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Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by CF3234, Sep 14, 2017.
I wouldn’t have done either of them. The Rangers could have just given DeAngelo a 5 yr deal at 4.5 million per season instead of this atrocious contract.
They have done a great job stockpiling young defensemen so a deal like this wouldn’t be necessary. Somehow this team is already over the cap and this is a big reason why. This contract will cause the Rangers to give away a guy like Buchnevich who is far more valuable to this team than Trouba will ever be,
JD is almost as dumb as Sather. Hopefully Putin takes out Panarin so we can get out of that contract.
At this point I am convinced that if the rangers signed mcdavid for 10 years at 1 million a year you would complain about it.
This is not a good contract for this team especially when you factor in how many good young defensemen that they have in the system. In a salary cap league value is what counts and there is no value in this deal. I’m sure plenty of other terrible organizations would have made this deal with Trouba but that doesn’t make it smart.
Hey, I get your point I just don’t agree with it. Trouba is a good player. 25 years old, top 2 and right shot. 8 millions is a little much but based on his potential it’s pretty much what you have to pay.
You don’t have to pay it when you already have DeAngelo, Fox, Shattenkirk on the right side and a ton more guys on the way. Just a very poor way of spending money for this particular team which is loaded with defensemen.
Only fox might be good out of these. Shattenkirk is done. Deangelo, lol! Are you serious?
The Karlsson deal is probably worse with his injury problems but at least he is legitimately elite. Still that deal is going to end up being a disaster,
Yes I am serious that DeAngelo is a very good player and a deal for 5 years at 4.5 million per would be much better for the team than the Trouba contract.
If there was no salary cap I wouldn’t care but with a cap this is a terrible deal for the Rangers. I realize that I am in the minority on this subject but I will be proven right.
No you won’t but it’s all good
What do you think Trouba's trade value is?
At 8 million per year he has negative trade value.
I would rather have Buchnevich and DeAngelo signed long term for a combined 8-9 million per season than Trouba for 8 and 7 years. Clearly you don’t value cap management and have no idea how this signing will cause this team to lose a bunch of guys who could have been signed to far more favorable deals for the team. This team has loaded up on young defensemen through the draft and by trading for guys like Fox and Hajek so signings like this would not be necessary.
Trouba basically forced his way to the Rangers and they still couldn’t even get a favorable deal. Just an absolute embarrassment how this agent got the best of a weak front office.
Fox could be the next Matt Gilroy, and most of the other D prospects (while highly rated) are 2+ years away from being trusted NHLers.
They needed a top 4 defenseman immediately. And that is the new going rate for someone of that caliber.
The same will likely happen for a 2C in the next couple years.
The Rangers get rid of close to $30M in cap space with old awful contracts like Lundqvist, Staal, etc expiring. And they have young stud prospects at all of those positions on entry level deals still to make the trade extremely economical. Even without a possible cap increase due to new TV deal, they’re in absolutely fantastic financial shape for the mid and long term.
They just need to figure out the next two seasons cap-wise.
Imagine acquiring Kakko, Trouba and Panarin (both of those contracts will look great in 3 years, btw) in one offseason and complaining.
Your vision of the cap is stuck in 2006. Don't you think that at some point, if everyone but you thinks it's a good signing at a reasonable price that it just might be exactly that?
No chance of Fox being another Gilroy and we have so many defense prospects that surely a few will hit. No the Rangers do not need a top 4 defenseman immediately unless you believe this team is contending for anything other than a possible 8th seed if things go right.
As far as 8 million being the going rate for a guy like Trouba I argue that we don’t need to pay that number when DeAngelo can be signed for 5 years instead of 7 at approximately 4.5 instead of 8 million per season.
Tell me where the money is coming from to pay a 2nd center 8 million or so when we are already in cap hell after the Panarin and Trouba deals.
Cap will be 90 million by 2021 imo.
Completely ridiculous to applaud the Trouba deal while calling the Lundqvist deal awful when the king carried this awful franchise for the last decade. Without this goalie this franchise would have been a lot closer to Edmonton and not a franchise that had a considerable amount of playoff success all on the back of this goalie. Yes the Lundqvist deal looks bad at this point in time but you continue to ignore what he has meant to an otherwise terribly run franchise over his time as a Ranger.
No I don’t think having a contrarian view on this signing makes me wrong.
That’s possible but even then this will still be an unnecessary signing.
Quit calling Trouba a top 4 defenseman. He’s one of the best 31 D in the league. Factor in him being 25 and he’s (easily) arguably a top 20 most valuable D in the league.
