[Ferrari] 2021 NHL Draft Rankings (Midseason)

Tony Ferrari

2021-02-22

Graphic courtesy of Andrew Armstrong

 

With the best head of hair that DobberProspects has seen come through leaving as Cam Robinson takes his talents to South Beach (or just Elite Prospects), the Managing Editor position at DobberProspects has gotten significantly balder. With that said, I will be taking over the rankings that Cam put out a few times a season and there seems like no better time to start than what everyone in the prospect world has seemed to deem the ‘midseason’ point.

Just like everything else in 2020/2021, that means it looks a little funny. The WHL and OHL are setting things up to get their seasons underway meanwhile the USHL has teams with over 30 games played. The QMJHL has been up and down and teams games played totals range from Rimouski playing 27 to Moncton with 13. The European leagues played a ton early on compared to any North American league but with the junior leagues going up and down since the holidays, they too have seen inconsistent action. OHL and WHL players are playing overseas to start the year and others have gone to the USHL. To say it’s been a weird year because of the global pandemic is an understatement. Playing hockey in a pandemic is weird in and of itself.

One of the biggest issues with this year’s draft is that the top spot is absolutely wide open. There were as many as seven names I considered for number one before narrowing it down to the top-four. The internal debate between those players was constant and changed based on my mood on a given day. As always, I used my resources and spoke with analysts and scouts that I trust, including the DobberProspects team. I am but one man with two sons and a wife as well as my day job. I am fortunate that my wife is an absolute angel of a person who lets me watch hockey seemingly nonstop and a job that allows me to catch game action while I get some of my work done.

I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without InStat and the fantastic platform that they have. The ability to access game film at will and skip commercials, intermissions, and all the extras as well as isolate a player’s shifts in a given game has helped give me, and the DobberProspects Scouting team, get a leg up on getting our eyes on the players eligible for this draft.

I would be remiss if I didn’t talk a little bit about my process and what I look for in players. Pace of play is a major factor for me. You’ll see it mentioned a number of times throughout this post. The game is only getting faster, more fluid, and dynamic as the years go by. While a player doesn’t have to be a burner necessarily, the pace at which a player plays in terms of moving the puck up ice, attacking the play with purpose and making plays at that pace are all traits that lead to NHL success. Mobility, another key trait, has to do with so much more than skating. While a good skating base is generally key, aspects such as timing, skating paths, elusiveness, strength on and off the puck and so many other small details go into overall mobility.

The third and arguably the most important baseline trait that I look for is intellect. Having the understanding of how to read, breakdown, manipulate and attack their opponent in all facets of the game and at both ends of the ice. Even if a player is not a good defensive player right now, does he have the intellect to get there? Can some of the raw tools mesh with an understanding of the game to bring that part of their game up? Obviously, tools such as shooting, passing, and even raw skating ability are important. Skill and tools still provide the base of a good player. Pace, mobility, and intellect are traits I look for to differentiate and project. I went over my process with InStat a bit more in-depth when I had the opportunity to speak with them about the art of scouting.

The tiers within the ranking are 1-4, 5-12, 13-30, 31-50, 51-64, and then some honorable mentions to follow, in no particular order. The top-tier wound up being the players I considered for number one and the second group are guys that have shown me enough to separate from the wonderful mess that is the rest of this draft. Once we get outside of those first two tiers, things really start to get tight. The 31-50 range has a ton of ‘maybe’ players and the 51-64 range has a ton of players that I’d take a swing on in a draft that isn’t burgeoning with talent outside of the top-end.

Some of the players have a ‘Game Tape’ segment linked within the ranking. The series is a film study interview where I get on a Zoom call with a player and do a standard interview to start before we dive into some of their game tape from this season. We break down a few shifts from various games and get into the player’s head on what they were thinking on the play. It has been great to pick the brains of the players and begin to understand how they see the game.

 

The Ferrari Draft Board

1 | Fabian Lysell | W | Luleå HF (SHL) | 5-11 | 172lbs

Do you like pace? Lysell is nearly unmatched in that aspect. He has impressive puck skills, a willingness to attack the opposing defense, and a shot that doesn’t get the love it probably deserves. He plays a high motor game at both ends of the ice and despite his production not being equivalent to Eklund, he hasn’t been given the same opportunity – playing roughly half of the ice time and with lower level linemates. Defensive concerns seem overblown, especially since his trade to Luleå where he has been quite good defensively. This might be a bit spicy (read: unpopular) to kick things off but the unreal skill and pace that Lysell is able to play with are impressive enough to intrigue me. It’s really splitting hairs between the top-four though.

