2024 NHL Draft Rankings: DobberProspects’ Final Top-128

Sebastian High

2024-06-16

Sebastian High — The 2024 NHL Draft Class may not have been regarded as a particularly strong group at the onset of the 2023-24 season, but as the year has progressed, the depth of Top-10 and 1st-round talent has ripened and improved steadily. Beyond our clear Top 1 and 2, the next tier of potential top-of-the-lineup pieces continuously expanded, with additions such as Zeev Buium, Tij Iginla, and Beckett Sennecke at progressive stages of the cycle. At the close of our scouting season, we have grown confident in the high-end potential of players well into our teen range, with a subsequent group of high-floor and good-upside bets from the 20s into the mid-30s.

While Celebrini and Demidov have separated themselves from the pack, and Cayden Lindstrom has held a loose grip on 3rd overall for about 6 months for us, the following tier of defensemen as well as Tij Iginla was a very difficult one to separate, with just about any order of those players being easily supported in our perspective. Even our 9th-ranked player, Konsta Helenius, got support as high as 3rd overall from our Finnish regional scout, Anni Karvinen. While the class isn’t as overtly strong as 2023 was, it is a more than solid draft-eligible group, with a tremendous amount of parity through wide tiers, ranging as high as the final podium spot. Whether a team picks 4th or 14th, players with top-line/pairing upside and a, or a few, clear weaknesses or hurdles in projection will likely be the best available bets.

Even more than most draft classes, this year’s rankings are highly subjective with a heavy emphasis on stylistic and projection preferences. This made it an exciting and challenging class to analyze, debate, and rank; something our team gleefully took on. Scouting and projecting 17-to-18-year-old athletes as 25-year-old NHL professionals is far from a perfect science, with a significant margin for error to be expected, but we are proud of and confident in our final conclusions for the 2024 class.

For a behind-the-scenes look at the debates that constructed these final rankings, you can head over to YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QEOWDa4pYLY

I’d like to thank every member of our scouting team for all their hard work and countless hours of analyzing game tape, writing game reports, and debating and challenging one another’s takeaways throughout the season, whether it be in our messaging channel or during our ranking meetings (which we’ve published on YouTube). This article and all of the work we’ve published on this group of prospects would not have been possible without you! I’d also like to thank our managing editor Peter Harling and Darryl Dobbs himself for their support whenever it’s been needed and for supporting the platforming of our work. Last, a final thank you to Hadi Kalakeche alongside whom I’ve led the scouting team for a year and a half at this point, working with and learning from one another has been as rewarding and challenging as it’s been fun.

Before we jump into the rankings, let me introduce our talented and hard-working scouting group:

The Team:

Sebastian High: Head Scout & Director of European Scouting

Hadi Kalakeche: Director of North American Scouting

Jordan Harris: OHL Regional Scout

Sasha Lagarde: QMJHL Regional Scout

Luke Sweeney: WHL Regional Scout

David Saad: USA Regional Scout

Wade Messier: North American Crossover Scout

Colin Hunter: Goaltending Scout

Anni Karvinen: Finnish Regional Scout

Graham Montgomery: Russian Regional Scout

Seth Ditchfield: Swedish Regional and European Crossover Scout

Now, without further ado, here are our final ranking for the 2024 NHL Draft class:

Final Top 128

1. Macklin Celebrini, C (6-0, 197 lbs) — Boston University (NCAA)

Role: Do-it-all, two-way center

Points Potential: 45-65-110

Conservative Points Projection: 35-45-80

NHL Timeline: Plug-and-play

Hadi Kalakeche — For the second year in a row, a Canadian center is the unanimous number 1 pick in the draft; the San Jose Sharks would be foolish to consider anyone not named Macklin Celebrini with their lottery-winning selection. The Hobey Baker-winning freshman made sure of it with his outstanding NCAA campaign, scoring 32 goals and as many assists in 38 games for Boston University, where the chemistry between Celebrini and fellow Terrier Lane Hutson was palpable throughout the year.

Beyond being a deadly half-wall shooter with possibly the most refined skating foundations of any forward in this class, Celebrini’s habits are what elevate his game to franchise forward status. Every pass is taken in stride, every zone entry turns into the best scoring chance available, and every pass improves the condition of the puck. He has the compete level off the puck to dart back and help his defensemen disrupt plays, the positional awareness to know when to hover around the dots in the defensive zone and when to jump into the scrum, as well as the refined physical mechanics to more than compensate for his 5’11 frame in board battles.

This might be controversial, but Celebrini is ready for top-six NHL minutes. He has all the mental tools — energy, work ethic, compete level, anticipation, composure, awareness, clutch factor and three-zone engagement, on top of translatable shooting, passing, handling and skating. Even Connor Bedard didn’t display the attention to detail that the youngest player in the NCAA this past season has shown in his draft year. There isn’t much that Celebrini needs to improve, which further indicates that this is a future franchise center who is ready to make an immediate impact in San Jose.

2. Ivan Demidov, RW (5-11, 181 lbs) — SKA St. Petersburg (KHL/MHL)

Role: Dynamo/Creator/Do-It-All Offensive Winger

Points Potential: 50-70-120

Conservative Points Projection: 30-40-70

NHL Timeline: 1-2 years

Sebastian High A fantastically creative, dynamic, intelligent, and potent winger, Ivan Demidov could develop into a perennial Top 10 scorer league-wide. He finds highly effective yet stunningly creative solutions to many problems he encounters, and leverages his variety of elite tools to do so – relying less and less on his handling to do all the heavy lifting for him. He’s an active player off-puck, prodding for holes and riding blind spots, even possessing a plus-level motor on both sides of the puck and a desire to get engaged defensively. 

But it’s with the puck on his stick where he shines brightest. Featuring a near Datsyuk-ian flair, Demidov can dissect defenses all on his own – though he favours possession over trying to do so regularly. He’s the best puckhandler we’ve scouted in the past 3 drafts, Bedard included. It’s not only the mechanics which are fantastic, but the decision-making, creativity, deception, and pace shifts supporting it. He’s an unconventional skater with subpar stride mechanics, but his favoured 10-and-2 skating style gives him a tremendous amount of lateral mobility and deception, allowing him to escape small-ice situations with possession against all odds. 

Add to this a high-end goalscoring toolkit, even better playmaking skill and habits, and an ability to elevate the players around him, and you have a unique player with sky-high upside (potentially even surpassing Celebrini’s). His KHL contract is up in a year and he’s been vocal about his desire to pursue his lifelong NHL dream. While being stuck against far inferior MHL competition isn’t ideal – and that may remain the case next season – he has found ways to challenge himself at that level by forcing himself to find complex solutions to the problems he encounters. If he drops outside the Top 3, a franchise will have a steal on their hands very early on Draft Day.

3. Cayden Lindstrom, C/LW (6-3, 213 lbs) — Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)

Role: Power Forward/Finisher/Chaos Creator

Points Potential: 40-50-90

Conservative Points Projection: 35-30-65

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Hadi Kalakeche — Lindstrom’s 2023-24 campaign was cut short by a hand injury that required surgery, but every one of his 46 points in 32 games for the Tigers showcased a little more of what he is capable of than the last. Make no mistake: this towering forward is exactly what NHL scouts dream of.

Simply put, Lindstrom is this draft’s marquee power forward. At 6 foot 3 with blistering speed, he made quick bites out of WHL defenders on a nightly basis. Lindstrom is capable of either dropping the shoulder and driving around them, or simply trucking right through them. He has some snarl, too — on dump-ins, offensive cycles or opposing breakouts, the highly competitive center takes pleasure in barreling through opponents and tossing them around. A hard and accurate shot is the icing on the cake, as Lindstrom frequently forces his way to the slot and rips pucks upstairs. The combination of physicality and soft hands is magical, too — few prospects in this draft work the six feet around the net as well as Lindstrom does.

The issue with Lindstrom is his lack of habits. He struggles to pace himself, cut back and let play develop. It’s not that he lacks anticipation or vision — those are on full display when he is passing — but rather a product of being that big and that fast. He doesn’t need those habits right now, but he will soon. The good news is that with the absurd amount of puck touches he creates for himself in every game, he’s going to have a bunch of reps to sort this concern out. Lindstrom would benefit from a couple of years in the WHL and perhaps a year in the AHL, but the long-term upside is well worth the investment. He very well might end up being a bona fide top-liner who can spearhead a franchise’s rebuild when all is said and done.

4. Zayne Parekh, RD (6-0, 178 lbs) — Saginaw Spirit (OHL)

Role: Quarterback/Pressure Diffusor

Points Potential: 30-60-90

Conservative Points Projection: 20-30-50

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Jordan HarrisA 96-point draft season in the OHL is likely to get a player drafted in the top half of the 1st round, but what if that player wasn’t a forward but a defenseman? The points-per-game pace (1.45) that Parekh produced at this season as a first-time draft-eligible player was something we hadn’t seen since Ryan Ellis did in the 2008-09 season. To cap off an excellent season, Parekh and his Saginaw Spirit team hoisted the Memorial Cup just a few weeks ago.

Parekh’s game is built on dynamism and deception. He can manipulate opposing players with his eyes, his hands, and head/shoulder fakes, to create separation for himself. The passes Parekh attempts make you cringe right up until the puck lands perfectly on his teammate’s stick. From the offensive blueline in, there aren’t many players better than Parekh. He can walk the line looking for passing or shooting lanes and he can work the give and go while finishing the play off by putting the puck in the back of the net. Parekh seems to find space and puts himself in great positions to get his excellent wrist shot off.

Throughout the season there were concerns about how casual he could be. Parekh doesn’t panic with the puck at all, but this showed to be both the feature and bug of his play. There were times where you wish he would have made the easy outlet pass or dump-in. Defending was also inconsistent throughout the season, and his overreliance on defending with his stick might cause problems at the next level. On a positive note, I thought Parekh’s intensity and defending ramped up a notch or two all throughout the OHL playoffs where the stakes are raised. If Parekh can iron out some of the issues in his game and play with the urgency he showed when the games mattered most this past season, then we’re looking at a potential 70+ point defenseman in the future.

5. Zeev Buium, LD (6-0, 186 lbs) — University of Denver (NCAA)

Role: Pressure Diffusor/Breakout Specialist

Points Potential: 20-45-65

Conservative Points Projection: 10-30-40

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

David Saad — Coming off of a record-setting season for a rookie defenseman in NCAA history, Buium made sure to go out on a high note with a masterful performance in the playoffs en route to Denver winning their second championship in three years. His contribution was no small matter, as he averaged over 34 minutes of ice time across the 6 game playoffs, including a highlight reel assist in the championship game. The now-confirmed 6’0 defenseman has done nothing but blow past expectations and doubts all season long and has solidified his spot on our top 5. The combination of mobility, skill, two-way IQ, pro-level habits and composure have earned Zeev Buium the reputation of “most complete defender in the draft” from our team.

As he enters the NHL draft, we expect Zeev to hear his name called early on day 1 and we fully expect him to make waves quickly. Buium has made it a habit of forcing teams’ hands to play him more and we fully expect that trend to continue. Whether it be on the USA World Juniors team or the training camp of the NHL team that drafts him, expect Buium to continue to turn heads.

6. Artyom Levshunov, RD (6-2, 205 lbs) — Michigan State (NCAA)

Role: Activator/Suppressor

Points Potential: 20-40-60

Conservative Points Projection: 15-20-35

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Hadi Kalakeche — Levshunov’s game kept improving and improving as his NCAA season went on. At the start of the year, a lot of his plays were uncontrolled — panicked dump-outs, ill-timed dump-ins and neutral-zone break-ups with no intention to follow up and establish possession were frequent occurrences, and those seldom led to positive scenarios. By the end of the season, though, Levshunov was often single-handedly extending possession sequences for his team, which led to him amassing 35 points in 38 games for Michigan State.

An incredibly smooth skater with immense on-ice range, Levshunov can stifle opposing rushes with one push of his tree-trunk legs. He isn’t all tools, either — there are some interesting habits around which Levshunov can build. A short neutral-zone gap, a natural tendency to shepherd opponents to the boards, and high-end defensive-zone aggression helped his team suppress dangerous shots. Once the puck is secured, he can skate it out himself, he can beat opponents to open ice off the puck on the weak side, and he doesn’t hesitate to jump into rushes. There is decent offensive potential in Levshunov, on top of some tantalizing defensive tools. The gap between his strongest and weakest performances being immensely wide and all too frequent is what prevents him from being ranked higher on our list.

7. Tij Iginla, LW (6-0, 191 lbs) — Kelowna Rockets (WHL)

Role: Play Extender/Forechecker/Finisher

Points Potential: 40-45-85

Conservative Points Projection: 30-30-60 

NHL Timeline: 1-2 years

Luke Sweeney — Few players in this draft have had as rapid of an ascension as winger Tij Iginla, and with good reason. Iginla began the season as a dogged, hard-nosed player with some exciting tools and strong details and habits across the board. By the end of the WHL playoffs where Iginla scored at a near goal-per-game rate, it’s clear that he has everything you’d want in a high-end top-six forward. He’s got a hard shot that explodes off the blade from a variety of distances, set-ups and shot types. Iginla’s vision and quick decision-making also make him a high-level playmaker, a trait of his that seems to slip under the radar. Especially off the cycle, there are few players in this draft better at taking pucks off the wall, drawing pressure and making plays into the middle of the ice. Iginla’s skating and puckhandling round out his balanced offensive toolkit. He has a controlled first touch, incorporates plenty of deception into his attacks, puts the puck into uncomfortable areas for defenders, and has the confidence and skill to pull off highlight-reel dangles, all without making his handling too busy or overcomplicated.

Iginla’s skating and puckhandling shine off the rush, an area where his game has developed over the course of the year. You’ll never see Iginla taking a forward stride through the neutral zone, instead using churning crossovers to build a head of steam that sets defenders on their heels. He loves to attack defenders’ triangle and feet at top speed, also leading to plenty of flashy dekes. While at times Iginla can be a bit too head-on and linear with his transition game, he has developed a more lateral approach that will serve him well should he continue to develop this area.

The part of his game that will make Iginla a fan favorite is his habits and his tenacity on the forecheck. He never gives up on a play. While it shows up more on the forecheck and in the offensive zone, Iginla is a relentless pest, winning foot races, putting puck carriers under pressure, winning physical battles against larger players, and simply pick-pocketing the opposing team. Combine Iginla’s high-end tools, his pro-level details, his indomitable mentality, and his rapid development over the year with the fact that he is one of the youngest players in the draft, and he easily projects as a high-end, do-it-all top-six forward.

8. Berkly Catton, LW/C (5-10, 175 lbs) — Spokane Chiefs (WHL)

Role: Carrier/Creator/Dynamo

Points Potential: 35-55-90

Conservative Points Projection: 25-30-55 

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Luke Sweeney – At this point, there may be some fatigue and overexposure surrounding Berkly Catton. While players like Iginla and Sennecke have raised their stock steadily over the year, Catton has been one of the best players in the CHL all year long. His supremely skilled toolkit is shown best on the rush, an area where there may be no one better in the entire class. Catton’s skating is mechanically very sound with a low posture and excellent extension, but as he still needs to add strength — he’s more elusive than a true burner, though he can certainly blow by defenders at the WHL level. Like all elite transition players, Catton builds and maintains speed through ultra-quick crossovers, allowing him to accelerate through puck touches, build attack arcs through the neutral zone and capitalize on his elusiveness with cutbacks and sudden changes of direction. These are the hallmarks of Catton’s game and there is nobody in this class with his ability to move laterally through the neutral zone. Combined with his slippery, highly-calculated puckhandling and Catton is nearly impossible to contain off the rush.

The rest of Catton’s offensive tools are also well-developed. His release is quick, accurate and can beat goalies from a distance, while his vision and playmaking are also high-end. He reads the play well and puts the puck into prime scoring areas, even if his teammates are a little slow to catch up at times. Catton is also quite adept at evading and fighting through pressure, which allows him to make many of these plays into the middle of the ice.

Defensively, Catton is still a work in progress. While many of his issues boil down to size and strength, the diminutive forward is unlikely to project as a defensive asset at higher levels. He competes well and still wins his fair share of puck battles in the offensive zone, but his positioning and ability to battle in the slot aren’t strong. A move to the wing may be in the cards, but he could play centre at higher levels as long as you’re willing to take some defensive lapses. Still, Catton is one of the most dynamic players available this draft cycle and could find his way onto an NHL top line.

