The hype is nearing reality!
The 2023 NHL Draft is quickly approaching. I’m looking forward to contributing on Sportsnet.ca and being part of our panel in Nashville.
The process of building a draft list is intense. Sifting through over 1,300 player reports accumulated since last August takes time. The following list of prospects have been slotted in descending order from 1-80.
A few reminders before we get started:
• This is my personal draft list. I have slotted players based on my own observations.
• This not a mock draft (we’ll do that just before June 28). It does not take into account any strategy that I would consider on the draft floor, such as trade up or trade down scenarios.
• Readers will notice the statistics for players include results from their club teams and any national team events they have participated in over the course of the 2022-23 season. All the national events are captured individually.
• In the case of European prospects, some of their statistics will display several lines of data. European players find themselves “loaned” to different levels with their “club teams” and, in some cases, played for more than one level of their national teams.
• When considering players who are slotted later in the draft, I always try to target the “best player available” for selection. In some cases I find myself torn between Player A and Player B, resulting in a scenario that includes a “higher floor” strategy.
• A “higher floor” strategy simply means one prospect (might) have a higher ceiling if he maximizes his development, but the other prospect could get close to that ceiling and already presents a more realistic chance of becoming an NHL player based on his current trajectory.
Without further delay, here is my final list showing the top 80 prospects for the 2023 NHL Draft.
The consensus No. 1 overall prospect. Scored 10 goals and 10 assists in seven playoff games.
Elite offensive talent with a powerful stride. Sturdy and strong. Best shot release in the draft class. Ability to score off the rush or in tight, and picks opponents apart on the power play. Average-plus defensively. His core strength, leg power, and vision with the puck on his stick make him an elusive talent.
Hobey Baker Award winner who led the NCAA in scoring as a freshman. Won gold medals at the U20 WJC and the Men’s World Championships representing Canada. Play driver who is quick out of the gate and fast in transition. Backs opponents off with his speed through the neutral zone and opens up space for his linemates. Brings a physical element. Has proven he can be a reliable player in a variety of roles. Ability to play the wing is a bonus. Has the IQ to be deployed in all situations and play heavy minutes.
Brings a combination of power and finesse. A big body who is a natural centreman, but has also shown he can play the wing. Moves very well and creates offence off the rush. Absorbs contact along the wall and in the trenches. He extends plays and is hard to defend. Leans distributor/playmaker, but has an above average release and understated goal scoring upside. Top line NHL upside. He’s mature, reliable and competes. Contributed for Team Sweden at the U20 WJC and the Men’s World Championships.
Elite offensive talent who has proven he can produce at every level in Russia. Sturdy, agile, quick to space, elusive in small areas and hard to contain. In addition to his offence, he killed penalties in the second half of the season and showed he has a sound understanding of defensive commitment. Top line scoring forward at the NHL level in time. Hard to defend off the rush and pucks find him in the offensive zone.
Top line NHL scoring forward on projection. Solid skater, quick and agile. At the U18 Worlds he scored eight goals and nine assists in seven games, including the Gold medal-winning goal in OT. Used in all situations and averages just shy of 17 minutes per game of ice time. Threat off the rush as a playmaker or shooter. Is elusive with an elite brain offensively. Average-plus in all three zones. Tracks back reasonably well and makes an effort to apply back pressure off zone exits. Has some growl to his game and pushes back.
All offence. MVP of the U18 Worlds, where he scored nine goals and 11 assists in seven games. Elite playmaker, goal scorer and point producer. Unquestionably one of the most dynamic players in the entire draft. Projects to be a top-line point producer at the NHL level and a prime contributor on a first PP unit. His off the puck detail, on time offensive zone exits, back checking and defensive zone coverage effort will have to improve for the NHL game.
Highly coveted right shot defenceman who has the skill set to be deployed in a variety of roles. Brings size and skill. Active taking away time and space with his reach and stature. Jumps to the half wall to kill plays on the PK. Times his gaps well when defending his blue line.