Game Tape with Fabian Lysell

 

2 | William Eklund | C/W | Djurgården (SHL) | 5-10 | 170lbs

Eklund plays an intelligent game built on reading off his teammates. He has been playing with Alexander Holtz and Jacob Josefson, two pretty decent players in their own right, and he certainly doesn’t look out of place. Eklund is a dual-threat who can find teammates with touch or open himself up for a shot. His point production is enough to attract you to his game and he’s been playing at the SHL since last season. He doesn’t really control the game on a nightly basis but there have been nights where he’s outshone Holtz, the 2020 seventh-overall pick. The gap between Lysell is almost nonexistent and if you catch me on the right day, I would probably have Eklund at #1.

 

3 | Matthew Beniers | C | Michigan (NCAA) | 6-2 | 174lbs

Is there anything Beniers can’t do well? He has a good shot and his passing ability may not always be flashy but he gets the job done. He plays an effective and energetic two-way game with one of the best NCAA programs in the country and looks every bit of a play driving center. His World Junior performance was quite strong and playing a key role on the way to gold certainly doesn’t look bad. He may be the most complete player in the draft and the surest bet to be a top-six center. The only real question with Beniers is whether he will be a number one or two center. Does he settle somewhere in between resembling a Dylan Larkin or Nazem Kadri? If a team takes him first overall, I don’t think it’s a mistake in any world.

 

4 | Jesper Wallstedt | G | Luleå (SHL) | 6-3 | 214lbs

The youngest of the trio of all-world goalie prospects may just be the best of them. Wallstedt is an absolute stud. While Askarov presented an unbelievable athleticism in 2020 and Knight brought nearly unshakable poise, Wallstedt is a technically sound fortress of a goaltender. Wallstedt’s ability to read the play and use his athleticism throughout the crease to maintain his positioning is at a level seldom seen by U20 goalies, let alone draft eligibles. The young Swede plays with an almost robotic technique yet has the awareness and ability to come out of his structure to make the big save. Putting up big numbers in the SHL, he has proven to be more than capable in one of the best leagues outside the NHL. Although he probably goes around the same spot Asakrov did last year (11th), Wallstedt should be in the conversation at every pick in the top-10, first overall included.

 

5 | Luke Hughes | LD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-2 | 176lbs

An exceptional skater who has been the most improved blueliner in the draft class for my money. His offensive game is the most dynamic of any of the blueliners in this range with only Clarke really coming close. Hughes ability to use his mobility in all directions along the blueline walk the line and penetrate the home plate as a shooter is intriguing but the value comes in when he uses his feet to draw attention and pull the game with him. This opens space to exploit and his passing ability is more than capable of doing so. His defensive play is improving and he’s learning to take advantage of his mobility when closing gaps and understanding when to angle and use his stick. The growth that’s happened already is promising and the fact that he is among the youngest players in the draft as a September birthday makes him the most intriguing defender in the class to me.

 

6 | Brandt Clarke | RD | HC Nove Zamky (Slovakia) / Barrie Colts (OHL) | 6-1 | 180lbs

His offensive mindset is special and his ability to put himself and his teammates in good positions in the offensive zone can be fun to watch. He flew overseas to start his year with the OHL delayed to start the year, playing in Slovakia for the time being. With the OHL looking to start back up as soon as the beginning of April, he may not be with Nove Zamky for much longer. His results overseas have been improving nearly every game and he continues to look more and more comfortable. His skating is good but not great, relying on agility and his edges rather than straight-line speed. He doesn’t always get credit for his elusiveness but he remains one of the most shifty defenders. His defensive game needs work but his effort and communication are never lacking. He is vocal and emphatic, directing traffic and ensuring teammates are aware. Some scouts have been drooling over what the package could project to.

Game Tape with Brandt Clarke

 

7 | Aatu Räty | C | Kärpät (Liiga) | 6-1 | 177lbs

Calm down with the ‘Aatu Räty is a terrible player’ narrative. It’s not true. He’s not without his warts but there have been plenty of recent signs that display the fact that while the top pick may be out of the question, he deserves to be in the top-10 discussion. He’s the rare case of a player who is significantly better at the Liiga level than he was in the U20 SM-sarja. Is that due to motivation or frustration with his demotion to the U20 level? Is it the cut from the Finnish World Junior squad? Whatever it is, Räty has been a different animal. His wrist shot remains a real weapon and his ability to find soft spots has been quite good since the turn of the calendar to 2021. His two-way play is solid and he very well could wind up being the best center in the class. His ceiling likely tops out as a second-line pivot but just how close he gets to becoming a 1B is going to be the question.