10. Sam Dickinson, LD (6-3, 203 lbs) — London Knights (OHL)

Role: Activator/Crusher/Suppressor

Points Potential: 20-30-50

Conservative Points Projection: 15-20-35 

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Jordan Harris – Dickinson is another OHL defender who played a ton of games this season with a deep playoff and Memorial Cup run. Similar to Parekh, Dickinson showed up in a big way when the so much was on the line by scoring the then-tying goal in the Memorial Cup final, unfortunately, Saginaw ended up winning in the end.

Dickinson is a hulking defender measuring in at nearly 6’3” and 200+lbs. He combines excellent size with great speed, and when he’s at full speed, he’ll pass opposing players with ease. Dickinson put up a lot of points in the OHL this season due to a bomb of a shot, picking his spots to jump up in the play, and being an effective PP2 player. On top of the offensive output, Dickinson is an excellent rush defender who can shut down the opposition’s attempts to gain the offensive zone. He displays textbook stick and body layering to neutralize puck carriers and take the puck away. He might be the best defensive defenseman in the draft.

There are weaknesses to Sam’s game. The hockey sense is just okay, and he will have his share of lapses in judgement. Similar issues happen when he’s carrying the puck as he doesn’t always take the best routes to enter the offensive zone to set up his teammates. Still, there’s loads of potential with Dickinson and you’ll take some of the warts in his game because the rest of his game is so good and the physical tools are elite.

11. Beckett Sennecke, RW (6-2, 183 lbs) — Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Role: Improvisor/Power Forward

Points Potential: 35-45-80

Conservative Points Projection: 20-30-50

NHL Timeline: 3-4 Years

Hadi Kalakeche — Few prospects on our board rose as fast and as hard as Sennecke did. After ending the regular season with 68 points in 61 games for the Generals, the lanky winger reached a level in the playoffs that his 22 points in 16 games against the OHL’s best doesn’t even fully encompass.

What started off as flashes of high-end improvisational handling skill and quick give-and-go plays turned into consistent, shift-to-shift staples of his game. Sennecke turned the corner from awkward teenager to full-on wizard in the second half of the year, learning how to fully utilize his frame, reach and fine-motor skills to steal pucks on the back-check, drive them up the ice, and deke his way to a high-end scoring chance. The game-breaking offensive skill is what gives Sennecke a leg up on the next two names on our board, both of whom are built similarly — but he needs to learn to read and anticipate play. All elite NHL improvisors (Kane, MacKinnon, Rantanen, etc.) are also high-end anticipators. Sennecke is far from it, but if his development in other areas is any sign, he’ll get there.

12. Michael Brandsegg-Nygård, RW (6-1, 207 lbs) — Mora IK (Allsvenskan)

Role: 2-Way/Powerforward/Finisher

Points Potential: 35-35-70

Conservative Points Projection: 20-20-40

NHL Timeline: 0-2 years

Sebastian High Brandsegg-Nygård is widely regarded as one of, if not the, most refined defensive forwards in this draft class. And the big power winger is indeed just that. But, that’s not where his value ends. It is true that his defensive game could earn him a 4th-line NHL role as soon as this Fall if he and the organization who selects him wish for him to be, he’s certainly a high-floor player. That said, in the back half of the season and especially in our HockeyAllsvenskan Playoff and World Championship viewings, Brandsegg-Nygård stood out for his overall 3-zone impact, including offensive generation. 

He’s a linear puck rusher who attacks with pace and power, and holds up the play well upon entry in the offensive zone to wait for support to extend possessions. He’s also a very good goalscorer, featuring a dangerous and heavy wrist shot release, a penchant for scoring from both medium-long range and from in tight at the goal-mouth. He’s middle-driven and gets to exactly where his team needs him to be. His highest upside is that of a complimentary top-line piece, and the fallback game of a versatile middle-six winger is more than worth the swing in the early teens of this draft class in our eyes.

13. Igor Chernyshov, LW (6-2, 192 lbs) — Dynamo Moscow (KHL/MHL)

Role: 2-Way/Skilled Powerforward/Finisher

Points Potential: 35-30-65

Conservative Points Projection: 25-20-45

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Graham Montgomery – A prototypical power forward who outworks his opponents to create consistent scoring chances from dangerous areas on the ice. Unlike many power forwards, skating is not a weakness, but a strength as he combines a strong stride with average to above-average mobility to get around the ice. He is particularly dangerous off the rush where he can showcase his strongest tool, his hands. He easily manipulated MHL-level defenders with flashy and effective puck-handling moves, which he frequently used to create individual scoring chances. His ceiling as a playmaker is relatively high as he showed flashes of high-end vision and situational awareness when plays broke down. However, he generally prefers to shoot the puck himself.

Chernyshov is not just an offensive threat. He is one of the hardest-working players in the draft class, and that applies to all three zones, making him one of the better two-way forwards in the draft as well. He is particularly strong on D-zone puck retrievals, often creating breakouts through hard work, nifty puck handling, and strong body positioning, which he uses to separate players from the puck, particularly along the boards. He spent the majority of this season playing in the KHL where he recorded just three goals and four points in thirty-four games. However, he regularly got consistent ice time, showing a level of trust from the coaching staff that is very rare in a player of Chernyshov’s age. Furthermore, he showed a lot of adaptability, adjusting to a smaller role splendidly.

14. Cole Eiserman, LW (6-0, 197 lbs) — USNTDP (USHL)

Role: Finisher

Points Potential: 55-40-95

Conservative Points Projection: 35-20-55

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Hadi Kalakeche  — Eiserman is still frustrating. A solid U18 Worlds performance hasn’t changed that fact, and neither did his record-setting 127 goals for the NTDP over the past two years. I actually had to debate heavily with David to keep him inside our top 15, and we’ll get into why in a second.

Simply put, no one comes close to Eiserman’s goal-scoring ability in this draft. A phenomenal release which blasts off his stick with unrivalled velocity and accuracy combines well with Eiserman’s high-end off-puck routes to make him incredibly dangerous. He doesn’t need a clean pass, either — he can shoot with his hands away from his body, with the puck in his feet, on the backhand, on his front leg, on his back leg, you name it. The one thing I keep circling back to when debating how low is too low for Eiserman, is his impressive physicality when it comes to net-driving and net-front battling. That’ll be the key moving forward to separate him from previous failures when it comes to NTDP snipers, and to compensate for his utter lack of defensive impact and consistent overlooking of passing options.

15. Anton Silayev, LD (6-7, 211 lbs) — Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod (KHL)

Role: Rangy Rush Suppressor/Defensive Specialist

Points Potential: 10-25-35

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Graham Montgomery –A tantilizing yet raw prospect, Silayev combines features more often seen in much smaller players with his huge 6’7” frame to give him an unusual and intriguing physical profile. Despite his size, he is one of the best skaters in the draft, which makes him extremely adept at shutting down opposing rushes. He combines his huge reach with excellent mobility and backward skating to dominate the neutral zone and angle opponents away from the middle of the ice. The glaring issue with Silayev’s game is his hockey sense. While he spent the entire season playing in the KHL, he often looked a step behind the rest of the players on the ice in terms of processing speed.

Physically, he is already capable of withstanding pressure from professional players, but he frequently rushes his decisions when he sees pressure coming, often resulting in errant passes, missed breakout opportunities, and unnecessary icings. This continued to be a problem for Silayev even in the later parts of the season. His offensive upside is limited by an average toolset at best, but he can create scoring opportunities through neutral zone turnovers and long stretch passes. This will likely prevent him from becoming a number-one defenseman at the NHL level, but there is a very safe floor as a middle-pair shut-down defender.

16. Michael Hage, C (6-1, 188 lbs) — Chicago Steel (USHL)

Role: Carrier/Facilitator

Points Potential: 30-40-70

Conservative Points Projection: 15-30-45

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

David Saad — If you have watched the Chicago Steel since Christmas, you quickly realized that every game was the Michael Hage show. For good reason too, he’s exploded ever since his slow start to the year and managed to land himself into 4th on the USHL scoring sheet with an astounding 31 points in 16 games.

Hage’s strengths are the same as ever. He’s a force off the rush, thanks largely in part to his sense of timing. Whether it comes by knowing the perfect time to drop the shoulder, pass the puck off or flash his handling; Hage is always finding ways to beat opponents in the nick of time. Not to say he can’t rip the puck himself either, the 33-goal scorer has come a long way in terms of picking his spots and adjusting his angles by incorporating a really mean feint game. As Hage gets more comfortable with the physical side of the game, something that he will need to continually develop as he graduates to the NCAA level, he’ll keep making his top-6 upside increasingly tangible every day and present some very tempting value to NHL teams on draft day.

17. Carter Yakemchuk, RD (6-3, 202 lbs) — Calgary Hitmen (WHL)

Role: Improvisor/Crusher

Points Potential: 30-40-70

Conservative Points Projection: 15-25-40 

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Luke Sweeney – There are few players more divisive this draft cycle than big right-handed blue-liner Carter Yakemchuk. There are some scouts who have him as high as third-overall and some that have him outside the first round entirely. At Dobber, we’re squarely in the middle.

The reasons why some adore him are immediately apparent. As a 6-3 righty, Yakemchuk plays arguably the most coveted position with the kind of size that has scouting departments salivating. Besides his physical makeup, Yakemchuk is also an offensive weapon. He’s got a blistering shot and solid shot selection. He’s got the puckhandling skill, deception and confidence to break down defenders with flashy moves, either deep in the attacking zone or at the offensive blueline. His playmaking is also better than he gets credit for, especially later in the season when he began to use his gravity to make passes to the high slot. On top of that, Yakemchuk plays a heavy game and can deliver crushing checks along the boards.

Everywhere else is where the weaknesses start to crop up. Yakemchuk is not a great skater. He’s pretty mobile and his edgework is solid, but his stride is weak with a hitch at the end and too much backward rather than lateral extension. Yakemchuk can get to top speed through crossovers, but his breakaway speed and acceleration from a standstill are lacking. While these things can be rectified, Yakemchuk’s defensive game bears some glaring warts. He struggles to guard his defensive blue line and makes a lot of questionable decisions away from the puck. He chases a lot of hits and misses a lot of key reads in the defensive zone. If Yakemchuk can simplify his defensive game and develop his skating, there is a very real chance he pans out as an offensive number two defenseman.

18. Liam Greentree, RW (6-2, 215 lbs) — Windsor Spitfires (OHL)

Role: Facilitator/Finisher

Points Potential: 35-45-80

Conservative Points Projection: 25-30-55

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Hadi Kalakeche – Not often does a draft-eligible captain his OHL team and lead them in scoring by 24 points. Greentree often kept a poor Windsor Spitfires team hanging onto games in which they shouldn’t have had a chance, scoring 90 points in 64 games in the process.

Greentree’s slight dip in our rankings is a result of some end-of-season questions that arose. Around January, the sizable winger started showing a whole new dimension of his game, going from a pure slot chance finisher to a multi-faceted, hyper-intelligent chance creator. Give-and-goes, hard inside moves and soft handling skill went from occasional flashes to consistent and effective strengths. Seemingly every goal was a highlight-reel play, but more importantly, every decision he made led to better conditions for the puck. He passes with purpose and forward-thinking, making him a high-end offensive facilitator. The concerns about his skating are legitimate — his posture and edgework require a lot of work to get up to an NHL caliber. The added end-of-season questions around his engagement level and conditioning had us favoring other talents in the class over him, but those issues are likely related to how much wasted energy goes into each of his strides. If his skating improves, Greentree should be able to keep up with play, allowing his high-end hockey sense, strength and puck skills to shine in the NHL, perhaps even in a top-six role.

19. Stian Solberg, LD (6-1, 205 lbs) — Vålerenga (Norway)

Role: Crusher/Two-Way

Points Potential: 12-33-45

Conservative Points Projection: 5-20-25

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Seth Ditchfield – He’s one of the easiest Europeans to project into the NHL, bringing a playoff style to any pairing. As a punishing, violent defender who loves being the most annoying player on the ice, he surprisingly brings some of the best edges in his class. If he can develop his four-way skating, he could become a dangerous mobile threat. He performs much better against men than against players in his age group, thriving on difficulty and challenge. He shows incredible endurance, playing ~30 minutes a night and excelling in important games.

His on-puck game features sporadic daring puck rushes, handling skill with developmental runway, his tell-tale mobility, and a heavy shot. His breakout passing game and composure under pressure still need some work, but he’s heading over to Färjestad in the SHL, where he will likely refine this aspect of his play. He projects at a minimum as a reliable third-pair defender, with a clear potential to complement a top-4 pairing.

20. Teddy Stiga, LW (5-10, 178 lbs) — USNTDP (USHL)

Role: Pace-Pusher/Facilitator

Points Potential: 25-40-65

Conservative Points Projection: 15-25-40

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

David Saad – Teddy Stiga might just be the draft’s best-kept secret. A rare combination of high-end tenacity, calculated decision-making, and a refined understanding of the game, Stiga’s versatility and adaptability made him a force to be reckoned with in any given situation. Alone this would be impressive, but the speed at which Stiga makes his decisions and follows them through is among some of the most spectacular things you can watch in this year’s draft. While not a physically dominant presence, Stiga applies his combativeness in tight areas too. His ability to protect the puck is great and he’s able to consistently create advantages with simple displays of finesse and cunning. Add to that a very strong forechecking game and you get a guy who just feels omnipresent when he’s on the ice.

As Stiga adds more creativity, skill, and speed to his arsenal, we will be increasingly confident in his top 6 potential. If not for his individual skill, for his ability to play with high-end talent and amplify their effectiveness. Even if that doesn’t pan out, the fallback game of a high-energy bottom-six forward is within reach. There’s a lot to be excited with

21. Trevor Connelly, LW (6-1, 160 lbs) — Tri-City Storm (USHL)

Role: Dynamo/Creator

Points Potential: 35-45-80

Conservative Points Projection: 20-25-45

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

David Saad – For a player with so much to prove, Trevor Connelly cannot seem to stop getting in his own way. A shame, because on pure talent, he may just be one of the better players in this class. What keeps getting him sour glances, however, is a matter of perspective. Depending on your read, you may view Connelly as a high-end player who boasts excellent skill, who’s so tantalizing with the puck on his stick that providing him a long leash to be creative should be a significant net-positive. Or you can view him as an overly selfish player whose bad habits have been enabled and fostered a lack of discipline that have constantly bit him in the worst possible moments.

Either way, it’s hard not to be at least intrigued by what Connelly brings to the table. He’s a trailblazer and comes with a total offensive package of flash and creativity to boot. It’s easy to project him fitting into a top-six scoring role based on his tools alone, even if the off-puck game needs work; but his floor is significantly lower than other players in this tier, as well. Generally, the issue isn’t whether if he can become a hockey player, but if he can become a pro.

22. Andrew Basha, LW (5-11, 187 lbs) — Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)

Role: Checker/Possession extender

Points Potential: 25-45-70

Conservative Points Projection: 20-30-50

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Hadi Kalakeche — There is always a place in our hearts for hard-working checking forwards who have a strong foundation of skill. Basha fits that mold to a T. He especially showed the latter aspect with Cayden Lindstrom out of the lineup, ending the season for Medicine Hat with 30 goals and 85 points in 63 games.

In his WHL rookie season last year, Basha was very much a complementary middle-six checker. His high work rate, constant engagement and excellent forechecking tools (edgework, agility, stickwork and technique in puck battles) made him a nightmare for defenders trying to escape his grasp and break the puck out. His blistering speed and powerful stride made him extremely hard to beat to loose pucks on dump-ins, as well. However, this season showed more of what Basha can do with the puck. Smart slip passes off the wall, inside cuts, hard net drives, a whippy in-stride wrister and soft hands around the net combine with Basha’s aforementioned speed and checking tools to give him both a safe floor and the upside to be a complementary second-liner. He ticks a lot of boxes for NHL scouts and GMs.