Like any young player he has room to improve his angling and recoveries when pucks spill down the boards following a battle. Leans distributor more than shooter on the PP, but has a rocket from distance that he gets away quickly and accurately. Thinks the game very well. NHL top pairing defenceman in time.
Elite offensive talent who competes and produced to his identity throughout the year. Elusive in small areas and makes plays along the wall and in traffic. Goes to the front of the net off the puck looking for tips and setting screens. On the PP he makes plays from the weak side flank. Trusted to be used in all situations, including taking the first and last shifts of periods. Never goes away. Impressive talent who has top line NHL scoring upside and doesn’t cheat the game.
Second half of the OHL season and his performance at the U18 Worlds confirmed what was already a given. He’s a goal scorer with an elite release who doesn’t require much room to rip pucks on net. A threat off the half wall and net front at even strength and the power play. His ability to find quiet ice speaks to his hockey IQ. Laboured at U18 Worlds due to a hip flexor injury, but he gets around fine on NHL ice. A leader and team captain. Has scored 76 goals in his first two OHL seasons. Pure goal scorer.
Assistant captain of Team Slovakia at the U18 Worlds and finished tied for sixth in tournament scoring. Used in all situations, averaging over 22 minutes per game of ice time. Drove the play offensively and competed in the trenches. He extends plays. Quick release and an ability to score from distance. Especially dangerous coming off the half wall/moving to middle of the ice making plays. Over 57 per cent in the face-off dot. Defensive detail ranges, but his element is offence. Physically strong. Compact. Not easy to knock off play in small areas.
Transitional, two-way defenceman who can lead the rush on his own or distribute and join as an extra layer. One of the top defencemen at the year-end U18 Worlds where he was used in all situations, averaged over 22 minutes per game, and scored two goals and nine assists in seven games. Elite skater. Quick and agile. Power play QB. A mostly area defender who relies on an active stick and his jump to space. Arrives ahead of opponents and moves pucks effectively. Leans top pairing NHL defenceman on projection. Played an incredible 114 total games in 2022-23.
A big, strong forward who gives opponents all they can handle in the offensive zone below the goal line, coming off the boards and going to the net, and setting up around the crease looking for tips and screens. Real good puck touch. Equal parts goal scorer and playmaker. Sound hockey IQ. Understands how to play responsibly in all three zones. Skating will need to improve another 10 per cent for the NHL game.
Captain of Team Sweden at the U18s. Stocky strong. Competes. Plays quick and fast. He’s always involved and has a noticeable impact every shift. Rips pucks from all angles in the offensive zone. Quick to space and jumps on 50/50 pucks. Has ability to escape small areas, spill off checks, and extend and make plays. On the rise. Top line NHL forward is now possible on projection. Hockey IQ will be used in a variety of roles.
Played a ton of hockey this season, including the Hlinka Gretzky, WJC and U18 Worlds. Body of work wins out. Too good to play at the junior level in Czechia, but not quite ready to play to his full identity at the Elite League level. Great stick and excellent on the power play. Makes plays forehand/backhand from the flank. Dangerous in tight with a quick release. With more strength in time, combined with his skill set, he has the potential to become a top line NHL forward. More than just offence, he’s better than average defensively.
On the rise. Finished his year on a high at the U18 Worlds. Elite skater, very similar to teammate Sandin-Pellikka. Two-way, transitional defenceman who has added more offence to his game. Scored three goals on the power play at U18s. More deception and confidence-making plays directing pucks on goal from range. Active defender. Smart and reliable. He’s not a physical player, but isn’t shy about battling for pucks and boxing out opponents around his net. The kind of defender who can play north of 20 minutes per game with ease. Leans middle pairing defenceman with a chance at top pairing in time.
Used in all situations at the U18 Worlds. Elite element is his offensive upside. Fantastic puck touch and elusive in tight quarters. Deceptive. Creative. Top six and potential to be a top line player. Especially dangerous on the PP. Skating has room for more power, but mechanics are sound. Three zone detail has ranged, but his year-end effort and detail was the best it has been.
