Official Chicago Blackhawks Thread: RIP Blackhawks 2008-2016

Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by Illinihockey, Apr 9, 2015.

  1. Bankz

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    Yes because our pressing need is more scoring....

    Need 2 or maybe 3 new defense men
     
  2. Illinihockey

    Illinihockey Well-Known Member
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    My idea is to trade Gustfasson for a top NHL ready prospect. I know thats easier said than done, but we've seen it happen before and a 60 pt defenseman that is super cheap could be very enticing to a team.
     
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  3. visa

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    Q hired by panthers. No real surprise
     
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  4. Illinihockey

    Illinihockey Well-Known Member
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    Moved up from 12 to 3. Was hoping we’d get top 2
     
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  5. Bankz

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    Top 3 after almost blowing the tank... i'll take it
     
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  6. The Banks

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    So you going D at 3?
     
  7. Bankz

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    Could see one of Kakko or Podkolzin being selected with the pick
     
  8. Illinihockey

    Illinihockey Well-Known Member
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    I think so unless the rangers over think it and pass on Kakko
     
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  9. The Banks

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    Kakko isn't getting passed up, there's a better chance he goes 1 than 3. So one vote for Podko one for Byram?
     
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  10. Illinihockey

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  11. Bankz

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    I would prefer Podko.. But I wouldn't be upset in any way if they go Bryram.

    I trust Stan to get the pick right...
     
  12. Fran Tarkenton

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    Dont want to go D

    Cozens seems like the surest pick, Podko most upside. Lets hope the rangers fuck this up and pass on Kakko.
     
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  13. Illinihockey

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    Our defense is still awful and I’m not sure we have a sure fire 1 yet.
     
  14. Bankz

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    our best prospects are d-men who are likely going to be on the roster next year...
     
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  15. Fran Tarkenton

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    Yea I still dont know why you were in favor of the Boquist pick last year. Was at best going to take *years* to develop physically, unlike Bouchard. And Im not sure he ever projected as a sure fire 1D. (I wanted Wahlstrom)

    Stan has used last 3 first rounders on D. Can't keep neglecting Forwards and expect someone to emerge in the Top 6. Lot harder to find elite Scoring than Defense. Our D prospect pool is far superior to what we have in the Fwd pipeline. Given that context, would be malpractice with a Top-3 pick to go back to D given the high end potential of some of the forwards.

    Id get the argument at #3 if we are talking a deep draft with an otherwise #1 overall type that slips bc teams value C/Wing over Defense i.e. a Noah Hanifin.
     
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  16. Fran Tarkenton

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    Get someone with scoring ability, at most, 1 CHL/AHL year left to develop + provide some juice to the back half of the Toews/Kane era.

    Ideally someone that can take the torch eventually. Should be able to find a franchise type talent.
     
  17. The Banks

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    Disagree
     
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  18. Illinihockey

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    Bovqist isn't going to be on the roster next year. Ian Mitchell isn't going to be on the roster next year. Jokaharju will be on the roster but to me he doesn't profile as a top pairing defenseman. Even if he did, you draft BPA at 3
     
  19. Illinihockey

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    100%. Its really hard to find a top pairing defense. Meanwhile you had 45 guys put up 30 goals this year. Fuck look at the Hawks who had 2 40 goal scorers and a 30 goal scorer and sucked ass because they had no defense.
     
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  20. Illinihockey

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    Except they have. In the last few years, Stan has added Panarin, Debrincat, and Strome without using a first round pick on any of them. The Hawks were 9th in the league in goals scored. Had they had Strome and Perilini at the start of the year they might have finished top 5. Meanwhile they gave up the 2nd most goals in the league. That doesn't scream add an elite scorer to me.
     
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  21. Illinihockey

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    Going to be a very interesting summer for the Hawks. Ideally I wish they'd get Debrincat and Strome locked up to long term deals. I also wonder what Crawford would want for a 2 year extension. If the pick is Byram, I'd be very interested to know what the Hawks could get for Gustafsson. I would think a 60 point defesneman making next to nothing would bring back an elite forward prospect even if he's only under contract for one year. Either way the Hawks either need to extend him or move him before next season starts. Also very interested to see if Seabrook might be interested in playing in Florida. I don't know what it'd take to move him, probably something like 30%-50% retention and one of Jokaharju/Mitchell/Beaudin...I wouldn't give up Bovqist just to move him though. Losing Teuvo to move Bickell still stings.
     
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  22. Bankz

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    Gustafsson is so fucking poor defensively... Hopefully some idiot GM ignores that and we get a nice return
     
  23. Truman

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    Im eating lunch @ Just Salad in the Loop. Jamal Mayers sighting. Always forget how tiny some of these NHL players are.

    Youre welcome for this riveting story.
     
  24. Fran Tarkenton

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    Scott Powers in The Athletic mock draft (has Cozens going next at #4).

    No. 3. Chicago Blackhawks
    Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA-MHL

    June 24, 2001 | 6-foot-1 | 190 pounds

    Scott Powers: The first two picks in this draft are obvious. The third isn’t so much, but the Blackhawks will be more than happy to accept that challenge considering they finished with the 12th-worst record. Podkolzin has a lot going for him. He’s a power winger with skill, goal-scoring ability and a competitive edge. The Blackhawks don’t have a lot of size coming up in their pipeline, so he could fit a need too. The question will be how soon he’ll leave Russia for the NHL. He’s reportedly under contract with SKA for a few more years.

    Pronman’s take: In Podkolzin, Chicago gets a highly skilled, intelligent and competitive winger who can create and finish plays at a high level. The talent is first-line forward caliber. The main concern on Podkolzin is his contract (another two years in the KHL), and the team that has his rights (SKA). On talent, though, he would be the Blackhawks’ best prospect in a decade.
     
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  25. Illinihockey

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    While I agree, I've met Jamal Mayers a couple of times and I definitely wouldn't describe him as tiny. He is a damn handsome man though
     
  26. Illinihockey

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    I'd be happy with Podkolzin but not if he can't come over for 2 more years. Has to be guaranteed he's coming next season.
     
  27. Fran Tarkenton

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    Agree
     
  28. Fran Tarkenton

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    Ian Mitchell going back to Denver U

     
  29. Illinihockey

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    Don't like it and thats a bullshit excuse
     
  30. wes tegg

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    I think we could've beaten Calgary if we'd slipped in.
     
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  31. Fran Tarkenton

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    The Blackhawks have been active in terms of bringing in international free agents in recent years and if they have their way, they’ll do so again this summer. Jimmy Greenfield of the Chicago Tribune reports that on top of wanting Russian winger Ilya Mikheyev (Toronto and Vegas appear to be the favorites to land him), they also have interest in Swedish winger Anton Wedin.

    The 26-year-old had been more of a complementary player with Timra in recent years but when they were promoted to the SHL for this past season, his offense took off. Despite missing 20 games due to injury, Wedin finished third on the team in scoring with 14 goals and 13 assists in 32 contests and then led the team in scoring in their seven-game relegation series (one they lost) with two goals and seven helpers.

    The fact that Timra is once again heading to the second tier Allsvenskan could very well make Wedin amenable to leaving. Chicago has a few vacancies to fill up front for next season and while they have more salary cap space to work with than usual, that could change quickly if they opt to make a big splash on the free agent market. They fared well when they brought winger Dominik Kahun over last offseason and someone like Wedin could have a chance to make a similar impact if they’re able to agree on a contract.
     
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  32. Fran Tarkenton

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    By Corey Pronman
    May 2, 2019[​IMG] 146 [​IMG]
    The IIHF men’s U18 World Championship in Örnsköldsvik and Umeå, Sweden, these past two weeks was the unofficial conclusion of the NHL Draft season, as most prospects of note have now finished their season.

    There’s a lot of information that came out of that event, which will inform our coverage of the 2019 NHL Draft over the coming weeks. For now, here were the main bullet points from the tournament.

    Third-overall pick: Four weeks ago if I had polled NHL scouts about who would be the No. 3 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, most would have answered winger Vasili Podkolzin of SKA in Russia. That answer changed to a shoulder shrug.

    Coming out of the tournament, there is no clear third-best player, but rather a rather large group being considered for such a high draft slot, all of which would be reasonable selections for Chicago.

    No prospect has truly grabbed that third-best prospect title. Some teams disagree. Some executives think there is a player who has done that, but the player they name is not universal among sources, adding further evidence of a blob rather than a clear candidate.

    There are numerous candidates who would fit for Chicago. I’ll go through their cases to be the pick very briefly here in no order, with much more detail to come in the next few weeks. Presume for this exercise Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko are the first two picks. I would not say that is a 100 percent certainty, but I would be 95 percent confident it happens based on discussions with NHL sources, so we’ll proceed with that hypothetical.

    These players are picked because I have at least heard their name mentioned at the very top of the draft by at least one NHL source, not because that is where I have them ranked.

    • Vasili Podkolzin: Podkolzin was an impactful player at most international events the past two seasons, except the most recent one. He’s an elite power winger with good but not great performances in a small sample of league play. There’s a lot of skill and physicality in his game but some skating issues, too.
    • Kirby Dach: Dach has all the tools you want in a No. 1 center. He had a midseason lull, but was good down the stretch and especially in the playoffs where scouts were impressed by how he played versus a top team in Prince Albert. Big men with his skill, feet and IQ are hard to find, but he has consistency issues. He missed the U18 tournament due to injury.
    • Dylan Cozens: Cozens’ U18 tournament was good not amazing, but he’s been a top player at other events and was great in the WHL. He’s a big center with a ton of speed and power elements. Questions emerged over the season as to whether his puck game is elite enough to be the guy at No. 3, but he’s still a great prospect.
    • Bowen Byram: The only player from this group whose season is ongoing as the Giants head to the WHL finals. He’s a dynamic skater and puck-mover who scored a ridiculous amount for a U18 defenseman and plays heavy minutes. Some scouts question if his hockey IQ is elite enough to be the third pick; others believe he could be the guy.
    • Alex Turcotte: Turcotte was simply awesome when he was playing this season, but he didn’t play much. Multiple injuries and illness sidelined him for lengthy stretches, creating a sample size issue on his viewings. He showed a ton of speed, skill and grit when he did play and showed he deserves to be in the conversation for the third pick.
    • Trevor Zegras: Zegras had a great season, becoming a fixture running USA’s first power play and filling in as the main playmaker when Jack Hughes wasn’t with the team. Zegras is an elite passer who might lack the size or pace of guys like Cozens and Turcotte but can make plays that almost nobody else in the crop can make.
    • Matthew Boldy: Boldy was a player who emerged over his two years at the USNTDP. He’s a big winger with a ton of skill and hockey sense. His U18s were also great, minus a poor game in the semifinals. Some scouts think his size and skill combination make him a consideration at this slot.
    • Peyton Krebs: Since the summer at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, Krebs hasn’t had much to work with on a line. Moving from mediocre at best CHL talents as linemates to Cozens and Alex Newhook allowed Krebs to have the puck a lot more. “When you add [Krebs] with those two players, it shows how good a player he is, how well he distributes the puck,” said Canada coach Brett Gibson. Krebs may not be the guy at the No. 3 pick, but his U18 tournament along with his pace and IQ at least made him a plausible pick.
    • Philip Broberg: Broberg was one of the best defensemen at the U18s, reminding people how good he can look versus his age group. He was up and down versus men in the Allsvenskan, but he’s got elite feet and enough offense to be intriguing; it just might not be enough for third overall.
    • Alex Newhook: Newhook was cut from Canada’s U18 camp in the summer for the Hlinka Gretzky and was good but not amazing at the World Jr. A Challenge. It was thus good to see him as a top player for Canada at the U18’s and one of the better playmakers in the tournament. He might not be worthy of third overall, but his play in the BCHL and 18’s at least got some scouts excited. He’s a dynamic skater and passer.
    • Cole Caufield: Caufield was my vote for MVP of the tournament, an honor he did eventually win. He scored 14 goals, moving his season total to 72. He scored them in several different ways. Snipe jobs, hard plays to the net and breakaways. Caufield has had doubters in the industry all season, myself included in terms of the top 10 range, but he’s done too many good things lately. A six-goal game, a 14-goal tournament, so much skill and hockey sense, and a special shot that were all on display in Sweden made him a candidate with the very best in the draft crop. Talking to teams around the tournament, several scouts felt the 5-foot-7 winger was a candidate to be a top-five pick, with others feeling he’s more in the 6-10 range.
     
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  33. Fran Tarkenton

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    Im starting to think Byram is the pick if Podkolzin is a no-go. Turcotte the local kid will be eh. Couzens just seems like your basic 2C.
     
  34. Illinihockey

    Illinihockey Well-Known Member
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    Draft Byram, offer sheet Marner. Profit
     
  35. Bankz

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    Podko has established himself as the 3rd best prospect for nearly the entire evaluation period. Has one average tournament and now people want to toss out the body of work? Yeah no thanks on that. Listening to some podcast and reading some articles it doesn't seem like the KHL deal will be a big issue. He may play one more season but be in Chicago a year from now.

    I'm still firmly team Podko
     
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  36. Bankz

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    Hawks should have around 20m to spend this offseason... Thoughts on how they should spend it. I am of the thinking you splash the bulk of that cash at the Bread Man. If that fails spread it out. I'm not big on paying some of these older but very good players a big dollar deal.
     
  37. Fran Tarkenton

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    I wanted Skinner but the front office could go several directions
     
  38. Illinihockey

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    Mitch Marner offer sheet
     
  39. Illinihockey

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    He hasn’t dominated anywhere. If you’re a winger going in the top 5 you better be ready in your draft year and you better be great
     
  40. Fran Tarkenton

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    Powers -

    6. So, let’s discuss the draft. Everything I’ve heard is the Blackhawks are deliberating between Bowen Byram, Dylan Cozens, Kirby Dach, Alex Turcotte and Trevor Zegras for the third pick.

    Byram makes a lot of sense for the Blackhawks. He’s the consensus best defenseman in the draft. Getting the best D-man in the draft is often a game-changer. As good as Boqvist may be, he was still considered the third- or fourth-best defenseman in last year’s draft. Henri Jokiharju was the eighth defenseman taken in 2017.

    Let’s look historically at the top defensemen taken in recent drafts. It was Rasmus Dahlin last year. In 2017, Miro Heiskanen and Cale Makar were drafted consecutively. In 2016, Olli Juolevi was the first defenseman taken, but there were plenty of people who had Mikhail Sergachev rated higher than him. In 2015, Noah Hanifin was the first defenseman drafted and was followed closely by Zach Werenski. In 2014, Aaron Ekblad was the first taken. In 2013, Seth Jones was the first to go. In 2012, Ryan Murray, Griffin Reinhart, Morgan Rielly and Hampus Lindholm were drafted in the first six picks. Adam Larsson (2011) and Erik Gubranson (2010) were also the first defensemen in their respective draft years.

    There are some misses in there, but there are mostly hits. From what most experts are saying, there isn’t a lot of risk with Byram. He just led the WHL playoffs in points.

    Byram is different enough and probably enough of an upgrade over the Blackhawks’ current defenseman prospects for them to consider selecting him. He could be in their lineup to begin the 2019-20 season. Between Byram, Jokiharju, Boqvist, Beaudin and Mitchell – and potentially defenseman prospects like Dennis Gilbert, Chad Krys and Lucas Carlsson – the Blackhawks could be set up for many, many years to come.

    One question is whether the Blackhawks already feel like they’re in a great position with their young defensemen. There is some patience probably needed with Boqvist and Beaudin. Mitchell’s at least a year away. The Blackhawks felt Jokiharju was better off in Rockford late last season. You would think Jokiharju begins next season in the NHL, but there are no guarantees.

    The other main question is whether they can realistically find a spot for someone like Byram next season. The Blackhawks already have a numbers issue that probably has to be taken care of this offseason. They have Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Connor Murphy, Erik Gustafsson, Slater Koekkoek and Carl Dahlstrom signed for next season. Dahlstrom is waiver exempt, so he could start the season in Rockford. Gustav Forsling is going to become a restricted free agent and will likely be re-signed. He’d also have to go through waivers to begin next season. You figure they want to find a spot for Jokiharju. Plus, there’s the possibility of another young defenseman being ready out of camp.

