With hockey season getting underway, it’s time for scouts to start focusing on the 2018 NHL Draft. Future Considerations has piled up the scouting reports and here is a look at the top five skaters to play in the Western Hockey League last season, heading into 2018.
Ty Smith, D, Spokane Chiefs, 5-11, 170, 03-04-2000
Smith, the 12th ranked skater in Future Considerations’ preliminary ranking and the top ranked skater out of the WHL looks to build off of a good rookie season with the Chiefs. Smith recorded five goals and 27 assists for 32 points in 62 games. “He is a top end puck moving defender who isn’t totally immune to mistakes but makes quick decisions and has the ability to transition play with the pass or by skating,” said FC’s head Western Scout Justin Froese. “He works well on his edges and has the lateral movement to work the point and walk the line to open up space.” Smith has gotten off to a good start this season scoring a goal and adding three assists in two games played so far.
Jett Woo, D, Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-0, 200, 07-27-2000
Woo is ranked 17th in FC’s preliminary rankings and the second ranked skater coming from the WHL. After a decent season with the Warriors last year Woo looks to improve heading into the 2018 NHL Draft, Woo recorded five goals and 17 assists for 22 points in 65 games in 2016-17. “Woo is a highly skilled, mobile two way defender who has already risen to the level of a top pairing defender on this team,” said Froese. “Woo has great skating ability and an efficient battery a pack that allows him to keep his feet always moving proficiently in any direction. He has puck rushing ability but I believe that more separation speed will come with added lower body strength, as opposed to relying primarily on elusive edge work.” Woo has recorded three points in his first two games this season for the Warriors and hopes to continue this success and increase his draft stock heading into the NHL Draft.
Alexander Alexeyev, D, Red Deer Rebels, 6-3, 190, 11-15-1999
Alexeyev is the 36th ranked skater in Future Considerations’ preliminary ranking and the third ranked skater out the WHL. “His skating is about as unblemished as they come. He derives his power from a low stance and superior lower body strength. He gets into a stride rhythm quickly and has an ability to maneuver flawlessly in any plain,” said Froese. “Defensively, Alexeyev is above average for the league normal, but does need to be a bit quicker to react to some plays. As good as he is at reading the play, he has moments where he gets caught out of position in scramble situations.” Last season Alexeyev scored four goals and added 17 assists for 21 points in 41 games played. He looks to be on a good path to start this season recording four assists in his first two games played for the Rebels.
Calen Addison, D, Lethbridge Hurricanes, 5-9, 170, 04-11-2000
Addison who is ranked 42nd in Future Considerations’ preliminary ranking and the fourth ranked skater from the WHL looks to build off a really good season last year with the Hurricanes. Addison put up nine goals and 24 assists for 33 points in 63 games in 2016-17 and hopes to improve his play during his draft season. “Addison handles himself like a veteran on the ice with his poise in both ends of the rink,” said Froese.” His skating is a huge asset as he does every cute cut and pivot with great executed balance, allowing him to walk the line and remain shifty in the pursuit for space.” Froese also pointed out Addison’s speed as a huge asset saying, “His acceleration and ability to get to top speed quickly is exceptional and he can absolute burn with that spring in his stride.” Addison went pointless through the first two games of the season but looks get on the board soon and often as the season continues.
Luka Burzan, LW, Moose Jaw Warriors, 6-0, 179, 01-07-2000
Burzan, ranked fifth amongst WHL skaters in FC’s preliminary ranking and 54th overall hopes to provide some scoring for the Warriors during the 2017-18 season. Last year Burzan scored 14 goals and added 13 assists for 27 points in 66 games played and hopes to vastly improve on those numbers this season. “He skates extremely well and plays with not only power in his stride, but excellent agility and balance that allows him to pivot quickly on his edges and remain elusive,” said Froese. “He has some filling out to do and was often getting pushed around in board battles or in the populous areas below the dots.” Burzan has recorded two assists through his first two games played this season for the Warriors and needs to produce consistently in order to improve his draft ranking heading into the 2018 NHL Draft.