On Monday, we looked at the NHL draft’s potential top 10 prospects.
On Tuesday, it was the next tier of future players, from 11th to 25th.
That leaves only the bottom end of the first round left to sort through, even though who goes where at this point in the draft can be very difficult to forecast.
In this group, there are a couple of goaltenders, three sons of former NHLers and plenty of players from unique backgrounds.
Because our list involves the average rankings of three other high profile lists, there’s a wide variety of names left in this final group of 16.
I’ve decided to include every player who made the top 30 on any of the previously mentioned lists (McKeen’s, TSN, Hockey Prospectus) even if other lists had them much lower down, which gives us a bunch of interesting long shots who may go late in the second or third round.
Matheson scouting report: Headed for Boston College where he’ll play at least another few years before turning pro, Matheson’s strength is his skating and positioning. A defensive defenceman. Our scout says he would have been a top-15 pick if he’d played in major junior rather than the USHL, McKeen’s: “Plays a low maintenance game... His natural skating ability, hockey sense and ability to keep the game simple are his calling cards... he would make an ideal complementary partner for a more risk taking defenceman.”
Jankowski scouting report: A bit of a mystery man in the draft given he’s playing in a prep league not known for producing draft eligible prospects. Jankowski is a big, thin 17-year-old who led his league in goals and points. Our scout calls him another player whose stock is rising fast as he’s a big forward who knows where the net is but who played against inferior competition. McKeen’s: “He has made monumental improvement to his game in a short period and with added strength he has the potential to play in a top-six role... has great instincts and anticipates plays well in advance.”
Samuelsson scouting report: Unsurprisingly, Ulf Samuelsson’s son brings size, physical play and a nasty streak. Surprisingly, he has better hands than his old man. Our scout says he turned heads at the Memorial Cup and could be another player whose stock might continue to rise. McKeen’s: “Borderlines on dirty and results in many undisciplined penalties... not a quick skater but musters good speed once in motion... has shown improvement in most areas over a short period of time and if his skating can improve, he may make for a serviceable NHLer.”
UFA (Rus Jr)
Vasilevski scouting report: Where exactly do you take a big Russian goalie? Netminders don’t normally get picked in the first round, and NHL teams have avoided plenty of Russian prospects over the last few years. Vasilevski burst onto the scene in North America at the world juniors, where he was excellent until being pulled late against Canada in a semi-final game his team held on to win. Our scout says “the best 17-year-old goalie I’ve ever seen” who would be a top-five pick if talent were the only measure. McKeen’s: “He can spring up and down into the butterfly and then recover, making him very difficult to beat... His mental resolve has been a concern... His raw ability makes him one of the best goalies available.”
Subban scouting report: The younger brother of Habs blueline P.K. Subban wasn’t even a goaltender until he was 12 years old but posted a .923 save percentage as the starter with the Bulls this season. He reminds our scout of Marc-Andre Fleury, as he’s extremely athletic but, he asks, can he improve his rebound control? McKeen’s: “A natural athlete who moves swiftly and effortlessly in his crease thanks to his exceptional skating ability... Has the ability to steal games.”
DiGiuseppe scouting report: The rare NCAA prospect who could go in the first round this year, DiGiuseppe had 22 points in 35 games for Michigan. Smallish at only 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, he’s offensively gifted and could surprise. Our scout says he’s a nifty offensive player who needs to work on his defence to put to rest doubts over his hockey sense. McKeen’s: “He is extremely effective down low and capable of making plays on the cycle while also executing great touch passes to teammates.”
Matteau scouting report: The son of former NHL journeyman Stephane Matteau, he is in much the same mould as his father as a big, checking winger. Expected to play in the QMJHL next season. Our scout calls him a beefy power forward who plays with a mean streak. McKeen’s: “Not blessed with elite finesse skills... Matteau willingly fights, plays hard and delivers big checks, making him difficult to play against.”
Wilson scouting report: A big, tough checking winger who stands 6-foot-4, 205 pounds despite only recently turning 18. Wilson has had limited offensive production in the OHL and has battled injuries throughout his junior career but projects as an NHLer because of his size, character and willingness to drop the gloves. McKeen’s: “Wilson is an intriguing prospect because he plays like a true power forward and he hits to hurt... He simply offers a dynamic that not many prospects do.”
Pokka scouting report: Average sized all-around Finnish defender played at the top pro level in his home country and was excellent at the world juniors despite not turning 18 until a couple weeks ago. McKeen’s: “His game processing and first pass are tangibles that NHL teams won’t ignore.”
Kerdiles scouting report: Led the Under-18 team in scoring with 42 points in 50 games and was the team’s first line centre throughout the season. McKeen’s: “A slick skater... his overall character and mental resolve are areas where he will need improvement but he brings an attractive skill set to the table.”
Bozon scouting report: Former NHLer Philippe Bozon’s son had an excellent debut in the WHL with 36 goals and 71 points in 71 games after spending the previous season in a Swiss junior league. Undersized at 6-foot, 175 pounds but quick, defensively sound and competes hard. McKeen’s: “Great acceleration... his innovative style of play makes him a very intriguing prospect, as he is determined and can produce offence.”
Zharkov scouting report: Big Russian winger had 23 goals in 50 games in his first major junior season but is regarded as somewhat inconsistent and raw. McKeen’s: “Can be selfish when he crosses the blueline and will look to use his shot often... at times, he can play with aggression an compete defensively, while other times he shows little to no effort.”
Slepyshev scouting report: Big and skilled, he played a regular shift in the KHL at just 17 years old and there are concerns he may remain there rather than play in North America. Talent wise, he should probably be picked higher than where he’ll go. McKeen’s: “He plays with some bite and goes hard to the net... has a sneaky release and decent offensive ability.”
Owen Sound (OHL)
Smith scouting report: Pint-sized forward is listed at just 160 pounds so gaining weight and strength is a must to compete at the next level. Smith, however, had 60 points in 68 games in a breakthrough year with the Attack. Scouts have him all over the map, from a late first rounder to somewhere in the third. McKeen’s: “A dynamic skater who can beat defencemen wide and has excellent balance... often irritates opposition into taking a penalty... needs to play with more consistency and improve his strength to be more effective as a pro prospect, but his skating and skill set are appealing.”
CSKA (Rus Jr)
Prokhorkin scouting report: He spent some time in the KHL but picked up very limited minutes. A big playmaker, Prokhorkin isn’t afraid to hit and had plenty of PIMs at the junior level in Russia. McKeen’s: “His lack of speed was exposed at the KHL level... he scores high in work ethic, character and attitude... could be useful as a depth forward at the pro level.”
Sissons scouting report: Rockets captain has modest offensive ability but plays the type of two-way game that could allow him to be a valuable member of a third or fourth line at the next level. McKeen’s: “His ability to check players and get within 10 to 15 feet of the net and score dirty goals are what make him effective... The one area where his game needs vast improvement is his skating.”