    On top of all that, the Blackhawks’ defense was one of the worst in the NHL last season and probably should be fine-tuned through trades or free agency. That could be a tall task, especially if they’re drafting another defenseman.

    [​IMG]

    Alex Turcotte is from the Chicago area and played for the Chicago Mission. (Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    7. For all those reasons, the Blackhawks probably don’t draft Byram unless there is a multi-layered plan to create a spot for him and still definitively upgrade the defense. Maybe the Blackhawks seek a bigger defenseman in the second round? Germany’s Moritz Seider, who is 6-foot-4 and 198 pounds, would be a great get, but he may not be still around. I also wouldn’t rule out the Blackhawks looking at some Finnish players, as Finland U20 coach Jussi Ahokas has been helping the Blackhawks this spring.

    So with Byram unlikely, that leaves the forwards. Beyond Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko, I believe Turcotte has the most upside of that next group of forwards. It’s why I went with him in the upcoming Athletic mock draft. Everything I’m hearing is he has a lot of traits Jonathan Toews showed at that age. Turcotte certainly has high-end skill, but he’s also focused and works hard, traits you want in developing players.

    I don’t think Turcotte will be ready for the NHL next season, though. One source thought Turcotte would do at least one year at Wisconsin, where the Blackhawks have good relationships with Badgers head coach Tony Granato and associate head coach Mark Osiecki. Madison is obviously a short drive from Chicago, too. The Badgers have one of the nation’s better recruiting classes, which includes Cole Caufield, and should be a top team in college hockey next season.
     
  41. Fran Tarkenton

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    iirc Elliotte Friedman said on his last podcast that it was Byram, Turcotte or Zegras

    insinuated that Podkolzin is not an option bc the Hawks (and Kings) want someone playing in NHL sooner than later, and Podko will stay in Russia through his contract.

    Starting to think Byram is the pick. Surest thing and can contribute asap. But agree with Powers that it will require moving out someone currently on D.
     
  42. Illinihockey

    Illinihockey Well-Known Member
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    Draft Byram no matter what. I'd try to trade Gus for top 6 forward prospect or young player.
     
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  43. Bankz

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    There is a very good chance that Jokiharju and Mitchell will be on the roster next season. Beaudin isn't far off and Boqvist is maybe another season away. If we draft Byram we are looking at three defensemen under 21 years old next year. I don't mind the idea of having youth learn at the top level but that seems like way to much youth.

    If I'm the blackhawks i'm taking Cozens because it seems like Podko seems like he won't be coming over till his contract is up.
     
  44. Fran Tarkenton

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    Mitchell is going back to college. Growing risk he gets to free agency.

    But yea we need to move some of the older, mediocre commodities.
     
  45. Bankz

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    Ahh yes he’s the one who said he has more to work on.

    Any word on Barratt ?
     
  46. Fran Tarkenton

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    Going back to PSU too. Think he was told that route though.
     
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  47. Fran Tarkenton

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    By Corey Pronman 2h ago[​IMG] 65 [​IMG]
    The 2019 NHL Draft is an above-average draft class given there are so many forwards and particularly centers at the top, which have less projection risk than defensemen. The top tier has two fantastic prospects who could be true impact players in the NHL. The strength of this year’s USNTDP team is evident, with four players from that team appearing in the top six, and five in the top 10.

    Last season I introduced the tiering system I used in my draft rankings and farm system rankings. I split players up into these tiers:

    • Special prospect: Projects to be one of the very best players in the league at their position.
    • Elite prospect: Projects to be top 10-15 percent of the league at their position.
    • High-end prospect: Projects as a top-line forward who can play on your PP1/top pairing defenseman. This is an upper half of the first round quality prospect.
    • Very good prospect: Projects as a top-six forward/top-four defenseman/starting goaltender. A prospect I would endorse using a first-round pick on.
    • Legit NHL prospect: Projects to be a regular player in the league, likely in a bottom half of the roster role. A prospect who I would endorse using a second-round pick on.
    • Has a chance: Has a chance to be a regular NHL player, if something about their game changes substantially. This is a prospect I would endorse selecting in the second half of the draft. This tier could theoretically extend the list to 150-plus players, but I cut it off at the point where I lost excitement in the available players as NHL prospects.
    These tiers will be used again, but with a small change. Any glance at a draft pick value chart will reveal there are rarely steep drops outside of the very top of the draft, which a strict tiering system could convey. It is a continuum. In that spirit, I am introducing what I will call “bubble tiers” to show that a player is in between two tiers.

    Careful observers will note this year’s list is longer than last year’s, and the tiers at the top are slightly larger. I would not read much into that, other than me slightly loosening the standards on the tiers in a mild change of my process.

    I will grade tools on the 20-80 scale. In this scale, 50 projects as pro average, 55 as above-average, 60 top third, 70 as elite and 80 as among the very best, 45 is below-average and 40 is fringe pro quality. I will have grades on skating, puck skills, physicality and hockey sense for every player. I will grade their shot if it is notably good or poor.

    Talent typically wins out in my rankings. Skill and hockey sense are the attributes I value the most. I think skating is slightly more important for forwards, and physicality more important for defenders. For tiebreaking, I tend to prefer forwards to defensemen, and centers to wingers. I also value success in pro leagues as a tiebreaker.

    These rankings are based on thousands of hours of research from the past two years, spanning many trips to rinks across the hockey world, from Bonnyville, Alberta, to Fort St. John, British Columbia, to Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. It is also based on a ton of video work, analyzing player’s production, and discussions with scouts, coaches and executives. While I seek input from many sources, these are solely my opinions and will deviate from NHL sources, even significantly in some instances. This is not a projection of what will happen on draft weekend.

    We hope you enjoy this feature, and that it helps your understanding of the upcoming NHL Draft class.

    Guide to the NHL Draft | Live Q&A with Pronman, Friday at noon ET

    Special NHL Prospect/Elite NHL Player
    1. Jack Hughes, C, USNTDP-USHL
    May 14, 2001 | 5-foot-10 | 168 pounds

    Skating: 70
    Puck Skills: 65
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 65

    Jack Hughes is one of the best USA prospects to be a first-year, draft-eligible prospect and could be the first USNTDP player to make the direct jump to the NHL. What makes Hughes a top prospect isn’t his skill level, but his pace. He’s a unique skater who is so tough when he gets going with speed. Defenses can see it coming, and they still can’t stop it. His speed is dangerous but particularly his edge work is special. He spins off pressure so well and can create space for himself like few others with his cutbacks. He’s got a high skill level and fantastic vision with the puck, and at a standstill, he can make highly skilled plays. But what makes Hughes stand out from your typical playmaker is how he makes those plays at a million miles an hour. He’ll put pucks through legs while skating full speed and hit a target across the ice. He has a small, slight frame, and plays hard, which can lead to him getting knocked around a bit. His compete level is high, though. When he loses a puck, he wants the puck as bad as anyone on the ice, and he attacks the net without fear. He has the potential to be a star, play-driving, No. 1 center.

    USNTDP U18 coach John Wroblewski on Hughes: “The electricity when he hits the ice, it’s undeniable. It’s controlled chaos. He is top speed, flying around the sheet. Only he and a couple other guys know what’s happening.”

    Special/Elite Bubble
    1. Kaapo Kakko, LW, TPS-Liiga
    Feb. 13, 2001 | 6-foot-2 | 190 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 65
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 65

    Kakko had a fantastic season in Finland, playing significant minutes in the country’s top league and showing flashes of dominance versus men in Liiga and at the World Championships. Kakko has a ton of skill in his game. He’s got the high-end hands to make plays through defenders and the cute dangles that will make highlight reels. Kakko can make the real tough passes and makes a lot of great decisions, but his creativity is what impressed me most. He improvises very well, with the high offensive IQ to know how to create offense versus men. Kakko has good size, and he’s not afraid to lean on guys. He’s not a crash and bang type, but he protects pucks very well, he takes pucks hard to the net and he already showed that he can power his way past pro defensemen as a 17-year-old. His speed is just average for me. He’s not slow, but his skating is not the selling point of his game. Despite average speed, he gets inside to the net so well because of how fearless and strong he is. Kakko could be an impact forward in the NHL, whether at the wing and possibly even at center, and should transition quickly into that role.

    TPS manager Antero Niittymaki on Kakko: “His stick handling and overall skill level is one of the best I’ve ever seen at his age. We put him on the top line early in the year, and even though he was this young, skinny guy, you could see right away he’s strong with the puck in the corners. He’s really balanced on his skates. It’s tough to knock him off the puck. Since the world juniors, he was dominant in regards to (his physical play). He can hang onto the puck as long as he wants. He’s NHL ready.”

    Elite NHL Prospect/Star NHL Player
    1. Alex Turcotte, C, USNTDP-USHL
    Feb. 26, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 194 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 50
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Turcotte had a tough season, missing time due to injury and contracting mononucleosis late in the season. When healthy, though, he was awesome and a dominant center at the USHL level. He’s a well-rounded prospect without any clear weakness in his game and a lot of high-end elements. He’s a great skater with a clean stride and can barrel down the wing with speed. Turcotte’s speed is good, not overwhelming, but he’s got a fantastic first step and a great overall pace to his game. He combines that pace with very good hands and vision, showing how versatile a threat he can be. He can make creative plays off the flank and sees his options well. It’s not just his speed and skill that stand out, but his compete level is elite. Turcotte is the kind of forward who can dangle around defensemen, blow by them or drive his way through them. He gets to the net, consistently and without fear. He battles for pucks as hard as anyone and typically wins them, even at 5-foot-11. He’s not the biggest center, but that is really the only criticism I can find of his game. Turcotte has been a top prospect for many years and this season he showed exactly why he’s been so touted.

    USNTDP U18 coach John Wroblewski on Turcotte: “Sandpaper and silk. He’s the perfect blend of speed, skill and power. He’s kind of a Brad Marchand type who plays center. He’s got that 1-on-1 ability, he’s got a great shot in tight, unbelievable vision and he plays with an edge. His game is predicated on him driving the puck to the net and putting the opposition on their heels. His bravery combined with his speed makes him the player that he is.”

    1. Bowen Byram, D, Vancouver-WHL
    June 13, 2001 | 6-foot-0 | 192 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 50
    Hockey Sense: 60
    Shot Grade: 60

    Byram is my top ranked defenseman in this draft class. He was often asked to play 30 minutes a game for the Giants, showing immense offensive potential, including leading the WHL playoffs in scoring. Byram is a high-end skater with the ability to lead a rush and close gaps. He’s got quick-twitch feet and a great first step. He’s very active with his skating, as I often see him join rushes and lead ones, and he can activate well off the blueline. He’s very skilled. I don’t think he’s truly tapped into how good offensively he can be despite his great numbers. He’s got fantastic puck skills. I’ve watched him in practice manipulate the puck at an elite level. While he makes plenty of skilled plays, I think his individual creativity has another level than he’s shown. I didn’t see him consistently make high-end passes through seams at the offensive blueline. He has that in his game, but at times he relies on his skating and shot. He’s a very patient and poised player who sees the game develop and has great outlets, which is why I give his IQ a 60 grade. Byram has an accurate shot and scored quite a few difficult goals from a distance this season. Defensively he’s solid with good gaps, awareness and compete level, plus some physical edge; but it’s how often the team has the puck when he’s on the ice that makes him so good.

    Vancouver Giants coach Michael Dyck on Byram: “His ability to jump away from checks is elite. He’s got a great first four steps. He moves well laterally across the blue line. He can defend speed off the rush. His puck skills are elite. He can move the puck and has a great sense to find the open man and playing fast.”

    1. Cole Caufield, RW, USNTDP-USHL
    Jan. 2, 2001 | 5-foot-7 | 157 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 65
    Physical Game: 20
    Hockey Sense: 60
    Shot Grade: 80

    Caufield scored 72 goals this past season. That wasn’t a typo. He’s one of the best goal-scorers to become eligible for the draft in recent years. Caufield’s shot is special. There’s plenty of snipers out there, but Caufield’s wrist shot technique is like a slingshot. He gets control of the puck and fires it a million miles an hour on target. He’s not going to pick a corner every shot, but his finishing rate is very good and he scored some of the most amazing goals I saw all season at any level. He’s got a good one-timer/slap shot, but it’s his wrist shot that is special. He’s more than a shot, as in most games Caufield would have four-plus scoring chances. Part of that was due to having Hughes as his linemate, but mostly it was due to Caufield’s skill set. His puck skills are fantastic. Every touch he makes is smooth. He can make the 1-on-1 plays versus defenders, but he has such quick, crisp touches that it allows him to get so many clean shots. His offensive timing is excellent, and he reads how plays develop very well. He’s got great vision, with the ability to make plays in open ice and off the rush. He’s not as great a skater as you’d hope for 5-foot-7, but he’s an above-average speedster who can flash a tier above. His size is his main drawback, but Caufield competes well and attacks the net to score goals. There are ways to pick apart his game. I’ve done it plenty watching him the past two years, but at the end of the day, he scored 72 goals. It’s a lot of goals.

    USNTDP U18 coach John Wroblewski on Caufield: “I’ve never seen purer hands coming through the NTDP. When he catches a puck, it lays flat. Every pass or shot explodes off his stick. It’s not the flashy dangles, it’s pure, it’s clean. His shot is so accurate. He hits so many crossbars and elbows in practice, it’s insane.”

    Elite/High-End Bubble
    1. Trevor Zegras, C, USNTDP-USHL
    May 20, 2001 | six-foot | 168 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 75

    Zegras was fantastic all season for the USNTDP and was a go-to guy for the program when they needed a goal. In terms of pure offensive skill, he’s the best in the draft class. He’s a special playmaker and one of the best passers I’ve seen as a first-year draft-eligible in recent years. It’s not just that he sees the options, it’s also the fact his timing is elite in terms of when to execute plays, and he has the high-end skill to feather pucks into the right spots. His imagination gets the highest praise from me. He’s made some very creative one-touch plays where he’s knocking pucks that were behind him onto the sticks of teammates or firing a bullet pass while spinning with the puck on his backhand. He’s known as a playmaker but has a sneaky good shot and can pick a corner if you give him time. Zegras has fine speed, very good edge work and hands to evade checks. He can push the pace when he wants to, but for a small, slight forward, he slows it down a bit too much for me. He’s not the biggest or bulkiest pivot and has at times played wing this season, but he’s gotten steadily better in the physical parts of the game and will push back when opponents get physical with him. Zegras isn’t a guy who you pick to run over guys, though; you’re drafting him to slot onto the half-wall of your first power play and get the puck to the scorers on his wing for a decade.

    USNTDP center Jack Hughes on Zegras: “He’s the most creative player on our team. He thinks outside the box, he’s really smart and super crafty with his hands and movements. He’s really slippery. He’s an easy guy to play with knowing he’ll always give you great passes.”

    1. Dylan Cozens, C, Lethbridge-WHL
    Feb. 9, 2001 | 6-foot-3 | 185 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 65
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Cozens is a very well-rounded prospect. For the past two seasons in the WHL and in international play, he consistently impressed. Cozens measures in at 6-foot-3 and is a very good skater, not just for his size, but overall. That combination alone makes him a handful to deal with when a guy that size comes barreling through the neutral zone. He doesn’t just skate fast, he consistently pushes the pace and plays the game hard. Cozens is not going to do a fancy between the legs kind of play, but he gets by defenders with dekes at full speed, makes skilled plays to the net and can make plays in small areas. He’s not a dynamic playmaker, but he’ll have the odd play that will hit that level and his vision can surprise defenders. He has a shoot-first mentality and, for Lethbridge, would often be the team’s shot off the flank on the man advantage. Cozens can be deployed in any situation and competes hard every shift with a bit of an edge to his game without taking a ton of penalties.

