Welcome to Part 2 of the list. Today, we will be ranking prospects 11-20. A lot of fans would say “We aren’t getting Dahlin, so why should I pay attention.”
Well at this position, a myriad of really good current and past NHLers were drafted. Ryan Getzlaf, Anze Kopitar, and Joe Sakic to name a few off the top of my head.
Even this decade, picks 11-20 have been pretty good.
2010: Cam Fowler, Jaden Schwarz, Vladimir Tarasenko,
2012: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Filip Forsberg, Tom Wilson, Tomas Hertl, Teuvo Teravainen,
2013: Alex Wennberg, Anthony Mantha
2014: Alex Tuch, Dylan Larkin, Sonny Milano
2015: Jake DeBrusk, Matt Barzal, Kyle Connor, Thomas Chabot
To me, this is the part of the draft when you really see the skill of your GM. Anyone can draft McDavid if they pick first overall (not to pick on Chiarelli). But the good GM’s consistently find quality talent outside of the top 10, even into the 7th round.
Here are my picks for 11-20:
- Joseph Veleno-Center (Drummondville Voltiguers-Junior) (consensus top 14)
His numbers in 2018:
QMJHL: 22 goals, 57 assists, +4 in 64 games
WJC-18: 3 assists, +3 in 4 games
Veleno, once ranked with an “exceptional status” (the same status given to Connor McDavid) has seen his draft stock take a huge hit over the last couple of seasons. At one time, you would have penciled him within the top 3, but now he’s hoping to make the top 15.
Anyway, what type of player are you getting in Veleno? Veleno projects to be a solid two-way center. He is known as a playmaker and a defensive specialist. I think the exceptional status thing fools everyone into thinking he’s going to be a John Tavares, but in actuality, Veleno is exceptional in his own right. He has his head up at all times, looking for the pass, and he is really good at using his speed and dangling ability to find teammates. From what I’ve seen and heard from his penalty killing specialty, it’s elite. Veleno definitely has a place in today’s NHL and I definitely see him as a great complimentary player to a team with some elite goal scorers or goal scoring prospects.
Potential: 2c, possibly a 1c. Comparable: He’s 6’2. A little bit of Ryan Getzlaf, a little bit of Derek Stepan, a little bit of Alex Barkov
- Evan Bouchard-Defense (London Knights-Junior) (consensus top 10)
OHL:25 goals, 62 assists, +23 in 67 games
Need a shot from the point? Bouchard has an amazing slapshot that is considered one of the best in juniors. It’s hard and accurate and even if it doesn’t score, it creates rebound chances. Bouchard has also joined the rush at the Junior level, however his lack of speed makes this a question mark as to its effectiveness in the NHL. Fortunately for Bouchard, he is great at exiting the zone with his pass, which should do wonders for him in the NHL. At 6’2, Bouchard has an NHL frame for the kind of two-way game that he plays. He is also an okay defender who should thrive with more development. He can win battles downlow, but occasionally his positioning is off. Comparable: Anton Stralman, but if his skating improves; Mini version of Shea Weber if not.
Potential: Bouchard has some question marks though. His skating is a major weakness and he will have difficulty adjusting to some NHL systems. I also think he will need much more development than most of the guys on my top ten list. However, if he can improve his game (and the potential is certainly there), he should make for a great top 4 defenseman.
- Rasmus Kupari-Center/Wing (Karpat-Men’s league) (top 20)
Liiga: 6 goals, 8 assists in 39 games, +4
Junior SM-liiga: 3 goals, 4 assists, +7 in 11 games
WJC-18: 2 goals, 1 assist in 4 games, -1
WJC-20: 0 points, -1 in 5 games
Kupari’s hockey IQ is praiseworthy and he is an offensive zone master. He is just so good at finding open teammates or finishing the play himself. Additionally, his scoring ability is amazing and he’d make a great compliment to a line with some offensive potential. He can use his creativity to get to the net to score or he can launch a slapshot from the Ovechkin. Kupari is also good at offensive zone pressure and forechecking to try to create turnovers. His major strength is using his puck handling skills to use the defender as a screen and then ripping an accurate slapshot right by the goalie.
