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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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Obliterating The Myth About Tampa’s Drafting

I feel my stuff can get stale.  I don’t feel at all as though I’m a great, or even good writer.  I feel as though I might have interesting insight, but just as a pure writer I’m not good and haven’t improved all that much since I started doing this.  One thing I feel I could do to offset that is speak on more topics that I can not only give interesting insight/opinions on, but topics that don’t get wrote about that often.  Draft coverage has really taken off in the last three years or so, but I don’t feel as though there is much in terms of writing on it.  Taking deeper looks at prospects, looks back, certain narratives (which I’m hitting on today), and looking at scouting itself.  So this is hopefully the first of many pieces I do on the draft.  I’m still doing my own rankings, still going to do mock drafts as I really believe that’s where I shine the most, but add more to the coverage in general.

 

So to start this, I’ll hit on what is perhaps my favourite draft narrative going today.  “Tampa Bay gets it because they don’t care about the size of a player, they just take the most talented kids available”.  It was during last season when this piece was really sparked.  Corey Pronman had said something on Twitter.  I can’t remember what it was, but something along the lines of “what would you like to see me write about on the draft”.  And something I don’t often do is read the responses, but I scrolled through those ones, and came across Ryan Pinder of Sportsnet 960 in Calgary asking him to do a piece as to why other teams don’t follow the Tampa model of simply drafting the best player on the board regardless of size.  So as a guy who can list off just about every first round pick in order and the team that took them since maybe 2008, and knows the history of the draft VERY well since I started writing on it in 2012, I knew the answer to this.  I loved it, because I absolutely LOVE taking the completely lazy and unfounded narrative and destroying it.  Pinder was the straw that broke the camel’s back, he’s far from the only one to think this way.  So I’m not going to waste anymore time trying to think of a witty transition and get right to it.  Steve Yzerman started working for the Lightning in the spring of 2010.  Let’s take a good look at their drafts.

 

2010

Now, before I begin on this one, this was Steve Yzerman’s first draft, so I’m going to talk about.  However, this wasn’t Yzerman’s scouting staff.  Al Murray wasn’t hired as of this time, and I doubt many of the scouts they had at the time were with the organization much longer.  But I will include it thanks to Yzerman being there.  They took Brett Connolly with the 6th pick.  Today, Brett Connolly is scraping together a real good career after appearing to be a bust early on.  If I had to guess, some of that has to do with his hip injury in his draft year setting him back a lot longer than most believed it would.  But this wasn’t a good pick.  And it wasn’t a good pick in the moment, not just in hindsight.  Going into that draft, the consensus pick for Tampa was Brandon Gormley.  Before you say “that would have been WAY WORSE!!!” keep in mind that this was pre-draft.  Cam Fowler shouldn’t have got past the 5th pick in that draft, and he was still on the board at six where they should have been all over him.  They took Radko Gudas in the 3rd round, easily their best pick of this draft, and took two players sub six feet (both 5’11), and none of the other picks ever came close to playing in the league.  Not just didn’t play in an NHL game, but rather of the six other draft picks made those players only played a combined 19 games in the AHL.  Not the NHL, the AHL.

 

2011

This was probably their best draft to date, and was truly the first draft for Yzerman, and literally was for Al Murray.  2011 was all them, and they crushed it.  Namestikov with the 27th pick, Kucherov was a grand fucking slam at pick 58, Nikita Nesterov at 148 played 119 games for them, at 201 (7th round) they got Matthew Peca who they weren’t able to keep this past off-season but is looking like an NHL regular, and finally another grand fucking slam with Ondrej Palat at 208th overall.  Even goaltender Adam Wilcox taken in the 6th round and 178th overall has played in one NHL game.  So every pick they made has played in one NHL game, five of the six have played over 100, and four of the six are regular NHL players.  So that is an amazing draft, easily one of the best all time.  But let’s look at the size which is the point here.  For my money, as a guy who has been bias towards size (much more in the past than I am now obviously), my cut off is 5’11.  5’11 never felt “small” for me.  5’10 was dependent on the weight, and 5’9 I would consider a guy “small”.  Matthew Peca is the only player who qualifies for that in this draft.  Great pick where they got him, but I’m not sure there is a team in the league that would have passed on a highly skilled guy who was 5’9 by the 201st pick in the draft.

 

2012

The Andrei Vasilevskiy pick is what is remembered, but that wasn’t their first pick, and they messed up their first pick in this draft just as they did in 2010.  Filip Forsberg fell all the way down to 10.  That was a HUGE shock at the time, and by the time the Lightning picked there was no doubt he was the clear cut BPA.  Much like Evan Bouchard falling to 10 for the Oilers in this past draft, it was that surprising.  Yet the Bolts passed in favour of Slater Koekkoek.  Something I wonder about in hindsight is if they had a philosophy early on that they wouldn’t allow injuries to affect their thought process on players as much as others would?  Because with both Connolly and Koekkoek, injuries derailed most of their draft years.  Anyway, they messed up that pick, got it right with Vasilevskiy.  This draft sure wasn’t 2011, as really the only players still kicking around are Vasilevskiy, Cedric Paquette and the controversial Jake Dotchin.  Keep in mind though, this was still a very good draft.   Not Yzerman, Murray or their scouting staff’s fault that 2012 was a bad draft year.  They walked out with a star goaltender, a regular, and a guy in Dotchin who is still going to be hanging around the league as long as he can get his weight under control.  Again though, I’m here to talk about the size of these players.  Nikita Gusev was the only sub 6’0 player they took in the draft (5’11, not small in the eyes of a “sizest”), and all but three of the eight picks were players under 6’2.

 

2013

This is the one that probably keeps them awake at night to this day, despite the success they’re having.  They walked in with the 3rd pick in the draft.  The top two picks for everyone were Nathan MacKinnon and Seth Jones.  But the Florida Panthers badly needed a big two way centre, and as we seen in this last draft and the 2016 draft, if you need that guy then you better step up and grab him early (Pierre-Luc Dubois to Columbus, Jesperi Kotkaniemi to Montreal, Barrett Hayton to Arizona), which as you know they did and took Sasha Barkov (and it was the right pick).  This left the door WIDE ASS OPEN for the Lightning to step up and steal Seth Jones at three…and they took Jonathan Drouin.  And hey, all these years later, the Canadiens may have bailed them out for the mistake by giving them Mikhail Sergachev for Drouin.  Sergachev has that kind of upside.  But if they had Seth Jones and Cam Fowler on that blueline already, this team wouldn’t have needed to pony up for Ryan McDonagh.  This team might have a couple of Cups already under this regime.  And while you can play the “what if” game with so many teams, we aren’t talking about hindsight here.  In the moment, with all three of Connolly, Koekkoek and Drouin were suspect picks over the players which fell to the Lightning.  Anyway, again they took nobody tiny.  Drouin wasn’t considered a great skater for his size, but he was still 5’11 (is what I had him listed at pre draft, now listed at 6’0).  If you include Drouin, three kids they took (six total) were under 6’0, though again all three were 5’11 which I don’t know who would consider 5’11 small.  This wasn’t a good draft for the Lightning.  Drouin over Jones was a big mistake despite it being somewhat righted (I’m sure they’d move Sergachev for Jones right now), Adam Erne is very close to playing, and really that’s it.

 

2014

Its about to get better…right?  Nope.  Anthony DeAngelo.  At 19.  When everyone had bailed on him as a first round prospect.  Now, it wasn’t a GREAT draft, but there were pretty clear cut kids on the board most, if not all, had ahead of DeAngelo.  And I’m not going with the “hindsight” guy.  Easy to say now that they should have taken David Pastrnak.  Pastrnak really didn’t stand out above any of the other high ranked/undersized wingers that this draft class was flooded with.  But Robby Fabbri, Kasperi Kapanen, and Nick Schmaltz PROBABLY would have been my top three on the board, and likely for most (this was the year before I was doing prospect rankings, just mocks).  Again, not hindsight because if you’re going hindsight then the pick obviously should have been Pastrnak.  One thing about DeAngelo though was that he was under 6’0 (5’11 again).  This is the draft that gives them the reputation I’m speaking on today.  They took Brayden Point with the 79th pick.  Didn’t take him 19th, or 35th, or 57th, no they waited until the 79th pick, but they did take him.  He was the only sub 5’11 pick they made, but they did take Point who I love, I can’t believe that he’s not only a centre but a tremendous centre, and is maybe the most underrated player in the league right now.

 

2015

Once again, nine picks in this draft, none of them have their full story written yet as we get into the years with prospects still developing.  But two players sub 6’0, no players sub 5’11.  Anthony Cirelli so far looks like a terrific pick.  Other than Cirelli though, they have a couple of “maybe’s”, but they were in the final that season and looked to have done ok as they normally do.  Hey, I’m not looking to bash their drafting, just kill a myth about their drafting.

 

2016

This one is my favourite.  Obviously I’m reaching here if I’m saying who they hit on and who they missed on for a draft featuring players who are currently 20 years old.  We have no idea.  But I love this one that narrative which in case you forgot is “the Tampa Bay Lightning are the best drafting team in hockey and its because they simply just take quickness and skill.  They don’t care about size!”  OH.  REA.  LLY.  They had 10 picks in the 2016 draft.  You know how many of those picks were both under 6’0 and under 200 lbs?  0/10.  Their first pick in the draft was Brett Howden, who projects to be a third line centre/Shawn Horcoff type player.  Undersized/highly skilled Sam Steel went three picks later.  Libor Hajek projects to be a stay at home, number four/five type D-man, he was the second pick.  Undersized/highly skilled Alex DeBrincat was taken two picks later.  Boris Katchouk, power forward.  Undersized/highly skilled Sam Girard was taken three picks later.  Taylor Raddysh, 6’3, Chris Paquette 6’2, Oleg Sosunov 6’8, Otto Somppi 6’2, Ryan Lohin 6’0.  The only pick…of 10…in the entire draft for Tampa who was under 6’0 was Ross Colton at 118 who was 5’11, 200 lbs.  If you’ve been reading and thought “sure, but what has it been like lately, that’ll tell the story” shit are you dead wrong!