    Lethbridge Hurricanes coach Brent Kisio on Cozens: “He’s a difference maker. He’s very fast and utilizes his speed very well. His playmaking abilities are exceptional. He’s a reliable two-way player.”

    High-end NHL Prospect
    1. Matthew Boldy, LW, USNTDP-USHL
    April 5, 2001 | 6-foot-2 | 187 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 65
    Physical Game: 55
    Hockey Sense: 65

    Boldy didn’t join the USNTDP as a top prospect, in fact, he was on the bubble to make the team. A sudden growth spurt combined with a great skill level spiked his prospect stock. Boldy is a unique winger in how he plays the game. His combination of puck skills and hockey IQ are among the best in the draft. His hand-eye coordination is off the charts. Pucks stick to him. He’s also incredibly creative and made some of the best passes I saw all season. I wouldn’t call him a natural playmaker, though; he prefers to play below the dots and around the net rather than QB a power play. While he’s a great passer, Boldy has a quality shot and was often used as a trigger guy from the slot. Boldy’s consistency was an issue this season. When competing hard, he’s often catching unsuspecting players on the backcheck and gets to the net to score. However, he had stretches this season where he didn’t impact games, and sometimes they were long stretches. His main weakness over the years was his skating. I think it’s improved to an average level, but he’s not a powerful skater and his stride could be cleaned up.

    USNTDP U18 coach John Wroblewski on Boldy: “Boldy grew from 5-foot-10 to 6-foot-2. His development trajectory has been steep. He can be a power forward. He has excellent hands and vision. He can finish, he can run a power play, he can be a net-front guy. The puck is attached to him.”

    1. Philip Broberg, D, AIK-Allsvenskan
    June 25, 2001 | 6-foot-3 | 203 pounds

    Skating: 70
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Broberg exploded onto the scene this season with a great Hlinka Gretzky tournament. He had good stretches in the Allsvenskan, some so-so stretches that coincided with an illness and he finished off strong at the U18s. His value comes from his athleticism. He’s a 6-foot-3 defenseman who is an elite skater. That combination alone is scary. There are some rushes he’s made this season where the opposition didn’t even have a chance to get a stick on the puck because he needs a few steps and he’s blazing by guys. However, I found in league games he was hesitant to push the pace versus men like he did versus his peers. He has that ability and it may be a maturation thing. Broberg is divisive due to his offensive upside. I think there is some offense to his game. He executes give-and-goes in a clever way to make the most of his skating, he moves the puck decent on the power play, and he flashes both good handling and distributing skills. He can be careless with the puck too, and often I’ve seen him make terrible turnovers, but I’ve also seen a few high-level plays with the puck. If you’re expecting more, you’ll be disappointed. But if you want a two-way defenseman with size who can close a gap, man a second power play and transition the offense at even strength at a high level, he’s your man.

    AIK manager Anders Gozzi on Broberg: “Broberg has enormous potential and will play in the NHL in the near future. He is one of the best defenders we have gotten in AIK throughout the years due to his skating and skill level.”

    1. Kirby Dach, C, Saskatoon-WHL
    Jan. 21, 2001 | 6-foot-4 | 198 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 60

    When you think of what teams are looking for in a No. 1 center, it looks a lot like Dach. He’s a right-shot centerman who measures in around 6-foot-4, with a lot of skill and offensive IQ, and plays heavy minutes. He makes high-end plays to his teammates and through defenders with consistency. His vision particularly stands out. He has great patience, finds guys in traffic and makes tough passes when you least expect it. He’s a prototypical power play QB and plays a 5-foot-10 skill game in a big man’s body. Dach showed that he can play all situations. He’s not the most physical big man, but he’s reliable defensively and often played more than 20 minutes a night for Saskatoon in tough matchups. At the Hlinka Gretzky Cup, he showed he could be a net-front guy on the power play. Dach has good speed. His feet don’t match his skill and his first step could be a bit better, but overall he’s the total package and a player who projects to be a front-line center in the NHL. His consistency is the only issue I have. With his toolkit, he should have dominated the WHL, but he only did that in stretches with a midseason lull, though he ended his season strong.

    Saskatoon Blades coach Mitch Love on Dach: “He’s a student of the game. He’s got a very high hockey IQ. His playmaking ability is second to none. There aren’t many 6-foot-4, 200 pound, 17-year-old players who can play center the way he can.”



    1. Alex Newhook, C, Victoria-BCHL
    Jan. 28, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 190 pounds

    Skating: 65
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 65

    Newhook was fantastic in the BCHL for the past two seasons, as one of the most dominant Jr. A players of the modern era. He’s one of the most entertaining and dynamic players in the draft. His skating, hands and vision all get plus grades. He can push the pace with his speed. He’s got quick-twitch feet at full speed, which allows him to jet by defenders, and great edge work to create space in tight areas. He’s often asked to carry the puck up the ice, and he does so very well. Newhook makes plays at full speed, often blowing by defenders, while also being able to pull up and make a play at pace. I’ve seen him make some very creative passes where he hits a tight lane with little time or hitting a man on the tape while he’s going 100 miles an hour. He’s also very skilled, and often makes tough plays to lose a defender and create space. Newhook isn’t just a skill guy, he competes well too, which combined with his great speed allows him to always be around the puck. I don’t know if he’ll be a true defensive center in the NHL due to his size and I wouldn’t call him overly physical, but I like that he battles. The one knock on Newhook is, at the levels with higher pace than the BCHL such as the World Jr. A or Hlinka U18 camp where he was cut, he wasn’t dominant; but he was great at the IIHF U18 tournament.

    Victoria Grizzlies GM/coach Craig Didmon on Newhook: “He has great endurance, he doesn’t tire and wears his opponents down. He can attack in a variety of ways. He has great speed, a great shot on the fly and sees the ice very well. He can play 200 feet.”

    1. Vasili Podkolzin, RW, SKA-VHL
    June 24, 2001 | 6-foot-1 | 190 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 60
    Shot Grade: 60

    Podkolzin played a lot of hockey this season between multiple levels of junior, pro and international hockey, and impressed almost every single time. He almost always seems to have an impact on a game. He’s super talented but also an elite competitor. Podkolzin can make the flashy plays to deke defenders, but he rarely does that off a standstill or along the walls. He has hard skill. Podkolzin is typically full speed ahead to the net; and if he needs to go around or through you, he will. He’s also a very good playmaker and finisher who can take advantage of space if defenders make off him by making a pass or sniping from a distance. Quite often he made passes this season that were elite, but he didn’t rack up that many assists. The one thing that bugs me about him is his skating. His stride is a little awkward and inefficient, he’s hunched over, kicks his heels out, but he generates decent speed and hustles so hard that any technical flaw isn’t that exposed. He has two years left on his KHL contract with SKA and told The Athletic he intends to see that contract out.

    Russian U18 coach Vladimir Filatov on Podkolzin: “He’s the heart of a team. He always wants to set an example on and off the ice. He’s maybe not the most elite skill player or an elite sniper, but he’s a leader, he runs the game. His game is always about controlling the puck, pushing the play forward and putting everything on the net.”

    High-end/Very Good Bubble
    1. Peyton Krebs, C, Kootenay-WHL
    Jan. 26, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 181 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 65

    Krebs was in a tough situation on a rebuilding Kootenay team this season, but he was everything that team could have hoped for. He was an all-situations center, a 17-year-old captain and a consistent offensive threat. Krebs has a giddy-up in his step, as he skates quite well, and has so much energy to his game. He’s always on the move, be it winding up in his defensive zone or hunting down pucks. Some scouts feel his feet are high end. I see more just good, but I see the argument for his overall pace. Krebs is also a fantastic playmaker and one of the best passers in the draft. He’s always looking to make a play and has some of the most creative plays I’ve seen this season. His seam pass completion rate is very high. Krebs is also a competitive defensive forward who can kill penalties and be trusted to do so in the pros. He has some push back in his game and isn’t afraid to mix it up. Some scouts said he’s a high-end skill guy. I haven’t seen that; rather I see a skilled player who looks to use his teammates more than do it all himself. He’s a play-driving center who can be used in any situation and that’s very valuable.

    Winnipeg ICE coach James Patrick on Krebs: “He’s a very mature kid. He does everything possible off ice to make himself better. He goes full out effort all the time on the ice. He’s skilled, he can skate, he can make so many plays. I expect him to be an explosive top-six forward in the NHL.”

    1. Arthur Kaliyev, LW, Hamilton-OHL
    June 26, 2001 | 6-foot-2 | 190 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 50
    Hockey Sense: 65
    Shot Grade: 60

    Kaliyev lit up the OHL this season, as one of the few modern-day OHL players to score 50 goals as a 17-year-old. He’s one of the best goal-scorers in the CHL and often had more than 10 shot attempts in a game. He’s not going to go bar down that often, but his shot is an absolute rocket, and if goalies are not in position, they won’t have time to adjust once he lets it go. Kaliyev is also a very good playmaker who makes high-end plays. Those 50 goals were complemented with 50 assists. Due to his shot and vision, he’s an absolute weapon on the man advantage who can run a unit and pick apart defenses. He’s skilled but Kaliyev isn’t a player who can go end-to-end. He skates OK, but the main criticism of his game is his pace and compete. Kaliyev can often look like he’s not going that hard and will have long stretches of indifference. With that said, even in the many games where he looks like he’s doing nothing, you’ll check the box score and see one goal and two points. Thus the question is whether his style of play will translate to the NHL pace. He’s one of the most divisive prospects in this year’s draft.

    Vince Laise, the acting coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs, on Kaliyev: “Arthur is one of the most dynamic players I’ve coached in the OHL in my six years here. I coached Dylan Strome and Alex DeBrincat. In my opinion, Arthur is just as good a player as either of those two. Arthur has the ability to find the back of the net just as those two did at the same age. They differ in play styles, but all achieve what NHL organizations look for. Arthur is more than just a power play producer, his underlying value is his ability to produce at even strength and his playmaking. He’s been as coachable as they come and a pleasure to work with.”

    1. Ryan Suzuki, C, Barrie-OHL
    May 28, 2001 | six-foot | 172 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 65

    Suzuki, the younger brother of Montreal prospect Nick Suzuki, has been a top playmaker in the OHL since being drafted first-overall in 2017. His vision is outstanding, with the ability to wait out lanes and hit passes through seams at a very high rate. He’s skilled with flashes of plus hands, and he can navigate in tight spaces. He doesn’t have as good a shot as his brother, but he’s a better skater with a bit of a separation gear to gain the zone and create space for his playmaking. Ryan Suzuki’s criticism among scouts is his lack of physicality, especially as a smaller/slighter forward. However, he will get to the middle of the ice to make a play. I like how he defends due to how smart he is, and he can kill penalties at the amateur level. Some will look at his production this season (25 goals-75 points in 65 games) and not be wowed, but he didn’t play on a good team. It’s fair to say he hasn’t been as dominant as he could be with his talent level, but he’s a good player and projects to be a top-six center.

    Barrie Colts coach Dale Hawerchuk on Suzuki: “He has real strong hockey sense. He handles the puck well, he sees it well. He’s got all the tools it takes to be a good NHLer.”

    1. Cam York, D, USNTDP-USHL
    Jan. 5, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 176 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 60

    York was the No. 1 defenseman on the NTDP this past season, the main power play QB for most of the season and had one of the most productive statistical careers ever by an NTDP defender. York’s hockey sense is what makes him so valuable. His poise with the puck is fantastic. He’s never pressured into bad decisions and exhibits great vision. His teammates constantly praise what a calming influence he is when he has the puck. York has a high skill level but often does not lean on his stick handling, preferring to make a play to his forwards. York skates well. He lacks a dynamic top gear you’d like in a small defenseman, but he can skate pucks out of trouble or into the offensive zone. He defends well due to his feet and great brain, but it will be interesting to see how that translates versus men, as I wouldn’t call him a top-tier defender.

    USNTDP center Jack Hughes on York: “He’s such a smart player, so steady and never in the wrong position. He moves the puck quick. His first pass is always on the tape. He can skate the puck up and shoot it. He’s a real good defender, too.”

    Very Good NHL Prospect/First-Round Pick
    1. Philip Tomasino, C, Niagara-OHL
    July 28, 2001 | six-foot | 181 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Tomasino is a very talented forward who started the season down the lineup but worked his way into a decent role on a top OHL team. He’s got all the tools to succeed in the modern day NHL. He’s a very fast skater with high-end puck skills and the vision to make difficult plays. His pace is good but I wish he used his high-end speed a bit more. Tomasino is a threat off the rush due to how quickly his feet and hands move, and when you think of “playing fast,” he’s a guy who is built to do that. He looks to make plays, often finding tight lanes, and he has the creativity to make unique passes. Tomasino has a slight build and isn’t the best at winning 1-on-1 battles in the tough areas. He can at times get pushed around and out of the game, and other times he’ll drive the tough areas. He’ll need to work on the consistency of his play and making the most of his tools, but he’s got the ability to impact a shift like few in this class do.

    Niagara IceDogs coach Billy Burke on Tomasino: “His speed and his skating stand out. He’s fast from the start of his shift to the end of his shift. He’s able to find his teammates and make plays while he’s going fast. He’s developing into a dynamic playmaker.

    1. Nils Hoglander, LW, Rogle-SHL
    Dec. 20, 2000 | 5-foot-9 | 185 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 70
    Physical Game: 35
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Hoglander had a quality first season in the SHL as a top-nine forward for Rogle who showed his high-skill game can translate versus men. Hoglander has the best hands in the draft. When he has the puck on his stick, he’s trying to make a skilled play. His puck handling is lightning quick and he often leaves defenders in a knot with how he dangles while in stride. He’s not a selfish dangler, though, as he’s a great passer and looks for his teammates constantly. He’s not a typical playmaker you see run a power play and hang around the half-wall hitting seam passes. He’s always in motion and makes creative feeds. Hoglander isn’t the biggest forward at 5-foot-9, but he plays with a lot of energy and engages well. He’s got a bit of an edge to his game, too. He’s a decent skater, more elusive than a burner with very good edges, but he can turn a corner when he needs to. I wish he had more of a dangerous top gear because versus men he got eliminated along walls quite often on zone entries.

    Rogle manager Chris Abbott on Hoglander: “His skill is high-end, his small area play is high-end. He’s hard, strong, he fends off pressure very well. We have the puck when he’s on the ice.”

    1. Patrik Puistola, LW, Taapara-Liiga
    Jan. 11, 2001 | six foot | 174 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 65
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 60

    I saw Puistola two years ago at the U17s in British Columbia and was very impressed by his skill, identifying him as a possible second/third-round prospect. Since then he’s continued to do nothing but impress at the junior and pro levels. He’s one of the best puck handlers in the draft. As a 17-year-old he made pro defenders look foolish, and he has the high level of creativity to try to make tough plays every game. He’s a good passer, but I wouldn’t call him the type who tries to find seams off the flank. Rather he relies on his creativity to find options the defense isn’t expecting and plays well in small spaces. Puistola has a good shot, too; but despite his high goal totals this season, I wouldn’t call him a sniper. He created goals with his skill and compete level. He got to the net and showed he can be a decent penalty killer. My main issue with his game is his skating. It’s not bad and he has some speed, but his stride is inefficient and can break down at times.

    NHL scout on Puistola: “He’s highly skilled. He competes hard and isn’t afraid to get inside. He’s not slow, but there is a lack of quickness in his game.”

    1. Thomas Harley, D, Mississauga-OHL
    Aug. 19, 2001 | 6-foot-3 | 183 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Harley’s development curve spiked this season. One of the youngest players in the draft, Harley progressed from a decent prospect to a 25-30 minutes a night defenseman with impressive tools for the Steelheads. When he was on the ice, his team had control of the puck. He’s big, mobile, skilled and smart. That combination is attractive. Harley skates with the quickest forwards in the OHL due to the strength of his stride and his wingspan. He can jump up into the attack. He’s good with the puck, showing some creativity and good vision, at times very good. Defensively he’s a bit of a work in progress. His feet and stick allow him to make stops and close gaps, but he needs to bulk up a lot and be better at times in his own end. Harley makes a lot of plays but tends to get too cute and make costly turnovers. Some scouts argue that was just the byproduct of the massive and arguably excessive minutes he played.

