Part Three Time!
This third instalment has the smallest of margins separating them. I’ve been quoted for months as saying you could toss these names in a hat, randomly pull them out and it would be justifiable. That said, Turcotte and Byram have done enough to charge to the top and lock themselves in. After that, it gets a lot dicier.
Regarding my method…
We have finally reached the end of the line. The games have all been played. The battles have been plenty. The combine has tested the physical and mental fortitude of these young men. All that’s left to do is wait with sweaty palms on June 21/22 in anticipation to hear their name called.
The final edition of the rankings has taken the entire body of work into consideration. The views have been many – for some of these high-end players I’ve seen them 30-odd times over the past two years. The decisions have been difficult. I use the eight weeks between the April and Final rankings as a time to go back and really put my beliefs to the test. I scour. I try to get a few more looks at some players down the board. I chat with other scouts and use those conversations to direct my next inspection. Frankly, I watch far too much hockey while the rest of the world impatiently waits three days between Stanley Cup Final contests.
This is also a time where I rely on smarter people than I who have taken countless hours to manually track and tabulate data, plugged it into their models and produced valuable and interesting results. That intel can often be the rudder on my boat journey through old notes and film.
This final list will take a new look. I will release it in four parts beginning today and concluding on Wednesday, June 19. In the end, I will have publicly released the top 93 prospects (with 31 reports) and put the remainder (with an additional 31 scouting reports) behind a very reasonably priced paywall ($5). Members of my Patreon group receive full access as well. The full document is over 6000 words so you better put on that pot of coffee.
While you’re at it, you absolutely need to head over to the Dobber Shop and purchase the 13th Annual Fantasy Prospect Report (image on the right). This guide is jam-packed full of analysis, rankings, and charts – and more content this year than ever before. See over 100 draft-eligible prospects and hundreds more of drafted prospects. Expected wait time, comparable styles, upside, likelihood – it has it all! Insight on over 500 young players and everything you need to know for your keeper league fantasy hockey team. Pick it up here right now!
As always, my assessments are limited. I am but one man who also has a three-year-old son, a teaching career, many writing commitments, and a new show on Sportsnet 650. However, I’m fortunate enough to have a very patient (and very pregnant!) wife. Additionally, I’m privileged to have several experienced scouts to bounce things off of.
This is not intended to mock up what the selections will eventually be this June. This is how I perceive the player today in conjunction with how I believe they will progress and develop. I’m limited to mostly assessing these players on their on-ice achievements. Knowing these young men as individuals would be telling towards their drive and determination. Something that cannot be understated. I rely on scouts who have their boots on the ground around the world to help add that dimension.
Regarding my method, I place immense value on skating ability and processing speed. Physical attributes are great, but if you can’t see the play develop or recognize your options quickly, both offensively and defensively, you’ll be destined for an uphill battle. It’s hard not to love a creative player with a rocket of a shot or incredibly slick puck skills. But those attributes come behind speed and smarts.
Now for picks 3-12.
- Alex Turcotte, C / 02-26-01 / 5’11 189lbs / USNTDP
Across-the-board talent with a smart and efficient style. Great offensive instincts, quick acceleration and already the most complete two-way player in the crop. Early season injuries kept his total counting stats down, but on a per-game basis, he was one of the most dominant U18 players in the Program’s history. A constant battler, with underrated puck skills. Plays the game fast, and smart – a great combination. Is deadly from in-tight.
- Bowen Byram, LHD / 07-13-01 / 6’1 193lbs / WHL
An explosive skater who can act as a one-man breakout. He blends his terrific acceleration and north-south speed with lateral edge work and play-creation through the neutral zone. Owns a heavy shot that is effective in all situations. His quick hands that embarrass oncoming forwards at the offensive blueline. Owns a big shot, and the patience to wait for lanes. Can get caught at times, but you take the good with the bad. 34 goals and 97 points in 89 combined regular season and playoff give a glimpse of the high-end upside. The only defender who can reasonably be expected to anchor a top pairing down the line. Does not lack confidence in his game.
For a more in-depth look, check out our Deep Dive on Byram
- Trevor Zegras, C / 03-20-01 / 6’ 168lbs / USNTDP
A creative player with exciting puck skills. Zegras blends good speed with unique lines to cause separation through the neutral zone and distribute effectively to his mates. If you weren’t looking at the nameplate, you may confuse him with Hughes on occasion. High-end production follows him around; as does the puck. The best pure passer in the crop. His blend of patience, visions and soft touch will fill more than a few barrels full of apples in the bigs. Can create something out of nothing.
Watch in awe of the creativity, vision, and soft touch he displays on a regular basis.
- Alex Newhook, C / 01-28-01 / 5’11 195lbs / BCHL
One of the top skaters in the group can do things with the puck at top speed that other prospects only dream of. Consistently engaged, he brings nice puck skills, a good release, and a well-rounded defensive game to the ice each night. Destroyed the BCHL the past two seasons, a new challenge awaits at Boston College in the fall. His standout U18 performance should help alleviate any concerns that he’s the product of tier two competition.
Notice his good buddy, Alex Campbell is in most of these clippings as well. Don’t sleep on that guy.
- Peyton Krebs, C / 01-26-01 / 5’11 180lbs / WHL
The achilles injury sucks. There is no denying that. But this kid is elusive and shifty with the puck. He takes creative lines to dangerous areas of the ice. Consistently sees plays develop before those around him and uses that to exploit the opposition. Owns terrific puck skills. First-line talent with a fourth-line work ethic. His production in a difficult spot was more than impressive.
- Vasily Podkolzin, RW / 06-24-01 / 6’1 190lbs / VHL
An absolute pitbull. Podkolzin offers high-end offensive awareness, lightning quick hands and a confrontational style. Despite some muted point totals coming from his club team, he had made a habit of showing up in a big way on the international stage…until the U18s. That has caused some to slid him down significantly. He stays in my top-8 thanks to that unique upside.
For a more in-depth look, check out our Deep Dive on Podkolzin
- Dylan Cozens, C / 02-09-01 / 6’3 181lbs / WHL
A long, powerful stride drives his elite speed. He’s a complete player who offers quietly impressive skills all over the rink. After his speed, his shot is his best asset. It’s heavy and accurate and he doesn’t hesitate to unleash it. He can use that threat to look-off defenders and slide crisp passes into his mate’s wheelhouses. Loves to win one-on-one battles. Top-10 production in the WHL in your draft year is nothing to sneeze at.
- Kirby Dach, C / 01-21-01 / 6’4 199lbs / WHL
A pass-first centre who owns great awareness and deft puck skills. Uses his body well to protect the puck and exploit seams. He lacks explosiveness with his skating and can stand to play with more pace at times. But this is a player with a huge upside. Can pile up points in bunches. A mid-season injury slowed his play, but he came back on late.