TheOilKnight.ca
 

By the OilKnight 04/30/18

~

~

Before I unveil my Top 31 prospects I think it’s important to give you a little context and background first in case you are new to my site or at least so you know where I’m coming from when I give my projections. I also want you to keep in mind, despite how many “experts” have a particular prospect ranked in their Top 10, it doesn’t automatically mean that prospect will pan out. In fact, history has taught us there’s at least one or two guys that underachieve or bust altogether pretty much every year among the Top 11 or 12 picks. That’s just a reality….

~ ~ ~ 

I’ve been a lifelong London Knights fan living in London, and I have unofficially been scouting the OHL on my own for 15 years or so as a hobby. I’m fortunate I live in a market where there are 12 OHL teams & 3 NHL teams all within a 3 hour radius from my home, which gives me great access to hockey content. It wasn’t until about 3 years ago that I started officially posting my picks on Twitter to provide a bit of an online resume I could point to. Before my website launched two years ago, you could find me online on a various number of hockey blogs and forums.

Today, I watch as much CHL hockey as I can but the OHL is still my baby. I see all these kids play when they are 16, so I already have an opinion on them going into their draft year. By the time they finish their draft year, I am usually 100% convinced of my projections unless otherwise stated. So when I give my opinions on CHL players, you can rest assured it is based on multiple viewings including several live if it is an OHL prospect. When it comes to the USDP, usually I watch as many games I can find online after I’ve completed my CHL projections. Then, I do the research I can for European players which includes input from other experts, more highlights online & any other shifts/games I can find. Tournaments like the Hlinka-Gretzky, World Junior Championship & U18′s also help me tremendously in forming my opinions on International players.

I always say, scouting is subjective because people who do it for a living or for fun, always seem to have some type of bias when they scout. Plus, they don’t always scout the same players at the same time so opinions may differ based on different viewings. I do my best to remain as unbiased as possible but I certainly have a preference when it comes to scouting prospects, which is why my list may differ from others you will find. I’m also a bit of a contrarian and have strong opinions based on a system I have found works well for me over the years. I’m certainly not a “consensus” guy. For me, I prefer smart, fast, skilled players who play good 200 foot games. It matters to me if you’re not scoring, you’re at least doing good things at both ends of the ice. Size is overrated for me and as a bit of a draft historian I look for “red flags” or reasons why a prospect might not make it. I typically dislike the flashy, curl and drag, behind the back spin-o-rama types that ooze skill but are turnover prone machines. Some call them “high ceiling” players but I usually consider them “high risk” players who play too much of a Junior game that doesn’t always translate well to the pros. That is all reflective in my rankings and breakdowns.

The last thing I’ll mention is I don’t use a great deal of analytics when I compile my lists. I certainly like to use comps of previous prospects from previous drafts from the same leagues, but I do not incorporate any advanced stats into the equation. For me, these 17 yr old kids are still developing their games and a lot of them don’t even breakout till the second half of their draft year so it’s not really fair to judge them on their advanced stats. So, I really focus on the visual side of scouting and look for progression. However, I do have certain thresholds in terms of traditional stats I expect players to hit, and once they do, they are grouped together in clusters (ie. 1st round talent, 2nd rd etc..). From there, the stats are thrown out and I focus on NHL translatable skills which means – a breakdown of their individual skillsets and how I project they will translate to the pro level. Keep that in mind when you are reading my player profiles. For a complete breakdown of what I look for good and bad, check out my scouting basics post. Again, this is all subjective so I’m not saying I am going to be 100% right on everything. But, at least you have some perspective as to where I’m coming from when you review the rankings. That being said, this is not a mock draft, it is a list of the 31 Best Prospects who I think will have the most success in the NHL – in order, regardless of their eventual draft position . Enjoy.

~ ~ ~

Top 31 Prospects

1. Jack Hughes (C) __________________________________ 50 GP – 34G, 78A, 112 PTS

courtesy of usahockeyntdp.com

He might not be the biggest guy or have the biggest shot but make no mistake, Hughes is the most talented player in this draft. He has tremendous skating ability & offensive instincts that no else in this draft can match. His vision & ability to process the game at high speed is elite. He has destroyed every level of competition he has played against & there’s no reason to think he can’t do that at the NHL level. He needs to work on being better defensively & might not be a star right away, but eventually he should be a Superstar in the NHL barring injury. Probably the best east-west player in the league on Day one. NHL Comparison: Johnny Gaudreau with Connor McDavid‘s acceleration. *** HIGHLIGHTS ***