The Canucks will trade you Myers for him straight up.
No Trouba is not one of the top 31 defensemen in the league.
The Myers deal was even worse than the one we gave to Trouba. I feel for you because the Canucks are actually more poorly run than the Rangers are.
If tradercane were the Rangers GM their cup window would be when Panarin was 32-33 and then they'd have to blow it up and start over again.
If I was the GM Panarin is either playing for the Panthers or Islanders.
Aquaman wants playoff dough more than anything right now more than long term success by building through the draft. I know we as fans of sports don't see or get the business aspect of sports either.
The Canucks just need to get rid of Eriksson, Sutter, Tanev, Pearson, and possibly Baertschi to be fine for the future salary cap wise. They have too many overpaid bottom 6 forwards at the moment. Need to still overhaul the D corp and draft another top 6 forward.
Only thing I agree with tradercane on this is that you would think the rangers could get some sort of a deal when trouba forced his way to them via trade. He clearly didn’t want to be in Winnipeg and they should have had enough leverage to get it at 7 or 7.5. It was a great trade though and is still a fair deal.
Anthony deangelo goes 1 year without drugs and other off the ice issues though and you want to wrap him up long term at decent money?
DeAngelo played great and we had no issues with him at all. Yes I would be much more comfortable at the years and cost with DeAngelo over Trouba.
Deangelo got scratched for “maturity reasons” like 5x
That's 22 and I'm being generous with some of them. Who am I missing here? (Don't say Rielly or Chabot, they're both legitimately bad, defensively)
Yeah this is still not the guy I am tying up to a long term contract. Give me a 1D at $8 million AAV over a shithead 4D at $4.5 million AAV.
Quinn also scratched Chytil and Buchnevich for the same bullshit that he cited DeAngelo for just showing that the coach is another idiot that doesn’t like young players. Fact is DeAngelo was far and away the best defenseman on this team and we could have locked him up for less years and at least 3 million cheaper than what we gave Trouba.
Trouba and Skjei will be the most overpaid first pair in the league.
Suburban mom drunk got an audible chuckle out of me
NHL's youtube is great
Wheeler's updated prospect rankings: I'd have Makar ahead of Hughes and Fox is maybe a tad high for me, but other than that a good read.
1. Jack Hughes, C, 18 (New Jersey Devils — 1st overall, 2019)
I didn’t give this a second thought. Hughes is going to be a star. If not immediately, then by the end of his rookie season. He’s a front-runner for the Calder, though linemates will likely dictate his ability to win it. I have almost no concerns about his size or his ability to stick at center and remain a dominant force. He’s going to be one of the better passers in hockey for more than a decade. Even if the goal totals are never going to be monumental, his blend of puck skill, speed and creativity will make him one of hockey’s more electric puck carriers.
2. Kaapo Kakko, RW, 18 (New York Rangers — 2nd overall, 2019)
Kakko’s impact should be more immediate. Part of that is driven by the kind of tools he has (the power and strength, the finishing touch, etc.) but part of it will also be driven by the role he’s likely to play right out of the gate as a go-to option for the Rangers. If the Devils want to, they can start Nico Hischier with Taylor Hall, a combination that they know already works, and work Hughes into tougher matchups as the season progresses. I suspect Kakko plays as the Rangers’ 1RW out of the gate. It’s going to be a lot of fun to watch.
3. Quinn Hughes, LHD, 19 (Vancouver Canucks — 7th overall, 2018)
Those who followed my 2018 NHL draft coverage at The Athletic will already know that he bounced between third and fourth on my board that year — and that I was surprised when he fell to the Canucks at No. 7. So this ranking shouldn’t surprise anyone, given that the two players who were clearly ahead of him on my board (Rasmus Dahlin and Andrei Svechnikov) have both since graduated. Like with his little brother, I’m not concerned that Quinn is 5-foot-10 because he’s such a proficient skater, playmaker and handler that he’s going to be on offense all game long. Plus he’s always been a mature defender for his age and that remains true in the way he closes gaps and recovers with his skating to get back to loose pucks and escape pressure.
4. Cale Makar, RHD, 20 (Colorado Avalanche — 4th overall, 2017)
Makar is going to be so good that he made retaining salary on a perennial 50-plus point defender make sense in order to upgrade elsewhere. The Avalanche are as well-prepared for contention over the next several years as any team in the NHL and Makar is going to be central to all of that success. He’s going to pull Avs fans out of their seats offensively and his defensive game has come a long way in the last 12 months. Norris contention in the not-too-distant future isn’t out of the question. He’s got a chance to be a true No. 1 defenceman, something I’m often hesitant to say about just about any D prospect.