 

2017

Again, let’s not for a second suggest we know after one damn year that we know how their draft went.  But Cal Foote was the top pick.  Cal Foote is 6’4 and projects to be a shutdown/top four D-man.  I believed prior to the draft that they wouldn’t pass on Timothy Liljegren because he was much higher skilled yet still a RH shooting D-man (which it seemed pre-draft to be the obvious need/want with the 14th pick).  And again, much like 2016, this team didn’t take a smaller guy until their fifth pick which was 180th overall in the draft when they took Cole Guttman.  Guttman and Samuel Walker were both only 5’10, but again I’m going to say that I’m not sure any team WOULDN’T roll the dice on kids of that stature late in the draft.

 

2018

This is insanely early to look at what they did this past June, but I will anyway just for fun.  The top pick was Gabriel Fourtier and he’s only 5’10, so a good start for the false narrative.  Then they didn’t take another skater who was under 6’0 (though they took 5’10 goaltender Magnus Chrona at 152).

 

Again, this exercise isn’t done to shit all over Tampa and attempt to make anyone suggest they’re doing bad.  I’d be an absolute dip shit to suggest that.  Drafting is TOUGH.  Developing is TOUGH.  For me, the Lightning are in the elite tier in this league when it comes to the draft.  I’d probably say there are four teams in that tier, and the Lightning are one of them.

 

Having said that…

 

The narrative that this club simply drafts skill and don’t care about size is a COMPLETE crock of shit!  They have hit on a few of those types in the draft, but mostly they draft similar sized kids at the same rate as everyone else.  They just simply scout extremely well as an organization.  Yanni Gourde was a free agent signing, they didn’t draft him.  Tyler Johnson was another free agent signing.  Cory Conacher was too and the truth is that after an impressive stretch at the start of the 2013 season he has essentially been irrelevant in the league.  They drafted Matthew Peca, and let him walk as a UFA this off-season.  I can’t stress enough how horse shit the narrative is with Tampa.  They simply do a tremendous job of scouting, and a tremendous job of developing.  Al Murray is their head amateur scout and one of the best in the business (we’ll see if he stays on now with Yzerman gone), and Yzerman was a tremendous GM for them.  That’s it.  Its not some magic formula.  Its not out of the box thinking.  Its just simply a well run organization.  If you want to rave about the way they draft, then what you should be raving about is the fact that they are always looking to stock pile picks.  That’s it.  They didn’t hesitate to trade the aging Marty St.Louis in 2014 while firmly in a playoff spot.  They got two first rounders.  They constantly trade back in the draft and load up with picks.  They’ve never had less than six picks in the draft under Yzmeran.  26 picks from 2014-2016.

 

So let’s just put the nail in this coffin, shall we?  They aren’t reaching in the draft to take undersized/skilled kids where nobody else ranks them and having those picks perform incredibly.  They really just took ONE kid over all these years who was really undersized (especially for his position) and has crushed it.  By the way, the Jets took Nic Petan in what was considered a better draft with the 43rd pick.  So higher than Point, where is the narrative that the Jets just took the highest skilled players on the board?  But because Petan hasn’t worked to this point and the Jets are big, they don’t get credit for taking the undersized skill guy.  So weird how that works…

 

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2019 NHL Draft: Top 32 Prospects

Welp…2018 is done, onto 2019!  That quickly, I’m onto the next chapter.  And part of the reason I am is because of how great the 2019 draft is expected to be.  You’ll hear people (who don’t know what they’re talking about) say “oh, every draft is supposed to be better than the last”.  No.  Some have been overrated, but for the most part you can see which drafts were expected to be good and which were expected to be weak.  Not that it hasn’t happened that way before.

 

2012 was expected to be tremendous a year out, and was viewed as a disaster by the time draft day 2012 was here.  We’re FAR from knowing how these latest drafts will pan out, but to this point 2015 was supposed to be amazing, it was.  2016 was supposed to be a bit below it but still great, it was.  Last year was supposed to be well below those two and 2018, it looks to be the case.  This year had a better high end than last, but I’ve never heard anyone credible suggest that the depth of this draft was overly good, and that looks to be the case, although time will tell on all of these recent ones.

 

The long winded point being here, 2019 is expected to be incredible.  Somewhere between 2015 and 2016.  You have a damn near generational talent at the top in Jack Hughes (brother of Quinn, shoutout to his mom who for some reason follows me on Twitter and I’m incredibly appreciative of it!), then to follow him you have a group of centres all with legitimate number one centre potential, some highly talented D, and some big power forward type wingers.  This is a lot more of my kind of draft, where the kids who are already near the top of the rankings are the type of kids that will fill big needs for organizations.

 

I’m not going to spend much time doing write up’s on these kids.  I only say anything about the top 15, though I still have the comparisons and hopefully that gives you all an idea of how the player plays.  Another thing is even though I rank them all, we’re a year out and so many of them just wrapped up their first year of junior, SO MUCH of this is going to change over the next 12 months.  So this is more of an introductory than a list which should be taken as the gospel.  We’re all still getting to know these kids, even the scouts.  Sure the scouts have been watching them for two or three years by now, but the real work begins this summer starting at the Hlinka/Gretzky Cup in August.

 

Tier One

1. Jack Hughes

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 161  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 27  G: 21  A: 33  P: 54

Birth: 5/14/01

Comparison: Patrick Kane

He’s a superstar.  The only question I have is whether he’ll play the middle or be better suited for the wing in the pros, but for me he’s not McDavid, but probably better than Matthews on the number one pick scale.

 

Tier Two

2. Kirby Dach

Team: Saskatoon  League: WHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 185  Shot: R

2018 Stats – GP: 52  G: 7  A: 39  P: 46

Birth: 01/21/01

Comparison: Ryan Getzlaf

Damn near a PPG as a 16 year old, pure playmaker, on a weak Blades team.  Higher on him than most at this point.  I just think with the combination of speed, size and vision this kid will be unstoppable.  And the cherry on the sundae is he’s a right handed shot.

 

3. Alex Turcotte

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 194  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 31  G: 8  A: 24  P: 32

Birth: 02/26/01

Comparison: Pat LaFontaine

An EXCELLENT playmaker and terrific skater.  Those are by far the two best qualities he possess…in a league that has evolved to where the two most vital traits a player can have are skating and playmaking.

 

4. Alex Newhook 

Team: Victoria  League: BCHL

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 183  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 45  G: 22  A: 44  P: 66

Birth: 01/28/01

Comparison: Pavel Datsyuk

Newhook is going to obliterate the BCHL next season…even more so than he just did.  Honestly, between Newhook and Turcotte at this point you can simply flip a coin.

 

Tier Three

5. Kaapo Kakko

Team: TPS U-20  League: SM-Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 207  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 38  G: 25  A: 30  P: 55

Birth: 02/13/01

Comparison: Rick Nash

Kakko is 5th, and I can think of years where he’d probably be the top pick.  That’s how great this draft is.  Size, speed, power, he’s a total package type winger.

 

Tier Four

6. Bowen Byram

Team: Vancouver  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 179  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 60  G: 6  A: 21  P: 27

Birth: 06/13/01

Comparison: Duncan Keith

This kid is tailor made for the way the game is played today.  I heard him described as “a bit undersized” the other day.  He’s 6’0.  Have we not been paying attention??  He’s got the ability to be a number one guy.

 

7. Dylan Cozens

Team: Lethbridge  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 176  Shot: R

2018 Stats – GP: 57  G: 22  A: 31  P: 53

Birth: 02/09/01

Comparison: Max Pacioretty

The native of Whitehorse, Cozens was named the WHL rookie of the year.  In addition to the great regular season, he also had an impressive 7 goals and 13 points in 16 games during the Hurricanes run to the Eastern Conference final.  Cozens is a good skater for a big kid with a hell of a shot and also goes to all the dirty areas.

 

8. Peyton Krebs

Team: Kootenay  League: WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 67  G: 17  A: 37  P: 54

Birth: 01/26/01

Comparison: Mikael Granlund

Incredible vision.  That’s the calling card for Krebs.  But he also has great wheels and can snipe, and at 172 lbs he’s really just scratching the surface.

 

9. Maxim Cajkovic

Team: Malmo  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 187  Shot: R

2018 Stats – GP: 28  G: 10  A: 11  P: 21

Birth: 01/03/01

Comparison: Marian Gaborik

Lightning fast with a bullet of a shot.  He’s going to be one of the most exciting players to watch in the years to come.

 

10. Victor Söderström

Team: Brynas  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: R

2018 Stats – GP: 16  G: 3  A: 3  P: 6

Birth: 02/26/01

Comparison: Tyson Barrie

Extremely active and offensive minded, and has no issues with mixing it up physically.

 

11. Cam York

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 33  G: 3  A: 11  P: 14

Birth: 01/05/01

Comparison: Cam Fowler

So I’m not going to bull shit anyone with this comparison, I really believe Fowler felt like the closest comparison, but I could have been influenced by his name being Cam, and hailing from Anaheim Hills California.  I don’t think that’s really it though!  I THINK its his game.  Because he’s a terrific skater who is real good offensively, but not necessarily elite offensively, much like Fowler.

 

Tier Five

12. Valentin Nussbaumer

Team:  EHC Biel-Bienne  League: NLA

Pos: C  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 159  Shot: L

2018 StatsGP: 26  G: 5  A: 1  P: 6

Birth: 09/25/00

Comparison: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Cerebral and highly skilled, he needs to pack on the pounds as you can read, but when he does I believe his game is going to go to another level and justify or surpass this ranking.

