Scouts on Top NHL Draft Prospects for 2014, 2015, 2016

Scouts on Top NHL Draft Prospects for 2014, 2015, 2016

After reading “Ryen Russillo’s NBA Draft Confidential: Real Scouts on Wiggins, Randle, Embiid and Parker“, I thought it would be a worthwhile effort to do something similar for the NHL draft. So I spoke to some scouts/coaches from the USHL, other Junior Leagues, High School, Independent Services as well as the Major Junior ranks. In exchange for anonymity, they agreed to share their thoughts on some upcoming prospects for the coming 2014 draft as well as some of their favorite or overrated prospects for 2015 and 2016.

This isn’t really an “all-encompassing” draft preview – it’s just a way to gauge what some of the people who actually watch the players think of their draft stock. In some cases, differing answers were provided and I’ve included those to show the contrast – few scouts agreed on all players and at already about 10,000 words, I just didn’t have space for everyone I’d have liked to include. Names like Jeremy Bracco (2015), Nick Boka (2015), Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson (2015), etc. From across the border, a few other names continued to pop out: From the WHL, Travis Sanheim for this year, Portland’s Paul Bittner and Seattle stars Matt Barzal, Ryan Gropp (formerly a UND recruit) for next year, as well as the obvious pick in Connor McDavid from the OHL, and Julien Gauthier out of the QMJHL.

I tried to keep the most interesting comments and every scout was able to include comments on players even if I didn’t ask about them, which was done in a number of cases. I should note that none of these opinions necessarily are concurrent with ours at OTB – with a clear contrast on some of the players, it would be impossible for them all to be regardless. Any speculation as to player movement or the like are not necessarily reflections of what we think will occur either, though some points were pretty astute and I opted to include most of them.

Thanks goes to those who agreed to share their opinions for this piece. For the most comprehensive section, 2014, I’ve sorted the players by conference. The rest are in no particular order.

2014 Draft

NCHC

96 F Nick Schmaltz - Green Bay Gamblers (USHL) - North Dakota

  • “He’s a stud, 1st round guy. He can skate like the wind, he’s on the ice your going to get your doors blown off as a defenseman. He got called up to the NTDP, steps in, best player on the ice. Hands down. He dominated against UMD this year, I think Milano or someone was hurt, they called up Schmaltz. He’s good. I’d love to have that guy on my team.”
  • “No player at any age level I watched this year pissed me off more than ‘Schmaltzy’; yes he could be dazzling, yet he routinely cheated his teammates with disengaged play and piss poor effort. If you get the light bulb to turn on, you’re a genius. If it doesn’t, update your resume.”
96 F Shane Gersich - NTDP - North Dakota
  • “Great skater, you know? Very intriguing. Very explosive. But, hockey sense wise, how well does he think it, too? Go back to Spencer Naas, Gersich is more explosive, more of a guy that can finish. He struggled a little bit this year, I don’t think he made the jump great. His bloodlines are great. At the combine he had the best two scores in jumping — is he going to wow you as a summer hockey guy and then you put him in the game and bodies on bodies with better gap, is he going to thrive? If he defines his game as a hard-working guy that skates well and can finish, I think he’s fine. The jury’s still out on that. He’s a nice looking Ferrari, four banger or a V10 in that: we don’t know.”
  • “He had his time being a bit of a target (in Minnesota), for his skill and speed, because he was ‘the guy’ very quickly. He has some really appealing traits on top of being able to come out of that situation and thrive. Up and down for the NTDP this season but I’d bet on him being a player. There is a lot to like.”
  • “He is a kid whose gotten better every year, hasn’t seen his best hockey. Going to be a Guy Carbonneau kind of guy. Plays all 200 feet, wins draws, not going to wow you like a Seamus Malone. Could be a great 3rd line checking center that plays against the best lines in the NHL. Going to be a college guy that all the pro guys want as a free agent.”

96 D Blake Hillman - Dubuque Fighting Saints - Denver

  • “If he had stayed at Elk River he would have been the guy everyone would have been chasing locally. Of course he wore out at the end; he’s lanky and not used to the USHL grind, but there’s a lot to like with his frame, skating, and intelligence. He should take a big jump next year.”
  • “He’s going to be a steal at the bottom of the draft. You haven’t even seen close to the best of him. Big, long frame, very smart, moves well. Once he puts on weight, I think he could end up being a shutdown guy. Not a mean shutdown guy but probably in the NHL he could be a 4/5 guy. He does have some PP potential cause he thinks it so well. As he progresses up the ladder, he’s going to be just fine but maybe not a PP guy. Dubuque got him in the 17th round and as a 17 year old out of Elk River, you haven’t seen the best of him yet. Great teammate, makes smart passes, I know he seemed to get worn down at the end of the year but that comes to his frame. Whoever takes him is getting a steal – I think he goes at the bottom of the draft as a huge steal.”
95 F Karson Kuhlman - Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL) - Minnesota-Duluth
  • “I would put his hockey sense above anyone on the list. High Hockey IQ, if they took track of steals in the USHL – he’d be right up there — before you know it, he’s on you. One timers from everywhere, he’s going to take the puck to the net. To the next level, your going to have a knock on his size but he’s going to prove people wrong. His size at 5’10, 170? No problem – he thinks so well, skates so well, great teammate. At the end of the day you win with a guy like him. One of my favorite players you asked about. If you watch him play, he’s so fun to watch. It’s crazy. He’s going to have two breakaways a game in the USHL, he did, probably one a game in college.”