    Mississauga Steelheads GM/coach James Richmond on Harley: “He’s an above-average skater. He moves extremely well for a big guy. He’s a modern NHL type of defenseman. He can get the puck up quickly. He jumps up into the rush very well. He handles the puck well and is confident with the puck. He defends extremely well, especially for such an offensive player.”

    1. Raphael Lavoie, RW, Halifax-QMJHL
    Sept. 25, 2000 | 6-foot-4 | 198 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 55
    Shot Grade: 60

    Lavoie’s a talented player who had a good season but didn’t play as well as expected before tearing it up in the QMJHL playoffs. The pure tools scream first-round pick. He’s 6-foot-4, skates well for a big man and has a high skill level. There are times when you see him come down the wing, power his way to the net or make a skilled play to create a chance and you think that translates to an NHL scorer. He flashes high-end puck skills but it hasn’t been consistent. He’s got a hard shot and scored quite a few goals this season from long distance. As a late 2000 birth date on a good QMJHL team, his production (32 goals-73 points in 62 games) was mediocre for a projected top talent. This reflects a consistency problem in his game at times, as well as the fact that scouts aren’t the biggest fans of his decision-making. I’ve seen good vision from him, and thus give him a 55 on his sense, but it’s with hesitation as I’ve seen many instances where he throws pucks away or forces plays that aren’t there He has some physicality, he defends fine and his coach this season trusted him with PK responsibilities. He has a ton of potential and ended his season with several exclamation marks.

    Halifax Mooseheads coach Eric Veilleux on Lavoie: “He’s got an NHL shot. His speed is deceiving, he’s a good skater. For as skilled as he is, he can play well defensively, too.”

    1. Moritz Seider, D, Mannheim-DEL
    April 6, 2001 | 6-foot-4 | 198 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 65
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Seider played all season in the top German pro league and was impressive in the World Championships for a U18 player. He looked good for a 17-year-old but never stood out versus men until the end of the season. At the IIHF U20 B pool, though, we saw the best of Seider. He was the best defenseman in the tournament as a double underage player. He’s got great athletic tools as a 6-foot-4 defenseman who skates well. He uses his feet to join attacks often and can make plays at speed. Seider’s main criticism from scouts is his lack of standout puck skill and that he won’t be a true power play guy in the NHL. With that said, he has decent touch and makes plays. He moves the puck well, showing great poise and instincts. Defensively he’s a rock with his wingspan, feet and defensive acumen, and projects as a tough minutes player in the NHL. He is one of the best German prospects in recent memory.

    Germany U20 coach Christian Kunast on Seider: “The most impressive thing about Moritz is that he competes every shift – when he steps on the ice he wants to win. He sees the game very well and that makes him special. He’s also a very good skater.”

    1. Bobby Brink, RW, Sioux City-USHL
    July 8, 2001 | 5-foot-8 | 163 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 25
    Hockey Sense: 65

    Brink was the best player in the USHL this season and a driving force for whatever line he was on. Brink is an interesting player in that he doesn’t look the part of a top prospect. He’s listed at 5-foot-8, he skates awkward, and he doesn’t look all that smooth and coordinated. His hockey sense is just fantastic, though. He’s an elite passer with the patience, anticipation and overall vision to make unique passes seem routine. I’ve seen him hover around the zone, waiting out options as defenses scramble to figure out what play he’s going to make. Brink has very impressive hands and a good shot, too, but what will get him to the pros is his ability to make plays. He competes and even killed penalties at the junior level. What may hold him back is his skating. He moves around like he’s got two left feet, with a weird stutter in his stride, and his feet flail. His top speed is fine due in part to his size, and he’s got good power on his edges to allow him to maneuver around the ice. But he lacks any kind of explosiveness you want in a player that size.

    Sioux City Musketeers assistant GM Andy Johnson on Brink: “Bobby is a cerebral winger who makes up for an average skating stride with incredible awareness, anticipation and overall elite hockey sense. He has great all-around skill with the puck. He can dish and score, and is one of the most competitive players I’ve seen in my time in the USHL.”

    Very Good/Legit Bubble (Low First/High Second-Round Pick)
    1. Alex Vlasic, D, USNTDP-USHL
    June 5, 2001 | 6-foot-6 | 198 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 75
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Vlasic entered the NTDP with a lot of hype. He’s a unique player in that he’s 6-foot-6 and has offensive potential, which makes him very intriguing. I like his hockey sense. There are times I even really like it. He understands how to attack, how to move pucks, when to jump into lanes and how to use his long wingspan to break up plays. I’ve seen several occasions where he does a give-and-go off the blueline with his D partner where he pinches after his pass and receives it for a scoring chance. You don’t often see a big man make that play or make a high-end pass through a seam. That is Vlasic at his best, creative puck-mover with solid defense who uses his size to lean on his checks. However, that player doesn’t always show up. Vlasic will have moments where he’s a turnover machine and shows underwhelming puck skills under pressure. He skates quite well for a big man, but there are moments where his game lacks pace. Some evaluators not only believe in him as an NHLer but believe he could be an impact NHLer. Others see the warts and are scared off. I’ve seen the potential, but there’s a ways to go for him before he’s there.

    USNTDP U18 coach John Wroblewski on Vlasic: “He’s a massive individual with an unbelievable defensive stick to break up plays. He’s got a physical edge. He can play an offensive style and takes chances. For a big man, his skating is off the charts good; it’s very fluid.”

    1. Nicholas Robertson, LW, Peterborough-OHL
    Sept. 11, 2001 | 5-foot-9 | 161 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 25
    Hockey Sense: 65
    Shot Grade: 70

    Robertson impressed all season, from the Hlinka Gretzky through his play in the OHL. He’s a dynamic player. His scoring stats may not jump off the page, but he’s one of the youngest players in the draft and generated a lot of shots. Robertson’s skill level is very high. He often makes highlight reel plays, making creative plays through legs and finding a way to create a chance out of nothing. Robertson can make the creative dekes, but he’s also a very good passer and shooter. His passes are often flashy, but he can try to do too much at times with his playmaking and turns pucks over. His shot is one of the best in the draft. He can snipe pucks off the crossbar and has often beat goalies from a distance. He could use an extra gear in his feet for such a smaller player with a hunched-over stride. Off the puck he’s OK. He’s no penalty killer, but he competes fine. He leans on his shot a bit too much, and I’d like to see him get between the dots more.

    Peterborough Petes GM Michael Oke on Robertson: “Nick is a highly skilled player with a tremendous level of compete. He works extremely hard in all three zones. He is extremely focused and everything he does is based on becoming a better player.”

    1. Robert Mastrosimone, LW, Chicago-USHL
    Jan. 24, 2001 | 5-foot-10 | 170 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 65
    Shot Grade: 60

    Mastrosimone had a fantastic 16-year-old season in the USHL, following it up with a good 17-year-old season as one of the best wingers in the USHL and a great postseason. He also performed well in international events. I love his skill level and hockey sense. When Mastrosimone has the puck, he’s looking to make a play. He always had the high-level creativity and offensive instincts, and as the season went along his playmaking developed into a real weapon. He can set up his teammates, but he also has a hard, accurate shot and can score from a distance. He’s small but competes well and gives it his all each shift. His main issue is his skating. For a small player, he lacks a true separation gear, and his technique isn’t the best. He flashes average speed but not consistently. His production may not have been fantastic for a U18 in the USHL, but I’m a big believer in the skill level.

    Chicago Steel coach Greg Moore on Mastrosimone: “He’s got a great compete level. He empties the tank every night. He has a knack for creating. He also has an unbelievable shot.”

    1. Victor Soderstrom, D, Brynas-SHL
    Feb. 26, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 176 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Soderstrom started the season in junior but quickly moved up to the SHL level, logging significant minutes and getting power play time as a 17-year-old. Soderstrom is a great puck mover, showing high-end IQ moving the puck and ice in his veins under pressure. Sometimes he’s a little too calm, letting guys close in on him and trying to be too cute, but typically he’s efficient on zone exits. He’s smooth with the puck, but has very quick hands, and is able to make plays through defenders from a standstill and off the rush. There were several times this season his game popped with a wow-caliber skill play. For a smaller guy, his game could have more speed. His skating looks fine when he winds up and get going, but he lacks explosiveness and doesn’t have a ton of pace in his game. Despite his size, he’s a good defender. He closes gaps very well due to his IQ, using his body and stick to break up pucks, and makes a lot of stops.

    Sweden’s U18 coach Magnus Havelid on Soderstrom: “He’s a skillful offensive player. He moves the puck very well. He’s a leader.”

    1. Ville Heinola, D, Lukko-Liiga
    March 2, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 181 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Heinola trended up quickly from a fine prospect to an almost lock to be drafted high this season. He was called up to his club team where he played a significant role, as well as on the Finnish U20 team. His hockey sense drives his value. Heinola is a calm, poised puck-moving defenseman who generates clean exits and entries with his vision, and makes plays on the man advantage. He’s fine defensively due to his positional play, despite not being the biggest defender. However, he has limitations that may hinder him as he progresses. His size is obvious but his skating is also a minor concern. His stride breaks down when he gets going in a straight line, which is worrisome in a 5-foot-11 defender. I like his edges a lot, with Heinola showing a powerful burst on his first few steps to balance out the stride issue somewhat.

    NHL scout on Heinola: “His brain is fantastic. He sees the game with the best of them. His skating concerns me for a defender his size.”

    1. Nathan Legare, RW, Baie-Comeau-QMJHL
    Jan. 11, 2001 | six-foot | 196 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 55
    Hockey Sense: 65
    Shot Grade: 60

    Legare was a top player on one of the best teams in the CHL. The best way to describe him is he’s a power play weapon. He lines up on the left circle typically and creates so much havoc from that spot. First, he’s got one of the best shots in the draft. He’s scored a lot of goals this season wiring a shot from long distance off a post/crossbar or blowing it past a goalie. He’s a great scorer and it’s where he’ll make his money, but he’s also a very smart overall player. Legare can hit tight seams consistently and is very crafty overall with the puck. He’s not often going to wow you with an end-to-end rush, but he’s skilled. A wonky skating stride is Legare’s most noticeable weakness. He has a decent top gear, but the stride isn’t smooth with a rough first step, and he can tail off toward the end of a shift. Legare is a big body forward, but he’s not overweight, it’s a lot of muscle. That’s good, but also a minor cause for concern as scouts wonder if the skating can ever improve because his strength level is so advanced already. He’s also tough on pucks, goes to the net, is physical and is hard to dislodge along the boards.

    NHL scout on Legare: “He plays a heavy game. He’s got that right-shot cannon he can launch from the circle. He’s very smart, too. I just wish he was a better skater.”

    1. Egor Afanasyev, LW, Muskegon-USHL
    Jan. 23, 2001 | 6-foot-4 | 201 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 55
    Shot Grade: 60

    Afanasyev is an acquired taste. Initially, he didn’t do much for me, but as the season went on he kept climbing up my board, as he was one of the best forwards in the USHL and leaders in shots on goal. What’s immediately noticeable about Afanasyev is his 6-foot-4 frame and his high skill level. He’s a very coordinated puck handler for a big man who can make the flashy, between-the-legs play and toe drag. He gains the zone with skill quite often. Afannasyev also has a very hard shot, and is able to finish chances and ring iron from mid-distance. Scouts expressed concerns over his playmaking. He’s no power play quarterback, but as the season went on, he showed better passing, And while he forces plays here and there, he seems to see the game well. His main issue is so-so speed and pace combined with taking shifts off here and there. He’s not a perfect player by any means, but his strengths standout, make him valuable and could lead to him scoring in the NHL.

    Muskegon Lumberjacks coach Mike Hamilton on Afanasyev: “Egor is a very skilled hockey player, his skill is through the roof. And he’s got a heavy shot. He’s worked to improve his skating and his play in all three zones.”

    1. Samuel Fagemo, LW, Frolunda-SHL
    March 14, 2000 | 5-foot-11 | 194 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 50
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Fagemo went undrafted last season after a good, albeit unspectacular, draft season. He started off briefly in the J20 Sweden ranks but quickly rose up to the SHL. He was extremely productive for an 18-year-old, getting significant minutes and power play time for a Frolunda team that won the SHL. He was also impressive at the world juniors. Fagemo isn’t a guy who wows you in any one area. He skates well, but he’s not a blazer. He’s skilled but won’t have a highlight reel rush. He has a good shot and can score goals in a variety of ways, be it a hard drive or picking a corner from the circles. Fagemo gets a lot of chances close to the net, and despite not being that big or strong, he drives the net hard. He showed flashes of top-end hands and vision, but not consistently. The skill set on its own doesn’t overly excite, but it’s hard to ignore his incredible production.

    Sweden’s U20 coach Tomas Monten on Fagemo: “I like his attitude and attack mentality. He skates well and drives the net. He wants to play on the inside. He has a good shot. I think the biggest difference on Samuel this year is that he’s better conditioned. He’s faster and stronger. That made a big difference to his game.”

    1. John Beecher, C, USNTDP-USHL
    April 5, 2001 | 6-foot-3 | 209 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 65
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Beecher entered the NTDP as a physical beast and was ready to win battles versus USHL players as a 16-year-old. His production this season was similar to the previous one, albeit with little to no power play time this time around. There are very few 6-foot-3 centers who can skate like Beecher. He regularly turned defenders around with his surprising speed, and with his reach/ability to protect pucks, he generated so many chances with his skating. Beecher is big, strong and plays hard. He competes hard for pucks, is physical and makes his presence known on the ice. Offensively he has some question marks in the industry about whether he’ll score in the NHL. I don’t mind his puck game. His hands are very average, but I’ve seen him pull off the odd move around a defender. I think he’s got enough vision to make plays in the NHL. He finds his options, whether a defender at the line or option near the slot to move the puck to. I don’t see a power play guy, but I could see him become a decent top-nine center with penalty kill duties.

    NHL scout on Beecher: “(He is) 6-foot-3, 200 (pounds) and an elite NHL skater. Could be a good third-line guy who can kill penalties. I don’t see much offensive production in the NHL or a power-play guy.”

    1. Samuel Poulin, RW, Sherbrooke-QMJHL
    Feb. 25, 2001 | 6-foot-2 | 207 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 50
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Poulin, the 2017 second-overall pick in the QMJHL draft, was a good junior player the past two years and got better as the season went along and in the postseason. He’s a smart and competitive winger. He’s very intelligent, flashing high-end vision and tending to make good decisions with the puck. As the season went along he showed more consistent playmaking and overall dynamic elements. He’s got some soft skill, but he’s more of a distributor than an individual creator. He’s got very good hands in tight and scored several nifty goals. His shot is also good, and he can score with his wrist shot in tight. Poulin works hard, is strong on pucks, and wins his fair share of battles along the boards and in front of the net. He’s already quite strong, measuring in at over 200 pounds. His skating is OK. Some days he flashes a good top gear and other times I don’t think his pace is anything noteworthy.

    1. Brett Leason, RW, Prince Albert-WHL
    April 30, 1999 | 6-foot-4 | 198 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 65
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Leason was a significant riser all season. He was one of the top players in the WHL and, as a third-year, draft-eligible worked his way onto Canada’s World Junior Championship team. There were times early in the season I thought Leason wasn’t for me, but he grew on me as the season went along. He’s 6-foot-4, but also has an intriguing skill set. He’s not a highlight reel player by any means, but he has decent puck skills and can create offense with very good vision. He’s aware of his surroundings and can put pucks into seams. The biggest reason for Leason’s jump as a prospect was his skating. It improved from poor to potentially above-average. He can turn the corner occasionally on defensemen. Leason’s skating tests well, but in-game, his pace is very average. He’s big and strong, showing good puck protection skills. He’s not overly physical but competes well.

