So here we are, 1 day away from one of the most anticipated drafts in NHL history. My final mock draft I’m going to do tomorrow, likely with very few tweaks. But I thought prior to it I would release my first and final top 50 prospect list heading into the draft. I was going to do this last summer and keep it updated throughout the season, but I never got around to it. I’m doing it now.
Now, I’m not going to get too deep into these players scouting reports. I don’t watch a lot of these guys more than a few times a year. I’m a compiler of information. I have consumed a TON of information from anywhere I can get it the past 7 or 8 months, but I still am just a compiler. Go to TSN.ca and check out Bob McKenzie’s final list if you want to get more information on these players. Or futureconsiderations.com is another solid prospect site.
Like the mocks, I’ll explain myself a bit before we start. I try to look for some different things than a lot of scouts. I value centre and defence (like the Canadian spelling for a change, eh?) more than I value wingers. I like kids that bring an elite talent to the table like size, speed, IQ, hands or character. I really don’t have time for kids who don’t know how to use their teammates like a Ryan Murphy or Josh Ho-Sang in recent drafts. Hockey isn’t played 1 on 1.
I’m also big on tiers. Just because I have one guy ranked ahead of the other doesn’t mean I like him much better. These lists are so subjective and so it only makes sense to me that I include tiers in this list to give a better feel of how I rank these kids.
Ok, that’s my speech, here’s my list:
Pos: C Ht: 6’0.75 Wt: 195 Shot: L
Comparison: Joe Sakic
What I really want to put for the comparison is that there is no comparison. NBA fans argue over who LeBron is more like, Magic or Michael. The truth is that he’s his own guy. Gretzky had no comparable, neither did Lemieux, or Lindros, or Sid, or Tiger Woods, or Shaq, or John Elway, on and on and on. And that is the same as McDavid. No prospect has ever been able to have this kind of skill with the puck while playing at such a high pace. Imgaine Andrew Cogliano having Patrick Kane’s skill…and 6’1, 205. You consider that he was too good for the OHL, now he’ll have guys around him who can finish his incredible passes. It’s scary how good he can be.
Pos: C Ht: 6’2 Wt: 196 Shot: R
Comparison: Mike Modano
Great size, great speed, great shot, great vision, I think Eichel is going to be closer to McDavid than people realize. It’s so tough to compare them when Eichel is playing in the NCAA and McDavid is in the OHL, but they don’t look too far apart to me. He’s going to be incredible and again he would be the 1st pick is just about any other draft.
Pos: D Ht: 6’2.75 Wt: 203 Shot: L
Comparison: Scott Niedermayer
Just slightly above Provorov because his skating is so elite and he’s a little bigger. I feel like he’s the Sean Couturier, Sean Monahan of this draft in that he’s been over scouted. Also, more and more NCAA D-men are looking bad in the pro’s so perhaps some are getting scared off by that. But he has the tools and the tool box to be great. I just wouldn’t rush him.
Pos: D Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 201 Shot: L
Comparison: Hampus Lindholm
He’s the more polished of the two of him and Hanifin. He plays with more of an edge. Provorov has a cannon of a shot that Hanifin lacks. I would say Provorov is the safer prospect of the two. Both are great though. Both have a chance to be legit number 1 D-men. Provorov is a high character, smart kid. Coming over to North America at such a young age to me proves how bad this kid wants it.
Pos: C Ht: 5’11.25 Wt: 175 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Ahead of Strome and ahead of Marner. Why? Because I think he’s less of risk, I think he has more high end potential than Strome because of his speed, and I believe had he not been injured this season he would have turned heads all season and not just at the U18’s. He’s so patient with the puck and just waits for the options to open up. He does a great job protecting it too for a kid under 6’0 and only 175.
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 185 Shot: L
Comparison: Niklas Backstrom
This is just me, but I don’t see Strome as the type of kid who can carry a team. More of an elite 2nd line center, foot speed concerns me. Also major red flag for me was him going nuts for the OHL scoring title on the final day of the season, only to basically no show for the playoffs. As I said in the last mock draft, I think there is real potential here for a bust. But he is still deserving of a top 6 spot for me and I’m one of his harshest critics. Outstanding vision, great shot, and protects the puck well.