5. Evan Bouchard, RHD, 19 (Edmonton Oilers — 10th overall, 2018)
As with Quinn, I’ve always been a little bullish on Bouchard, who finished at No. 7 on my final ranking ahead of the 2018 NHL draft. Though his NHL stint with the Oilers last season was probably a bit too much, too early, he didn’t let it hinder him after returning to junior and followed up historic draft year production with a pair of earth-shattering playoffs, first with the Knights and then with the AHL’s Bakersfield Condors. He can be a bit too lackadaisical in his own zone still and his skating is never going to be high end but I think he has learned to manage both of those well enough and his offensive game is as efficient as they come without ever being super flashy. The Oilers desperately need him to become a star and I’d bet on it.
(Terry Wilson / OHL Images)
6. Alex Turcotte, C, 18 (Los Angeles Kings — 5th overall, 2019)
My third-ranked player in the 2019 draft, Turcotte has everything needed to become a dominant, playmaking, two-way first-line center at the NHL. He’s an excellent passer, both in transition and off the cycle. He can handle the puck as the dominant carrier on his line. He can run a power play. He rarely loses battles along the wall. He supports the play well defensively. He’s going to be a factor in all-situations and a huge part of any Kings turnaround.
7. Cody Glass, C, 20 (Vegas Golden Knights — 6th overall, 2017)
For a while, though I recognized that Glass’ playmaking and puck protection were both extremely high-end (and matched with a strong defensive game), I was hesitant as to how aggressive he was going to be at the pro level. In spurts, he looked hesitant to get to his spots and be more than the dominant passer on his line and would fall back on the cross-ice pass a bit too often. But he looked confident late in the year and into the playoffs with the Chicago Wolves. If he can make defenders fear his ability to drive as much as they will likely fear his ability to put the puck through them to a teammate, he’s going to be a first-line center with size — and that’s enough to put him in the top 10 here. If he can’t, he probably bottoms out as a very good 2C. Either way, he’s going to be good.
8. Bowen Byram, LHD, 18 (Colorado Avalanche — 4th overall, 2019)
As if Cale Makar and Samuel Girard weren’t enough …
Note: You’ll notice Byram and Cozens have swapped yet again since my final top 100 ranking for the 2019 draft. That’s driven entirely by the roles I expect they’ll develop into with their respective teams, not of any sudden change in their talent level. Byram will have a better opportunity to reach his ceiling as a No. 1 defenceman with the Avs than Cozens will to become a No. 1 center on a team that already boasts Jack Eichel. Opportunity impacts projection. Cozen’s thumb surgery and the time he’s missing in a big summer certainly doesn’t help either. They’re still neck-and-neck for me, though.
9. Dylan Cozens, C, 18 (Buffalo Sabres — 7th overall, 2019)
Every team wants a big center who can really fly — and manages to make plays at top speed. That’s what the Sabres got when Cozens fell to them (at least by my evaluation). He’s exactly what the Sabres needed and could help give them enviable depth down the middle if Casey Mittelstadt can put the pieces together and give them three productive playmakers down the middle.
10. Adam Fox, RHD, 21 (New York Rangers — 66th overall, 2016)
I will die on the Adam Fox hill. Undeniably brilliant offensive tools, uncharacteristically good defensive decision-making for a player his age. If he doesn’t become a bona fide No. 1, he’ll be close.
11. Kirill Kaprizov, LW/RW, 22 (Minnesota Wild — 135th overall, 2015)
The oldest player on this list, Kaprizov led the KHL in goals last season with 30 in 59 games en route to a Gagarin Cup with CSKA. He’s likely to be in a similar position to Sorokin when I put this together a year from now because he still won’t have played an NHL game but his age will exclude him from consideration. If (or when) he decides to make the jump from the KHL, though, there will be no stopgap in the AHL as there is for many standout Russian forwards. Kaprizov would be an impact player in the Wild lineup if he were to come over tomorrow.
12. Filip Zadina, LW/RW, 19 (Detroit Red Wings — 6th overall, 2o18)
Zadina’s season probably didn’t go as he or the Red Wings had hoped and though he’s probably not going to be a line-carrying puck presence, the Red Wings have playmaking centers like Dylan Larkin and Joe Veleno who may be able to get the best out of him, though they missed an opportunity to take another when they passed on several high-end centers in favor of Moritz Seider. Zadina is young, can really break players down with his puck skill and can flat out score. That should be enough to make him a 30-30-60 guy (maybe more) and a dynamic threat on the power play. It may just not happen overnight.