Brings a combination of energy and skill. Plays quick and fast. Used in all situations at the U18 Worlds, including the second power play unit. He averaged 16 minutes of ice time and scored four goals and five assists in seven games with only one goal coming on the PP. The kind of player who projects as a top-end point producer, but can also slide into a middle six role if required and provide match-up/penalty kill minutes. Versatile and competitive. Wants to be a difference maker every game.
Big body power forward and net front presence on the PP. Leans goal scorer, but has shown an ability to make sneaky small area puck plays and distribute. Room for more consistent 200-foot effort, especially offensive zone exits. Skating mechanics on straight lines are fine. Room for more power out of the gate/first three stride quickness. Agility and tight turns are also an area that requires improvement and can be exposed when having to defend man-on-man in the defensive zone.
Captain of his junior team in Brandon. Rangy centreman who is used all situations. Leans offence, but is average-plus defensively. His best work comes at even strength and the PP. On the PP he is crafty making plays from the half wall and middle bumper position, occasionally sliding to the net front looking for tips and rebounds. He has very good hand-eye coordination and makes sneaky plays in tight spaces. Skating can go to another level, but he arrives on time. Room for much more strength.
He flipped the script from the previous season. Last year he scored more goals than assists. This season he opened up and distributed the puck more effectively, leading to more assists than goals. Great hands and excellent vision. Takes advantage of time and space. Aggressive getting pucks to the net. His skating stride is fine, but he needs to add strength and discover another gear in transition to allow his element to have more impact off the rush. Fantastic vision on the PP. Defensively he identifies his responsibility, but his attention to detail ranges. Element is offence.
Results offensively are undeniable. Great stick and dynamic when he has time and space. Concerns started to develop down the stretch of the season. Pace off the puck, zone exits, and overall detail has room for significant improvement. I was personally misled by some viewings in the first half of the season. His skating and detail became more of a concern in the second half of the year, especially at the U18 Worlds. Excellent skill. His best shifts are NHL worthy in a skill role. He was deployed at even strength and the PP at the U18s for Team Canada. Both his goals came against Team Switzerland.
Good sized forward who played a key role for Team Sweden at U18 Worlds, where he was deployed in all situations, averaged 21 minutes per game and took key face-offs in all three zones. Better than average puck touch. Extends plays along the boards and battles in the net front area. Skating has room to go to another level, but he gets everywhere on time. Sound compete. He’s noticeable and appears to be a player who can be utilized in a variety of roles. On the rise.
Elevated his game in the back half of 2023. Massive step forward in point production. Scored at even strength and PP. Used in all situations at Michigan. Undersized, but quick, fast and energetic. Relentless competitor who never goes away. Despite his stature he has the ability to leverage around the crease, get under checks, and slip down the boards when contested. Has the ability to be a play driver. Willing to sacrifice his body on the penalty kill. Team-first player. Infectious. When he’s not producing offence he contributes in other areas of the game that benefit his team (defensively, energy, detail, etc.).
Has to be watched very closely to be appreciated. High-end hockey IQ. Angles opponents to the outside off the rush and defends from the middle of the ice out very effectively. Sound skater and solid distributor who provides some secondary scoring, but will not likely be much of a point producer at any stage of his career. A ‘Glue Guy’ who can be trusted in all situations. No glaring weaknesses, but also not high-end elite in any one category. Solid middle pairing player.
Energetic, skilled and active defender who consistently competes and wants to impact the game offensively. Sound distributor on the PP. Quick stick and equally quick decision maker. Has the hockey IQ to be used in a variety of roles. Closes on opponents and takes away time and space when on the PK. What he gives up in stature he makes up for by getting places ahead of pressing forwards. Infectious player who’s fun to watch. Cocky and confident.
