Ranking the Sens Prospects

prospects

I don’t think I’ve ever formally made a prospect list before–I’ve commented on them, but never put out my own. The lists can generate some interesting discussion, although there rarely seems to be a strong framework for why player X is higher (or lower) than player Y (one would assume higher is better, but that’s often difficult to discern especially the lower you go on the list–it comes across as a mishmash of ‘best potential’ to ‘best right now’ or even ‘most likely to be signed’). I also think comparing across positions is problematic–is a starting goaltender better than a top forward? The question isn’t asked. I prefer an apples-to-apples approach, so for my purposes I’ll be looking at players by position and potential.

Projected potential isn’t comprehensively covered in these kinds of lists–to my mind the guy who tops out as a #6 blueliner should not place ahead of someone who might be top-four regardless of relative performance at the time. To determine that potential I’m using the scouting consensus (when available) and performance (stats), tweaked by my own observations when possible.

I’ve removed players who have 50+ games of NHL experience because at that point there’s access to much better statistical breakdowns, leaving less room for speculation; I’ve also cut out those with four or more AHL seasons (by which time they are no longer truly prospects). Given those parameters I won’t be discussing Thomas Chabot, Ben Harpur, Patrick Sieloff, Chase Balisy or Ben Sexton (you can find breakdowns via The Silver Seven or my own). I’ve also excluded players on AHL-contracts (Boston Leier, Ryan Scarfo, Joseph LaBate, and Jordan Murray–I’ve detailed them in various places previously–for example)–until they sign ELC’s they aren’t true prospects. Despite all these cuts it still leaves us with thirty-four players to look at and I will detail them all below.

Some general comments about scouting: while the prejudice against size is slowly eroding away, there’s an overabundant affection for physical play that colours perception: the weaknesses of physical players aren’t seen as debilitating as a lack of physicality is seen in skilled players (Tkachuk is an obvious example of this, but there are many more). This is why we see an avalanche of ‘character’ players drafted despite most bombing out as prospects. There’s an impression many scouts have that a player who hits people is providing something a player who scores is not. In addition to this, scouts continue to struggle to project goaltenders and this means much of their material is difficult to parse (Ary talks about that here).

The scouting material included below focuses on potential and flaws (generally speaking we’re aware of what each player is supposed to be). Acronyms: HP: Hockey Prospects, FC: Future Considerations, ISS: International Scouting Service, RLR: Red Line Report, CP: Corey Pronman (via his Athletic article from this summer [paywall])–I use CP selectively because some of his breakdowns don’t contain enough specifics to be useful.

A final note: there’s less to say about players who have just been drafted–there’s no new information to discuss so we’re completely dependent on scouting and their statistical output.

Goaltenders (5)

Potential Starter (4) [None project as elite starters]
1. Filip Gustavsson 2-55/16 Pit
2016-17 SHL .911 2.70 4-10-0 4-10-0
2017-18 SHL/AHL .918 2.07 9-11-0/.912 3.01 2-4-0
2018-19 AHL
Draft: HP thought he was the best ‘tender in a weak class, having good fundamentals, but they had some concern over his rebound control; FC saw his potential as an NHL-starter; ISS mostly echoed the above, but expressed concerns about his blocker play; RLR gave him the same potential, but added the caveat that this applied if he were on ‘an upper echelon team’ (ie, with good defensive support)–they also questioned his play with the puck; there was a general consensus that he played too much on his knees.
Gustavsson enjoyed a career year in Sweden last season (playing backup to Joel Lassinantti–someone who appeared on my European FA list a couple of times, but has been passed over due to size), so why did the Penguins let him go? They have a young starter in Matt Murray (only 24) and two young prospects (Tristan Jarry and Alex D’Orio) on the way up, making him an option for the Derick Brassard trade. When he came over to play with Belleville for the final stretch of the season he looked good, although as I pointed out he was beginning to regress to the mean (his last two starts he was .865 and .867; with three of his six starts in that range). This means I can’t be sure he’s better than the other goaltenders who played for the BSens last season, but as a 20-year old there’s breathing room for him to grow and he’s expected to get more opportunity than Hogberg did last year.
While his Swedish numbers have never been as good as Hogberg’s, projections for him are better and he’s only 20 years old (Hogberg posted .917 when he was that age). This and the latter’s struggles in Belleville are what land him in the top spot.

