Future Considerations’ Alberta-based scout Donesh Mazloum gives his thoughts on who from the 2017 NHL Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his sleeper is on draft day.
Portland Winterhawks center Cody Glass didn’t enter the season with much first round buzz, however he wasted little time in making his presence known by potting 15 points in his first seven games. Overall he finished seventh in WHL scoring and showed a game breaking ability that is sure to result in his name being called early in the draft.
Glass’ strength lies in his elite hockey IQ. He is incredibly patient with the puck and has the poise to draw defenders out of position before making a clever pass through his created seam. Glass has always been a cerebral player, however in the past he was guilty of deferring too often. His confidence level has grown leaps and bounds this past season and by showing a willingness to take more space for himself, he has become a much more dangerous offensive player. With his combination of size and smarts he has the ability to take over a game if he puts his mind to it. The scary thing for opponents of Glass is that he may just be scratching the surface of his potential.
He is still growing into his 6-foot-2 frame and as he adds strength and refines his killer instinct he could become a real handful to contain. The comparison has been used often however he could grow into a Mark Schiefele-like top line two-way center if he continues his development path.
It’s difficult to call Kelowna Rockets defenseman Cal Foote a disappointment when he’s quite likely to hear his name called in the first round of the draft, however he has left me wanting more in every viewing this season.
Coming into this season, Foote was looked at as a possible top-10 pick and the consensus second best player out of the West to Nolan Patrick. As the season progressed however it became clear that his ceiling may not be what once thought. Foote’s play with the puck took a step backwards in my opinion. He seemed much more hesitant to step up in the play and at times he really struggled to make an impact 5-on-5. He has always been better in his own zone however he showed flashes of two-way ability and offensive confidence as a 16-year-old that I didn’t see this season. Perhaps most concerning was his issues didn’t seem to be due to lack of execution but rather due to lack of effort at times. There is still demand for a physical 6-foot-4 defensive defenseman in today’s NHL, but if he doesn’t regain his confidence with the puck he may be pigeon-holed into a bottom pairing role.
Foote has the potential to be an impact defenseman at the next level, but based on his play this season and the trajectory of his development, I wouldn’t be rushing out to draft him early if I was an NHL GM.
A definite sleeper in this year’s draft, Nick Henry of the Regina Pats is a player who seemingly came out of nowhere this season. Faced with the daunting prospect of trying to break into a loaded forward corps as a rookie, Henry not only earned a roster spot but found a spot on the top line alongside NHL draftees Sam Steel and Filip Ahl.
What immediately stands out with Henry is his positional awareness in all three zones. He consistently provides outlets for teammates and is noticeable on every shift as he’s always in the thick of the action. He is not the biggest or fastest player however he often gains the upper hand in battles because he’s a step ahead mentally. Henry will likely never be the focal point of an offense at the NHL level, however there is something to be said about a player who can help maximize the talent of his linemates and be effective in any role.
Henry needs to add strength and improve his skating if he wants to make an impact at the NHL level however I think he has the mental makeup to force his way onto an NHL roster.