmaking ability.  Guys who only score at lower levels of hockey historically haven’t stuck in the show.  Think of who I got him compared within Cammalleri, his assist numbers were great at Michigan and lower levels.  Same with DeBrincat.  So he played with three of the best playmaking centres in the history of the USNTDP all season and racked up goals…ok.  AND?!  But having said all that, I’m really just trying to open some eyes to some who are overrating him and I don’t dislike him near as much as I make it sound there.  His shot is ELITE already.  And if he were drafted by the Oilers, someday he’d likely get put with McDavid who obviously has the ability to carry a one-dimensional shooter like this.  If they picked him, I wouldn’t be crying, but I would be cringing a bit because there are a lot of legitimate concerns.  It feels to me that people see his shot, see his goal totals, and for those reasons alone they just feel like you have to take that kid out of fear that if you miss on him the hate will rain down on your organization because it was “so obvious”.

 

Matthew Boldy

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 30  A: 39  P: 69

DOB: 04/05/01

Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk

The complete opposite end of the spectrum from Caufield.  Some wonder if Caufield has a game that doesn’t translate, where most feel Boldy has more of a pro game and his numbers don’t tell enough of the story.  Big, skilled, good (though not great) skater, and apparently all the intangibles check out with Boldy.  He’s not getting talked about much with the Oilers, yet it’s been made pretty clear he’s on their radar.  I think there was one guy they could realistically pick here who everyone would be at least ok with, it’s Boldy.

 

Vasili Podkolzin

Team: St. Petersburg  League: MHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 26  G: 8  A: 5  P: 13

DOB: 06/24/01

Comparison: Gabriel Landeskog

These last two don’t sound like kids they’re considering and I don’t know why.  Well, with Podkolzin I do believe it’s likely because of the contract preventing him from coming over for two seasons.  It shouldn’t, but knowing the Oilers they would be an organization who would have an issue with it.  As I stated with the needs, this team lacks spark plugs.  Assholes.  Miserable fucks to play against.  You wouldn’t think of a Russian player being this guy, but Podkolzin is.  If his name is Vince Pederson he’s a slam dunk top-five pick.  And don’t get me wrong, I get the concerns.  The skating isn’t great (though much like Evan Bouchard last year that is getting greatly exaggerated).  I personally downgrade Russian forwards because they bust at an alarming rate (I even did with Svechnikov last year).  But at eight you should be at least looking at him.  Not to mention we talk about getting McDavid a shooter, Podkolzin has the ability to be a pure sniper in the show along with being a high-end power forward.

 

Peyton Krebs

Team: Kootenay  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11.5  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 19  A: 49  P: 68

DOB: 01/26/01

Comparison: Bo Horvat

I don’t get it.  I simply don’t get it.  He brings everything to the table that the Oilers need.  Skill, intangibles, versatility, he’s even a fuckin Albertan!!  And yet from the sounds of it, he’s not even on their radar.  I think of guys like Zach Parise, Mike Richards, guys who in their primes were the perfect blend of talent and intangibles and that is Krebs.  The Achilles injury?  Meaningless.  He shouldn’t be playing on a team next season anyway and will be healthy by December at the absolute latest.  It pisses me off talking about Krebs at this point because unless the local media are badly missing the boat, the Oilers aren’t even giving him the time of day.  For the Oilers specifically, I’d take him over any of these kids, even Dach because I feel the Oilers need to be a little safer with this pick and Krebs is the safer bet of the two.

 

Trade up?

Full credit to Darcy McLeod who made this suggestion on Twitter Wednesday.  If the Hawks pass on Byram for Turcotte (as I and many others believe they will), Ken Holland should be offering the 8th pick and Puljujarvi to the Avs for the 4th pick.  And I think it’s something the Avs would heavily consider.  They don’t NEED Byram (not that anyone should pass on a player that good because of need) and could likely still land a stud up front at eight, while also adding Puljujarvi.  Darcy also suggested adding more if need be from the Oilers POV and again, I agree (I got Byram 1st in my rankings, so obviously I agree).  What that something else could be?  I’d do as much as 8th, Puljujarvi, and Samorukov.  Not sure if others would, but I would because I believe that much in Byram.

 

Trade back? 

I believe this is a very good move if they did it.  The way I see it is they should be craving a forward of some kind and there are kids like Newhook and Tomasino who look as though they’ll go in the 12-15 range who’d be terrific gets if you could add a 2nd.  I’m not sure I’d look to add the 2nd in this draft though.  It’s always tough to tell how a draft will shake down (this time last year a lot of people believed this draft was LOADED), but the 2020 draft at this point looks as though it’ll be a lot deeper than this.  If you can add a significant piece and move back while still adding the player you need to the system, you should.  Ken Holland did say yesterday that he would look at moving back a few picks (or something to that effect).

 

39th overall

They’re going to get someone good here.  I don’t know if they can do as well as they did last year with McLeod, but as far as I’m concerned it looks as though some kids I personally love could be around for 39.  Here are five kids potentially on the board at this point:

Vladislav Kolyachonok

Team: Flint  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 189  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 4  A: 25  P: 29

DOB: 05/25/01

Comparison: Braydon Coburn

I can’t see him being around with this pick, but he is 39th on Bob McKenzie’s list so he does qualify.  Wheels.  If they do in fact love Broberg so much (and they don’t make the mistake of picking him) then, in theory, they should be all over Kolyachonok at 39 if he remains on the board.  You give this kid three or four years development, they’d have a stud on their hands.

 

Jamieson Rees

Team: Sarnia  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 182  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 37  G: 10  A: 22  P: 32

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Sam Bennett

Rees is a risky pick because he’s had some injuries to overcome and scouts are concerned that he plays too reckless.  The Oilers though don’t have enough reckless, so at 39 I love the idea of them taking a bit of a risk and addressing that.  I’d rather gamble on that then on a talented kid finding a compete level.

 

Simon Holmstrom

Team: HV71  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 193  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 21  G: 7  A: 13  P: 20

DOB: 05/24/01

Comparison: Joonas Donskoi

I have Holmstrom four spots ahead of Rees in my rankings, but Rees is more in your face than Holmstrom.  Like Rees, he’s got one of the best motors in the draft, but like Rees he has injury concerns.

 

Albin Grewe 

Team: Djurgardens  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 13  A: 21  P: 34

DOB: 03/22/01

Comparison: Ryan Hartman

Another kid who brings it.  Don’t let the nationality fool you with Grewe, this kid has a lot of Raffi Torres in his game where he can be a bit of a head hunter.  But while that’s what he’s best known for, the numbers also check out with him.  Elite Prospects had him 28th in their rankings relying heavily on XLS% (Expected Likelihood of Success) and XPR/82 (Expected Point Rate per 82 Games) to do the rankings.

 

Daniil Misyul

Team: Loko Yaroslavl  League: MHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 46  G: 4  A: 6  P: 10

DOB: 10/20/00

Comparison: Darnell Nurse

If you’re reading this, you’re an Oilers fan.  If you’re an Oilers fan, then you know the scouting report on Nurse.  One of the best skaters in the league and can be a nasty SOB in his own zone.  Also like Nurse, not a lot of vision/ability to move the puck.  But like Kolyachonok, if you give Misyul time you might have a stud on your hands.

 

85th overall

From here out, the draft always goes wide ass open.  Players who you believe should go 3rd round fall to the 6th, 7th, or even completely out, while kids you’ve never heard of all of a sudden start being picked.  I’ll suggest kids in these spots (three for each of the following picks), but it is a complete crapshoot as to where they could end up going.

Pavel Dorofeyev

Team: Magnitogorsk  League: MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 19  G: 17  A: 14  P: 31

DOB: 10/26/00

Comparison: Teuvo Teravainen

Bob has him 82nd!  That says to me that the independent guys (none that I could find having him lower than 41st) like him a shit ton more than NHL organizations do.  That stunned me.  Needless to say, if the Oilers took a swing on him here I’d be thrilled!  The kid has tremendous skill.

 

Aaron Huglen

Team: Fargo  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 4  A: 10  P: 14

DOB: 03/06/01

Comparison: Connor Sheary

Speedy, competes hard, and he’s still rail thin as you can read.  He’s got 20-25lbs to go, so what kind of damage will he do once he does that?  Intriguing.

 

Ethan Phillips

Team: Sioux Falls  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 150  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 50  G: 16  A: 27  P: 43

DOB: 05/07/01

Comparison: Arturri Lehkonen

Basically the exact same line of thinking with Phillips as with Huglen.

 

100th overall

Reece Newkirk

Team: Portland  League: WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 23  A: 36  P: 59

DOB: 02/20/01

Comparison: Andrew Shaw

I just love this kids game.  A total “see you next Tuesday” if you know what I mean, with a terrific motor.  He physically looks like Brad Marchand out on the ice and as I’ve maintained throughout this, the Oilers badly need more of this.  They don’t need to sacrifice speed or skill to do it, but the kids I’m mentioning all have the speed and skill first and foremost.

 

Rhett Pitlick

Team: Chaska  League: USHS

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 161  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 28  A: 33  P: 61

DOB: 02/07/01

Comparison: Drake Caggiula

Same line of thinking as Newkirk, Grewe, Rees, etc.  I don’t believe Pitlick is quite the instigator those players are, but he definitely has the wheels and willingness to get his nose dirty.  Tyler’s cousin (Rem’s brother, son of former Sens D-man Lance Pitlick).

 

Maxim Cajkovic

Team: Saint John  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 60  G: 22  A: 24  P: 46

DOB: 01/03/01

Comparison: Jakub Vrana

This time last year this kid was viewed as a top 15 pick by pretty much everyone.  I’m not sold that coming over to the Q and playing with such a terrible team as the Sea Dogs were didn’t have much more to do with his production than a dog shit effort.  Also if you just simply look at his 2nd half numbers, they were good and showed a bit of his talent.  Well worth a swing by this pick.

 

162nd overall

One thing about the 6th and 7th rounders you need to keep in mind is that the USHL/NCAA and European kids become much more valuable as you get extra time to evaluate what you might have before having to make a decision on giving them an ELC.  Not many picked in this range that aren’t projects, so better to have that extra time to develop the project.