~

~

2. Bowen Byram (D) ___________________________________ 67 GP – 26G, 45A, 71 PTS

courtesy of whl.ca

Byram is the most complete defenceman in this draft easily. He is the total package as a prospect. He is a terrific skater, wonderful at breakouts, is a beast defensively & has great offensive instincts. He’s a leader, a warrior and a big minute muncher. He has a cannon of a shot and is a pinpoint passer. He’s got a physical edge to him, a great motor, and is highly competitive. A franchise player and future #1 Defenceman and potential Norris trophy winner down the road. Not overly flashy but just a complete player. It’s hard to criticize any part of his game as he is so solid in all areas minus the odd gaffe here and there which is normal for a kid his age. He’s young too with a June birthday. Every team wants a defenceman like this. It might not seem like it right away, but he should have an even greater impact on a franchise than Kakko in the long run. #1 Dmen like this are simply hard to find. NHL Comparison: Drew Doughty. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

`

3. Kaapo Kakko (RW) ________________________ 42 GP – 22G, 16A, 38 PTS

courtesy of liiga.fi

No one in this draft has a better combination of size, speed & skill than Kakko. He has soft hands, is a wonderful stickhandler & owns a tremendous wrist shot. He’s also defensively responsible & dominates board battles. A lot of Patrik Laine comparisons except more willing to engage & more reliable in his own end. Broke Alexander Barkov‘s goal scoring record in Finnish Elite league. Could be a dominant power forward capable of putting up huge goal totals in the NHL. Complete player with no glaring weaknesses. Kakko will be a star in the NHL. That being said, Byram is still ranked higher by me as I value a true #1 Dman more than an excellent Top line Winger. NHL Comparison: Alexander Barkov. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

~

~

4. Alex Turcotte (C)_____________________________________ 37 GP – 27G, 35A, 62 PTS

courtesy of usahockeyntdp.com

There might not be a better 2 way forward in this draft than Turcotte. He has tremendous offensive instincts and playmaking ability, but is also so reliable in his own end he is capable of playing big minutes in all situations. His speed and skating are excellent. He has a hard, accurate wrist shot and quick release. He is a forechecking demon in the offensive zone & displays a relentless work ethic all over the ice. He’s smart, poised and already appears to play a pro style game. Good faceoff guy too. Even if he doesn’t score a lot right away in the NHL, he could easily be a shutdown center till the offence comes around. A highly skilled, intelligent Centerman and leader. Future captain material. NHL Comparison: Patrice Bergeron. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

~~

5. Cole Caufield (RW) ________________________________ 64 GP – 72G, 28A, 100 PTS

courtesy of usahockeyntdp.com

Any concerns about his skating and level of competition were put to rest after a terrific U18 performance in April, where he tied Alex Ovechkin‘s all-time record of 14 goals in the tournament. Caufield might not be the fastest skater in terms of straight-line speed, but he more than makes up for it with his dynamic feet and agility. He’s also a very smart hockey player with great offensive instincts and is easily the best pure shooter in his class. His hands are magical. His shot and release are elite. He’s so good at changing angles and release points to keep goalies and defenders off balance it’s almost impossible to defend. His vision and ability to find the open ice is exceptional. Sure, he’s only 5’7″ (if that) but that makes him extremely elusive and tough to pick up in traffic. He’s not strong defensively so will need to continue to work hard on that. Plus, unlike a popular comp Alex DeBrincat, physicality is almost non-existent in his game as he can be pushed off the puck easily. However, this kid is a game-breaker with an electric skill-set that will surely translate well to the NHL. A shoot first ask questions later sniper who should excel as a pro. NHL Comparison: A less gritty but more dynamic Alex DeBrincat. *** HIGHLIGHTS ***

`

6. Philip Tomasino (C/RW) _____________________ 67 GP – 34G, 38A, 72 PTS

courtesy of ontariohockeyleague.com

Blessed with terrific hands to go with his dynamic skating ability, Tomasino is an electric gamebreaker capable of beating opponents wide or right up the middle. He has a hard and accurate wrist shot & quick hands in tight. His vision is terrific as he does a great job of looking off where he’s going to pass. He is also an excellent faceoff guy when playing center & is strong defensively. His work ethic is one of his best traits as he has a non-stop motor. He thinks the game at a high level and makes plays all over the ice. Despite being a 3rd line checking center for the first 15-20 games or so in Niagara, Tomasino still managed to score the 2nd most even strength points in the entire CHL behind Dylan Cozens. However, he led the CHL in Pts/60 mins & is 6 months younger than guys like Cozens and Krebs. It’s also important to note, that Tomasino had very limited PP time as indicated by only 4 of 34 goals coming on the Powerplay. He also played mainly on the 2nd and 3rd lines for Niagara meaning his draft +1 year he could explode. Vastly underrated though may climb late like Barrett Hayton & Ty Dellandrea last year. Easily the best OHL‘er this year and has a dynamite video highlight reel. NHL Comparison: Matthew Barzal. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