13. Dante Fabbro, RHD, 21 (Nashville Predators — 17th overall, 2016)
Sometimes you don’t have to be flashy to be good. That’s Dante Fabbro. He’s the kid who figured out how hockey works: the process of moving the puck from a position of weakness (the defensive zone) to a position of strength (the offensive zone). If you can do that often enough, it doesn’t matter what happens between A and B, just that it happened. Some players out skill their opponents. Some outsmart them. Fabbro does the latter.
14. Adam Boqvist, RHD, 18 (Chicago Blackhawks — 8th overall, 2018)
The kid scored 30 goals in 65 games as a rookie defenceman in the world’s best junior league. And it’s not as though he was overtly older than everyone else. Boqvist doesn’t turn 19 until the middle of August. Here’s a running list of under-19 OHL defencemen in the last decade who’ve posted a combined regular season and playoffs goals per game above 0.30:
1. Adam Boqvist: 0.46
2. Ryan Murphy: 0.40
T3. Jakob Chychrun/Ryan Sproul: 0.38
T5. Evan Bouchard/Aaron Ekblad: 0.37
7. Vince Dunn: 0.34
8. Bode Wilde: 0.33
9. Dougie Hamilton: 0.32
There are two busts in that group, but there are also a handful of stars (or kids who will be within too long). Boqvist is well clear of the pack — and just scratching the surface. He’s going to make mistakes defensively but his offensive talent will propel him to where he needs to get to. Plus, he’s going to be frighteningly good on the power play.
15. Nick Suzuki, C/RW, 19 (Montreal Canadiens — 13th overall, 2017)
Nick Suzuki is really good at hockey. Nick Suzuki had a really good year. Nick Suzuki is really fun to watch. You get the point. The only question about Suzuki remains one of position. Is he going to be a second-line center or is he going to be a first-line winger? And which has more value? I suspect the answer is winger to both of those questions, though I do believe he has the talent the skillset needed to stick at center under different circumstances. Either way, he’s going to be really fun to watch. Really.
16. Martin Necas, C/RW (Carolina Hurricanes — 12th overall, 2017)
Suzuki’s questions apply to Necas, too. And I suspect the answers are the same. Some players are just better suited to distribute from the perimeter and work their way from the outside-in, rather than driving through the middle. Necas definitely is. And he’s the kind of dynamic, puck dominant, playmaking winger that every team covets, particularly a team that needs cost-controlled impact forwards, which the Hurricanes always seem to need. A Svechnikov-Aho-Necas line would be appointment viewing off the rush. Necas has a chance to be a difference-maker for the Canes in the right role.
17. Matthew Boldy, LW/RW, 18 (Minnesota Wild — 12th overall, 2019)
There are two sides to Matt Boldy. There’s the mediocre skating, which resulted in him sliding a little more than I expected he would at the draft. And then there’s everything else. Everything else is exciting. The blend of playmaking skill and scoring touch, the blend of strength and puck protection, the game with and without the puck. All of it screams impact forward. Give him a year or two to continue to get stronger and add a stride or two and the Wild may have a player who can really drive a top-six line and play with a variety of linemate types.
18. Kirby Dach, C, 18 (Chicago Blackhawks — 3rd overall, 2019)
It’s not hard to imagine a scenario where Dach finishes his career as the third-best player in the 2019 draft. And though I wouldn’t have taken him third overall in 2019, he sat comfortably in my 6-8 range (and occasionally a slot or two higher) for most of the season. Dach is big, he has range, he’s getting stronger, he taught himself to go to the net more last season and he has high-end passing ability off the cycle. Mix in decent skating for a player his size and you’ve got an extremely exciting package of skills that every team covets in a first- or second-line center.
19. Aleksi Heponiemi, C/W, 20 (Florida Panthers — 40th overall, 2017)
Aleksi Heponiemi is an enigma. He’s the 150-pound kid who can play center, likes the right wing despite shooting left and has just kind of weaved his way in and out of traffic en route to stardom — against all odds — at every level he has ever played at. Not only is he one of the best passers outside of the NHL, but you rarely feel like you’re watching a kid who has a pronounced strength disadvantage. There are few players as light as Heponiemi in the NHL. But he’s going to be the exception because he’s either making the play that’s one step ahead of his opponent’s anticipation or he’s just burning them with speed and agility. And then, suddenly, you’re less worried about the odd board battle he loses.