Alexander Daryin

Team: Loko Yaroslavl  League: MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 159  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 47  G: 20  A: 15  P: 35

DOB: 08/16/00

Comparison: Kevin Fiala

My first OA to make an appearance, Daryin got passed over in last years draft.  Much like Huglen and Phillips who I liked as possible 3rd rounders, Daryin has tremendous wheels, great skill, and is still lacking 20lbs or so that he’ll put on in time.  I actually have Daryin higher in my own rankings than Huglen or Phillips, but Daryin isn’t ranked on McKenzie’s list and is passed over on a few lists.  The draft is chess, not checkers.  Take a kid where you believe you can get him.  Not sure I can get Daryin here, but with the information I have it at least looks possible.

 

Leevi Aaltonen

Team: Kalpa  League: SM Liiga Jr

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 12  A: 24  P: 36

DOB: 01/24/01

Comparison: Bryan Rust

He’s not on Bob’s list, though he is around 40-90 for most.  At 162, who in the fuck knows.  I love Aaltonen’s wheels though.  Around this point, just give me guys with something elite (preferably skating).  I have always said, I want later draft picks who can do something elite that can’t be taught.

 

Nikola Pasic

Team: Linköping League: SWE-J20

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 33  G: 18  A: 18  P: 36

DOB: 10/16/00

Comparison: Pontus Aberg

Speedy and skilled, but lacks compete (I’ve told you my comparisons are the best…).  At 162, obviously I’m not going to be terrified to swing and miss on a skilled kid.

 

193rd overall

Martin Hugo Has

Team: Tappara  League: SM-Liiga

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 37  G: 9  A: 7  P: 16

DOB: 02/02/01

Comparison: Brandon Carlo

TERRIFIC name!!  I wouldn’t say Has is as good of a skater as Carlo, but he does move very well for a big man.  And there is some offensive upside with him.  Mainly though if you’re drafting him, he’s a project.  He has the right tools to work with, so give him three seasons and then see if he’s worth bringing over to North America.

 

Dominic Basse

Team: South Kent  League: Midget

Pos: G  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 185  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 42  G.A.A.: 1.91  Sv%: .924

DOB: 04/22/01

Comparison: Pekka Rinne

Please don’t kill me on the comparison, I’m just trying to think of a kid who was raw like this.  Rinne went late in the draft, was massive, and moved well.  That’s it.  You know Basse is pretty obscure when the league he played the majority of the season is just listed on Elite Prospects as “Midget”.  He is committed to attend Colorado in the fall.  From what I’ve read (I mean, no doubt I’ve seen him play and scouted him a ton…) he moves very well for his size, he’s not just a puck blocker.  That’s the key for me with goaltenders.  Size and athleticism.  Take them late and hope to coach them up.  There will be lots of options along these lines at this point.

 

Cade Webber

Team: The Rivers  League: USHS

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 194  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 12  A: 14  P: 26

DOB: 01/05/01

Comparison: Scott Mayfield

This is the type of kid they’ve LOVED to take late in the draft.  Think Matt Cairns. Think Vincent Desharnais.  Think Skyler Brind’Amour.  Think Philip Kemp.  Think Michael Kesselring.  They love their projects and Webber is DEFINITELY a project.  Obviously it’s a new regime, but with Keith Gretzky supposedly still running the draft, tough to believe their mentality would change.  Two things: size, and he skates very well for that size.  Only thing missing is that he’s not a right shot, but they’ve loaded up with RHD over the years that if they weren’t to take one this season it wouldn’t hurt them.

 

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2019 NHL Draft: Mock Draft

Better late than never!  It’s been a busy year for yours truly.  Normally by now I’ve put out four mock drafts with my fifth ready to go tomorrow.  However, due to a busy schedule, this is the first of the year.  I need to find an easier way to do these, however, I pride myself on my mock drafts being the best you’ll read.

 

I really do mean that.  While I can destroy anything else I write or do for podcasts, these mock drafts are the best.  They’re the most well thought out, I’d challenge anyone else who does them to have a more accurate track record over the last four years, and in the last two years (for sure, could be more) my mock drafts have got more guys going in the 1st round than McKenzie or Cosentino in each draft.  Personally, I don’t understand why that should count for anything, but every year I see guys from TSN and Sportsnet saying that they got whatever the number is out of 31 in the 1st round.  I know for both in 2017 it was 27 of 31.  I got 28 of 31.  Last year I believe I got 27 of 31.  McKenzie was lower than most years last year (I want to say it was 24 or 25) and I can’t recall what Cosentino had but just recall that I had bested him as well.  I believe in 2017 I went six for six to start and had seven overall (you get one wrong and it can easily go to shit).  Last year was the first year I was all over the map, but I ended up with six spot on which is crazy.

 

All I do is dig.  I dig into what teams like to do, what their organizational needs are (much more worried about what is in the system than on the big club), and also look at how they might strategize for the draft (for example, a team with two 1st rounders might be influenced by what they’re able to do with their 2nd pick).

 

Here’s the deal: I’m PLANNING on this being the only mock draft.  HOWEVER, if there are enough big changes between now and 4PM MST tomorrow I may just flat out do another.  We’ll see.  At worse, maybe expect this to be altered/updated.  Or, maybe I don’t touch it at all!  If I either do a 2nd one or alter this one, I will be putting it on social media.  I won’t be the douche who edits it quietly and then claims to be right after the fact.

 

The biggest reason I do my own draft rankings is simply to give you my thoughts on the kids who could end up going in my mock so if you missed my top 62 list yesterday, all you have to do is click here.

 

SPOILER ALERT: Here is exactly what is going to happen in tomorrow night’s draft.

 

1. Jack Hughes

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 41  G: 23  A: 63  P: 86

DOB: 05/14/01

Comparison: Patrick Kane

SOH Rank: 1st tier, 2nd overall

I can make an argument for Kakko, and I can make an argument for Byram.  But it’ll be Hughes.  He is WELL worthy of the pick, but the deciding factor is that Hughes is going to be a very marketable player and the Devils have a difficult time filling the building.  I do wonder if it was just Kakko at the top if there would be a hot debate right now about what the Devils are going to do between Kakko and Byram.  But that’s not the case.  A highlight reel American born player is going to sell a lot of tickets.

Other options: Kaapo Kakko – he’s not quite the exciting player, but he won’t have to alter his game any and therefore might be the better pro.

Who I’d pick: Jack Hughes – assuming I’m the Devils GM.  And if I’m the Devils GM, I have an owner who has ticket sales to worry about.  Bowen Byram doesn’t fill the seats like Hughes will.

2. Kaapo Kakko

Team: TPS  League: Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 45  G: 22  A: 16  P: 38

DOB: 02/13/01

Comparison: Marian Hossa

SOH Rank: 1st tier, 3rd overall

They’ll take Kakko and be thrilled about it, really no need to go into great detail about it.  They still need a stud number one centre moving forward, but with the Rangers they can always wait for someone to possibly spring available as long as they don’t destroy their cap moving forward.  They’re in a great situation.

Other options: None

Who I’d pick: Bowen Byram – MSG is sold out every night.  Their actual need this high is actually a franchise centre, so maybe Turcotte, but not with the 2nd pick.  They secured four real good D-men in the last 12 months, and they do have a need for Kakko, but I just couldn’t pass up a kid who I see as a legitimate number one D-man.

3. Alex Turcotte

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 186  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 30  G: 23  A: 30  P: 53

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Logan Couture

SOH Rank: 2nd tier, 4th overall

This is where the draft begins.  This pick is very likely to be Turcotte if you look at recent history.  In 2016, did anyone (other than a very select few including myself may I very arrogantly and annoyingly add) expect the Blue Jackets to pass on Puljujarvi and select a centre?  But they did so because of how difficult it is to acquire a 1st line centre.  In 2018, did anyone expect Arizona to take Barrett Hayton at 5?  But they did because they had to grab him there.  If they didn’t there, they weren’t getting him.  Now, the latter was a big mistake, but the former wasn’t and I put Turcotte into that same class.  I can’t stress enough how close I was to putting Turcotte into my first tier.  This kid is very likely going to be the next Jonathan Toews for this club, or what Bergeron is for the Bruins, or O’Reilly was to the Blues, Kopitar, Barkov, go down the list.  That either 1st line or 2nd line centre (it’ll depend on the offence) who can play in any situation.  And as much as people will scream for the Hawks to take Byram because they can then “trade for that guy”, you can’t.  Every once in a blue moon a guy like Seguin or O’Reilly becomes available, but 1st line centres and number one D-men are just damn near impossible to find.  And even though I have Byram 1st, I’ve always felt as though you NEED stud centres, you don’t NEED stud defencemen to win a Cup.

Other options: Bowen Byram – it’ll be an interesting decision, but I feel most, if not all, have this to be a lot more of a neck and neck race between Turcotte and Byram than I do (even though I love Turcotte).

Who I’d pick: Bowen Byram – I know what I’ve said to this point, but the fact is that I just believe Byram is going to be a Norris level defenceman while I worry Turcotte tops out as an elite 2nd line centre just like the guy I compare him with.

4. Bowen Byram

Team: Vancouver  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 26  A: 45  P: 71

DOB: 06/13/01

Comparison: Scott Niedermayer

SOH Rank: 1st tier, 1st overall

This pick formerly belonged to the Sens, acquired by the Avs in the Matt Duchene/Kyle Turris trade.  What a gift if Byram gets to four, and what a blueline the Avs would now boast.  Scary good.  I know they need some help up front, but unless MAYBE there would be a choice between Turcotte and Byram, you take the stud D-man here and run.  And no, I wouldn’t then trade Tyson Barrie.  They have a ton of cap space to add this summer, not to mention some very good still developing forwards.

Other options: Kirby Dach – it wouldn’t stun me if the Avs went Dach over Byram.  Dach has the talent to be an elite centre in the NHL, and the Avs have a big lack of depth up front in the organization, not to mention a terrific blueline moving forward without Byram

Who I’d pick: Bowen Byram – I think you all know how I feel about him by this point!

5. Kirby Dach 

Team: Saskatoon  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 25  A: 48  P: 73

DOB: 01/21/01

Comparison: Ryan Getzlaf

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 5th overall

One of my favourite predictions for a long time now has been predicting an OHL kid to the Kings.  But there isn’t an OHL kid in sight, so they need to look elsewhere.  So I’m now looking to fill a need (within reason of course, no reach) and a type they prefer and even though the Kings have been loud about wanting to greatly improve their team speed I just don’t think they can pass up Dach’s potential here.  The knock’s on Dach were the exact same as the knocks on Draisaitl, on a similarly skilled P.A. Raiders team, and he’s turned out ok.  Plus as I laid out with Turcotte, teams are going to go after the potential first line centres when they can.