 

8 | Owen Power | LD | Michigan (NCAA) | 6-6 | 214lbs

Have you ever seen the Final Destination movies, specifically the rollercoaster one? Owen Power is said rollercoaster. You get strapped in and from all of the videos you’ve seen online, the rollercoaster is a blast. It’s fast and fun, you can see why everyone loves rollercoasters. The problem comes when the coaster gets moving and you have the vision of disaster. While the movies feature death and despair, Power’s play on the ice feels like it’s constantly on the edge of disaster. You see the videos online and the puck rushing ability is really intriguing. When he gets a head of steam, he’s borderline unstoppable. He has the size and skating ability that scouts and coaches LOVE. There is no doubt that the potential for him to be one of, if not the best player in this draft. The range of outcomes with Power is what’s concerning because most of my concerns from last year persist. His decision-making under pressure and his processing defensively can be worrisome. He should be an NHLer but the spectrum of what he ends up being is wide. All that said, the potential remains sky-high and roller coasters are fun.

 

9 | Kent Johnson | LW/C | Michigan (NCAA) | 6-0 | 166lbs

The discussion around Johnson has been an interesting one. He is one of the most GIF-able players in the 2021 NHL Draft as Will Scouch would say and it’s because of his elite puck skills. When he shows up on a highlight reel, he shows up. He plays a fun brand of hockey and for fans, it’s an instant draw. He doesn’t lack effort either which means the ‘doesn’t try’ discussion doesn’t need to be had. His passing can be otherworldly at times but he can also leave a lot to de desired when he looks off a clear pass. His shot is okay but he lacks pop on it. All this to say, the highlights don’t tell the full story. Johnson has the skill to be the best forward in this draft but lacks the pace to put it to good use all the time. If a team takes him in the top-five, I won’t be shocked because the upside and skillset are enticing but he is going to be a bit of a project, but one that you could really be rewarded for with some patience.

 

10 | Simon Edvinsson | LD | Frölunda (SHL) / Västerås IK (Allsveskan) | 6-5 | 203lbs

Much like Johnson, if you have some patience with Edvinsson and let him marinate, you might end up with the best player to come out of this draft at their position. At 6’4″ and 200lbs, the frame is solid but he will need to get stronger as almost every 18-year-old defenseman does. His skating is tremendous at times and he uses it to his advantage. There are flashes of high-end offensive talent but it remains just that, flashes. He shows projectability defensively, displaying the ability to close gaps quickly, get stick-on-stick, and cut angles down. As per the rest of his game, consistency is the issue. He needs to clean up some of his decision-making overall but there is a lot to like with Edvinsson if a team can stay patient.

 

11 | Dylan Guenther | W | Edmonton (WHL) | 6-1 | 170lbs

We aren’t going to talk about his four-game stint in the AJHL because, despite the point production, he was not interested in playing at the level. Dylan Guenther plays a tactical game. He was the primary driver of the Oil Kings top-line last season and helped Jake Neighbours get selected in the first round by the St. Louis Blues in the 2020 draft. He has a good shot that he uses from all over the offensive zone. He thinks the offensive side of the game at a high level, working through layers of the defense to find space. His passing is quite good as well. When the Oil Kings get their season started on February 26th, Guenther will look to prove that he remains a top-10 quality talent.

 

12 | Simon Robertsson | W | Skellefteå AIK (SHL) | 6-0 | 190lbs

Robertsson was a player who had a lot of fun elements to his game in the J20 Nationell to start the year. He had some silky mitts and made some plays that made you hit the rewind button a couple of times. His shot is deadly and he can score from distance. When the junior circuit shut down, I was worried that his game wouldn’t translate to the SHL level and assumed if he got time with the big club, it would be limited and wouldn’t last long. 22 games later, Robertsson looks like he belongs in a bottom-six role in the SHL. His defensive game has come to play when it would disappear in junior and he has generated some chances as a playmaker and goal scorer, even if he hasn’t found the scoresheet all that often.

 

13 | Oskar Olausson | W | HV71 (SHL) / Södertälje SK (Allsvenskan) | 6-2 | 181lbs

A transitional wiz on the wing, Olausson uses his speed to get the puck from point A to B. His control of the puck at speed is solid. He has played at the junior level as well as the SHL and Allsvenskan level this year, trying to find his groove. One of the attractive things about Olausson is that he is able to affect the game in a variety of ways with his mobility and effort. Playing against men, he shouldn’t be expected to really fill the score sheet but he’s put up decent numbers for his age. The transition game is where he presents the most value but he’s a capable player in all three zones.

 

14 | Cole Sillinger | C | Sioux Falls (USHL) | 6-0 | 187lbs

With one of the best shots in the draft, I was excited to see him make the move to the USHL to get some games in during the year. His production has been impressive, running at a 1.5 PPG clip. He is an offensive stud who leans on his shot and can score from literally anywhere in the offensive zone.  His passing game is decent but he can have some selfish tendencies – although so would I if I could shoot the puck the way he can. His motor can be an issue but the shot would play at the NHL level now. Get his feet moving a bit quicker and he can score 30+ at the NHL level.