20. Erik Brannstrom, LHD, 19 (Ottawa Senators — 15th overall, 2017)
If Fabbro is the defender who bores his way to victory, Brannstrom is the one who dazzles his way there. And though the result may be the same, his looks flashier and comes in waves rather than constant stability. Still, you take the good over the bad with a player like Brannstrom. The Senators need more players like him, players who can take over a game in an instant. Those players make a difference, even if they come with the odd headache.
21. Noah Dobson, RHD, 19 (New York Islanders — 12th overall, 2018)
Dobson is the type of defenceman teams go in search of at every draft and never find. He’s long, he can fly, he has learned to control his instincts and frame in order to make the right play more consistently, and he shoots right!
(Marissa Baecker / CHL Images)
22. Drake Batherson, C/RW, 21 (Ottawa Senators — 121st overall, 2017)
Batherson hasn’t traveled the linear path most of the top prospects on this list have but here he is anyway, just continuing to be one of the most efficient players in every league he plays in, most recently as a member of the AHL’s All-Rookie Team. Batherson doesn’t have that one skill that leaps out at you. He can’t skate like the Hughes brothers. He can’t shoot like Cole Caufield. He can’t pass like Heponiemi. He doesn’t have the size of a Dach or a Cozens. But he does everything so well that the puck ends up out of his zone, through the neutral zone and established in the offensive zone for scoring chances. And that’s the name of the game. He’s the Dante Fabbro of forwards.
23. Juuso Valimaki, LHD, 20 (Calgary Flames — 16th overall, 2017)
Long a favorite of mine, Valimaki is the antithesis to a lot of the smaller defenceman you’ll notice I’m really high on here. In a game that’s now built on finesse and subtlety, Valimaki is the big, strong, powerful defender who is physical along the boards and can bomb it from the offensive zone blue line. But he’s also cerebral when he needs to be, a stout defender when timing and stick work are called for over physicality and a strong outlet passer. He’s the kind of D partner every player wants alongside them and someone who could support a better player on the top pairing or carry a bottom pairing.
24. Cam York, LHD, 18 (Philadelphia Flyers — 14th overall, 2019)
Cam York’s not built to be a No. 1 defenceman but he has everything he needs to make his team better when he’s on the ice than when he’s off of it and that probably makes him a very good No. 2 or an excellent No. 3 at the next level. Some evaluators argue he benefitted from playing as the top offensive defenceman on arguably the most talented national development program team ever. I’ve long argued that he made them better and his status as a legitimately high-end prospect is his own. He’s not going to replace Hughes at the University of Michigan next year but he’s going to become their best defenceman nonetheless.
25. Cole Caufield, RW, 18 (Montreal Canadiens — 15th overall, 2019)
Goal Goalfield is more like it.
(I understand if you stopped reading just now. If you didn’t, just know that I had Caufield at No. 10 on my board, the Canadiens stole him at No. 15, and I’m not concerned about his size holding him back because he’s too darn good at getting open.)
26. Henri Jokiharju, RHD, 20 (Buffalo Sabres — 29th overall, 2017)
“He loves me, he loves me not.”
That’s the gist of Jokiharju’s rookie season. And regardless of how his head coach in Chicago felt about him, Jokiharju makes a lot of sense for the Sabres and they ought to be excited about what they’re getting because he’s got the chance to be a good No. 2 or No. 3 defenceman, even if there isn’t enough talent there to be a No. 1 guy. And while it won’t happen immediately, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jokiharju is Dahlin’s wingman in a year or two’s time. His poise under pressure is enviable and it should, in time, make him a possession-driving, modern NHL defenceman who can play in transition or slow things down to his tempo.
27. Eeli Tolvanen, RW/LW, 20 (Nashville Predators — 30th overall, 2017)
It’s easy to be uninspired by Tolvanen’s 2018-2019 season. Despite winning gold at the world juniors, he didn’t take over the tournament like many thought he would. He wasn’t among the better rookies in the AHL — and finished with 35 points in 58 games. But if you dig a little deeper, there’s more to the story. His shot totals were extremely high at the world juniors, even if the goals didn’t come. His 35 points ranked tied for second with Zadina (and trailing only Necas) among all under-20 AHL players. For most, his season would be considered a resounding success. But after the monumental year, he had a season earlier in the KHL, which included outstanding showings as a teenager at both the Olympics and the world championships, many expected Tolvanen to bypass the AHL for instant impact in the NHL — and the rest is viewed through that tint. But Tolvanen is still really good. I’d still bet on him being a steal at 30th overall in that 2017 draft, and on him becoming a top-six forward who is dynamic on the power play.
