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.
With this final piece, I 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 (my Mock Draft is presented in the aforementioned Fantasy Prospects Report). 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.
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.
Regarding tiers, the top two players stand alone. Despite a scare down the stretch, the talented American pivot has gone wire-to-wire as the top-ranked prospect on my published lists. Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko both represent first-overall talents. There are no losers in the first two holes.
Tier two thickened up a bit since last time and is home to picks 3-12. That said, I feel Alex Turcotte and Bowen Byram have accomplished enough to be considered the clear third and fourth best prospects in the crop. Tier three consists of players in the 13-27 range, while tier four is comprised of picks 28-35. Call tier five 35-55, tier six 56-75, and tier seven is 76-100.
- Jack Hughes, C / 05-14-01 / 5’10 170lbs / USNTDP
Elite skating. Elite edges. Elite puck skills. Vision, creativity, and the spatial awareness to embarrass the opposition on a nightly basis. He’s at his very best with the puck on his stick and surrounded by intelligent mates. The most productive player in USNTDP history will also be the first to ever step out of The Program and directly into the NHL. If we’re nitpicking, some additional strength will be needed to fend off NHL players in the corners. The ceiling is sky high.
- Kaapo Kakko, RW / 02-13-01 / 6’2 194lbs / Liiga
The most prolific U18 goal scorer in Liiga history blends power and precision. There are no holes in his game, as he’s a threat to dish it, finish it, or look for another option. Offers the complete package of skills – including a physically mature frame and the desire to push his way into any opening. Will immediately step into an NHL top six and produce tangible results. He’s done everything within his power to land in the pole position. The Rangers and their bevy of young talent will welcome him with open arms.
- 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.
- 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.
- Peyton Krebs, C / 01-26-01 / 5’11 180lbs / WHL
The supremely skilled forward is elusive and shifty with the puck. Takes creative lines to dangerous areas of the ice. The type of player that 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. A playmaker who can impact the game on any shift. Everything runs through him in Kootenay. I mean Winnipeg.
- 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’s made a habit of showing up in a big way on the international stage. A potential high-end producer in the NHL.
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.
For a more in-depth analysis, check out our Deep Dive on Dach
- Matthew Boldy, LW / 04-05-01 / 6’2 192lbs / USNTDP
Silky, silky, silky. Boldy loves to use his teammates and takes pride in his soft touch and exceptional vision. Owns a deadly release to compliment the play creation. Acts a chameleon by providing exactly what is needed depending on his mates or the situation. Had some challenges internationally, but was better at the U18s. Off to Boston College in the fall.
For a more in-depth look, check out our Deep Dive on Boldy
- Cole Caufield, RW / 01-02-01 / 5’7 162lbs / USNTDP
A devastating goal-scorer who can beat you in a myriad of ways. Boasts the best release in the class and can post up on the left side and blast away. But he’s not afraid of pushing into the hard areas either. At his size, you’d like to see him be more elusive or possessing quicker acceleration, but it’s difficult to argue with his standout trait. Goal scoring is a premium, and this kid could be the most prolific finisher from the crop. The risk is there, but the payoff is extraordinary.
- Moritz Seider, RHD / 6’4 183lbs / 04-06-01 / DEL
Mobile right-shot defender with good instincts and a projectable frame. A little rough around the edges, but that doesn’t hide his massive upside. Was terrific down the stretch on route to a DEL title and stood out as an 18-year-old at the World Championships. An athletic piece of clay just waiting to be moulded into a work of art.
For a more in-depth analysis, check out our Deep Dive on Seider
- Victor Söderström, RHD / 02-26-01 / 5’11 176lbs / SHL
A puck-moving and fast-paced blueliner who loves to create offense. Enjoys controlling the pace of play. Quick outlets, sharp edges and nice vision. Could use more power on his shot. Maybe not as high an offensive ceiling as some other blueliners in this group, but has a very safe floor.