23. Nikita Artamonov, RW (5-11, 187 lbs) — Torpedo Nizhny  Novgorod (KHL)

Role: Pace-Pusher/Playmaker

Points Potential: 20-40-60

Conservative Points Projection: 12-28-40

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Graham Montgomery –Artamonov has that dog in him, and it must be a border collie, because he is a very smart and cerebral player. He is also one of the harder-working players in the draft, regularly creating turnovers and chances in the offensive zone through hard work. He can be underestimated due to his smaller size, but his physical game is mature enough to hold up in the KHL for an entire season.

He is particularly dangerous off the rush, where he shows off his high-end passing ability. He combines good vision with excellent timing to set up chances in the middle of the ice. He often plays from the perimeter, but is always looking for ways to get pucks to the middle of the ice and he was often successful in setting up shot attempts from the slot. Aside from his passing ability, the rest of his tool kit is rather average. This combined with average-at-best skating and his relatively small size does limit his upside. However, he also comes with a relatively high floor thanks to his strong hockey sense and work rate, giving him a relatively narrow spread of possible outcomes at the NHL level ranging from a playdriving bottom-six forward to a complimentary second liner.

24. Dominik Badinka, RD (6-3, 185 lbs) — Malmö Redhawks (SHL)

Role: Shutdown/Breakout Specialist

Points Potential: 7-28-35

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Seth Ditchfield – He’s a smooth-skating rush defender who plays with the maturity of a 23-year-old veteran, which has unfortunately led many to assume he has a low ceiling. He’s a fundamentally strong breakout passer who has demonstrated a promising offensive ceiling against his peers, yet he adjusts his game to shut down adults more effectively than most in his class. He played many SHL games for Malmö this season and was reliable throughout.

Combining plus-level mobility, impressive physicality, strong defensive habits, reads, and decision-making, as well as pentiant for sparking the breakout with well-thought-out breakout passing habits, Badinka has most of the strengths that make modern defensive specialists excel in the NHL and the playoff environment. He is easily projected in a third-pairing role as a rush defender, but we are optimistic that he can excel as a top-4 transition defender, ideally complementing an offensive defenseman.

25. Sacha Boisvert, C (6-2, 183 lbs) — Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

Role: Power Forward/Facilitator/Finisher.

Points Potential: 35-45-80

Conservative Points Projection: 20-25-45

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years.

David Saad – Boisvert’s profile is very interesting because there are no immediate weaknesses in his profile. He’s a natural, physical two-way center, with a large reach and handling to boot, a dual threat offensively that can work off the rush and on the cycle as a shooting threat/board battler. His physical tools are noteworthy and his power forward game is developed. The concerns start when you watch him move. Boisvert has a very floaty stride and, as a result, doesn’t have the explosiveness to take full advantage of his advanced skillset. Perhaps more concerning, is the lack of vision and scanning habits to acquire the vision he needs to see a hit coming or recognize pressure.

To project Boisvert to the NHL level, is an exercise in optimism and patience. Given time, he projects to fit somewhere in a middle-six, regardless of how much offence arrives. However, the much more realistic outcome is that of a shutdown bottom-six forward. As Boisvert grows into his frame and develops his defensive game further, he may earn himself a spot in an NHL lineup for his reliability and physical play.

26. Alfons Freij, LD (6-0, 197 lbs) — Växjö Lakers (J20 Nationell)

Role: Quarterback

Points Potential: 12-38-50

Conservative Points Projection: 5-20-25

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Sebastian High – The calculated Swedish quarterback from defense has been a favourite of ours all season. There may be no better mover in the entire draft class, as Freij blends 4-way mobility, refined stride mechanics, and efficient routes to get from A to B very well. He’s also a creative puck rusher and breakout passer, creating off the rush like few other blueliners in this class, while also offering flashes of truly high-end playmaking skill in the offensive zone. While he remains a favourite of ours stylistically, we have cooled on his NHL projection. As currently constructed, he is a fantastic player at the J20 level, but he will almost certainly need to adapt his style and approach against professional competition on top of making up ground with his physical and defensive lackings. 

While the upside remains very high – think an entertaining #3 or even #2 defenseman – his floor has him outside the NHL altogether, while the middle-of-the-road projection resembles players of the Nils Lundqvist ilk, which aren’t the most valuable assets come playoff time. So we settled with 26th overall, as the diverging opinions from our staff were almost as wide-ranging as the possible outcomes in Freij’s development.

27. Adam Jiříček, RD (6-2, 167 lbs) — HC Plzeň (Czech Extraliga)

Role: Crusher/Two-Way

Points Potential: 10-30-40

Conservative Points Projection: 7-18-25

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Anni Karvinen — It’ll be interesting to see how high Jiříček will go on draft day. His season was cut short after suffering a knee injury at the WJC, and his play before that was inconsistent and shaky. However, he possesses an extremely intriguing profile as a mobile right-handed defenseman who can both move the puck and keep his own net clear, so we predict he’ll be off the board sooner than his position in our rankings suggests.

Jiříček has the upside to develop into an elite two-way defenseman at the NHL level, who’s extremely tough to play against. The highly competitive defender loves to engage in battles in front of the net and lay punishing hits near the boards. At the junior level, we’ve seen him showcase skill as a puck mover: he can be an efficient puck handler with deceptive shoulder fakes and a creative playmaker who delivers smart cross-ice passes. We’re curious to see which team will bet on his huge upside and what the future holds for Jiříček, as we hope he can stay healthy.

28. Terik Parascak, RW/C (6-0, 179 lbs) — Prince George Cougars (WHL)

Role: Facilitator/Supporter

Points Potential: 25-45-70

Conservative Points Projection: 20-25-40

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Hadi Kalakeche – Parascak hangs onto a first-round spot due to the consistency and reliability he displayed all season. The winger amassed 105 points in 68 games with the Cougars — as a rookie. A prospect taking his first steps in junior hockey and managing to produce that well rarely tends to last long on draft day. He also played on the top power play, the second penalty-kill, and was one of the six attackers rotated at 4-on-4. He played in every scenario on a Cougars team that wasn’t lacking in top-end talent whatsoever.

Everything flows through the processing with Parascak. With his below-par skating stride, he has no business getting open in transition and retrieving dump-ins as well as he does. He has a sixth sense for timing and an ability to sneak around players that make him one of the most efficient play-supporters in this draft, on top of having some alluring puck skills to match. He can shoot the puck accurately in-stride, has some untapped playmaking potential, and can use his handling well in a pinch. A lot of the habits we look for in slower, less-agile prospects are there, too — he moves the puck quickly, rarely keeping it on his stick for more than a second at a time. He uses timing to create with the puck rather than overwhelming opponents. He reads plays in advance instead of using his tools to suppress opponents. What’s also promising in Parascak’s case is that A) skating has become much more fixable than it used to be 10 years ago, and B) if he can fix his stride, his hockey sense would allow him to access previously inaccessible plays. He’ll likely be limited to a complementary role regardless, but could be one of the best two-way facilitators to come out of this class if he is developed properly.

29. Jett Luchanko, C (5-11, 187 lbs) — Guelph Storm (OHL)

Role: Suppressor/Carrier/Forechecker

Points Potential: 25-35-60

Conservative Points Projection: 10-25-35 

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Jordan Harris —  The theme with many first-time draft-eligible OHL players this season was steady improvement throughout the year leading to strong finishes to their seasons, and Luchanko was no exception. On a team Canada U18 World Championship group that severely lacked C depth, players like Luchanko and the next player on our list (Cole Beaudoin), were heavily relied upon to help the team win gold.

Jett lives up to his name as he’s a player who can flat-out fly. A physical freak and workout warrior, Luchanko has speed to burn while his brain and hands can keep up with his feet, something uncommon for younger players with great speed. Luchanko plays a strong two-way game and shows great awareness in his own zone. He’s got enough offensive pop in his game, even if he might not score a ton of goals in the NHL. Look for Luchanko to be an all-situations player at the next level and a breakaway threat on the PK due to his combination of defensive instincts and speed. If he hits, he could top out as a middle-6 C or W.

30. Cole Beaudoin, C (6-2, 210 lbs) — Barrie Colts (OHL)

Role: Retrieval Artist/Checker

Points Potential: 25-25-50

Conservative Points Projection: 20-15-35

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Jordan Harris — Every coach wants a Cole Beaudoin on their team. Similar to Luchanko, Beaudoin is a player with exceptional strength and conditioning, and you see it on the ice too. The only difference is whatever Beaudoin loses in speed to Luchanko, he makes up for it with size and strength. 

At 6’2” 210lbs, Beaudoin is a relentless competitor who never takes a shift off. He is a menace on the forecheck playing a heavy, physical style to win puck battles down low. Beaudoin out-competes and outmuscles his opponents and consistently comes away with the puck. He gets to the middle of the ice and down low, and has enough finishing ability to score from the slot and sides of the net. The defensive side of his game is advanced and he effectively supports his defensemen in his own end and can help facilitate breakouts to get the puck out and down the ice.

Beaudoin isn’t the most skilled playmaker in the draft, but that’s not really what he’ll be called upon to do at the next level. Still, the offensive upside in his game is lacking at this point and could keep him as more of a bottom 6 C. His skating is just okay, but this isn’t something I’m as concerned about given how elite his work ethic and strength and conditioning are. One would have to assume it’s only a matter of time before the skating improves. Overall, Beaudoin plays winning hockey and is captain material.

31. Miguel Marques, C (5-10, 187 lbs) — Lethbridge Hurricanes (WHL)

Role: Pace-Pusher/Facilitator

Points Potential: 25-35-60

Conservative Points Projection: 15-25-40

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Luke Sweeney — If you’re looking for a swing on talent approaching the second round, Marques is a fun gamble. He is simply electric offensively. He has strengths in every area of the offensive end where he’s got tight, quick-twitch hands, a snappy release, excellent vision, and strong shoulder-checking habits. Marques also wins battles along the boards and has a middle-lane focus, creating a lot of chances for himself and teammates. While he’s more of an in-zone creator, Marques is still an excellent transition player. Off the rush, he relies on his passing and skating, acting as more of an initiator or connecter than a finisher. Marques’ delay game is well developed and he does an excellent job of finding teammates in dangerous areas early on in entries. At times, he can take over the game in transition with his dynamic one-on-one ability to dance into the middle of the ice.

Marques’ defensive game has its moments, though it’s definitely the area that suffers the most due to his inconsistency. He doesn’t break up a lot of plays in the defensive zone, but does often off the forecheck, especially when his motor is on — while it isn’t always there game-to-game, it is high-end when he locks in. Unfortunately, this is often not the case, leading to frustration for Marques, a lack of discipline both defensively and in taking penalties, too many individual efforts, and some inattention and laziness. With the right development path, Marques could turn into a high-energy, all-around offensive middle-sixer with checking upside  — but he’ll need a steady hand and a commitment to growth and consistency to make it to the NHL level.

32. Ryder Ritchie, RW (6-0, 177 lbs) — Prince Albert Raiders (WHL)

Role: Creator/Carrier

Points Potential: 25-40-65

Conservative Points Projection: 15-25-40

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Luke Sweeney – Ryder Ritchie started the year as a clear first-rounder but saw his stock slip steadily towards the end of the season thanks to some poor results on the scoresheet. However, we’ve found some reasons to come back around on his projection.

Ritchie has most of the traits you’d look for in an NHL forward. He’s fast and agile with a galloping stride, has a hard shot, high-end puckhandling, and really strong instincts and feel for the game. The problems start to emerge in two key areas: his decision-making and his deception. Overall, Ritchie makes a lot of strong reads, but his decision-making seems slow, leading to turnovers and an inability to plan his attacks and movements far enough ahead of time. This also makes it difficult, regardless of his speed and energy, to win enough puck battles. Ritchie also doesn’t blend enough deception into his game, which combined with his decision-making, leads to a lot of turnovers. Even with these inadequacies, Ritchie has most of the traits to be a complement to high-end middle six player with the potential for more with improved decision-making and habits.

33. Charlie Elick, RD (6-3, 202 lbs) — Brandon Wheat Kings (WHL)

Role: Crusher/Breakout Specialist

Points Potential: 15-25-40

Conservative Points Projection: 10-15-25 

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Luke Sweeney – Elick is the second towering RHD to come out of the WHL this cycle, but with a much more straightforward projectable approach. He does a lot of the things that you’d like a future NHL defenseman to do at a high level. Defensively there are still some kinks to iron out, like working to be more disciplined with his physical game, but at the WHL level he’s still a highly capable rush and in-zone defender. His defensive abilities are also perfectly complemented by his dependable transition abilities. Elick easily transitions defensive zone puck battles and retrievals into exits that spring his teammates up ice. When he has to carry the puck himself, he demonstrates fluid four-way mobility to exit the zone and to move the puck laterally through the neutral zone. Elick’s offensive game also shows some promise—he creates a lot of shots, finds passing lanes efficiently, shows strong puckhandling—but isn’t likely to be a strength moving forward. Overall, he projects as a second pair, matchup defenceman.

34. Aron Kiviharju, LD (5-9, 184 lbs) — TPS (Liiga)

Role: Breakout-Specialist/Playmaker

Points Potential: 10-35-45

Conservative Points Projection: 5-20-25

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Anni Karvinen – It was a tough draft year for Aron Kiviharju. Suffering a major injury early in the season led to him playing in only seven Liiga games. Fortunately for him, he was able to rehabilitate in time for the U18 Worlds and finish his season on a more positive note.

Ranking Kiviharju at 34th on our draft board is certainly a risk, but we are betting on the high upside in his case. At his best, he’s a great transition defender who delivers crisp breakout passes from tape to tape and a smart power play quarterback who can walk the blue line effortlessly and deliver deliberate and deceptive passes. The main development areas for Kiviharju lie in the defensive zone. He tends to avoid physical contact whether he’s defending in the zone or on the rush, and that is something he needs to focus on before he can translate his game to North American ice.

35. Linus Eriksson, C (6-0, 189 lbs) — Djurgårdens IF (HockeyAllsvenskan)

Role: Defensive Ace/Line Connector

Points Potential: 15-30-45

Conservative Points Projection: 10-20-30

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Seth Ditchfield – He’s highly intelligent with a quick shot in motion, playing a safe and reliable game that offers more defensively than offensively. You can trust him to center a third line that focuses on shutting down the opposing team’s top line. He’s proven himself reliable in the playoffs, stepping up significantly and scoring crucial goals, including an OT game-winner at the professional level. His game translates very well to North American hockey. While the offensive upside is limited to a facilitator and connector role, Eriksson’s off-puck strengths and defensive impact provide him with a high floor, and we’re quite confident he will be able to establish himself as a valuable 3rd line pivot.

36. Harrison Brunicke, RD (6-2, 196 lbs) — Kamloops Blazers (WHL)

Role: Suppressor/Chaos Creator

Points Potential: 15-40-55

Conservative Points Projection: 10-20-30

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Hadi Kalakeche – Listed at 6-3, 187 pounds on the Blazers’ website, there were reports that Brunicke had been measured at 5’10 at the combine, but those were quickly disproven (shoutout to Scott Wheeler for righting the ship on that rumor). On the ice, he looks big — and more importantly, he plays big. Mobile and rangy, Brunicke makes quick lunch of rush defense scenarios, turning speedy opponents’ attacks into counter-attacks with his tendency to follow up on his initial disruption, secure the puck, and play it up quickly. Although the points haven’t come — 21 points in 41 games is far from worth writing home about —  there is some sneaky skill in Brunicke’s blue-line play. His sense of timing and his handling skill make him more than capable of beating the first wave of pressure at the point, and he tends to walk in for his chances. He sees space, and he takes it. There’s still quite a lack of control in Brunicke’s habits and decisions, which lends itself to a longer runway. However, the combination of mobility, defensive awareness, physicality and sneaky tools makes Brunicke a more-than-worthwhile early second-rounder, and potentially South Africa’s first citizen to make the NHL.

37. Leon Muggli, LD (6-0, 177 lbs) — EV Zug (NLA)

Role: Distributor/Quarterback

Points Potential: 10-30-40

Conservative Points Projection: 5-20-25

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Seth Ditchfield – He’s my favourite player in the class, and while many project him as a reliable third-pair bet in the NHL with a minimal ceiling, I see more in Muggli. He has demonstrated significant playmaking potential, effectively distributing the puck to high-danger areas under pressure against tough competition. Muggli’s intelligence shines in his game-reading abilities, which are second to none. However, his physical stature currently holds him back. As he bulks up and further develops his skills while playing a major role on a prominent team, we expect his playmaking to take strides. Although he may never be a dynamic player, he’s poised to peak as a reliable producer who coaches can trust in crucial moments. He’s a fairly safe bet to crack an NHL lineup in some capacity, and could rise as high as a versatile 2nd pairing role with steady development.