7. Dylan Cozens (C/RW) ________________________________ 68 GP – 34G, 50A, 84 PTS

courtesy of whl.ca

Cozens might be one of the fastest players in this year’s crop. He is a fabulous skater with those big powerful strides he can blow by defenders wide. He also has a big shot that he can unload off the rush. His passing is underrated as he displays good vision and uses his teammates extremely well. However, he is definitely a shoot first type of player. Although he’s listed as a Center, I prefer him as a winger as a pro for a couple reasons. For one, he has the speed to beat defenders wide and go hard to the net. He looks a prototypical power forward on the wing. That’s how envision him as a prospect – almost like a young Ryan Smyth. When he tries to get cute and stickhandle around guys it’s usually in the middle of the ice and typically leads to a turnover. He’s not a dangler but still tries it too often. Secondly, consistency has been a bit of an issue for him and he could be better in his own zone. Loses his assignment a bit too much. Pretty good at faceoffs though. Ultimately, there might be some growing pains with this prospect as he figures out what kind of player he’s going to be at the next level, but eventually he should figure it out and be a solid NHL‘er. NHL Comparison: Evander Kane minus the nastiness. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

8. Peyton Krebs (LW)___________________________________ 64 GP – 19G, 49A, 68 PTS

courtesy of whl.ca

If you’re looking for a highly intelligent, hard working playmaker, then Krebs is your guy. Scouts love his character and leadership qualities which means he may even be drafted higher than this. His work ethic is off the charts too which draws a lot of Jonathan Toews comparisons. To me, he is strikingly similar to Jaden Schwartz. Like Schwartz, Krebs was a leader and easily the best player on a bad team this year in Kootenay. He’s more of a passer than shooter as indicated by his 11 even strength goals. While he doesn’t necessarily have an elite shot, he does have a soft hands & a quick release that he simply needs to use more. His vision is good though I did find he tends to hold on to the puck too much at times & misses some open guys due to that. Part of that might be a byproduct of playing for such a lousy WHL team. But, I also saw it again a few times at the U18‘s which is a slight concern. He has excellent puck skills & does a good job shielding opponents. Fights hard for puck battles & is surprisingly physical. Relentless motor, never gives up on plays. Makes a lot of tough plays look easy. Can play in all situations. I get the love there’s a lot to like about the player and person, but I’m not sure he has as high as an offensive ceiling as guys like Tomasino or Cozens. Eventually he could become a real nice player in the NHL at both ends of the ice. NHL Comparison: Jaden Schwartz. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

9. Vasili Podkolzin (RW) ________________________________ 29 GP – 8G, 5A, 13 PTS

courtesy of eliteprospects.com

Ugh. I’m so torn on this player. I loved his Hlinka-Gretzky performance. I didn’t love his U18’s performance. Everything else was a mixed bag in between. He looks outstanding sometimes, other times he makes questionable decisions and tries to do too much. When he’s on, he reminds me so of Alex Ovechkin with that elite skill, passion & fire he plays with. When he’s off, he looks like a 3rd line grinder who can be baited into taking dumb penalties. Perhaps he’s somewhere in between as I see a lot of Slava Kozlov in him from back in the day. He’s at least a “toolsy” prospect for sure. He has extremely quick hands and a dynamite shot. He is an absolute puck hound and possession beast. He doesn’t have blazing speed but he’s quick and can make highlight reel plays at full speed. He’s physical, has a relentless motor & plays an excellent 200 ft game. That alone combined with his elite skill set likely means he’ll AT LEAST be a solid NHL‘er, but the elite production just hasn’t been there for whatever reason so far. If he puts it altogether eventually he could be near the top of the list. But at this point, I’m just not convinced enough to rank him higher though I full admit I could be dead wrong on this one. NHL Comparison: A more physical & defensively aware Alexander Radulov. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

!

~

10. Matthew Boldy (C) __________________________________ 64 GP – 33G, 48A, 81 PTS

courtesy of usahockeyntdp.com

Boldy is the type of player that grows on you the more you watch him. He consistently makes smart decisions all over the ice. Executes a lot of high percentage plays. He skates pretty well for his size but also has tremendous offensive instincts and vision that make him a real dual threat. He has great hands in tight & a big shot off the rush. His vision & ability to process the game is exceptional. He makes some beautiful passes & always seem to know where his teammates are. Can be tough to handle in front, adept at tipping pucks or banging home rebounds. While he doesn’t have top end speed or agility, he is still pretty mobile and active thanks to nice edge work and a great work ethic. Boldy hustles back on defence and shows good defensive awareness. Will need to work on acceleration, speeding up first few steps. He looks like he is going to be part of this new generation of power forwards like Josh Anderson, Brady Tkachuk, Alex Tuch who are starting to really make their mark in the NHL. Plenty of upside here. NHL Comparison: A bit smaller version of Alex Tuch. *** HIGHLIGHTS ***

