Future Considerations’ scouting director Dan Stewart gives his thoughts on who from the 2015 NHL Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his sleeper is on draft day.
The three guys who impressed me the most this season were Brandon Wheat Kings defender Ivan Provorov, Sault Ste. Marie winger Zach Senyshyn and Farjestad center Joel Eriksson-Ek.
Starting with Provorov, he was a guy I was watching closely during the CHL Import Draft and was glad when he landed in the WHL as I thought it would challenge his game after he showed so well in the USHL the season before. I guess I was wrong as Provorov marched right over the Dub competition, scoring at over a point per game clip and providing Brandon with a true top end defender in all zones. He looked good internationally as well as that calming two-way presence and rising up all the draft lists in the process.
Senyshyn was a guy who I had not seen before this season and did not know what to expect from him. I had heard some good things about him from Scott Palmer, one of FC’s Ontario based evaluators, but it was not until I saw a couple games when I really thought this kid could dominate this league with a little more strength and a lot more ice time. Stuck on the Greyhounds third line he still managed to produce for the OHL runner-ups. He is a guy who could become a “how could he have fallen to that spot” guy in three or four seasons.
Farjestad U20 center Eriksson Ek had the type of season you want your favorite NHL teams first round selection to have. He started off impressing and proceeded to build on that improvement all season long, making strides in his skating and offensive game. He does everything well, seeing time at the SHL level, and has both the demeanor and drive to continue to improve his game.
With the obvious pick being AIK and Farjestad defender Oliver Kylington’s drop and disappointments already being well documented, the three guys who left me wanting more each time I watched their teams play include HV71 winger Filip Ahl, US NTDP U18 winger Jordan Greenway and Boston University winger A.J. Greer.
Greer looked great at Kimball Union Academy and even in the one game we saw with Des Moines of the USHL two seasons ago, but this year after making the jump to the NCAA game with Boston University he looked more timid and lacking the same confidence we saw the season before.
He had a harder time transitioning into a stacked BU team as a seventeen year old freshman and saw most of his time on the fourth line or watching from the stands. I still think he has a game that will translate to the NHL and think that maybe as early as next season he will start to show the same promise we saw during his time at Kimball Union.
Ahl was a guy that I have had my eye on for a couple seasons as someone with impressive size and a power game. He has some skill with the puck and the ability to bull his way to the net whenever he wants, problem is he doesn’t always show the desire to make a difference in the game. He is a classic case of having plenty of tools but not the willingness to use them on a consistent basis.
Every time we think Ahl will step up and become the difference maker we know he can he disappoints us. He will still be drafted and should be as the potential is there to become a first round type talent but he is a guy who should not be drafted anywhere near that high as he requires a major attitude adjustment to even dream of an NHL career.
National Team U18 winger Greenway was a guy most in the scouting industry had high hopes for and thought he would grow into a mid-first round prospect. Despite his impressive size and skill combo that progression never materialized. His timid play on the wall and unwillingness to utilize his size advantage left me frustrated almost every time watching him. While he could still go relatively high he fell down my personal list into the middle round range.
Coming into the season I knew of these three so they did not come out of the woodwork so to speak, but two of them were not on my top 100 draft list in July 2014 and one was actually a potential top 5 guy in my opinion.
Dennis Gilbert of Chicago in the USHL jumped on the scene early as our USHL guy Doug Luken put me on to him after viewing him during the USHL preseason camps. He started off with some raw two-way skill and by the seasons end was one of the USHL’s top draft eligibles.
Goaltender Ilya Samsonov of Magnitogorsk of the MHL was a guy I had listed but was not overly impressed with after seeing him play at the U17’s.This season his game however has taken off and with each international event the impression he made grew stronger and stronger culminating with a very impressive U18’s in April.
Lastly, Ottawa 67’s centre Travis Konecny was a guy that I had huge expectations for coming in to the season. He looked good at the IIHF U18’s as an underage player and with Ottawa as a rookie but to start this season he looked like a different, less confident player. Konecny was obviously putting too much pressure on himself and not playing the game he can.
He was a guy that at one point or another filled each one of these three categories; impressive, disappointing and surprising. His game started to turn around for the better mid-season after a little sit down with his coach Jeff Brown. His explosive, physical, skilled and energetic game started producing results again and made me a big time fan and believer of his again, despite his lack of ideal size.