38. Emil Hemming, RW (6-1, 205 lbs) — TPS (U20 SM-sarja)

Role: Powerforward/Checker/Finisher

Points Potential: 30-30-60

Conservative Points Projection: 20-15-35

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Anni Karvinen – Emil Hemming finds himself at 38th overall in our final rankings. The right-handed power forward has a great set of tools, and we wouldn’t be surprised to see some team take a chance on him in the second half of the first round. Hemming is a goal scorer through and through. His strengths are evident in the offensive zone, where he excels at finding soft ice and putting pucks on the net. During the season, he spent a lot of time with TPS’s Liiga team and was deployed in the bottom six, where he was able to develop as a reliable two-way winger.

The biggest development areas for Hemming concern his decision-making and consistency. During the season, he had a tendency to disappear from the picture from time to time, which happened occasionally even at the U20 level. His game is also quite easy for opponents to read. If he utilized his playmaking more, he’d develop into a more versatile player who could cause even more damage with his great shot.

39. Luke Misa, C (5-10, 174 lbs) — Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

Role: Carrier/Distributor/Pickpocket

Points Potential: 20-40-60

Conservative Points Projection: 10-25-35

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Jordan Harris – Misa enjoyed a really strong season for Mississauga this year which saw him put up 81 points. Luke is an undersized player who’s a late 2005 birthday meaning he’s one of the older first-time draft-eligible players. On a really young Mississauga team, one that has many draft eligibles and a big-time 2025 prospect, Misa was the straw the stirred the drink for the team.

Misa is another player who can fly around the ice. His speed is excellent and the way he can execute maneuvers and passes at top speed is outstanding. He’s a playmaker for Mississauga and does a really good job using his speed to get separation before finding teammates with a pass to create a scoring chance. Luke competes well and is a very willing defender away from the puck.

Outside of the size, there’s a few areas that are lacking in Misa’s game. His shot is just okay and I don’t see him as much of a scoring threat at the next level. He can also play a little bit too much on the perimeter at times, something common for players like him. I do think he’s got an NHL future simply due to his playmaking ability combined with outstanding speed and strong compete level. If all goes well, a bottom 6 winger with playmaking ability is what I see out of Misa.

40. Cole Hutson, LD (5-10, 165 lbs) — USNTDP (USHL)

Role: Facilitator/Creator

Points Potential: 20-35-55

Conservative Points Projection: 10-20-30

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

David Saad – Cole Hutson has given both the critic and the supporter everything they’ve wanted to see out of him this season. For the critic it was a lot of recycled material from his brother. Lack of size, turnstile defensive play, lack of physicality. He relied on calling his number and forcing one-on-one plays. Naturally, that led to plenty of turnovers going the other way and without the motor or high-end vision to anticipate pressure often surrendered unforced odd-man rushes. He doesn’t have the “wow” factor Lane had and as a result was just easier to suppress. Things started to change around the new year. After he came back from a nagging injury in February, Cole quickly started to chain together solid performances. The anticipation that was previously lacking was showing up with frequency. He started developing way better straight-line speed as well as lateral mobility. But most importantly, he was getting much better at assessing risk. When Hutson would attack the zone, it almost always came with a pre-meditated plan in mind and he has the puck handling and playmaking to realize them. All of these culminated beautifully at the U18’s where he stuck his flag as the best offensive defensemen at the tournament.

Which version of Cole Hutson are we more likely to see going forward? It’s unlikely he will ever show the flashes and peaks like his brother but Cole is also a lot less likely to show you the valleys. Maintaining his current trajectory will be key. By going to Boston University, Cole heads to a program already familiar to and with him, and a development staff who already have an intimate understanding of which areas to develop in his game to take him to the next level in impact, consistency, and dynamism.

41. Justin Poirier, RW (5-7, 185 lbs) — Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

Role: Finisher/Pest

Points Potential: 35-35-70

Conservative Points Projection: 25-20-45

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Sasha Lagarde – What is there to say about Justin Poirier’s season that hasn’t been said already: Led the QMJHL in goals with 51 in 68 games, scoring 18 goals in 17 playoff games all while joining Sidney Crosby as the last 17-year-old to score at least 50 goals in a season in the QMJHL. With all these accolades, who would think Poirier would be a slam-dunk first-rounder. There are some parts of his game that need immediate attention such as his inside-driven play, the lack of manipulation and explosiveness. With that being said, Poirier has one of the best shots/releases in this draft class and has proven to score in a multitude of ways. His small stature will be a topic of discussion among a lot of teams come draft day but if a team wants to draft a potent scorer in the 2nd round of the draft, it is hard to find a better option than Poirier. He is definitely a first-round talent that will have to prove his worth at every rank due to his lack of height but I would never count out Poirier; He has been proving people wrong his whole career thus far. If he can develop a secondary layer to his offense such as a consistent playmaking game and his improving physical tools, there is huge value upside here.

42. Henry Mews, RD (6-0, 189 lbs) — Ottawa 67’s (OHL)

Role: Carrier/Distributor

Points Potential: 20-30-50

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Jordan Harris — Mews is an offensively slanted defender who skates quite well and distributes the puck effectively. He put up nearly a point per game on an Ottawa team that doesn’t generate a ton of offense from its blueline. Mews moves the puck well and can make a good first pass or skate the puck up in transition. He times his pinches well and can sneak down low from the blueline as a passing option and put the puck in the back of the net.

I’ve struggled envisioning where Mews fits in the NHL. The size is just okay. His offense is pretty good, but it’s not as good as some of the other players in the draft. Additionally, he has real defensive deficiencies, especially defending the front of the net. The hope for Mews is that he can take a step forward in both ends of the ice in order to solidify his potential as a PP2 QB and middle-pair defenseman in the NHL.

43. Jesse Pulkkinen, LD (6-6, 219 lbs) — JYP (Liiga)

Role: Carrier/Creator

Points Potential: 15-35-50

Conservative Points Projection: 7-18-25

NHL Timeline: 2-4 years

Anni Karvinen – The term unicorn gets thrown around quite loosely when it comes to NHL prospects, but Jesse Pulkkinen is someone it actually applies to. The 6-foot-6, 216-pound defender has a truly unique profile with his size and reach combined with his fluid edgework and great puck-handling ability.

With his intriguing upside come some risks as well. As a confident puck handler, Pulkkinen has a habit of skating himself into trouble every once in a while, which tends to lead to a couple of critical turnovers per game. His stride frequency is also quite low, which hasn’t been too big of a problem in European rinks but could play a bigger role on North American ice. The steep development curve of the surprisingly emerged draft re-entry can be partly explained by the fact that Pulkkinen started training more professionally only last summer. It’ll be extremely interesting to see who takes a swing on his great potential.

44. Sam O’Reilly, C (6-1, 184 lbs) — London Knights (OHL)

Role: Play-killer/Facilitator

Points Potential: 20-35-55

Conservative Points Projection: 15-20-35

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Hadi Kalakeche — O’Reilly’s impressive OHL playoffs performances for London earned him a decent jump in our rankings. The intelligent and energetic center upped the ante and showcased some clutch genes in that playoff run, whether that was through some refined positioning to stop a high-danger pass defensively, or scoring a key goal offensively.

Incredibly aware and always occupying the right spots, O’Reilly is one of those sneaky-skill forwards who play down the lineup and make key plays in key moments. That was his role for London, and that’ll likely be his role in the NHL. Although the skating is sub-par, his hockey sense and playmaking skill help him stay not only effective, but capable of making a difference in games, on top of having some kick to his physical game. O’Reilly has all the makings of an NHL third-liner and top penalty-killer — a player you can trust. It wouldn’t be a shocker to see him picked as high as the late first round.

45. Lucas Pettersson, C (5-11, 173 lbs) — MoDo J20 (J20-Nationell)

Role: Two-Way/ Pace-Pusher/Carrier

Points Potential: 20-40-60

Conservative Points Projection: 10-20-30

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Seth Ditchfield –  For my money, he’s one of the quickest players in the class, both on his feet and in his head. While his hands can’t keep up with his feet, his brain certainly can, making plays at top speed that suggest he was playing in the wrong league this year. He’s extremely easy to slot into your bottom-six as a speedy defensive forward, though he has shown in flashes that he can dominate a shift. If he can make these inconsistencies consistent, there could quite easily be a second-liner here. For now, I project him as a mobile, 200ft third-line center.

46. Tanner Howe, LW/C (5-10, 184 lbs) — Regina Pats (WHL)

Role: Buzzsaw/Pest

Points Potential: 20-30-50 

Conservative Points Projection: 15-15-30

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Luke Sweeney – If Tanner Howe can crack the NHL level, he’s a surefire bet to make a ton of fans along the way. Although somewhat undersized, he plays with enough energy, tenacity, physicality, and good habits to more than make up for it. Howe had a productive year, thanks to a strong balance between rush and in-zone offence, though he comes by them in different ways. In-zone, Howe is a strong possession player who battles through lots of contact along the boards and in front of the net. Off the rush, he uses his skating, puckhandling and decent playmaking to create entries and create chances for himself and his linemates. The major throughline in every aspect of his game is his driven, competitive approach, particularly in getting to the netfront. Howe’s tenacious mentality should bring him success in a middle-six role with a chance to uncover some of the higher offensive ceiling he showcased as Bedard’s running mate.

47. John Mustard, LW (6-1, 186 lbs) — Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL)

Role: Carrier/Finisher

Points Potential: 30-30-60

Conservative Points Projection: 15-20-35

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

David Saad – Mustard brings some of the most tantalizing individual skill in the draft… and that’s about it. For most of the year, Mustard was a really high-speed transition player that relied on beating you with speed and his devastating cuts and crossovers to buy him just enough time to get his shot off. It was a simple stratagem but my word was it a good one. He had the wheels to go and collect his rebounds and establish possession and time for his teammates to join him.

The lack of physical tools and overall hockey sense is definitely noted, but Mustard has made noticeable attempts to shore up those weaknesses and incorporating it into his style of play. He’s still getting the hang of it and the interim results haven’t been pretty, but he’s definitely trying. Factor in that he was a USHL rookie and one of the youngest players in this year’s draft and you get a bit of an explanation for his current state. He’s a project for the time being, but an interesting one, who should be given plenty of runway.

48. Julius Miettinen, LW (6-3, 201 lbs) — Everett Silvertips (WHL)

Role: Forechecker/Play Extender

Points Potential: 20-30-50

Conservative Points Projection: 10-20-30

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Luke Sweeney —Julius Miettinen has made a lot of fans over the course of the season, and it’s not just because he’s 6’3. What stood out early in the year and what has remained a strength for Miettinen is his forechecking ability. He wins a lot of pucks back, combining his superior reach with stickchecking skills and solid speed and agility to win puck races. The two strengths that have developed the most for Miettinen are his playmaking and netfront abilities. Miettinen looks to feed the slot constantly and, by the end of the year, was finding much more success adding pre-pass deception and increasing his success rate. At the netfront, Miettinen was initially successful by parking himself there, creating havoc and deflecting shots, but he’s diversified his toolkit in that area to make more surprising, difficult passes and slippery dangle attempts. As it stands, Miettinen projects as a smooth skating, do-it-all bottom-six piece with some offensive upside, particularly in a PP2 netfront role.

49. EJ Emery, RD (6-3, 183 lbs) — USNTDP (USHL)

Role: Rush suppressor

Points Potential: 10-20-30

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Hadi Kalakeche – If it were up to me alone, Emery would be higher in our rankings — but we’re a team, and everyone had their thoughts on him. The concern has been the same all year long: where’s the offense? The answer to that depends on how much more Emery can add to his breakout game. A freak multi-sport athlete who absolutely crushed the NHL combine testing, Emery uses his mobility and reach to stifle opposing rushes better than anyone not named Anton Silayev in this draft — and even then, there are arguments in his favor. I’ve grown more and more fond of his ability to turn those neutral-zone break-ups into offensive rushes for his team with a smart pass. In-zone, he goes from boxing out the net-front to suppressing the cycle in one leap, and times his interventions very well. Personally, I think the lack of offense is a decisional issue. Emery played very little with Cole Hutson this year, who would’ve likely enticed Emery to jump into pockets of space in the offensive zone more frequently. As he climbs the ranks, opportunities to explore his offensive game will become more and more frequent. Even without adding to his offensive skillset, the defensive game alone should carry Emery to a third-pair role in the NHL.

50. Luke Osburn, LD (6-1, 172 lbs) — Youngstown (USHL)

Role: Facilitator/Pressure Diffusor

Points Potential: 15-25-40

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

David Saad – Osburn is right around where we left him in Youngstown. The USHL playoffs were not kind to him as the Phantoms tried to split the ice-time between all 3 pairings, yet still, Osburn stood out in the minutes he played. The confidence Osburn displayed was genuinely remarkable. The offensive mindset he committed to towards the end of the regular season was starting to show its head more frequently but it seldom came at the cost of is defensive workload.

In contrast to fellow USHL rookie John Mustard, Osburn’s play comes from the details. His ability to constantly keep his feet moving, read lanes and slip passes in-motion is among some of the more impressive bodies of work the draft has to offer. As Osburn likely returns to Youngstown next year, look for him to exercise more of his showmanship as he further immerses himself into the speed of USHL play.

51. Adam Kleber, RD (6-5, 215 lbs) — Lincoln (USHL)

Role: Crusher/Suppressor

Points Potential: 15-20-35

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

David Saad – If there was one player who benefitted from the USHL playoffs, it would be Adam Kleber. The 6’5 defenseman was instrumental to the Stars’ upset sweep of Waterloo, sure, but he was sliding throughout the 2nd round. While the Stars would get swept by 2nd seed Sioux City, Kleber led the Stars in ice-time and was on the ice for virtually every chance the Stars generated, including scoring contributions on 2 of the team’s cumulative 5 goals that series.

There’s a lot for NHL teams to like about him, he’s big, he’s physical, sure; but he’s got a strong fire to chip-in offensively. It gives him more tangible upside than the 6 shutdown guy he’s projected as, even if that’s his likely destination anyway. Dare to dream that there’s a team that sees there’s something to work with here and Kleber might prove himself to be something special yet.

52. Ben Danford, RD (6-1, 191 lbs) — Oshawa Generals (OHL)

Role: Suppressor/Play-killer

Points Potential: 10-20-30

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Jordan HarrisDanford might not play the most exciting game, but he’s an incredibly predictable defender, in a good way. Danford defends at an advanced level for his age. He kills plays against the rush and in front of his net with a combination of an active stick, good positioning, and physicality. Danford boasts good size at just a bit under 6’2” and 190 lbs, and skates well. 

Danford is not much of an offensive threat. In fact, he only has five goals in 127 OHL regular season games. He seems to move the puck and distribute reasonably well which might lead to some assists at the next level, but I don’t see a player who will show up on the scoresheet much at all. Still, there are spots in an NHL lineup for players like Danford. Coaches love a right-handed defenseman with size, who skates well, and defends at a high level. Those types of players tend to have lengthy careers, and Danford could end up having one, too.

53. Marek Vanacker, LW (6-0, 170 lbs) — Brantford Bulldogs (OHL)

Role: Finisher/Facilitator

Points Potential: 25-30-55

Conservative Points Projection: 15-20-35

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Jordan HarrisVanacker is a very skilled winger who improved leaps and bounds from his rookie season in the OHL. He led the Brantford Bulldogs in scoring by 16 points. Vanacker is a player who really picks his spots well. He does an effective job identifying when to attack all while having the requisite skills and finishing ability to score. He’s an effective distributor of the puck but can also shoot and score from medium range. Vanacker is a threat off the rush with his speed and handling ability to get past defenders.

Vanacker isn’t the biggest player and you can see he’s on the weaker side physically. Additionally, he’s got a lot of work to do away from the puck and in his own end. The combination of being a smaller player and lacking defensively prevented Vanacker from being higher on our list. If he hits, he could be a top 6 winger because the skill is really good, not sure what his options are if his offense doesn’t carry him to at the next level. 

*Note: After this report was written, and right around publishing, it came out that Vanacker had played the majority of the season with a torn labrum. This would likely explain some of the deficiencies in his game noted above.

54. Yegor Surin, C/RW (6-1, 192 lbs) — Loko Yaroslavl (MHL)

Role: Carrier/Creator/Pace-Pusher

Points Potential: 25-40-65

Conservative Points Projection: 15-20-35

NHL Timeline: 3-5 years

Graham Montgomery – A frustrating player to watch, Surin is a pest in the best way, but also the worst way possible. His skill set can match that of many players projected to go in the 1st round, but his hockey sense and style of play are big marks against him. While being a pest can make a player very effective in the right circumstances, Surin frequently crosses the line, making himself more of a net negative than anything else. Furthermore, he often chooses a selfish style of play, holding onto pucks too long or trying to make a remarkable individual effort instead of making the more simple play. The right development program could turn Surin into a bona fide top-six NHLer, but there is a lot of risk with his playstyle as he currently still has a lot of junior hockey habits in his game.

55. Dean Letourneau, C (6-6, 214 lbs) — St. Andrew’s College (PHC)

Role: Power forward/Improvisor

Points Potential: 30-40-70

Conservative Points Projection: 15-20-35

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Hadi Kalakeche — Letourneau’s range is massive — not only physically, but in terms of outcomes. For a 6-6 player, his hands and feet blend surprisingly well. Playing at the U18 AAA level this season and scoring 127 points in 56 games makes projecting his skill plays to the NHL much more difficult, but in isolation, there’s a surprising level of translatability to his transition game. He’s got the skill to beat defenders one-on-one, can drop the shoulder and drive the net, and handled the more straightforward defensive scenarios of that league with ease and excellence. Letourneau is still unsurprisingly awkward on the ice, though, and will need to improve his reads and habits on both ends to handle more complex sequences. The good news is that he is pushing up his NCAA arrival date by a year and will be joining Boston College next season, meaning we’ll have a clearer idea much sooner of both his floor and his ceiling. Right now, there’s a chance he never sees a day in the NHL, but there’s also a small chance he becomes a top-six unicorn. Everything in between is more likely, but still up in the air.

56. Clarke Caswell, LW/C (5-11, 170 lbs) — Swift Current Broncos (WHL)

Role: Creator/Play Extender

Points Potential: 15-40-55

Conservative Points Projection: 10-20-30 

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Luke Sweeney — Clarke Caswell is one of those players who does everything right outside of the physical game. That might not sound like a ringing endorsement, but Caswell is one of the best pure playmakers in the class with plenty of other highly translatable skills to boot. His intelligence and general feel for the game serve him well in a variety of situations, whether that be making difficult passes to high-danger areas, arriving in key spots to receive a pass, picking up a rebound or generating a takeaway, or reading the flow and pressure to make delays, cross-ice plays and cutbacks. Caswell’s biggest flaws stem from his slight frame and a somewhat one-dimensional offensive game. He is solid on the puck, but will need to add strength to be effective at higher levels. Caswell is also an unbelievably selective shooter, and without some added diversity, he might find offence harder to come by in the NHL. Nevertheless, with his transition game, smarts and habits, Caswell projects as a third-line playmaking center.

57. Tomáš Galvas, LD (5-10, 153 lbs) — Bílí Tygři Liberec (Czech Extraliga)

Role: Creator/Quarterback

Points Potential: 10-30-40

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Seth Ditchfield – Galvas comes with significant risk. He struggled against U18 competition, is very small, and is easily pushed around defensively without the necessary stick skills or awareness to make up for it. However, at this draft position, you aim for upside, and Galvas offers plenty. He plays at a high pace, is flashy in the offensive zone, and handles pressure well against tough competition, even outplaying Jiricek in the same league at the same time. If he reaches his potential, you have a top-4, transition offensive defenseman who, while probably not quarterbacking a power play, could produce 5-on-5. If he doesn’t… There’s little in the way of a fallback game.

58. Tarin Smith, LD (6-1, 187 lbs) — Everett Silvertips (WHL)

Role: Creator/Quarterback

Points Potential: 15-35-50

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Luke Sweeney – Tarin Smith is another exciting offensive defenseman out of the WHL. He is an above-average skater but loves to activate and can pull out tons of nifty puckhandling moves to evade defenders. While Smith has a strong shot (and had a bit of a penchant for simply slinging pucks on net earlier in the year) Smith creates a lot of offence from making plays into dangerous areas around the net. Defensively, Smith is solid at the WHL level, but isn’t spectacular in any area, so this doesn’t project to be a strength at the next level, more like average. Overall, a bottom-four, puck-mover with some offensive pop is well within the cards for Smith.

59. Carter George, G (6-1, 194 lbs) — Owen Sound Attack (OHL)

Role: NHL Starter

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Colin Hunter – Our top-ranked goalie all year retains his spot in the final rankings, solidified by a strong U-18 performance for Canada. While he may not have one standout attribute, he does essentially everything at an above-average level. His skating mechanics are sharp, he anticipates play and shooters well, very rarely suffers technique breakdown, and has the athletic ability to recover when necessary. He isn’t huge by any means, but his 6’1 frame combined with a relatively upright stance give us little reason for concern.

60. Brodie Ziemer, RW (5-11, 196 lbs) — USNTDP (USHL)

Role: Checker/Supporter

Points Potential: 20-30-50

Conservative Points Projection: 15-15-30

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

David Saad – If you are wondering how a line that was composed two-thirds 5’10 skill players were able to function, NTDP Captain Brodie Ziemer was the answer. Ziemer’s game was all about tilting the ice for his high-skilled teammates to get cooking. This usually took the form of chasing pucks, battling on the boards, and challenging puck carriers; but he never did so blindly. He had this reflexive, unconscious knowledge for what the subsequent play should be and how to execute it.

He’s got a few offensive tools to play with including a nasty toe drag and some good quick touch plays, but he’s probably not a driver at the NHL level. Instead, you are betting on his work ethic and character to turn out a useful bottom-six role player. The NTDP captain has work to do, but has regularly shown his willingness to put in the work, and his commitment to improving is well-documented. He’s a true gamer.

61. Ilya Nabokov, G (6-0, 179 lbs) — Magnitogorsk (KHL)

Role: NHL Starter

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Colin Hunter – It’s not often that teams have a chance to draft the KHL playoff MVP and rookie of the year. Enter 21-year-old Ilya Nabokov. The 6’1 Nabokov uses a combination of strong lateral movement and excellent positional reads to stay ahead of shooters and get set before the puck is released. He is fluid in his technique, moving quickly and efficiently into position wherever the play takes him. He can be prone to tracking breakdown and some poor rebounds, but a team looking to add a goalie further down their developmental pathway would do well by selecting Nabokov.

62. Ryerson Leenders, G (6-0, 165 lbs) — Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)

Role: Rotational NHL Starter

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Colin Hunter – Perhaps the most discussed goaltender in this year’s draft, Leenders comes in as our third-ranked netminder. Leenders leans on play reading, patience, and athletic ability to stay with shooters and give himself a chance on every shot. He’s a highly consistent and competitive goaltender, attributes that will surely be valued come draft day.

63. Noel Fransen, LD (6-0, 183 lbs) — Färjestad BK (J20-Nationell)

Role: Creator/Carrier/Quarterback

Points Potential: 15-35-50

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Seth Ditchfield – He’s a defenseman who brings his value within the blue paint, showcasing a potent shot, above-average vision, and creative abilities, along with a fluid skating stride. While his goal-scoring totals have been impressive, the rest of his game hasn’t quite reached first-round draft calibre. Currently, his contributions are limited to one zone, but within that zone, his impact is massive. To improve his game, especially in a system that values defensive skills, he will need to improve his defensive play and bulk up.

64. Tomas Mrsic, C (5-11, 170 lbs) — Medicine Hat (WHL)

Role: Creator/Finisher

Points Potential: 20-30-50

Conservative Points Projection: 15-15-30

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Luke Sweeney – If somewhat unacknowledged, Tomas Mrsic performed at a high level all year, highlighted by 18 points in his final 16 regular season games. Mrsic has a compact, powerful stride, a hard, deceptive shot, and strong playmaking vision, making him a versatile complimentary offensive creator. Though he is poor defensively, his high-end, high-pace offensive game make him a strong candidate to carve out a bottom-six scoring role at higher levels.

65. Topias Hynninen, C/LW (5-10, 164 lbs) — Jukurit (Liiga)

Role: Checker/Pace-Pusher/Playmaker

Points Potential: 12-38-50

Conservative Points Projection: 8-17-25

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Topias Hynninen is a name we will follow closely come next season. The versatile Finnish forward spent most of his season with Jukurit’s Liiga team, where he was deployed as a bottom-six forechecking winger. The game tape from the U20 level showcased more of his excellent playmaking ability, and we think his official Liiga breakout in a point-producing role could come very soon.

Hynninen plays a game that could translate to North American ice quite seamlessly. He’s quick on his feet, and he sees the ice well. In the couple of games he played on the same line with Helenius, he was able to showcase his ability to play with skilled players as the Finnish duo utilized a lot more quick passing plays and give-and-goes. Even if Hynninen doesn’t make the NHL as a top-nine forward, he could become an important bottom-six player. Hynninen is a tenacious forechecker who’s not afraid to battle along the boards and recover pucks.

66. Maxim Massé, RW (6-2, 190 lbs) — Chicoutimi Saguenéens (QMJHL)

Role: Supporter/Facilitator

Points Potential: 20-30-50

Conservative Points Projection: 10-15-25

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Sasha Lagarde – Massé was named the Top Prospect in the QMJHL (Mike Bossy Trophy) but struggled to implement himself as a consistent contributor this season for Chicoutimi. He has all the tools to be an effective top-9 player especially if given the correct environment to thrive in. His skating is below average and will present a massive hurdle for him at the pro ranks. However, Massé still possesses an inside-driven game with the ability to work the puck off the wall or maintain a cycle below the icing line with ease. His best tool is still his shot but he will have to learn how to get into soft ice in order to receive passes during even-strength play and continue to work on his spatial awareness/off-puck habits. All in all, Massé could develop into an impactful top-9 winger with a significant impact on the powerplay but will have to overcome some serious skating issues before that can become a reality. We are really excited to see what Massé can do while on a line with better players as he has shown success in international tournaments for that exact reason.

67. Leo Sahlin Wallenius, LD (6-0, 180 lbs) — Växjö Lakers (J20 Nationell)

Role: Carrier/Quarterback

Points Potential: 10-35-45

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Seth Ditchfield – Here’s a guy who could be a few spots higher or lower. He could translate a bit more favourably to the North American game than other Swedish blueliners in this class like Freij and Fransen due to his stronger physical play. However, his low hockey sense is a significant drawback, making him a player we’ve been increasingly skeptical of as a valuable NHL prospect. He’s a transition defender who is among the best pure skaters and passers in the class, and one of the safest players in the offensive zone. The downside is that he can play like a pylon in his own end… Worth the risk?

68. Heikki Ruohonen, C (6-1, 204 lbs) — Kiekko-Espoo (U20 SM-Sarja)

Role: Defensive Specialist/Playmaker/Checker

Points Potential: 15-30-45

Conservative Points Projection: 10-15-25

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

David Saad – Ruohonen was sidelined with injury since our last check-in, but that didn’t stop him from having himself a really impressive showing at the U18s. Ruohonen contributed 3 goals and 5 points, one falling on every game. This was despite, clearly playing injured, being mostly in a bottom-six role, and having less than ten minutes of ice-time in two of those games. Ruohonen consistently impressed, and soared from Line 4 to Line 2 on the Finnish team, culminating in Ruohonen scoring the only goal in the 2-1 elimination loss to Sweden.

Most of Ruohonen’s points come through hard work rather than raw skill and is unlikely to change his current projection. Still, the habits and work ethic provide a great basis to work on. If the flashes of skill Ruohonen has shown can be built on, his top 9 upside can become a lot more tangible. He will have a great opportunity to immediately take the reins at Harvard University as he makes the jump to North American ice next season.

69. Matvei Gridin, LW (6-1, 189 lbs) — Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)

Role: Creator/Connector

Points Potential: 20-45-65

Conservative Points Projection: 10-15-25

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

David Saad – Matvei Gridin has done little to assuage the paper-tiger allegations during the USHL playoffs. A lot of his strengths remain. He’s an exceptional passer, that has incorporated some useful physical tools and is a force to be reckoned with on the power-play due to his on-ice vision. What keeps earning Gridin sour looks is his wavering engagement. Things are great when the scoring is coming but Gridin rarely impacts the game consistently enough to create things himself. While the pace he plays at serves him for the time being, he will need to add more professional habits if he hopes to be an impact player in the NCAA.

70. Simon Zether, C (6-3, 176 lbs) — Rögle (SHL)

Role: Defensive Ace/Checker/Net-Front Specialist

Points Potential: 15-20-35

Conservative Points Projection: 10-10-20

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Seth Ditchfield –Many have soured on Zether, but I still see some potential. He’s fundamentally strong with exceptional defensive awareness. He doesn’t engage intensely in puck battles, yet he holds a high success rate and excels in tight spaces due to his adept puckhandling. His significant role as a defensive forward during Rögle’s surprising run to the finals showcased his abilities well. To become a penalty-killing, defensive forward at the NHL level, he’ll need to improve his skating. However, I believe there’s untapped offensive potential, especially considering how effectively he drives the slot and distributes the puck.

71. Kamil Bednarik, C (6-0, 187 lbs) — USNTDP (USHL)

Role: Suppressor/Checker

Points Potential: 15-25-40

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

David Saad – As the season has worn on, Bednarik has constantly made developments you would expect of a shutdown center. He has a high level of defensive awareness that influences every decision and it leads to him being a solid bottom-six projectable checking forward that you want on every PK. While the flashes of playmaking have become rarer, Bednarik seems to be finding his role and running with it. If he can add some swiftness to his already solid motor, there’s no reason to believe that he can’t realize that potential.

72. Ollie Josephson, C/LW (6-0, 190 lbs) — Red Deer (WHL)

Role: Suppressor/Forechecker

Points Potential: 15-25-40

Conservative Points Projection:  10-10-20

NHL Timeline: 3.4 years

Luke Sweeney – Ollie Josephson did basically everything right this year except score. He’s fast and forces the game to play at his speed, winning puck races, zipping through the neutral zone in transition, forechecking hard, and harassing opponents in the defensive zone.  The offence is still a work in progress. Josephson doesn’t create a lot of shots either way, though his shot selection is solid and is efficient in hitting his passes. It’s not likely Josephson will have much to offer offensively in the NHL, but the path to being a hard-working, defensive forward in an NHL bottom six is there.

73. Adam Jecho, RW (6-5, 201 lbs) — Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

Role: Net-driver/Finisher

Points Potential: 20-25-45

Conservative Points Projection: 10-15-25

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Luke Sweeney – Adam Jecho has a plethora of physical tools, but whether he can put all that together into a cohesive package is yet to be seen. Jecho’s a huge forward with strong skating abilities (even if his stride is a little light for his size), decent puckhandling and a strong wrist shot. However, Jecho’s offensive toolkit comes with limitations, and he doesn’t use his size or have the habits to be as effective of a 200ft player. Jecho’s poor vision and playmaking abilities hold him back from elevating his teammates and a lack of dynamism and ability to separate prevent him from being a true shot creator either. On top of that, Jecho is not much of a defensive stalwart either, not showing the level of speed, positioning or energy necessary to be an effective disruptor on the forecheck. There’s plenty to work with for Adam Jecho, but he’s still very raw and will require a focused development approach.

74. Jack Pridham, RW (6-1, 177 lbs) — West Kelowna (BCHL)

Role: Forechecker/Play extender

Points Potential: 20-30-50

Conservative Points Projection: 10-25-35

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Hadi Kalakeche – Our only ranked BCHLer, Pridham is one of those rare safe, projectable picks out of the Junior A level. A refined forechecker with the edgework to keep up with even the most mobile defenders when clogging the breakout, Pridham applies pressure on carriers intelligently, presenting his stick on one side of the defender before looping around the other side of them with the right timing to dislodge the puck. He isn’t afraid to use his shoulders to knock pucks loose, either. The one area that gives him offensive upside is how he creates through the offensive zone turnovers he causes. Outside of that, his transition game is interesting, if simplistic, but his shot isn’t a true weapon from mid-range, and he tends to chase plays rather than let them develop. Still, there’s a real chance Pridham becomes an efficient third-liner given enough time to round out his offensive skillset.

