June 13, 2015

Austin Wallace

2015-06-13

Noah Hanifin, other prospect defenders, Strome vs. Marner 1v1 and more.

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Hello and welcome to another edition of Prospect Ramblings. I’m your host, Zach Hopkins, as we prepare for the end of the 2014-15 NHL season and move forward to the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Let’s get right down to business!

 

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There is no doubt in my mind the Noah Hanifin will be drafted somewhere in the top-five. No doubt whatsoever. You just do not find that sort of talent on the blue line in most drafts. In fact, if it wasn’t for Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, he would likely be the consensus number one player on the board.

 

 

With that in mind, there are two other above average defensemen that teams picking sixth through 10 or so should be excited about. This is of course Brandon’s Ivan Provorov and University of Michigan’s Zachary Werenski. Both players should be top-10 picks and NHL Central Scouting has them listed as the seventh (Provorov) and ninth (Werenski) best North American skaters. They each are excellent in all three zones and are absolutely worthy of being a high pick in the draft. Two questions I often get asked when it comes to comparing prospects is: ‘Who is better?’ and ‘Where do you think they will go?’ In this case, I’m giving the nod to Provorov who had a fantastic season for the Wheat Kings and was right up there with Travis Sanheim (FLYERS REFERENCE!) for tops in the WHL. In terms of where they will go, I could give you my opinion but I’d rather you check in with the experts in Dobber’s 2015 Fantasy Hockey Prospects Report which includes a mock draft and top-50 rankings!

 

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It’s no great surprise that the best prospects in a given draft year most often are selected by the league’s worst teams. Just the name of the game. However, one of my personal favorite prospects should be in a position to be drafted by a really GOOD team, and that is Jake DeBrusk of Swift Current. Mock drafts and analysts have him going from anywhere in the 20-35 range. My personal opinion is that he will be off the board on day one. After watching his film, I agree with scouting reports that he most compares to Tyler Toffoli of the Los Angeles Kings. Some teams to keep an eye on towards the end of the round will be Minnesota, Buffalo, Winnipeg and Montreal. I doubt he drops much further than that.

 

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While I don’t suspect we see a goaltender selected in the first round, there likely could be a run of them in round two. Barrie’s Mackenzie Blackwood and Quebec’s Callum Booth are the definitive top-two round prospects in my book. That being said, I think another netminder will end up being the gem of the class, and that is Topeka’s Matej Tomek. Though he is ranked the fourth or fifth best North American goaltending prospect, I remain enamored with is tape. His lateral movement is improving and he has been working on smothering the initial shot. I’m very intrigued to see who takes a chance on him.

 

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It’s becoming rather clear that the after McDavid and Eichel, the next offensive player selected will be either Dylan Strome of Erie or Mitch Marner of London. Nobody seems to know for certain which order they will or even SHOULD go in. We should have fun with it. Let’s have them play one-on-one, full ice and with any NHL goaltender of their choosing. We can then have it as a special and air it in primetime during intermission of one of next week’s Stanley Cup Final games. Oh c’mon! You wouldn’t want to see Marner and Carey Price vs Strome and Henrik Lundqvist? I’d tune in!

 

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Connor McDavid’s journey will be clear. He’ll be drafted first overall and will be in Edmonton’s lineup come October. I’m much more curious to see what happens with Eichel. He’ll be a Sabre, but will he leave BU and jump to the NHL? Will he return before signing his entry-level deal? I think he bolts and heads to Buffalo to join Sam Reinhart and Co. along with new coach Dan Bylsma. Just my two cents.

 

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So I’m trying. I really am trying. Unfortunately, I’m just not drinking the Haydn Fleury Kool-Aid. I think he is a great talent no doubt, but I just like other defenseman drafted after him in 2014 better. Those include Julius Honka, Travis Sanheim and Anthony DeAngelo. The latter two I think will be tops in the class behind Aaron Ekblad. Speaking of Ekblad, I think he has a legitimate chance to win the Calder Trophy. Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Stone may cancel each other out (remember math class?). If that’s the case, Ekblad is in the clear. Just a great rookie season for one of only three junior players granted exceptional status. The other two? Man crush alum John Tavares and Connor McDavid.

 

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The Manchester Monarchs are within one game of capturing the Calder Cup after a Game Four victory over the Utica Comets. This doesn’t come as a surprise as the Los Angeles Kings scouting department is tops in the NHL. With players like Adrian Kempe, Jordan Weal and Nick Shore, I’d be willing to bet the series end following Game Five.

 

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Lastly, I’ve made it known in previous ramblings that I am very high on Max Domi and Anthony Duclair, arguably the top two prospects in the Arizona system. My hope is that they will address the blue line at the draft and take Noah Hanifin if they keep the number three pick. Now I’m a hockey guy. Watching, writing and debating on HOCKEY is what I do best, but I have to say that what is happening with the team and the Glendale City Council is appalling and a total disgrace. I feel badly for the organization and the many diehard Coyotes fans. I’m not sure how it will all turn out, but I hope the ‘Yotes and their fanbase come out on top.

 

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Hope you’ve enjoyed reading. Enjoy a few clips on some of the players mentioned above!

 

Noah Hanifin Draft Profile

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jw36ZGZOiKA

 

Jake DeBrusk Draft Profile

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Chwtdd59gE

 

Matej Tomek Highlights

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HLPO1eO8wdY

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