Right shot defenceman who leans two-way middle pair on projection. Competes and plays a sturdy game. Pushes back and has an edge to his game at times. Doesn’t shy away from confrontation. Ability to be used in all situations, but his ceiling offensively is likely as a secondary producer at best. Gets in the lane on the PK and fronts the play. Capable with the puck. Outlets responsibly.
Big body, potential power forward who leans goal scorer more than playmaker. Threat to produce on the power play. He can be a load to handle for defenders at the net front. Lacks consistent impact at even strength. Quietly produces offence. Room for more pace and drive overall. Cerebral player who can leave you wanting more, but also produces more than his share of offence at the OHL level. Will need to play consistently quicker, faster and more engaged for his element to impact the NHL game. Played through a torn labrum the entire season.
A raw talent who has time to grow into his large frame. For a player of his size his skating mechanics are sound: average plus out of the gate, separates in open ice and his edges are solid but, due to his size, he takes longer to turn than smaller players. Great mitts and understated vision. He sees the ice and can make sneaky plays through seams. At the net front he is more than a handful for opponents. Equal parts shooter and distributor. Loads of upside. Top six NHL forward is possible.
Ended the season on a high note at the U18 Worlds. Played to his identity offensively and pushed the pace more consistently. Has a shoot-first mentality and rips pucks from the perimeter on the power play. Dangerous between the dots. Quick, heavy and accurate release. Top six NHL forward on projection. When fully engaged and his engine running at full throttle, his offensive element is attractive.
In the second half of the OHL season his game went to another level offensively. Elite skater and a goal scorer who’s hard to defend off the rush. Cycles pucks low/high effectively to open up shooting lanes. Leans shooter more than distributor. Defensive detail is average. Has enough game to be used in a variety of roles, but leans even strength/power play/top six offensive forward on projection. Productive for Hamilton after being acquired in trade from Peterborough. Never established himself with Team Canada at U18 Worlds. Body of work wins out overall.
A big, rangy defenceman who’s an excellent skater with a fantastic stride. Fluid with great edges. Uses his long reach to his advantage when defending and intercepting plays. Subtle offensive skill. Walks the blue line efficiently and leans distributor more than shooter. Directs pucks on net occasionally, but it’s not an area of strength at this stage of his development. Two-way defenceman who bodies up, is smart and competes hard. NHL comparable is Vladislav Gavrikov.
Ended the season at the U18 worlds on a relatively flat note in comparison to his body of work in regular season at the WHL level. Evolving defensively. Average on the penalty kill. Aggressive on the offensive blue line. Deceptive, elusive and not shy about directing pucks on goal from range or pinching down to keep pucks alive. Leans two-way/transitional NHL defenceman on projection. Projects to contribute on the PP and take regular shift at even strength. Top four very likely.
Massive in the net. Plays between his posts, never outside the blue paint. His size affords him the luxury of playing deep and having to travel less distance to make saves laterally. Rebound control is generally sound. Pucks rarely bounce off him resulting in second chances against. There are moments he does open up moving side to side tracking the play, with his stick leading behind and pucks beating him between the legs. Low blocker/above the pad is also an area that needs attention. Could be the first goalie off the board at NHL draft. Attractive foundation to build upon.
Leans playmaker more than shooter. A threat off the rush not due to speed, but due to his high-end puck skill and ability to make plays in tight quarters. Difficult to defend because of how he slips off checks. Excellent puckhandling with an ability to make plays off both forehand and backhand. More strength should lead to more explosiveness. Top six forward potential, but his pace in open ice will need to go to another level.
Solid skater who could use more explosiveness out of the blocks, which should come in time with more leg strength. Excellent vision. Distributes very well off the rush and on the power play. Defensively aware, he collapses down to assist and doesn’t cheat in his zone. Thinks the game well overall and brings an offensive element. Potential top six NHL upside.
Augustine was excellent for Team USA at the U18 Worlds. He came up with timely stops in the gold medal game versus Sweden, including game savers late in regulation with Sweden on the PP. Lateral tracking is a strength. He’s quick side to side and his read/react/positioning is sound. Battles to find pucks in traffic. Athletic, quick, focused and with good rebound control there are no holes.
