The end is near.
The WHL and OHL Playoffs have come to a conclusion, with the Kelowna Rockets and Oshawa Generals winning their respective titles. The President’s Cup will be decided shortly.
The NHL Combine is still a few weeks away but other than a few meetings to hammer out draft lists the scouting season is pretty much ready to start its two-three month hiatus. That is to say, the on-ice work has been done.
So too is the work from Future Considerations, who with 27 evaluators representing, have flocked to rinks all over the globe. We have processed loads of video from games and events just to collect as much information and as many views of what turns out to over 600 prospects in our database that we feel deserved draft consideration this season.
Form those 600 plus prospects we will whittled down our list to just the top 210 guys — although 211 will be drafted this season — and rank them not in order of how we feel NHL teams will like them, but in what order we would like to select them if we were in fact one of the 30 teams making the picks.
As our focus switches from scouting at the rink to putting a season worth of work into the neat and tidy package that has become FC’s NHL Draft Guide, there is still loads of work to be done.
Look for FC’s 2015 NHL Draft Guide to be release later this month.
IIHF U18 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
There is always a few guys who make an impact and affect the final rankings based on this tournament. Take Travis Sanheim, and his almost a point-per-game from the back end for Canada last year. He turned that solid U18 performance, coupled with his strong yet unspectacular season in Calgary, into a somewhat surprising 17th overall selection a year ago.
The one guy who might have done the most for his draft stock was Canadian captain Mitchell Stephens of the Saginaw Spirit. His inconsistent game that looked to lack much in the way of offensive upside in OHL action was flipped on its ear with his strong showing in Switzerland. He was consistently involved in generating offensive chances, driving the net without giving up anything in regards to his normal, chippy two-way game. He is a guy that could be as high as a mid-first on some NHL teams lists or as low as a third rounder.
Stephens teammate, center Nicolas Roy of Chicoutimi, was another guy who really ramped up his game for the Worlds. His role on the squad was that of a secondary support player using his size to win board battles and cause a distraction with his big, strong frame in front. And that is exactly what he did and did so perfectly. He was also an ace in the faceoff circle and showed more heart and jump in the few game in Switzerland than we had seen all season in the QMJHL.
American center Colin White, who has having a rough season with injury and a case of mono also shined through, even with some strong 2016 eligibles, Auston Matthews and Matthew Tkachuk getting the majority of the spotlight for their play. He was contributing in all zones, doing all the little things to help his team as well as contributing six goals in the seven contests.
Czech winger Pavel Zacha also had a rough season in Sarnia of the OHL. Between multiple suspensions and injuries that limited him to spot duty here and there, he was able to again look like the big dominant power winger with impressive hands and rocket of a shot that caught our attention two seasons ago.
However, the player who really turned our heads as we first liked him as a mid-round project was Finnish stopper Veini Vehvilainen. His performance at this event was the main reason Finland stuck around and made their way to the gold medal game against the Americans. We fully expect some NHL team will step up and call his name early on Day 2 in Florida after this dominant performance.
On the other side of the token there were a few performances that left us scratching our heads and contemplating why we liked these prospects so much previously.
Defenseman Oliver Kylington of Sweden has been a guy that consistently shows plus skating ability, offensive aggression and skill to make a perfect pass but in between those flashes he makes stupid pinches and lazy plays that have us wondering what he will ultimately amount to. The question becomes, does his unknown potential offset his immense bust risk and keep him in the first round of the draft or are his warts too much to overcome and justify spending those valuable assets on.
Kylington’s teammate and fellow defenseman Lucas Carlsson who plays within the Brynas system just looked lost patrolling this ice as he picked up his checks late and just looked a step slower than most of the competition at the event.
Defenseman Thomas Chabot had us questioning his decision making and smarts many times as he was too much a river boat gambler skating up deep into the opposition zone or making passes that created loads of chances but chances for both Canada and the opposition alike.
He has great vision, skates well and possesses offensive creativity in his passing game but with that comes a number of dangerous plays and turnovers. We did not like his risk taking but feel he has the smarts to pick his spots better as he matures and will not be moving him down our rankings despite this showing.
Join me again next September as ‘Directors Cut’ continues to take a look at the next wave of NHL draft prospects.
Director of Scouting