2. Marcus Hogberg 3-78/13
2016-17 SHL/AHL 19-14-0 .932 1.89/.865 4.34 0-3-0
2017-18 AHL/ECHL 6-12-0 .899 3.27/.915 3.10 8-7-1
2018-19 AHL
Draft: RLR liked his size, but thought he lacked mobility and confidence; FC said he needed to improve his lateral quickness and confidence; McKeen’s profile is effusive, but they note excessive movement (something I noticed in Belleville); he was not ranked by HP/ISS. In general he was seen as great raw material that needed work.
The Sens left Hogberg in Sweden for four full seasons and after a bit of a wonky start in the first he posted solid numbers with Linkoping: .917, .911, and .932; good for 8th, 10th, and 4th in the league (splitting duties with David Rautio initially before earning the starting role his final season). There was nothing left for him to achieve in the SHL and he came over with considerable hype. His rookie AHL season didn’t meet expectations, but wasn’t as bad as the raw numbers make it appear (bad enough that CP simply ignored him in his list this summer). When you compare him to the other goaltenders in Belleville, his numbers are virtually identical (both Andrew Hammond and Danny Taylor were at .900, while Chris Driedger was down at .885)–only Filip Gustavsson, who barely played, is well above him (.912), but as I discuss above he could have benefited from the small sample size. The BSens were an awful team defensively and while that doesn’t mean Hogberg couldn’t do better, it does mean his numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt. I really wonder how much he was affected by being part of the ridiculous four-goalie rotation for months until the Sens finally moved Hammond and demoted Driedger. The biggest criticism from me about Hogberg is his consistency–in both the AHL and ECHL he was all over the place. He has plenty of talent, but his technique needs work and there may be confidence issues (not helped, I think, by starting this upcoming year as part of a three-headed monster in goal).

3. Kevin Mandolese 6-157/18
2017-18 QMJHL .884 3.46 15-13-0
2018-19 QMJHL
Draft: RLR thought he had starter potential, but thinks he stays too deep in his net; ISS was more effusive (offering the same potential); FC liked him but said sometimes he over commits and can lose focus if he’s not facing a lot of shots; HP repeats that he stays too deep in his net and isn’t aggressive enough, but has pro potential.
His numbers in the Q aren’t particularly impressive, so he skates by Hollett because he hasn’t had a down season after being drafted.

4. Jordan Hollett 6-183/17
2016-17 WHL .901 2.83 15-2-0
2017-18 WHL .896 3.43 16-13-0
Draft: FC liked his potential, but noted he struggled to follow the puck on broken plays; RLR thought he had huge upside, but was a boom or bust prospect; ISS/HP didn’t rank him (HP didn’t even discuss him, despite having comments on many players they don’t rank).
His season after being drafted wasn’t impressive, although he was (marginally) better than his goaltending partner (Michael Bullion); finishing 24th in the league in save percentage is worrisome. He needs to be much better this upcoming season if he wants the Sens to sign him (his struggles are undoubtedly part of the reason Mandolese was picked).

Backups (1)
5. Joel Daccord 7-199/15
2016-17 NCAA .892 4.03 3-8-1
2017-18 NCAA .909 3.51 8-19-5
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: no one ranked him, but HP had one game report which was positive but pretty generic.
Since he was picked he’s played for a very poor Arizona team where his underlying metrics are improving, but what is his ceiling? I have to think the best hope for him is as a backup in the NHL, as there’s nothing that I’ve seen or read that suggests he has more potential than that. I’d expect further improvement this year and he’ll need to do so in order to get signed when his college career is over (which won’t be this year but next).

As a group the goaltenders aren’t particularly impressive. There’s no elite talent–no one flashy like Robin Lehner–and while having either Gustavsson or Hogberg achieve their potential is fantastic neither goaltender projects as the kind that can put a team on his back. Since the Murray regime took over in 2007 the org has struggled to either draft or sign goaltending prospects who reach their potential (Lehner remains the best in either category and he never did fully evolve as expected–being bipolar and having addiction issues being a huge reason for that).