~

11. Pavel Dorofeyev (LW) ______________________________ 42 GP – 18G, 15A, 33 PTS

If Dorofeyev wasn’t one of the older prospects in this draft, he’d be in my Top 10. You could argue he should be anyways. He is a tremendously skilled forward who has an excellent work ethic & is defensively responsible. His hands and puck skills are outstanding. He has great vision and the ability to create something out of nothing. He is a strong skater and possession player. Not a burner but seems to always find the open ice. Dorofeyev plays more of an upright style which makes him look bigger than he is. His shot is hard and he possesses a deadly release. His hockey sense appears to very high. It’s important to note he’s played in 2 leagues this year. In the KHL, he barely plays 5 minutes a game. In the MHL, he had 17 goals & 31 points in 19 games. Late 2000 birthday. Will likely stay in Russia for a year or two. NHL Comparison: Jakub Voracek. *** HIGHLIGHTS ***

~

12. Vladislav Kolyachonok (D) ___________________________ 63 GP – 4G, 25A, 29 PTS

Originally drafted by the London Knights, Kolyachonok came into his 1st OHL camp in London & absolutely dominated. Despite not speaking a lick of English, he stepped on the ice & played like a boss. I know because I was there. He was the best player in camp & in preseason including over Adam Boqvist who ended up going to Chicago. Once Boqvist was returned to London after Game 1 of the Regular season, Kolyachonok was traded to Flint. There, he showed flashes of his talent but struggled to find consistency & became hesitant to join the attack as much, as Flint really struggled defensively. What he brings is a strong defensive acumen along with excellent offensive instincts. Kolyachonok is tremendously agile, he ranked #1 at the Prospect’s game Skills comp in a few categories including agility with the puck. He also plays fantastic defence. He uses his stick so well to pick off passes & break up plays. He’s so hard to beat one on one, he challenges the opposition at the blueline forcing offsides, and he does a great job of challenging shooters by eliminating time and space. Despite his skinny frame he also likes to play physical and wins more than his share of puck battles. He’s excellent at zone exits with his tremendous vision and poise. He moves the puck extremely well on breakouts & can transition from defence to offence quickly. Kolyachonok doesn’t own a big shot but has a good, low hard wrister that he needs to use more. His passing ability is the o-zone is a weapon. Despite his pedestrian numbers in Flint, I believe this player has plenty more offence to give & is the 2nd best all-round defenceman in this class. He captained Belarus recently at the U18‘s & stood out in the Round robin with 5 pts in 5 games & finishing 2nd in tourney with 25 SOG‘s. A future Top pair, 2 way dman. NHL Comparison: Hampus Lindholm. *** HIGHLIGHTS ***

~

13. Alex Newhook (C) ________________________________ 67 GP – 38G, 64A, 102 PTS

courtesy of bchl.ca

Newhook is an intriguing prospect as he plays in a lower level league but has been highly productive. Not a lot of guys get drafted out of the BCHL, let alone the 1st round. But, Newhook appears to have the talent to deserve it. He’s an explosive skater who has an excellent shot and release. He also has a very good one-timer too. He has really quick hands & can stickhandle around defenders. He can be guilty of over-handling the puck at times and turning it over which is a by product of the league he plays in. But, he’s a good 200 ft player by all indications. I’m still hesitant to rank productive guys playing in lower levels this high. Like Zegras who I have ranked right behind him, Newhook seems to play a bit of a high risk game and gets away with doing too much against lower level competition. However, he impressed me enough at the U18‘s to warrant this ranking. I love his skating and ability to process the game at those speeds. He seems like a very intelligent player on the ice making good reads. The game seemed to slow down for him at the U18‘s as he didn’t have 3 guys on him at all times. He was easily the best player on his BCHL team so his numbers are even more impressive considering the lack of talent around him. Tyson Jost (10th overall, 2016) had a 2.17 Pts/game in his draft year. Newhook had 1.92 this year. Headed to U.S. College next year. NHL Comparison: Kyle Turris. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