 

13. Tag Bertuzzi

Team: Geulph  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 192  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 41  G: 3  A: 8  P: 11

Birth: 02/18/01

Comparison: Brad Marchand

Todd’s kid plays an in your face style.  I maybe have him ranked higher than anyone else will, but these types of players are damn near impossible to find.

 

14. Cole Caufield

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’6  Wt: 154  Shot: R

2018 Stats – GP: 32  G: 23  A: 10  P: 33

Birth: 01/02/01

Comparison: Zach Parise

Ridiculous skill…goes without saying for a kid who is only 5’6.  I realize Parise wasn’t nearly this small, but the style is extremely similar.

 

15. Simon Holmström

Team: HV71  League: SWE-J20

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 28  G: 11  A: 19  P: 30

Birth: 05/24/01

Comparison: Victor Arvidsson

Much like with Bertuzzi, I just love the way this kid plays!  Speedy and completely fearless.

 

16. Ryan Suzuki

Team: Barrie  League: OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 172  Shot: L

2018 StatsGP: 64  G: 14  A: 30  P: 44

Birth: 05/28/01

Comparison: Brayden Point

 

17. Vasili Podkolzin

Team: Vityaz Podolsk U-17  League: RUS-U17

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2018 StatsGP: 21  G: 13  A: 17  P: 30

Birth: 06/24/01

Comparison: Artemi Panarin

 

18. Raphaël Lavoie

Team: Halifax  League: QMJHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 192  Shot: R

2018 Stats – GP: 68  G: 30  A: 33  P: 63

Birth: 09/25/00

Comparison: Dave Andreychuk

 

19. Arthur Kaliyev

Team: Hamilton  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 165  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 68  G: 31  A: 17  P: 48

Birth: 06/26/01

Comparison: Geoff Courtnall

 

Tier Six

20. Matthew Robertson

Team: Edmonton  League: WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 196  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 67  G: 7  A: 17  P: 24

Birth: 03/09/01

Comparison: Ryan McDonagh

 

21. Anttoni Honka

Team: JYP U-20  League: SM-Liiga

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 170  Shot: R

2018 Stats – GP: 28  G: 4  A: 13  P:17

Birth: 10/05/00

Comparison: Lubomir Visnovsky

 

22. Alex Vlasic

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 190  Shot: L

2018 StatsGP: 34  G: 4  A: 9  P: 13

Birth: 06/05/01

Comparison: Colton Parayko

 

23. Blake Murray

Team: Sudbury  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 179  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 57  G: 21  A: 23  P: 44

Birth: 07/05/01

Comparison: Tanner Pearson

 

24. Jakob Pelletier

Team: Moncton  League: QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 159  Shot: LW

2018 StatsGP: 60  G: 23  A: 38  P: 61

Birth: 03/07/01

Comparison: Nikolaj Ehlers

 

25. Matthew Boldy

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 174  Shot: L

2018 StatsGP: 34  G: 12  A: 23  P: 35

Birth: 04/06/01

Comparison: Jason Pomminville

 

26. Ilya Mironov 

Team: Loko-Yunior Yaroslavl  League: NMHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 198  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 15  G: 2  A: 6  P: 8

Birth: 03/15/01

Comparison: Janne Niinimaa

 

27. Case McCarthy

Team: USNTDP  League: USHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 194  Shot: R

2018 Stats – GP: 22  G: 2  A: 7  P: 9

Birth: 01/09/01

Comparison: Justin Faulk

 

28. Daniil Gutik

Team: Loko-Yunior Yaroslavl  League: NMHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 179  Shot: R

2018 StatsGP: 12  G: 2  A: 8  P: 10

Birth: 08/31/01

Comparison: Jakub Voracek

 

29. Robert Mastrosimone

Team: Chicago  League: USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 159  Shot: L

2018 StatsGP: 60  G: 16  A: 29  P: 45

Birth: 01/24/01

Comparison: Jonathan Marchessault

 

30. Nolan Foote

Team: Kelowna  League: WHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 187  Shot: L

2018 Stats – GP: 50  G: 13  A: 27  P: 40

Birth: 11/29/00

Comparison: Kevin Hayes

 

31. Josh Williams

Team: Medicine Hat  League: WHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 185  Shot: R

2018 Stats – GP: 47  G: 11  A: 9  P: 20

Birth: 03/08/01

Comparison: Chris Kreider

 

32. Ethan Keppen

Team: Flint  League: OHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 205  Shot: L

2018 StatsGP: 63  G: 10  A: 8  P: 18

Birth: 03/20/01

Comparison: Andrew Ladd

 

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2018 NHL Draft: Recap

The final blog on the 2018 draft.  I only wrote a combined 15 blogs on this years draft, not much at all!  Frankly, I’m a little burnt out from all the draft stuff I ended up doing this year and I’m not sure when I’ll get started on the 2019 stuff.  Oh, which reminds me, watch for my 2019 top 32 prospects list out later this week, possibly as early as tomorrow.  Why?  Because I have a serious problem, THAT’S why.

 

Ok, so this is the part where I’m going to get very egotistical/obnoxious/annoying/etc.  6/31 on my first round picks.  I’m good with that, especially considering three were outside of the top 10 picks.  I GUESS I got the position right on Rasmus Sandin too, a couple of guys I had to go to their teams in the first (Noel, Berggren) went to them in the second.  But those don’t count, so 6/31, but the one everyone else seems to judge their lists/mocks on is how many of those guys you had going in the first, went in the first.  Last year I recall guys talking up Sam Cosentino having 27/31.  Guys were talking up Bob McKenzie having 27/31.  Last year, I had 28/31 (which if you’ve read my stuff you’ve now read that too much).  This year by my count, McKenzie had 25/31.  I got 27/31 with my mock draft.  I felt with the way that first round ended up breaking, that was a pretty good number.  I’m not an egotistical guy, I don’t like people who brag, that’s not my intention here.  But I put in a SHIT TON of work with this stuff and I’m proud of it.

 

As I always say, this piece is done for fun and this year I even decided to get away from flat out saying who won or lost, good or gross, anything like that.  Sure, I’m critical of some and high on what others did in here, but I felt just simply recapping how I thought every team did was a better way to go.  I’m going to be VERY wrong on some of what I say here, and it’ll be funny as shit for the rest of you to go back and read in five years.  Conversely, it’ll be fun for me to re-read it in five years and pat myself on the back for the one or two things I’m right on!  We all win!

 

Anaheim

Didn’t mind it.  It’ll be a recurring theme on here with a few guys, but despite being a bigger Lundestrom fan than most, I don’t understand how you can like Lundestrom more than Joe Veleno.  And its clear the last two years how much they trust their Q scout because the next pick was Benoit-Olivier Groulx, which I again didn’t mind but felt they could have done better.  Blake McLaughlin has a lot of skill but off-ice issues.  I wasn’t big on taking two goaltenders, didn’t really like any of the late picks in fact.  It was an ok draft but just felt they could have done much better.

 

Arizona

People be hatin’ the Hayton pick, but they likely couldn’t trade down.  I have a feeling that Chicago was ready to pounce on him at eight, so if Detroit or Vancouver wasn’t budging there is simply nothing they could have done.  I wasn’t super high on Barrett Hayton, but I do understand the desperation for centres.  I really liked most of what they did otherwise.  Again like the Ducks, two goaltenders late rather than just one I’m not sure I’m thrilled with, but Kevin Bahl, Jan Jenik, Ty Emberson and Dennis Busby, really liked those picks and with rounds two through seven I’m not going to harp on the order they went in.

 

Boston

No first, only five picks overall, but loved their first two picks in Axel Andersson and Jakub Lauko.  I believe Lauko will play thanks to his speed, and Andersson has a lot of tools to be a pp QB someday.  Then Curtis Hall in the fourth round was well worth a roll of the dice, that’s where you take projects like him.  So for what they had to work with, they did ok.

 

Buffalo

They got Dahlin, so its a homerun weekend right there.  The rest of the draft was basically the scouting staff saying what they should have said last year which was “oh shit, we better load up on D because we don’t have many!”  Five of the six picks were defencemen.  I didn’t like the Samulesson pick at 32, but it wasn’t a reach either.  As for the last three D-men they took…hope they know what they’re doing because I had a lot of trouble finding anyone who even had them ranked.  Matej Pekar (94th overall) is a kid who could play in their bottom six someday thanks to a high motor, though not a lot of skill.  Again, they got Dahlin so its incredible for the franchise, but I’m not a fan of how they’ve drafted the last two years under Jason Botterill.

 

Calgary

Only five picks, but I do LOVE Martin Pospisil!  That kid seems like a piece of shit on the ice…and I mean that in a very complimentary way!  It was clear to me that their game plan was to just simply take pure skill and hope they could make something out of a pretty hopeless situation.  Of course the big news for the Flames was the trade, and I felt like they lost it.  Yet Brad Treliving did what he could with what was maybe a disgruntled star in Dougie Hamilton and two guys who were going to walk on him in Michael Ferland and prospect Adam Fox.  Noah Hanifin might be a kid who leaves people wanting more.  I don’t believe he will, but some worry he’ll never be more than what he is.  But even if he does, as I’ve said leading up to this draft with certain kids…a top four D-man who leaves you wanting more is still a top four D-man.  And he legitimately sounds thrilled to be going to a hockey market.  I really liked Elias Lindholm, but I worry about some of the stuff that’s now coming out about how soft he apparently is.  When he was drafted he was known as the Swedish Mike Richards.  But he’s been lacking Richards bite in his game.  I could see him really thriving on the Flames top line though, which is apparently where he’ll start.