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11 Wt: 160 Shot: R
Comparison: Patrick Kane
7th, but still in the 3rd tier and that’s what really matters here. So I could just as easily have him ranked 3rd, but mainly he is knocked back to 7 because I don’t value wingers as much as center’s and D. He’s great though. So smooth with the puck, amazing vision, high end speed, high end creativity, and if he can put on 15-20 pounds he won’t be THAT small of a player.
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 206 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Whitney
In a class all by himself. He’s just a hair below Hanifin and Provorov for me, but above the rest of the D in this class. Some like him better than Hanifin, maybe a bit more polished offensively and had a better World Juniors. But it can’t be all about the WJC. He’s been criticised for being a bit soft which plays into the Whitney comparison. It’s also the only thing that holds him back from being an elite prospect. Might not sound like a lot but you can’t be soft and effective in the NHL. See Tom Gilbert, see Justin Schultz.
Pos: RW Ht: 6’3.5 Wt: 211 Shot: L
Comparison: Marian Hossa
I got him above Connor and Zacha who are listed as center’s, but I worry about the lack of grit in Connor’s game that might hold him back from being an elite 2nd line center, and I don’t believe Zacha will work in the middle in the pro’s. I say Rantanen is like Hossa, Craig Button says Meier is and I can see it for both guys. But Rantanen is bigger and probably a better playmaker than Meier. Skates a little awkwardly, but effectively, he doesn’t lack speed. He already plays a pretty solid 2 way game.
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 177 Shot: L
Comparison: Kyle Turris
Has a chance to be a very solid 2 way center. Scouts vary on where Connor should be ranked. Button loves him, others are concerned that he’s soft and a soft center isn’t going to lead a team anywhere no matter how good the numbers are. But he has a lot of skill and has a pretty good 2 way game already.
Pos: C Ht: 6’3 Wt: 210 Shot: L
Comparison: Tuomo Ruutu
Zacha doesn’t lack the physical tools to be an elite forward. But I stress forward and not necessarily winger or center. I think he ends up being a winger. He’s a shoot first center and they so rarely work out. Even Stamkos got pushed to the wing these playoffs. Now perhaps Zacha could be that elite 2nd line center every team craves, but he’ll need to develop not just an ok 2 way game but a great 2 way game. If not, I think he’ll still be that power winger which isn’t a need but one sweet luxury.
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 209 Shot: L
Comparison: Loui Eriksson
Speed, size, grit, character and skill. This kid has shot up the boards all season. He has elite winger written all over him. He does a great job at protecting the puck and as has been pointed out by others he’s improved a lot using his teammates this season. Much improved vision, although he’ll never be a pass first guy.
Pos: C Ht: 6’0 Wt: 183 Shot: R
Comparison: Patrice Bergeron
I believe this kid will end up being a steal. I saw people comparing him to Jonathan Toews at the start of the season, and then he got mono. Really similar season to Barzal, and I think teams will be sorry they didn’t take both guys earlier than they do. He does anything to help his team win, much like the guy I compare him to does. Not ironically, he grew up in the Boston area, is a big Bergeron fan and patterns his game after Bergeron.
Pos: LW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 215 Shot: L
Comparison: Andrew Ladd
If you just project with how his game will translate, he should be able to play a perfect complementary role on a team’s first line. But he’s never going to carry a line offensively. Think of Ryan Smyth. Different styles, but Smyth was a guy that really never carried a line, but was the perfect compliment. He has speed, size, grit, all the intangibles. He’s just doesn’t have high end skill.
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 180 Shot: L
Comparison: Derek Stepan
He’s the big riser going into this draft. I think with him scouts have been hesitant to put him higher on their lists just because he’s shot up so much already. But he has elite 2nd line center written all over him in my mind. Good size (obviously needs to put on 20-30 pounds but he will), plays a good 200 foot game, gets his nose dirty, has a good shot, not amazing vision but creates offense nonetheless.
Pos: RW Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 183
Comparison: Patrick Marleau
If he’s not Russian, he’s likely a top 10 pick. I have him at 16 which is higher than most, but it is tough to completely ignore the Russian factor seeing how it will affect his position in the draft. But he’ll eventually come over to North America (they always do), and he will likely end up being amazing value for the team that gets him. He has the best shot in this draft, speed, size, he’s a total sniper.