`

14. Trevor Zegras (C/LW) ______________________ 60 GP – 26G, 61A, 87 PTS

courtesy of usahockeyntdp.com

There is no question Zegras has tremendous skill & playmaking ability. But, to be a good NHL‘er you can’t just rely on that and frankly I have concerns about the rest of his game. Zegras is that flashy, behind the back, spin-o-rama type player that usually ends up being a turnover machine as a pro. He plays a very high risk game that he gets away against lower level competition (yes the USHL is lower than the CHL). Pass first player who does have a good shot & quick release. I’m not a fan of his decision making at all despite the sexy plays. No question in my mind he is helped by his All-star teammates maybe more than most. Reminds me of Sonny Milano who played with Jack Eichel, Dylan Larkin & Alex Tuch. Milano, (16th overall, 2014) was a wizard with the puck but has underwhelmed as a pro because he plays too much of a high risk style & the rest of his game hasn’t developed. I see Zegras in a similar fashion surrounded by star teammates. Despite the talent, he has still underwhelmed offensively judging by his stats. Still enamoured by Zegras‘ stickhandling and dirty dangles? Google “Sonny Milano Stick tricks” and you’ll see how far that gets you in the NHL. Despite all the flashiness, you have to be honest with yourself and ask – will that work in the pros? Biggest bust potential in the Top 15 for me but the skill is real. If he can adapt & play a more style game he’ll make it. If not, you’ll now know why. Ranked this high in case I’m wrong. NHL Comparison: Jonathan Drouin. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

15. Ethan Keppen (LW) __________________________________ 64 GP – 30G, 29A, 59 PTS

courtesy of ontariohockeyleague.com

 

If you’re looking for a sexy highlight reel from Keppen – you won’t find it. He is a throwback type who plays a simple but very effective power game that should translate well to the pros. Keppen is a tank who is very difficult to move from the front of the net. But, he also has soft hands & outstanding vision. Like most power forwards he has a big shot & hard release too. Keppen shows great hockey sense & is a reliable 200 ft player. He is the type of player that grows on you the more you watch him. Scouting Kolyachonok, #92 kept standing out. Workman type player that gives you great effort every single night, is smart, reliable & a beast to try and stop. At one point in the season, he had points in 17 of 18 straight games including 15 goals (and 12 assists), despite being on the worst team in the OHL. Similar to Samuel Poulin but a bit more polished in several areas. Could use to work on his first couple steps a bit more to increase his potential. NHL Comparison: Chris Kreider. *** HIGHLIGHTS ***

 

~

16. Matthew Robertson (D) ________________________________ 52 GP – 7G, 26A, 33 PTS

courtesy of whl.ca

There aren’t too many defencemen in this draft are more steady & reliable in all 3 zones than Robertson. He’s such a smart, heady defenceman with no real weaknesses other than elite skating though his mobility is still good. Offensively, his ceiling does seem somewhat limited but he does have a big shot from the point & is an excellent passer. Defensively, he makes so many smart reads and makes tough plays look easy. His head always seems to be up in the defensive zone as he does a great job at play recognition. He excels at zone exits as he makes a good, crisp first pass or has enough mobility to carry it out. Robertson is capable of logging a ton of minutes and is a tough player to play against. He’s physical when he has to be and has a very active stick that breaks up a lot of plays. A defence-first type player who makes good decisions all over the ice. Recognized for his great leadership qualities. NHL Comparison:  Jake Muzzin. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

17. Connor McMichael (C)___________________________________ 67 GP – 36G, 36A, 72 PTS

courtesy of ontariohockeyleague.com

It was a tale of two seasons for McMichael. He stormed out of the gate for the Knights, as they were missing several key veterans in the NHL. Thru the first 6 games, McMichael had 7 goals & 2 assists and looked very much like a lock as a Top 15 pick in this year’s draft. He looked fast, confident & was aggressive on the attack. Thru 49 games he had 33 goals & 61 points. He was a thorn in the side to play against as he fought hard in front of the net & was getting rewarded offensively. But, when Alex Formenton returned from injury in early February, McMichael‘s game hit a bit of a wall. He looked like he lost his confidence, wasn’t skating or competing quite as hard as usual & would lose his defensive assignments more often than before. He was taken off the Top PP in favour of the veteran Formenton which may have had something to do with it. Regardless, the last 18 games of the season, he only had 3 goals, 8 assists. The explosiveness & competitiveness he displayed earlier in the year almost disappeared completely. Confidence seems to be a big thing with him & the major knock on him when he entered the OHL was consistency. When he’s on, McMichael has terrific straight line speed, very quick hands, goes hard to the net, shows great passing ability & is a reliable 200 ft player. When he’s lacking confidence, he looks very tentative & almost invisible. So what kind of prospect does he project at the next level? I’m betting on the skill & with maturity he will be able to fix his consistency issues. He has as much skill as any draft eligible in the OHL, he just needs to prove he can bring it every night. NHL Comparison: Adam Henrique. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