 

Carolina

Speaking of Carolina, I may as well just continue talking about that trade.  Hamilton is an upgrade, and if they can extend Michael Ferland he’d give them an element they’ve badly missed on that team.  I feel they won the trade, but they won’t if they can’t sign Ferland and/or Fox.  As for the draft, Svechnikov was a layup as everyone except me had him ranked second at worse.  As for the rest of their draft, didn’t love it, though one kid I do really like is Luke Henman who they snagged at 96.  He has a LOT of weight to put on and when he does he just might take off.  They took 5’8, 145 lbs 20 year old defenceman Jesper Sellgren in the sixth round.  Interesting pick…

 

Chicago

Passed on Noah Dobson for Adam Boqvist…that was odd.  Over Dobson and Bouchard was odd in a way because I thought they’d love Bouchard if he was on the board, but definitely over Dobson.  Having said this, Boqvist is a kid I was still real high on.  But it was more so what they did the rest of the way is what has me loving their draft.  Nicolas Beaudin (27th), Jake Wise (69th), Niklas Nordgren (74th), and Philipp Kurashev (120th).  All of them are the Blackhawks type of players.  Some of them aren’t the best skaters, but they are all very highly skilled, can really move the puck around, and play their puck possession style.  That’s what makes the Hawks so successful in my opinion is because its a philosophy that’s organization wide.  So Quennville has the players playing that system, Stan Bowman looks for those type of players in trades and free agency, and the scouts look for those type of players in the draft.  You’d think that this is standard for every organization but it very much so isn’t.

 

Colorado

I liked the Martin Kaut pick, but I felt the same with that as the rest of their draft which I was just simply indifferent on.  Sampo Ranta was good value where they got him (78th), but the rest was just…ok.  Took three big swings on three Russians late in the draft, I will say I really like that because the Russian kids have tremendous skill so late in the draft is great spot to load up on them.  But nothing really stood out for me.  Didn’t feel like they knocked it out of the park with anything, yet don’t feel they did bad either.

 

Columbus

Liam Foudy at 18 over Joe Veleno, Rasmus Kupari, even Isac Lundestrom seemed REALLY weird if you’re looking for a centre…and by the way I don’t think Foudy is a centre (mind you neither is Kupari but if they figure Foudy is…), but it felt like they got really wrapped up in the idea of snagging the sexy riser in the draft and ended up reaching bad for him.  I had Foudy to go 20th to the Kings thinking someone was going to reach bad on him and I believe most scoffed at that idea, yet that was still not high enough.  And hey, I LOVE second round pick Kirill Marchenko.  That kid is a steal of a pick at 49 in my mind.  Here’s another tidbit though, and hey…we’re talking about a 7th round pick right now…but I hope they did their homework on Trey Fix-Wolansky because if some of the off-ice stuff that I’ve heard is true, there is potential for them to have some egg on their face for the making that pick.  Overall, wasn’t a fan of what they did, though again that Marchenko pick is one to keep an eye on.

 

Dallas

I liked what they did in the middle rounds (Albin Eriksson, Oskar Back, Adam Mascherin, Curtis Douglas, Riley Damiani), but that Dellandrea pick felt like a BIG reach to me.  Again, Veleno, but I just don’t know by what measure Dellandrea looks like the better prospect.  Had a better U-18’s, but better prospect?  Ok.  It kind of spoiled their draft for me, and I like Dellandrea!  Start of the year I was high on him and loved the idea of the Oilers snagging him when it looked like the Oilers were going to pick in the bottom four (seems like a LIFETIME ago).

 

Detroit

Its tough not to love their draft.  I felt like they needed to go D with that 6th pick, but how in the hell can you argue with taking Zadina who fell to them?  And then at 30 they got who I clearly feel will be the biggest steal of the draft considering I have Veleno 2nd on my list and they got him at 30.  They needed a centre and I think they got the best one in the draft.  Of course this could go two ways: Veleno thrives off being slighted like this, or it crushes his confidence.  We’ll see.  Jonatan Berggren at 33 was another big steal.  I had them taking him at 30, but obviously with Veleno still on the board…but then they realized they needed to grab some D, so their next three picks were all D-men, two of the three were righties, the other was Jared McIsaac whom I wasn’t big on all season but at 36 he’s got enough talent to easily justify in that spot.  Loved their draft, don’t know what else to say.

 

Florida

Well…I told you all along they’d be the team to grab Serron Noel…just didn’t know it wouldn’t be until the 34th pick!  That, even more so than Veleno for me was the shock of the draft.  Veleno I had a hunch could fall and only figured a couple teams may step up and grab him between 13-25.  Noel, I wasn’t going to be shocked if he ended up top 10 with his skill set!!  And they got him at 34, unreal.  He’s going to make a lot of people regret passing on him.  So Denisenko and Noel, combine them with Logan Hutsko at 89 and it really didn’t matter what else the Panthers did.  Great draft for them, and I’m the guy who’d argue they took Denisenko too high.  It doesn’t matter with how things turned out, and its not as if I’m not aware of how skilled he is.

 

Los Angeles

Much like the Panthers with Noel, Akil Thomas being there for the Kings at 51 was just absurd!!  He’s the one kid who I cringed at the Oilers passing on while taking Ryan McLeod at 40.  Is he a centre?  Probably not.  Is he potentially a 50-60 point winger?  Yep!  And I feel as if that’s a BIG mistake that some scouts make is when they get fixated on a guy being able to play the middle.  If you ask me, their top two picks of Rasmus Kupari and Thomas are both going to play the wing.  Bulat Shaffigullin is a Russian kid who is a project, but has a ton of tools and in three or four seasons could be a real gem.  Aidan Dudas felt like good value at 113, and I was sky high on Jacob Ingham so I feel like they stole him with their final pick (175th).  All the tools, just needs to calm his game down and have a shorter memory.  As for the Kovalchuk signing, it feels like a team that is desperate to hang on/terrified of the inevitable which is a rebuild.  I don’t know why Drew Doughty is going to sign long term there unless he doesn’t care to win anymore.  Then again, its not as if just because he signs the deal he can’t ask out if/when things start getting bad.

 

Minnesota

Felt they had an awful draft overall and it was basically just because of the first pick.  Filip Johansson at 24 was very odd.  Over Nils Lundkvist.  Over Bode Wilde.  I have to assume that for Wild fans it reminds them of the Doug Reisbrough days of A.J. Thelen,  Colton Gillies, and Tyler Cuma.  Its weird, this organizations first ever draft pick was Marian Gaborik who was a very exciting player.  Since him however, they’ve never had a very exciting pick.  A few guys like Bouchard, Granlund, Burns turned into one but really never was when he was picked or during his time in Minny.  But man, Johansson over so many players who so many had higher ranked, I’m not sure why you don’t look to trade back, and you can’t say you couldn’t because with the very next pick the Leafs traded down with the Blues.  Jack McBain with the 63rd pick was amazing value, but not enough to change this view on the draft they had.

 

Montreal

In 2012 and 2013 I felt they had great drafts as well.  In hindsight…it didn’t go well for them.  So take this for what its worth, but I really liked their draft.  Didn’t LOVE it.  If I had one criticism its that they passed on Bode Wilde twice in the second round.  But, who knows how high they were on Alexander Romanov, and Jesse Ylonen was no reach at 35.  Other than that though, I truly believe that just like in 2016 when Columbus showed some brass balls and made the right move taking Pierre-Luc Dubois (which I praised them for on this write-up two years ago), the Habs made the right decision in taking Kotkaniemi.  A centre who can play in all situations…it doesn’t matter if he becomes a legitimate first line centre, he’s the type of centre you need to win in this league.  After Ryan Poehling last year, Kotkaniemi, Jacob Olofsson and Allan McShane in this draft, I’d say they’ve got the centre spot looked after as far as the future goes.  Then they took Cole Fonstad at 128.  I feel like that’s a steal, that kid is going to play (by the way I see some have him as a centre?  No, winger).

 

Nashville

Didn’t pick until 111, didn’t really care for anyone they took, not much at all to say here.  Teams damn good though!

 

New Jersey

In my bias/homer opinion, Ty Smith was a straight up steal for them at 17 and a perfect fit for the continued effort to rebuild their blueline.  Didn’t pick again until 110, but like Xavier Bernard there, then took goaltender Akira Schmid at 136 and he was a kid who I really liked as a late round gamble as I always think you should do with a goaltender.  Mitchell Hoelscher is a kid I knew a little bit about entering the draft, but Mark Seidel told me he was sky on high on him as a late round steal and Seidel’s guy last year was Kirill Maksimov who already looks like a steal for the Oilers from last years draft.  Really liked what Jersey did.

 

NY Islanders

WOW!!!  Oliver Wahlstrom, Noah Dobson, and Bode Wilde.  I would love to credit their scouting staff, but how do you when stud kids fall right into their lap?  They really just didn’t screw it up.  I truly believe they got two top four RH shooting D-men, and the perfect sniper to play with John Tavares….should he stay.  Then you get the kid who most had as the top tendy on their boards in Jakub Skarek.  Even Ruslan Iskhakov, while he didn’t make my top 75, he was a kid I was up on and heavily considered for that list and don’t deny his skill just worry about the size to speed ratio.  But at 43, nothing wrong with that gamble.  They just simply had the best draft of any team in my mind.