28. Alex Newhook, C, 18 (Colorado Avalanche — 16th overall, 2019)
Though it’s true that players like Tyson Jost and Johnny Tychonick haven’t quite met the expectations many had for them (at least not yet, it’s still early), I don’t believe that is cause to sour on the BCHL as a legitimate option for top-end players. The Avs clearly aren’t deterred either, and I think they landed a potential steal when they took Newhook 16th overall. An honest evaluation of his skillset has to leave you excited: He was one of the better skaters in the draft with an explosive pull-away gear few others have, he can make plays at top speed, his shot has improved dramatically, and he’s already built for the pro game from a strength perspective.
29. Trevor Zegras, C, 18 (Anaheim Ducks — 9th overall, 2019)
Though Zegras’ ceiling is among the highest in the 2019 class, there’s also some risk associated with his game in that he needs to develop more of a finishing touch around the net and he needs to get a lot stronger (something that’s rarely needed among development program grads). Few prospects on the planet have the creativity and the ability to break down defensive zone structures with a pass like Zegras does, though. There’s also a pest element to his game that allows him to play bigger and louder than he looks.
30. Jordan Kyrou, C/RW, 21 (St. Louis Blues — 35th overall, 2016)
Kyrou is hockey’s road runner and opposing defencemen are often Wile E. Coyotes. One of the better pure skaters on the planet, Kyrou has always needed a little bit of time for the rest of his skills (which include a high-end release that he should use more often and a strong playmaking knack given the pace he has). Once he puts it all together at the NHL level, he’s going to be a new-age top-six forward who can give his line a different, tough-to-match dynamic.
31. Peyton Krebs, C, 18 (Vegas Golden Knights — 17th overall, 2019)
Krebs’ Achilles injury represents a tough blow for a fantastic player during a critical summer that should have included the World Junior Summer Showcase and a strong offseason of getting stronger but now won’t. And though Krebs is on the smaller side for a center, his willingness to hunt the puck and support the play help offset some of the deficiency defensively, allowing a gifted offensive toolset that includes excellent lateral quickness and playmaking touch to shine. Though he’s probably going to play the next two seasons in the WHL, the reward may be worth the wait for a Vegas team that doesn’t have to rush him.
32. Morgan Frost, C, 20 (Philadelphia Flyers — 27th overall, 2017)
There were legitimate questions about Frost’s tempo for parts of his junior career. Those questions should be in the rearview mirror for most scouts by now, though. Whether he’s a center or a winger at the NHL level is of little consequence to me because Frost’s ability to play off of his linemates and find different ways to create offensively will allow him to adapt and find his niche. It wouldn’t surprise me if he sticks around for all 82 games with the Flyers next season and that niche becomes a middle-six forward who may be something more within a few years.
(Terry Wilson / OHL Images)
33. Joe Veleno, C, 19 (Detroit Red Wings — 30th overall, 2018)
I believed Veleno should have been a top-15 pick on draft day and I still believe that a year later after his first full season on a strong QMJHL team led to the best point per game clip (1.76) in the league (narrowly ahead of Alexis Lafreniere’s 1.72 rate). Veleno has been miscast as someone who’s going to be a very good third-line center due to the fact that his two-way game is more well-rounded than his high-end peers. That was true when he was shoved into a fourth-line role on last year’s version of Team Canada at the world juniors on a team that ultimately lost in the quarters. And it’s true in the way a lot of evaluators talk about him. I see something more. Because Veleno is also an excellent skater whose scoring touch has begun to catch up to his elite speed and cerebral playmaking talent. There’s impact 2C upside in his game.
34. Ryan Merkley, RHD, 18 (San Jose Sharks — 21st overall, 2018)
I know the baggage. I know the Guelph Storm, during a contending year, traded one of the most talented players in the league because they felt they couldn’t win with him as the focal point. I know there’s major risk involved in his game — and in his attitude. But he still hasn’t turned 19 and he’s too good not to figure it out.
35. Joel Farabee, LW, 19 (Philadelphia Flyers — 14th overall, 2018)
There’s something about Farabee’s game that you just can’t put your finger on. It’s not as though he’s some otherworldly talent. He just makes the right play almost every time he has the puck, those players are often a step ahead, and the result is a player who can just figure things out in any role. He’s the kind of player who could support superior players on a first line or carry a third line offensively. Either way, I’m confident he’s going to find a way to make his teammates better and drive scoring chances when he’s on the ice. He always has.