75. Javon Moore, LW (6-4, 203 lbs) — Minnetonka High (USHS-MN)

Role: Pace-Pusher/Power Forward

Points Potential: 25-35-60

Conservative Points Projection: 10-15-25

NHL Timeline: 5-6 years

David Saad – Javon Moore is a monster when it comes to pure athletic prowess. The nearly 6’5, 200-pound winger walks over defenders in the Minnesota High School Circuit. There’s little doubt that he’s one of the fastest, strongest and most skilled players at that level. The concerns with Moore largely revolve around how unproven he is at higher levels of competition and the very junior-level approach to the game he has. Nevertheless, the stats in his profile provide a great basis to work with and he has numerous NHL paths even if the road is murky at the moment.

76. Alexander Zetterberg, C/RW (5-7, 158 lbs) — Örebro (J20 Nationell)

Role: Creator/Carrier/Dynamo

Points Potential: 20-45-65

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 5-6 years

Seth Ditchfield –You always have to be wary of European prospects who produce well on offensive J20 teams, but I don’t see that concern with Zetterberg. Every time he steps on the ice, whether it’s in league games or international tournaments, he’s the best player on his team. He brings an incredible playmaking vision to the table, a dangerous one-timer, fluid skating, and a strong possession game. He’s a powerplay merchant, thriving as a versatile multi-tool threat. He can play all 3 forward positions, and his defense is adequate. The negative? He’s 5-7. He’s often outmuscled, and early in the season he didn’t work hard enough to make up for that, but he grew leaps and bounds as the season went along. His time at Boston University should be focused on developing his skating to fulfill his potential as a top-9 powerplay producer.

77. Anthony Romani, C/RW (6-0, 184 lbs) — North Bay (OHL)

Role: Finisher/Facilitator

Points Potential: 25-30-55

Conservative Points Projection: 15-20-35

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Hadi Kalakeche – After going undrafted last year, Romani’s eclosion this season has been remarkable. He remains fairly limited by his average skating and physical tools, but the amount of translatable habits he’s added to his offensive game are why he finished the season as the OHL’s top goal-scorer with 58, and second behind 2022 second-rounder David Goyette in points with 111. It all starts in the defensive zone — Romani turns hard back-checks and smart off-puck interventions into quick-up plays, whether that’s a bomb of a stretch pass or a small give-and-go to jumpstart the play. His shot is great, but the reason he racked up so many goals is how effective he’s become at finding space in the offensive zone, timing his routes to the slot to perfection, and fighting for body positioning at the net-front.  He’s got his limitations, but his third-line upside makes Romani well worth a third-round shot this time around.

78. Daniil Ustinkov, LD (6-0, 198 lbs) — Zürich SC (NLA)

Role: Carrier/Quarterback

Points Potential: 10-35-45

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Seth Ditchfield – He’s a case of talent versus execution. Ustinkov is a fantastic skater, capable of transitioning better than most in his class, with a strong frame that he uses effectively to defend against rushes. However, his tendency to overcomplicate plays—often choosing fancy maneuvers over simpler, more effective actions— relegated him to being arguably the fourth-best defenseman on the Swiss U18 roster. Despite this, his potential to develop into a ‘Jake Muzzin’ style 200ft player is there, provided he can crank up his competitiveness and decision-making under pressure.

79. Veeti Väisänen, LD (6-0, 188 lbs) — KooKoo (Liiga)

Role: Suppressor/Facilitator

Points Potential: 10-25-35

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Anni Karvinen – Veeti Väisänen is easy to miss on the ice, which is both a good and a bad thing. He plays a reliable defensive game, closing gaps and stifling opponents quite efficiently. He isn’t afraid to play physically and likes to throw hits occasionally. He’s the opposite of flashy, but he does a lot of simple stuff really well. The fact that he was able to play that simple and sound game against pro competition in Liiga will definitely boost his ranking. However, his game on the puck left a lot to be desired, even when he was playing at the U20 level or with the U18 national team where he was deployed as a power play quarterback. Väisänen can get the puck to the net and pinch near the boards to keep the pressure alive in the offensive zone, but his overall offensive game lacks creativity. That’s why it’s hard to see a puck-moving defenseman’s job in the NHL in his future. His balanced overall game and great skating will make him a good bet to play at least some games in the show.

80. Eemil Vinni, G (6-3, 187 lbs) — JoKP (Mestis)

Role: Rotational NHL Starter

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Colin Hunter – Vinni’s draft year statistics aren’t going to blow you away. Thrust into a starting role in a men’s league, he struggled at times. But watch Vinni play, and the tools that make him an intriguing prospect are evident. He is very active in the crease, aggressively challenging shooters and relying on his strong lateral movement and recovery abilities to keep himself in position. However, his tracking on medium-low danger chances can cause issues – both in the form of goals and rebounds.

81. Luca Marrelli, RD (6-1, 185 lbs) — Oshawa (OHL)

Role: Rush Suppressor/Breakout Passer

Points Potential: 10-25-35

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Jordan Harris — Marrelli’s production suggests a higher-end offensive defenseman, while his traits and game tape suggest he could end up being more of a shutdown defender at the next level. Despite the point totals, the offensive creation and instincts, are a bit lacking, and I didn’t see many big plays from him in my viewings.

What I did see was an excellent rush defender with good size at 6’2” and about 190 lbs who moves well. Similar to his teammate, Ben Danford, Marrelli is likely to be coveted by NHL teams looking for a depth defender on the right side of the defense. If he can become a little bit more physical, Marrelli looks to project as a nice bottom-pair defender.

82. Brendan McMorrow, LW (5-11, 190 lbs) — USNTDP (USHL)

Role: Spark plug/Forechecker

Points Potential: 15-25-40

Conservative Points Projection: 10-20-30

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Hadi Kalakeche – McMorrow brings energy in spades to each game he plays. He joined the NTDP U18 squad with a point to prove, and he proved it. Primarily utilized in bottom-six, role-oriented situations, the high-motor forward still managed to showcase some sneaky skill. From smart slip passes under opponents’ sticks, to inside cuts in transition, to astounding hand-eye coordination, McMorrow ended up leaving a strong impression with our scouting team. There are legitimate, NHL-translatable tools and habits in his game, on top of some impressive vision. Headed to Denver next season as well, joining one of the best programs in the NCAA doesn’t harm his chances, either.  There is an overflow of checking forwards in this range of the draft, but McMorrow has enough baseline skill to possibly separate himself from the pack and attain a third-line role in the NHL.

83. Raoul Boilard, C (6-1, 189 lbs) — Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)

Role: Faceoff Specialist/Suppressor

Points Potential: 15-25-40

Conservative Points Projection: 10-15-25 

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Sasha Lagarde – Boilard had a very strong start to his season but tapered off towards the end, losing ice time and struggling to produce offensively. He is known for his excellent faceoff skills while being defensively responsible in all three zones but lacks dynamism altogether in his skillset. He has a great set of hands in tight spaces, especially in front of the net, and has solid off-puck habits to be able to adjust to different levels of competition. His ability to link plays for his teammates is what makes him so versatile, especially in transition and off the wall in the offensive zone. There is a question mark surrounding Boilard’s potential ceiling due to his lack of physical engagement, dynamism and shot threat but he has a sneaky toolkit of skills that can make him a valuable bottom-6 option for teams looking for center depth.

84. Spencer Gill, RD (6-4, 186 lbs) — Rimouski (QMJHL)

Role: Rush Suppressor/Breakout Passer

Points Potential: 10-25-35

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15 

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Sasha Lagarde – Spencer Gill had a very solid season for the Oceanic, accumulating 46 points in 65 games while skating heavy minutes as Rimouski’s number 1 defenseman. Gill has improved his gap control and in-zone defense quite a bit by using his reach and frame to angle opposing skaters away from the danger areas while being able to chip in offensively. Even though Gill doesn’t project as a high-octane contributor, his ability to move the puck efficiently up the ice will be of value for teams looking for a steady, right-handed defenseman with a respectable defensive game and improved transition tools.

85. Fyodor Avramov, LW (6-3, 190 lbs) — Kapitan Stupino (MHL)

Role: Finisher/Skilled Powerforward

Points Potential: 30-30-60

Conservative Points Projection: 15-15-30

NHL Timeline: 5-6 years

Sebastian High – The hulking Russian winger has a whole lot going for him, and presents a swing on upside as large as he is. Avramov uses his frame to get engaged physically to the dismay of many MHL defenders, and flashes silky handling skill and a wicked – and versatile – shooting arsenal. He’s also as raw a player as you’re likely to find in this class and will need 4+ years of development before even threatening to crack an NHL roster barring a sharp upward turn in development trajectory. If a team is willing to be patient and take as hands-on approach as they can for a Russian-based prospect, Avramov could – at best – reward them greatly by becoming a fun offensive winger on a 2nd line, offering a mix of handling skill, violence, and potent goalscoring; but that outcome is far from a guarantee.

86. A.J. Spellacy, RW/C (6-2, 200 lbs) — Windsor (OHL)

Role: Net-driver/Chaos creator

Points Potential: 25-25-50

Conservative Points Projection: 20-15-35

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Hadi Kalakeche — Playing in the shadow of fellow big forward Liam Greentree this season was AJ Spellacy, who barely cracked half a point per game in Windsor’s middle six but showcased a decent amount of runway. Blistering speed combines with his raw power to make him one of the most powerful net-drivers in the draft, and his puck protection mechanics are already quite refined. One of the main culprits that leads to this archetype of prospect fizzling out is an overreliance on pace and raw strength to keep the puck, but in Spellacy’s case, the shielding details are there. Arm out, knees bent, outside edge stable, it’s a good foundation. He lacks the high-end reads to be a better playmaker right now, but Spellacy is a relatively recent full-time hockey-committed prospect. The bet on Spellacy is that with enough time, he can improve his reads and turn the flashes of playmaking and offensive zone spacing into day-in-and-day-out tools to create offense in an NHL middle six.

87. Luke Mistelbacher, RW (6-0, 194 lbs) — Swift Current (WHL)

Role: Finisher/Checker

Points Potential: 20-20-40

Conservative Points Projection: 10-10-20

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Luke Sweeney — Luke Mistelbacher chugged along with consistent play all year before really finding his groove next to Clarke Caswell and Connor Geekie, posting 43 points in the 38 games after Geekie’s trade to the Broncos. While he’s not the main driver on his line, Mistelbacher has the forechecking, puck protection and high-end shot to mesh well with more skilled linemates, in addition to off-puck support habits to act as a connector in the offensive zone or as a dangerous F3 off the rush. With these projectable elements, Mistelbacher could carve out a role in an NHL bottom six.

88. Herman Träff, RW (6-3, 216 lbs) — HV71 (J20 Nationell)

Role: Powerforward/Two-Way

Points Potential: 20-20-40

Conservative Points Projection: 15-10-25

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Sebastian High – An energetic power winger with flashes of skill and goalscoring, Träff has some runway in his offensive development, but also holds a safe floor as a strong off-puck and defensive piece; something that already earned him 18 games split between the SHL and HockeyAllsvenskan against professional competition. At his best, he blends his pace, power, and handling skill to wreak havoc off the rush. Integrating a stronger give-and-go game would be key to translating this to the NHL and could open up space and time for his goalscoring touch to shine more brightly, too. He could become a solid bottom-six scorer with plus-level defensive impact.

89. Daniel Nieminen, LD (5-11, 177 lbs) — Lahti (U20 SM-Sarja)

Role: Suppressor/Facilitator

Points Potential: 10-20-30

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Anni Karvinen – Nieminen has been a trusted workhorse for the U18 national team all season long, and for a good reason. The mobile left-handed defender can be a stellar presence on both ends of the ice. The foundation of his game is built on his great skating and mobility. He is eager to take part on the rush offense and in the offensive zone he’s efficient at creating space with his well-timed activations from the blueline. On the defensive side of the game, his speed allows him to keep gaps close and even catch up to opponents in case of a turnover. Nieminen is also great at defending with his stick, not only blocking passing lanes but recovering pucks for his team. He’s got a physical side as well, as he occasionally throws mean checks. The main reason Nieminen can’t be found higher in our rankings is that he can be inconsistent, and his puck skills could end up limiting his offensive upside.

90. Joona Saarelainen, C (5-9, 183 lbs) — KalPa (U20 SM-Sarja)

Role: Spark-Plug/Checker/Line-Connector

Points Potential: 15-25-40

Conservative Points Projection: 10-10-20

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Sebastian High – An undersized center with an unrelenting motor, a tendency to play his best hockey when it matters most, and an ability to elevate his linemates all the while facilitating their games, there’s a lot to like in Saarelainen’s game. His projection is a bit murkier than his on-ice value was this season, however. At 5-9 and lacking stand-out elite skill(s), the Finnish pivot will need to work about twice as hard to make the NHL than most of his peers, but if he does beat the odds, a team could have landed a fan-favourite bottom-six facilitator who brings exactly the same energy every single night: everything he has.

91. Lukas Fischer, LD (6-3, 182 lbs) — Sarnia (OHL)

Role: Crusher/Rush Suppressor.

Points Potential: 10-30-40

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years.

Jordan HarrisThe son of former NHLer Jiri Fischer, Lukas is a lengthy defender with great physical traits. Fischer moves very well for his size and can play a nasty, physical game at times. He shows instances of strong activation in the offensive zone, but they’re just flashes for now. There is so much potential in Fischer simply due to the elite combination of size and athleticism, however, he didn’t seem to put it all together this past season. For now, he’s a ball of clay waiting to be molded into a top 4 D at the next level. Unfortunately, if his development doesn’t go as planned, he might be too inconsistent to find a spot on an NHL roster. He’s a boom-or-bust prospect.

92. Matvei Shuravin, LD (6-3, 195 lbs) — Krasnaya Armiya Moscow (MHL)

Role: Rush Suppressor/Defensive Specialist

Points Potential: 7-18-25

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Graham Montgomery – Shuravin had a rather unusual draft-eligible season. He spent time in all three Russian leagues, but primarily split time between the MHL and KHL. His results against professionals in the KHL were far more impressive than those against his peers in the MHL. However, small sample sizes may have played a role in this as he got into just 11 KHL games before suffering a season-ending injury in February. He uses his reach and body positioning to force most plays to the outside. However, he is very weak in transition, frequently chipping the puck out of the zone instead of attempting to make some kind of transition play. This is his single biggest limiting factor, but above-average skating along with projectable size could make him a capable bottom-pair defenseman.

93. Max Plante, C (5-11, 177 lbs) — USNTDP (USHL)

Role: Accelerator/Creator

Points Potential: 20-45-65

Conservative Points Projection: 10-20-30 

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Hadi Kalakeche – Plante’s game has continued to be all gas, no brakes. He accelerates every puck he receives, whether that’s building speed off a neutral zone pass, or taking the puck from his defenseman at the offensive zone blue line and zipping it to the slot for a high-danger shot assist. That’s also Plante’s main issue — he hasn’t figured out how to slow down the play, make the smart pass rather than the one that leads to an immediate scoring chance, and extend offensive zone time for his team. If he does, there’s middle-six value as a dynamic passer, but with some inconsistent skating mechanics to work on as well, he can’t keep up his current habits as he climbs the ranks.

94. Artyom Shchuchinov, LD (5-11, 158 lbs) — Traktor Chelyabinsk (KHL)

Role: Quarterback

Points Potential: 10-25-35

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Seth Ditchfield – Though he’s not from my region, I want to give a shoutout to a player who’s caught my attention. He’s an undersized defenseman who secured a full-time stint in the KHL this season, appearing in 54 games. His skating ability is above average, and he’s particularly impressive at moving the puck under pressure. He brings a lot of desirable qualities to the table, including composure and a high level of confidence. Given his skills and performance, I could see him turning out to be a late-round gem for an NHL team.