Had some ups and downs in the second half of the season. Struggled with consistency right to the end of his season at U18 Worlds. Injured in semi-final game against Sweden after upper body/head contact. When dialled in he positions himself well and uses his size to his advantage. There are times his read/react and lateral push is on time and his length moving side to side results in big stops. Other times he finds himself positioned too high — sometimes outside the paint — and he struggles to get to the back post. Good glove. At times pucks find him in traffic due to his stature. His butterfly is a work in progress. At times he makes himself small by leaning forward.
His skill element is attractive. When engaged he is difficult to defend in small areas and off the rush. Leans distributor more than shooter. Picks his spots playing fast. Off the puck detail, defensive zone exits and secondary battle became more of a concern down the stretch when games got more difficult and continued into the U18 Worlds with Team Canada. Has top six NHL upside when engaged 100 per cent.
A goal scorer and point producer historically. Creates — and scores — on the power play. Somewhat of a short stride, but gets places on time and has enough speed to slip through defenders on his way to the net. Good mitts in tight and around the crease. Three zone detail ranges. His element is offence. Decent size and strength and carries a lot of weight for his stature.
Has to be watched closely every time he hits the ice. Big body forward who’s pace ranges from average to surprisingly quick, especially off the rush. Good stick and a long reach. Showed ability to make plays around opponents at the U18 Worlds. Primary ice comes at even strength and PP with the national team, but he has shown he can PK over the course of the season. An involved player who’s hard to move in traffic. A work in progress, his impact ranges. Leans mid-range power forward who can extend plays and provide secondary scoring, but could end up being a player who can slide into the top six at times.
His body of work has to be considered when analyzing his U18 tournament and the way his season ended. For some reason his ice time came down at the U18s. He was deployed at even strength and PP, but did not see any time on the PK and averaged just over 12 minutes per game. But he went about his business very quietly. When at his best he scores at a high rate against his own age category. He skates well, can be a threat off the rush and rips pucks from the perimeter.
Excellent skater. Quick, fast and agile. Leans transitional defencema. Ability to lead the rush or distribute and join as an extra layer. Room for improvement defensively with attention to detail and stopping on pucks. Best paired with more of a defensive defenceman to allow for him to free wheel.
Good size and moves well. Solid in the face-off circle and takes key draws in all three zones. Bulk of his ice time came at even strength and the PK at U18 Worlds, averaging 14 minutes of ice time. Plays with reliable detail. Bodies up and is willing to block shots. Engaged and competes. Secondary scorer for the middle of the lineup and a match up forward on projection.
Plays his off-wing and has a fantastic release. Pucks are on and off his stick in a hurry. Defenders have very little time fronting him to block shots when he’s coming off the flank. Back door shooter on the PP. Good skater with room for more power and open ice speed. Added strength required as he matures, which will help with explosiveness. Going to college. No secret about his element. The kind of player who needs to find a home in the top six to play to his identity. More than doubled his offence year over year. Average defensively.
Element has been consistent throughout his draft year: Transitional defenceman, PP quarterback, and an effortless skater who can play big minutes. Continues to show deception on the offensive blue line when directing pucks on goal or distributing them — he’s equal parts a threat on both sides. Some defending concerns down the stretch and into the U18 Worlds. Leans area defender who will bump opponents on occasion, but his timing taking away space and containing the play to the perimeter, or winning second pucks in the trenches, ranges.
Equal parts goal scorer and distributor. Good size, competes, has some bump to his game and is around the play from shift to shift. Capitalizes on chances on the PP. Average play driver between the blue lines and off the rush. Skating has to come for the NHL game. Average power and glide.
