Prospects making final pushes as season’s enter stretch

Dan Stewart2016 Draft Center

There’s still plenty of time to gain traction, or slip, before the 2016 NHL Draft.

And plenty are seizing the opportunity.

Future Considerations’ Swedish scout Mikael Hedberg has been singing the praises of Timra winger Jonathan Dahlen most of the season but really turned up the volume with Dahlen’s play late in his season. His two-way game has been strong, but his goal scoring took a drastic spike in the Allsvenskan playoffs as he scored six of his team’s total of 12 goals in his five playoff games, good for second overall in Allsvenkan playoff scoring.

“I absolutely believe that Dahlen has taken his game to another level and should climb in the rankings,” Hedberg said. “Maybe not all the way to the first round, but he could challenge for a spot there if a team loves his impressive upside.”

Sparta Praha U20 defender Vojtech Zelenak is a 6-foot-5 and 215-pound physically mature kid who plays a physical and imposing two-way game, and has gone from unheralded to heated.

“He caught my attention instantly,” Future Considerations’ Miro Simurka siad. “He’s a big defender who uses his long reach and plays good physical hockey. For his size he skates well. Under pressure with the puck does not panic, but is patient and made some really nice plays. He has a great shoot; exceptionally hard for a 17 years old kid. With his size and skill set he should get some more NHL attention.”

In Ontario, there have been a couple players not considered top round guys but deserve attention for what they have been able to do in very different circumstances.

Kitchener Rangers scoring winger Adam Mascherin has been dynamite for one of the top teams in the OHL this season, while Sudbury Wolves center Michael Pezzetta has been one of the only bright spots competing night-in and night-out for the OHL’s second last placed squad.

“Mascherin continues to impress, and has developed into an absolute force offensively,” Future Considerations’ Scott Wheeler said. “More and more he’s demonstrating his 5-foot-9 frame isn’t going to impede his progression. He just keeps creating, and leads all draft eligible OHL players in shots.”

Pezzetta has 28 points this season.

“He has taken his game to another level in the last half, scoring goals and winning his share of face-offs all while playing on a bottom feeder, which is never easy, but Pezzetta has been consistent in anchoring the Wolves penalty kill and defensive efforts,” Future Considerations head Ontario scout Daniel Deschenes said. “For a team that spends a majority of time in their own zone, Pezzetta has been able to show off his good defensive play and ability to adapt to incoming plays before focusing on the offensive side of the game.”

Pascal Laberge of the Victoriaville Tigres has left no choice but to move himself into the first round in Future Considerations’ monthly ranking.

“He has been impressive since a not so strong start to the season, has offensive tools that should translate well at the next level, but needs to continue to add some muscle to his frame and play better without the puck,” noted Future Considerations’ QMJHL evaluator Guillaume Gervais. “He also has good, quick feet with the speed to play at the next level. I also like his hockey senses and the way he anticipates the play.”