18. Maxim Cajkovic (RW) ________________________ 60 GP – 22G, 24A, 46 PTS

courtesy of theqmjhl.ca

Cajkovic is an explosive player on a really bad a team which means he is flying under the radar among many. Clearly, at the beginning of the year he was frustrated with the lack of help he had around him. But, as the season went on he started to mature and became a much more complete hockey player & leader. Then he represented Slovakia at the U18‘s & was easily their best player registering 7 points in 7 games. Cajkovic can flat out RIP the puck. His shot and release are elite. NHL caliber. He’s also an explosive skater. Real good east-west type. His vision & passing are quite good as he can put the puck on a teammates stick while looking off a defender. He has tremendous offensive instincts & is a threat to score from anywhere. Plays PP and PK. The issues with him are mainly situational in my opinion. Saint John was rebuilding and finished with a 13-49-2 record. Clearly, coming over from Europe & losing so much in his first year took a toll on him & some maturity issues arose. I like his competitiveness & fire though and think with better leadership around him he will learn from a tough year. Cajkovic‘s game is a bit reminiscent of Nail Yakupov‘s both in strengths & weaknesses so there some bust potential. The difference will be his commitment to being a better 200 ft player & maturity. He gets better in those areas the skies the limit for this player. He has too much raw talent not to rank this high right now. Likely drafted in 2nd round in actual draft. NHL Comparison: Jakub Vrana. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

19. Jamieson Rees (C) __________________________________ 37 GP – 10G, 22A, 32 PTS

courtesy of ontariohockeyleague.com

No one helped improve their stock more from one tournament than Rees in my opinion. Pegged as an ideal 2nd-3rd rd prospect, it would not be a surprise if he ended up in the 1st round after a terrific showing recently at the U18‘s. In terms of talent alone, he deserves to be there. The knocks on him before that tournament were size & durability. While those concerns have not evaporated, it’s not hard to see his talent when healthy. Rees is an excellent skater both in terms of speed, agility and edge work. He is also a tenacious forechecker and a very effective penalty killer which means there is a bottom 6 role waiting for him in the NHL at least if he continues to develop. In terms of an offensive ceiling, Rees has never really been a big-time scorer. He’s definitely more of a pass first player than shooter displaying great vision & poise with the puck. He’s an excellent stickhandler but up to now hasn’t been able to bury the majority of his chances. Questionable finisher. Defensive responsible though and a good faceoff player 49.4%. Rees looks like an ideal #3 center at the NHL level, one capable of killing penalties and taking important faceoffs. If his hands come around a 2nd line center may be his ceiling. NHL Comparison: Liam Foudy. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

20. Victor Soderstrom (D) ________________________________ 58 GP – 5G, 10A, 15 PTS

Soderstrom is an intelligent and mobile, puck moving defenceman in this draft. His skating is excellent both in speed, agility and edge work. He loves to rush the puck and has good offensive instincts. He’s an excellent passer capable of even making the stretch pass right on the tape. All indications are he has a hard shot & release too. He plays in a Men’s league but gets limited minutes which hinder his numbers a bit. He plays a very mature game for his age and for an undersized defenceman he plays a pretty feisty game. His hockey sense is extremely high and his work ethic is outstanding by all accounts which makes him a very intriguing pick. There are some questions about his offensive ceiling which may limit his potential. But, if nothing else he can be a reliable, puck moving defenceman who makes good decisions and provides a steady 2 way game. NHL Comparison: Not exactly the same player but I see some similarities with Sami Vatanen. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

21. Brayden Tracey (C)_____________________________________ 66 GP – 36G, 45A, 81 PTS

courtesy of whl.ca

While he might not have one defining Elite quality, Tracey looks to be a very good all-round player. He has outstanding puck skills and vision to make some sick passes or fakes. I really like his decision making as he sets up defenders. His shot & release are also very good. He does a good job changing angles & like to shoot through screens. Tracey has very quick hands especially in tight. His skating, while not elite certainly looks good enough & something that can be worked on. His first few steps are solid. Defensively, he needs work and consistency is a bit of an issue but there’s enough here to warrant the ranking. Like most prospects, he needs to get stronger. A smart, skilled player who stood out at the U18‘s for Canada playing with Jamieson Rees. Sneaky good player who might be flying under the radar a bit. NHL Comparison: David Perron. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