    Prince Albert Raiders coach Marc Habscheid on Leason: “He’s smart. He found that extra step in his stride. He got quicker off the mark, faster. He’s big and skilled.”

    Legit NHL Prospect/Bottom Half of Roster (Second-Round Pick)
    1. Matthew Robertson, D, Edmonton-WHL
    March 9, 2001 | 6-foot-3 | 201 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Robertson is a big defenseman with a very intriguing skill set. He had a good season with Edmonton, playing all situations on a good team. He would be an above-average skater for a smaller player, which gives Robertson a lot of value in how he can break up plays. He’s also not afraid to use his speed to jump into attacks and can make a difference with his skating. Robertson has offensive ability but it was inconsistent. He’d flash good puck skills and then another shift look nervous with the puck. He’d flash good vision and then have tunnel vision or try to do too much on another shift. He’s got a first-round toolkit and I could see him developing into a very solid two-way, second-pair defenseman. But I could also easily see him not be consistent enough offensively to get out of a third-pair role.

    Edmonton Oil Kings coach Brad Lauer on Robertson: “For a big guy he moves around the ice very well. He has a good first pass. He loves to jump up into the offensive attack. He defends fairly well, too, with a good stick.”

    1. Pavel Dorofeyev, RW, Magnitogorsk-MHL
    Oct. 26, 2000 | six-foot | 163 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 50
    Hockey Sense: 60
    Shot Grade: 60

    Dorofeyev was one of the best forwards in Russia’s junior league this season, often lighting up scoresheets and playing at the KHL level for long stretches – albeit with not too much effectiveness. Dorofeyev is a talented all-around threat in the offensive zone. He’s creative, he can thread passes into tough lanes and he can play through defenders with his puck skills. Dorofeyev can flash high-end offensive ability but it wasn’t consistent, and, outside of his shot, he lacked a truly dynamic variable when he had the puck. His shot is quick and he can pick a corner if given space. His game can lack urgency. He likes to slow the play down, survey his options and doesn’t often hit the blue line with speed. That said, he has a good top gear and overall skating ability when he does get going. He’s not an overly physical player, but he’s decent defensively and killed penalties at the MHL level.

    NHL scout on Dorofeyev: “He’s a goal-scorer with great offensive instincts. If used correctly, he can be dangerous. I worry about his intensity at times.”

    1. Tobias Bjornfot, D, Djuargarden-J20 SuperElit
    April 6, 2001 | six-foot | 203 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Bjornfot was a touted prospect for a few years and a minutes eater for Sweden’s international teams, including being one of the best defensemen at the U18s and named the best defenseman in Sweden’s J20 league. His skating provides a lot of his value. His ability to lead a rush, pinch off the blueline and close on his checks is very good. His feet allow him to make stops and transition pucks. He has solid defensive acumen and generally is trusted by coaches to play tougher minutes. His puck game is average. He can have the odd flash offensively due to his feet and above-average vision. His skill level doesn’t overly impress, but there were times, particularly in the second half of the season, he showed more confidence making creative plays. He could be a reliable two-way defenseman in the NHL who might not put up points.

    NHL scout on Bjornfot: “He’s not flashy, but he’s a very mobile and smart defenseman. He kills a lot of plays, can skate pucks up and can give you some offense.”

    1. Ilya Nikolaev, C, Yaroslavl-MHL
    June 26, 2001 | six-foot | 190 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 50
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Nikolaev was one of the better centers in his age group the past two years. He was impressive this season at the junior and international levels, as Russia’s No. 1 center at the U18 level, and was great in junior the last two months. He impacts the game in several ways. With the puck, he’s a highly skilled playmaker. He can make plays through defenders and is creative in how he tries to create chances. He moves the puck well and shows a high-level understanding of the game. Nikolaev might only have average size, but he competes hard, has an edge to his game and can project to kill penalties as a pro. His skating is just OK. He has an awkward skating stride that has him hunched over and limits his explosiveness. There are times I see average speed from him, and other times I worry if he’ll have enough pace and explosiveness on his first few steps to play in the NHL.

    Russia U18 coach Vladimir Filatov on Nikolaev: “He’s a high character guy. He’s a warrior. He can be a checker or a scorer. He has very good hockey sense too.”

    1. Brayden Tracey, LW, Moose Jaw-WHL
    May 28, 2001 | six-foot | 176 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 50
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Tracey played his first full season in the WHL after playing Midget AAA as a 16-year-old. He was one of the best rookies in the league, working his way into a major offensive role on Moose Jaw’s top line and eventually Canada’s top power play at the U18s. Tracey is the kind of player who you want with the puck. He’s a creative offensive player with high-end, offensive hockey sense. He’s always looking to make a play, controls the puck well and sees his options very well. Sometimes he tries to do too much and can force pucks where the option isn’t available, but I like that he tries things. He’s got a lean body and can struggle versus bigger players, but he goes to the net, scoring a lot of goals this season around the tough areas. Tracey’s skating for me is so-so with a stride that lacks power and breaks down. He has enough speed to skate with pros but not challenge them. Some scouts like it and think, when his lanky frame fills out, he’ll be fine; but for me, he lacks that extra gear.

    Canada U18 coach Brett Gibson on Tracey: “He’s an opportunistic shooter. He goes to the hard areas where goal-scorers score goals. His feet are a bit of a concern but hard to argue with his production.”

    1. Jakob Pelletier, LW, Moncton-QMJHL
    March 7, 2001 | 5-foot-9 | 161 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 35
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Pelletier had a great second season in the QMJHL and was among the top scorers in the league. Despite his massive point total (39 goals-89 points in 65 games), Pelletier is not a natural scorer. He’s a fine skater but doesn’t have an explosive stride. His stride breaks down at times, but I’ve seen him pull away from players at times too. He’s skilled but won’t dangle defenders or go end to end. Rather he’s a very smart and very competitive forward. Pelletier shows great vision as a playmaker and makes tough plays in small areas. If you ever can’t find Pelletier on the ice, look around the opponent’s slot or net and you’ll likely spot him. He lives in the tough areas of the ice and competes very well for pucks despite not being that big. He scores by going to the tough areas but has a sneaky good shot, too. You don’t have 39 goals by accident. He also kills penalties quite well. There are legit concerns about a player his size without great speed or hands projecting to the NHL, but he could make it based on his compete level, character and sense.

    Moncton Wildcats former coach Darren Rumble on Pelletier: “He’s so smart and patient. He sees the ice well. He plays a 200-foot game. He gets so many offensive chances because he’s so good defensively. I trust him a lot. He’s a player you want to go to battle with; he brings it every night. There are zero holes in his game.

    1. Ryan Johnson, D, Sioux Falls-USHL
    July 24, 2001 | six-foot | 161 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Johnson was a name touted in the prospect world for a few years. He didn’t put up amazing boxcar numbers, but he was a solid two-way defenseman for Sioux Falls who tilted the ice when he was on and was a rock at the World Jr. A Challenge for Team USA. What immediately stands out is his skating. He’s an effortless skater who can evade checks and generate clean zone exits with his feet. He’s not a blazing fast skater, but his edges and first step are high end. Johnson has a good skill level but that part of his game didn’t stand out as much as his feet. Some scouts think his puck game is great, but I’ve seen him just good in that regard. He sees the ice very well, and while he can make a big play, he also has a tendency to turn too many pucks over and at times be careless with his decisions. I don’t see him as a true point producer in the NHL. Defensively he’s not the biggest guy, but he’s so solid due to his smarts and mobility. His gap control is very good and often closes on guys quicker than they anticipate. Truth be told, he’s a player I’ve never been blown away by, but he’s a player who every scout and USHL source I know pushed very hard, so this ranking may undervalue him a bit.

    Sioux Falls Stampede GM/coach Scott Owens on Johnson: “He’s a very strong skater and passer. He’s a really good defender. His offense is untapped and his offensive abilities improved over the course of the season.”

    1. Lassi Thomson, D, Kelowna-WHL
    Sept. 24, 2000 | six-foot | 190 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 60
    Shot Grade: 60

    Thomson had a great first WHL season, playing big minutes in all situations for Kelowna. There are a lot of positive attributes in his game. He has an absolute rocket from the point that can beat goalies clean, as well as generate opportunities around the net. He can move the puck very well with his brain and feet. His puck game is good, showing the ability to generate clean exists and entries, stretch the ice on breakouts, and showing confidence with the puck. He can at times make high-end plays with his poise and vison, but he also tends to be too cute with the puck and play without urgency, leading to costly turnovers. Defensively I don’t mind his game, but his strength is more with the puck than without it. I think his offensive game is high-end enough to balance out any minor defensive issues. He’s going back to Finland next season.

    Kelowna Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton on Thomson: “Lassi skates and handles the puck well. He’s got a big shot. He has a good first pass. He was the biggest surprise on our team and played a ton of minutes, including the first power play unit.”

    1. Nikita Alexandrov, C, Charlottetown-QMJHL
    Sept. 16, 2000 | six-foot | 179 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 50
    Hockey Sense: 60
    Shot Grade: 60

    Alexandrov had a great second season in the Q, becoming an all-situations center for Charlottetown and a consistent offensive threat. He’s a very smart center who makes high-level plays and is a creative passer. He can run a power play off the flank with his skill and vision. He tries to make difficult skill plays. His execution rate hasn’t been the best, but I like that he attempts to make plays. Alexandrov also has a great shot, and if he is given space, he can pick a corner. It’s hard to find a true weakness in his game. He’s not a fast skater but his stride is fine and he can gain the zone when needed but could play quicker at times. He’s not a big guy, but he works hard, gets inside the dots and can be competent defensively. With more strength on his frame, his speed and ability to win battles should improve.

    NHL scout on Alexandrov: “He’s got the skill and hockey sense to be an NHLer. His skating is fine, it doesn’t hold him back. I like his versatility, too.”

    1. Dillon Hamaliuk, LW, Seattle-WHL
    Oct. 30, 2000 | 6-foot-3 | 201 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 65
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Hamaliuk was a riser this season, scoring at a near point per game rate in his second WHL season and being a quality power winger for Seattle. I often found him within a few feet of the net. He plays a hard game, but he’s got a lot of skill too. His hands are good and, at times, very good. He’s not a natural playmaker but Hamaliuk is a heady player who puts pucks in the right spots and can find his teammates well. He skates fine, well for a guy who is 6-foot-3, and can gain the zone with control of the puck with his speed. His skating showed improvement from two seasons ago. The issue for him is that he missed the second half of the season with a knee injury. Given he wasn’t explosive to start, how much speed he might lose from any knee issue is something to keep in mind. There are few 6-foot-3 forwards with legit skill you will find outside the first round, so that makes him appealing.

    NHL scout on Hamaliuk: “He lives inside the dots. He’s a true power forward. He’s got skill. His skating has improved.”

    1. Simon Holmstrom, RW, HV71-J20 SuperElit
    May 24, 2001 | 6-foot-1 | 185 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Holmstrom’s junior career has been bumpy to date due to multiple injuries the past two seasons, as he had hip surgery and tore a ligament in his thumb. When healthy, he’s generally drawn praise from scouts, and he played well at the junior and international levels. Holmstrom is a very skilled and smart winger. He makes a lot of smart decisions and finds options consistently well. With HV71, Holmstrom was often used in their setups to make plays from behind the net, and he did so very well, finding players in high-percentage areas in a variety of ways. He has slippery skill, and while he won’t often go end-to-end, he can get through defenders and have the odd impact shift with his skill. Holmstrom competes well. He’s not overly physical, but he engages defenders well and will battle for space. His skating is fine. He can show the odd burst where he turns defenders, but his overall pace is average.

    Sweden’s U18 coach Magnus Havelid on Holmstrom: “He’s talented offensively. He makes great decisions with the puck, he challenges defenders very well and can protect the puck.”

    1. Jamieson Rees, C, Sarnia-OHL
    Feb. 26, 2001 | 5-foot-10 | 172 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Rees consistently impressed me the past two years between the OHL and international levels. He had a good season but missed a lot of time due to a lacerated kidney and a suspension. He’s a highly skilled player with a compete level that is just as good, and he can score and kill penalties. He plays in the hard areas and one could argue he plays a little recklessly with how hard he drives the net. He’s not all grit though, as Rees is very slippery with the puck and has vision. He’s not a natural playmaker who runs a power play, but he makes high-level plays at a quick pace. Rees’ skating is an area there is some divide on. Some scouts call it average at best, and some refer to it as a strength. It might be because he plays at such a quick pace with so much energy, but the stride does break down when he gets going.

    Canada U18 coach Brett Gibson on Rees: “He’s got speed. He’s aggressive. He’s intense. He’s a throwback player; he brings it every single night.”

    1. Albin Grewe, RW, Djurgarden-J20 SuperElit
    March 22, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 187 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 50
    Hockey Sense: 55

    The first time I saw Grewe was at the World U17 Challenge in Fort St. John. I remember him barreling down the wing with speed, going to the net hard, finishing his checks hard and showing his skill. After one dominant stretch, a hockey executive turned to me and exclaimed: “I want him on my team!” That image of Grewe stuck with me for the past two years even though his draft season was good but not the most dominant. He’s smart, but he’s not an elite playmaker and can force plays. He skates fine, but he’s not a blazer. What Grewe does bring is a high compete level and a physical game that helps overcome his size. He goes over the line at times, a lot of his penalties this season were due to excess physicality. Grewe isn’t a grinder, though. He’s got great puck skills and makes skilled plays into the tough areas. He could be a fan favorite and a player rival fans hate.

    NHL scout on Grewe: “He’s a skilled guy who is very physical. He can be a bit individualistic at times and not see all his options. He needs to be a little more disciplined, too.”

    1. Matias Maccelli, LW, Dubuque-USHL
    Oct. 14, 2000 | 5-foot-11 | 170 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 60

    When I initially saw Maccelli last season and in the early parts of this season, I was skeptical of his NHL prospects, but he grew on me as the season went on. He evolved from a nice skills player into a 20-plus-minutes a night anchor for Dubuque, playing in every situation. Maccelli’s game starts with his skill. He’s a great puck handler who can create separation from defenders with his hands. He’s also a great playmaker who can hit seam passes consistently and run a power play. He’s not the biggest forward, but Maccelli competes fine and can kill penalties. He skates reasonably well when he gets going, but my biggest issue is the lack of pace in his game. Maccelli doesn’t often challenge defenders with speed with the puck and struggles making plays on the move. I have confidence in the talent but am curious how he’ll be able to play at the pro pace, as he heads to Liiga next season.

    Dubuque Fighting Saints GM Kalle Larsson on Maccelli: “He’s one of the most offensively gifted players in the USHL. High-end stick skill and hockey sense. He can take over a game. There were games where our team played poor and Matias won the game for us by himself.”

    1. Mattias Norlinder, D, MODO-Allsvenskan
    April 12, 2000 | 5-foot-11 | 181 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Norlinder, a second-year-eligible draft prospect, started the season as an afterthought, playing in the Swedish junior circuit. But a midseason call-up and very strong performance versus men in the second half elevated his draft stock significantly. Norlinder so often showed the ability to use his skating to spin off pressure, lead rushes and gain the offensive zone with possession. His edge work is high-end. He has great mobility, but also has skill in his game. Norlinder often makes plays through defenders and has the vision to execute tough passes. His skill level isn’t high-end, but he has so much pace to his game and his ability to play so fast speaks to his hockey sense. Defensively he’s OK. He kills plays with his skating and showed he could defend fine versus men, but it’s not his area of strength.

    NHL scout on Norlinder: “He’s a very good skater. Great edges, ability to rush pucks. He was one of MODO’s best players after he got called up to the big club.”