 

15 | Chaz Lucius | C/W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 172lbs

He’s dealt with a lower-body injury for the entirety of the year and only returned this past weekend. His return was pretty spectacular though with two goals in his first game back. His very flashy and skilled with the puck of his stick, with a bit of a shimmy to him as he navigates the neutral and offensive zones. He shows competence defensively but will need to continue to work on the consistency at that end of the ice. The young American has one of, if not the best shot in the draft class in terms of picking his spots and exploiting goalies positioning. He doesn’t have the same heavy shot as Sillinger or Räty but the precision and timing is special. There are some skating concerns, particularly with his LBI holding him out of action until now, but he looked a bit improved in that regard this past weekend, although it’s a small sample size. Lucius will have the opportunity over the next couple of months to establish himself in this draft class and the possibility of him pushing into or closer to the top-10 is not only real, but I almost expect it.

 

16 | Isak Rosén | W | Leksand IF (SHL) | 5-10 | 161lbs

Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, Tony likes the small guy with a ton of skill. Much like Morrow, Rosén’s ranking is a bit aggressive but the upside is worth betting on. He has a shot that you wouldn’t expect given his size and any strength added to his frame could improve it to a laughable degree. He plays with speed and pace, using his teammates well. The young Swede has done enough to hold his head above water at the SHL level with Leksands IF but it’s evident that he will need to get stronger. With that said, he’s danced defenders a few times and still shows the raw skill.

 

17 | Scott Morrow | RD | Shattuck (USHS-Prep) | 6-2 | 198lbs

This is an aggressive ranking. I am generally not a USHS fan, especially for a player in the first round (or at all) but the potential that oozes from Morrow’s game is impossible to ignore. When I refer to mobility being so much more than skating, Morrow exemplifies that but also incorporates elite skating. His ability to change direction, work off his edges, and manuever the ice are all very high-level. He has a predatory mindset with the puck on his stick and want’s to attack in all situations. The worry that he is doing this at the USHS level is there but in very limited USHL action last season, he certainly didn’t look out of place and he’s only gotten better. If I’m feeling really spicy on a given day, I would put Morrow’s upside up against any other player in this draft, even if it’s not likely he hits it – few prospects do.

Game Tape with Scott Morrow

 

18 |  Xavier Bourgault | C/W | Shawinigan (QMJHL) | 6-0 | 172lbs

I’ve described him as a very solid complementary player to a number of people. He shows some very nice transition ability both offensively and defensively. He uses short passes and the boards to get around neutral zone defenders when he’s carrying the puck offensively to get the puck up ice. He has a very good shot and is a threat on every powerplay. He doesn’t look as strong down the middle despite being able to play center and will likely be a winger at the next level. He needs a playmaker by his side (hello Mavrik Bourque) but he can play to that player’s level and provide a solid compliment.

 

19 | Zachary L’Heureux | C/W | Halifax (QMJHL) | 5-11 | 196lbs

The debate between Bourqualt and L’Heureux for me was settled when L’Heureux was suspended for the second time this season. He has a tendency to lose his cool and see the ‘red mist’ that players like Nazem Kadri or Geno Malkin get once in a while. He needs to reign that in a bit and get himself under control in that regard because he plays a brand of hockey that isn’t all too common in today’s game. He is a physical power forward who has a good shot and can work the puck around the offensive zone. He could be a threat on both special teams and he brings an element of toughness to the game when he isn’t getting suspended. His game profiles well as a modern-day power forward. The talent isn’t really a question. Some coach or GM is going to fall in love with him and take him in the top-10 because of the physical element in his game.

 

20 | Carson Lambos | LD | Winnipeg (WHL) | 6-0 | 200lbs

Did you notice how I didn’t list him playing on JYP U20 in the Finnish junior league? That’s because I hope to see the player we saw in the WHL last year when he returns to the Winnipeg ICE – already having departed Finland. He is a bit of a jack of all trades and master on none. When he uses his mobility, he can be a force with the puck on his stick in transition and his shot continues to improve as he gets stronger. Offensively, he lacks the dynamic upside of a Hughes or Clarke but there is a stable kit to work with. Defensively, he angles off well and has a strong stick to break plays up but he needs to be more willing to use his solid frame. I still have faith there is something more resembling the player we saw in Winnipeg here.