 

NY Rangers

You know, they didn’t do too bad either!  Vitali Kravtsov over Dobson and Wahlstrom was definitely surprising, I wouldn’t have taken Kravtsov that high, but I do like him a lot.  I LOVED their last two first rounders though in K’Andre Miller and Nils Lundkvist.  For me (and trust me, this is basically just me), those two picks could be the backbone of their blueline for the decade of the 20’s (I can’t FUCKING believe that its only a year and a half until we’re in the 20’s).  All totaled, six D-men for the Rangers in this draft which I loved because that was the big need in my mind coming in, and they got a high end winger to pair with their centres they took last year, and lets not forget they have a damn good young centre in Mikka Zibanejad on the roster.  Its a rebuild that’s gotten off to a good start, but if I’m them I stick with this.  You got an incredible draft coming up, so keep stockpiling those picks, don’t do what the Rangers have often done which is deem the rebuild done after one good draft.

 

Ottawa

I wondered prior to the draft if they’d go with Filip Zadina as more of a PR pick.  Then they took Tkachuk, which could also be viewed as that.  Now, we’ll see if he goes back to BU.  Some think he could since it was the Sens who took him (that kid could really fuck them over if he chose with the option to go back to school and them being so vulnerable right now).  Then again, Nick Kypreos pointed out that it could be a good thing for the Sens as they then don’t have to subject him to the shit show.  They had an ok draft overall, and I didn’t love taking Jacob Bernard-Docker where they did, but having said that I love that they took both Bernard-Docker and his buddy Johnny Tychonik.  That’s a cool thing for those two as they now aren’t just going to UND together but now also to the Sens.  They could have done more, but they addressed the back end, got a type of winger who is damn near impossible to find, and took a goaltender late so I definitely didn’t dislike their draft.

 

Philadelphia

Again, as you’ll see with most of the drafts I’m down on, I didn’t like their first round pick, or in this case picks.  Farabee was a faller for most in the draft, and he felt like a kid who they didn’t need to take at 14.  Mind you, I had him going 16 to Colorado, so perhaps they felt that they had to take him there.  Jay O’Brien….I know Hockey Prospect really loved him from at least mid-season on.  They sold me on him a bit, but I still didn’t think he was worth a first rounder.  We’ll see.  Adam Ginning was good value, but they pretty badly need RHD in their system with only one in the system (Philippe Myers) and only two in the organization (Radko Gudas is the other).  They did take two after that, but not kids to get too excited over for the time being.  Not bad, they made their organization better, but it felt like they could have done much better than they did.

 

Pittsburgh

Only four picks so not much to say, but Calen Addison is SO their type of defenceman, and Filip Hallander will likely play in their bottom six someday, so they did ok considering they didn’t have much to work with.

 

San Jose

They took Ryan Merkley at 21.  I don’t need to say anymore to be honest with you.  Just horrible.  If you’re paying attention, while this club has picked a few nice players of late, they’ve passed on a lot of better ones if theirs haven’t busted.  If you’re wondering how the rest of their draft went, you tend to look for good value with the rest of a teams picks and I don’t believe any of them were good value.  Mind you, having said this, they have a tendency to develop a later round player or two in every draft so saying that could look dumb in five or six years.

 

St. Louis

I wasn’t a big fan of Dominik Bokk for them.  The problem with blindly picking BPA is that sometimes it’ll lead to selecting a ton of wingers.  While so many of you reading this are going to say “position doesn’t matter, make trades after the fact”.  Ok, but wingers aren’t worth near what D-men and centres are on the trade market.  Right now, the Blues have a lot of quality wingers to trade, but when you have centres and D to move it makes trading a whole lot easier.  I really believed a LH shooing D made sense from both a need and value standpoint for the Blues.  Sandin, Beaudin, Tychonik, Alexeyev, Ginning, obviously if they wanted to go value in my mind then Veleno would have been a smart pick, I just wasn’t a big fan of it for the Blues.  Mind you, Bokk is one of those kids who I think is going to be a LOT of fun to watch, but I’m just not as high on as others.  As for the rest of their draft, I personally didn’t think it was anything to get excited about.  I felt they reached on Scott Perunovich, and wasn’t really high on any of the other kids they drafted.

 

Tampa Bay

No first, but Gabriel Fortier feels like the type of kid they thrive on selecting.  Smaller, tremendous motor, he’s going to play in the league.  Dmitri Semykin has nice size,so I like that pick for them especially with how well they’ve done with Russian kids, and Alex Green at 121 could prove to be a real shrewd pick and both kids are RH shooting D so I view that as smart drafting when you target valuable assets like RH shooting D-men.  Felt they did ok as they always do.

 

Toronto

I liked the trade back in the first, I wasn’t a fan of the Rasmus Sandin pick.  I get that Kyle Dubas is familiar with him but over Joe Veleno…I’m not sure by what measure a team would deem Sandin to be a better prospect than Veleno.  And the Leafs have a massive need at centre in the organization.  Its not overly bad, if you’re going to miss I suggest you do so with a D-man with how valuable they are, but it wasn’t even a RH shooting D.  Didn’t like that at all.  Sean Durzi is and I was a lot better with that pick.  But wasn’t high on Sandin, frankly didn’t like the rest of their draft, and the Leafs (for me) were probably in my top five for worst drafts.  We’ll see though, I know analytics guys would have been high on a kid like Durzi, and were sky high on a kid like SDA even though he’s only 5’9 and can’t skate…

 

Vancouver

If you’re going D at the seventh pick, I’m just not sure how you go with Quinn Hughes over Noah Dobson.  If you want to argue Hughes over Boqvist or Bouchard, I get that one.  I don’t get Hughes over Dobson, and its not as though I believe Hughes will be a disappointment, but I believe they’re going to regret passing on Dobson maybe more than any of the other teams just simply because I believe they need all world kids to build around and Hughes…while being terrific, is going to be limited in my mind.  Which was kind of my “beef” (if you want to call it that) with him this whole time.  Wasn’t that I didn’t like him, far from it.  But I didn’t like him ahead of some of the other D-men.  Anyway, I thought they did ok with the rest of their draft.  Jet Woo could be a TERRIFIC D partner for Quinn Hughes down the line, Tyler Madden was solid at 68, took a goaltender late which I always like, so a real solid draft for the Canucks.  Just not sure Hughes over Dobson is going to age well.

 

Washington

They did fine.  I was pumped I called Alexander Alexeyev, and man, after hearing his interview after the pick I became an even bigger fan!  That kid just sounds so thankful and humble, he’s going to be a kid I’m BIG TIME rooting for (which is weird because I’m apparently racist against Russians…)  I felt like they maybe took Martin Fehervary (46th) a pick too soon, would have liked him better at 47 (good one eh?  This is why I’m not a comedian).  They did good.  I wouldn’t say they did great.  Loved the Grubauer trade though, very shrewd to turn him into 46 AND shed Orpik’s deal to help sign John Carlson, and from the sounds of it re-sign Orpik to a much more team friendly deal.  That’s how you GM.

 

Winnipeg

Didn’t have a first round pick, so that makes their draft tough right off the bat, but I liked all the kids they drafted and where they picked them.  Nothing shocking since I often rave about their drafts, but it was just simply my kind of draft.  Liked David Gustafsson, liked Nathan Smith, liked Declan Chisholm, Giovanni Vallati was very highly ranked at this time last year, Austin Wong is a bit of a knucklehead but can play, and Jared Moe (I know I’m out of order with the last two picks) is a tendy late.  You watch, they’ll have one or two players out of this with another one or two becoming real good prospects.

 

Edmonton

Well…I was loving their draft through two picks.  Bouchard was insane because he just couldn’t be a more perfect fit for what they need.  I believe it’ll hurt in four or five years to see Dobson, because I really believe Dobson is going to be a number one and though I do believe Bouchard can be that guy, Dobson does so many little things better.  But again, the fit and the fact he’ll very likely step right in next season was just too difficult to pass on and in my mind was the right decision for the Oilers.  Some will argue that he steps in, but he’s ready.  Most I think see the big shot and the elite passing and believe the Oilers would be just rushing him in because of how badly they need those things.  And maybe it is, but for me he’s got the three things I believe you need coming right out of your draft to step in and that’s a very high IQ, and both physical and mental maturity.  He’s on the top pp unit by January, he’s in their top four by March.

 

Ryan McLeod was the same type of deal, need and value.  I’ve never shut up about how badly they needed centres the last few drafts, and they finally got a golden chance to address it, and did.  He’s too much of a perimeter kid right now, but the kid is a hell of a player!  Work ethic isn’t questioned, real good size, plays 200 feet, great playmaker, this could be said for both him and Bouchard but if both guys can get just a little bite in their games these steals will be even greater for the club.  I wouldn’t be asking either kid to start getting into players faces and look to put opposition players through the boards.  But just learn to embrace taking some punishment.  McLeod talked about how big of a Ryan Smyth fan he was growing up, so my message to both would simply be to get some of “that” in your game.  Here’s something for you….we’re all talking about Bouchard making the team out of camp.  I wouldn’t be SHOCKED…surprised, but not SHOCKED…if McLeod made the team.  I’m not advocating for it, but just know that like Bouchard he’s played three years junior, has the size, speed, is good in his own zone, he could be ready as well and the thing is that this team needs guys who can play on cheap deals, and if he had a spot it would just add to their team depth next season by keeping someone on the farm with the ability to recall them.  Third line LW?  Fourth line C?  I could be wrong, but I believe the last two second rounders to make (and stick) with their teams out of camp were Patrice Bergeron and Ryan O’Reilly.  It didn’t hurt them at all.  It wouldn’t SHOCK me, not saying I’d bet on it though.

 

Then you have Olivier Rodrigue.  Now, I was very critical of it on Twitter because I’m sick of these kind of decisions by this organization.  I think back to David Musil, Mitch Moroz, the Griffin Reinhart trade, you know exactly why this team is doing what they’re doing.  Its possible that this was just simply a case of the scouting staff loving him, and they’ve NAILED IT with their goaltending selections (Miroslav Svboda isn’t in the organization anymore but is a real prospect, Dylan Wells has been well worth a 5th round pick, and then Stuart Skinner was amazing upon arrival in Swift Current last season).  So I trust them, but I don’t trust the higher ups and I really worry that this was their call.  Hope I’m wrong, and in no way am I doubting Rodrigue as a prospect.  I believe I had him 67th?  So right around that area, and the only real knock on him moving forward is his height.  He’ll put on the weight, he’s technically VERY sound, but is he big enough?