95. Will Skahan, LD (6-4, 215 lbs) — USNTDP (USHL)

Role: Crusher/Stopper

Points Potential: 15-15-30

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Hadi Kalakeche – Skahan is likely to go way higher than we have him ranked, but we can’t get over the concerns we have with his processing and decision-making. He’s huge, strong, violent, relatively mobile, and he defends the rush fairly well. Any situation that requires composure and poise, however, is a nightmare. Perhaps his flashes of breakout passing and handling skill could turn into something more consistent, but even with that, it’s hard not to see Skahan struggling to keep up with the NHL’s pace. Number 5 is the likely projection.

96. Pavel Moysevich, G (6-4, 187 lbs) — SKA St. Petersburg (VHL)

Role: Rotational NHL starter

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Colin Hunter – The second overage goaltender to make our list is the Belarussian Pavel Moysevich. Listed at 6’5, Moysevich uses his frame and short, efficient routes to stay in position and make himself difficult to beat cleanly. While his structure and lateral movement could be prone to breakdown at the KHL level, teenage goalies getting extended looks in the Russian men’s league is almost always a promising sign for development trajectory.

97. Jack Berglund, C (6-3, 210 lbs) — Färjestad (J20 Nationell)

Role: Defensive Ace/Faceoff Specialist/Net-Front Specialist

Points Potential: 15-20-35

Conservative Points Projection: 10-10-20

NHL Timeline: 2-4 years

Seth Ditchfield – He is a big, strong two-way center who outmatched his peers in the J20 league due to his physical prowess but still needs to develop to compete effectively in the SHL, primarily due to his skating abilities. Internationally, he has shown some offensive potential, though it lacks consistency. With improvements in his skating, he has the potential to be a solid bottom-6 contributor in the NHL. Ideally, he could serve as a third-line center who adds some offensive output, but there’s also a strong possibility he could be effective as a defensively reliable fourth-liner.

98. Ondřej Kos, LW (6-2, 176 lbs) — KOOVEE (Mestis)

Role: Defensive Ace/Line-Connector

Points Potential: 10-25-35

Conservative Points Projection: 7-13-20

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Sebastian High – Kos has not transformed his approach or style all season long – the long-term injury holding him out until the U18s didn’t help – but he remains a reliable defensive winger who brings energy, defensive prowess, and a facilitating role in transition. While his early-season power and playmaking flashes petered out, his consistent 3-zone impact and engagement should keep him in his coaches’ good books at whichever level he plays. At best, he could turn into a defensive and PK specialist who plays his role well in transition and on the cycle, but will likely be limited to a bottom-six capacity if he cracks the NHL.

99. Ilya Protas, LW (6-2, 184 pounds) — DesMoines (USHL)

Role: Facilitator/Creator

Points Potential: 15-40-55

Conservative Points Projection: 10-20-30

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

As Des Moines failed to qualify for the USHL playoffs, Protas’ impressive rookie season drew to a close shortly after our April rankings, where we first lauded his straight-forward and effective possession game. Ending the season with 8 goals and 20 assists in his final 25 games, Protas established himself as one of the more promising playmakers in the USHL. As he learns to complexify his game and add some dexterity, Protas looks to be a promising bottom-six scoring option. Don’t be surprised if he joins the NHL scene quickly like his brother before him.

100. Christian Humphreys, RW/C (5-11, 164 lbs) — USNTDP (USHL)

Role: Distributor/Ice-stretcher

Points Potential: 20-45-65

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

David Saad – Humphreys ended the season strong and was remarkable during the u18’s. It was clear to see that playing alongside trailblazers in Trevor Connelly and LJ Mooney gave Humphreys the confidence to flash his skill more often. When he wasn’t showing off Humphreys was sticking to his usual guns, intelligent distribution and well sequenced transition play with the occasional eye-popping stretch pass. While Humphreys does bring a lot of talent to the table, it’s not quite projectable to the NHL level. He plays a slow game and a not very physical one at that. If Humphreys can bring the dawg out during his time in Michigan, he has a great chance to land on an NHL team’s middle-six.

101. Maxmillian Curran, C (6-3, 185 lbs) — Tri-City (WHL)

Role: Facilitator/Carrier

Points Potential: 15-25-40

Conservative Points Projection: 10-15-25 

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Luke Sweeney — This was a frustrating season for Curran who started out hot before getting injured in January while breaking a scoring slump, forcing him to miss the CHL Top Prospects game. Nevertheless, he has a fleet-footed transition game, patience through pressure, quick vision, dangerous playmaking and disruptive defensive stick. Coupled with the fact that he’s 6’3 and one of the youngest players in the draft, Curran is an intriguing prospect.

102. Tory Pitner, RD (6-0, 180 lbs) — Youngstown (USHL)

Role: Rush suppressor/Facilitator

Points Potential: 10-20-30

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

David Saad – Pitner may have had his chain snatched at the top of the Youngstown line-up, but he’s adapted in-stride and has landed as one of the more projectable shutdown defenders in the draft. He brings a whole arsenal of defensive tools, through his physicality, IQ and stickwork. Pitner’s offensive game comes and goes but there’s a panic in it that keeps Pitner from exercising it. Luckily, the University of Denver have a great track record with players of his profile. Pitner will have plenty to look forward to and can provide sneaky value as early as the third round.

103. Mac Swanson, LW/C (5-7, 157 lbs) — Fargo (USHL)

Role: Distributor/Creator

Points Potential: 20-45-65

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 5-6 years

Hadi Kalakeche — At this point in the draft, why not take a swing on a long-term project? Swanson’s slight frame is a definite concern and his skating lacks pop, but he is a top-10 distributor in this draft with the tools to turn into a pure creator if his foot speed improves. Small players who can’t separate in transition rarely work out, but Swanson’s work ethic and high-end IQ could be the difference-makers that make him develop what he needs to develop and be the exception to the rule. Boom-or-bust with second-line upside.

104. Colton Roberts, RD (6-4, 204 lbs) — Vancouver (WHL)

Role: Sweeper/Crusher

Points Potential: 10-15-25

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Luke Sweeney — The big defenceman Colton Roberts should get a lot of attention on draft day for his ability to recover pucks in the defensive zone and seamlessly transition to offence. He’s a strong skater with a good shot, but the offensive game leaves a lot to be desired from Roberts. If he can clean up his rush defence and improve his offensive zone decision-making, Roberts could find a role as a bottom-pair NHL defenceman.

105. Kevin He, LW (5-11, 181 lbs) — Niagara (OHL)

Role: Forechecker/Retrieval Artist

Points Potential: 20-25-45

Conservative Points Projection: 10-10-20 

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Jordan Harris — Kevin He is a very endearing player due to his excellent work rate and consistent play on a team that was quite honestly bad. He is a player who maximizes his potential due to his relentless play, good skating, and his ability to score. I didn’t see much of a playmaker from He; however, this aspect of his game might show up more in his D+1 and D+2 seasons once the players around him get better and he realizes he doesn’t need to do everything by himself. Similar to a player like Sam O’Reilly, He might be a player who takes big strides in his final two seasons of junior hockey. I think He has potential to be a bottom 6 winger. The hope is that he rounds out his game a bit more and adds a bit more weight to be a strong energy player with depth-scoring upside. At the very least, he should be a good AHL player.

106. Mitja Jokinen, LD (5-10, 163 lbs) — TPS (U20 SM-Sarja)

Role: Quarterback/Facilitator

Points Potential: 10-30-40

Conservative Points Projection: 5-20-25

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Sebastian High – The mobile defenseman plays with fiery intensity and shone brightest on the big stage of the U18 World Championships, outshining all other Finnish blueliners – Kiviharju included – at times. He uses his mobility and slightly above-average puck skills to draw in opponents before passing through them into newly freed-up space, and is a strong facilitator in transition. Offensively, he has yet to unlock true playmaking impact, but the promising flashes have been there. His defensive game typically is built on his intensity, but the habits and reads need refinement, especially with his undersized frame. Not a guaranteed NHLer, by any means, but an entertaining player with an upward-curving development trajectory.

107. Marcus Kearsey, LD (5-10, 173) — Charlottetown (QMJHL)

Role: Carrier/Quarterback

Points Potential: 10-25-35

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Sasha Lagarde – Marcus Kearsey has quietly put together a solid season for the Charlottetown Islanders notching 49 points in 68 games. Kearsey shines in his ability to skate the puck from the defensive zone and through the neutral zone with ease. Furthermore, he efficiently moves the puck with short passes to his wingers who are in transition already. It’s a skill that is often overlooked but has become a staple in his game. Kearsey doesn’t excel in the physical side of the game and will have to clean up his board play to be an effective pro but his skating and instincts with the puck will raise his floor. Consider Kearsey a project with bottom-pairing upside.

108. Gian Meier, RD (6-2, 170 lbs) — GCK Lions (U20-Elit)

Role: Suppressor/Sweeper

Points Potential: 10-20-30

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Seth Ditchfield – He emerged as a late bloomer, boosting his draft stock during the U18 championships. Stepping up after Muggli’s injury, he took the role as the top defenseman, penalty killer, and power play leader for Switzerland, with four points in five games—a funny contrast to his three goals in sixty games previously. With a solid 6’2″ frame and a fundamentally sound defensive skillset, he brings excellent awareness and vision within the zone. While his offensive contributions are minimal at this stage, his ability to manage the play and defend against rushes indicates potential as a future shutdown defender.

109. Kim Saarinen, G (6-4, 176 lbs) — HPK (U20 SM-Sarja)

Role: Fringe Starter/Backup

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Colin Hunter — Saarinen fits the bill for the typical early-mid-round goalie bet. 6’4, technically sound, and moderately athletic are all characteristics that are coveted in goaltending prospects. With his frame, control of his edges, and patience, Saarinen can be difficult to beat on high-danger chances in close to the net. He can, however, suffer from occasional poor tracking and form breakdown with post-integration.

110. Marcus Gidlof, G (6-6, 212 lbs) — Leksands (J20 Nationell)

Role: Fringe Starter/Backup

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Colin Hunter — The largest goaltender of the bunch, Gidlof’s 6’6 frame and skillset make him a high upside bet. Gidlof uses adequate short lateral movement and strong leading hands to cut off shooters’ angles, extending and sealing the ice when necessary to shut down chances in the crease. He can tend to sink in his net when facing shooters coming downhill and can struggle with longer lateral movement, but the tools he does have give him a chance at being an excellent goaltender at the professional level.

111. Colin Ralph, LD (6-4, 226 lbs) — Shattuck St. Mary’s (USHS-Prep)

Role: Rush Suppressor/Play-killer

Points Potential: 5-15-20

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Hadi Kalakeche — Ralph is about as unique as a massive shutdown defenseman from the Prep school circuit can get. Although his size and reach serve him well against the rush, he adds an unusual level of mobility to the mix, on top of some solid reads and high-end awareness. Very little gets past him. But don’t be fooled by his 66 points in 57 games — he’s a black hole offensively. There isn’t much in terms of habits, and even less in terms of tools, to suggest he could be efficient enough on the puck to be anything else than a bottom-pair defenseman in the NHL. The one saving grace in his on-puck game is his ability to read the play on breakouts. If that works out, maybe he makes it as a number 4, but it’s a stretch.

112. Gabe Frasca, C (6-0, 180 lbs) — Kingston (OHL)

Role: Play-killer

Points Potential: 20-25-45

Conservative Points Projection: 10-15-25

NHL Timeline:  4-5 years

Hadi Kalakeche — Frasca missed a decent chunk of the season with an injury, came back and popped off for a couple games, and then immediately fell back to Earth. He showed some occasional flashes of playmaking brilliance and some hints of a high-end shot, but was just too passive offensively this season. He doesn’t excel in any particular area, either, which makes his NHL future more difficult to pin down. Still, the foundation of solid habits, strong positioning, decent work rate and defensive prowess could give him some NHL value — most likely as a bottom-sixer.

113. Viggo Gustafsson, LD (6-2, 194 lbs) — HV71 (J20 Nationell)

Role: Suppressor/Play-Killer

Points Potential: 7-18-25

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Seth Ditchfield – Viggo is the guy that you’ll never know is playing that game, but that mean’s he’s doing his job well. He thrives by clogging the neutral zone and defending against rushes, succeeding quietly on defense and cleaning up garbage around the net. He plays with a level of grit, too. At times, on the ice, he looked the part of an overager because of how reliably he performed for Sweden at the 5 Nations; but funnily enough, he’s actually one of the youngest players in his class, with a September birthdate. That level of maturity in his game makes him a worthwhile mid-round swing for a team looking to shore up their defensive depth.

114. Mikhail Yegorov, G (6-5, 188 lbs) — Omaha (USHL)

Role: Fringe Starter/Backup

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Colin Hunter — A late riser in this year’s rankings, Yegorov was ranked number 1 among North American goaltenders by NHL Central Scouting. Yegorov has plenty of pro-style tools: he uses his frame well to cut off angles and seal the ice down low, he has above-average hands, and has great tracking abilities. However, his skating can occasionally be questionable, leaving him out of position on the odd chance.

115. Melvin Fernström, RW (6-1, 188 lbs) — Örebro (J20 Nationell)

Role: Finisher

Points Potential: 25-20-45

Conservative Points Projection: 15-10-25

NHL Timeline: 

Seth Ditchfield –  There are certain players whose valuations as NHL prospects can be overinflated by gaudy point totals. Unfortunately, Fernström is one of those cases. There is no significant transition game, minimal defensive effort, and his playmaking and skating are mediocre. Additionally, he struggles under pressure, which raises concerns about his adaptability in more competitive environments. Despite these shortcomings, Fernström’s knack for scoring can’t be ignored, as evidenced by Örebro’s men’s team relying on him in a top-6 role during a crucial game and giving him middle-6 responsibilities in the playoffs.

116. Timur Kol, LD (6-3, 198) — Omsk (VHL/MHL)

Role: Play-Killer/Sweeper

Points Potential: 10-20-30

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Sebastian High – A big Russian defenseman who plays a simple brand of hockey, Kol leverages his reach, physicality, and mobility to suffocate opponents of space in the defensive zone. He stood out most in his games at the VHL level against second-tier professional competition. As the season progressed, he even flashed some on-puck skill and passing proficiency: diversity in his impact which, with added consistency and improved mechanics and confidence, could unlock #4 defenseman upside. If he settles as a meat-and-potatoes defender with decent tools and improving reds on both sides of the puck, he could still develop into a reliable bottom-pairing presence.

117. Tommaso De Luca, C/LW (6-0, 187 lbs) — Ambrì-Piotta (NL)

Role: Creator/Carrier/Pace-Pusher

Points Potential: 15-30-45

Conservative Points Projection: 10-20-30

NHL Timeline: 3-4 years

Seth Ditchfield – He’s a mobile offensive threat, mean in transition and has with a versatile shot in motion. He can create opportunities in a flash and skate circles around most opponents. His defensive game leaves much to be desired, but that’s not why you’re drafting him. His combination of offensive tools and speed leads me to believe he has middle-six potential.

118. Aatos Koivu, C (6-0, 170 lbs) — TPS (U20 SM-Sarja)

Role: Finisher/Line-Connector

Points Potential: 20-20-40

Conservative Points Projection: 12-13-25

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Anni Karvinen – Aatos Koivu wasn’t really talked about as an NHL prospect before the start of the past season. The son of the former Canadiens legend Saku Koivu started his season with the U18 team but forced his way into the U20 league and got even a couple of Liiga games under his belt as he continued to impress. Koivu is an intriguing prospect not only because of his name. He possesses an intriguing skill set, with his shot being his biggest asset. He’s also a good skater and responsible two-way player on the defensive side of the game. Koivu has slipped a bit in our rankings, mostly based on his inconsistency in the U20 playoffs and lackluster U18 Worlds. However, he’s still physically raw, and there’s a chance his development continues on a steep upward trajectory, making him an excellent player to use a draft pick on at this range.

119. Will Zellers, C/LW (5-10, 167 lbs) Shattuck St. Mary’s (USHS-Prep)

Role: Improvisor

Points Potential: 25-35-60

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 5-6 years

Hadi Kalakeche — Zellers’ game flows through his hands and feet. He’s always trying something, whether it’s attacking a defender’s heels or pulling away from opponents with inside cuts and strong edgework. His main issue is that he doesn’t know what to do once he’s forced to stop up or slow down. He gets tunnel vision and lacks the pure skill to open up passing lanes himself. The lack of a fallback game is also a concern, but few in this draft have Zellers’ level of improvisational skill. He could be worth a mid-round shout for a team confident enough in their scouting staff.