Potential: I don’t necessarily see him as an NHL center, but he definitely has the skills to be a great wing. At 5’11, 163 lbs, he would be on the smaller end of NHL centers and I think he’s a bit too offensive-minded to play C under some head coaches, but it shouldn’t hinder his abilities to be a good NHL player. Comparable player: IF he becomes a wing, I see no reason why he can’t be a Viktor Arvidsson like player.
- Joel Farabee-wing (USNTDP-Juniors) (top 15)
USHL: 15 goals, 25 assists, +25 in 26 games
USDP: 33 goals, 43 assists in 62 games
WJC-18: 4 goals, 4 assists, +1 in 7 games
Farabee’s best strengths are his hockey IQ and his skating. He always is in the right place at the right time, which is what you want in a winger. This enables him to find the right guy or be in the right place to score a goal. He reminds me a lot of TJ Oshie. Whether its winning faceoffs as the second man in, taking pucks away from the opposing defense, passing it out to his own defensemen for a rush play, cleaning up rebounds or deflecting the puck, or setting up his teammates with a smart pass, Farabee can do a little bit of everything to help his club. And he can do it 5 on 5, or shorthanded.
While in the offensive zone, he’s so good without the puck. He picks his time to jump into the best lane and then rips the shot home or makes a smart play to a teammate.
Potential: top 6 wing. Comparable: TJ Oshie.
- Isac Lundeström -C (Luleå HF-Men’s league) (Top 20)
His numbers in 2018:
SHL: 6 goals, 9 assists in 42 games, +7
WJC-20: 2 goals in 7 games, +4
I’m a really big fan of Lundeström. While presently, his numbers don’t jump off the page, I see so much potential in him. Lundeström, a center, is a very creative passer and is really good at getting to the net. He also has a very good wrist shot that can hit the glove high corner.
His major strength is his ability to skate with the puck. He has a lot of patience 5 on 5 or on the powerplay. Much like Nicklas Backstrom, he uses the cycle to create lanes to find his teammates. Another one of his major strengths is his hockey sense. He just makes smart plays that generate great scoring chances for his team. Just watch his powerplay highlights and you’ll swear you’re watching young Backstrom again.
Notes: At only 6’0, 185 right now, he’ll have to get more strength to translate his netfront presence in this league. However, he uses his body well to protect the puck and create lanes for his teammates. He has shown a lot of flashes of potential, making him a potential number one center. Like Bouchard, I think he needs a bit more time and he’s definitely more of a project, but if you have the patience, he could be a steal in this draft.
Potential: Top 6 Center, possibly elite. Comparable: if he reaches his full potential, Possibly Nicklas Backstrom-esque
- Barrett Hayton-Center (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds-Juniors)(Top 15)
OHL: 21 goals, 39 assists in 63 games, +24
Need a 2c who can score? Take Barrett Hayton.
Hayton is a quality center who can do a little of everything. He has a really good shot and a good hockey IQ. He is also a good forechecker and passer. When you add it all together you get a pretty good offensive threat. He’s also a pretty above-average defensive center who excels at coverage and recovery.
Hayton can use his puck skills to walk defensemen which gives him the best chance to score, but he can also score by waiting for one-timers or by crashing the net. When he shoots the puck, it has eyes. Unfortunately, his skating is not where you’d like it to be for a player of his caliber and I feel like it will definitely hold him back when compared to other centers in this draft. Hayton also seems a little raw and might take an extra year to reach his potential, especially when compared to Veleno and Kotkaniemi, but there is something to like about him.
Potential: 2c. Comparable: Mike Richards-esque
- Ty Smith-Defense (Spokane Chiefs-Junior) (Top 15)
Numbers in 2018:
WHL: 14 goals, 59 assists, +44 in 69 games
WJC-18: 0 points, +2 in 5 games
A smooth skating offensive defenseman, Ty Smith should make a great defensive prospect to any team. He is just so smart with the puck and he uses proper hesitation to make sure he’s always making the smart play in the defensive zone. It’s no wonder he put up 59 assists. If you see him pass, he just creates so much space and opportunity for his teammates to either score or make a play for another teammate because he always has his head up looking for the next play. Smith just has so much patience and isn’t afraid to walk the blue line to generate the best possible chance. He’s also not afraid to drive the lane to create oddman rushes for his club.