 

21 | Brennan Othmann | W | EHC Olten (SL) / Flint (OHL) | 5-11 | 170lbs

One of the first bigger name draft-eligible prospects to go overseas, Othmann has gone to Switzerland to play against men in the second-level. The first thing that was noticeably different about his game was the addition of physicality. He is willing to use his body which opens up the ice for him around the offensive zone. He gets after the forecheck and still has the skill and offensive prowess that made him a second overall pick in the OHL. Understanding that he needed to up his shot volume, he is consciously getting more pucks on net and finding success. It’s going to be exciting to see what he can do in the OHL when he returns.

Game Tape with Brennan Othmann

 

22 | Fyodor Svechkov | W | Togliatti (VHL) | 6-0 | 178lbs

The debate between Svechkov and Chibrikov as the top Russian forward wasn’t easy. Svechkov plays a more complete game overall and may well be the best defensive forward in the 2021 class. He analyzes the attacking team and just takes the correct route to ensure that his team gets the puck back. His reads defensively are A1 and he should be looked at as a safe pick due to his projectability to a team’s third line as a shutdown winger. The offensive game is where the growth has been most for Svechkov. He has shown progress as an attacker, adding some deception and manipulation to his arsenal which has only made him more dangerous. He may top out as a defensive winger who can play in your top-nine but he will provide so much value that isn’t seen statistically or from a fantasy hockey perspective.

 

23 | Nikita Chibrikov | W | SKA (KHL) | 5-10 | 161lbs

When he is at his best, he is a dominant possession player who can play games with the opposition. At his worst, he could play Casper in a made-for-TV movie. He is an excellent transition player who has the puck on a string at times. He can bring you out of your seat with some impressive skill. He is a very good playmaker who needs to penetrate the slot a bit more consistently to ensure that he can become a bit more of a dual-threat as he advances levels. He’s played at the MHL, VHL, and KHL levels this year and has looked a bit out of his comfort zone at the KHL level thus far. When he is engaged, he plays a decent two-way game but his engagement is questionable at times. He plays with some pace when he is going and looks like a player who could fit in as a top-six option but likely won’t be the player driving the line in any facet outside of transition.

 

24 | Francesco Pinelli | C | HDD Jesenice (Slovenia) / Kitchener (OHL) | 6-0 | 184lbs

Another OHL talent who took his talents overseas for now, Pinelli has found himself playing in the Slovenia league and well, it’s not a great league in relation to the other pro leagues some other players have found themselves in. Pinelli has largely been unspectacular in Slovenia but it’s a truly weird situation. He processes the game well at both ends of the ice and his production was solid with Kitchener last season. When he gets his feet moving, he can gather some speed but his feet remain stagnant for much of his shifts. He has a pace issue and unless he can overwhelmingly overcome that with his processing, he is going to need to light a fire under himself when he gets moving up the ladder towards pro hockey. He has a shot and he can make a lot of passes other players can’t, he just needs to do it at game speeds.

 

25 | Stanislav Svozil | LD | Kometa Brno (Czech) | 6-1 | 172lbs

Svozil has impressed at times throughout the last year and a half. He showed well in some summer events with the Czech junior team and he was one of their best players at the World Juniors despite being just 17 at the time. He is a good skater who can occasionally carry the puck up ice with authority, looking every bit of a confident puck-carrying defenseman. He is also prone to making a bonehead play from time to time but uses his mobility to get back into plays. He will need to work on some tight area agility and puck handling in small spaces but he presents a pretty solid two-way profile.

 

26 | Daniil Chayka | LD | CSKA (KHL) | 6-3 | 187lbs

A stout defensive player, Chayka is home in Russia this year after plying his trade in North America since 2017. Playing across three levels as most top Russian prospects have this year,  Chayka showed that just like football, defense travels well. He has been a capable defensive player at every stop and while he doesn’t provide much in terms of excitement, he is a valuable piece. He can thwart an attack before it even gets going and stuffs cycles fairly regularly. His ability to make a good first pass is key to him moving play forward. He lacks offensive upside.

 

27 | Samu Tuomaala | W | Kärpät (U20 SM-sarja) | 5-10 | 174lbs

Shooters are gonna shoot! Tuomaala lives by that motto. He is a volume shooter who doesn’t always take advantage of the tools that he possesses to their fullest extent. Tuomaala has the ability to puck handle by defenders and use his speed and agility to dash through traffic but he often seems as if he wants to hide that part of his game. He feels like a major ‘what if’ player because the issues aren’t motor necessarily but there seems to be a bit too much self-restraint at times with his own skillet. If he ever develops that ‘killer instinct’, the team that drafts him could be in for a treat.

 

28 | Logan Stankoven | C/W | Kamloops (WHL) | 5-8 | 170lbs

Stankoven should be higher. I know you are going to tell me this and I don’t vehemently disagree. For much of the year, I had him in the early 20s and the only reason he’s been moved down is that I have really liked the performances of the players above him. With the WHL set to return soon, I expect him to reclaim his place 5-10 spots higher. With that said, he is an electric player to watch. His shot will take butts out of seats. Scoring 29 goals as a 16-year-old isn’t easy in the WHL and it’s even harder when you’re 5’8″. He attacks each play like it’s a playoff game and rarely lacks for effort. He is undersized and that’s undeniable but he shows a solid effort at both ends of the ice and although he isn’t the most refined player in his own end, he shows some good tendencies. If he can add some more strength, his fiery attitude towards the game should allow him to be a dangerous offensive player.

 

29 | Ayrton Martino | W | Chilliwack (BCHL) | 5-10 | 168lbs

Do you like fun? Yes? You’ll like Ayrton Martino. He is an offensive winger who has had a unique journey over the last year. Playing in the OJHL last season in his DY-1 and he was looking to challenge himself but maintain NCAA eligibility to that he could honor his commitment to Clarkson University next season. Originally moving to the BCHL with Chilliwack before they shut down, Martino finally settled in with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. He has been a dynamic offensive player south of the border. He is excellent at anticipating passes in the neutral zone but does play a bit nonchalantly once in the defensive zone. He likes to get on his horse and spring the zone as soon as his teammates have the puck and will need to reign that in a bit. He has sick mitts and a quick release but also has the vision to see through traffic and spot the open man. He’s going to spend a couple of years in the NCAA but the talent is undeniable so he could be worth the wait.

Game Tape with Ayrton Martino

 

30 | Samu Salminen | C | Jokerit (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-2 | 186lbs

A center with some size, he plays a solid two-way game. Although he lacks at times positionally in the defensive zone, the effort is there and that makes up for it a lot of times at his level. With a bit of time and maturity, the defensive side of the game should translate. In the offensive zone, he is creative with his passes and works off his teammates. His shot is decent enough from in tight as well which should help keep goalies honest. If his skating can improve there is a real middle-six center here who can play at both ends of the ice and be relied upon by coaches.

 

31 | Sebastian Cossa | G | Edmonton (WHL) | 6-6 | 212lbs

I’m no goalie expert. I won’t even pretend to be. What I will say though is that most goalie people I talk to believe he is the best goalie outside of the big three (Knight, Askarov, Wallstedt) in the last three drafts. Cossa has the size you’d like in a goaltender and he possesses good athleticism in his crease. He is positionally sound with his massive frame taking up so much space. He has a quick glove and active legs when in the butterfly. He relies on his length a bit too much at the moment but with a bit of added explosion and lower body strength, he could be a really interesting goalie prospect, especially if he comes out and dominates a short WHL season.

 

32 | Dylan Duke | C/W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-10 | 181lbs

Duke is over a point-a-game player for the U.S. National Team Development Program and he is doing it all around the net. He isn’t the biggest player but he is strong on his feet and hard on the puck. He has nice hands around the crease and he shows a ton of promise as a goal scorer in a secondary role. He isn’t a blazing fast player by any means but he is a north-south player who attacks the home plate. He doesn’t present obvious top-line upside but he could bring a steady presence to a top-six with some ability to score goals from the ugly areas and a good shot that can be utilized in space. He has been the NTDP’s most consistent forward so far this season.

 

33 | Mason McTavish | C | EHC Olten (SL) / Peterborough (OHL) | 6-0 | 198lbs
34 | Ryder Korczak | C | Moose Jaw (WHL) | 5-10 | 164lbs
35 | Evan Nause | LD | Québec (QMJHL) | 6-2 | 186lbs
36 | Vincent Iorio | LD | Brandon (WHL) | 6-3 | 191lbs
37 | Brent Johnson | D | Sioux Falls (USHL) | 5-11 | 165lbs
38 | Matthew Coronato | W | Chicago (USHL) | 5-10 | 177lbs              Game Tape 
39 | Zach Dean | C | Gatineau (QMJHL) | 6-0 | 176lbs
40 | William Strömgren | W | Örnsköldsvik HF (HockeyEttan) / MODO (Allsvenskan) | 6-3 | 175lbs

This group is a ton of fun! McTavish is a shooter who has some size and if he can get his feet moving a bit more, there could be a dangerous finisher there. Korczak has been productive at every turn as a dual-threat offensive player. Evan Nause and Vincent Iorio are favorites of mine as they play such a poised and stable game. They are my idea of a modern-day defensive presence on the blueline. Brent Johnson is so good on his feet. He does an excellent job of contributing at both ends and could squeak into round one by year’s end. Matthew Coronato’s biggest weakness is his pace of play but the mind and offensive game are there. In a class without many great finishers, he is one of them. Zach Dean has been up-and-down this year but when he’s on he looks like a first-rounder. When he’s off, I don’t know what to think. Strömgren is big, mobile, and can fire the puck. His game is raw and there is a lot of work to be done but this is a bet on upside and intrigue.

 

41 | Ty Voit | W | Sarnia (OHL) | 5-9 | 150lbs
42 |  Jack O’Brien | C | Lincoln (USHL) | 6-0 | 154lbs
43 | Corson Ceulemans | RD | Brooks (AJHL) | 6-2 | 192lbs
44 | Sasha Pastujov | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 175lbs
45 | Brett Harrison | C | KooVee U20 (U20 SM-sarja) / Oshawa (OHL) | 6-1 | 167lbs
46 | Matthew Samoskevich | W | Chicago (USHL) | 5-11 | 176lbs
47 | Samuel Helenius | C | JYP (Liiga) | 6-6 | 201lbs
48 | Jeremy Wilmer | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-7 | 142lbs              Game Tape
49 | Nolan Allan | LD | Prince Albert (WHL) | 6-1 | 174lbs
50 | Aidan Hreschuk | LD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-11 | 182lbs

Ty Voit is an undersized forward who plays small at times but he is a firecracker. The OHL returning could be huge for him. Jack O’Brien is a player I expected more out of and maybe that’s a fault of my own. He has the talent to be a bit higher. Ceulemans is an all-out offensive blueliner who will need to do some reigning in. Pastujov is producing at an impressive level but sometimes that data doesn’t match the eye test. Harrison is a two-way center who looked good at times with Tullio and Tomasino in the OHL last year and his shot is pretty legit. His Finnish stint is barely underway but he’s looked good.

 

Matthew Samoskevich is an uber skilled forward who can make defenders look silly but can that translate? If you like defensive centers who translate to the NHL, Helenius might be your guy. The Finns offensive upside is up in the air and likely not top-six level but his defensive game is as mature as just about anyone in the draft. Jeremy Wilmer is small but his ability to read the game and get to the right spots is uncanny and his puck skills are legit. Nolan Allen hasn’t gotten the respect he deserves and that’s probably because the WHL hasn’t played as of yet but it’s coming. Watch for Allen’s name to show up on more rankings as the year goes by. Hreschuk is skilled offensively and his mobility is solid. He was much higher to start the year but his development hasn’t taken the step I, or anyone, expected.

 

51 | Aleksi Heimosalmi | RD | Ässät (U20 SM-sarja) | 5-11 | 154lbs
52 | Cole Huckins | C | Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) | 6-3 | 200lbs
53 | Robert Orr | LW | Halifax (QMJHL) | 5-11 | 176lbs
54 | Jack Bar | RD | Chicago (USHL) | 6-2 | 194lbs
55 | Aleksi Malinen | LD | JYP (Liiga) | 6-0 | 176lbs
55 | Ville Koivunen | W | Kärpät (U20 SM-sarja) | 5-11 | 161lbs
56 | Ryan Ufko | RD | Chicago (USHL) | 5-10 | 170lbs
57 | Marcus Almquist | W | HV71 (J20 Nationell) | 5-7 | 168lbs
58 | Sean Behrens | LD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-9 | 175lbs
59 | Oliver Kapanen | C | KalPa (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-0 | 166lbs
60 | Valtteri Koskela | LD | JYP ( Liiga) | 5-10 | 157lbs
61 | Liam Dower-Nilsson | C | Frölunda (J20 Nationell) | 6-0 | 172lbs
62 | Andre Gasseau | C | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-4 | 202lbs
63 | Dmitri Zugan | C | Krasnaya Armiya (MHL) | 5-11 | 180lbs
64 | Jacob Martin | RD | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-0 | 190lbs

If there is one player on these rankings that I will argue should be on many others and just isn’t it’s Heimosalmi. He needs to fill out but the ability to play at both ends of the ice, utilize his mobility and get the puck in spots to create offense is very good. You may not know him but if your team takes him, just be happy. Cole Huckins is a big, mobile center who plays with his brain. The best Bobby Orr is a ton of fun to watch. He’s developing still but there is something there. Jack Bar is an interesting player because you seem whats there but then he will make a bad decision that makes you second guess. More than worth the risk here in my opinion.

 

Malinen, Ufko and Behrens are smaller, mobile defensemen who like to have the puck on their stick and like creating offense when they have it. Ville Koivunen has been part of the reason Tuomaala is able to score as much as he has at times. He will need to get stronger but the  Kärpät forward has some legit playmaking ability. Almquist is undersized but he packs a punch offensively. He is just days away from being eligible for next year’s draft and he has all the skill you could ask for. Oliver Kapanen, cousin of Pittsburgh forward Kasperi, is a solid two-way player who unfortunately doesn’t skate like his cousin but he does possess more of the processing power that could lead to NHL success.