- Philip Tomasino, C / 07-28-01 / 6’ 181lbs / OHL
A highly intelligent, two-way centre with good puck skills and a penchant for scoring big goals. Quick stride, good puck-skills and a heavy release. Underrated playmaker. His developmental arc has been racing upwards while being a standout on an elite OHL team – no easy feat for a 17-year-old.
For a more in-depth look, check out our Deep Dive on Tomasino
- Thomas Harley, LHD / 08-19-01 / 6’3 188lbs /OHL
An efficient and play-driving defender with good size and speed. He not only accepted a larger role with Mississauga this year, but he’s also thrived with it. Improved lateral quickness and overall speed from last season make him more of a threat off the rush. Just a few weeks shy of being eligible for the 2020 class. High upside.
- Cam York, LHD / 01-05-01 / 5’11 175lbs / USNTDP
A mobile and calm defender with great lateral quickness and edgework. Effective on the power play and owns the mobility needed to clean up any mistakes he makes. Defensively, his positioning and use of stick continue to improve. Lots to like about his upside. An all-around player.
For a more in-depth analysis, check out our Deep Dive on York.
- Ville Heinola, LHD / 03-02-01 / 5’11 178lbs / Liiga
A talented and effective offensive defenseman who boasts quick acceleration and expert edgework. Makes smart decisions with the puck and already looks confident in the top men’s league. He’ll need to continue to improve his positioning as his stature doesn’t allow him to outmuscle. Had a very nice WJC on the top pair for Finland. Already a pro.
For a more in-depth look, check out our Deep Dive on Heinola
- Philip Broberg, LHD / 06-25-01 / 6’3 199lbs / Allsvenskan
One of the more powerful skating strides in this class. At his size, his ability to wheel out of the zone is unique. Lacks the puck-handling skills necessary to be proficient offensively at it at this stage though. Can be accused of trying to do too much. Questionable decision-making and processing speed, but the physical tools give him a big-time upside.
- Spencer Knight, G / 04-19-01 / 6’3 194lbs / USNTDP
Talented netminder who blends quickness and strong positioning. Size, athleticism and a strong pedigree. Isn’t shaken by a soft goal or bad outing – a great sign for the mental side of the position.
- Arthur Kaliyev, RW / 06-26-01 / 6’2 190lbs / OHL
There are few players in this crop that can divide the scouting world so demonstrably. Kaliyev is a premier point producer. His shot is right near the top of the heap. He has good vision, quality puck skills, and knows how to find the quiet areas of the rink. His deficiencies are readily apparent. He clearly lacks the fire to track down pucks – often relying on his mates to recoup it for him to finish. He lacks pace or any considerable effort on many shifts. But.. the kid can score.
For a more in-depth analysis, check out our Deep Dive on Kaliyev
- Pavel Dorofeyev, W / 10-26-00 / 6’ 163lbs / MHL
Shoot-first winger has a knack for scoring big goals. Slight and slippery, he is elusive in the offensive end. Smooth puck skills and the heavy release highlight his skill package. Good balance in traffic despite lacking some strength. Likely the most skilled player you haven’t heard much about.
- Nicholas Robertson, LW / 09-11-01 / 5’9 168lbs / OHL
A great skater who blends quick acceleration with quick edges. Owns high-end puck skills, vision, and a developing release. One of the youngest players in the crop. A decent chance he’s still around on day two and will make several clubs regret passing on him. A fun guy to root for.
- Ryan Suzuki, C / 05-28-01 / 6’ 176lbs / OHL
Creative and efficient playmaking pivot. He boasts a level of vision and soft touch that few possess in this class. Very poised and patient with the puck. Plus speed. Can get lost on the perimeter for stretches.
- Bobby Brink, C / 07-08-01 / 5’8 165lbs / USHL
An elite mind for creating offense surrounds the deft puck skills, quick release and strong vision. The knock? His unorthodox skating stride that reduces his quickness and top-end speed. It will need to be cleaned up before he can be expected to keep up in the professional ranks. Young for this crop, so hopefully with more maturity, the effort to improve that area will blossom.