96 F Mitch Slattery - Hill-Murray - St. Cloud

  • “Love the kid’s ability to score, poise with the puck. Is he going to put the time in to be an NHL player? On the ice, a lot of circling, a lot of cheating to offense. He’s got that arrogance because he knows he’s good, but I don’t know how well his game is going to translate. I don’t see him being a pro unless he takes a 180 and works on his body, skating. What he does have is he’s really smart, very poised with the puck. He’s willing to make that play that people won’t make, and he can score.”
  • “He plays with a lot of swagger. I like it. He gets in your face and he scores. You watch him, you don’t forget about him – he leaves an impression. We’ll see (on pro upside).”

96 F Sebastian Fuchs - Kenai River Brown Bears - Denver

  • “I liked him quite a bit; the skating will come but he’s a heady two way player. Will he get drafted, probably not; but he’s a player who will have some interested parties watching him next year in Madison.”
96 D Luc Snuggerud - Eden Prairie HS - Nebraska-Omaha
  • “I think he’s going to be real, real good. He proved himself in HS hockey and then jumping into USHL and putting in the points.. I think someones going to take a chance on him. He’s proven himself; he can be physical, and make smart plays. It’s growing into your body, and having confidence, add some leg strength, one summer in the gym.”
  • “He, like, broke his hand and was still the best D on the ice. Literally – could not use one hand and they had to keep putting him out (in playoffs) because he’s a game-changer back there. They were not very deep on D, so, yeah, well, that’s neither here nor there – kid is good. His feet got better and he’s generating offense from that too. His ability to change his game and continue to improve on what he has or his weaknesses tells me he’s going to be a player.”
96 F Steven Spinner - Eden Prairie HS - Nebraska-Omaha
  • “Kid can score goals. He has that knack to score goals, he’s greasy around the net, he gets dirty around the net. His compete’s going to need to be picked up, he also played well in the USHL, so it translates more. I think he needs to start stopping and starting instead of circling, which is something that can be coached. I don’t know how high-end he is but he can be someone that scores the goals.”

96 D Nick Wolff - Eagan HS - Minnesota-Duluth

  • “Now, for me, I’m not a huge fan. The kid’s tough as nails. I don’t think he thinks the game well. I like his toughness, and that sort of thing, his size, his reach. If he’s going to be effective, he’s going to have to keep it simple, he’s going to have to be hard to play against and drop the mitts. And he’ll do it, to his credit. For me it’s hockey sense that’s lacking, can he process things at the next level. He has the intangibles to be a hard-to-play-against defenseman. Guys gave him more time and space in high school, it’s like, ‘I’m not going near this guy.’”

Big Ten

96 D Jack Dougherty - NTDP - Wisconsin
  • “It’s hard to believe this is the same kid who looked so out of place in the Elite League; his skating has improved tenfold, he’s got jam, he can move the puck. Best of the NTDP D to me; and better than Brady Skjei was at the same age.”
  • “He’s a talent. He can do it all. He’s good – a no-brainer. He stepped up, to do what he did, and he was just fine.”
  • “I think he’s going to be a pro, for sure. Very projectable. Is there even a serious debate, really? I have to think some teams are really high on him. There’s a lot to like.”

96 D Ryan Collins - NTDP - Minnesota

  • “To be the shutdown guy he needs to be – and that’s really all he can be – it comes down to skating and really developing a thorny temperament. Frankly I think he could be having trouble at the U with their logjam on the blueline, so maybe going to the Dub isn’t a bad idea.”
  • “To me, not a huge fan. Hardly played at Benilde and went right to the NTDP. His feet and all that need work. Does he have pro potential, yeah, he thinks the game pretty well, I think. But I’m not a huge fan. As a pro, looking way down the road. I think going to the Gophers he’s going to struggle staying in the line-up next year. He doesn’t excel. He gets away with size, reach, decent stick and good hockey sense. He’s a project for somebody. Late rounder, to me.”
96 F Seamus Malone - Dubuque Fighting Saints - Wisconsin
  • “A kid who has filthy hands, great hips, willing to do anything, drop the gloves, whatever. Going to need to put on some weight, start playing all 200 feet of the ice. I think he has pro potential – smart player with great hands, going to be greasy, going to be slippery, he will play hard. He needs to buy in and play the whole game. Someones going to take him: 5th round, 6th round probably. Ultra competitive – definitely the best hands of everyone we talked about.”

96 F JD Dudek - Kimball Union - Boston College

  • “Certain people have him as high as Donato, a lot of people seemed to have him or Donato as top 2 at some point this season. Plays too much around the perimeter, doesn’t have the killer instinct you need to score goals at the next level. Has the skating ability and awareness to create offense for his line mates. I was thinking about him because he came into the prep scene and just skyrocketed, kind of plateaued this year. If he can make another jump this year leaving KUA, he “only” had 44 points in 26 games with Tyler Bird and Greer on his line and you look at what Donato did with a worse supporting cast in his draft year. His skating’s going to carry him.”

