Prospect Ramblings: Draft Lottery Phase II, Harley, Robertson & Thought-Provoking Questions

Brayden Olafson

2020-08-07

 

This week the NHL announced that Phase 2 of the 2020 NHL Draft Lottery will be held on Monday August 6th. So far, the New York Rangers are the sole team to be eliminated from the playoff Qualifying round, but they will soon be joined by seven others, each with an equal 12.5% chance of winning the right to select first-overall in October. 

 

In addition to determining who will select first overall, determining the winner of the lottery will also reveal the final order of the remaining top-15 selections in this year’s draft, which will be based on regular-season points percentage. 

 

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The timeline of this year’s playoffs has presented an interesting opportunity for some prospects to gain NHL experience sooner than may have been expected, or than they otherwise would’ve been able to. In particular, both Nicholas Robertson (TOR) and Thomas Harley (DAL) have donned NHL uniforms over the past week, and for no reason other than because they have earned the opportunity. 

 

 

In Robertson’s case, the Leafs simply can’t afford to inject youth or skill into their lineup without appropriately weighing the risks associated with the change. Robertson beat out 22-year-old left-wing Pierre Engvall for the final spot on the Leafs opening night roster and has been a suitable addition to the teams’ lineup, fitting in on an energy-first role alongside Alex Kerfoot and Kasperi Kapanen.

 

Through two contests he’s been held pointless but has had several decent chances and certainly made a regular physical impact. He seems to be a fixture in the lineup for the duration of the team’s series versus Columbus, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see him stay in the lineup much deeper than that if the team does continue on. 

 

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The second 18-year-old to slot in for his NHL debut through the first week of return-to-play was the Dallas Stars’ Thomas Harley who filled in the gap left by John Klingberg in the team’s second round-robin contest. In Dallas’ case, there is a bit more room for error, and thankfully so because, while by no means was his debut a disaster, Harley didn’t seem entirely comfortable over the course of his 11 minutes of ice time. 

 

It will be great to see how quickly Harley can become comfortable in some capacity with the Stars because there is a lot of range in his game, including a fair amount of offensive upside. 

 

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As for a player from the 2020 NHL draft that I could see having a similar opportunity to Harley and Robertson, if next year’s playoffs come together in a similar fashion, I think Marco Rossi is certainly a player who could step into the NHL and have some kind of an impact during playoff time, if not earlier in the year. Looking later into the first-round, or even second-round to find a player in a comparable draft range to Harley and Robertson, Justin Barron seems like the most likely type of player who could benefit from an additional truncated season of major junior, but still have the potential to make a limited impact in a y

 

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Two thought-provoking questions, albeit somewhat common questions that caught my eye on Twitter this week came from one, Will Walton, who directed his question to DobberProspect’s Managing Editor Cam Robinson, and two, Joel Henderson. 

 

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I don’t have the level or history of experience scouting the draft that Cam does, and to be honest, can’t think of a player that I have been particularly high on that has flopped… yet. One player whose development I’m extremely anxious to monitor is Vegas’ Peyton Krebs, who I’ve really enjoyed watching since his days in Cranbrook – if we don’t see him in the NHL for another couple of years, chances are that he’ll become my go-to answer for this question.

 

On the flip side of this question, one player who I wasn’t as high on and has quickly done a fair amount to prove me wrong is Kirby Dach. I found the former Saskatoon Blade to be a frustrating player to watch at times, largely due to what I perceived as a lack of effort and lack of motor. What I find in Dach’s game now with Chicago is that his pace has increased to match the level of play, but the calculated decisions that he seems to make from 35,000 feet remain woven into each of his shifts. 

 

Looking down the line to the 2021 NHL Entry draft, I see some similarities between draft-eligible Kirby Dach, and Rimouski’s Zachary Bolduc. The 16-year-old is a smooth-skating centerman with a nose for the net and a great ability to expose defensive breakdowns. Similar to Dach, at first glance, it seems like Bolduc might lack urgency at the QMJHL level, but upon a more thorough review of some of his D-1 season has me feeling optimistic that despite not always hitting top gear, Bolduc’s pace, or lack thereof rarely results in complete breakdowns. This leads me to believe that there could certainly be a lot more going on in this 16-year-old’s head that I’ve given him credit for, and that there’s a lot more to see from him in the coming year. 

 

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Obviously this question is a tad bit relative to the position in the draft. I don’t think it counts to say that you’d stick your neck out for Quinton Byfield at 5th overall, and at the same time, I’m not sticking my neck out for a projected 5th round pick at 5th overall either. 

 

To answer Joel’s question, the player in my region (QMJHL), who I would have no trouble sticking my neck out for this year is Josh Lawrence of the Saint John Sea Dogs. The 5-8 centerman is a reliable and skilled playmaker who can achieve consistent and effective zone entries with his speed as well as evade defenders with his low center of gravity and surprising reach. He doesn’t have the ceiling of a top-six forward in the NHL but has demonstrated traits of adaptability with the Sea Dogs and should be able to manifest that into an effective bottom-six role in the NHL. 

 

Relative to 133rd overall, where Future Considerations has Lawrence ranked (and I don’t mean to single out FC – it’s just that they’re the only EliteProspects recognized ranking to include him in their list), I would be perfectly comfortable pushing my ballot for him forward in the third-round. If it came down to making a late second-round selection or losing him, I might have to step back a bit. All things considered, it makes me interested to see whether or not my evaluation of his skillset is in line with at least one NHL team, otherwise, I’ll be just as happy to sit back and watch him develop on my own. 

 

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@olaf1393

 

 

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