The excitement of one’s draft year can be more than some prospects can cope with. Often the pressure they deal with is too much and their games falter. Other times, though, prospects thrive and elevate their games under that same pressure.
Cody Ceci is one of those players. The same can be said for Peterborough Petes blueliner Slater Koekkoek. Both have really elevated their games this season and are making a real run for top-10 consideration.
Ceci, a six-foot-three blueliner, has added improved mobility and consistent offensive game to his already stellar defensive game to be one of the most well rounded defenders to become available in a long time.
It is still early but he might challenge for the first defenseman selected but instead will use this time to hit on a few other promising prospects.
Another OHL defenseman trending upward is Matt Finn. Finn has really elevated his game this year from last. He looks stronger, quicker and able to play more big minutes in all situations than he did last season.
“He showed his customary strong positional play and defensive awareness, but he seems to really have added an offensive side to his game,” FC regional scout Sean Lafortune said. “He makes strong outlet passes and is good at skating the puck up the ice with his head up reading the play.”
If Finn can keep up the overall pace into the second half of the season NHL scouts will have no choice but to move him into the first round conversation as he and Guelph have enjoy somewhat surprising early season success.
Kitchener Rangers Czech import Radek Faska, who took over the spot vacated by Colorado Avalanche rookie Gabriel Landeskog this season, has really impressed after not being on the radar of many scouts before this season.
Faska has provided Kitchener with a consistent offensive and physical threat up front and may even supplant teammate Matia Marcantuoni as the Rangers’ top draft eligible performer before too long. He displays an impressive combination of size, skill and mobility. Faska sees the ice well in the offensive zone, and distributed the puck quickly and with intelligence.
With a lot of intangibles that NHL teams covet and his showings early this season, Faska has some thinking a first round ranking or selection would not be a stretch.
Coming into the Upper Midwest HS Elite League this fall, few had any idea that a goal scoring threat would emerge as the draft eligible prospects looked very similar to the previous year in terms of depth and high-end talent. However, when FC regional scout Dan Shrader got his first look at Hunter Fejes of Shattuck St. Mary’s, he knew instantly who the top talent in region was.
“I really think Fejes can be a goal scorer at the next level,” Shrader said. “He’s scoring goals without skilled line mates in a number of ways, he’s showing glimpses of being an explosive skater, he’s got jam.”
If Fejes continues to progress he could really see his name rising up scouting rankings as the season progresses.
Some other draft eligible names that are on the rise include goaltenders Chris Driedger and Malcolm Subban, who has jumped back in the crease with a string of impressive games after a lackluster start to the year, before getting injured for a month.
“He looks to really be coming into his own, and is starting to really challenge my opinion of who is the top Ontario based goaltender,” Lafortune said.
Driedger is also picking up his game after returning from a high ankle sprain that derailed the start to his season with the Calgary Hitmen.
Also in the WHL, defensemen Dalton Thrower of Saskatoon and Kelowna’s Damon Severson as well as power forwards Branden Troock, who is finally healthy in Seattle, and the Rockets’ Colton Sissons have scouts excited for more than just the ‘big five’ defenseman.
Gatineau’s pint-sized Alexandros Soumakis has made a good impressing on one of your regional scouts with his drive, offensive skill and ability to get under his QMJHL opponents skin.
In the OHL, Windsor Spitfires Michael Clarke and Brady Vail are off to nice season as each plays a game the while possessing offensive skill and contributions also shows strengths in other areas. Clarke is a strong two-way forward who could play a shutdown role with strong faceoff ability and smarts in both zones while Vail is a gritty power winger type who will dig, crash and bang to get the job done.
USHL standout goaltender Jon Gilles of Indiana has also been on fire proving to be one to watch early on as well as USA National Team physical defenseman Patrick Sieloff.
Over in Europe, Pontus Aberg, a skilled offensive forward with Djurgarden is tearing up the Swedish elite league as is Czech teen Tomas Hertl who is also enjoying some early success while playing his first full season against men twice his age.
Dan Stewart is the scouting director of Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!