    1. Maxim Cajkovic, RW, Saint John-QMJHL
    Jan. 3, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 187 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 35
    Hockey Sense: 60
    Shot Grade: 60

    Cajkovic came into the season with hype as the first-overall pick in the CHL import draft and a great 16-year-old campaign. He played well but his counting numbers were suppressed by a rebuilding Saint John team. I do like his offensive toolkit. He’s a good skater with a separation gear and can gain the zone with his speed. He plays quick and is in motion a lot. He’s got good hands. He won’t go through several defenders at once but he can make plays in open ice and handle the puck in small areas. Cajkovic’s best traits are his IQ and shot. He’s great on the power play because he distributes the puck quite well and can ring shots off iron. Cajkovic generated a ton of shots on goal this season, up there with the elite prospects of this class. He’s a small guy, though, who doesn’t get into the tough areas as much as you’d like to see and can frustrate coaches at times with his effort level. He was even a healthy scratch this season in the Q in small spurts.
     
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  48. Fran Tarkenton

    Fran Tarkenton Well-Known Member
    Donor
    Wake Forest Demon Deacons

    No clue if that formatted correctly and its just the top 50

    Here is the rest


    1. Connor McMichael, C, London-OHL
    Jan. 15, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 174 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 60

    McMichael had a great season, as a go-to player for London when its lineup was depleted, and he continued to produce and generate shots at a high level when the roster filled out, although he tailed off toward the end. He doesn’t wow you with his tools, but he’s a quality player. McMichael is a very smart all-around hockey player. He sees the ice very well, is creative with the puck and understands the game away from the puck. He’s not the biggest guy but McMichael competes well. He gets to the net and gets back on defense. With the puck, he’s skilled but not amazingly so. He can make some space with his hands, and his shot can surprise goalies with the ability to pick corners. His skating leaves some to be desired. He has decent speed but not great for his size, and his stride is inefficient. I give a nod to his sense and production as indicators that he could play in the NHL.

    London Knights assistant coach Rick Steadman on McMichael: “He makes plays. He can play up and down a lineup. He can play at both ends of the ice. He’s very skilled and has a great shot.”

    1. Alex Beaucage, RW, Rouyn-Noranda-QMJHL
    July 25, 2001 | 6-foot-2 | 192 pounds

    Skating: 40
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 65
    Shot Grade: 60

    Beaucage was one of the top scoring and shot generating forwards in the QMJHL this season as a young 17-year-old. He was an important part of one of the best teams in the CHL. Inside the offensive zone, he’s very tough to stop. Beaucage is strong on pucks, has good hands and a bullet of a shot. His goal-scoring delivers a lot of value but he’s also a top-end playmaker. He can hit the tight seams consistently and is a creative passer. Beaucage has a good frame and competes well for pucks along the walls but doesn’t get to the dirty areas as much as a guy with his size/strength could. He has most of the tools to be an NHL player. His main issue is his skating. It’s a real problem. He struggles to get up the ice and looks uncomfortable handling the puck on zone entries. It’s why I can’t get him to the top tier of this draft despite the rest of his toolkit and stat line screaming NHL forward.

    Rouyn-Noranda Huskies coach Mario Pouliot on Beaucage: “He has a special touch offensively. He has a very good shot and very good vision. He can set up a lot of plays, and he’s dangerous near the net. He’s improved making plays while moving and using his body.”

    1. Zachary Jones, D, Tri-City-USHL
    Oct. 18, 2000 | 5-foot-10 | 176 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 35
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Jones was one of the best defensemen in the USHL this season. He’s not the biggest or fastest defenseman, but he’s great with the puck on his stick. Jones has a high skill level, great offensive instincts, and is not afraid to try and make a play. He often joins the rush, pinches off the blueline and can thread difficult passes. His awareness with the puck is fantastic. He finds seams consistently, his point shots find teammates sticks, and I’ve even seen an assist where he banked a point shot off the boards and around the net intentionally. Some scouts hate his skating, claiming he’s knock-kneed. I don’t think he’s overly quick, but I’m not all the way there and think he has average speed. With that said, for a small defender, there is a legit concern if he will be quick enough to be a competent defender in the pros. At the USHL level, he was able to defend more than fine due to his great sense. I’d bet on him due to his offensive upside and hockey sense.

    NHL scout on Jones: “He’s got high-end skill and he’s super smart. He can control a game. His skating is just OK, but I’d bet on a guy with his brain figuring out how to make himself an NHLer.”

    Legit/Chance Bubble (Midround Pick)
    1. Aaron Huglen, RW, Fargo-USHL
    March 6, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 165 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 65
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Huglen started the season in the USHL before heading to play high school at Roseau where he was a Mr. Hockey candidate in Minnesota. He finished the season strong back in the USHL with Fargo. He’s a high skill/high IQ forward and is one of the most purely skilled players that will get picked outside of the first round. Huglen has quick-twitch hands and can make defenders look foolish with his fakes and dekes. He makes plays around defenders at a quick pace and is dangerous on the attack. He was a regular on the highlight reel at the high school level. He’s a fantastic playmaker who flashed elite vision on some very creative passes throughout the season. He skates well. It’s not explosive speed, but Huglen has a clean stride, good edgework and gets above-average speed through the neutral zone. Off the puck, he’s just OK. He’s physically underdeveloped and can struggle to win puck battles but doesn’t shy away from the crease area. He didn’t play amazingly at the USHL or at the Hlinka Gretzky, raising some concerns if the talent will translate to higher levels, but the raw talent is significant.

    1. Dmitri Voronkov, LW, Kazan-VHL
    Sept. 10, 2000 | 6-foot-3 | 183 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 70
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Voronkov, a second-year-eligible forward by a handful of days, played all season versus men in Russia’s second-tier league, and looked good both at that level and at the end of the season for Russia’s U20 team. Voronkov is interesting because he’s a big forward who has offensive talent and skates relatively well. He’s not an explosive skater and the stride isn’t 100 percent technically smooth, but he can turn corners on defenders and surprise them at times with his speed. He’s got the puck skills to create space and play through opponents, occasionally flashing top-end skill. I wouldn’t classify him as a go-to guy offensively, but he makes plays, and showed versus men he can generate clean entries and create chances. He gets to the net, has an edge in his game and isn’t afraid to engage in the physical play. I see him as a player on a steep upward trajectory.

    1. Daniil Gutik, LW, Yaroslavl-MHL
    Aug. 31, 2001 | 6-foot-3 | 179 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 50
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Gutik had an up and down season. He started off red hot at the Hlinka Gretzky and through the first parts of the MHL season, looking like he could be a high pick. He tailed off hard in the second half, with an eventual reassignment to the MHL B squad. Gutik’s ability to beat defenders 1-on-1 is near elite level, and he makes it seem easy with how often he dekes through traffic. But he’s not only a hands guy, as Gutik has great vision and regularly sets up his teammates for great chances. As his struggles began this season, he got away from his playmaking and creativity, but it’s a big part of his game. He’s a flawed player, though. Gutik is slow and lacks pace in how he plays, a potential major issue as he climbs the levels. His stride breaks down and lacks any real power. While he’s big, he also isn’t the most physical player and can seem allergic to getting to the crease area. He’ll frustrate coaches and fans, but he’ll also amaze. He’s worth a gamble in my mind but he’s a divisive prospect.

    1. Tuukka Tieksola, RW, Karpat-Jr. A Liiga
    June 22, 2001 | 5-foot-10 | 157 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 35
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Tieksola was a riser this season, from not being on the Finnish U18 team in the summer to becoming one of the best players at their junior level and the Finnish U18 team. He’s an exciting playmaker with an intriguing offensive toolkit. Tieksola can make plays and do so at a quick pace. He’s fast. He can flash high-end speed, but it’s not consistent. He uses edges to create separation well and makes plays while moving. His combination of speed and edge work make him very difficult to check. He’s got high-end vision, with the ability to hit seam passes routinely and run a power play due to his vision, skill and decision making. Tieksola is a small, slight winger, which might limit him versus men. He’s not overly physical, but he competes OK for pucks. There may not be top-six NHL talent in his game, but there are legitimate tools that could translate with good development.

    1. Vladislav Firstov, LW, Waterloo-USHL
    June 19, 2001 | 6-foot-1 | 181 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 60
    Shot Grade: 60

    Firstov left a top junior program in Russia to play USHL this season. He performed better than expected right away, immediately becoming a go-to offensive weapon for Waterloo and one of the league’s most dangerous offensive players. He’s a skilled, smart winger with a heavy shot. On the power play, Firstov shows the ability to beat defenders with his vision and his finish. He scored numerous goals this season from a distance, and if the defense got too close to him, he could find a seam. I don’t think his skill is high-end, but he showed flashes of that level this season. His skating is fine. He doesn’t blow by defenders, but he gains the zone with speed reasonably well. Firstov isn’t a bulky forward and he can be taken out of games physically. He’ll need to improve his physical and defensive play as he advances.

    1. Ronnie Attard, D, Tri-City-USHL
    March 20, 1999 | 6-foot-3 | 207 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 65
    Hockey Sense: 50
    Shot Grade: 60

    Attard’s development spiked in his third season in the USHL, setting the record for most goals by a defenseman in the league and being the clear best rearguard in the league. Attard has qualities that make him valuable at both ends of the rink. He’s a 6-foot-3 defenseman who skates well for a big man, with the ability to close gaps and kill plays. He’s also quite physical and can be tough for opposing forwards to deal with. With the puck, Attard has sneaky good skill and a cannon of a shot. With his skating, he’s able to transition pucks through the neutral zone with his feet and create inside the blueline with his skill. He’s not a natural puck-mover and when he goes beyond trying to make basic plays he becomes prone to turnovers. With that said, I think some offense will translate to the pros because of his hands and an accurate, hard shot.

    1. Rhett Pitlick, LW, Chaska-U.S. High School
    Feb. 7, 2001 | 5-foot-9 | 161 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 35
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Pitlick impressed early in USHL camps and kept playing well all season at the high school level. Pitlick’s game is full of energy and speed. He’s a great skater with a very efficient and powerful stride. His play style takes an already quick player and adds a few extra miles per hour. Pitlick has a ton of pace in his game due to how hard he competes and how fast he thinks. He’s always buzzing around the ice and offensive zone, and can make high-end passes while in motion. He’s listed at under 5-foot-9, but he plays like he’s a taller player in terms of how many battles he wins. I don’t think the pure skill level matches his feet and brain, but it’s enough to be a scorer versus pros.

    1. Daniil Misyul, D, Yaroslavl-KHL
    Oct. 20, 2000 | 6-foot-3 | 176 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 65
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Misyul was the best defensemen for one of the MHL’s top clubs. His counting stats don’t jump out at you in any way, but he was a solid two-way defenseman for Loko. He was also impressive during a late call-up to the KHL. Misyul stands in at 6-foot-3 and has intriguing tools for a big man. He skates and closes gaps well, and can join attacks. He’s got decent puck skills, with enough evasiveness to weave through traffic on a rush or make a play off the blueline. His stick handling is a bit rigid when he tries to do anything too crafty, but there is some offense in his game. I like his hockey sense. He anticipates the play well, he sees lanes develop and he knows where to jump up or defend. Misyul is a big defenseman and uses his frame. He has a bit of feistiness and often is involved in post-whistle drama.

    1. Drew Helleson, D, USNTDP-USHL
    March 26, 2001 | 6-foot-3 | 194 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Helleson is a player that’s kept trending upward the past two years. Toward the second half of this season, the pairing of him and Alex Vlasic emerged as a very steady shutdown pair for the NTDP. Helleson’s appeal is that he’s a 6-foot-3 defenseman who is mobile and can move the puck. His feet allow him to escape pressure well and close on checks effectively. He can be a reliable defender and play tough minutes. With the puck, I’ve heard some scouts criticize his offensive upside and call him bland. He’s certainly not a standout, but I’ve seen some creativity in flashes and good vision. He won’t be a power play guy in the NHL by any means but there are pro attributes in his game.

    1. Vladislav Kolyachonok, D, Flint-OHL
    May 26, 2001 | six-foot | 181 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Kolyachonok started off his season in London, which then offloaded him to Flint due to having too many imports. He was a huge part of that team the rest of the season, playing a ton of minutes in all situations and had a great U18 tournament. Kolyachonok is a very smart and mobile defenseman who can transition the puck well. He’s not a guy who is going to wow you with his skill level, but he sees the ice quite well, with the ability to run a power play and hit seams. He’s a good skater who showed he could skate with the quicker forwards in the OHL and kill plays with his feet. He will skate pucks up, but I wouldn’t call him a natural puck rusher. The question on Kolyachonok is whether he has enough offensive upside for the NHL.

    Flint Firebirds coach Eric Wellwood on Kolyachonok: “His skating is his greatest asset. He’s extremely good at defending because of his feet and he’s got a fantastic stick. He’s very difficult to beat 1-on-1.”

    1. Semyon Chistyakov, D, Ufa-MHL
    Aug. 7, 2001 | 5-foot-10 | 168 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 55

    It was easy to watch Chistyakov this season and think there might not be enough upside there. He might not be dynamic enough for his 5-foot-10 frame to become an NHLer and didn’t score a ton of points. But Chistyakov is such a competitor and a player whose style translates to the higher levels that I could believe in him making it. He was great for Russia’s U18 teams, emerging over the past year as their No. 1 defender. His game is full of pace. He skates and moves the puck quickly. He can stretch the ice and jump up into plays. He’s not just about playing fast, he plays hard, too. He may be small but he throws monster hits and you could easily confuse him some shifts for a defenseman that is 6-foot-3. Because of his feet, compete and hockey sense, he defends more than fine despite his size. He has good hands, but he’s not going to dazzle anyone or be a true power play guy at the higher levels.

    1. Domenick Fensore, D, USNTDP-USHL
    Sept. 7, 2001 | 5-foot-7 | 154 pounds

    Skating: 65
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 20
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Fensore is one of the youngest players in the draft as a September 2001 birthdate and one of the more dynamic defensemen in the class. There are few defenders with his combination of skating, skill and hockey sense. When Fensore winds up with the puck in his own zone, I expect a clean entry and a possible scoring chance. He’s got great speed and edge work, with the ability to spin off checks and dance around open ice. He makes plays at full speed through opposing players and finds lanes on the move. On a talented USA blueline, it was Fensore who grabbed the reigns to quarterback the second power-play unit. He is 5-foot-7, though, and there is no getting around that. He is super smart, mobile and competitive, so he makes some stops, but his size can often lead to him getting beat badly. His talent is worth a pick, especially given his sleeper potential as a forward.

    1. Michal Teply, LW, Liberec-Czech Extraliga
    May 27, 2001 | 6-foot-3 | 187 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 55
    Hockey Sense: 60

    I was high on Teply coming into the season and was impressed by his play in the summer. It seemed like he stagnated and, in later international events and club play, did not stand out consistently. On the positive side, he’s a 6-foot-3 forward with very good vision. Teply can run a power play as a playmaker, as well as finish plays. He’s creative on entries and shows great patience waiting for plays to develop. However, he has a lot of warts. His game lacks speed and pace, he doesn’t attack the net or compete for pucks that hard, and he doesn’t always seem that engaged. You’re drafting him knowing he needs work, but the skill/size combination is NHL quality if he puts it all together.

    1. Yegor Spiridonov, C, Magnitogorsk-MHL
    Jan. 22, 2001 | 6-foot-2 | 192 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 55
    Shot Grade: 60

    Spiridonov was one of the best players in the MHL and was a go-to guy for Russia internationally the past few years. Scouts often use the phrase “makes his teammates better” when discussing Spiridonov. He makes plays across the offensive zone from the nice pass off the half-wall to creating space around the hard areas. He’s got skill and shows it in flashes, but he’s not a guy who stands out with his puck handling. His smarts and compete drive his game, and he’s also got a hard shot that can surprise goalies. He can kill penalties and play tougher minutes effectively. My main concern with Spiridonov is his skating. He’s got a clunky stride without any real quickness that will limit him as he climbs the levels.