96 D Jack Glover - NTDP - Minnesota

  • “Your classic “jeans model” player. A 6’3″ D who can skate and have some offensive presence but he’s an “olé defender” along the walls, something which hasn’t particularly changed since he was 15. I think he gets overestimated because of the tangibles and resume.”
  •  “A bit like Collins but more polished. I’d feel more comfortable taking Glover. Just across the board I think he’s better but Collins may think the game just a little bit better, where Glover is more polished where I don’t like Collins; the skating, the hips, the pivoting and getting to pucks. I think Glover has a better shot. More of a safe pick. Collins hasn’t played his best hockey yet. Glover is getting close. I’d feel safe putting him out if I was Don Lucia.”
96 D Josh Jacobs - Indiana Ice (USHL) - Michigan State
  • “Big, smart, offensive. Going to have to amp up his engaging of his man, D-zone coverage, physical play. Never been a guy to engage his man even in midget hockey. I do like him because he does make smart plays but I’m worried about the defensive side of the game. He played in Detroit and all those kids played hard, he played in Indy, obviously good team, but he still needs to get a little “FU” in his game. I don’t think he’s dynamic enough to be an offensive threat, for his size.”

96 F Dakota Joshua - Sioux Falls Stampede - Ohio State

  • “Really took that step forward in the 2nd half; he was finally able to assert himself and make those puck protection plays with his frame that he can be trying to do before. Got a tad nastier too; had his nose in every scrum in the last game I saw of his. For a lot of people they’ll be surprised with how high he’ll go.”
96 D Matt Berkovitz - Ashwaubenon HS/Team Wisconsin U18 - Wisconsin
  • “Like (Dakota) Joshua, people are going to be shocked at where he goes, which should be top 2-3 rounds. Intelligent, skating, creativity, developmental environment (Wisco.)”
  • “Like him, like him. I don’t know where he fits, I know there’s inconsistency in his game, sometimes. I think he’s a real nice puck-moving defenseman with some real nice upside.”

96 D Tyler Nanne - Edina - Ohio State

  • “He is a great skater, really shoots the puck, loves to do it. Thinks the game fairly well. He is, at a lot of times, all about himself, doesn’t include his teammates at times: takes it up, fires it across the board. Switching to D he’s still going to have to learn to defend better. I think he can cause he’s a good athlete, I do like him, I think someone will take him late – it could be on his name or on his potential. Is he going to work at it, or is he going to play like, ‘I have great skill, I don’t need to do that much’. Great in high school but he’s not Sidney Crosby, needs to get back. When it gets harder for him to skate the puck up, I don’t know. Drew Doughty is the best in D the NHL but how often does he go up and do it all himself? Not often. We’ll see how often his antics translate to the next level when everyone is at that level.”
  • “Put him on TV for the tourney and he scores four goals. He plays D! Maybe on Big Ten Network he can put up five?”

95 F Tyler Sheehy - Waterloo Black Hawks - Minnesota

  • “Just a stud. Great player, good kid, I think he’s going to play in the NHL. He’s got everything but the size: he’s going to be strong, wherever you put him, he’s going to work hard and put up points. He’s dangerous. When he’s on the ice, you gotta know where he is.”
  • “He has that fire, you know? I think in a lot of ways, the word; it’s undeniable. I see him proving everyone wrong if he doesn’t get drafted. Who is still doubting him?”

96 G Logan Halladay - Janesville Jets - Minnesota

  • “Came a long way. He has confidence in himself and his ability to string more than one game together. I was down in Janesville, first shot it was a five-hole goal with NHL and college guys in the building — weak goal. No way to start the game and it was a big game. Gives up a super soft goal – other team chirps him, really in his face – then shuts them down the rest of the game. So that tells me he’s getting it. Extremely focused. He made leaps in bounds in the NA as a goalie because there’s much less pressure and he excelled in his development. I think the kid has it and he showed he can bounce back. He’s gone by the 5th round, wouldn’t be surprised by 3rd round.
  • “We have not seen the best of him yet..”

Hockey East

95 G Thatcher DemkoBoston College
  • “He’s such a… known commodity. There’s nothing to say that hasn’t been said lately.”
  • “I think he goes first round. Probably the best goalie available – he seems big time. I think he goes late first round and I think he goes to Chicago.”

96 F Sonny Milano – NTDP – Boston College

  • “Very smooth, very finesse. Great skater, loves the puck – his stick is like a magnet. Not many have what he has – it’s a type of confidence. Unpredictable then you add the skating. He’ll come up big because he wants to be out there in that situation and has the ability to convert.”
  • “People take the ‘he played with Eichel’ thing almost as a way to knock him and run with it when you see however many, 80 something, points (86) he got this season, somehow. I see it as not just a positive but a huge positive. He had a quote about how Eichel’s tough to read, the other day, how his body contorts and hides things but once you can read him and play with him it’s great? I don’t think many players can think at that level to keep up with Jack Eichel like he did. Does he create offense? Of course, his brand of it, right? His type, but he doesn’t make his teammates better necessarily. He doesn’t have to. He has intense skill and his head is there that he keeps up with the horses – you might be able to line him up on the wing with a Crosby or a McDavid, Eichel again, and get 30-plus goals or a ton of first assists from him.”

94 D Brandon Montour – Waterloo Black Hawks – UMass

  • “Tremendous hockey sense and athleticism; by the end of the season he was just picking apart defenses and looking off forecheckers. He did play on a loaded team in Waterloo, so I’ll be curious to see how he plays at UMass.”
  • “I don’t see him enough. I know the kids freaking good. Under the radar and in everyones living room now. Good player no doubt about it.”