Pos: RW Ht: 5’9.75 Wt: 175 Shot: R
Comparison: Zach Parise
You’ll hate it in 5 years when your team is playing his and he is in everyone’s face all night long. Highly skilled and gritty as can be. This kid craves it. I think his skill is being a bit overlooked by some because he is such a gritty player. Some have him as a Bobby Clarke type, but he’s not a center he’s a winger. Let’s not forget Bob Clarke was one of the best defensive center’s of all time. But good wheels, great hands and vision, he’s greasy around the net, I really am a huge fan of this kids game. He has had concussion and other injury problems though which if he drops in the draft will be the reason why.
Pos: G Ht: 6’3 Wt: 200 Glove: L
Comparison: Henrik Lundqvist
He’s got the makings of an elite goaltender. He’s got Lundqvist’s size and athleticism, yet he’s quicker and maybe has better lateral movement. The problem is that he’s signed for another 3 years to play in the KHL, and it isn’t a good era for goaltenders to go in the 1st round. But I’m personally a huge fan and feel like he maybe should be ranked higher than this.
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 188 Shot: R
Comparison: Dan Boyle
I’m a huge fan of his game. He’s a really smart kid and if you read my stuff you know how vital I believe intelligence is to being a great D-man in the pro’s. The only knock I hear against Roy is his size, and scouts are raving about how good his stick is and positioning is defensively. Icing on the cake is that he’s a RH shot. I can live with a D-man only being 6’0 188 in today’s game when he brings everything to the table like Roy does.
Pos: D Ht: 6’0.75 Wt: 184 Shot: L
Comparison: Sergei Gonchar
He seems to get forgotten. A sort of under the radar top 20 guy in this years draft class. Solid all around and has a bomb from the point. He had some consistency issues this season which has knocked him down some lists, but he seems to be the top rated D-man coming out of the Q by most (not me).
Pos: C Ht: 6’1.25 Wt: 182 Shot: L
Comparison: David Krecji
Might be shocking that I have him ranked ahead of Merkley, but the fact is that Harkins skill set transfers to the NHL better than Merkley’s does. A very solid, 2 way center who emerged from a program in PG that doesn’t produce NHL prospects too often let alone top 30 guys in great drafts. I love his potential.
Pos: RW Ht: 5’10.5 Wt: 191 Shot: R
Comparison: Jiri Hudler
2 knocks that hurt him. Skating isn’t great, size isn’t great. It’s a bad combination. I think of a kid like Sam Gagner and how that combination has made him a very sub par player despite being so hard working. A big difference is that Merkley isn’t as soft on the puck as Gagner, and as long as he’s surrounded by a big and/or speedy team he should be a huge asset.
Pos: D Ht: 6’1.5 Wt: 180 Shot: L
Comparison: T.J. Brodie
He was a big riser in the first half of the season, then he kind of levelled off. He is more raw than a guy like Jeremy Roy is, but a better skater and once he fills out he has a chance to be a number 2 or 3 D-man.
Pos: LW Ht: 5’11.75 Wt: 174 Shot: L
Comparison: T.J. Oshie
Hard working, gritty, good skater, can score from anywhere, there is a ton of stuff to love about Debrusk. High end talent isn’t there, but he’s at worst a solid 3rd line guy.
Pos: D Ht: 6’5 Wt: 196 Shot: R
Comparison: Jonathan Ericsson
He’s intriguing because if he develops offensively he has the makings of a legit number 1 D-man. However, he has a long way to go offensively. Still, you’re getting a top 4 kid who can move and plays with an edge.
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 199 Shot: L
Comparison: Alexander Semin
A lot of talent here, but he’s got a lot of question marks about his work ethic, which is the real reason behind the Semin comparison. I could see teams falling in love with his talent, but it could be a bad mistake.
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 191 Shot: R
Comparison: David Booth
He scores. He’ll get his nose dirty to score in front of the net (as pictured), he can score off the rush, he can score off the wall on the PP, he’s just a scorer. David Booth might be an odd comparison but before his injury problems Booth was this type of guy.