36. Vitali Kravtsov, RW/LW, 19 (New York Rangers — 9th overall, 2018)
I was a little lower on Kravtsov than most during his draft year (he finished at No. 15 in my final top-100 ranking) but he followed it up with an impressive sophomore season as a teenager in the KHL. While I still don’t see huge offensive upside in Kravtsov’s game at the NHL level, he’s 6-foot-4 and he has a chance to be a 50-plus point player, which has major value in a league that’s getting smaller. He’s going to be a big part of the Rangers rebuild and gives them another strong offensive threat on the wing.
37. Jason Robertson, LW, 19 (Dallas Stars — 39th overall, 2017)
Robertson is the anti-power forward. He is 6-foot-2 and more than 200 pounds and when you expect him to drop a shoulder and drive the net, he will instead beat you with some impressive finesse and puck control, or pull up and find the trailer. He’s the kid who, instead of winding up and ripping his release, will softly pick his corner and score cleanly with his accuracy. Robertson represents a home run for a team that has swung and missed on a lot of players at the draft in recent memory.
38. Emil Bemstrom, RW, 20 (Columbus Blue Jackets — 117th overall, 2017)
I have often been critical of the value placed on the ability of a player to shoot the puck. There’s way more needed in today’s game to be successful than a nice release that can cleanly beat goalies. It often overstates the talent of top prospects, from Kieffer Bellows to Owen Tippett. I now often ask myself the following: In League X, will Shooter Y be able to get open — or get the puck back so that he can have possession to begin with? The answer to that question with Bemstrom has slowly become “Yes.” His knack for shifting away from checkers before sliding back into the open space behind them is extremely impressive. It resulted in the third-most goals by an under-20 SHL player ever, behind only Kent Nilsson and Elias Pettersson. He’s a little one-dimensional but the Blue Jackets need finishers and he could fill a void.
39. Alexandre Texier, C/LW, 19 (Columbus Blue Jackets — 45th overall, 2017)
Texier is one of the best success stories in hockey and his growth curve in the last two years has been astonishing. He looks like he’s only just beginning to scratch the surface, too. Texier plays fast and agile, weaving in and out of traffic to get to his spots or draw attention so that his teammates can. I love his versatility. It’s going to make him a player who can play on any of the Blue Jackets’ top three lines while helping out on the power play.
40. Ty Smith, LHD, 19 (New Jersey Devils — 17th overall, 2018)
Smith never had the take-your-breath-away talent of some of his 2018 defense peers, like an Adam Boqvist or a Ryan Merkley. Still, the efficiency of his stride and the pace he manages to play with as a defender who can escape pressure and move the puck up the ice with a pass or his feet make him the kind of modern-day defenceman that will figure it out at the NHL level and very likely drive possession. Smith’s not going to be a No. 1 but his ceiling projects as a decent No. 2 or a standout No. 3 who can complement a variety of partner types.
41. Barrett Hayton, C, 19 (Arizona Coyotes — 5th overall, 2018)
The idea that the Coyotes shouldn’t have taken Hayton at No. 5 still rings true to me more than a year later, but I’m less bullish about it today than I was at the time. Does Hayton have the upside of a Quinn Hughes or an Evan Bouchard? Absolutely not. Can he be a line-driving middle-six center on a good team, while helping out on both special teams? Absolutely. Hayton is a coach’s dream and an effective two-way hockey player. That makes him an excellent prospect, even if it doesn’t make him a star.
42. Rasmus Sandin, LHD, 19 (Toronto Maple Leafs — 29th overall, 2018)
Sandin’s growth wasn’t quite Texier-level but it was astonishing. He became a top-pairing AHL defenceman as an 18-year-old, logging big minutes and moving the needle offensively in ways few players his age ever have in the league. And while there are still some kinks in his game defensively, his willingness to play physically for his size matched with his ability to evade pressure and escape the zone should mean that he doesn’t have to spend too much time defending at the next level. Sandin’s not going to be a top-pairing guy but he has a chance to be an impressive second-pairing defenceman at 5-on-5 who can help out on the second units of your special teams.