96 F JJ Piccinich – Youngstown Phantoms – Boston University

  • “Wasn’t on a great team but he brings offense, compete, wins puck battles. I like the kid, I like him for the future. Last year was worse, he got a lot better but I don’t see him being a pro. I think he’ll be a real good college player. We saw what he did in one year, he may start off slow (at BU) but I think he gets it.”
96 F Shane Eiserman – Dubuque Fighting Saints – New Hampshire
  • “I don’t know if he understands what his role will be. He’s got size and he can skate so he’s intriguing. The next level, he’s going to have to really define his game as a simple north-south power forward who has to mix it up. He projects as a ‘for-sure NHL guy’ because he’s going to play in your bottom six, good size, strong, great hands, and he can really skate. He’s almost like one of those safe bets. Pro guys might think they can get him to chip pucks, skate by you and get to the corners. He can skate by you and toedrag it and pick a corner…”

96 D Jake Walman – Toronto Jr. Canadiens – Providence

  • “Like him a lot. Really high ceiling, I think they may be bringing him in early but he’s just so smooth, great footwork. Great skill, great hands. Offensively, he seemed like a distributor at the point. Not sure how the size translates, he’s not really thick but he could fill out. Who knows if these guys will be able to defend in Hockey East but if they’re always attacking…PC is going to be Union 2.0… they’re bringing in the next (Shayne) Gostisbeheres, the (Mat) Bodies…”

96 D Miles Gendron – Rivers – UConn

  • “Phenomenal skater, room to grow into his frame, lacks the decision-making that a defenseman of his caliber should have at this point of his career. Interesting to see how he adjusts in the BCHL.”
  • “With his skating and his build, there is an enormous upside. The offense could really come. I think he could be the best pro prospect out of New England.”
96 F Maxim Letunov – Youngstown Phantoms – Boston University
  • “Tons of skill. Such an exciting talent to watch. He could be a serious talent but he hasn’t filled out. I don’t know, I can’t think of reasons why he wouldn’t. Has to show and prove at BU down the line… three, four years out he could be the real deal.”
96 F Chase Phelps – Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep – Boston University
  • “I like the player, he’s going to be a nice player, I couldn’t give you a good description because nothing defines him. He does a lot well, but nothing great. For him to be effective, he’s going to have to define his game. What is Chase Phelps.”
  • “For BU right now he is ideal. He brings a lot that will allow him to walk right into the line-up and is versatile in that sense. Who knows where he fits in the line-up: kind of anywhere. An NHL team should like that. Otherwise this is another great free agent coming out of the league in a few seasons.”

96 F Warren Foegele - St. Andrew’s College - New Hampshire

  • “A complete player, he can use his size and strength to power himself into scoring opportunities, he has soft hands and skill in tight around the net, he has scorer’s instincts but is not afraid to distribute the puck. He can play any position on the powerplay and he’s not afraid to block shots, take the body and stays disciplined in his own end. He projects well at the next level with his combination of size, skill and compete level but he will have to improve his first three steps in order to reach his potential. I’d say he’s a 3-5th rounder.”
96 F Dylan Malmquist - Edina - Notre Dame
  • “Natural goalscorer but people have to get him the puck. He’s easy to knock off his game with a couple slashes and a chirp. You want a natural goalscorer — if you build your team around someone like that, your not going to get a ton of back checking, you’ll have some attitude. He can score timely goals, but his body language and attitude are concerns. I think he picks his battles.”
  • “Off the charts hockey sense but he didn’t do a lot with it this season. I don’t know that he gets drafted.”

96 F Spencer Naas - Benilde-St. Margaret’s - UConn

  • “Great skater, good compete. Not sure he’s a pro. Interested to see how he goes right to Connecticut having not played juniors, it’s such a tough jump. I think he’ll be fine because he’s a good skater, he could be a very effective college guy by junior year. There’s going to be way less time and space at the next level. Not high hockey IQ but he has good IQ for how quick he’s moving. He’s a lot of north south too, where a guy like Nanne goes side to side. Not afraid to get his nose in there, I like his compete.”

96 F Bobo Carpenter - Austin Prep - Boston University

  • “I’ve been underwhelmed by him, a lot of people love him, I don’t think he’s got hockey IQ, I don’t think he skates well. The bloodlines are there, his sister’s unbelievable.”
  • “He plays hard. He’s a good player to have on your team because he brings some offense too. I’m not sold on the pro stock. I like him for college.”
96 D Mike Lee - The Gunnery - Vermont
  • “I thought he was so good at times and other times so-so. What is he at the next level? I don’t know and you have to know to pick him, right? His ice isn’t easy ice, I love that, he fights and fights back but you can burn him and he’s not the most dynamic at the offensive blue from what I’ve seen.”
  • “If you are looking for an offensive defenseman in New England Prep hockey, you will be hard pressed to find a better player, but Lee has some holes on the backend. He is a poised, highly skilled offensive defenseman that can stretch the ice with his elite passing ability. A smooth and gifted skater he is able to take a few strides and use both his feet and hands to get out of trouble situations and make crisp breakout passes instead of just whacking the puck up the boards. What I like most about (Lee) is his competitiveness, he will do whatever it takes to win. The problem in his game is he lacks concentration in his own end, tends to run around and at times can make high risk, lower reward decisions with the puck although he gets away with it at the prep level because his passing ability and vision are high end. I see him as a 5-7th rounder.”
  • “He looks so small in his equipment, they list him at 6’0, 186 but I can’t imagine he’s that big. The only thing he brings to the table is his offense, I don’t think he’s great defensively. He’s a less talented Miles Gendron. I think he’s going to be at Penticton with Gendron, so that’s interesting. How they compare will be interesting because he needs to spend more time on the defensive game. He should be a good player in college, though.”
95 F Nolan Vesey - South Shore Kings (USPHL) - Maine
  • “Vesey’s got the mindset of a bottom-six forward. I think that’s a plus, he’s got the grit that you can’t get away with in New England hockey. He’d be your Brad Marchand, except at Maine. I think he had a pretty good year with (SSK HC Scott) Harlow. He’s got enough offensive upside to be a good investment.”