Other options: Trevor Zegras – if speed is their big desire then he makes more sense for them than Dach.

Who I’d pick: Kirby Dach – I got him 5th and with Kopitar and Carter on the back nine in their career’s, they need a potential replacement.

6. Vasili Podkolzin

Team: St. Petersburg  League: MHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 26  G: 8  A: 5  P: 13

DOB: 06/24/01

Comparison: Gabriel Landeskog

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 8th overall

On one hand, the Wings shouldn’t be taking another winger at six.  They’re set on the wings.  But on the other hand, Podkolzin is a different type of winger.  One that is much more difficult to find.  And you have a new GM who has all the job security in the world (so he can afford to wait the two years) and has had more success drafting Russian born players than anyone else over the last decade.  I think this makes a ton of sense.   Let’s not sleep on them trading down though.  Yzerman has done it a lot in the past, and if you look at their NEED, it’s on the blueline and it would be a pretty bad reach to take one at least in the top nine (HINT HINT TO ANYONE WHO IS THINKING OF MAKING SUCH A HORRIFIC DECISION…).

Other options: Trevor Zegras – if we’re talking need, they still need certainty down the middle.  Larkin is great, and I still love Joe Veleno.  But to assume you’re set with those two would be bad management.

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – as we inch closer to Friday, it doesn’t sound like Krebs is getting much love before 10 and I can’t figure out why.  I fully understand he has the Achilles injury, but if you’re drafting any of these kids past two to play next season you’re likely not a good organization.

7. Trevor Zegras

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 173  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 54  G: 26  A: 52  P: 78

DOB: 03/20/01

Comparison: Mathew Barzal

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 7th overall

Much like the Wings, the Sabres big need is on the blueline.  But barring a trade back, it would be a bad reach to take one at this point in the draft.  So I’m going to suggest what most are which is that they take the hometown kid.  The Sabres all of a sudden don’t look anywhere near as set at centre as they did this time last year.  Mittlestadt really struggled this season, and of course they got next to nothing in return for one of the best two-way centres in the game.

Other options: Philip Broberg – I am very likely dreaming here, but they do need to continue adding to their blueline and I’m not a fan of how they draft.  So…maybe?

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – not only tops on my board, but it’s an organization that could really use the intangibles Krebs brings to the table.

8. Dylan Cozens 

Team: Lethbridge  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 185  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 34  A: 50  P: 84

DOB: 02/09/01

Comparison: Chris Kreider

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 9th overall

So here is my theory as to what is happening: the Oilers really like Broberg, but not with the 8th pick.  I believe what is happening is that the Oilers are looking to trade back (possibly as far as 19, and seeing who that would be with, likely to shed some contracts) and with a lower pick, the Oilers would take Broberg.  If they can’t make a deal however, it now doesn’t sound as though they’re going to make a pick that will have the fan base losing its collective skulls.  We should also keep in mind that Bob Stauffer is where this Broberg shit kind of started, and Stauffer isn’t as plugged into what the Oilers are doing in the draft as some believe.  He was certain they were taking Val Nichushkin in 2013 for example.  Trading back, especially if it sheds salary, is a terrific idea!  In my opinion, they could probably trade back as far as 13 and land a winger that they desperately need.  If they keep the 8th pick, it does now sound like they’ll make a much more rational decision than what was being bandied about.  Cozens (especially with Puljujarvi on his way out) would be a perfect fit for what this team needs.  As everyone is stressing, he’s not a centre.  Looking at things down the line, he’s going to thrive on the wing.  Darcy McLeod suggested on Twitter yesterday that Holland should package Puljujarvi with this pick and look to move up to four if the Hawks pass on Byram (as I and most people have it).  That makes a TON of sense for both sides and if you have to add a little more if you’re Ken Holland, you do it.  You should know by now what I think of Bowen Byram.

Other options: Philip Broberg – this is still a very terrifying possibility.  Even if they trade back, the last thing they need is another LHD in the system, especially one who lacks skill and the ability to move the puck.  He can skate the puck, but he doesn’t move it well.

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – he is simply everything you want a hockey player to be.  All the talent, all the intangibles, and for some completely FUCKED rationale he is not even on the Oilers radar.

9. Peyton Krebs

Team: Kootenay  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11.5  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 19  A: 49  P: 68

DOB: 01/26/01

Comparison: Bo Horvat

SOH Rank: 3rd tier, 6th overall

Fuck.  I hate this pick for the Ducks.  Hate it because Krebs seemingly isn’t even in consideration for the Oilers, and I just know he’s going to be picked by the Ducks and torment them for a decade or more.  The dirty little secret about the Ducks is that they’ve maintained a terrific system throughout the years, drafted as well as anyone.  They do already have a couple of good centres in the system in Sam Steel and Isac Lundestrom, but if a kid like Krebs joins those two the Ducks could be set down the middle for a long time to come.  Then again, the Ducks could use Krebs on the wing.  Either way, I think this kid is going to be a star.

Other options: Matthew Boldy – was tough deciding which way they’d go as I would guess Boldy’s size would be pretty appealing to the Ducks.

Who I’d pick: Peyton Krebs – I believe I made my love for him clear…

10. Matthew Boldy

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 30  A: 39  P: 69

DOB: 04/05/01

Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk

SOH Rank: 4th tier, 11th overall

Boldy kind of falls right into the Canucks lap in this scenario.  Do they need another winger?  Probably not.  But do they need some skilled size?  Absolutely.  Boldy in a few years could be a perfect compliment to a top line with Pettersson and Boeser.  Or, imagine him doing the dirty work in front of the net on a PP featuring Pettersson on the half wall, Boeser on his off wing, and Hughes manning the blueline.  He is a terrific fit here.

Other options: Victor Söderström – he’s not a sexy pick at all, but he would be a terrific fit on their blueline.

Who I’d pick: Matthew Boldy – if things fall this way, I don’t believe anyone else makes sense.

11. Cole Caufield

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’7  Wt: 163  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 54  A: 23  P: 77

DOB: 01/02/01

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

SOH Rank: 5th tier, 16th overall

I have a tough time right at the moment trying to figure out not only what Philly might do, but where Caufield will go.  I fully anticipate tomorrow night twitter will be going ape shit because of a Caufield fall for reasons I laid out in my top 62 list.  But as I’ve said about Caufield, while I have my concerns, that shot is outstanding and I completely understand the attraction to him.  He’s a sexy prospect, and Philly under Paul Holmgren always make the sexy move (oh?  Holmer isn’t the GM, it’s Chuck Fletcher?  Sure…)

Other options: Victor Söderström – it’s been a few years now since the Flyers looked hard to stockpile defencemen.  They’re now pretty bare and could stand to add a high-end D for the pipeline.

Who I’d pick: Victor Söderström – I believe that’s the better move, but that’s just me.

12. Alex Newhook 

Team: Victoria  League: BCHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10.5  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 38  A: 64  P: 102

DOB: 01/28/01

Comparison: William Karlsson

SOH Rank:4th tier, 10th overall

I have a tough time getting a read on what Paul Fenton and his staff will do.  Filip Johansson was a very odd pick last year in the 1st.  They could use a D-man, and they’ve drafted centres with two of their last three top picks.  But Eriksson Ek isn’t progressing well, while Kunin looks ok, but not like a top end guy.  Newhook has the type of skill they could really use down the middle moving forward.  With Koivu and Staal both on their last legs, it’s vital they have a bit of a succession plan in place.

Other options: Victor Söderström – this is getting annoying how much I’m suggesting him.  He’d make a lot of sense for the Wild though.

Who I’d pick: Alex Newhook – I think this would be the right move for them.

13. Philip Broberg 

Team: AIK  League: SWE-Als

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 41  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

DOB: 06/25/01

Comparison: Jay Bouwmeester

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 18th overall

I’d say a very safe bet is that this is a D-man.  They have no high-end D-men in their system.  They haven’t used a 1st or 2nd round pick on a D since taking Aaron Ekblad.  I’m not as high on Broberg and others who scout independently aren’t as high on Broberg as NHL teams seem to be.  I do understand the intrigue though as he was dominant at both the Hlinka/Gretzky in August, and the U-18’s in April, not to mention the skating is outstanding.

Other options: Thomas Harley – I originally had Harley going here.  Same rationale obviously as with Broberg, but they’ve loved the OHL over the years too.

Who I’d pick: Victor Söderström – almost as if I’m suggesting he is falling…

14. Philip Tomasino

Team: Niagara  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 34  A: 38  P: 72

DOB: 07/28/01

Comparison: Jeff Skinner

SOH Rank: 5th tier, 15th overall

They LOOOOOOOVE them some OHL!  Four of their last top picks were out of the OHL.  Maybe a much more eye-popping stat, 14 of their last 29 picks 4th round or higher were used on OHL kids since 2013.  Damn near half, and if you include tier II Ontario kids, it’s 15 of 29.  So a safe bet is suggesting the Coyotes pick someone from the OHL, and the numbers check out with Tomasino, and the game checks out with Tomasino.

Other options: Arthur Kaliyev – after they took Hayton last year, it sure doesn’t appear as though the analytics have much of an influence over their scouting department.  If you’re looking at sheer numbers though, combined with where they love to take their kids, Kaliyev makes a lot of sense.

Who I’d pick: Philip Tomasino – I love this pick for them, feels like a kid their staff will love.

15. Victor Söderström

Team: Brynas  League: SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 182  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 44  G: 4  A: 3  P: 7

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Matt Niskanen

SOH Rank: 4th tier, 12th overall

FINALLY!!!  He no longer will be an “other option” or “who I’d pick”!  He is just extremely solid across the board, and even though he hasn’t showcased high-end offensive ability, I believe he has a very good offensive upside.  As for the Habs, I know they have some good D in the system, but they don’t have a guy at Soderstrom’s level.  They did a terrific job the last two drafts addressing their issues down the middle.  Nothing wrong with turning your attention to stockpiling the blueline when you can.

Other options: Cam York – a lot of similarities with Söderström, but a left shot.

Who I’d pick: Victor Söderström – you’ll never believe this…I like the idea of Söderström for them.

16. Spencer Knight

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 193  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G.A.A.: 2.50  Sv%: .906

DOB: 04/19/01

Comparison: Carey Price

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 20th overall

Normally I can’t stand goaltenders going 1st round, but Knight is without a doubt going in the 1st round this year.  Why the Avs?  Well, most in the hockey world believe in being able to blow a 1st round pick if they own more than one.  I think it’s completely fucked logic, but most think this way and picking a goaltender qualifies under that logic.