- Nils Höglander, LW / 12-20-00 / 5’9 185lbs / SHL
A skilled winger with good acceleration and a better release. Plays bigger than his size and has looked capable in the SHL this season. Quick cuts and quicker hands allow him to dart in and out of traffic.
- Patrik Puistola, LW / 01-11-01 / 6’ 170lbs / Mestis
A tremendous season in Finland’s second-tier paved the way for a productive and standout U18 performance. The slick winger boasts a plus-shot and a mind for finding the soft areas of the ice. He’ll look to increase his three-step quickness and fill out his frame, but Puistola owns top-six upside. Deadly on the PP.
- Samuel Poulin, LW / 02-25-01 / 6’1 208lbs / QMJHL
The hard-working winger is a matchup nightmare. His constant battling on the defensive end often leads to scoring chances the other way. Owns a heavy and accurate release. Skating continues to improve. Plays a heavy and intelligent game.
- Vladislav Kolyachonok, LHD / 05-26-01 / 6’2 181lbs / OHL
The Belarussian defender has slowly crept up draft boards all season long despite playing in difficult situations for the entirety of his campaign. Left to fend for himself on a terrible Flint squad, he managed to drive play in a positive way despite his QoT. A standout performance at the U18s opened many eyes to his potential offensive game. A high floor player.
- John Beecher, C / 04-05-01 / 6’3 209lbs / USNTDP
A heavy, defensively responsible pivot who brings all sorts of speed and strength to the rink each night. Doesn’t wow with his offensive mind or creativity, but plays the simple, north-south style of game that will translate nicely to an NHL middle six. His heavy release doesn’t come off too quickly, but when he has time and space, it can be very difficult to stop. Has been hidden behind a plethora of talented pivots at The Program which has likely affected his draft stock.
- Matthew Robertson, LHD / 03-09-01 / 6’3 201lbs / WHL
A smart defender who blends size and mobility. Can impact any situation while chewing up big minutes. Won’t blow you away with his offensive creativity, but makes intelligent plays and has a heavy shot from the point. A safe selection.
- Tobias Bjornfot, LHD / 04-06-01 / 6’ 187lbs / SuperElit
- Simon Holmstrom, W / 05-24-01 / 5’11 172lbs / SuperElit
- Raphaël Lavoie, C / 09-25-00 / 6’4 192lbs / QMJHL
- Jakob Pelletier, LW/C / 03-07-01 / 5’9 161lbs / QMJHL
- Ryan Johnson, LHD / 07-24-01 / 5’11 169lbs / USHL
- Connor McMichael, C / 01-15-01 / 6’ 170lbs / OHL
- Lassi Thomson, RHD / 09-24-00 / 6’ 187lbs / WHL
- Jordan Spence, RHD / 02-24-01 / 5’10 165lbs / QMJHL
- Robert Mastrosimone, C/LW / 01-24-01 / 5’10 170lbs / USHL
- Layton Ahac, LHD / 02-22-01 / 6’2 187lbs / BCHL
- Ilya Nikolayev, C / 06-26-01 / 6’ 190lbs / MHL