96 F James Winkler - Portland Jr. Pirates (USPHL) - Northeastern

  • “I’ve liked this kid for a while – he had a terrible year. That team was not good. He came in, a lefty shot off the right wing, and fired it way off the kid’s far pad and his winger banked it home. That’s how you score later in life. He just doesn’t have enough grit. Inconsistent shift to shift and even throughout the shift he can glide around. Doesn’t have a mean bone. He’s got the nice heavy shot, but he’s basically passive. He makes good hockey plays but his positioning is lacking so he doesn’t make it easy for himself. Potential power forward in the making. Raw but I think he could do it. I’m pretty sure he’s going to Youngstown next year.”

96 F Ben Freeman - Northfield-Mt. Hermon - UConn

  • “He’s a big kid, almost too big. In five years kids like that are going to look like monsters. He can skate pretty well for a big guy and he can shoot it. He’s got a nice heavy shot. A lot of these guys, he’s going to have to be a mucker at the next level.”

ECAC

96 D Mike Prapavessis - Toronto Lakeshore Patriots - RPI

  • “He’s good too, offensively he’s like Walman but worse hands. He’s more of a presence, heavier, tough to play against. Probably a 3-4 D in college. A ‘thorough player’, lower ceiling than a Walman because he doesn’t have that NHL quality skill. Good footwork.”

96 F Ryan Donato – Dexter School – Harvard

  • “He’s driving offense and the way he takes over the zone is really something to see. He’s a player.”
  • “Looks to dominate every shift, he’ll be a high end scorer at the college level, interested to see how his game translates to the pro game. Going back to a prep school is a waste of time, he did well, but what’s he going to put up, 80 something points?”

95 F Alex Rodriguez – Shattuck-St. Mary’s – RPI

  • “Gets after it. He’s always going and digging out pucks. That always has value. Sometimes his anticipation can be off the charts. Other times he’s going so hard it’s like he’ll crash through the boards and (the anticipation) clearly isn’t quite there.”
  • “Meat and potatoes guy, strong on his skates, limited hockey sense. he’s going to be another guy that’s going to be a “grinder” so to speak, he’s going to have to do the dirty work, which he’s fine with. He’s going to be a compliment guy. He’s good enough to put up points — for him to be effective and his line mates, he needs to do the dirty work. He’s not afraid of it, he’ll get those secondary assists and rebounds. He can shoot it. When the pace picks up, I’m concerned about how he thinks it.”

96 F Evan and Mitchell Smith - Salisbury - Yale

  • “The Smith brothers at every occasion improve their draft stock. They performed very well at the New England Prep Finals in front of many NHL and college scouts and followed that up with a strong showing at the Beantown Classic. They are not the prettiest skaters but they are balanced and much faster then they are given credit for. They also are able to keep their speed as they skate with the puck as most players tend to slow down, even slightly, and the Smith’s maintain their speed with no problem. They have a wide skill set which would allow them to play different roles depending on the team and the situation which makes them attractive and they also play with a very high compete level. They are relentless on the penalty kill, tenacious forecheckers but once they get possession of the puck they have strong and smooth hands, high end passing ability and they both know how to score goals and read the goalies. The biggest question facing an NHL franchise is how good are they apart from one another. While they have all the tools to play at the next level, are you going to spend two draft picks to acquire them both knowing that they are good prospects but far from a sure bet. I could see the Smith twins going as high as the 4th round but will likely be late round considerations and fall between 6-7th round.”
  • “I don’t separate the two, people can say one is better than the other but they need to play together. It’s not the Sedin twins cause that’s not fair but more like the Hanson brothers. They outwork you every shift, IQ is good, excellent compete level, good offensive upside where they can play that bottom six forward role in the NHL. I’m kind of interested to see how they do at Yale with the big ice surface because they’re not great skaters but they do have speed. They have good straight line speed, strong kids, but not sure if they’re strong laterally. More so than any kids we’ve talked about, they know their role, their in-game IQ is great and they play within themselves better than anyone else around. There’s going to be a team that wants both of them, however far they end up making it in the pros, but they seem pretty smart and I wouldn’t be surprised if they end up cracking an NHL line-up at some point. The college route was definitely the right choice, I think.”