Other options: Bobby Brink – maybe the best pure scorer left on the board, and the Avs need scoring depth.

Who I’d pick: Spencer Knight – for them, I actually really like this pick.

17. Cam York

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 7  A: 26  P: 33

DOB: 01/05/01

Comparison: Mark Streit

SOH Rank: 5th tier, 13th overall

There are several ways the Knights could go, so it likely will just be a simple ask of who the best player is on their board, and I’m guessing that’s York.  They don’t have much in the system, but they’re REALLY thin both in the system and on the big club along the blueline.

Other options: Thomas Harley – same idea as York, could argue this one either way.

Who I’d pick: Cam York – he’d be a very solid pick for them.

18. Moritz Seider

Team: Mannheim  League: DEL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 2  A: 4  P: 6

DOB: 04/06/01

Comparison: Brett Pesce

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 17th overall

The need on the big club is scoring depth.  But the Stars need in the organization (a little to my surprise to be honest) is on the blueline.  They have nothing in the system, and Julius Honka appears to be falling out of favour.  If he is, then they have a massive need for a RHD, and a guy like Seider moving forward would be an excellent partner for a kid like Heiskanen, freeing up Klingberg to anchor another pairing.

Other options: Arthur Kaliyev – I haven’t been much of a fan of how they’ve drafted under Jim Nill…picking Kaliyev would be something I wouldn’t be much of a fan of.

Who I’d pick: Mortiz Seider – big fan of this pick if it shakes down this way

19. Thomas Harley

Team: Mississauga  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 11  A: 47  P: 58

DOB: 08/19/01

Comparison: Tom Gilbert

SOH Rank: 7th tier, 24th overall

Pick initially belonged to Columbus, moved to Ottawa in the Matt Duchene deal.  I think if I’m Pierre Dorian I just keep looking to add to this blueline.  I’m not the biggest Harley fan, but you can’t deny this kids skill set.  Nothing wrong with simply looking to take talent.

Other options: Vladislav Kolyachonok – not as skilled as Harley, but apparently interviewed much better and might be an even better skater.

Who I’d pick: Vladislav Kolyachonok – I got the sense in doing my homework for the draft that he has much more of a desire to advance his game and his hockey career than Harley.

 

20. Raphaël Lavoie

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 199  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 32  A: 41  P: 73

DOB: 09/25/00

Comparison: Alex Chiasson

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 30th overall

Pick initially belonged to Winnipeg, moved to New York in the Kevin Hayes deal, and now back to Winnipeg in the Jacob Trouba deal.  I had trouble with this one, but we know how much Chevy loves his big guys with a lot of skill so it makes it very difficult to think of someone else to put in this spot.

Other options: Ryan Suzuki – doesn’t at all feel like their kind of guy, but they have been searching for better depth down the middle.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – he feels like he’d fit the Jets perfectly.

21. Bobby Brink

Team: Sioux City  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 42  G: 35  A: 32  P: 67

DOB: 07/08/01

Comparison: Alex DeBrincat

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 23rd overall

The Pens don’t usually have a 1st rounder!  The last one they had was 2014 (Kasperi Kapanen).  The most recent one who is still on the roster?  87.  Olli Maatta was, but of course he just got dealt to Chicago.  Anyway, I believe they’ll love Brink’s skill, and he might not be too far away from being able to contribute.  It is win NOW mode in Pittsburgh, even if that window has closed, Rutherford is going to look for anyway he can to pry it back open for one final shot at it with Sid and Geno.

Other options: Ville Heinola – they have big holes all over, and Heinola is personally my top player left.

Who I’d pick: Ville Heinola – I just said it, CAN’T YOU READ?!?!?!?!?!?!  IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!!!  Sorry, I’m getting tired of typing.

22. Ryan Johnson

Team: Sioux Falls  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 52  G: 6  A: 18  P: 24

DOB: 07/24/01

Comparison: Jared Spurgeon

SOH Rank: 7th tier, 25th overall

This pick formerly belonged to the Leafs, acquired by the Kings in the Jake Muzzin trade.  Keep something in mind with this pick: the coaching candidates for the Kings were all old buddies of Rob Blake.  This pick would fill a need, but the big reason I like projecting it is Rob Blake played a long time with a man named Craig Johnson.  Craig Johnson has a son named Ryan.  Just remember that come draft day.  But by no means would this be any kind of reach, and fills a need too for this organization.

Other options: Vladislav Kolyachonok – they really need to rebuild their blueline, and he’s an OHL kid.

Who I’d pick: Ville Heinola – you know by now

23. Ville Heinola

Team: Lukko  League: Liiga

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 34  G: 2  A: 12  P: 14

DOB: 03/02/01

Comparison: Andrej Sekera

SOH Rank: 5th tier, 14th overall

I’m trying to look at this the way Lou will.  And I have a feeling that even after getting Dobson and Wilde last year that Lou won’t feel his blueline looks too good moving forward and therefore goes after someone else.  I don’t expect Heinola to go near as high as I have him ranked, and I’m well aware that Lamoriello isn’t doing the drafting, but he still feels like a good fit for what Lou wants in a player which is extremely high IQ, and isn’t at all worried about them being dynamic.

Other options: Tobias Bjornfot – most like him better than I do (not that I dislike him, just not at this point in the draft).

Who I’d pick: Ville Heinola – I’m higher on Heinola than many.

24. Tobias Bjornfot

Team: Djurgardens  League: SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 39  G: 11  A: 11  P: 22

DOB: 04/06/01

Comparison: Esa Lindell

SOH Rank: 10th tier, 44th overall

They don’t really have much in the organization on the blueline on the left side.  If you also look at their blueline moving forward, I see five guys with a hole on the bottom pairing, left side.  Bjornfot feels like someone who fits well for the Preds.

Other options: Alex Vlasic – if they’re thinking about LHD, they have lived off drafting from the USNTDP the last few seasons.

Who I’d pick: Matthew Robertson – obviously I have other guys ranked ahead of Robertson, but at this point of the draft (this draft anyway) I’d feel decent about drafting a little more for need.

25. Arthur Kaliyev

Team: Hamilton  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 194  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 51  A: 51  P: 102

DOB: 06/26/01

Comparison: Dany Heatley

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 31st overall

Believe it or not, this doesn’t have anything to do with his last name.  This organization is built on skilled size, and that is exactly what Kaliyev brings to the table.  I’m not a fan of his motor, but the Caps have had success with guys who don’t possess the best motors (Brett Connolly for example).

Other options: Pavel Dorofeyev – same idea in terms of skill, and Dorofeyev is Russian born, unlike Kaliyev, and we all know they’ve done better than most taking Russian kids.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – if they took Poulin, it would be the first kid the Caps have taken out of the Q since 2010.  It would be the first time the Caps used a 1st round pick on a player out of the Q since Reggie Savage in 1988.

26. Nils Hoglander

Team: Rogle  League: SHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9.5  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 50  G: 7  A: 7  P: 14

DOB: 12/20/00

Comparison: Mats Zuccarello

SOH Rank: 7th tier, 27th overall

Will the playoffs do anything to change the way they build their team?  Honestly, I can’t see it.  Treliving isn’t the type of guy to panic, which is why he is such a good GM.  Aggressive, yes.  But he’s going to stick to what he believes in and he believes in skill.  Hoglander is skilled and works his ass off.  Not big as you can read, and he’s not that fast, but he’s got a ton of skill and a ton of character.

Other options: Brett Leason – Craig Button put Leason to the Flames in their mock.  His brother works for the team.  I’ve also felt in the last few weeks that it feels like a fit too though I’m not exactly sure why.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – if I’m the Flames, I’m looking to get a little heavier which Poulin would provide without sacrificing speed or skill.

27. Matthew Robertson

Team: Edmonton  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 200  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 52  G: 7  A: 26  P: 33

DOB: 03/09/01

Comparison: Alex Edler

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 34th overall

I feel fairly confident that they’ll look towards helping their blueline with this pick.  I’m not overly confident that the pick is Robertson because if I’m the Lightning I want someone who can move the puck a little better.  Al Murray loves the CHL kids though and Robertson is the best on the board for most at this point.

Other options: Lassi Thomson – another WHL option who maybe moves the puck a little better than Robertson, though Robertson has the higher ceiling.

Who I’d pick: Matthew Robertson – with his size and skating combination, a team who develop as the Lightning do could get the max out of him, so for them, I really like this pick.

28. Ryan Suzuki

Team: Barrie  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 65  G: 25  A: 50  P: 75

DOB: 05/28/01

Comparison: Craig Janney

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 29th overall

We know they’re going with a forward.  I’m guessing they want a highly skilled forward.  Suzuki checks both those boxes.  He’s a kid who I have a tough time pinning where he goes as he plays such a perimeter game, yet he’s so talented, not sure how teams will be viewing his game.  The skill is there however to be a top six centre in the NHL.

Other options: Connor McMichael – also one of the most talented players left on the board.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – isn’t it fun how I keep saying I’d pick Poulin?!

29. Lassi Thomson

Team: Kelowna  League: WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 186  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 17  A: 24  P: 41

DOB: 09/24/00

Comparison: Anton Stralman

SOH Rank: 8th tier, 35th overall

Pick initially belonged to San Jose, moved to Buffalo in the Evander Kane deal, then moved to Anaheim in the Brandon Montour deal.  They get Krebs at nine, they will then look to shore up the blueline with 29.  That Ducks blueline isn’t nearly the beast it looked as though it was becoming just two years ago.  Thomson gives them a bonafide RHD prospect that they currently lack.

Other options: Drew Helleson – another righty D-man they might look at.

Who I’d pick: Lassi Thomson – he’s not flashy but I feel he’s solid and a great fit for the Ducks.

30. Samuel Poulin

Team: Sherbrooke  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 212  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 29  A: 47  P: 76

DOB: 02/25/01

Comparison: Andrew Ladd

SOH Rank: 6th tier, 21st overall

The Bruins need a little more size.  Keep in mind that when I call for teams to get bigger, I don’t advise they do it at the expense of speed.  There is no law that says you have to be one or the other.  Poulin has solid speed, but as you can see he has the heavy body that the Bruins need a bit more of.