Pos: C Ht: 6’4 Wt: 200 Shot: L
Comparison: Artem Anisimov
He’s ranked low for most because he’s Russian. But also because he’s not a highly skilled Russian. Yet he’s huge, he can fly, and he competes hard. So I personally would be very willing to take this kid earlier than he’s projected by most to go. At least a 3rd line center with a chance to be a top 6 kid.
Pos: LW Ht:5’10.25 Wt: 173 Shot: L
Comparison: Tomas Tartar
Impossible not to love this kid. He needs to put on weight as most of these kids do, but he can play in any situation even though he is only 5’10. He’s willing to go to any area on the ice, skates very well, intelligent and works hard. Ignore his size, this is a kid you win with.
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 192 Shot: R
Comparison: Adam Deadmarsh
His flaw is that he didn’t get much ice time this season in the Soo. But he has the total package to be a top 6 power forward. Real good skater, needs to put on weight and continue to develop his shot. But what I like is he’s gritty. So once he fills out he’ll play at 205-210 he won’t be a guy like Paul Bittner who won’t battle.
Pos: D Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 204 Shot: R
Comparison: Mattias Ohlund
He leads the way for me in potential high 2nd round D-men who I really love. He’s gritty, ballsy, and really intelligent. And though his skating and shot could use improvement they’re already pretty good. If they do improve, he could be a top pairing guy down the line.
Pos: LW Ht: 6’4 Wt: 204 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Malone
Not a fan. Soft. Lived off his linemates. As of writing this I seen Bob Stauffer say on Twitter that he would like the Oilers to take him at 16. YUCK!!! But while I’m not a fan at all, I understand the love for him. Tough to ignore a 6’4 kid who can skate as well as he can. Still, I personally wouldn’t touch him.
Pos: D Ht: 5’11.75 Wt: 187 Shot: L
Comparison: Kimmo Timonen
Think about what Timonen WAS, not what he was this spring. Dunn loves to jump up in the play, and his amazing skating ability allows him to recover. So why is he ranked this low? Because he has to recover A LOT. He turns it over a ton. Yet while he can play an immature game on the ice, he’s far from a dumb kid. So I think given some time he’ll be a kid who cuts down on his turnovers and people will ask how he slipped to the late 1st/early 2nd round.
Pos: D Ht: 5’11.25 Wt: 197 Shot: L
Comparison: Andy Greene
Does a great job moving the puck out of his own zone whether it be by pass or skating. He also ran a great PP this season but that might be the biggest reason he’s not a 1st rounder is because was it the fact that he had McDavid and Strome out there with him? Needs to develop a better shot from the point.
Pos: D Ht: 6’2 Wt: 181 Shot: L
Comparison: Eric Brewer
Extremely safe D-man. I can’t see him becoming a guy who runs a PP or puts up 50 points in a season, although you never know how a player may change in 3-4 years. But this kid should play in the league as a number 4 or 5 guy who you can play in any situation and feel good about him being on the ice.
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 174 Shot: L
Comparison: Ryan Murphy
Amazing skater which will likely keep him as a 1st round pick. One of these guys though that tries to play the game 1 on 5. If he goes to the right organization he’ll be a steal. But if he goes to a bit of a shit show who have trouble developing guys, I fear he could wash out. Classic boom or bust prospect.
Pos: G Ht: 6’4 Wt: 215 Glove: L
Comparison: Mike Smith
He tore up the combine. So does that mean he has maxed out yet can’t be a better prospect than this, or does that mean he is committed and that work ethic will translate to working on his game? Sometimes it’s the former, sometimes the latter. Positioning needs a lot of work, and he needs to learn to battle more in net and not just rely on his size. But he has a ton of talent.
Pos: G Ht: 6’5.25 Wt: 185 Glove: L
Comparison: Anders Lindback
Big talent, pun intended. ISS believe he’s a 1st round pick. I compare him to Lindback because his skill set is the same, but Lindback has yet to get it and maybe has run out of chances. But it’s not because he lacked talent. Most people thought when Tampa acquired Lindback they got the next elite goaltender, so it’s actually a pretty good compliment to the man they call Vladar (wrestling fans will enjoy that). Obviously he needs to put on 30-40 pounds which might be his biggest draw back, but he can really move
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0 Wt: 180 Shot: R
Comparison: Alexander Radulov
High end speed and skill, but one of these kids who doesn’t use his teammates well and tries to play the game 1 on 5. His talent is worth gambling on in the middle of the 2nd round, but I’m personally not a fan.