96 F Tyler Bird - Kimball-Union - Brown

  • “I think he is a high energy player. Your ideal third liner, enough offensive upside where he can create it when you need him to but has enough grit and enough of a motor where he will wear the other team’s top line down. Understands that role, creates offense with his feet not his hands.”
95 F Max Willman - Williston-Northampton - Brown
  • “He was doing a lot for them (Williston) this year and it only takes one team to like a guy… I could see him going a lot higher than people expect. Athletic guy with tools – could have scouts kicking themselves if he signs out of Brown as a free agent.”
  • “Willman has great speed and creates a lot of offense for his teammates. He appears to understand his skill set and plays to his strengths by taking the puck wide on the defense and not exposing the puck and trying to go through their legs. He values possession and buys time and space with his feet and hockey sense by finding open ice and pockets in the defense. Not sure if he is dynamic enough or strong enough to project well at the NHL level so my guess is that he will be a 6-7th rounder if he is drafted at all.”
  •  “High offensive hockey IQ, sneaky-quick release, understands how to position himself to shoot pucks quickly. Somebody’s going to draft him. I think he could be a middle 6 guy down the road.”
95 F Sam Lafferty - Deerfield - Brown
  •  “Lafferty is a bit of a controversial prospect, some NHL scouts have said that he is the real deal and others say they wouldn’t draft him at all. I can see where both are coming from as Lafferty has a good build, great shot and makes plays. At the Flood-Marr he was hot and cold and scouts were all over the place in their assessment of him; come time for the Beantown Classic and he was solid but not special. People look at what he could be and if that is the perspective then there is a lot to like as he is a smart player with a good frame, competes at both ends and will score goals. However, if you are looking at what he is today then there are a lot better. Considering that you only need one team to like you, he will likely get drafted but it will be late in the draft 6-7th round.”
  • “Good hands, jack of all trades master of none, solid defensively. He’s the kind of guy that if he adds a little bit of grit he’s a perfect bottom six forward. Poised, offensively. Calms the play down off the rush, doesn’t always look to attack whether it’s distributing the puck. He seems to make the right decisions.”
96 F Lewis Zerter-Gossage - Kent - Harvard
  • “Zerter-Gossage is a high risk, high reward player. He is tall, has a great reach, fairly soft mitts and skates very well. He never produced at the prep level and showed that he is not a power forward as he lacks toughness and strength and he is not a goal scorer despite having a quick release. At this point in his career he is just a tall, fast prospect that chips in some offense and makes a few nice plays but for the most part is unnoticeable. I would not draft him if I was an NHL GM but some may be impressed with his size and upside.”
  • “I think the college route is right for him too, I don’t see him as a pro, I don’t think he has enough of any part of his game and he’s not exactly big enough where it’s going to carry him. There’s no explosion but maybe a team will take him a flyer on him. I just don’t see it.”
  • “There’s something there. Don’t think he gets drafted though when you see it you can understand why he’d be in the conversation, there is, yeah, an offensive ceiling to hit, I think. Could be a really good free agent coming out of college. He still has a lot to prove.”

96 F Beau Starrett - South Shore Kings (USPHL) - Cornell

  • “He’s the kind of kid that with his frame is a legitimate pro prospect, if his skating continues to come. He tends to disappear too frequently, he’s inconsistent with flashes of brilliance. I feel like the best way to describe him is unsure of his role at this point, not a first line guy on the power play. Is he a power forward? No. Is he a two way forward? No. And he’s not a high flying forward because he doesn’t have the speed.”

WCHA

94 F CJ Franklin - Sioux Falls Stampede - MSU-Mankato
  • “Very strong, very good offensive instincts, around the net, down low, in the corners, on the boards. Could have better hockey sense. I don’t see him getting drafted. I see him being a sought-after college free agent. Very athletic.”

Uncommitted

95 F Michael Wilson – Fond du Lac HS/Team Wisconsin U18 – Uncommitted

  • Very intriguing, I think he’s raw, I think there’s something there, I really do, he plays center I could see him working on the wall. I like his size, I like a lot of his game, but he could be a great north-south power forward. I think even as a 95 he has a lot of upside.”

96 F Mason Appleton – Notre Dame Academy/Team Wisconsin U18 – Uncommitted

  • “Love the kid. Skating is going to be a problem with him, he has high hockey sense so you gotta love that. His skating and his quickness may be his downfall. I don’t see him being a pro but he could be a nice college player, maybe not at a high-end school. He might be in that top group of guys with high hockey IQ. It’ll be interesting how he translates to the USHL from Wisconsin High School. Played on a great team at NDA, they bulled through everyone. I thought a year in the NA would really help him. I don’t see him as a pro but you never know.”

96 F Dom Franco – Kimball Union – Uncommitted

  • “You’ve got people that, because of his frame and way he protects the puck and little things he does well, he could develop, he’s just going to be a late-bloomer. I don’t know if I see it that way. He has quick hands in tight situations and the ability to protect the puck. Lacks any kind of explosive speed to create offense with the puck on his stick. He’s a perennial F3.”
  • “He’s coming into his body but probably not in time for a draft pick this year. Maybe as a re-entry he gets a lot of looks this season even with how good the draft is supposed to be. KUA loses a lot up front, that could actually be really big for him. I think he has a chance to prove he can make his teammates better as he adds muscle mass and can do what he wants to do. He has a head for the game. Maybe the physicality comes in as well, he becomes assertive. That would be the ideal situation.”

2015

96 F Jack Eichel – NTDP U18 – Boston University

  • “When he gets that puck, he has that explosiveness – watching Jeff Carter last night; he takes 3 strides, hasn’t broken a sweat and now he’s one stride past you. The only guy who skates close to that was Chris Kreider. He’s got all the offensive tools.”

97 F Colin White - NTDP U17 - Boston College

  • “He was my favorite kid come out of Nobles since 8th grade. All the tools to play in the NHL. the size, the grit, the IQ, the offensive awareness, the compete level. A lot of people have him in the top 5 already, people might look back and “redraft” next year maybe down the line. I think he’s going to be kind of like Claude Giroux or Sean Couturier. I think he’ll be better than David Backes. He plays that power forward role but as a more slender kid.”
  • “I saw him at Young Guns a few years back when he was with the Shamrocks, him and Hanifin were tearing it up. He dominated. Hanifin was always ‘the guy’ but White is really ridiculous.”
  • “This is such a deep top-end if this kid isn’t being talked about as top-five by everyone. So good.”

