January 29 2016

Peter Harling

2016-01-29

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The BMO Top Prospects game went last night in Vancouver and Team Orr continued its streak with another victory over Team Cherry. The Top Prospect game has been an excellent scouting opportunity for NHL teams to help prioritize their draft list, and the same can be said for scouting your fantasy hockey draft.

 

While it is only one game, and is the CHL equivalent of the all-star game, this game has huge importance to the players and they play hard. I have heard scouts and analysts often comment that if a draft eligible player has a poor showing at the World Juniors, it really doesn’t hurt, but if they have a strong performance it really improves their draft status. The same can be said regarding the Top Prospects game, and here are some of the players who stood out last night.

Pierre-Luc Dubois from the WHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles was arguably the best player in the game with a three point night, figuring in on every Team Orr goal including scoring the game winner. He was dominant in every aspect of the game, offensively obviously, but also defensively causing turn overs and take-a-ways and blocking shots. Dubois is 6’3” and 201 pounds but showed last night he has the skating, skills and smarts to compete at an elite level. Dubois was a late cut from Team Canada for the World Juniors but is having a great season in his draft year with Cape Breton scoring 30 goals and 68 points in 46 games while also posting a plus -22 and 73 penalty minutes. He is a sure-fire first round pick and is ranked as high as sixth by HockeyProspect.com and his lowest ranking is 18th by ISS. He is also ranked 11th by Future Considerations and 12th by McKeens

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Pascal Laberge &amp; Pierre-Luc Dubois give-and-go goal. They're alright. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TeamOrr?src=hash">#TeamOrr</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BMOTP?src=hash">#BMOTP</a> <a href="https://t.co/niyvEOom7Y">https://t.co/niyvEOom7Y</a></p>&mdash; Kathryn Jean (@msconduct) <a href="https://twitter.com/msconduct/status/692930435135967233">January 29, 2016</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

Pascal Laberge of the Victoriaville Tigers was on a line with Dubois last night and was also involved in every goal for Team Orr with two goals and an assist. His offensive skills were on display with his ability to finish plays with his quick release and accurate shot. His acceleration with the puck, and slippery hands allowed his to open up shooting lanes displaying skills and vision. He may not be ranked on everyones first round rankings, but after his performance last night that may change.

Matthew Tkachuk did not have the same impact on the scoring sheet but was impressive none the less. His ability to force offensive chances was very noticeable as he used his size and strength to drive to the goal with the puck and seemed unstoppable at times. His forecheck is relentless and should translate well in the pro game. He is a sure-fire top ten pick, and I would be shocked if he is not picked in the top five.

Mike McLeod played a similar game to Tkachuk, and was one of the few forwards to play a heavy game in all three zones. Drives hard to the net with the puck and is very intelligent in his own end without it breaking up plays. He was strong on his feet and hard to battle against. McLeod is favorite of scouts because of his speed, size and defensive responsibility. The only concern has been his offensive ceiling, but in his draft year he is showing that is a strength more than a concern with 18 goals and 50 points in 45 games. His draft rankings has him on the cusp of the top ten, and his performance last night should help get him there.

Olli Juolevi had a breakout performance for Finland at the World Junior and had another strong game on the big stage last night. He reminds me of his countryman Kimmo Timonen at times. He is not small at 6’2” but does not play a heavy game. He is such a smart player and a great skater he plays so well positionally defensively and has a long reach and active stick he does not need to throw his weight around to be effective. His smarts and skating also aid in his transition with impressive outlet passes or carrying the puck up the ice himself if need be.

Jordan Kyrou of the Sarnia sting struggled at the start of the season to find his offence, but as the season has worn on and the Sting have loaded up the roster with fire power he is on track and had a good game last night. Kyrou set up a Logan Brown goal with a beautiful spin pass.

{source}<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Logan Brown's goal. Great shot, nice play to get him the puck <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/TeamCherry?src=hash">#TeamCherry</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/BMOTP?src=hash">#BMOTP</a> <a href="https://t.co/M2HD2vpwFF">https://t.co/M2HD2vpwFF</a></p>&mdash; Kathryn Jean (@msconduct) <a href="https://twitter.com/msconduct/status/692928608659226624">January 29, 2016</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>{/source}

Logan Brown of the Windsor Spitfires was impressive as well, he used his size very well to protect the puck and plays a strong board game. Has the size, skating, vision and skill to project as a first line centre in the NHL.

Jakob Chychrun who earlier was projected by many as the second overall potential pick, has slipped down on many rankings. He was cut by Team Canada for the WJC roster and had a so-so game last night. There were some plays where he was beat by the offending player, but he also made some good defensive reads and broke up some opposing chances. He didn’t show much offence but overall last night’s showing should not have much effect on his ranking, he is a top ten pick.

Alex DeBrincat of the Erie Otters exploded out of the gate offensively to start the season and was the OHL scoring leader for some time. His performance for the USA at the WJC was under whelming, and he has struggled offensively since compared to his hot start. Held pointless last night he showed signs of his elite skills. He is a very small but highly skilled player who has to be contributing consistent offence to be considered a first round pick, and he is very capable of doing that.

Sean Day is perhaps the greatest mystery in the draft this year. Is the exceptional status player truly exceptional or not? He is clearly a highly talented player and an above average skater, but there are some questions regarding his maturity. He had a good game defensively and didn’t hurt his status, but I’m not sure he did enough to help it.

Dylan Wells was impressive for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka last summer but has not been able to wrestle the starting job from Matt Mancina in Peterborough this year. He played the second half of the game last night and was impressive turning away several strong scoring chances.

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Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
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Oskar Olausson 7.5 8.5
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Matej Pekar 5.0 6.3
Tristan Lennox 6.5 5.5
Aatu Räty 8.0 8.5
William Dufour 4.5 5.0
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