Other options: Jamieson Rees fits them perfectly.  In your face, completely fearless, speedy, would be anything but surprising to see them pick Rees.

Who I’d pick: Samuel Poulin – I love the fit, and now I can quit saying this, although there is only one pick left…

31. Drew Helleson

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 194  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 4  A: 7  P: 11

DOB: 03/26/01

Comparison: David Savard

SOH Rank: 10th tier, 43rd overall

Pick initially belonged to St. Louis, moved to Buffalo in the Ryan O’Reilly deal.  They have a big need for RH shot D-men.  D-men in general, but specifically the right side is bare.  Helleson is a new school shut down D-man.  Nothing flashy, but the type of guy who could be the perfect compliment to a kid like Dahlin down the road.

Other options: Matthew Robertson – once upon a time their scouting staff took Oil Kings defenceman Mark Pysyk.  Does history repeat itself?  He is one of MANY options at this point.

Who I’d pick: Daniil Misyul – I love his wheels.  A team will need patience with him, but he already can fly and he’s physical, so to me the downside is he’ll play, and the ceiling is high.

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2019 NHL Draft: Top 62 Prospects

FINALLY, I have a new piece out.  FINALLY, I have my top 62 prospects list done.  FINALLY tomorrow I’ll put out a mock draft (normally I do five a year, this year, unfortunately, it’ll only be one).  I’ve been extremely busy this year working on other things.  That made my draft work even harder to get done to my perfectionist level than in years past because I was playing catch up.  I started working on this list around Memorial Cup time and figured I’d still put out two or three.  But again, I was playing catch up and literally JUST got this finished early this morning (it’s out at 8 AM MST, I’m writing this part at 12:10 AM MST).  And I’ll be honest because I was playing catch up this whole time and was up against it, I’m not sure it’s my best or even good work.  It’s still going to be much better than some shit out there though!

 

I don’t like this draft too much.  The top end is pretty good.  The very top of the draft probably compares well to a draft like 2008 where you have sure-fire All-Star players, but not generational talents.  Then around 16 (give or take) it really falls off into a group of talented kids with big warts, and then takes another dive around 25.  In time, I doubt we see much quality coming out of rounds 2-4.

 

As I always say around this point, I’m not a scout.  These rankings are much more like Bob McKenzie’s in that I’m not getting to see these kids as much as I need to declare myself a scout.  What I do is look through every quality and trusted write up I can find on these kids, every piece of video I can find, and then form my own opinion from there.  So I rely heavily on guys like Mark Edwards and Hockey Prospect (specifically the Black Book, if you’re a draft fan it is a MUST get, amazing every year), Future Considerations, even though I don’t normally agree with how he ranks his players I read and have big-time respect for the work Corey Pronman does, same goes for Steve Kournianous (who also does a good podcast that’s a great listen), specifically with the OHL kids a couple of great guys to follow are Brock Otten and my buddy Sean Patrick Ryan do great work and have great insight.  I couldn’t do my own rankings without these guys doing far better work than what I do.  But I will say I don’t simply take the averages of where these guys rank players and call it a day.  I have my own insights on what I’m looking for, so I take their reports more so than their rankings or opinions, couple it with what I’ve been able to see and create a list of my own (and as you’ll see, I definitely do MY OWN rankings).

 

What do I look for?  A lot.  First and foremost skating is most vital.  Skill is obviously extremely important.  IQ is huge though you won’t see me use “hockey sense” very much as I believe in IQ in general over “hockey sense” (theory being that sometimes players are so talented they might not have to think the game coming up, but if they have a high IQ that it will come).  I MUCH prefer playmakers to snipers.  Playmakers are often more intelligent players, and playmakers can play with other playmakers while it’s extremely rare that snipers work well with each other.  I’m not near the “sizest” that I once was, but still am likely more of a size guy than most seem to be.  One thing I will now value a bit more moving forward is players being NHL ready.  Reason being with ELC’s only being three years, a team shouldn’t be wasting the majority of the contract on developing a player, so I won’t be as hot as I’ve been in years past (last year, Serron Noel) on a player who is much more of a project.  When I dig into the numbers, I want to know who the damage was done against, who were they playing with, and what the situation was (ES?  PP?  SH?).  Something I’m not as high on as most is “dynamic”.  I get why scouts love it, and I don’t disregard it, but you don’t get style points in hockey.  If you can toe drag a junior defenceman, it really doesn’t mean much because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to do that in the pros.

 

Is that enough for you?  Well that is just what I like in my players.  After all that, I then look for five big things: Current production, ceiling/upside, downside, how the players game will translate, and acquireability (I’m making this a word).  I guess the most simple way to put it for “acquireability” is I put a higher value on assets or player types which are tougher to acquire mostly due to how difficult it is to make a trade in today’s landscape and how crippling UFA can be.  I don’t disregard wingers nearly as bad as I used to (2015, put Mitch Marner 7th in my rankings…OOPS…) but centres and defencemen are more difficult and more valuable pieces to land, so they get preferential treatment in my rankings.

 

I’m going to take a minute to brag a bit.  My comparisons are much more spot on than anyone else.  FUCK ME are there a lot of awful comparisons out there.  Craig Custance just did a piece for the Athletic on who the kids in this draft compare to and they were beyond eye rolling.  And in fairness to Craig, I don’t believe he was the one making them but he got them from someone who SHOULD be in the know.  I take my time thinking of them and try to get them as accurate as can be.  With so many people, it seems as though they take one aspect of a players game and say it reminds them of a player.  I need a lot more than one aspect.  And it doesn’t mean I’ll get them all spot on obviously, but I’ll put my comp’s up against anyones.  Other people BADLY need to clean that up.

 

Finally, I do tiering.  More people do it now thankfully, and I’m not sure why anyone wouldn’t quite frankly.  Do some scouts truly believe there is a definitive gap between every prospect?  There are so many cases where kids are so indistinguishable as prospects, that a team is bound to go with the biggest need within a tiering.  You don’t pick need over the best player available (BPA).  But you also can’t ignore team building, especially in a league where it is increasingly more difficult to make trades.  So you shouldn’t disregard which tier I have players in.  That is more vital in my mind then whichever number a guy is overall.

 

Got all that?  Let’s proceed.

 

Tier one

1. Bowen Byram

Team: Vancouver  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 195  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 26  A: 45  P: 71

DOB: 06/13/01

Comparison: Scott Niedermayer

I’m ACTUALLY going to do this apparently…Ok, so I don’t like doing things for shock value, click bait, any of that shit.  Hate it.  If someone is reading this right now and thinking that’s what I’m doing here, A) I don’t blame you, and B) just hear me out and know I’m not looking to sell you on it but just laying out why I believe this.  I’ll also say/admit, I don’t know if I’d have the balls to say this if I were a GM.  I think I would, but I’m not, I’m just an unpaid blogger with an opinion.  Byram isn’t going to be better than Hughes or Kakko next season (Byram should go back to Vancouver).  He might not be for his entire ELC.  But I do believe that in time, Byram will be the top guy to come out of this draft.  I personally see him having all the tools to be a legitimate number one defenceman, which is the most difficult piece for an NHL team to find.  The other thing in this is that Kakko is a winger, and I’m not sure Hughes can successfully play the middle in the show.  I find myself having bigger questions of Hughes playing the middle than I do of Byram becoming a number one D-man.  And if I really believe that, then I have to put him 1st on my list.  I could look like a complete jack ass for doing it, and I’ll be the first to admit it.  And I know some will probably draw a parallel between this and Chiarelli moving Hall for Larsson.  I get it.  But this is what I believe.  The kid has elite IQ, skating, vision, puck moving, escapability, gap control, engages physically, great stick, he apparently was one of the best interviews at the draft, the kid has it all.  You could be extremely nitpicky and say his shot isn’t the best.  A) teams are moving away from having that “bomb” from the point on the PP, and B) that is something which is easy to develop (not to mention he has a decent shot that’s very accurate already, it’s no muffin).  Then, of course, you have the fact that the kid was the leading scorer in the WHL playoffs.  This seasons Vancouver Giants squad weren’t loaded, and they went to game 7 of the league final, thanks to Byram.  It’s also not as if I view Byram as being a world above Hughes or Kakko.  I have all three VERY close to each other.  Think of the Blackhawks run and ask yourself “who would you rather have, Kane or Keith?”  You could debate that one all day.  For me, that would be extremely close, but in the end, I’d have to say Keith.  And in this case, I’m saying Byram and if I’m wrong, I’m wrong.  Worse things have happened.

 

2. Jack Hughes

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 24  G: 12  A: 36  P: 48

DOB: 05/14/01

Comparison: Patrick Kane

Me putting Hughes 2nd has nothing to do with disliking Hughes and everything to do with being THAT high on Byram.  But I will go back to the concerns of him being able to play the middle.  There aren’t many centres sub 5’11 in the league, and those who are can usually play an elite 200-foot game (Aho, Point).  Not to suggest he can’t, but he’s far from a certainty to do so.  Don’t get any of this twisted though, I fully believe he’s going to be a star and one of the most exciting players in the league.

 

3. Kaapo Kakko

Team: TPS  League: Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 45  G: 22  A: 16  P: 38

DOB: 02/13/01

Comparison: Marian Hossa

Hughes is a shit ton of flash.  HIGHLY skilled kid.  It won’t stun me though if Kakko is the more valuable player.  Kakko shows a lot of signs of being a complete winger which is why most might feel I make the Hossa comparison, but the comparison is mainly in regards to their offensive games.  He is an equally great playmaker and sniper who has a rare combination of elite skill and tenacity.  And like Hossa, Kakko is near impossible to knock off the puck.  The only knock on Kakko is his skating, but we’re not talking about it being bad at all, he’s just not an elite skater.

 

Tier Two

4. Alex Turcotte

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 186  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 16  G: 12  A: 22  P: 34

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Logan Couture

I have him in his own tier.  You thought having Byram first in my rankings was dumb?  I was SO close to having Turcotte in that same group.  The only thing that held me back from that was that I’m not sure if Turcotte can be a legitimate 1st line centre.  I feel extremely confident he can be an elite 2nd line centre, but I’m just unsure of what the offensive ceiling is going to be.  Man, I love this kids game though.  I have very little doubt he is going to be a centre who is capable of playing in any situation of the game.  A coaches dream.