96 F AJ Greer – Kimball Union – Boston University

  • “Maybe Milan Lucic in the making. A true power forward, if he was playing major junior I think everyone would know about him by now. He has the big body, hard on the puck as anybody. Honestly, if all these kids start going there (to BU), if they keep getting these studs in at a young age like him, college hockey is going to get a lot better. He’s probably going to play with Eichel if he’s there, I might put him in there. He was my favorite of that trio at KUA. He was the best kid in Beantown that summer and he was the youngest kid.”

97 D Zach Werenski – NTDP U17 – Uncommitted

  • “Sound as a defenseman, you can trust him with the puck, trust him to contain, trust him to play hard but smart, right? He uses a little bit of everything he has, I think. He’s not like Chad Krys where his feet carry him up ice and his head, hands are on that next level. He’s not like Hanifin where he’s some total phenom that can press the game, take over the sheet. He’s deliberate and doesn’t put himself in situations to fail. He doesn’t pick his battles, he just battles smart. His natural abilities, what he’s worked on, continuing to improve, I think the debate is what part of what he does is going to persist to the pro level, but his being well-rounded I don’t think makes him undefined like some toolsy kids that can’t figure out where they put their skills in the toolbox and when to pull them out, you know? He knows what he can do and plays to it: situational awareness. I think 1st round.”

97 D Noah Hanifin - NTDP U17 - Boston College

  • “Very advanced, is the way to say it, I think. Almost every part of his game is elite or near-elite. Who doesn’t like him?”

97 F Tommy Novak – St. Thomas Academy – Minnesota

  • “So much poise. People talk about a lot of things he can do – I think his poise is next-level. It takes his whole game up his ability to be so poised with his gifts.”
  • “The pace is going to change what he is able to do. Good player – no doubt – but it will be interesting. Is he going to help his team win?”

96 F Kyle Connor – NTDP U18/Youngstown Phantoms – Michigan

  • “He’s supposed to be something special too, he’s not done with his growing but he really came on this year.”

97 D Billy Sweezey – Nobles – Yale

  • “I don’t think he’d bring any offense as a pro but he could be a serious shut-down guy. He has the build and he’s tough to play against, doesn’t give up much.”
  • “Rocket of a shot. He scored one of the best goals of the season where he did kind of a switch and his shot is just a pro shot, I saw him break a water bottle this year with it. He could be a threat on someone’s power play in the college game down the road.”

97 D Ryan Zuhlsdorf – Edina – Minnesota

  • “He’s got a frame, not a massive bruiser type of guy but not small at all, and he can skate. He can skate and he can make plays, and he defends with results right now. He wins his battles. He’s still in high school. Let’s see if he takes it up a notch this year. He was excellent at state. Whether he’s in the mix, that’s TBD – I think.”
  • “Very impressive but his team was good, too. Even then, he jumped into the Elite League and was right at home. He can play. This draft year is obviously big, he was in bantam last season, as an older guy, so maybe he hasn’t even touched his potential. Maybe he’s right there now.”

97 D Cam Lee – Northwood – Providence

  • “Plays with a lot of confidence, not many D have that swagger and he is… proactive… on pucks. He loves to have it, that’s for sure. I have trouble projecting him for the pro level right now but he has good pace, this could be a Gostisbehere in the making for (PC Head Coach Nate) Leaman.”
  • “I only saw Lee play two times but in both games he was a defensive liability. He is very offensive minded, likes to rush the puck whenever he gets a chance, has smooth hands and quick feet. He lacks size and strength on the blue line and while he is athletic keeping the puck in the zone and agile along the blue line, he lacks a real physical presence in the tough ice. In front of the net he is limited both in his size but also in his toughness. If he is not the first person to the puck in the corner then he will rarely come out with it. His biggest flaw is his play away from the puck, as he has a tendency to watch the puck carrier and not pick up sticks or bodies in front of the net. On the plus side he is a great skater, highly athletic offensive defenseman that can run the powerplay and create plays in the offensive zone. As an NHL draft prospect his upside is limited.”

97 D Kris Mylarri – Kanata Stallions – Penn State

  • “Big, skates well, could have a pro body when all is said and done. Not an offensive guy at the pro level, but he has the other tools. He moves the puck well, he could be an adequate guy at the point in college, but he’s not particularly dynamic.”

97 D Zach Osburn – Victory Honda U18 – Michigan State

  • “He already looks like he’s going to be a money college defenseman. He might be a pro guy, too. This year in junior will be huge for determining those expectations.”

97 F David Cotton – Cushing Academy – Boston College

  • “Has the makings to be a serious NHL prospect. He has the frame, the skill, the vision and poise to be an everyday NHLer. He put up serious numbers at Cushing this past year as a sophomore and committed to BC. He has a great passing ability, a hard and accurate shot that he gets off in stride, he moves very well for his size with his long powerful stride. He has soft hands and mature puck protection skills that give him a few more moments to find the open guy or take the shot. He will need to improve his quickness and lateral mobility but he is a raw prospect with tremendous upside that could be a 1-3 rounder. It will be interesting to see if he stays as a hybrid player like a Foegele or if he adds strength in the offseason and develops into a power forward.”
  • “Size and frame, protects the puck well, has a lot of creativity with the puck on his stick, very similar player to Cam Askew in that draft class.”