 

Fluke of the year maybe, I spoke on Michael Kesselring pre draft and speculated that he could be a kid the Oilers got their eye on, because it is clear now they have a “type” they’re looking for late in the draft.  Righty D-men who skate well, good size, have a high IQ, and are going the NCAA route so they have an extra year or two to allow the kid to develop before making a decision on him.  Kesselring has questionable “hockey IQ”, but I’m not big at looking into “hockey IQ”.  I just want to know if the kid is intelligent in anyway.  If he is, I’d be confident in him gaining the “hockey IQ”.  And for a 6th round pick, Kesselring has an intriguing skill set.  He’s close to 6’5, 191 lbs, and just simply a lot of raw talent.  Added bonus, next year he’s in the USHL (Des Moines), so they’ll have four years before a decision has to be made on him.  They’ve (in a way) gone three for three on these picks already.  All three picks look much better than 6th or 7th rounders.  Will any of them play?  I don’t know, but to me if you out play your draft position then that’s a win of a pick.

 

Finally, I know nothing about Patrik Siikanen.  I believe McKeen’s had him 200th, Steve Kournianos had him 254th, while Hockey Prospect (in my opinion the best scouting resource out there) didn’t even have a write-up on him and I believe they have scouting reports on 300 players.  Its the 7th round, so don’t get this twisted.  I’m not going to lose it over a 7th round pick.  BUT…I’m not sure what they saw in Siikanen to where they believed he was a better prospect than ironically teammates in Eric Florchuk and Chase Wouters.  Its flat out shocking to begin with that Florchuk was the final pick and Wouters didn’t even go, but I just don’t know how if the Oilers figured Siikanen was a better pick.  Forchuk put up 21 points in 28 games for the Saskatoon Blades after arriving mid-season.  Wouters is Mr. Everything on any team he’s played on and I truly believe will be a kid who ends up playing 500 or more NHL games.  Again, there is no point in freaking out about a 7th rounder for a team, but both those kids seem like much more sure bets than Siikanen, but I’d be lying if I said I knew anything about Siikanen and who knows what kind of intel they have on him.

 

The first two picks were so good, that it really didn’t matter how the rest of the draft went quite frankly.  Its a HELL of a draft that filled two very critical needs with players who were outstanding value where they got them.  And again, I’m critical of the organization for the Rodrigue pick, but I’m not critical of Rodrigue as a prospect at all.  There’s a very good chance that he makes them look shrewd and me look foolish just like Stuart Skinner did this season.  And I hated the move for Skinner for somewhat similar reasons and here I am, not in ANY way looking to hide from it and admit to this point I’ve been proven VERY wrong.

 

Follow me on Twitter @TJ_Soups

2018 NHL Draft: Final Mock

Its here!!!  It is quite frankly embarrassing how geeked up I get for the draft.  Can’t help it.  I know most love the movement that happens during the draft, and don’t get me wrong I do too.  But I just love to see how these teams build.  The draft is the most important day on the calendar for NHL clubs, and even though it takes 5-10 years to know the results, I love watching it all unfold.

 

If you’re new to my mock drafts, I’m going to take this time to brag.  Last year with my final mock draft, I was 6/6 to start, hit on 7 picks total, and had 28 of 31 going in the first round.  In comparison, Sam Cosentino and Bob McKenzie had 27 of 31.  I went 7/8 to start the draft in 2015, was all over Columbus to pass on Puljujarvi for a centre (initially I said Dubois, but figured by draft day they would move back) earlier than anyone else was (feel free to seek out my 2016 3.0 mock draft), and though I don’t like to put it in with the others, my third mock draft in 2014 I ended up doing the best I’ve done, hitting on 11 of 30 first round picks (the problem being that I did two more mocks after that and the immense trade talk around that draft really screwed me over, lesson learned).  I don’t like bragging (though you’d never know it from this paragraph), but I work my ass off on these pieces and take a lot of pride in them (although, expect spelling mistakes because I close to 5,000 words here and can’t catch them all).

 

Something new I’ve done this season is put the tier the player is in along with the ranking.  So normally beside a players name in the mock drafts I have where I’ve ranked the prospect on my top prospects list.  Now, I’ve put his tiering first, followed by his ranking.  So Rasmus Dahlin for example is in the first tier, and ranked first, so he’s listed as 1-1.  Filip Zadina is in the second tier and is fifth ranked, so he’s listed as 2-5.  Ty Dellandrea is in the fifth tier and is 25th raned so he’s 5-25.  If you don’t have it by now, I don’t know what to tell you other than you might have an ADHD issue.

 

Want to know more about where I’m coming from on some of these prospects?  You can read my thoughts on them in my Top 75 Prospects piece I put up just yesterday.

 

1. Rasmus Dahlin (1-1)  Frolunda  SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 185  Shot: L

Comparison: Drew Doughty

No point in changing this write up.  I don’t believe we need to spend much time on this one.  Jackpot if you’re a Sabres fan.  They were desperate for someone who could anchor their blueline, and they won one of the best D prospects of all time.  This was a DARK season for Buffalo, a terrific hockey market who don’t deserve what they’ve been going through.  Happy for them, and Dahlin is the real deal.

Other Options: None

 

2. Andrei Svechnikov (2-6)  Barrie  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 192  Shot: L

Comparison: Thomas Vanek

I worry about Svechnikov, but I’ve never denied his upside or looked to hate on what other people see in him.  And if he pans out the way just about everyone believes he will, the Canes will have a great combination up front (Necas and Svechnikov) to go with a lot of depth and then a terrific blueline.  Its funny, Dundon apparently wants to make dramatic changes, yet on paper it looks like if they just continue to be patient that they could be in the playoffs next season with tremendous potential to be a powerhouse in the years to come.  Winnipeg was the same way, and look how loaded they now are.  Dundon should be ecstatic that the heavy lifting has been done for him already.

Other Options: None

 

3. Jesperi Kotkaniemi (2-3)  Assat  Liiga

Pos: C  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Mikko Koivu

Its between Kotkaniemi and one of the D-men (I would highly assume Dobson).  A trade back sounds like something Bergevin would like to do, but come on.  I’ll believe one is capable of happening in the top five once it happens.  Twice in the last 17 years has it happened, once was it simply a trade back as Bergevin wants to do.  Once in 17 years.  He stays at three at makes his pick, and I believe its Kotkaniemi.  He’s the type of centre teams crave, a guy who can play the tough minutes while putting up 55-65 points a season.

Other Options: Noah Dobson

 

4. Noah Dobson (2-4)  Acadie-B.  QMJHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 177  Shot: R

Comparison: Seth Jones

What a mess.  Me being an Oilers fan, fuck, did we go through a lot of dark years (and still aren’t out of those woods).  But NOTHING compared to what the Sens and their fans are going through right now and I feel horrible for them.  Anyway, this pick is extremely interesting.  We still don’t know for sure if they’re going to keep it or perhaps look to swing a deal with the Avs to get back that 2019 first.  We’ll see.  But assuming they keep it, on one hand I could see them going with Filip Zadina for PR purposes.  Not that he’d be anything of a reach, but a kid who just lit the Q up and will step right in for the Sens in the fall might be something that just has to happen for the Sens.  But they don’t take wingers high.  They haven’t taken a winger in the first round since 2011, haven’t taken one with their top first round pick since 2006 (Nick Foligno).  Couple that with how bad things are all of a sudden looking on the blueline throughout their organization and I believe they’ll go with the top D-man they can get which in my mind would be Dobson.  He fits the bill perfectly for them.

Other Options: Filip Zadina, Evan Bouchard

 

5. Evan Bouchard (3-11)  London  OHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 196  Shot: R

Comparison: Larry Murphy

This is not a “good young hockey team”, it’s just a “young hockey team”.  They have a very long ways to go, and really can’t make a wrong move in terms of need no matter who they select here.  A lot of people believe it’ll be Brady Tkachuk, as did I for a long time.  But that is more of a PR move, and something I’ve learned in the NHL is to not assume teams are going to do PR picks in the draft.  For pretty much all these teams, not even the GM’s have much say in the picks, its the director or heads of amateur scouting who do it.  The blueline doesn’t look good moving forward, especially on the right side.  Even on the big club currently, Demers is getting older, Hjalmarsson is on the last year of his deal (I know he’s a lefty but he plays the right side), its not pretty.  And as Marek pointed out (and I hadn’t caught this so full credit goes to him), they LOVE the OHL.  11 kids out of the OHL in the last four drafts.  Its nuts.  So with all this taken into consideration, Bouchard is looking like a kid who makes all the sense in the world for the Coyotes at five.

Other Options: Filip Zadina, Brady Tkachuk

 

6. Quinn Hughes (3-13)  Michigan  NCAA

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’9  Wt: 168  Shot: L

Comparison: Phil Housley

So most agree with me that they should be taking a D-man, and Quinn Hughes was playing in their backyard this past season, so in this scenario he seems to make all the sense in the world.  But I have heard that they would prefer a forward here.  If Ken Holland were to take another winger with a top pick I might lose my skull.  They made a bad pick to this point with Svechnikov over a kid like Joel Eriksson Ek, and Colin White in 2015, and Michael Rasmussen last year looks good but I truly believe he’s going to end up on the wing in the pros.  You’re set on the wings (no pun intended), you need to start looking after the important shit Kenny!  So I really hope in this scenario, for the sake of Wings fans, its either Hughes or Boqvist….but I wonder.