- Albin Grewe (Gree-veh), RW / 03-22-01 / 6’ 187lbs / SHL
- Brett Leason, C / 04-30-99 / 6’4 205lbs / WHL **
- Alex Campbell, C / 02-27-01 / 5’11 154lbs / BCHL
- Kaedan Korczak, RHD / 01-29-01 / 6’3 192lbs / WHL
- Shane Pinto, C / 11-12-00 / 6’2 185lbs / USHL
- John Farinacci, C / 02-14-01 / 6’ 181lbs / USHS-Prep
- Tuukka Tieksola, RW / 06-22-01 / 5’10 157lbs / Jr. A SM-liiga
- Yegor Afanasyev, LW / 01-23-01 / 6’4 210lbs / USHL
- Jamieson Rees, C / 02-26-01 / 5’10 172lbs / OHL
- Jackson LaCombe, LHD / 01-09-01 /6’1 176lbs / USHS-Prep
- Anttoni Honka, RHD / 10-05-00 / 5’10 170lbs / Liiga
- Nathan Légaré, RW / 01-11-01 / 6’ 201lbs / QMJHL
- Adam Beckman, LW / 05-10-01 / 6’1 168lbs / WHL
- Pyotr Kochetkov, G / 07-25-99 / 6’3 205lbs / KHL *
- Mikko Kokkonen, LHD / 01-18-01 / 5’11 190lbs / Liiga
- Brayden Tracey, LW / 05-28-01 / 6’ 168lbs / WHL
- Samuel Fagemo, W / 03-14-00 / 5’11 190lbs / SHL **
- Nolan Foote, LW / 11-29-00 / 6’3 187lbs / WHL
- Maxim Cajkovic, RW / 01-03-01 / 5’10 187lbs / QMJHL
- Dustin Wolf, G / 04-16-01 / 6’ 161lbs / WHL
- Drew Helleson. RHD / 04-26-01 / 6’2 168lbs / USNTDP
- Albert Johansson, LHD / 01-04-01 / 6’ 168lbs /SuperElit
- Michal Teply, LW / 05-27-01 / 6’2 163lbs / Czech
- Samuel Bolduc, LHD / 12-09-00 / 6’4 212lbs / QMJHL
- Dillon Hamaliuk, LW / 10-30-00 / 6’3 201lbs / WHL
- Alex Beaucage, W / 07-25-01 / 6’2 192lbs / QMJHL
- Henry Thrun, LHD / 03-12-01 / 6’1 183lbs / USNTDP
- Mads Søgaard, G / 12-13-00 / 6’7 190lbs / WHL
- Matias Maccelli, LW / 10-14-00 / 5’11 170lbs / USHL
- Ethan Keppen, LW / 03-20-01 / 6’2 214lbs / OHL
- Graeme Clarke, RW / 04-24-01 / 6’ 175lbs / OHL
- Karl Henriksson, C / 02-05-01 / 5’9 174lbs / SuperElit
- Leevi Aaltonen, LW / 01-24-01 / 5’9 154lbs / Jr.A SM-Liiga
- Daniil Gutik, LW / 08-31-01 /6’3 179lbs / MHL
- Antti Tuomisto, LHD / 01-20-01 / 6’3 191 / Jr. A SM-liiga
- Vladislav Firstov, LW / 06-19-01 / 6’1 181lbs / USHL
- Hugo Alnefelt, G / 06-04-01 / 6’3 194lbs / SuperElit
- Henry Rybinski, LW / 06-26-01 / 6’1 170lbs / WHL
- Aaron Huglen, RW / 03-06-01 / 5’11 165lbs / USHS
- Jayden Struble, LHD / 08-09-01 / 6’ 194lbs / USHS-Prep
- Dominick Fensore, LHD / 09-07-01 / 5’7 154lbs / USNTDP
- Justin Bergeron, LHD / 09-14-00 / 6’1 181lbs / QMJHL*
- Henri Nikkanen, C / 04-28-01 / 6’2 185lbs / Jr. A SM-liiga
- Nikita Okhotyuk, LHD / 12-04-00 / 6’1 194lbs / OHL
- Sasha Mutala, RW / 05-06-01 / 6’ 190lbs / WHL
- Antti Saarela, C / 06-27-01 / 5’11 176lbs / Jr. SM-Liiga
- Marshall Warren, LHD / 04-20-01 / 5’11 170lbs / USNTDP
- Erik Portillo, G / 09-03-00 / 6’6 207lbs / SuperElit *
- Case McCarthy, RHD / 01-09-01 / 6’1 194lbs / USNTDP
- Trevor Janicke, RW / 12-25-00 / 5’10 194lbs / USHL
- Ronnie Attard, RHD / 03-20-99 / 6’3 207lbs / USHL *
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