The top ten prospects are mostly well known throughout the hockey community. Today I’ll take a look at some of the players ranked just outside the top ten and break them down.
I’ll take a look at most of the players ranked in the range of 11-20 on my list. There’s a few players that I have higher or lower than some, but this section is for the most part comprised with a slew of wingers and centres.
I’ll start with American winger Joel Farabee, a consistent mainstay just outside the top ten. The left winger out of Cicero, NY has some great skill and works hard. One of the few reasons why Farabee isn’t listed as a top ten pick is because his potential isn’t viewed as a top line winger. He’s known as a speedy playmaker off the wing who has a quick release. A high energy player who can work well on special teams and gives his all on the ice. He’s grown another inch recently, so he’s up to 6-0 and 168 lbs. He’ll need to put on some weight and gain some muscle mass, but he should be one of the next wingers to go after the main crop of Svechnikov, Zadina, Tkachuk, and Wahlstrom.
Next we’ll head over to Russia where Traktor Chelyabinsk winger Vitali Kravtsov has already planted himself in the KHL. After playing 35 games and notching a respectable seven points, Kravtsov carried on to the playoffs where he took his game to another level and notched 11 points in 16 games. The 6-2 skilled right winger has a good stature for professional hockey, but needs to use his body a little better. Kravtsov often showcases his speed and good shot, while providing playing a good two way game off the wing. He has a nifty set of hands and can pull off a quick set of moves before scoring a goal or setting up a teammate. Kravtsov has quickly risen up many rankings with his playoff success and will surely be in the conversation for even breaking into the top ten.
German left winger Dominik Bokk is the next player we’ll look at. Another player who’s only recently made his way into my lottery picks in February. He’s transitioned from the SuperElit where he produced 41 points in 35 games, to the SHL where he got his feet wet. In 15 games he notched a goal and an assist. The 6-1 right winger not only has a good wrist shot with a nice release, but is also a good playmaker with a nice set of hands. He likes to take on goalies and has scored a fair few one on one goals in close. I view him as a skilled player who has a very nice toolbox, although he needs to work on his skating in order to make that next step. He’s likely another few years away from the NHL, I could see him step in around 2019/2020.
Next we’ll tackle the pair of Finnish centres who broke into the Liiga this year in somewhat of an interesting and differing fashion. Rasmus Kupari was favoured early before the season began, but hasn’t adapted as well as expected to the Liiga, starting out slow and finishing with 14 points in 38 games. Kupari went scoreless in six playoff games, but showed some promise. Kupari shows some flashes of a potential top six forward, but needs to adapt his game quicker when he gets to the pros. On the other hand, Jesperi Kotkaniemi adapted much better to the Finnish top tier, dropping 29 points in 57 games this year. Kotkaniemi has a good 6-2 frame and has already broken over 190 lbs. He has a very dangerous shot with a good release and power as well as a good hockey IQ. He can skate quite well and has had a slightly better season that relative expectation. Between the two of them, Kotkaniemi is the choice right now over Kupari, but Kupari is closer behind than the stats suggest.
Next we’ll talk about another Russian winger. Grigori Denisenko is a high skilled 5-10 winger who’s put up some solid production of 22 points in 31 games down in the MHL. He played four games in the KHL playoffs with Lokomotiv, but got limited ice time and didn’t provide anything on the score sheet. Denisenko showcases high level skill and boasts a very nice set of hands. He uses his good wrist shot to finish chances he creates, and can skate quite well, displaying good agility. Denisenko needs to work a little bit on his two way game, but has had a good season. He has potential to be a good two way winger if he adapts well to the NHL.
Finally, we’ll talk about the two way centre from Montreal, Joe Veleno. The hard nosed, two way centre plays a very refined and solid defensive game. He showcases good vision and makes the players around him better, however he struggles scoring goals. In the first half of the season, Veleno was a pass first player, and would give up good looks to pass to his teammates, but is slowly getting better. He ended up with a total of 79 points in 64 games this year, 57 of those being assists. I don’t think the potential of Veleno will be anything higher than a middle six/second line centre, however he’s a very safe bet to become one, and he is always a good influence on his teammates. He’s a natural leader and could be picked with a lottery pick if a team sees a fit.
This draft year seems to be filled with various groups and positions of players. This group is the tier that will find itself somewhere in the middle of the first round, although some could go much higher than others. Some teams pick BPA, while others will go for a position of need, but this area has a strength of forwards, so expect lots of them picked in this area as well as a few of the falling defenseman.
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