His offence and consistency went to another level in the back half of the season in Sudbury. Big body, average plus skater in open ice. Not a transition threat, his best work comes from the hash marks down and around the crease. Sneaky puck skill making plays through opponents. More of a playmaker in the second half than goal scorer. Fantastic puck touch around the crease and a quick release. Detail has ranged in all three zones. Has room for more pace and drive at times, but he has top six qualities when he’s on his game.
Brings a package of size and skill when his motor is running. Off the rush he can attack with decent pace and make plays via zone entries. When he gets the edge he can take the puck to the net and is hard to defend with his length. Overall detail ranges, as does his compete. Has the skill set to impact the game more consistently than he does. His best shift is enticing. Leans top six scoring forward when he is on.
Elite skater, quick out of the blocks, fast in open ice with exceptional glide. Has the hockey IQ to be used in all situations. Motion player, capable on the PP. Leans distributor more than shooter. Pressures puck up ice. Motions well on PK. Gets in the lane disrupting the play. Little to no bump to his game. All skill.
Easy to identify his element. His read/react game in the offensive zone, or off the rush as plays develop, is upper tier for this draft class. A massive threat to create on the PP. Leans shooter more than distributor. Paces his game his own way. More attention to detail required in his zone as he matures. Good size. Bumps opponents off the play without making a ton of effort. Going to college where he should round out his game. Offensive element is very appealing. Makes plays forehand and backhand with great puck touch.
Has a great stick. Quick catch and release. Ability to find pucks around the crease via rebounds or tips is high-end for this draft class. Open ice pace has room for more speed. Appears plenty strong, simply needs to work on mechanics and get more from his stride. Used in all situations in junior, but his defensive detail ranges. Mostly motion player. Element is clearly offence.
Two-way energy provider who has a way of getting under the skin of opponents. Plays hard between the whistles, but sometimes crosses the line trying to draw penalties and extend plays. Quick to space. Secondary scorer on projection. Can be used in a variety of roles, including hard match-ups on the road.
Undersized skill forward with excellent puck touch. Playmaker in the offensive zone who wastes very little time making plays from the flank on the PP. Game is evolving to produce offence at even strength and PP. Quick out of the gate with room to add more open ice speed. Very occasionally used on the PK, but cannot be described as a defensive specialist. Not the kind of prospect who will be used in high leverage defensive scenarios. Has to play in the top six.
One of the nice surprises at the U18 Worlds from Team Sweden. Competes, plays with solid pace and handles the puck very well. Leans playmaker more than shooter, but he has a good release and could get pucks to the net more often. Not big, not small, not physical, but tenacious and noticeable. On the rise and a potential middle-six forward.
Finished his year at the U18 Worlds generally playing to his identity. Used in all situations. Best work, overall, was evident on special teams. Brings energy on the penalty kill. Has the skating ability to disrupt the opponent’s breakout and pressure the play in the defensive zone. On the power play he uses his pace to back opponents off on zone entries and sets up on his weak side flank to direct pucks on goal. Not elite offensively overall, however. Secondary scoring upside is possible. Leans two-way forward who is likely a 3F more than a 2F. Lacks a consistent physical element. All speed and tenacity. Reliable compete is attractive.
His game went through several highs and lows in-season. Strbak suited up internationally at the U20s and U18s, as well as playing in the USHL. All three competitions provided a different look. Arguably, his best work came at the WJC in Halifax when he was elevated to a top four/top two role. He’s at his best in an organized environment. A competitive two-way defenceman who might provide some secondary offence. At the season-ending U18s he wore the ‘C’ and was deployed in all situations. He’s a bit of an enigma at times, but he moves well, competes, and has the brain and skill to be used a variety of ways. Needs two, maybe three years at the NCAA level.
A competitive two-way forward who plays quick and fast. Has the ability to be a threat off the rush by chipping pucks deep and winning races or occasionally beating an opponent one-on-one. His offence generally comes off hard work, not finesse. Has a foundation that could lead to being used in a variety of roles up and down the lineup.