Scoring wise, Smith has a pretty good wrist shot, that is both accurate and fast. While I wouldn’t call it elite, it definitely gets the job done.
What separates him from my picks among the top 10 players is his defense. I think he needs to improve in that area. Until then, I’d say he’s a rawer prospect in his own zone, but he’s definitely among the top defensemen in this draft in terms of offensive potential.
Potential: Top 4 defenseman; Comparable: Alec Martinez
- Grigori Denisenko-Wing (Loko Yaroslavl) (top 20)
MHL: 9 goals, 13 assists, +8 in 31 games
Russia U-18: 6 goals, 5 assists in 14 games
Denisenko is a good skater and he explodes at full speed after receiving the puck in the neutral zone, which allows him to generate chances for his team. He then uses that space to make smart passes to his teammates, which can generate quality scoring chances.
He can also forecheck really well and is good at putting pressure on opposing defensemen in transition. Additionally, he is really good at protecting the puck, at least against Juniors level players. It remains to be seen how much any of this will translate. But if it does, he has the potential to be a solid corsi machine and playmaking option if he develops to his full potential. At 5’10, he’ll have to keep using his speed to his advantage if he wants to stay effective.
Lastly, his puck handling is fairly good. He can use it to draw defensemen towards him, which allows him to easily find open teammates.
I think he’s probably the biggest project among my top 20, but the upside is definitely there. At #18, he’s certainly worth the gamble.
Potential: He will take a few years to develop, but he should become a solid top 6 option as a playmaking wing. Comparable: Mats Zuccarello mixed a LITTLE BIT with Artemi Panarin, potentially. He needs to improve his scoring before I call him Zuccarello or Panarin, but Denisenko has the tools to become a good player in this league.
- Bode Wilde-Defense (USNTDP -Junior)(Top 20)
His numbers in 2018:
USHL: 3 goals, 13 assists, +19 in 25 games
USDP: 12 goals, 29 assists in 61 games
WJC-18: 0 points, -1 in 7 games
At 6’2, Wilde is one of the bigger two-way defensemen at the top of the draft. He has a pretty good, accurate wrist shot and he also has a knack for going to the net. When he jumps into the rush, he makes things happen and if he develops some deking skills, it will certainly improve his all around game. He isn’t the quickest skater, but he can make plays while skating near his top speed. Wilde can also out-muscle opposing players, which will significantly help him if he can translate it to the NHL.
That shot keeps me intrigued, but I’d have to see more of just him in the attacking zone, since his linemates have done a lot to help him (Have you seen that USNTDP team?). But a big point in his favor is his defensive ability.
Potential: Top 4 D man. Comparable: Joel Edmundson
- Serron Noel-Wing (Oshawa Generals-Junior) (first rounder)
OHL: 28 goals, 25 assists, -8 in 62 games
WJC-18: 2 goals, 4 assists, +3 in 5 games
Do you like size? Noel is 6’5, 209 lbs as a 17 year old. He also has decent skating for a player of his size. I also think his playmaking ability is a little underrated. He is good at making small, but smart passes to create chances for his teammates. Additionally, he scores a lot of goals by going to the net. His size is good for establishing real estate in the slot, making him perfect for tip-ins, rebounds, and deflections. But Noel also has a wrist shot that lets him score from the outside. Moreover, Noel has a decent forehand/backhand move that opens up goalies during his breakaways. It’ll be interesting to see how he develops as he matures. I could see him going different directions in his development.
Potential: Out of necessity he’ll need to develop some nastiness, but he has all the makings of a solid NHL top 9 power-forward if he works on his hands and speed. Comparison; I see no reason why he can’t develop into a Troy Brouwer or Joel Ward like player.
Since I’ve been in law school, I just didn’t have time to get to everyone. So, there are some other players (that I just didn’t have time to scout enough to write thorough reviews for) who I believe may also be good NHLers:
I’ve ranked them by skill and ceiling, but my top 6 favorites are:
My top 3 picks for steals of this draft: