Every month leading up the NHL Draft, Sam Cosentino ranks the top-10 draft-eligible players from a different league in the CHL. For January, Cosentino breaks down prospects from the WHL.
1. Sam Reinhart, Kootenary Ice
Birthdate: Nov. 6/95
Height/weight: 6’0.75”, 185 lbs
Reinhart is not fancy and he’s not flashy. However, his hockey IQ is NHL ready; the physical maturity will come. His fire burns deep with a cool exterior.
2. Nikita Scherbak, Saskatoon Blades
Position: Right wing
Birthdate: Dec. 30/95
Height/weight: 6’2”, 174 lbs
Without talented overage help in Saskatoon, the second half of the season will be a big proving ground. He is this year’s Nikita Zadorov.
3. Leon Draisatl, Prince Albert Raiders
Birthdate: Oct. 27/95
Height/weight: 6’1.75”, 208 lbs
The entire package is present. Hockey bloodlines are great. His performances at the World Junior Hockey Championships and Top Prospects Game were not indicative of how good he is.
4. Haydn Fleury, Red Deer Rebels
Birthdate: Jul. 8/96
Height/weight: 6’2.5”, 198 lbs
Fleury is a first-pass guy that can join the rush. He has good size and defends well. He has a pro mentality, is coachable and learns from others.
5. Conner Bleackley, Red Deer Rebels
Birthdate: Feb. 7/96
Height/weight: 6’0.5”, 192 lbs
Bleackley is an excellent competitor. He’s good on face-offs and plays a 200-foot game. Offence has blossomed as Rebels’ top option.
6. Jake Virtanen, Calgary Hitmen
Birthdate: Aug. 17/96
Height/weight: 6’0.75”, 208 lbs
Virtanen already plays a power-forward game with an NHL shot that is hard and heavy. He has a solid frame that will grow.
7. Julius Honka, Swift Current Broncos
Birthdate: Dec. 3/95
Height/weight: 5’10.5”, 178 lbs
The Broncos defenceman has dynamic offensive skill. He’s a great puck mover and skater, and being a right shot is a plus for him. Honka reminds me of Cam Fowler.
8. Brycen Martin, Swift Current Broncos
Birthdate: May 9/96
Height/weight: 6’1.75”, 182 lbs
He has good puck skills, but there is some hesitance on D-zone retrievals. Martin has an outdoor rink background and has grown to love the game.
9. Chase De Leo, Portland Winterhawks
Birthdate: Oct. 25/95
Height/weight: 5’9”, 177 lbs
De Leo thinks the game well, and slips into soft spots in coverage. He has a good shot and quick release, and is responsible in all three zones.
10. Aaron Irving, Edmonton Oil Kings
Birthdate: Mar. 3/96
Height/weight: 6’0.5”, 189 lbs
Irving was the lowest-rated player at the Top Prospects Game, but wasn’t out of place. His unseen-before offensive side will boost him up a lot of lists.
NOTE: This list includes only players that are playing in the WHL. All heights/weights listed were taken from NHL Central Scouting as measured at the BMO Top Prospects Game.