Plays heavy minutes in Kitchener where is is used in all situation. Competes. Above average skater with a compact frame. Always around the play and not shy about bumping up against opponents. His detail ranges. There are times he pinches down at the wrong time or gets caught up ice misjudging when to join the rush offensively as an extra layer. Better than secondary scoring upside, he has the skill set to manage a PP unit.
Finished the season with some of his most consistent efforts. Used at even strength and the PK. An energetic defender who isn’t shy about engaging physically and is willing to block shots. A good skater who has the ability to pinch down to extend plays in the offensive zone or lead the rush from his zone. Secondary offence at even strength or 4-on-4 is possible. Detail, at times, ranges.
Producing mid-range offence in Finland’s Liiga. Element leans offence. Deployed at even strength and the power play. Not a burner. Average-plus skater with good mitts and an ability to score from range. Protects pucks well. Finds second chances around the crease. Has a quick release that does not require much time or space. Some bump to his game on occasion. Pace has to go to another level for his element to win out in North America.
After a solid 30-goal season at the OHL level with the Erie Otters, he joined Team USA at the U18 Worlds and contributed two goals and four assists in seven games. Both of his goals came on the power play. Terrance averaged 15 minutes per game of ice time and was deployed at even strength and the second PP unit. Moves well. Has a good stick and handles the puck well. Leans shooter more than distributor, but has understated vision in the offensive zone. Average size with some bump to his game on occasion. Noticeable. Middle of the lineup forward on projection, with upside offensively.
A light, undersized, skill player who contributes a secondary layer of offence. Not an elite point producer for his stature. Good skater…more “quick” than “fast”. On the PP he generally finds pucks on his weak side and isn’t shy about directing shots on goal from the flank. All of his ice time comes at even strength and PP. Doesn’t PK. Requires more strength and desire to win pucks along the boards. Doesn’t have to be physical, only more tenacious.
Two-way, transitional defenceman who excels leading the rush and can be a threat joining as an extra layer off the attack. There is some risk/reward to his game. He does take chances and can get caught up ice offensively at times. His game management has room to improve, but his skill set wins out. Not tall. Stocky with good feet and very good puck touch. Potential second PP quarterback.
A riser in the second half of the season. Competes, plays with pace, doesn’t shy away from traffic or contact, and has the hockey brain to be used in all situations. Earned the trust of his coaching staff and played elevated minutes in the playoffs. His shot has improved. Leans distributor who can extend plays with his tenacity. Leans 3F for NHL projection.
Good sized defender who leans two-way, defensive defenceman. Average-plus skater. Not shy physically. Fronts the puck on the penalty kill and blocks shots. He reads the play appropriately in the defensive zone, but his reaction to what is developing has room to improve. Average puck skill. Takes what is given. Not a player who will take a ton of risk offensively. Leans bottom pairing NHL defender. Can be paired with a more active offensive partner.
Good sized goalie who takes up a lot of the net. Leans butterfly/positional style. When things are in control in his zone he squares up well and fronts the puck. Rebound control ranges. Not a huge concern, but when things get hectic around his crease his lateral quickness is tested and there are times he ends up tracking and leaning forward in his butterfly, compromising balance. Plays the puck well. Proven winner at USHL level.
Big body, power forward stature. Skating is not an issue on straight lines. Played quicker and faster as the season went along. In a 10-game segment towards the end of the year he scored a goal and two assists, but only had 16 shots on goal. Used in all situations at the college level. The team around him had a down year, but he competed hard between the whistles and attempted to play with three zone detail. Offensive upside is a question mark.
Mid-sized defender who is used in all situations at the WHL level with Saskatoon. Leans distributor, but not shy about directing pucks on goal from range on his weak side in the offensive zone. Ability to join the rush as an extra attacker. Good skater overall. Explosive and quick. An average-plus area defender who will close physically occasionally, as well as block shots on the penalty kill. At times he needs to front the play and keep his opponent in front of him. Two-way, transitional defenceman on projection, most likely used at even strength and PP.