(Christian Bonin / TSGPhoto.com)
43. Kristian Vesalainen, RW/LW, 20 (Winnipeg Jets — 24th overall, 2017)
I have always found Vesalainen to be one of the toughest of the top prospects in hockey to get a proper gauge of. That was true in his draft year and it’s true now. In some viewings, he looks like a player who is uninvolved and doesn’t properly utilize his blend of size and control. In other viewings, he looks possessed and unstoppable, the kind of one-man cycle that every team covets in a top-six winger. But it just seems to waver. If a coach can get the most out of him he’s going to be tough to contain. That’s enough for him to remain on this list.
44. Troy Terry, RW/C, 21 (Anaheim Ducks — 148th overall, 2015)
And then here’s a kid who rarely wavers and has earned his way into the conversation as a top prospect after being overshadowed as a fourth-line player on one of the two most talented development program teams we’ve ever seen. Terry is the kind of player who can play anywhere in a lineup and make it work but has slowly developed his offensive game in order to project as a strong top-six forward rather than a useful bottom-six one. Credit where it’s due. Terry was a year younger than many players in his draft class due to a September 10 birthday and he has just carved out a role as an invaluable option for every coach he’s ever played for.
45. Oliver Wahlstrom, RW, 19 (New York Islanders — 11th overall, 2018)
I was really high on Wahlstrom a year ago this time but there’s no hiding the fact that he had a bad year (albeit on a bad Boston College team), even if he redeemed himself with a strong showing in the AHL when it was all over. And though he’ll be turning pro full-time this fall, he’s a bit further away than I expected he would be. When he was drafted, I saw Wahlstrom as a one-and-done dominant college player who had a moderate chance to leap into the NHL in October of 2019. Now, I would argue he needs at least a full year in the AHL to work on his pace of play. The pure puck skills are there.
46. Bode Wilde, RHD, 19 (New York Islanders — 41st overall, 2018)
Wilde is a lot like Vesalainen in that my evaluation of his game has run hot and cold, driven primarily by the fact that his brilliance was often matched by some ugly moments — or weeks. That began to turn the corner in the OHL though. He was outstanding, basically right from the hop. Wilde’s athletic ability is clear: He’s big and he can really skate for his size. But it was always the decision-making that made me scratch my head. While I ranked him higher a year ago than where he was taken (I had him at No. 25 on my board), Wilde would go even higher than where I had him in a re-draft.
47. Sam Steel, C, 21 (Anaheim Ducks — 30th overall, 2016)
Sam Steel is that prospect that anyone can watch play and they all probably come away with the same conclusion.
“Yeah, that guy’s going to be a second line NHL forward.”
There’s nothing special about him. He’s not going to be a star. He’s not going to be a first-line guy. There’s also nothing any scout could really point to as a “that guy’s going to be a bust” argument. He’s good without being great. Every team has — and needs — those guys.
48. Jake Bean, LHD, 21 (Carolina Hurricanes — 13th overall, 2016)
Take what I said about Sam Steel and then replace “second line NHL forward” with “second pairing NHL defenceman.”
You can’t help but enjoy watching Jake Bean play. Are there any major flaws in his game? Nope. Is there anyone skill that screams star power? Nope. But he skates really well, he’s calculated with and without the puck, he can make plays at the offensive zone blueline, he can escape pressure below his goalline, and he’s willing to activate and use his shot. I’m a fan.
49. Dillon Dube, C/LW, 20 (Calgary Flames — 56th overall, 2016)
Most kids begin with talent and figure out how to play hockey after. Dube begun by figuring out the ins and outs of being a strong two-way hockey player before his talent caught up. Now it has and he’s got everything he needs to be a versatile NHL forward.
50. Ryan Poehling, C, 20 (Montreal Canadiens — 25th overall, 2017)
I was at the Bell Centre for Poehling’s end-of-season hat trick against the Leafs and it was one of the better hockey games I’ve covered live despite the fact that it was utterly meaningless. And Poehling was magic. It’s a night he’ll never forget. I do, however, think it convinced some that he’s going to step right into the Canadiens roster next year and be an impact guy. I’m not as convinced. His offensive game isn’t actually the strength of his skillset. In fact, it probably prevents him from being more than a strong middle-six guy. It’s the other stuff that I love about what Poehling offers — and that ultimately pushed him into this ranking. It’s the defensive-zone play, his willingness to apply back pressure, his knack for lifting pucks, and his likely ability to be a very good checking center at the NHL level. Poehling is probably the only player on this list who I think projects more as a third-line forward than a top-six guy. But some third-line players have more of an impact on a game than a lot of decent second-line guys by virtue of their ability to take on tougher matchups. Poehling has a chance to be that guy.
thought Frost would be higher after the year he put together last season.