22. Philip Broberg (D) ____________________________ 49 GP – 4G, 13A, 17 PTS

No one could capitalize more off of a couple good tournaments than Broberg. He was all the talk of the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament back in August, and had a another strong tournament recently at the U18‘s. Broberg can dazzle with his end to end rushes. His top end speed is good though he isn’t the most agile. His offensive instincts are good but his puck skills are average. Broberg possesses a big shot including a deadly wrister. His passing accuracy is inconsistent at best. Defensively, he needs a lot of work in his zone. He does excel at breakouts quite often carrying it out himself. Positionally, he lets guys get behind him too often. His defensive awareness seems average. He also has a penchant for bad turnovers. Broberg does do a good job of being physical though and has an active stick he uses to break up plays. Doesn’t appear to be a Top pair defenceman despite the tantalizing end to end rushes. More likely a 2nd pair dman at best due to lack of awareness, puck skills & hockey sense. One of the more overrated prospects. NHL Comparison: If he settles down defensively, Mattias Ekholm. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

~~~

~

 

23. Raphael Lavoie (C) ___________________________________ 62 GP – 32G, 41A, 73 PTS

Lavoie is the one of the oldest prospects in this draft, having just missed the cut-off for being drafted last year by 10 days. That being said, he still put up good numbers last season with 30 goals & 63 points. Unfortunately, this year he wasn’t able to improve on those much (32 goals, 73 points) though he did get hot down the stretch and in the playoffs where he tore it up (19 goals in 19 games). Lavoie is a big kid who can really shoot the puck. His shot & release are deadly. He also has quick hands in tight. There are some questions whether he will be able to get his shot off as much as a pro since his speed & acceleration are lacking a bit. His shot selection also seems to be poor. Quite often he settles for a low percentage shot instead of better creating time and space to let it go. He’s a big kid so does a good job of shielding opponents as he goes hard to the net but isn’t overly physical. Many feel he has questionable hockey sense. Puck dies on his stick too often or leads to a turnover. Like Kirby Dach who is ranked just behind him, I struggle a bit to see how he creates offence at the next level. Looks better than he really is due to his big frame in Junior & big shot. He looks like Michael Handzus’ much younger twin brother. Comparison: Michael Handzus ***HIGHLIGHTS***

24. Kirby Dach (C) _____________________________________ 62 GP – 25G, 48A, 73 PTS

Ranked much lower than most pundits surely, Dach might be one of the move overrated prospects in this draft for me. Doesn’t mean he won’t be a good NHL‘er eventually, but I have too many doubts to rank him higher. Like many other prospects of his size in the past, Dach creates matchup problems for WHL defenders with his tall frame & long reach. That’s where so much of his offence comes from. I don’t see elite when I watch him, I see a kid bigger than everyone else that takes advantage. Once he gets to NHL, that will even out. He has decent speed for his size & a pretty good shot when he uses it but I struggle to see how he creates offence as a pro. He is also incredibly inconsistent. Dach had an 11 game streak where he only registered 1 assist from late November-December. He also went without a point in 24 different games this year. Krebs for example was on a much worse team that scored 80 less goals on the year & had only 18 different games where he failed to register a point. Cozens, also 18. Dach has been billed as a talented playmaker but he only had 23 even strength assists all year on a 45 win team. I don’t see Dach as a Top 6 center in the NHL but perhaps he can develop into a reliable 3rd line center like a Jordan Staal type. 41.2 FO% needs to better. Dach‘s game is reminiscent of so many other big kids that have come out of the CHL after having success but struggled to make their mark as a pro. I think people are overrating him because of his size. NHL Comparison: Logan Brown. *** HIGHLIGHTS ***

~

~

25. Samuel Fagemo (C)_____________________________________ 50 GP – 24G, 15A, 39 PTS

I don’t love his name but I like his game. Fagemo skates and shoots ANGRY. Natural goal scorer with a terrific shot and release. Love how he shoots off balanced reminiscent of Owen Tippett. Plays with tons of energy & is always around the puck. Hustles hard every shift. Doesn’t give up on plays. Creates several 2nd and 3rd chances. Was draft eligible last year but got hurt. Inconsistency & poor shot selection an issue. Makes questionable decisions at times & could be better in own zone. He could be Yakupov 2.0 which is why he’s ranked this low. No two prospects are identical though so if he can work on some of the deficiencies in his game he could be a real find. A highly skilled, energetic scorer who is as competitive as they come. NHL Comparison: Nail Yakupov. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

~~

26. Bobby Brink (RW) ____________________________________ 43 GP – 35G, 33A, 68 PTS

Brink is like a poor man’s version of Cole Caufield. They’re very similar in terms of strengths and weaknesses. Very quick hands & quick feet. Not overly fast in terms of speed but extremely agile, excellent edge work. Like a jitterbug on skates. Brink also owns a terrific wrist shot & release. Pinpoint accuracy.