Good sized prospect who was part of the leadership group for Team Finland at the U18 Worlds. Not overly physical. Skating has room for improvement. More quickness to small area battles required. Once up to speed he has the ability to create off the rush. Good stick in tight quarters around the net. Appears comfortable distributing and going to the net (tips and rebounds) on the PP. Doesn’t have a singular elite element at this stage of his development, but has the hockey IQ and enough overall game to project as a player who can be used up and down the lineup if he maximizes his development.
Undersized, darting forward who had a very strong second half of the season at the OHL level, where he was used in all situations. Ability to extend plays along the boards with his quickness and agility. Spins off checks. At his best when he’s pushing his pace to the max. Has the hockey IQ to be used in a variety of roles, from middle of the lineup energy or top six offence.
Big body who moves well for his stature. Teases more offensive upside. Bulk of ice time comes at even strength and on the PK. Competes. Leans on opponents. Average-plus at moving pucks up ice. A bit of a project, but has an interesting foundation to work with.
Compact frame. Not tall, not short. Stocky look that takes up plenty of net. Proficient at taking away space for shooters from distance and in tight. Squares up very well. Rebound control is strong. Good lateral push. Athletic with secondary battle. Anticipation is excellent. Has played a limited number of games compared to others in draft class due to the fact he played behind a proven WHL starter (Thomas Milic).
Uneven impact and consistency overall through the season. Second half of his OHL season provided some peaks when he was engaged physically, playing with pace, and managed the puck responsibly. The valleys still included plenty of compete, sound pace and physical push back, but they also included poor read/react and puck management. Leans two-way defenceman whose best shift is intriguing, but needs to reduce the number of turnovers and ranging detail overall. Risk/reward draft target.
Two-way defenceman who was deployed at even strength and the penalty kill at U18 Worlds. Good feet and sound game management. Low risk. Safe, reliable, match-up kind of defenceman who can be paired with a more active offensive partner. Takes care of his zone first.
Undersized skill forward who leans shooter more than distributor. Has the ability to cycle off the flank and score from the angle. Quick release, shoots the puck hard and accurately. Defensive detail and off the puck commitment ranges. Element is offence. Needs to elevate his detail as he matures. More quick than fast in open ice.
Good sized forward with average skill set overall. Skating has room to improve. More explosiveness and open ice pace required for North American game. On the PP he sets up net front and battles to take away the ‘eyes’ of the goaltender. Extending plays along the boards is a positive element of his game. Not shy about engaging physically.
Depth role on a very deep USA U18 squad. Moves well and has better than average skill with the puck on his stick. Some battle in the hard areas. Hard to gauge his upside offensively in the big picture, but he has an understated foundation of skill that was not able to be fully utilized at the U18 due to the depth of the team.
Burst on to the scene at the WJC in Halifax providing outstanding goaltending for Team Slovakia. Good size, but with a deep stance that makes him appear shorter than he is. Lateral push is strong and he’s quick moving side to side. A butterfly/athletic goalie who battles to make second stops. Crease composure ranges. At times he’s too hectic, resulting in losing his posts. Stats at USHL and NAHL are solid.
A mid/late round consideration who skated on the top line for Slovakia at U18’s. Gangly looking skater with an average stride and edges. Good mitts and vision. Tries to make plays offensively. Competes and plays with energy. Some of his playmaking comes in high danger areas of the ice and results in turnovers as much as scoring chances. Used at even strength, PP No. 1, and 4-on-4 at U18. Skating and agility will have to evolve for chance to be pro in North America.
Two-way defenceman on projection. Deployed at even strength and PK at U18 Worlds for Team Canada. Willing to close on opponents and finish checks below the hash marks. Gap control defending O-zone entries has room for better timing and closer interaction to kill the play sooner. Mostly reliable distributor. At times he will join the rush as an extra layer, but he doesn’t appear to be a player who will have enormous impact offensively at the NHL level. His read/react game wanders on occasion. A work in progress identifying plays developing in his zone.