Other Options: Filip Zadina, Adam Boqvist

 

7. Adam Boqvist (3-10)  Brynas  SWE-J20

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11.5  Wt: 165  Shot: R

Comparison: Kris Letang

If this is how things break, I really believe the Canucks will still take a D-man.  I know Canucks beat writer Ben Kuzma was discussing this scenario (or one similar to it) with his followers last weekend, but that’s where I’ve also got my stuff on how Jim Benning wants to go D with this pick.  The question for me is would it be Boqvist, or would they go what would perceived to be off the board with Ty Smith?  You’re in a spot where you can’t move back to eight or nine because the Hawks and Rangers are sitting there with three of Zadina, Tkachuk and Wahlstrom all still on the board and knowing they’re now getting one of them.  And if you go back to eleven you’re running the risk of losing Smith to the Oilers because it sounds like they’re obsessed with him.  So its yet another damn difficult spot for the Canucks, and I believe they’ll stand pat and grab Boqvist whom the fans would still be excited about and he fills a key need for them moving forward.

Other Options: Filip Zadina, Ty Smith

 

8. Brady Tkachuk (3-8)  Boston University  NCAA

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 192  Shot: L

Comparison: Keith Tkachuk

Well what a break this would be for the Blackhawks.  Their choice of three kids who I’d assume they love relatively equally.  Tkachuk though in my opinion can play that puck possession style they love to play, while giving them an agitating and power forward style of game they lack.  I know most would suggest that if it broke like this that Zadina would be the pick.  But I’m guessing in this scenario they’d have an eye on next season and next season a kid like Tkachuk is maybe more of a need than a sniper like Zadina.  I got the other options below, but I didn’t mention Barrett Hayton.  Word at one time was that they really wanted a centre.  He’s a kid who I could see a team reaching a bit on.

Other Options: Filip Zadina, Oliver Wahlstrom

 

9. Filip Zadina (2-5)  Halifax  QMJHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 197  Shot: L

Comparison: Nikita Kucherov

I’ve talked a lot in recent weeks about the noticeable amount of New Englanders with the Rangers both on and off the ice, which led me to believe that Oliver Wahlstrom is going to be their pick.  I think he is, if anyone (realistically) EXCEPT Filip Zadina were here.  But if Zadina gets to this point, how in the Blue shirt hell do you pass on him?  Wahlstrom looks like the goods, but Zadina is just simply better.  I don’t know how else to put it.  Will Zadina get here?  I can’t imagine both him and Tkachuk getting to this range of the draft, but don’t forget the 2012 draft which was also D heavy at the top.  Filip Forsberg was looked at by the Oilers for the number one pick (I don’t think all that seriously, but I recall they flew him in pre draft).  Sometimes, its just circumstances and I believe this is what we could see tonight.

Other Options: Oliver Wahlstrom, Vitali Kravtsov

 

10. Ty Smith (3-12)  Spokane  WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 176  Shot: L

Comparison: Brain Rafalski

Oliver Wahlstrom is still on the board in this scenario, and yet I think it won’t matter who might fall to them, they’re hell bent on taking Smith which I love from the standpoint of being an Oilers fan from Lloyd, but I don’t like it for the Oilers or Ty because if they take him while passing on someone the rest of the hockey world has higher ranked then he’s in for an uphill climb right off the bat.  It’ll be mixed for me, because I’m sky high on the player, I completely understand what they see in him, but over Wahlstrom?  And if not Wahlstrom, potentially Zadina?  Or potentially Tkachuk?  I don’t like any prospect entering the organization having to carry that burden.  Passing on Boqvist for him wouldn’t be so bad, but one of those three….I cringe at the thought for both the player and the team.

Other Options: Barrett Hayton, Vitali Kravtsov

 

11. Oliver Wahlstrom (3-7)  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 208  Shot: R

Comparison: Phil Kessel

How ironic would it be for the Oilers to pass on a talent like this and the Islanders reap the rewards.  First Mathew Barzal, then Jordan Eberle, and if you want to say they reap the rewards of just Peter Chiarelli he also gifted them Johnny Boychuk back when he was with the Bruins.  You think if the Isles got Wahlstrom after bringing in Lamoriello as GM and Trotz as coach might be able to convince Tavares to stay?  I’d say so.  Wahlstrom MIGHT be ready to step in this fall.  But at the max I’d say he’s ready to go for 2020.

Other Options: Joe Veleno, Vitali Kravtsov

 

12. Barrett Hayton (4-15)  Sault Ste. Marie  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 186  Shot: L

Comparison: Ryan O’Reilly

Originally Calgary’s pick.  Even if Tavares re-signs the Islanders still can use some strengthening in the middle and should use one of these two picks to do so.  If JT bolts, he’s a potential second line centre to do the dirty work behind Barzal.  If JT re-signs (and sure looks like he’s going to), he’s a perfect third line centre as I’ve described.  Of course in either case this won’t be for another year or two, but the Isles simply have nothing coming at centre, so expect them to take at least one centre with these two picks.  Side note: you can add these other options to the two I gave with the previous pick, any of these six total players make sense to me for the Isles.

Other Options: K’Andre Miller, Grigori Denisenko

 

13. Joe Veleno (2-2)  Drummondville  QMJHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 194  Shot: L

Comparison: Brad Richards

Last year, my Stars “guy” was spot on with where they were going.  This year he’s maintained that the Stars are looking hard at centres going into this draft.  As you can read, I’m sky high on Veleno.  I’m not a scout, and in the Veleno case that might benefit me, because I don’t have a chip on my shoulder for this guy not meeting my expectations.  The scouting community definitely do though, and they’ve forgotten (in my mind) what the upside is with this kid and that he has the work ethic and drive to get that upside out of him.  This could be a grand slam pick for the Stars.

Other Options: Isac Lundestrom, Rasmus Kupari

 

14. Vitali Kravtsov (4-22)  Chelyabinsk  RUS

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’2  Wt: 170  Shot: L

Comparison: Filip Forsberg

Originally St. Louis’ pick.  You know, the draft REALLY opens up, not just this one, but every year around the 10th or 11th pick.  Teams lists just simply do not look alike.  I’ve seen a few people suggest this pick, and it makes sense.  The Flyers went with a Russian kid just two years ago (German Rubtsov who doesn’t look like a great pick thus far), and they can use some skill up front, and Kravtsov still brings the size and a little bit of bite that we know they love in Philly.  Plus, if Kravtsov made it here, it’d likely be viewed as a BPA falling into their lap as some see him as a dark horse to sneak into the top 10.

Other Options: Serron Noel, Grigori Denisenko

 

15. Serron Noel (3-9)  Oshawa  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’5  Wt: 204  Shot: R

Comparison: Blake Wheeler

I feel like someone is taking Noel higher than most people have him.  There have been a few rumours that suggest Noel scouting staffs for NHL teams like him a lot more than independent guys.  I obviously like him more than the independent guys myself, but I understand the fears with him.  Dale Tallon and the Panthers are old school.  They love size, and while I wouldn’t say they LOVE the OHL, they’ve taken their fair share of OHL guys.  So I’m guessing that Noel is directly in their wheelhouse.  And with a young roster which is locked down, they can afford to take a guy like Noel and give him the two or three years he needs to develop.

Other Options: K’Andre Miller, Martin Kaut

 

16. Joel Farabee (4-22)  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 162  Shot: L

Comparison: Kyle Palmeri

12 months ago I would have suggested they need to invest three or four straight first rounders on D-men!  Fast forward to now and the Avs own Cale Makar, Conor Timmins, and Sam Girard.  It’s not enough, but it’s a HELL of a start!  They have picks 47 and 58 to perhaps add a couple more quality D-men to that stable.  If you look at the Avs organizational depth chart, they don’t have a lot of high end skill playing behind MacKinnon and Rantanen.  Farabee isn’t the most skilled player left on the board, but he’s a burner, he’s a character kid that they’ve loved (Landeskog, Conner Bleackley, Jost), and its not as though he’s lacking skill either.

Other Options: Martin Kaut, Rasmus Kupari

 

17. K’Andre Miller (4-17)  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’3  Wt: 198  Shot: L

Comparison: Ed Jovanovski

I say they still really need some D.  Ray Shero did a HECK of a good job piecing a competent blueline together last season.  Having said that, they still need some guys and Miller would fit the bill.  The upside on this kid is just ridiculous.  They have a good enough blueline in the short term to get by and let him develop for in my opinion two years minimum (yet who knows what kind of strides he can make in a year), but I believe they’ll want a D and he has the biggest upside of the D-men left on the board.

Other Options: Nils Lundkvist, Bode Wilde

 

18. Rasmus Kupari (4-23)  Karpat  Liiga

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1.5  Wt: 189  Shot: R

Comparison: Matt Duchene

I really hate suggesting that their Finnish GM is going to take a Finnish player, because just about everyone (not me…not so humble brag) believed that’s why he was taking Jesse Puljujarvi the whole way leading up to the 2016 draft.  Here however, it makes sense.  Aaron Portzline is their top beat guy and he believes they’ll almost certainly be taking the top forward on the board here, and while none of us know what their board looks like, Kupari is definitely one of the most talented players available in this scenario.  He’s listed as a centre, but I firmly believe he’s playing the wing in the show.

Other Options: Martin Kaut, Dominik Bokk

 

19. Nils Lundkvist (4-14)  Lulea  SHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 173  Shot: R

Comparison: Nick Leddy

With both Kravtsov and here with Lundkvist, neither guy feels like a Philly guy.  But that’s what Ron Hextall is attempting to build here.  He’s looked to get away from their old ways and build and much more intelligent roster.  I love the fit here because they’ve graduated most of the high picks they spent on D-men from 2013-2015.  Only the first of that group (Samuel Morin) is left in the system, and he’s starting to look like more of a suspect than prospect.  They do have Phillippe Myers on the come, and Myers is the only serious RH shooting D prospect in the system.  Add to that, they only got one on the current roster (Radko Gudas).  So they could really stand to add a righty D-man, and while this might seem early for some, I really love Lundkvist and believe he’s going in the 11-20 range.