120. Tomas Lavoie, LD (6-4, 225 lbs) — Cape Breton (QMJHL)

Role: Play-Killer

Points Potential: 10-15-25

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Hadi Kalakeche — Lavoie is the QMJHL defender to end all QMJHL defenders. He’s the prototype of that league’s usual product. Not the most mobile, not the most skilled, and far from the most intelligent, but you just can’t get past him. His area of influence is massive, with a large wingspan and a long stick that combine very well to make opponents think they’ve got a lane before he closes it in a blink. He’s physical as well, unafraid and even sometimes too eager to throw the body. The lack of vision, awareness and play-selection makes him spend more time in his own zone, which just further pushes him down a path that won’t see him improve his puck skills. He’s destined to be a pure shutdown defender. I’m not sure it’s enough to make him an NHLer, but time will tell.

121. Jiri Tichacek, LD (5-9, 170 lbs) — Kladno (Czech Extraliga)

Role: Breakout Specialist/Suppressor/Distributor

Points Potential: 8-27-35

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 2-3 years

Sebastian High – The undersized D+3 defenseman has been a favourite of ours since his first go-around of NHL draft eligibility and he has finally broken out offensively, leading all blueliners in production in Czechia’s top professional league (43pts in 52g). He’s a skilled puck-mover with a good sense for pressure valves and timing on both sides of the puck. He leverages his above-average passing ability in the breakout and as an offensive distributor – rather than as a pure playmaker. Defensively, he matches footwork off the rush well, is an active scanner, clogs key passing lanes, and above all uses his active stick to break up play with impressive regularity. He’s not a slam-dunk NHLer and the upside likely doesn’t reach beyond a #4 role, but he’s as fun as he is effective, and is more than worth a draft selection; especially this year.

122. Charlie Forslund, LW/RW (6-3, 212 lbs) IF Falu (HockeyEttan)

Role: Powerforward/Finisher

Points Potential: 20-20-40

Conservative Points Projection: 10-10-20

NHL Timeline: 5-6 years

Seth Ditchfield – He’s one of the most under-the-radar players in his class and will be playing with a top club in Sweden next year for the first time. Having worked his way up to the third-tier men’s league in Sweden, he not only held his own but thrived, scoring at a point-per-game pace. His shot in motion is a weapon seasoned men’s goaltenders struggled to stop, even when they saw it coming. A true 6-2 power forward, he leverages every inch to dominate on the ice. However, his play away from the puck and his four-way mobility are currently areas that need significant improvement.

123. Liam Danielsson, RW (5-10, 161 lbs) Örebro (J20 Nationell)

Role: Creator/Distributor

Points Potential: 10-25-35

Conservative Points Projection: 5-15-20

NHL Timeline: 5-6 years

Seth Ditchfield – He’s a talented playmaker who consistently creates opportunities when he has the puck, though he doesn’t drive play or excel in transitions, and his skating speed doesn’t make up for his size disadvantage. Currently, he’s a one-skill player, but fortunately, that skill is strong and projectable. Given his potential as a 3rd line creator, he’s a player worth taking a chance on in the draft, but the floor has him well outside an NHL role.

124. Noah Powell, RW (6-0, 201 lbs) Dubuque (USHL)

Role: Creator/Finisher

Points Potential: 25-35-60

Conservative Points Projection: 10-15-25

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

David Saad – Powell sports a really strong offensive repertoire. He has the creativity to be an all-scenario playmaker that sports a finishing touch as one would expect of the USHL’s leading goal scorer while bringing the physical edge to will the ice to his design. That said, Powell is heavily limited by his skating. He has the motor to keep himself in play, but with a lack of balance, speed and acceleration hinder him greatly. This was brought to the forefront during the USHL playoffs, where despite playing quite well, Powell found a challenge in keeping up with the pace of play. As Powell joins Ohio State next year, how he adapts to the NCAA pace will be a great indicator to his NHL upside, but the over-ager needs plenty of development regardless.

125. Nicholas Kempf, G (6-2, 189 lbs) USNTDP (USHL)

Role: Fringe Starter/Backup

NHL Timeline: 5-6 years

Colin Hunter —The starter for the U18-NTDP and associated tournaments, Kempf is a better goaltender than the stats would suggest. Like Augustine in the role before him, he has excellent technical and skating abilities. This in combination with his anticipation gives him a chance on every shot. He’s athletic enough to make out-of-the-box saves when called upon and never gives up on pucks.

126. Félix Lacerte, RW/C (5-10, 165 lbs) — Shawinigan (QMJHL)

Role: Distributor/Facilitator

Points Potential: 15-30-45

Conservative Points Projection: 10-15-25

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Hadi Kalakeche — Don’t be fooled by the 31 goals and 28 assists in Lacerte’s case — he is very much a playmaker, and would’ve had many more assists if his teammates could finish for him. At times, he was the sole offensive force on the Cataractes, showcasing intelligent reads, high-end vision and versatile playmaking skill on every shift. There’s a significant lack of consistency in Lacerte’s game, on top of a lack of explosiveness and physicality, but his chess-like approach to the game makes him a worthy shout in the mid-rounds, with the upside to become a third-line distributor who facilitates offensive plays for his teammates, whether at center or on the wing.

127. Alexis Bernier, RD (6-1, 197 lbs) — Baie-Comeau (QMJHL)

Role: Suppressor/Facilitator

Points Potential: 10-20-30

Conservative Points Projection: 5-10-15 

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Hadi Kalakeche — I’m not sure Bernier becomes anything special at the NHL level, but there is a lot to work with in his game. He’s smart and proactive on the puck, finding different ways to play it to open teammates without necessarily forcing anything. He’s powerful and fluid, making him quite a useful rush defender — again, without forcing anything. He’s relatively simplistic and risk-averse, but there’s value as a bottom-pair facilitator who can keep the puck out of his zone. Very Alexandre Carrier-esque in his safe, secure approach to the game from the back-end.

128. Kasper Pikkarainen, RW (6-3, 197 lbs) — TPS (U20 SM-Sarja)

Role: Powerforward/Finisher

Points Potential: 20-15-35

Conservative Points Projection: 10-10-20

NHL Timeline: 4-5 years

Anni Karvinen – The right-handed winger from TPS has a physical profile that NHL organizations tend to appreciate. Standing at 6-foot-3, 197 pounds, Pikkarainen has a big body he likes to use in delivering punishing checks. He also has some intriguing puck skills: he can both shoot and pass the puck quite effectively. While he’s not a dynamic offensive force by any means, he can make quick plays with the puck, which, along with his physicality, should translate to the NHL level. The biggest problem with Pikkarainen is that his game hasn’t come together quite yet. The tools are there, but he can’t get the most out of them. His skating technique needs development as well. Despite that, Pikkarainen is an intriguing prospect to bet on at this range because of his physicality and skill set.

Honorable mentions:

Wade Messier: Gabriel Eliasson, LD (6-7, 206 lbs) – HV71 (J20 Nationell)

Eliasson is a polarizing player, and can oftentimes be incredibly frustrating to watch. He won the genetic lottery with his size and frame, yet there seems to be no thought process behind most of his actions on the ice. His first instinct is always to throw his body around, regardless of the options available to him. Because of this, he not only finds himself horribly out of position quite a bit, but also spends a large amount of his time in the penalty box, earning 103 PIM through 36 J20 games this season. Despite all of the flaws in his game, Eliasson is likely an intriguing prospect to many NHL teams. If a majority of his poor habits can be hammered out, he could become a valuable NHL defenseman, but there is much work to be done.

Hadi Kalakeche: Ēriks Mateiko, LW (6-5, 209 lbs) — Saint John (QMJHL)

A versatile and powerful attacker, Mateiko’s game revolves around his massive frame. He works the boards well, protects pucks and barrels through pockets of space. His game revolving around his frame also means that he gets to hang onto pucks for way longer than he’ll be able to in the NHL, and he hasn’t developed the board battle and puck protection mechanics that work against NHLers. His game being difficult to project, combined with lower-end foot speed, gives us pause, but there could be some bottom-six value in Mateiko.

Hadi Kalakeche: Will Felicio, LD (5-10, 161 lbs) — Waterloo (USHL)

Felicio brings a good combination of offensive deception and defensive aggression.  The tools need a bunch of work — he isn’t particularly fast nor strong, doesn’t have a cornerstone offensive skill, and he tends to take shortcuts — but he’s manipulative from the blue line, willing to shorten the offensive zone with pinches, and shows flashes of playing above his size. He’s off to a fantastic NCAA program in the University of Michigan as soon as next season, too. David will disagree, but I think he’s still worth a mid-round pick.

David Saad: Hagen Burrows, C (6-2, 165 lbs) — Minnetonka/Sioux City (USHS-MN/USHL)

It’s hard to call Burrows’ season anything but a success. The 6-foot-2 Mr. Hockey Award recipient not only scored well over two points a game in the high-school circuit but nearly went point-per-game at the USHL level as well. He’s a surgeon on the ice; a calm methodical playmaker that loves to end plays as much as he does start them. His repertoire is wide, and tends to goad opponents into mistakes with deceptive faints and handling. What left him off our list was an issue of speed. Burrows takes a very slow approach to the game of hockey and while it hasn’t caught up with him yet, his wiry frame has yet to be punished at the USHL level. His USHL sample is also very small so the jump to NCAA Denver next season should be jarring. As he continues to climb the ranks, it is essential for Burrows to round out athletically and also keep up the pace tactically.

David Saad: Artemi Nizameyev, RW (5-9, 168 lbs) — Tri-City (USHL)

The world is against Nizameyev. He was under a point a game in his USHL campaign, he’s undersized, he has a late birthday, he’s an awkward skater, he wasn’t even in Tri-City’s top line most the season, but my word is he fun. Not too dissimilarly from Trevor Connelly, Nizameyev oozes creativity. Whether it’s a fake shot into a cross-ice pass or driving the net and abusing his low center of gravity, Nizameyev makes stuff happen. He was instrumental in Tri-City’s short-lived playoff run and brought that compete and engagement that makes a viewer smile. He’s a total long-shot and he might go without his name being called in June, but he deserves some flowers for a very respectable season.

Jordan Harris: Owen Allard, LW (6-2, 199 lbs)  — Sault-Ste-Marie (OHL)

Allard is an older prospect who was passed up in the 2022 and 2023 drafts. Allard burst on to the scouting scene this season after a strong start to his season with the Soo Greyhounds that landed him a spot on Canada’s WJC roster. Allard’s game is based on his combination of size, speed and compete level which he uses to win puck battles and get pucks to the net. I was less impressed with Allard during the second half of his season, and I’m not sure there’s enough offense in his game to make the NHL. He should be a strong shutdown forward at the AHL level who could earn a call-up to the NHL if there are injuries on a team’s 4th line.

Jordan Harris: Nathan Villeneuve, C (5-11, 193 lbs) — Sudbury (OHL)

Premium minutes were hard to get for Villeneuve this season due to Sudbury’s fire power in its top 6 forward group, but Villeneuve quietly produced well. He’s a strong skating, player without a ton of glaring flaws on the ice, but without many higher end qualities either. Still, this is a well-rounded player who could carve out a role as a bottom 6 C if everything breaks right for him. One thing to note is that Villeneuve was suspended for 15 games following the results of an investigation into bounty allegations.

Anni Karvinen: Sebastian Soini, RD (6-2, 187 lbs) — KOOVEE (Mestis)

The 6-foot-2.5, 187-pound defenseman fills a lot of checkmarks NHL scouts look for in a defenseman, like size, skating, and physicality. Even better, he checks the list while being right-handed. Because of these attributes and the fact that he was able to play solid hockey against men in the Mestis, he was ranked much higher for us earlier in the season. As the season wore on, we became a bit more concerned about his hockey sense and also wondered if his puck skills could end up limiting his ability to potentially translate his game to the NHL level. However, his tools and experience playing with men will probably lead him to be picked relatively early.

Seth Ditchfield: Miroslav Holinka, C (6-1, 185 lbs) — HC Ocelari Trinec (Czech U20)

He’s a player who can adapt to various roles, which led to some playing time with the men’s team this season. His stickhandling and ability to switch roles effectively are likely to be his major selling points to NHL teams. However, he needs to continue developing other areas of his game moving forward. His adaptability and technical skills mark him as a player to watch.

Seth Ditchfield: Basile Sansonnens, RD (6-2, 196 lbs) — Gottéron (U20 Elit)

He’s 6’4″ every time he steps on the ice. His straight-line speed and defensive/spatial awareness indicate notable potential as a PK defensive defenseman at the next level. He’ll need to work on bulking up and strengthening his stick, but his projectability to an NHL role positions him for late-round contention.

Luke Sweeney: Josh Fluker, RD (5-11, 161 lbs) – Wenatchee (WHL)

He’s one of the craftiest transition defencemen out of the WHL with some solid defensive habits, but as an undersized defenceman without many offensive proclivities, Josh Fluker will need to find a niche and hone his strengths to become an NHLer.

Luke Sweeney: Gavin Hodnett, LW (5-6, 158 lbs) — Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)

Gavin Hodnett plays a high-octane offensive game, with quick, explosive speed and a powerful shot, but as a very small player without much physicality or checking, the path to becoming an NHL player will be difficult.

Luke Sweeney: Adam Titlbach, C (5-8, 164 lbs) — Vancouver Giants (WHL)

The small Czech Adam Titlbach plays with plenty of skill and breakaway speed, but elevating his physicality and play away from the puck will be necessary for him to develop into a valuable piece.

Wade Messier: Alexander Siryatsky, LD (6-2, 159 lbs) — Magnitogorsk (MHL)

Out of the pool of players likely to be available past the first three rounds, Siryatsky is likely one of the more high-value picks. A defensively responsible two-way defenseman with NHL height, Siryatsky’s high hockey IQ aids him in consistently making the right play. Having played in three KHL matches this season, we expect that he’ll get some extended time in the KHL or VHL next season. He’ll need a few seasons to fill out his 6-2 frame, currently sitting at just 159 pounds, but if all goes well, he could go much higher in a re-draft.

Wade Messier: Francesco Dell’Elce, LD (6-0, 170 lbs) — Penticton (BCHL)

A fluid skating two-way defenseman, Dell’Elce remains a long-term project for any team that takes a swing on his raw tools. He went undrafted as one of the more intriguing high school players in last year’s draft class. Still, he earned himself an invitation to the Montreal Canadiens rookie camp, where he looked plenty comfortable amongst a number of NHL-drafted prospects. This season he made the jump to the BCHL, hoping to continue growing his game before making his NCAA debut next fall with the University of Massachusetts. While Dell’Elce didn’t dominate by any means, he’s still a player to look out for in the later rounds of this year’s draft.

Wade Messier: Eric Bürger, LD (6-0, 181 lbs) — Örebro (J20 Nationell)

Burger is a smooth-skating defenseman who is proficient in both ends of the ice. His high-intensity brand of hockey is loads of fun, and it’s hard not to cheer for Burger when watching him play. He commanded a big role in the J20 this past season, and will likely get an extended look in the SHL next season with Örebro.

Wade Messier: Petr Sikora, C (5-11, 172 lbs) — HC Ocelari Trinec (Czech U20)

An intense and energetic centerman, Sikora is a hard player to pin. He enjoyed a productive season in Czechia’s U20 league but struggled to replicate his results against professional competition. While he’ll need a few years to develop in Europe before making the jump to North America, he could become a bottom-six scoring option in the NHL someday.

LATEST PROFILE UPDATES

Name Fantasy Upside NHL Certainty
Colby Barlow 8.0 9.5
Ville Heinola 6.5 8.5
Dylan Coghlan 4.5 7.5
Oskar Magnusson 6.5 4.0
Patrick Guay 7.0 5.0
Brandon Lisowsky 6.5 5.5
Nick Malik 4.5 1.0
Kyle Jackson 6.0 5.0
Viktor Persson 6.0 2.0
Jeremy Langlois 6 5.5

LATEST RADIO & DRAFTCASTS

[gs-fb-comments]

FIND US ON FACEBOOK