Future Considerations’ Ontario-based scout Daniel Deschenes gives his thoughts on who from the 2016 NHL Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his sleeper is on draft day.
There were plenty of Ontario-based players that left an impression on me this year, but none more than Windsor Spitfires defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.
Sergachev took on a large role with the Spitfires this season, and elevated his game a few months in the season after adapting to the North American ice. He led a young Russian squad at the U18s and came up big for Windsor down the stretch.
A heavy, smooth skating blueliner, Sergachev moves the puck well and can quarterback the power play like a pro. He can hit like a Mack truck, score with a bomb of a shot, but the most impressive aspect to his game is his ability to always play calm and composed. Nothing seems to shake the defenseman and he poised for a solid future.
Sergachev impressed. Christopher Paquette, unfortunately, falls into this year’s disappointed category for me.
Paquette never seemed to find his groove in his sophomore season after a promising rookie year with the Niagara IceDogs. He never took his game to the next level and struggled in a bottom-six role. Paquette was given time on the top line over Christmas with Brendan Perlini representing Canada at the World Juniors, but never seized the opportunity and looked two steps behind. He has a big frame, a potentially powerful stride, and good vision, but his execution and his inability to pick up his feet and dig in to gain any speed put him behind the pack.
Paquette picked up his play late in the playoffs after sustaining a facial injury, but it may not be enough to push him into the draft conversation. He is an intriguing prospect with strong potential, but just never seemed to show it on a consistent basis this season.
Justin Brazeau, a relatively unknown prospect who improved tremendously over the course of the year, did.
He flew a mile under the radar this season and was not talked about much by anyone in the industry.
The North Bay Battalion winger is a tall and lanky forward that improved with each viewing this season. He started and ended the year on the fourth line but while his linemates and fellow depth players plateaued, Brazeau took off and even saw some time playing up in the lineup. A sleeper in this draft class, he is determined young winger with a strong understanding of the game. While his feet don’t always allow him to get to where he wants to go, he sets his sights on where he needs to be and works tirelessly to get there and make an impact.
Under the watchful eye of Stan Butler I have no doubt that Brazeau can develop into a strong power forward thanks to his commitment, drive to get to the net, and his willingness to do whatever it takes to succeed.
By Daniel Deschenes