Other Options: Martin Kaut (again), Bode Wilde

 

20. Liam Foudy (6-43)  London  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 174  Shot: L

Comparison: Andrew Cogliano

I can’t bring myself to move off the point that the Kings are in love with the OHL.  There are other players from the OHL who they might have interest in here like Akil Thomas, Ty Dellandrea, maybe a defenceman like Rasmus Sandin, but I’m going with a hunch here.  Foudy is an OHL kid with blazing speed, and the Kings have been looking to add a lot more speed to their organization.  Another reason for the hunch here is that risers rise.  Foudy ended up 29th on Bob McKenzie’s list, so I tend to believe that he’ll end up going higher than that.  Maybe I’m really reaching here, but I believe this makes a ton of sense.

Other Options: Akil Thomas, Ty Dellandrea

 

21. Martin Kaut (4-20)  Pardubice  CZE  Extra

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 176  Shot: R

Comparison: Alex Steen

They’re a candidate to trade back, to the point where I kind of expect it, especially if things break this way.  If one of Miller or Lundkvist gets here, I like one of them.  But if they don’t, they don’t have a second or a third rounder and they don’t have much in the system.  I don’t do trades in my mocks, so I’m picking, and with no D-man in sight that I believe they’ll love getting Kaut here who is very much so their type of player.  Reminds me a little of Hertl, a little of Meier, and if they were to move back then they could focus on D-men at that time.  As for the trade back possibilities, perhaps the Rangers for 26 or 28 (not both, one or the other) and 39 for 21?  Maybe Detroit could pull it off too perhaps by giving 30 and 36?  Maybe even Montreal for 35, 38 and 62?  They have seven picks total in the draft, but only one in the top 110.

Other Options: Bode Wilde, Rasmus Sandin

 

FUN FACT: the lowest I’ve ever projected someone to a team was Freddy Gauthier to the Leafs at 21 in 2013, so the rest of these are very, very wrong!  At least I KNOW I’m getting two spot on this year.

 

22. Nicolas Beaudin (6-32)    Drummondville  QMJHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 172  Shot: L

Comparison: Torey Krug

Originally Pittsburgh’s pick.  After giving this some thought, the Sens are going to be open to taking another D-man with this pick.  They have too big of a hole on that blueline moving forward.  Sure, they could address it some if/when (without a doubt when unfortunately for Sens fans) they move Erik Karlsson, but even then they will likely need more.  I’ve soured a bit on Rasmus Sandin recently, and really fallen hard for Beaudin as I see them as very similar guys but Beaudin is the better skater and the less physically developed.  Not to mention, the Sens know the Q very well, so I’ll say its Beaudin.

Other Options: Bode Wilde, Rasmus Sandin

 

23. Isac Lundestrom (4-16)  Lulea  SHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 183  Shot: L

Comparison: Frans Nielsen

They’ve had such tremendous success with Swedes over the last five drafts or so.  For me, Lundestrom falls to them.  But that isn’t the case if you look at most scouting services.  Most of them aren’t too high on Lundestrom.  I do think its likely they go centre though even if its not Lundestrom.  Getzlaf and Kesler are on the back nine of their careers, and while I like Sam Steel, and Adam Henrique is still only 28, its simply not enough.

Other Options: Ty Dellandrea, Jack McBain

 

24. Grigori Denisenko (5-28)  Yaroslavl  MHL

Pos: LW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 163  Shot: R

Comparison: Sergei Samsonov

Its my opinion that they need some help on the blueline and should be focusing there.  Beat writer Mike Russo seems to think they need to grab an elite offensive talent.  I always get a little scared when beat writers claim they know what the team wants and it fits exactly what a beat writer would love to see the team do.  But for now I’ll take his word for it and believe the Wild are going for the most dynamic forward on the board which would be Denisenko.  They have a lot of need though and are really in no man’s land as an organization right now.  It feels like Wild fans are stuck just waiting for the rebuild to happen.

Other Options: Bode Wilde, Dominik Bokk

 

25. Ty Dellandrea (5-25)  Flint  OHL

Pos: C  Ht: 6’0  Wt: 184  Shot: R

Comparison: Elias Lindholm

To me, Dellandrea just makes a ton of sense here to the Leafs.  I’m pretty confident that they go centre here.  To my eye they have two needs in the system and that’s RH D-men, and centres.  But they have Timothy Liljegren so its not as though they don’t have anyone on the blueline with a righty shot.  But they don’t have a centre who is anything of a threat for a prospect.  Being a righty fits in really well behind Matthews and Kadri down the line.  I’ve seen some suggest Ryan Merkley here, I can’t see it.  I think that’s still a very real possibility with the 52nd pick to be honest.

Other Options: Akil Thomas, Bode Wilde

 

26. Bode Wilde (4-18)  USNTDP  USHL

Pos: RD  Ht: 6’2.5  Wt: 198  Shot: R

Comparison: Jacob Trouba

The fall of Wilde ends here, although it doesn’t really sound like a fall anymore….just where he’s projected to go.  At least according to Sam Cosentino, who I definitely trust.  I still like Wilde a lot, as I’ve said all along a top four D-man who leaves you wanting more is still a top four D-man.  Think of Bouwmeester, think of Phaneuf, think of Bogosian, all guys with all the talent but maybe don’t have the elite intelligence to be that number one guy.  The Rangers with three first round picks are definitely a candidate to take a swing on him should he get to this point in the first.

Other Options: Akil Thomas, Dominik Bokk

 

27. Akil Thomas (4-19)  Niagara  OHL

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 165  Shot: R

Comparison: Mitch Marner

Originally Nashville’s pick.  All things even at eight, I believe they’d take a centre.  But there really isn’t a centre to take anywhere near eight, and I had Zadina and Tkachuk falling right into their lap.  This one is interesting though, because I really don’t see Thomas as a centre.  I love his game, but see him as a one way player and there for he’d be much better suited for the wing.  Still, I believe Thomas talent at this point is too good for a team who LOVE guys who can play a puck possession game and be creative in the offensive zone.  So I say they take him here

Other Options: Dominik Bokk (again), Johnny Tychonik

 

28. Dominik Bokk (5-26)  Vaxjo  SuperElite

Pos: RW  Ht: 6’1  Wt: 179  Shot: R

Comparison: Martin Havlat

Originally Tampa Bay’s pick.  FINALLY I have Bokk going after viewing him as a possibility for what felt like half the league.  However with these two picks the Rangers have late first, I won’t be anything shocked if they end up going WAY off the board with both.  Filip Chyitl was on my radar as a potential late first last year, but I’m sure nobody thought he’d go as high as 21st.  Both their top picks last year showed that they aren’t afraid to do what they think.  I could see a kid like Kirill Marchenko, I could see Johnny Tychonik, I could see Calen Addison, a lot of options for the Rangers who need a lot of different things.  But I’ll GUESS they snag Bokk here.

Other Options: Kirill Marchenko, Johnny Tychonik

 

29. Rasmus Sandin (6-33)  Sault Ste. Marie  OHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 5’11  Wt: 186  Shot: L

Comparison: Andrej Sekera

Originally Winnipeg’s pick.  The Blues could go about a billion ways with this pick to be frank.  After they’ve walked out of the last two drafts with two real good centres (Tage Thompson, Robert Thomas) and two real good wingers (Jordan Kyrou, Klim Kostin), if I had to guess with this one I’d say they’ll be looking for a D-man here.  It’s not as if they’ve got an old blueline, they don’t.  Next season they likely feature Parayko, Vince Dunn and Jordan Schmaltz all as regulars and they’re all 25 and under.  But you always want that next wave to be ready, and there is a nice pocket here where there will be a lot of D in this range.  .

Other Options: Alexander Alexeyev, Adam Ginning

 

30. Jonatan Berggren (4-21)  Skelleftea  SWE J-20

Pos: RW  Ht: 5’10  Wt: 181  Shot: L

Comparison: Jaden Schwartz

Originally Vegas’ pick.  They got their D-man at six, and while I’d definitely argue that they should be looking to take a centre here, I can’t see them passing on Berggren should he get to this pick.  We all know their track record with Swedish kids, and this looks like a BPA scenario so I agree with taking him here.  If they did go centre, I mention the two kids below, but also Ivan Morozov is a kid I personally think very highly of and we all remember the success the Wings of the late 90’s/early 2000’s had with Russians.

Other Options: Jacob Olofsson, Ryan McLeod

 

31. Alexander Alexeyev (6-39)  Red Deer  WHL

Pos: LD  Ht: 6’4  Wt: 196  Shot: L

Comparison: Matthias Ekholm

We know how well they’ve done with Russian kids.  Its not just Ovechkin, not just Kuznetsov, Alex Semin (even though he washed out in the league), Orlov, Varlamov, Ilya Samsonov has stayed on course thus far, they’ve had tremendous success with Russian kids.  They also have gone to the WHL for a lot of recent picks, and I’d suggest the need here for them is more so on the blueline.  So with this said, I love Alexeyev to go to the Caps.  But like anyone else down here, they could go a million different ways.  I spoke about how well they’ve done with Russians and two that I LOVE in this range are Kirill Marchenko and Ivan Morozov.  There’s three other Western Canadian D-men in this range too in Jet Woo, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Calen Addison.  Or maybe its a kid they feel has fallen like a Ryan McLeod.  It is a total guessing game at this point.

Other Options: Kirill Marchenko, Calen Addison

 

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