 

Tier Three

5. Kirby Dach

Team: Saskatoon  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 25  A: 48  P: 73

DOB: 01/21/01

Comparison: Ryan Getzlaf

So I have a lot of insight on Dach that maybe others don’t have.  I’ve read things like people questioning his passion for the game.  I’ve been told by really quality sources (who have bashed Dach at times) that’s a joke.  The kid is a “nerd” for the game.  Knowing that I then get into the numbers, upside, comparisons, etc and there are a lot.  1) I get the concern of only 73 points in 62 games, but it really was just one long drought mid-season rather than inconsistency all season.  Not something to be proud of at all, but much more likely that something else was going on.  Another way to look at it is he had 70 points in 49 games, which is a 96 point pace.  He was great early, great in the 2nd half, and pretty damn good in the playoffs too.  If it was more spread out, then I’d be more concerned.  2) Let’s not pretend the Blades have a lot of help for him.  It’s definitely not the same situation as Peyton Krebs had for help, but it’s not great either.  3) He’s probably still more raw than most realize.  He’s 198lbs but when you look at him, he’s a very skinny kid.  He’ll be able to put on another 20lbs still without hurting his speed, and the added strength as he gets older could increase his skating ability which is already well above average for a player this size.  4) If you look at the numbers Getzlaf put up in his draft year, or look at the numbers Draisaitl put up in his 17 year old season (he was a late draft), Dach beats them both.  Another big centre his numbers are right in line with (even though it’s a different league) is Mark Scheifele.  I get the concerns, but I feel as though a lot of people are looking at him wrong.  Detractors who I’ve read want to make the case that his numbers aren’t matching where some are ranking him.  For me, I see him as a guaranteed 3rd line centre, likely 2nd line centre, and then the upside is enormous.  People always question why bigger players like Dach still get so much love and in a lot of cases overrated in the draft.  Well, it’s because the draft is chess, not checkers.  There are going to be guys in the late 1st, 2nd round, 3rd round, etc. who are close to what a Zegras, Caufield, Newhook, or Tomasino are.  Those kids are all great, but you can find them.  If Dach comes close to his ceiling, it’s a damn near impossible to find a talent like this.  How many 6’4 RH shooting first line centres are there in the NHL?  Two?  Three?  They’re extremely rare and unique.  Has Getzlaf ever been available?  Not that I ever recall.  Has Scheifele?  No, and it’s highly unlikely Scheifele ever will be.  Ok, I think I’m finally done and I know I changed no minds on this, but for me, this is why Dach is in my top five.

 

6. Peyton Krebs

Team: Kootenay  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11.5  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 64  G: 19  A: 49  P: 68

DOB: 01/26/01

Comparison: Bo Horvat

Consider the organization he has been playing with.  Teams could key on Krebs every night, he had no help at all, and he was over a PPG player.  And he’s a playmaker.  My rule with playmakers is that they have an easier time playing pro hockey.  The higher level of hockey they play, the more they find players who can think the game on their level.  Across the board, he does everything well.  Speed, IQ, vision, 200-foot game, very willing to get his nose dirty and play physical, he’s very complete.  And then on top of that, all the intangibles check out.  He’s 100% captain material.  I see Krebs as one of the safest picks of the draft, even after the Achilles injury he’s sustained.  I do wonder if he’s a winger or a centre in the pros, but he has such a complete game that it’s difficult to bet against him playing the middle.  For me, he’s a lock to play in the league as a top-nine guy, with first line upside.

 

7. Trevor Zegras 

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 173  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 27  G: 14  A: 26  P: 40

DOB: 03/20/01

Comparison: Mathew Barzal

I love this comparison because it’s as Barzal as you can get, right down to the combine interview and reading about how some loved him, some hated him.  He’s cocky, he’s flashy, he’s incredibly talented and needs to reign it in a bit…remind you of anyone?  Like the case is with Krebs, I wonder if Zegras will play the middle or be better utilized on the wing.  But with Zegras it’s not because of his wheels, but an opportunity to play with more risk.  Then again you could argue that playing the middle gives him more opportunity to create.  I understand the concerns with his game, he’s really flashy.  He’s a lot like Rob Schremp at the same age.  The difference though is Zegras can skate, where Schremp couldn’t.  Also, if Schremp came along today he’d be given much more opportunity than he was from 2005-2011.

 

8. Vasili Podkolzin

Team: St. Petersburg  League: MHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 26  G: 8  A: 5  P: 13

DOB: 06/24/01

Comparison: Gabriel Landeskog

I have to say, I absolutely LOVE his game.  He’s multi-dimensional.  His shot is elite, he doesn’t use his teammates as often as he could or should but when he does he displays outstanding vision, he plays in your face, he plays physical, he has gamesmanship which is very difficult to find, I love talents who are difficult to find and he qualifies as this.  The skating is solid despite what some have said.  It’s not pretty, but he produces good high-end speed and the foot speed isn’t an issue.  If I’m a GM, I’m not too worried about him honouring the remaining two years of his contract as most of these kids will need a year or two to develop anyway!  But in saying all of this, the bust rate of Russian forwards in the 1st round has me unwilling to put him any higher than my 4th tiering and 9th overall.  It looks as though Andrei Svechnikov will buck that trend, but even if he does he will still be only the 2nd Russian forward taken in the top 25 since 04 to pan out (1 for 9 previous to the 2018 draft).  Those numbers are too damning to ignore.

 

9. Dylan Cozens

Team: Lethbridge  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 183  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 34  A: 50  P: 84

DOB: 02/09/01

Comparison: Chris Kreider

By now I’m certain you assume I have a strong bias for the WHL kids with Byram 1st, Dach 5th, Krebs 6th, and now Cozens making it four in my top nine.  Truth be told, I’m so much more concerned about getting the list how I would pick it if I were the GM of a team that it’s only hit me after the fact that it looks like I favour the dub kids.  Trust me, zero to do with a bias, everything to do with liking what the four kids bring to the table.  Ok, Cozens.  I’m seeing people down on him.  He’s a winger folks, quit judging him on how he performed as a centre this season because he’s not going to be a centre.  He has three things that are elite which are his size, speed and shot.  That’s a winger, and combine that with a willingness to play a physical game, I see Cozens being a stud on the wing.  But again, if you’re drafting him, don’t do it as a centre.  He doesn’t seem to have the elite IQ, vision or 200-foot game to play centre in pro hockey.  Maybe that’ll come in time, but if you just look at how his game translates to playing the wing, I’m not sure how you still aren’t going to be sky high on him?

 

Tier Four

10. Alex Newhook 

Team: Victoria  League: BCHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10.5  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 38  A: 64  P: 102

DOB: 01/28/01

Comparison: William Karlsson

I like him a lot.  As I said earlier with Hughes, not a lot of sub 5’11 centres in the NHL and the ones that are all are terrific 200-foot players.  Crosby, Aho, Point, even a kid like Pageau.  Newhook I believe can stick in the middle though.  He shows a willingness to play that complete 200-foot game that everyone looks for out of their centres.  And while he’s only 5’10.5, he is already closing in on 200lbs which puts him around the same size as Sid.  Everything checks out with Newhook from a talent standpoint, the big concern obviously is he didn’t get to prove it at the highest of level’s this season.  I believe seeing him at the U-18’s put a lot of scouts minds at ease.

 

11. Matthew Boldy

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 30  A: 39  P: 69

DOB: 04/05/01

Comparison: James Van Riemsdyk

If you watch clips of Boldy, I’m not sure you see a guy like JVR.  But what I see is Boldy developing into that kind of player in the pros.  It’s almost an identical skill set.  Both are great down low, great hands, obviously the size, puck protection, Boldy isn’t an overly physical player, but he also isn’t afraid to play in traffic.  That’s JVR.  Boldy looks to be a very safe pick as he doesn’t have a big flaw, but I don’t know how high his ceiling is.  If his skating improves a little, the sky is the limit.  If it doesn’t, he’s still going to be a hell of a top-six winger.

 

12. Victor Söderström

Team: Brynas  League: SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 182  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 44  G: 4  A: 3  P: 7

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Matt Niskanen

I wonder we look back on this draft in a decade and all ask “how the hell did Soderstrom not go top 10?!”  I got him here obviously, 14th on McKenzie’s list, 13th in the Black Book, 11th for FC, 14th for EP, everyone seems to see him as a very safe bet, yet when you look at the tools he possesses this kid has a lot of offensive ability.  If that ever comes out in him, it’s not a reach to say that this kid can be a number one defenceman.  The problem is he didn’t really show it this season, and so pretty much everyone is left really liking him, but not loving him.

 

Tier Five

13. Cam York

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 7  A: 26  P: 33

DOB: 01/05/01

Comparison: Mark Streit

Another D-man who was expected to have much higher numbers than he did.  Is that a product of playing with a loaded USNTDP team, or is he failing to live up to expectations?  I’m saying it’s much more the former.  I have trouble writing about York because the prototypical puck moving D-man is difficult to write about.  Good skater, high IQ, moves the puck extremely well, not very physical but is willing to go to the dirty areas on the ice.  Assuming the offence will be there, he should be a very solid top-four D-man, but the stats suggest that’s not a certainty.

 

14. Ville Heinola

Team: Lukko  League: Liiga

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 34  G: 2  A: 12  P: 14

DOB: 03/02/01

Comparison: Andrej Sekera

Reminds me A LOT of Leafs 2018 1st rounder Rasmus Sandin.  He also lacked the high-end speed and flash that so many can get a little too wrapped up in.  The fact of the matter with both is that their IQ and puck moving are elite.  I personally love this type of defencemen.  I really regret not having Sandin higher than I did last year as they’re so composed under pressure and really quarterback the offence five on five.

 

15. Philip Tomasino

Team: Niagara  League: OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 181  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 34  A: 38  P: 72

DOB: 07/28/01

Comparison: Jeff Skinner

Another kid who has the centre/winger question mark, so I play it safe and consider him a winger.  So I speak often of my buddy SPR and what he has to say on shit (especially when it comes to the OHL).  LOVES Tomasino.  I don’t recall him being as high on a guy as he is on Tomasino, and that includes the love in we shared with Robert Thomas two years ago.  The thing I love about Tomasino more than anything is 72 points, 58 of them at ES.  Couple that with hardly any PP time and a slow start while playing on the Ice Dogs third line (just 8 points in his first 16 games), those numbers could have been off the charts.  The biggest concern moving forward with Tomasino is a willingness to go to the tough area’s on the ice and get his nose dirty.  Everything checks out talent wise though.  Speed, skill, vision, hands, motor, across the board he’s very good.  I’ve become a big fan of his, the only real knock I have on him is just that I see him as an easy type to find.  You take the comparison to Jeff Skinner for example, and he’s far from a guy I’d dislike to have on my team, but there are a lot of guys just like Skinner around the league and are found later in the first round and later in the draft in general.

