With the release of Sportsnet’s second edition of the NHL Draft Rankings by Jeff Marek, here’s a look at some players to keep an eye on because they may rise up draft boards as the season progresses.
9. K’Andre Miller (USNTDP): If you’re deep on the blue line and have time to craft him, Miller is likely to give you more offence than his current point totals (two assists in 12 games) suggest. As the only player on this list to not crack Marek’s top 31, there’s no question Miller is raw, but there’s big upside if you have faith in your development system.
8. Ryan McLeod (Mississauga Steelheads): He got on the map by being noticed while his brother Michael (Devils first-rounder) and others were being scouted. McLeod may now fall victim to the late birthday syndrome where that extra year of viewing can be a detriment as opposed to an asset.
7. Bode Wilde (USNTDP): A right-shooting offensive defenceman with size at 6-foot-2, 197 pounds, he has attributes that are always in fashion at the NHL Draft. He leads the US U18 program in scoring from the blue line.
6. Ryan Merkley (Guelph Storm): Might be the most gifted pure offensive defenceman in this draft class. Those same skills must be used to defend as well. Merkley must also remove some risk from his game, but there’s no denying the skill he possesses.
5. Allan McShane (Oshawa Generals): Missing out on the Ivan Hlinka has not had an impact on his start to the season in Oshawa, where he has 18 points in 15 games. A recent four-game slide was erased by two multi-point efforts this past weekend.
4. Akil Thomas (Niagara IceDogs): Was highly effective on the wing for Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, but has spent most of his season in Niagara at centre. At the next level, he may be more effective on the wing where he’ll get more touches and more opportunities to shoot.
3. Oliver Wahlstrom (USNTDP): It’s evident that he comes from a hockey background. Wahlstrom has size and has performed well on the big stage. He leads the US U18 program in points and may very well challenge for a spot on the world junior team.
2. Ty Smith (Spokane Chiefs): Jack-of-all-trades and a master of skating. He is typical of today’s smallish NHL defenceman in that he moves pucks well with quick decision-making and when all else fails, he’ll utilize his great skating ability. Smith is of strong character.
1. Joel Farabee (USNTDP): Farabee’s showing at the All-American Prospects Game in September carried over to the regular season where he is enjoying a six-game point-streak. Excellent vision and light on his feet, the left winger is adept at playing on both special teams units.