 

Valtteri Koskela is a name I haven’t seen on any board outside of my own. He’s a pretty stout defender who plays bigger than his size, particularly in front of his net. He has flashes of offense but that likely won’t be his forte. Dower-Nilsson has been all over on draft boards. I’ve talked to some who think his potential is as high as some of the first-rounders and others who think his game won’t translate. It will take some work but I have faith in the raw tools offensively. Gasseau may seem like an odd addition but he is someone who always seems to be doing the right thing for the NTDP squad. He doesn’t get the opportunity to play in the top-six often but he should. Gasseau is big, mobile, and smart with the puck. Dmitri Zugan has been a pet prospect of mine for a little while now. The guy’s work ethic is like few others in the class and he never lacks effort. Honestly, one of his knocks is that he should maybe try a bit less. He can skate and attacks every play like it’s game seven but the question of where his true skill set settles is a question. Jacob Martin is another one of those NTDP guys that just doesn’t get the love he deserves. He plays such a controlled game on the back end, just getting the puck back and moving it to his forwards. Tidy business.

 

Honorable Mentions 

These are players that I have liked and think deserve some recognition but not players that I’d fight for over any of the players above. Many of them are top-100 players but a few are players I’d probably take ahead of where they will ultimately go. I could have ranked these players but felt that at this stage, honorable mentions would be suitable with a top-100 with honorable mentions coming out closer to the draft.

 

HM | Hugo Gabrielsson | LD | Halmstad (HockeyEttan) / Frölunda (J20 Nationell) | 6-0 | 159lbs
HM | Peter Reynolds | C | Saint John (QMJHL) | 5-10 | 167lbs
HM | Oscar Plandowski | RD | Charlottetown (QMJHL) | 6-0 | 190lbs                Game Tape
HM | Tristan Lennox | G | Saginaw (OHL) | 6-3 | 198lbs
HM | Kalle Ervasti | RD | Lukko U20 (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-0 | 163lbs 
HM | Anton Olsson | LD | Malmö (SHL/J20 Nationell) | 6-1 | 183lbs
HM | Dmitri Kostenko | RD | Togliatti (VHL) | 6-2 | 165lbs
HM | James Malatesta | C/W | Québec (QMJHL) | 5-9 | 179lbs
HM | Artyom Grushnikov | LD | Hamilton (OHL) | 6-2 | 174lbs
HM | Kirill Kirsanov | LD | SKA (VHL) | 6-1 | 194lbs
HM | Wyatt Johnston | C | Windsor (OHL) | 6-0 | 178lbs
HM | Riley Kidney | C | Acadie-Bathurst (QMJHL) | 5-11 | 168lbs
HM | Topias Vilén | LD | Pelicans (Liiga) | 6-1 | 194lbs
HM | Zachary Bolduc | C | Rimouski (QMJHL) | 6-1 | 175lbs
HM | Vladislav Lukashevich | LD | Loko (MHL) | 6-2 | 165lbs
HM | Victor Stjernborg | C | Växjö (J20 Nationell) | 5-11 | 202lbs
HM | Tyler Boucher | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-1 | 200lbs
HM | Chase Stillman | W | Esbjerg II (Denmark 2) / Sudbury (OHL) | 5-11 | 170lbs
HM | Jimi Suomi | LD | Jokerit (U20 SM-sarja) | 5-9 | 147lbs
HM | Benjamin Gaudreau | G | Sarnia (OHL) | 6-2 | 160lbs
HM | Logan Mailloux | RD | Lejon (HockeyEttan) / London (OHL) | 6-3 | 214lbs
HM | Niko Huuhtanen | W | Tappara (U20 SM-sarja) | 6-2 | 204lbs
HM | Trevor Wong | C | Kelowna (WHL) | 5-8 | 154lbs
HM | Valtteri Karnaranta | W | Ässät (U20 SM-sarja) | 5-4 | 165lbs
HM | Liam Gilmartin | W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 6-2 | 190lbs
HM | Lorenzo Canonica | C | Lugano (U20-Elit) | 5-11 | 179lbs
HM | Maxim Motorygin | G | Dynamo Moskva (MHL) | 6-0 | 161lbs
HM | Red Savage | C/W | U.S. U18 (USNTDP) | 5-11 | 175lbs
HM | Braeden Kressler | W | Flint (OHL) | 5-8 | 155lbs
HM | Tristan Broz | C | Fargo (USHL) | 6-0 | 179lbs

I hope you enjoyed the rankings and found some useful information in the blurbs. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @theTonyFerrari! Be sure to catch the Scouting Teams rankings next week along with a podcast and video of the meeting that we had to get the rankings set!

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