    1. Leevi Aaltonen, LW, KalPa-Jr. A Liiga
    Jan. 24, 2001 | 5-foot-9 | 168 pounds

    Skating: 65
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 30
    Hockey Sense: 60
    Shot Grade: 60

    Aaltonen has been a top player in his age group for years, often playing ahead of his age level. He stagnated a bit of late but remains a very talented and intriguing prospect. What makes him so valuable are his feet and pace. He’s so elusive inside the offensive zone because of his explosive first step. He buzzes around the ice with the puck with a high compete level and is always looking to attack. Aaltonen is dangerous on the power play because of how he creates 2-on-1’s with his skating, but also because he’s a very good playmaker and finisher. He finds seams well and has a hard wrist shot that he can pick corners with. For a smaller forward who is an offensive player, his 1-on-1 play is underwhelming. He rarely makes plays through defenders and lacks individual skill.

    1. Jayden Struble, D, St. Sebastian’s School-U.S. High School
    Aug. 9, 2001 | six-foot | 194 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 55
    Hockey Sense: 50

    Struble kept impressing as his prep season went along. He’s a very good skater who projects as a push-rushing defenseman. He joins the rush easily and can push the pace. Struble also closes on checks very well, and combined with the fact he loves to play the body, he’s often a force with his body checks. He’s a skilled puck handler who can make plays to gain the zone and can saucer pucks well. He flashes an understanding of how to create offense, but often he throws pucks away, turns pucks over in bad spots and doesn’t make the right play at the right time. Struble has a reputation for having a hot temper, and while he plays physical, he can go over the line at times. Let’s just say when I made a trip out to watch him he got thrown out of the game early, and it wasn’t the first time.

    1. Antti Saarela, C, Lukko-Liiga
    June 27, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 183 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 55

    I liked Saarela a lot as a U17 at the international level. He was productive this season versus men in Liiga. I never was truly blown away by his play in league or international games this season, as I was the season prior, but he’s got some tools. He’s very quick and smart, with the ability to carry pucks up the ice versus men effectively. He competes and gets to the net, and despite not being the biggest or bulkiest forward, he projects to be a competent defensive center. Saarela has some skill and makes plays, but it’s hard to see anything special about his game. He doesn’t ever really show a dynamic trait outside of his skating and speed, and there were too many games that he blended into the background.

    1. Jackson Lacombe, D, Chicago-USHL
    Jan. 9, 2001 | 6-foot-1 | 172 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 50
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Lacombe’s stock picked up steam as the season went along as he had a so-so Hlinka followed by an excellent prep season at Shattuck before ending his year in the USHL. Lacombe is a mobile defenseman with a clean stride that generates speed quickly. He’s able to hover around the blueline with his mobility and lead a rush well. Lacombe has a good skill level. He can evade checks and weave through defenders on rushes fine. He shows poise with the puck and rarely looks like he’s exerting a lot of effort with his skating or puck-moving. Defensively he’s got a bit of an edge and closes on guys well with his skating. While he makes some plays and plays the game hard, I question how well he thinks the game some shifts. He can be turnover prone and out of position defensively.

    1. Alexander Daryin, RW, Yaroslavl-MHL
    Aug. 16, 2000 | 5-foot-11 | 159 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Daryin was one of the biggest risers this season. He went from playing on Yaroslavl’s junior B team to looking like one of the most talented young players in Russia. He plays the game the way I like and the way offense is created in today’s NHL. He’s quick, he’s skilled, he competes and his game is full of pace. Daryin was often asked to bring pucks up the ice and to use his speed and great hands to enter the zone with control. He’s very creative and can make skilled plays through defenders. Daryin moves the puck well. His decision-making isn’t always the best and he can force plays, but often he makes good reads. He’s more of a shooter than a passer though. He’s got an accurate shot that he can pick corners with. He competes fine for pucks but his emotions can get the best of him.

    1. Shane Pinto, C, Tri-City-USHL
    Nov. 12, 2000 | 6-foot-2 | 192 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 55
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Pinto played his first season of high-level hockey as an 18-year-old, and was a top player in the USHL between Lincoln and Tri-City. He’s a big, strong center with good hockey sense. He makes plays and is tough to deal with in the hard areas. His compete level isn’t consistent, but most nights he’s on and tough for opponents to deal with. There will be stretches where you question Pinto’s skill level. He looks average with the puck, makes basic plays and doesn’t show the ability to create. Then all of a sudden he puts a puck through a defender and generates a chance. I’m skeptical of calling him a natural offensive player and a power play guy in the NHL, but I could see him become a bottom-six forward with his skill. His skating ranged between average to above-average. He won’t blaze by guys and doesn’t hit the blueline with speed, which is a concern, but he’ll be able to skate with pros without the puck.

    1. Mike Koster, D, Tri-City-USHL
    April 13, 2001 | 5-foot-9 | 172 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 30
    Hockey Sense: 65

    Koster had a successful season. He was a top player for USA at the Hlinka Gretzky, was one of the best players in Minnesota high school and had a solid end of the season at the USHL level. Koster is a fantastic puck-moving defenseman whose offensive hockey sense is among the best in the draft for defensemen. He’s a true power play QB in how well he surveys options and picks apart defenses with difficult passes. He can stretch the ice from his end or make a play off the wall. Koster has a high skill level, too. His puck skills popped more in high school than in USHL, making me wonder if it will translate. The main concern on Koster is, for a small defenseman, his skating is very average. He lacks the ability to push the pace and that will be a concern to how well he’ll defend versus men.

    1. Anttoni Honka, D, JYP-Liiga
    Oct. 5, 2000 | 5-foot-10 | 176 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 30
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Honka is a player I struggled to rank this season. There were times over the past few years I was incredibly impressed by his offensive instincts, his skill level and his elusiveness. However, he had his struggles and overall I was underwhelmed with him as often as I was impressed. With the puck, he can make some high-level plays. He’s very creative, has great hands and looks to make plays. Honka has the patience to spin off checks, dance around the blueline and find his options through tight windows. He can get too cute though and often was the victim of bad turnovers. Honka skates well but is more elusive than fast and has good edge work but lacks the true separation gear you want at 5-foot-10. Defensively he’s behind where he needs to be with his gaps and reads. He ended the season strong, doing well at Finland’s second division level and hopefully that carries over into next season.

    Finland U20 coach Jussi Ahokas on Honka: “He’s got good offensive skill. He’s a playmaker. He’s a good skater. He has to get better defensively. He’s not as good a skater as his brother Julius, but he’s a better playmaker.”

    1. John Farinacci, C, Dexter School-U.S. High School
    Feb. 14, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 185 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Farinacci had a long season, playing for the USA U18 Selects, USNTDP, Muskegon in the USHL and Massachusetts prep hockey. He captained both Team USA and his prep team, and projects to be a reliable two-way center as a pro. Farinacci has great hockey sense, showing poise with the puck and a mature understanding of the center position. He can execute the difficult passes and is looking to make a play. He’s got very good puck skills. At the higher levels, like the Hlinka Gretzky and USHL, his skill didn’t really stand out. But at the prep level, he dangles and shows a lot of confidence making plays in small areas. He’s not the biggest guy, but Farinacci competes well and engages physically. His main fault is his skating. His speed is average at best and he struggles to gain separation. Some scouts have argued to me that a midseason lower-body injury might have made that fault seem worse than it is.

    1. Antti Tuomisto, D, Assat- Jr. A Liiga
    Jan. 20, 2001 | 6-foot-3 | 176 pounds

    Skating: 40
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 65
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Tuomisto came on strong this season after not looking like much of a prospect last season and was one of the best defensemen in Finland’s junior circuit. Tuomisto can move the puck and be relied on at both ends. He kills plays with his stick and reads closing gaps. He’s physical and makes it tough for opposing forwards to get inside. With the puck, he shows decent creativity and can execute passes through tight seams. I wouldn’t call his puck game natural, though, as he’s not going to deke through anyone at the pro level. His skating/pace is the main concern. His stride is OK; it can look clunky at times, particularly on his first few steps, but when he gets going in a straight line he has OK speed. He’s not one to push the tempo, though, and he doesn’t show much pace in his game.

    1. Mikko Kokkonen, D, Jukurit-Liiga
    Jan. 18, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 198 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Kokkonen played a big role on a lower tier Liiga team often playing around 20 minutes a night at 17 years old and scored a lot of points for a defenseman of his age in that league. His hockey sense allows him to accomplish a lot at both ends. Kokkonen moves the puck very well, showing the ability to stretch the ice and make tough plays. He’s also a quality defender due to how smart he is. He plays his checks tight and makes stops with his stick and body. He’s not a high-end skill guy, but he’s got some hands and can weave his way through traffic. My main concern with Kokkonen is his average skating ability. He’s got some speed but his stride flails a bit. The fact he already weighs in at around 200 pounds could prevent him from adding that much speed, which is concerning at 5-foot-11. He might have topped out early as a player, but his sense and production keep him on my list.

    1. Alexei Protas, C, Prince Albert-WHL
    Jan. 6, 2001 | 6-foot-5 | 190 pounds

    Skating: 40
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 60
    Shot Grade: 60

    There were plenty of reasons for me to drop Protas from my list. He’s a gangly skater who awkwardly gets up the ice. He was around half a point per game, and his skills aren’t that amazing. He’s a giant center but isn’t that physical and doesn’t get inside the dots that much. However, he’s a 6-foot-5 center who is a high-end passer and finisher, and he had a fantastic postseason for Prince Albert. For every moment Protas made a basic rush, there was a time he feathered a pass through a seam, saw a teammate coming with an eye in the back of his head or launched a hard wrister past a goalie from the circles. He can run a power play off the flank and make plays. If he fixes his skating, he’s got a chance to be a good player with his instincts and size down the middle.

    1. Nolan Foote, LW, Kelowna-WHL
    Nov. 29, 2000 | 6-foot-3 | 187 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 55
    Shot Grade: 60

    Foote, the son of longtime NHLer Adam Foote and younger brother of Tampa first-round pick Cal Foote, was successful in the WHL the past three seasons and was one of the leading shot generators this past season. Nolan Foote is a trigger man for a power play, with a heavy shot that can finish plays. He has good vision and overall hockey sense, but the key to his game is his ability and willingness to shoot the puck. He’s a big man who competes well for pucks. Given his shooting skill, he might have taken too many outside chances when he could have driven the net, but he can attack when he wants to. My concern with Foote is whether he can create enough of his own chances at the pro level. His feet are below-average and, while he has puck skills, I never really saw him create space consistently with his skill.

    Kelowna Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton on Foote: “He’s got a great shot and has great hockey sense. He forechecks and works very hard. He can find open ice for his shot. His feet are ahead of where Cal’s were at the same age.”

    1. Henry Thrun, D, USNTDP-USHL
    March 12, 2001 | 6-foot-2 | 190 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 55
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Thrun was a solid defenseman for the USNTDP the past two seasons, playing all situations. He’s not a player who will excite you, but he’s one of the smartest defensemen available in this year’s draft. He’s such a poised, patient puck-mover. He can pick apart defenses with his breakouts and seam passes. He can make stops due to how well he anticipates plays and his compete level. His puck skills are OK. He has some hands but he’s more comfortable dishing than trying to make a move. The main concern on Thrun’s pro projection is his skating. He’s gotten quicker since he entered the program but his stride is not the smoothest around, and he will struggle to play at a pro pace.

    1. Jordan Spence, D, Moncton-QMJHL
    Feb. 24, 2001 | 5-foot-10 | 165 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 35
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Spence intrigued me early on this season as a rookie 17-year-old CHLer getting huge minutes and time on the first power play unit with Moncton right out of the gate. He played well all season, including at the U18s for Canada. I appreciate his hockey sense a lot. Spence shows a lot of poise and vision with the puck. His breakouts relieve pressure well and he can QB power plays at a high level. He skates well, but for a small defenseman, his speed and skill don’t wow me. He has enough speed to skate with pros and turn CHL defenders. At his size, he defended fine this season due to his brain. I think if Spence was just any other prospect he’d be easy to slap a late/bubble pick tag on with his toolkit. However, he played so well this season after not even being in the CHL that you could argue there’s more to come with experience.

    1. Karl Henriksson, C, Frolunda-J20 SuperElit
    Feb. 5, 2001 | 5-foot-9 | 174 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 30
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Henriksson had a great season in the J20 league, as one of the best playmakers at that level. At the junior and international levels, he was often playing with super prospect Lucas Raymond, who could overshadow him, but Henriksson did show talent in his own right, including being a top player at the U18s. Henriksson makes a ton of plays off the flank and finds his teammates well. He’s small at just under 5-foot-9, but he’s solid defensively and shows no fear getting to the net area. The question with Henriksson is, at his size, if he has enough speed in his game. He’s a fine/good skater and shows some separation ability, but he doesn’t have game-breaking speed or skill.

    1. Michael Gildon, LW, USNTDP-USHL
    June 21, 2001 | 6-foot-2 | 194 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 55
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Gildon had a fine season, particularly when he was playing at the USHL level as he steadily emerged as a quality scoring winger for the NTDP, often lining up on the left side of Jack Hughes and Cole Caufield. There’s nothing about Gildon’s game that wows you, but he has a few pro attributes that make him worth knowing. He’s a 6-foot-2 winger with some heaviness in his game. He’s got above-average skill and vision, and made enough skilled plays this season for me to think he’s got an NHL chance. Gildon plays hard at both ends of the rink, and can be a guy who wins a battle and then makes a play. His main issue is his heavy feet. It’s not the worst stride I’ve ever seen but his game lacks pace because of it.

    Chance to Play in the NHL/Late-Round Pick
    1. Ilya Altybarmakyan, LW, SKA-Varyagi-MHL
    Sept. 30, 2000 | 5-foot-11 | 179 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 65
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 55
    Shot Grade: 60

    Altybarmakyan, the younger brother of Chicago prospect Andrei Altybarmakyan, does not have an attractive statistical profile. He produced well but not incredibly well in the MHL (21 goals-40 points in 52 games) as a late 2000 birthdate, leading SKA’s backup junior team in scoring. That’s not where you’re expecting to find a future NHL player, but I watched nearly every game he played this season and I’m sold that his skill level is among the best in this draft class. It’s not flashy skill off the half-wall; Altybarmakyan has pace and hard skill that will translate to the North American pro game. He dangles defenders at full speed and attacks the middle of the ice. His speed is just OK and his stride could use some technical cleanup as his feet flail out, but with his mindset, he pushes defenders back. He is more of a goal-scorer than a playmaker. His shot isn’t that hard, but with his hands, he can pick corners consistently from a distance. He will make plays too, but it isn’t his forte. Altybarmakyan competes hard and has an edge to his game but can lose his cool and isn’t the best defensively. There’s a lot to work to do here, but a pick on Altybarmakyan is a bet on big-time skill finding a way to work out.

    1. Yaroslav Likhachyov, RW, Gatineau-QMJHL
    Sept. 2, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 168 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 65
    Physical Game: 30
    Hockey Sense: 60

    I was high on Likhachyov coming into the season after a good underage season and Hlinka Gretzky. He struggled significantly in his time in the QMJHL but ended the season strong at the U18s. You are drafting Likhachyov because he’s one of the most purely skilled players available in this year’s draft. He can break open a shift by dangling past defenders and can make high-end passes. However, he has several significant warts. He’s a mediocre skater whose game can lack pace. He looked slow whenever I watched him in the Q, but in international games, his game had more speed. He’s small, slight and plays on the perimeter. His defensive game needs a lot of work. Thus, picking him is a swing on the skill and developing the rest.

    1. Harrison Blaisdell, C, Chilliwack-BCHL
    March 18, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 181 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 55
    Shot Grade: 60

    Blaisdell was one of the best players in the BCHL this past season. I wouldn’t describe him as a flashy offensive player, but he has talent and scored a lot of goals. Most scouts start off describing Blaisdell by his work ethic. He competes very hard for pucks and can be trusted to play hard defensive minutes. With the puck, he’s quite skilled and can make occasional high-end plays. I wouldn’t call him a natural playmaker, but he sees the ice well and tries to make things happen. His hands are quick and that translates to his shot, which he gets off well and can knock pucks in off posts. With Blaisdell the question is whether, at his size, he’s quick enough for the NHL. He’s not a poor skater, but he lacks a true separation gear.