Not the best one-timer. Has some jaw-dropping stick handling. Tends to lose the puck a lot trying to do too much at times. Feisty though, fights hard in puck battles despite his dimunitive size which is more reminiscent of Alex DeBrincat. Defensively responsible too. While Caufield has the more elite skillset overall, you could argue Brink battles harder for the puck. Of course, at his size injuries have to be a concern as we see guys like Kailer Yamamoto struggle with injuries playing that aggressive style despite the small frame. High risk game, limited speed, diminutive size make him a risk but he is super talented. NHL Comparison: Slower version of Kailer Yamamoto. *** HIGHLIGHTS ***

~

27. Artemi Kniazev (D) __________________________________ 55 GP – 13G, 21A, 34 PTS

Kniazev is a fabolous skater who excels at rushing the puck. He has such effortless strides and his wonderful agility makes him an excellent east-west defender. Excellent offensive instincts. He also owns a very good shot and release as indicated by the 13 goals7 of which were game winners. More than capable of running a Powerplay. Defensively, while he isn’t the biggest guy he certainly tries to throw his weight around and willingly engages in board battles. He needs to get stronger but at least the effort is there. He can be a bit erratic in his passes as he tries the stretch pass too much but he is still a good puck mover and excels at leading the breakout. People seem to be sleeping on this kid for some reason. He looks to be a real sleeper in this draft as a very effective puck mover who plays a solid 2 way game with good offensive upside. NHL Comparison: Bit bigger version of Samuel Girard.  *** HIGHLIGHTS ***

28. Arthur Kaliyev (RW)___________________________________ 67 GP – 51G, 51A, 102 PTS

courtesy ontariohockeyleague.com

Best scorer in the draft. Lethal shot, dynamite one-timer. Knows how to find the open ice. “Steal of the draft”. That was used to describe Eeli Tolvanen in 2017 but it could certainly apply to Kaliyev as well. Despite putting up monster numbers in the OHL, his overall game leaves much to be desired. Yes, he can rip the puck. But, so can so many other NHL‘ers. It’s what you do away from the puck that makes the difference and right now Kaliyev‘s game away from the puck needs a lot of work. He takes shifts off, he doesn’t engage in board battles, he coasts back on the defensive end and frankly is invisible many nights when the puck is not on his stick. He only seems interested in standing in the slot waiting for a one-timer while his teammates do all the heavy lifting. I’ve followed this player closely for 2 years. He doesn’t battle hard enough, is a stick checker, and quite frankly looks lazy and disinterested too often. But, he has a tremendous shot that is NHL caliber which gives him a chance. If he is able to round out his game in the AHL first like Tolvanen is trying to do then he could have a future. If not, he will go down as a 1st round bust. Plenty of skill with this prospect but really question the will. NHL Comparison: Eeli Tolvanen. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

29. Moritz Seider (D) _________________________ 29 GP – 2G, 4A, PTS

Seider is big & strong and plays a solid all round game. Not elite in anything but very reliable in his own zone and has sneaky upside. Good mobility, strong defender, good first pass, good decisions all over the ice. Seider has a pretty good shot and release that he just needs to use more. Can play Powerplay and Penalty kill. Consistent, doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. Viewed as a leader and very poised prospect. Not a sexy pick by any means, but Seider looks and plays like a veteran NHL‘er. Potential to solidify a team’s 2nd pair in the NHL. Smart, sturdy defender who can move the puck and should have an strong impact as a pro. NHL Comparison: Justin Braun. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

~

.

.

30. Cam York (D) ____________________________________ 63 GP – 14G, 51A, 65 PTS

York was the top defenceman on a loaded U.S. National team. I certainly feel like he benefited a lot from his teammates. He is a capable puck mover with good offensive instincts however. He can run a powerplay. Defensively, he relies on strong positioning & his skating to get him out of trouble. Good at breakouts, makes a good first pass. Pretty decent overall. That being said, York has the look and feel of a 2nd or 3rd pair defenceman at best. There’s just nothing real elite about him but he has experience playing with top players and is a very good skater. NHL Comparison: Damon Severson. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

~

31. Thomas Harley (D) _____________________ 68 GP – 11G, 47A, 58 PTS

courtesy of ontariohockeyleague.com

Harley is a terrific skater on the back end. He is an excellent puck mover capable of making a good first pass. He also has the ability to lead a breakout thanks to his wonderful mobility. His shot is average which doesn’t make him a big offensive threat but the passing is elite. Problem is, Harley is guilty of too many turnovers trying to do too much. Questionable decision making. He is also very weak in the defensive zone. To the point that he could be considered a liability. Physicality is almost non-existent in his game something that needs to change if he is going to make it as a pro. As of now, he’s pretty much just a stick checker & “finesse defender”. Too easy to play against in his own zone. If he is able to work on his game in the defensive zone he could become a Jay Bouwmeester type. Limited offence but solid defensively who brings good speed and puck moving ability to a team. If he doesn’t improve much, he might not make it all. Tremendous skater who needs work. NHL Comparison: Joe Morrow. ***HIGHLIGHTS***

~

To comment please do so via Twitter @TheOilKnight.

TheOilKnight.ca ©2019. All Rights Reserved.
Powered by WordPress. Theme by Phoenix Web Solutions