Draft sleepers ready for playoff push

Austin Broad2017 Draft Center, OHL, USHL, WHL

Terry Wilson | CHL Images

It’s that time of season.

As in, the end of the regular season, and the push in the playoffs.

With playoffs getting set to start across leagues all over North America, time is running out for scouts to get their views in. And there are plenty of underrated players to keep an eye on.

Count Joseph Garreffa of the Kitchener Rangers as one.

Garreffa is described as an extremely smart player who can read and react to any play, coupling this with his dynamic speed he is a threatening force on offense. With the puck on his stick his ability to stick handle is difficult to match; just when you think he’s cornered he finds a way to get himself out of trouble with his silky smooth hands.

“He can stick handle out of a phone booth and create space for himself,” Future Considerations scout Dylan Galloway said. “Just when you think he put himself in a bad spot he gets out of it.”

Garreffa is a smaller player at 5-foot-7, so he doesn’t get the attention other players of his caliber should get. But make no mistake Garreffa is a dynamic offensive player whenever he touches the ice.

Garreffa and Markus Phillips of the Owen Sound Attack will meet in the opening round of the Ontario Hockey League playoffs, giving scouts a chance to keep close tabs on an under-the-radar defenseman.

Phillips is a very smart puck moving blueliner and has exceptional passing ability as evidenced by his 30 assists in the regular season. Phillips has a great ability to play on the defensive side of the puck as well and is effective at stopping the opposing team’s rush.

If Owen Sound continues to succeed, this kid will be tough to ignore from here on out.

The same goes for Jarret Tyszka of the Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Hockey League.

Tyszka is a strong and fluid skater has a power element to add, giving him another gear that should allow him to attack from the backend frequently. If he can fill out his tall lanky frame he has the potential to eat up a lot of minutes as an effective two-way defender.

“He has the ceiling to be on of the more progressive two way defenders in the entire class,” said Future Considerations’ western head scout Justin Froese.

Due to playing behind some pretty good defenders the last two years he has gone under the radar for Seattle. He’s not one to rest on, though.

Neither is Mikey Anderson of the Waterloo Black Hawks of the United States Hockey League. Anderson has all the necessary tools to be a solid stay at home defenseman who can add offensive production from the back end.

“He’s extremely competitive,” said Future Considerations scout Jake VanBesien. “He keeps a calm cool head in all situations but always shows intensity throughout his game.”

He makes the difficult plays look easy and effortless, plays the body extremely well and is hard to beat one on one and along the wall. At 6-foot, he doesn’t have the great height that other draft eligible defensemen have, which is why he has gone under the radar for some scouts this season.

But he definitely has the ability to play with the big boys.

Paint Mario Ferraro with the same brush.

The Des Moines Buccaneers rearguard is an unbelievable skater, and a complete offensive minded blueliner.

Ferraro is a weapon on the power play, not afraid to take the puck the full 200 feet. A very efficient player in the defensive zone, he has a very active stick and skates.

This being his first season in a top-tier junior league is part of the reason he has gone under the radar for most scouts but he is an offensive threat from the back end whenever he touches the ice.

“He has elusive hands for a d-man,” said VanBesien. “His upside definitely outweighs his current draft stock, and I think he would be a steal in the mid rounds of the draft.”

These players might not go at the top of the NHL Draft, but be excited if your team calls one of these names come June.