97 F Bailey Conger – Cushing Academy – St. Lawrence

  • “One of the best sophomores in prep school hockey this past year, Conger has exceptional hands and hockey sense. He reads the play, has poise carrying the puck and is able to slow the game down. His skating is still a work in progress, but at 6 ft he has good size and will need to fill into his frame. Soft and quick hands, balanced skater that will need to add quickness and an explosive first step but in regards to hockey sense and ability to break down the defense, he is elite for such a young prospect. At this point it is hard to project because he is so raw, but he has potential to be a 3-5th rounder in 2015.”
  • “Seems like he gets better every time I see him. It is unreal. He could just be scratching the surface of what he is.”

2016

98 F Joey Anderson - Hill-Murray - Minnesota-Duluth
  • “He’s good. Very good. Can be gritty too, which I think is an important thing moving forward because he can still be effective if he isn’t scoring.”
  • “The kid is for real. His brother is legit too. They play different positions but they do have similar upsides. Neither of them fool around when they’re out there.”
98 D Chad Krys – NJ Rockets U19 – Uncommitted
  • “Scott Niedermayer. Controls the game in all three zones. He’s probably the best skater in the next 3 draft classes, that I’ve seen.”
98 F Mitchell Mattson – Grand Rapids – North Dakota
  • He wants it. He’s playing with some jam and has the hips. He’s going to be something special.”
  • “He’s only really coming into what he’s going to be now with his body and it looks like it could be unbelievable. He will be one to watch for sure in a couple years.”
98 F Michael O’Leary – Salisbury – Cornell
  • “It is hard to project him because of his limited playing time at Salisbury this past season as a 4th liner, but his skill set and upside are vast. He has size, fluid skater, soft hands and a hard shot. He is not afraid to mix it up in the corners and throw his weight around but he also has great touch in front of the net and along the wall. As the draft is two years away for him, if he continues to develop and improve his game, he could be a 1-2 round pick. He was drafted in the first round of the Q despite committing to Cornell so that should tell you a lot there. His game will translate very well at the next level because he is a strong, puck possession player that protects the puck and makes quick, smart decisions.”
  • “Everyone had no idea about him at the Gatorade Challenge, like “if he’s good why did he only have x points”… he’s a 98 playing with a lot older guys. When he came up there, he dominated against his peers. The only thing he needs to work on is his skating. His shooting and passing are equally good – he makes the right play. I think he ends up in the Q, that’s my gut instinct.”
98 F Clayton Keller - Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep - Boston University
  • “He has so much hype and he deserves all of it. Name one American forward his age on that level. I don’t think anyone is.”
  • “Very offensively gifted, pushing the pace when appropriate and thinks the game extremely well. Fun to watch. He’s going to be a good one.”

97 F Auston Matthews - NTDP U18 - Uncommitted

  • “He’s going to bring a power game as a pro, but he’ll makes some looks too. He’s good. Great speed and doesn’t take anything from anyone, works 200 feet. Really good this year. He’s got that gap year as a late birthday between the National Team and the draft, with a player like him, already on the U18 team and from Arizona, that makes me think he’s going to go to the WHL for that season. Otherwise I think he’s a one-and-done.”

97 D Charlie McAvoy – NTDP U17 – Boston University

  • “This is looking like a good draft for defensemen. I still think he ends up at the top. Late 1997, very very offensively gifted. He’s really coming along. Him and Chad (Krys), both Rockets, both NTDP, could end up being two of the best offensive guys available on the back in two years time. Good passer – that whole group with (Jeremy) Bracco, too, those guys, there is a ton of skill there.”

98 D Ryan Lindgren - Shattuck-St. Mary’s Prep - Minnesota

  • “Seems like people cooled off but if they have I don’t see anything on the ice that explains why. There have been a lot of kids in that age group taking it up a notch in Minnesota especially so maybe that’s a reason. People know him and expect things. He was very good as a young gun for Shattuck. Merciless!”
  • “Very tough, plays hard for a guy who can fire it like he can. I wonder if he will open up his game more with the national program.”
  • “Curious observation; will he ever really provide an offensive element?”
98 F Riley Tufte - Blaine High School - Minnesota-Duluth
  • “All about consistency for the big guy; at times the best player on the ice against older kids, and then not even the 5th best amongst his own age group. If he gets a mean streak, watch out.”
98 D Griffin Luce – Salisbury – Michigan
  • “Luce is arguably the best ’98 defenseman in the country. He has great size at 6’3, 200 and plays with an edge, throwing his body around in the corners and in-front of the net in his own end and is a presence on the offensive blueline. Luce moves very well for his size and age and handles the puck effortlessly with hard, crisp, tape to tape passes up ice. He can run the powerplay and with his reach and hockey IQ is an ideal penalty killer as his head is always on swivel and getting his stick out to take away passing lanes. He has decided to play for the U17 National Team and committed to Michigan instead of going to the OHL. Will likely be a 1st round selection if he continues to improve.”
  • “There’s a lot of things I like about his game, other than his inconsistency but he’s only 15, right? He’s 6’2, 215 at 15. Skates well and makes intricate plays at the offensive blue line. He’ll hold it, move off the boards, get it up there, he gives himself an extra couple feet, suspends the zone… makes a lot of good plays there which is a rare thing for a guy that looks like a stay at home defensive D. With a parent in the game, like him, there’s a reason he’s going the route he’s going.”