Feature Story: Metropolitan Division Draft Grades

Sam Stern


Carolina Hurricanes


Round 1, pick 28:  Ryan Suzuki, C

Round 2, pick 36:  Pyotr Kochetkov, G

Round 2, pick 44:  Jamieson Rees, C

Round 3, pick 73:  Patrik Puistola, RW

Round 3, pick 83:  Anttoni Honka, D

Round 3, pick 90:  Domenick Fensore, D

Round 4, pick 99:  Cade Webber, D

Round 4, pick 121: Tuukka Tieksola, RW

Round 5, pick 152: Kirill Slepets, RW

Round 6, pick 181: Kevin Wall, RW

Round 6, pick 183: Blake Murray, C

Round 7, pick 216: Massimo Rizzo, C


Day 1 Grade: A-

Day 2 Grade: A+


Day One:


Ryan Suzuki:


The Hurricanes landed one of the best pure-playmakers in the class when Ryan Suzuki fell in their laps at 28. Suzuki is a proficient skater who uses his ability to get around the ice and an inherent ability to conceptualize plays on the fly to make himself a constant threat on the ice. Suzuki’s hands, vision and passing are all off the charts, but he’s far from a complete prospect. The major issue with Suzuki’s game — and the reason he fell to 28th — is that he’s allergic to shooting the puck. “But, Sam, he scored 25 goals last season!” Yes he did, he’s a good shooter! The issue is that he doesn’t shoot the puck nearly enough. Plenty of players have made successful careers as pass-first players, but he’ll need to commit to shooting to puck more if he doesn’t want to become a one-dimensional player — even if that one dimension is incredible. 


Day Two Highlights:


Patrik Puistola:


This was a homerun pick for the Hurricanes at 73rd overall. Many experts had Puistola as a late first/early second round candidate, myself included — I had him ranked 33rd. Coming into the draft Puistola had just completed the best ever D-1 season in Mestis (Finland’s second-tier men’s league) in history. His individual skills are undeniable, he’s a swift skater with a very deep bag of one-on-one moves that he loves to pull from off the rush. He’s also quite adept at hiding his release, something he loves to do immediately following a one-on-one move. His shot is among the most accurate in the class making him extremely dangerous on the rush or after possession is established.


Domenick Fensore:


In four years time if this pick ends up being the steal of the draft I won’t be the least bit surprised. Fensore is an absolute dynamo on the ice. He’s an elite skater, passer and puck-handler. His understanding of how to create lanes, or change the angle of a play at a moments notice is among the best of any draft eligible defenseman I’ve seen over the last five years. Everything Fensore does with the puck is done with the singular purpose of creating a dangerous scoring chance. So, why then, did he fall into the third round? Ten years ago we were told that undersized forwards have next to on chance of being dominant players in the NHL. Of course, this was a ridiculous sentiment. Today we’re told the exact same thing about defensemen. My hope and expectation is that Fensore will be the player that begins to reverse this line of thinking. The Hurricanes have a player here.


Jamieson Rees:


Rees is one of the best straight line skaters in this class. He has fantastic top speed and doesn’t take long to get there. Once he’s flying his head is up hands are abl