Future Considerations’ Ontario scout Dylan Galloway gives his thoughts on who from the 2017 NHL Draft class left him impressed, who disappointed and who his sleeper is on draft day.
London Knights forward Robert Thomas looked tentative to play his style of game to start the season. He would consistently defer to his more veteran teammates to take shots even if he had a wide-open chance. You could see he lacked confidence in his own game. The good news was, even with the lack of confidence, Thomas was still getting to the right spots on the ice and showing off his solid hockey IQ on both sides of the puck. As the season went on, you could see Thomas gain more and more confidence and begin to utilize that high hockey IQ in conjunction with his puck skills. Not only did you see Thomas’s point totals increase as a result, but also the way he was utilized within the lineup.
By the end of the season, Thomas was an all-situations type of player and one of the most effective on his team in each role. He had an obvious impact on his team’s puck possession, as he was just as effective at cycling the puck on the PP as he was at defending the home plate on the PK. He is going to make the National Hockey League team that drafts him extremely happy with his smarts and versatility.
Fellow Knights forward Alex Formenton is one of the speedier prospects available in the 2017 NHL Draft. I was often left disappointed with his lack of success on the forecheck, however.
Formenton can transition the puck up the ice with incredible speed, but once in the offensive zone he seems lost as to what to do. His lanky frame does not have the strength to force his way into the center of the ice, and due to this he has to work from the perimeter of the offensive zone and wait for his teammates to catch up to him for pass options. Hopefully when he fills out a little more he can get to the more dangerous scoring areas and fully utilize his talents.
One of the surprises of the season for me was Owen Sound Attack blueliner Markus Phillips. The steady defender was absolutely impeccable in his own zone, always first on the puck and possesses an incredible outlet pass that enabled his team to transition the puck quickly. Although slightly on the smaller side, Phillips isn’t afraid to get into the corners and is more often than not able to come out of scrums with the puck on his stick. Utilizing his quick feet and smooth stride he can break away from opponents, change directions quickly and deliver precise passes to his forwards exiting the zone.
Part of what allowed Owen Sound to have such a potent offence was their defenders ability to pounce on pucks in their defensive zone and turn the play up ice in seconds. Phillips was incredible at this. With speed, skating, and passing being some of the most coveted skills in the NHL these days, Phillips is going to surprise some people at the next level as well. He’s definitely a name to watch for on draft day.
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