    1. Michael Vukojevic, D, Kitchener-OHL
    June 8, 2001 | 6-foot-3 | 205 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Vukojevic is a tall defenseman with some pro attributes who was a quality player in the OHL for the past two seasons. He started off the season slow but picked up as it went along. What stands out about Vukojevic’s game is his hockey sense. He moves the puck very well, showing good instincts inside the offensive zone. His offensive tools won’t dazzle, but he can skate pucks through the neutral zone and has enough skill to make some plays. Defensively he’s very solid. Vukojevic uses his reads, feet and brain to disrupt a lot of plays, and could play tough minutes at the pro level. There may not be a ton of offense at the higher levels from him, but with his size and skating, there is some potential.

    1. Kaedan Korczak, D, Kelowna-WHL
    Jan. 29, 2001 | 6-foot-3 | 192 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 65
    Hockey Sense: 50

    Korczak played a ton of minutes for Kelowna this past season. He was also solid for Canada at both the Hlinka Gretzky and the IIHF U18s. He has all the physical tools that make him look like an NHLer. He’s a 6-foot-2 defenseman who skates quite well, if not very well. He can lead a rush effectively. With how hard he plays and his feet, he can be a punishing defender to play against and plays the tough minutes. His puck game is just OK. He has some skill and looked competent on the power play in the WHL on the second unit of a sub-par offensive team, but I haven’t loved his puck management. He throws a lot of pucks away and doesn’t make many plays. There are some scouts who believe in him and think there’s just enough offense for him to make it, but I am skeptical.

    Kelowna Rockets GM Bruce Hamilton on Korczak: “He plays a lot of minutes. He’s an excellent skater and very smart defensively. He needs to add more to his offensive game in terms of his passes and shot.”

    1. Adam Beckman, LW, Spokane-WHL
    May 10, 2001 | 6-foot-1 | 168 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 55
    Shot Grade: 60

    After not playing in the WHL last season, Beckman was an important part of a top WHL team. Beckman is a player I’ve had a lot of debates about with scouts. He’s a great goal-scorer who has been productive, but there is a lack of a wow factor with him. He’s a skilled forward. I’ve talked to scouts who think the skill is high-end, but I haven’t seen that. He has good hockey sense and timing as a goal scorer. His shot is impressive and is a selling point for his NHL chances. He’s a finisher, whether it be a long distance shot or his touch around the net. My main concern is his skating isn’t the best, but he’s physically underdeveloped and that could come with strength.

    1. Kirill Slepets, RW, Yaroslavl-MHL
    April 6, 1999 | 5-foot-10 | 146 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 35
    Hockey Sense: 55
    Shot Grade: 60

    Slepets turned heads with his performance at the Canada-Russia series versus CHL teams and at the world juniors. It earned him time with Russia’s national team and put him on the NHL radar even as a third-year-eligible prospect. Pace defines his game. Slepets skates and plays fast. He’s often a player asked to carry the puck up the ice. He also competes well, pressuring defenders at his blueline, and can be an excellent penalty killer. Slepets has offensive skill. He flashes top-end ability but not consistently. He can make opponents miss, though, and make plays to his teammates. His best offensive weapon, aside from his feet, is his shot. He can pick corners from a distance and has good instincts around the net. He will need time to play well versus men before he looks NHL ready, but as a highly touted 17-year-old who then flatlined, he will likely be drafted this summer.

    1. Samuel Bolduc, D, Blainville-Boisbriand-QMJHL
    Dec. 9, 2000 | 6-foot-4 | 212 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 65
    Hockey Sense: 45

    Bolduc was the top defenseman for a rebuilding Blainville team this season, logging big minutes in all situations. His athletic tools are very impressive, some may even argue top 30-40 pick quality. He’s a 6-foot-4 defenseman who skates well, not just well for a guy his size. He’s able to lead a rush and escape pressure effectively. Bolduc may never be known as a first power play unit type, but he’s got sneaky good hands and he can make skilled plays through opponents. He also has a cannon of a shot. He’s not going to pick corners, but he can create havoc off his shot. Bolduc uses his size well and closes on his checks using his speed and frame. His main issue is his decision making. Bolduc often forces plays that aren’t there and too many times makes a pass into feet or onto an opponent’s stick. With that said, he will have instances where he makes a good play that makes you believe he’s got some playmaking in him.

    1. Ethan Phillips, C, Sioux Falls-USHL
    May 7, 2001 | 5-foot-9 | 146 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 25
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Phillips started the year playing prep hockey in New England, then made a successful midseason transition to the USHL, where he played significant minutes for Sioux Falls. Phillips buzzes around the ice. He’s a very good skater who plays quick and can put defenders on their heels. I like his skill level a lot. He doesn’t try to dangle everyone, but he can make slight moves in tight and get around defensemen. Phillips sees the ice well and tries to make creative plays, but I find he forces a lot of plays. He’s a small forward, and although he plays quick and gets to the net, he’s very slight and can be pushed around. I question if he’s dynamic enough for a smaller forward to be a legit NHLer.

    1. Keean Washkurak, C, Mississauga-OHL
    Aug. 16, 2001 | 5-foot-10 | 185 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Washkaruk played all-situations minutes for the Steelheads, and I was impressed by how he handled himself in limited time at the U18s. He’s not a dynamic player, particularly for 5-foot-10, but Washkaruk has a high compete level and a good talent base. He skates well with the ability to push the pace. His stride technique isn’t perfect, but he looks faster because of how hard he works. He’s not all speed and energy though, as Washkaruk has impressive hands and often dangled defenders at speed. I don’t know if he has enough skill to make it to the NHL at his size, but he’s got a chance.

    1. James Malm, LW, Calgary-WHL
    June 25, 1999 | 5-foot-9 | 174 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 65
    Physical Game: 20
    Hockey Sense: 65

    Malm is a highly talented forward who was passed over multiple times. He moved midseason after asking for a trade from Vancouver and really took off in Calgary. The circumstances around the move bugged NHL scouts, though. His skill level is very high. I daresay he was one of the most purely skilled playmakers in major junior. He makes highly creative plays routinely and he has the vision to run a power play from the flank at the pro level. There were so many times this season where he executed a “wow” caliber play to generate a chance or goal. Malm is by no means a perfect player, though. He’s 5-foot-9, not that great physically or defensively, and his skating is so-so. He’s got decent speed but his stride isn’t the most technically sound. His production was below what someone of his skill level should have registered, too.

    1. Mikhail Abramov, C, Victoriaville-QMJHL
    March 26, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 161 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 35
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Abramov was a huge part of Victoriaville’s offense this season and transitioned to North America well. He’s a great playmaker with high-end vision. Abramov is always looking to make a play. He makes a lot of passes through seams and does so at a quick pace. If anything, he tries a little too much to make the nice play as he passes up shots and stays on the perimeter too much. Abramov has a good shot and getting to shooting opportunities would increase his value. He’s not a stationary player, as he skates quite well and can get by defenders with speed. Some scouts like his compete level, but I would not call him a physical player; and he’s not the biggest player.

    1. Layton Ahac, D, Prince George-BCHL
    Feb. 22, 2001 | 6-foot-2 | 187 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 55
    Hockey Sense: 55

    When I saw Ahac early in the season I wasn’t all that intrigued, but he picked up steam as the campaign went along. He was a big part of why Prince George won its BCHL title. Ahac isn’t a very flashy defenseman, but he’s a steady presence. He’s 6-foot-2, mobile and smart. Ahac kills plays with his feet and stick, and he was trusted to check good players at the junior level. He’s got good enough feet to escape pressure and skate pucks up ice. The question on his pro projection is how much skill/upside he has. He often looks bland with the puck, but he produced more in the playoffs. I don’t see pro power play potential in his game, though.

    1. Ivan Drozdov, RW, Minsk-KHL
    Nov. 15, 1999 | six-foot | 174 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 35
    Hockey Sense: 55

    I kept an eye on Drozdov in 2017-18 and he was the best player at the World Junior B pool this season. He wasn’t that productive in the KHL, but watching those games you saw flashes of a real player. Drozdov has a lot of skill and it’s what makes him interesting. He showed the ability to dangle KHL defensemen at a quick pace and make plays to create chances. He’s got good feet. They’re not amazing, but he can pull away from defenders and push players back. He’s not the bulkiest forward, and versus men you saw him get exposed with his strength in battles. He’s listed at six-foot, but I think he’s smaller than that. He does compete well, though, and has some bite in his game.

    1. Mikhail Shalagin, RW, Spartak-MHL
    Sept. 12, 1999 | 6-foot-4 | 168 pounds

    Skating: 45
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 55
    Shot Grade: 60

    I put Shalagin on my list last season and he went undrafted. Coming into the season the record for most goals in the MHL (the top Russian junior league) in a single season was 42 goals in 54 games. Shalagin scored 48 in 43 this past season. Safe to say, he knows how to score goals. Shalagin had quite a few instances where he picked corners from a distance and showed a plus, if not a plus-plus shot. He’s got the soft skill to create chances and flashes high-end skill, although, for his age and the level, you wonder if he’ll be able to dangle as well in the KHL. While his goal-scoring is his value, he can make plays and has impressive hockey sense in terms of his vision and creativity. His skating is OK. He’s not that slow, but the stride is inefficient. He doesn’t get inside that much because he’s often trying to snipe from the circle, but he competes fine. He was 19 in the MHL and struggled at the international U20 level, so there is cause for concern if he was just too old for the level.

    1. Luka Burzan, RW, Brandon-WHL
    Jan. 7, 2000 | six-foot | 190 pounds

    Skating: 55
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 45
    Hockey Sense: 55

    Burzan is a second-year-eligible prospect. He was touted coming up but struggled in his first draft season with scouts expressing concerns about his hockey sense. He bounced back this season, leading the WHL with 40 goals, and the hockey sense issues don’t seem to be prevalent. Burzan brings impressive speed and skill to the table. He can really push the pace when he wants to and has the hands to play through defenders. He made more plays this season, showing good creativity and vision with the puck. He generated quite a few goals this season with his playmaking. Burzan isn’t a complete player, but he plays in the hard areas and has some energy in his game. Defensively and physically, he’s not the best, but I don’t think those are huge issues.

    1. Martin Hugo Has, D, Tappara-Finland U20
    Feb. 2, 2001 | 6-foot-4 | 187 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 60
    Hockey Sense: 55

    I highlighted Hugo Has at this time last season as a top talent in the 2001 age group who looked promising in the summer. His season was a disappointment. He didn’t play all that well in league play and teams I talked to were very concerned about his trajectory. He does have an intriguing enough toolkit to remain a pick for me, even given those concerns. He’s a 6-foot-4 defenseman who can move the puck. He has above-average IQ and some power play QB ability. His skating isn’t a selling point. I know some scouts who call him slow. I disagree. I think it projects as pro-average. He has some elusiveness and can close on checks but won’t be a blazer. He’ll need work around the edges to become more consistent all-around, but there’s an NHL toolkit here if he puts it together.

    1. Maxim Denezhkin, C, Yaroslavl-MHL
    Dec. 10, 2000 | 5-foot-10 | 165 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Denezhkin was one of the top players and leading scorer for the best junior team in Russia. He’s a versatile forward, and has the skill and hockey sense to create offense. He’s a very good passer and finisher who scores with his above-average shot but also by attacking the net hard. His compete level shows at both ends of the rink, as he can make stops and kill penalties. His offensive game with the puck won’t dazzle, but he has good hands and can feather pucks through seams. While he’s not a bad skater, he has some speed and is balanced on his skates; but he isn’t a blazer and his stride isn’t technically ideal. Scouts talk highly about Denezhkin’s character/off-ice work ethic, so it’s possible he improves that area down the line.

    1. Marcus Kallionkieli, LW, Sioux City-USHL
    March 20, 2001 | 6-foot-2 | 176 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 50
    Physical Game: 55
    Hockey Sense: 55
    Shot Grade: 60

    Kallionkieli got a lot of attention early in the season, as his line with Bobby Brink and Martin Pospisil quickly became the best in the USHL. Kallionkieli tailed off as that line lost its components through the season, causing concerns if he might be too complimentary. He’s not going to be a primary driver on a line, but he has a decent talent level. He has good offensive instincts. He’s able to make plays in tight areas and has enough vision to move pucks into the right spots. He’s known for his goal-scoring more than his playmaking. He’s got a hard shot and can ring shots off posts from a distance. He skates well for a bigger guy. He may not have a true separation gear, but he can skate with pros. There are times you wish he was a tad more physical for a guy his size, but he competes for pucks. He might be too bland for the NHL, but he’s got a chance.

    1. Aleks Haatanen, LW, Pelicans, Jr. A Liiga
    Nov. 16, 2000 | 5-foot-9 | 179 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 30
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Haatanen had a solid campaign between the Finnish junior and second-tier pro level. He really popped when I saw him play for Finland at U19 tournaments. He’s not a perfect player by any means. He’s 5-foot-9, he skates fine but he’s not a speedster, and he’s not overly physical. I like his compete level, though. What he does have in buckets are skill and vision. Haatanen is a player who creates offense with the puck and is a very good playmaker. He can run a power play and has a good seam pass completion percentage. He’s creative and has very quick hands in traffic. He’s a quality late-round candidate for a team looking to bet on skill and hoping he develops as a player over the next few years.

    1. Kristian Tanus, LW, Tappara-Liiga
    Aug. 17, 2000 | 5-foot-8 | 159 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 25
    Hockey Sense: 65
    Shot Grade: 60

    I monitored Tanus last season but he ultimately never moved the needle. This season at the pro level in Finland, he showed more dynamic elements and a finishing touch to get onto my list. What drives Tanus’ value is his brain. He’s one of the best passers eligible to be drafted. He runs a power play off the half-wall extremely well with the patience and IQ to thread pucks through lanes and wait for options to develop. What’s kept Tanus from being drafted is he’s 5-foot-8 with average feet, and he’s not a true game breaker with his feet or hands. I do think his shot looks much more promising than at this point last season, though. It’s reasonable to be wary of him, but he’s so smart and has been decent defensively over the years.

    1. Josh Nodler, C, Fargo-USHL
    April 27, 2001 | 5-foot-11 | 196 pounds

    Skating: 50
    Puck Skills: 55
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 60

    Nodler was good for Team USA internationally and Fargo in the USHL this past season. His hockey sense drives his value. Nodler is a top-end playmaker who can run a power play off the flank and make very creative passes routinely. He’s got good hands, but he’s not a guy who will try to go through defenders a ton. Nodler’s sense and skill give him a chance to play, but he’s got a lot to work on. His skating doesn’t impress at his size; it’s roughly average speed with a stride that could use work, which isn’t helped by the fact his frame has a lot of weight on it already. Defensively he’s fine but he’s not going to put guys through walls. He’s a guy you draft for the offensive upside, wait three-to-four years in college and hope he comes out improved.

    1. William Constantinou, D, Kingston-OHL
    March 25, 2001 | six-foot | 185 pounds

    Skating: 60
    Puck Skills: 60
    Physical Game: 40
    Hockey Sense: 50

    Constantinou is a divisive prospect. He’s immensely talented but can also be frustrating to watch. He started off the season playing limited minutes on a good Niagara team before moving into a large role with Kingston as part of the Jason Robertson trade. Constantinou’s skating and skill stand out immediately to anyone who watches him. When he gets the puck, he’s looking to make a difference. He escapes pressure very easily with his plus edgework, he spins off checks consistently and he has the speed to push the pace. His hands are always moving, and he can make plays through defenders. His issues are his lackluster defensive play combined with bad puck management. He often tries to make the one extra move and it doesn’t always work. He also doesn’t sense pressure that well, which can result in bad defensive turnovers. He’s worth a shot for the massive upside.