Pos: D Ht: 6’1.5 Wt: 174 Shot: R
Comparison: Jonas Brodin
He needs to improve his skating a bit, and needs to fill out. IF he does, wow this kid is going to be good! But you can say that about all these kids from about 20-50. Still, he’s likely going to play in the league because of his positioning and compete level.
Pos: D Ht: 5’10 Wt: 182 Shot: L
Comparison: Lubomir Visnovsky
He’s really only low on people’s lists because of his size. He is one small D-man. But he’s an amazing skater, one of the best in the draft. And he battles. I think this kid is going to overcome the size issue and be a top 4 D-man.
Pos: D Ht: 6’1.75 Wt: 175 Shot: L
Comparison: Olli Maatta
Skating, smarts and compete Craig Button gives him a 4/5 ranking. If true, he’ll play in the league. And he’ll have a great chance to improve and perhaps be a steal in this draft. Needs to fill out, but he’ll be a 2nd round pick so he won’t be rushed.
Pos: D Ht: 6’4 Wt: 183 Shot: L
Comparison: Tyler Myers
Total project. I have him a lot lower than he is on McKenzie’s list, and Craig Button had him going in the 1st round in his mock. But he’s pretty far away from what little I have seen. I feel more comfortable taking these kind of players mid-late 2nd round and beyond, not in the 1st.
Pos: C Ht: 5’8 Wt: 163 Shot: R
Comparison: Johnny Gaudreau
More so Gaudreau in his draft year, not what he’s become as that would be a pretty lofty comparison. Listed as a center but I can’t see him playing the middle should he make it to the show. But I’m a big fan of this kid. He can fly and he has terrific skill. The obvious flaw is his size.
Pos: C Ht: 6’1 Wt: 196 Shot: L
Comparison: Carl Soderberg
A cerebral player. Chlapik isn’t a great skater which concerns me, but neither is his comparable Soderberg. Yet like Soderberg he plays a very solid 200 foot game and will likely pitch in offensively with his work down low and around the net. No flash in his game.
Pos: D Ht: 6’0 Wt: 212 Shot: R
Comparison: Michael Del Zotto
He’s not that good in his own zone, but as we all know that is something which can be taught. He’s not the risk that fellow Swede Oliver Kylington is, but it needs to be cleaned up. Offensively though he’s very smooth. Good, not great skater. But remember too that this was his first year in North America, can be a huge adjustment and yet he was one of the Colts top players.
Pos: RW Ht: 6’0.5 Wt: 182 Shot: R
Comparison: Rich Peverly
People forget about Peverly. He was great for the Bruins in their 2011 Cup run, and was having a nice season for the Stars before his heart problems which apparently he has been cleared of and will be a UFA this summer. Anyway, that’s who I see Roslovic as. Nothing too flashy, and has benefited from playing with Auston Matthews all season but he is a great complimentary player. Great skater as most USHL kids are, versatile, willing to do whatever to help his team win.
Pos: RW Ht: 5’11.25 Wt: 188 Shot: R
Comparison: Ryan Callahan
Impossible to not love this kid. He’s going to go higher than this, he MIGHT even be a late 1st because he was awesome at the U18’s as Canada’s captain. Played all season at center, but was put on the wing at the U18’s which has some believing that was the key to his game going to the next level. This comparison to Callahan might be one of the closest I’ve come up with. Craig Button has Andrew Shaw, and I love Shaw but he’s a more polished player and while plays in your face, isn’t quite that intense.
Pos: D Ht: 6’2.5 Wt: 220 Shot: L
Comparison: Jake Muzzin
I’m not a huge fan which is why I have him ranked a lot lower than he is on McKenzie’s list, but he plays a very hard game. I don’t think he’ll ever develop much of an offensive game, but defensively he could become an old school shutdown guy.
Pos: RW Ht: 6’1 Wt: 212 Shot: R
Comparison: Drew Stafford
I have him ranked 50th but I actually really love what I read on Fischer. Just has a real good overall game with really good wheels for a kid his size. At 212 already I doubt he’ll put on much more weight than that. He has the makings of a very solid 3rd line winger.
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