 

16. Cole Caufield

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’7  Wt: 163  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 29  A: 12  P: 41

DOB: 01/02/01

Comparison: Mike Cammalleri

I get the love in with the goal totals (115 total this season), but this kid has a lot of concerns some seem to be overlooking, and 5’7, 163lbs aren’t big ones for me at all.  He doesn’t skate well for his size, his play away from the puck isn’t good, but the biggest one of all that everyone seems to be sleeping on is this guy doesn’t create.  And if you can’t create in lower levels, I really question if you can even stick in the show.  Look at the best snipers of the last 20 years (which, I’m certain it goes back much further, but let’s keep it simple).  Guys like Ovechkin, Stamkos, Heatley, Kessel, Cammalleri who I compare him to, Draisaitl had 50 this season, DeBrincat whom so many want to compare him with, none of them had anywhere close to this kind of disparity in their goal and assist totals.  115 goals is SEXY!  And 44 assists is…WHAT?!?!  Couple that with the kids centring him this season.  Hughes, Turcotte, or Zegras.  All of them have the skill to be first line NHL centres.  How do you not pile up assists playing with that kind of talent?  I know they’re playmakers, but it doesn’t mean that any of them are incapable of getting open.  All Caufield does is shoot, and he has a HELL of a shot, not to mention terrific hands, but that game isn’t going to work in the pros.  You need to be able to move it to create space for yourself.  But before the homers for him go ape shit, it’s not as if I got Caufield “off my board”!  5th tier, 16th overall, pretty high ranking for a kid with skating and playmaking concerns!  But he’s got much further to go than most are acknowledging at the moment.  Most have him top 10, some even top 5.  That’s just extreme to me.  But to each their own.  If you’ve read my rankings before, this shouldn’t be a shocker.  Two years ago I was down on Owen Tippett and Eeli Tolvanen much more than most.  A great shot can be developed, great vision can’t be.  Let’s not confuse “has him lower in his rankings than others” with “hates him” though.  I don’t.  I just have concerns and view him as more of a gamble than some do.  Trust me, I’m well aware that if he makes it, he’s going to be a BLAST to watch!

 

Tier Six

17. Moritz Seider

Team: Mannheim  League: DEL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 2  A: 4  P: 6

DOB: 04/06/01

Comparison: Brett Pesce

If you’re looking for the flashiest player in the draft…you shouldn’t look anywhere near Seider.  But if you want a safe, steady, top four defenceman then he’s your man!  There is offensive upside in Seider, but he has yet to really show that part of his game.  But he is a great skater, high IQ, moves the puck extremely well, good gap control, good stick, good on puck retrievals, doesn’t give up the blueline, everything defensively checks out.  And like I said, there is offensive upside with Seider.

 

18. Philip Broberg 

Team: AIK  League: SWE-Als

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 41  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

DOB: 06/25/01

Comparison: Jay Bouwmeester

Tough to rank for me.  On one hand, the size and skating combination makes him a 1st round pick.  But that is kind of where it ends.  So as I always say with a “toolsy” kid, I’d want to know how the IQ is.  He’s an incredible skater.  That alone makes him a pretty safe pick.  But he really doesn’t have much else in his arsenal, so while he’s a safe pick, I tend to believe he is much more likely to just hit his downside (number five guy) than his ceiling.  He is the type of kid I’d need to interview in an attempt to figure out how much he is going to work on his game.  If he came off as a highly intelligent kid who acknowledged what his shortcomings were and a desire to fix them, then I love him.  But that would also come out a bit in his game and it hasn’t to this point.  It should be noted that he did do an interview at the combine with Bob Stauffer and he came off as a pretty intelligent kid, but there is a big difference between intelligent and having the IQ needed to be an elite defenceman.

 

19. Vladislav Kolyachonok

Team: Flint  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 189  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 4  A: 25  P: 29

DOB: 05/25/01

Comparison: Braydon Coburn

Look, I know his warts.  He’s got plenty.  But I also know that he is perhaps the best skater in this draft and when a kid is THIS good of skater, he’s well worth taking a shot on because at worst he’s useful, and it gives him a very high ceiling.  From everything I’ve read too, he’s a terrific kid, one of the best interviews at the combine.  I look at the other kids in this area and I’m finding myself saying “he needs three years, he needs four years” etc.  I believe if you give Kolyachonok that much time, then you could end up with one hell of a player.

 

20. Spencer Knight

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’3.5  Wt: 193  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 16  G.A.A.: 2.21  Sv%: .903

DOB: 04/19/01

Comparison: Carey Price

I hate using Price as the comp, but it’s the only one for him as their games and demeanour are so damn similar.  A goaltender at 20 is pretty rare on my list.  It’s a combination of a weak draft year in terms of depth, and also that Knight is damn good.  He moves effortlessly in net and is extremely technically sound.

 

21. Samuel Poulin

Team: Sherbrooke  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 212  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 29  A: 47  P: 76

DOB: 02/25/01

Comparison: Andrew Ladd

Something that I see that others aren’t talking about with Poulin is he plays a pro game.  I love his intangibles.  He wore the “C” in Sherbrooke this season, he works his ass off, his playoff numbers (14 points in 10 games) indicate he steps up his game when he needs to.  But intangibles mean nothing if they aren’t preceded by ability.  His skating isn’t GREAT, but it’s good.  His skill isn’t GREAT, but it’s good.  You add it all up, and you have a very safe pick.  For me, I really wonder if given the chance to play with a high-end centre down the line that he’s capable of putting up serious numbers.  It isn’t as if he’s surrounded by overwhelming skill in Sherbrooke.

 

22. Simon Holmström

Team: HV71  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 193  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 21  G: 7  A: 13  P: 20

DOB: 05/24/01

Comparison: Joonas Donskoi

I have him higher than most, but only because most are scared off at the fact he missed most of the season with a hip injury.  That doesn’t bother me near as much though.  One of the best motors in the draft who has a very solid skill set across the board (skating, skill, IQ, size), I’m very willing to roll the dice on this kid in the early 20’s if not sooner.

 

23. Bobby Brink

Team: Sioux City  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’8  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 42  G: 35  A: 32  P: 67

DOB: 07/08/01

Comparison: Alex DeBrincat

Everyone wants to compare Caufield to DeBrincat because…it’s what people who don’t know what they’re talking about do.  While I rip on myself for not being a scout, the amount of research I do at least qualifies me to discuss things and have a valid opinion on guys.  Caufield isn’t DeBrincat, but Brink is.  He is small, and not a good skater, but this is a great kid who might will himself into a top-six role in the NHL.  His IQ, skill, compete are all extremely high.  But he is flat out a bad skater with maybe average top end speed.  I’m not down on him as a fan, but if I’m a GM I couldn’t justify taking him any higher than this.

 

Tier Seven

24. Thomas Harley

Team: Mississauga  League: OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 193  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 11  A: 47  P: 58

DOB: 08/19/01

Comparison: Tom Gilbert

This is tough.  I completely understand anyone who has him in the 10-20 range.  IQ, skating, great puck mover, and size.  Terrific D-man, right?  Well, he’s terrible right now in his own zone.  And it’s not just a case of a kid needing to be coached up defensively, there are a lot of nights he’s not even engaged in his own zone.  Add to that, he apparently wasn’t a good interview at the combine.  So for me, I’m scared.  There is a lot of talent, but it sounds questionable whether the kid has the passion he’ll need to get to the pros.

 

25. Ryan Johnson

Team: Sioux Falls  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 170  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 52  G: 6  A: 18  P: 24

DOB: 07/24/01

Comparison: Jared Spurgeon

Difficult to think of a guy who is 6’0, 170lbs, smooth skating and a great puck mover as a defensive defenceman, but that’s Johnson.  That was also Spurgeon up until the last few seasons, and Johnson also has the tools to make an impact at the offensive end of the ice.

 

26. Jamieson Rees

Team: Sarnia  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 182  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 37  G: 10  A: 22  P: 32

DOB: 02/26/01

Comparison: Sam Bennett

So I got Rees higher than most do.  Here is the thing: A) weak draft bumps him up.  B) Jeff Marek uses this all the time and I believe he got it from Steve Spott, but the line is “I’d rather tame a tiger than paint tiger stripes on a kitten”.  Yep.  Rees isn’t big, and he isn’t super speedy for his size.  But he plays IN. YOUR. FACE.  When you’re seeing comparisons to players like Marchand, Gallagher and Konecny…those are extremely difficult types of players to find.  And I make no bones about it, I put a much higher value on things which are difficult to find, and a guy who plays on the edge is extremely difficult to find.  I completely understand the injury concerns, but chances are a guy will tone it down as he gets older and wiser.  Some may question the stats, but some have also questioned the organization and coaching in Sarnia.  In both the Hlinka/Gretzky last August and the U-18’s however, Rees was terrific (4 points in 5 games in the Hlinka/Gretzky, 8 points in 7 games at the U-18’s).

 

27. Nils Hoglander

Team: Rogle  League: SHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9.5  Wt: 185  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 50  G: 7  A: 7  P: 14

DOB: 12/20/00

Comparison: Mats Zuccarello

A terrific motor, and a kid with a lot of skill.  I believe it was in the Black Book I seen him compared to Bobby Brink and when I read up on the two kids…yeah, it’s spot on!  Hoglander is a little further down my list mainly due to the late birthdate but for me, if you had Brink and Hoglander side by side or Hoglander ahead of Brink I absolutely would understand.

 

Tier Eight

28. Connor McMichael

Team: London  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 182  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 36  A: 36  P: 72

DOB: 01/15/01

Comparison: Jared McCann

McMichael put up good numbers this season, has good hands, good skater, high IQ, decent size, etc.  But the motor is just turned off far too much.  If the switch ever gets turned on though, someone is going to have a hell of a player on their hands.  I know people like his two-way game, but in what I’ve seen I see him being much better on the wing at the pro level.  But I say that only having watched a few London games, the U-18 games, and highlight packs of the kid.

 

29. Ryan Suzuki

Team: Barrie  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 180  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 65  G: 25  A: 50  P: 75

DOB: 05/28/01

Comparison: Craig Janney

If we are just talking skill, Suzuki has boatloads.  Terrific vision, great with the puck, it’s not difficult to see why this kid went first overall in his OHL draft year.  But he is strictly a perimeter player at this point and obviously, that’s a major red flag.  Maybe the most shallow draft since 2012 gets him up to 25 on my list (consider how much I value centres and pure playmakers), but I definitely won’t be putting him any higher.  Still, the talent is there to be a top-six forward in the NHL if he can ever get a little braver.

 

30. Raphaël Lavoie

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 199  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 62  G: 32  A: 41  P: 73

DOB: 09/25/00

Comparison: Alex Chiasson

Much like Suzuki which is why most have them ranked side by side like this. I don’t really love the idea of comparing him to another francophone (feels extremely lazy), but if you dig into it they’re extremely similar skill sets.  Neither is a great skater, but both have tremendous size and ability to protect the puck, both have heavy shots, and while Chiasson is more of a shooter now in his years at BU he consistently had higher assist totals.  So while I’m not certain I LOVE the comparison of Lavoie to Chiasson at this moment, I feel as though what we saw out of Chiasson this season could be what Savoie becomes if he is to have a successful NHL career.

 

31. Arthur Kaliyev

Team: Hamilton  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 194  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 67  G: 51  A: 51  P: 102

DOB: 06/26/01

Comparison: Dany Heatley

So good, but so lazy, and I have massive concerns that this kid isn’t going to ever put in the work to make the NHL.  Look at those numbers though, you can’t blame anyone who ranks him top 20.  He’s not an OA, didn’t live off playing with another star, and didn’t do it in a joke of a league.

 

32. Pavel Dorofeyev

Team: Magnitogorsk  League: MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 19  G: 17  A: 14  P: 31

DOB: 10/26/00

Comparison: Tevuo Teravainen

Yet another kid in this tiering who has terrific skill, definitely an ability to be a top six winger in the NHL, but a very questionable motor knocks him down to where in my books he’s a borderline 1st round pick.

 

33. Daniil Misyul

Team: Loko Yaroslavl  League: MHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 176  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 46  G: 4  A: 6  P: 10

DOB: 10/20/00

Comparison: Darnell Nurse

Might be too high, but this kid can REALLY skate and works his ass off.  I compare him to Nurse even though I still believe Nurse is growing, but if someone who wasn’t a homer for Nurse were describing him, it would be pretty exact as to how you’d describe Misyul.  The combination of speed, size and compete makes him nearly a lock in my books to at least play in the league.  If he’s given the proper amount of time to develop, who knows how good he can be.

 

34. Matthew Robertson

Team: Edmonton  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 200  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 52  G: 7  A: 26  P: 33

DOB: 03/09/01

Comparison: Alex Edler

There is also a lot to work with here.  Robertson doesn’t have the best puck skills and he doesn’t move the puck overly well.  But he is really mobile, as you can read he has good size, is great in his own zone, and is a very coachable kid.  To me, he’s a bit of a project because of the tools he possesses.  If I’m drafting him I’m giving him four years before looking to get him in the lineup.  You can’t teach elite puck skills or elite puck moving, but he doesn’t need to do that.  If he can simply get them to a level where they’re solid, he’s going to be a top four guy.

 

35. Lassi Thomson

Team: Kelowna  League: WHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 186  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 63  G: 17  A: 24  P: 41

DOB: 09/24/00

Comparison: Anton Stralman

There is nothing flashy about Thomson at all, but across the board this kid just does everything well.  These type of defenceman sometimes will surprise you because the position is so much more about high IQ, skating, and moving the puck then it is about flash.

 

Tier Nine

36. Mads Søgaard

Team: Medicine Hat  League: WHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’7.5  Wt: 199  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 37  G.A.A.: 2.64  Sv%: .921

DOB: 12/13/00

Comparison: Ben Bishop

Massive tendy put up massive numbers and gave the Oil Kings fits in the first round of the WHL playoffs.

 

37. Albin Grewe

Team: Djurgardens  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 13  A: 21  P: 34

DOB: 03/22/01

Comparison: Ryan Hartman

I love this kid.  And I know people hate a lot of the dumb shit he does, but at 18, I feel very confident that a kid can grow out of that.  To me, it shows he has passion and is willing to do whatever he can to help his team win.  And it’s not as though he’s unskilled or can’t skate.  Good skater, good skill.  Again, rather tame a tiger than paint tiger stripes on a kitten.  Once he learns to settle down a bit, someone could have a hell of a player.

 

38. Jakob Pelletier

Team: Moncton  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 165  Shot: LW

2019 Stats – GP: 65  G: 39  A: 50  P: 89

DOB: 03/07/01

Comparison: Connor Brown

Terrific numbers this season as you can see.  Skating deficiencies are the big concern with Pelletier, but if he can overcome that then he’s going to play.

 

39. Nick Robertson

Team: Peterborough  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 162  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 54  G: 27  A: 28  P: 55

DOB: 09/11/01

Comparison: Tyler Ennis

Very similar story with Pelletier and Robertson.  Really small, not a good skater, but the skill level is ridiculous.  Have to add, maybe the most unfortunate birthdate a person can have.

 

Tier Ten

40. Shane Pinto

Team: Lincoln  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 195  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 56  G: 28  A: 31  P: 59

DOB: 11/12/00

Comparison: Carl Soderberg

 

41. John Beecher

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 212  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 27  G: 6  A: 14  P: 20

DOB: 04/05/01

Comparison: Matt Cullen

 

42. Brett Leason

Team: Prince Albert  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 198  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 55  G: 36  A: 53  P: 89

DOB: 04/30/99

Comparison: Ryan Strome

 

43. Drew Helleson

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 194  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 4  A: 7  P: 11

DOB: 03/26/01

Comparison: David Savard

 

44. Tobias Bjornfot

Team: Djurgardens  League: SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 203  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 39  G: 11  A: 11  P: 22

DOB: 04/06/01

Comparison: Esa Lindell

 

45. Layton Ahac

Team: Prince George  League: BCHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 4  A: 28  P: 32

DOB: 02/22/01

Comparison: Brian Dumoulin

 

46. Alex Vlasic

Team: USA NTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’6  Wt: 198  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 27  G: 2  A: 13  P: 15

DOB: 06/05/01

Comparison: Joel Edmundson

 

Tier Eleven

47. Alexander Daryin

Team: Loko Yaroslavl  League: MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 159  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 47  G: 20  A: 15  P: 35

DOB: 08/16/00

Comparison: Kevin Fiala

 

48. Aaron Huglen

Team: Fargo  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 4  A: 10  P: 14

DOB: 03/06/01

Comparison: Connor Sheary

 

49. Alexander Campbell

Team: Victoria  League: BCHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 151  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 53  G: 21  A: 46  P: 67

DOB: 02/27/01

Comparison: Anthony Beauvillier

 

50. Leevi Aaltonen

Team: Kalpa  League: SM Liiga Jr

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 168  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 29  G: 12  A: 24  P: 36

DOB: 01/24/01

Comparison: Bryan Rust

 

51. Rhett Pitlick

Team: Chaska  League: USHS

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 161  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 28  A: 33  P: 61

DOB: 02/07/01

Comparison: Drake Caggiula

 

52. Reece Newkirk

Team: Portland  League: WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 68  G: 23  A: 36  P: 59

DOB: 02/20/01

Comparison: Andrew Shaw

Wasn’t commenting on any of these final 22 kids but I do want to say something about this one.  A kid who I without a doubt love more than most, probably all.  Reason being is it’s damn near impossible to find guys who are willing to be miserable “see you next Tuesday’s” to play against.  Teams need guys like Newkirk.  Some of the offensive damage he did was thanks to playing with Cody Glass, some of it was thanks to seeing softer minutes on his own line (again, thanks to Glass).  But 44 ES/PK points is still pretty solid.  Displayed a really high IQ when I’ve watched him.  Fully admit, 62 is likely going way overboard for ranking him, but I love kids like this and would bet big on him playing in the show some day.

 

53. Ethan Phillips

Team: Sioux Falls  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 150  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 50  G: 16  A: 27  P: 43

DOB: 05/07/01

Comparison: Arturri Lehkonen

 

Tier Twelve

54. Albert Johansson

Team: Färjestad  League: SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 40  G: 5  A: 24  P: 29

DOB: 01/04/01

Comparison: Alex Goligoski

 

55. Jackson LaCombe

Team: Shattuck St. Mary’s  League: USHS

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 54  G: 22  A: 67  P: 89

DOB: 01/09/01

Comparison: Vince Dunn

 

56. Jayden Struble

Team: St. Sebastian’s  League: USHS

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 205  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 28  G: 10  A: 30  P: 40

DOB: 08/09/01

Comparison: Nikita Zaitsev

 

57. Mattias Norlinder

Team: MODO  League: SWE-J20

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 30  G: 5  A: 16  P: 21

DOB: 04/12/00

Comparison: Ryan Murray

 

58. Patrik Puistola

Team: Tappara  League: SM Liiga Jr

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0.5  Wt: 175  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 25  G: 11  A: 11  P: 22

DOB: 01/11/01

Comparison: Brandon Pirri

 

59. Nikola Pasic

Team: Linköping League: SWE-J20

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 181  Shot: L

2019 Stats – GP: 33  G: 18  A: 18  P: 36

DOB: 10/16/00

Comparison: Pontus Aberg

 

Tier Thirteen

60. Hunter Jones

Team: Peterborough  League: OHL

Pos: G  Ht: 6’4.5  Wt: 202  Glove: L

2019 Stats – GP: 57  G.A.A.: 3.31  Sv%: .902

DOB: 09/21/00

Comparison: Mike Smith

 

61. Anttoni Honka

Team: JYP  League: Liiga

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10.5  Wt: 175  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 16  G: 1  A: 3  P: 4

DOB: 10/05/00

Comparison: Anthony DeAngelo

 

62. Maxim Cajkovic

Team: Saint John  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2019 Stats – GP: 60  G: 22  A: 24  P: 46

DOB: 01/03/01

Comparison: Jakub Vrana

Another kid I have to say something on.  Was top 20 for most (if not top 10) entering the season, got off to a HORRIFIC start, but did finish the season strong on an awful Sea Dogs team.  I really wonder if he wasn’t home sick and/or they did a terrible job handling him?  This kid has 1st round talent, and he might end up being the steal of the draft.

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