Defense (8)

Top-Four [None are projected in the top-pairing]
1. Jonny Tychonick 2-48/18
2017-18 BCHL 48-9-38-47 (0.97)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: RLR thinks he’s purely offensive (comparing him to Shayne Gostisbehere); ISS has him as a top-four blueliner with a need to get stronger; FC is effusive, but does reference defensive inconsistency; HP saw him as both offensively gifted and tenacious/aggressive, but agreed his defensive play is average.
In the absence of him having played since there’s not much we can add to this (the offensive potential is certainly exciting–I’d take a Gostisbehere if that’s what he really is).

2. Christian Wolanin 4-107/15
2016-17 NCAA 37-6-16-22 (0.59)
2017-18 NCAA/NHL 40-12-23-35 (0.87)/10-1-2-3 (0.30)
2018-19 NHL/AHL
Draft: no one ranked him, but HP had one game report that’s positive but vague (McKeen’s profiled him, but it’s vague suggesting that he needed to improve his defensive play). CP doesn’t think much of him–his hands aren’t high end and he’s not a great defender–this opinion isn’t shared by The Silver Seven (sadly their profile includes zero analytics from his NHL games). Brad Phillips thinks he’s a deep sleeper for fantasy hockey folks.
In his final (third) season in college he was second on his team in points-per-game (just behind forward Nicholas Jones) and tenth in the NCAA among defensemen. It’s difficult to parse his numbers because someone like Patrick Wiercioch also had very good college numbers (with much more scout-hype) and never established himself as an NHLer. Clearly the expectation for Wolanin is as a top-four defender who produces points.

3. Christian Jaros 5-139/15
2016-17 SHL 36-5-8-13 (0.36)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 44-3-13-16 (0.36)/2-0-0-0 (0.00)
2017-18 AHL/NHL
Draft: FC was effusive–their only criticism being he was sometimes overly physical, projecting him as a top-six, two-way defender; ISS put his potential as a top-four, shutdown defender, believing his primary weakness was offensive consistency; HP noted he’d improved his skating since his initial draft year (2014), but would never be an offensive defenseman despite a powerful shot; RLR’s only comment was they didn’t think he could skate and that criticism seems rooted in his 2014 impression.
Arriving in the AHL Jaros was fantastic–his production didn’t drop in transition and despite injury issues he was among the best defensemen in Belleville (the team was much better when he played); he was strong on the powerplay and spent most of his time carrying around the dead weight known as Andreas Englund. CP’s comments about him illustrate that he didn’t to watch him very often (“there was an adjustment period to the AHL in terms of pace and knowing when to try and make a certain offensive play”)–the only adjustment for Jaros was getting used to some of his useless partners whose failings meant his play varied considerably depending on who he was paired with. My concern coming into last season was that Jaros would waste time running around looking for big hits, but by and large he was careful and picked his spots. The guy is built like a truck so requires no adjustment to the physicality of the next level.

4. Jacob Bernard-Docker 1-26/18
2017-18 AJHL 49-20-21-41 (0.83)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: RLR saw him as a top-four blueliner; ISS has him as a top-pairing, two-way defender, but questioned his consistency; FC/HP liked him, but questioned his creativity. Much like Tychonick until we see more of his play we are reliant on the scouting opinions and his numbers, but certainly his ceiling seems lower than those above (since defense-first blueliners are a dime a dozen). The question for Bernard-Docker going forward is how well he distributes and moves the puck (since we can presume he’s solid defensively already).

5. Maxime Lajoie 5-133/16
2016-17 WHL 68-7-35-42 (0.61)
2017-18 AHL 56-1-14-15 (0.27)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: RLR saw him as a top-four, two-way defender or bust; ISS put his potential as a 4-5 two-way defender (with concerns about his defensive consistency); FC was effusive and had him as a top-four, two-way; HP was very positive and liked his hockey-IQ. The org was also excited about him, signing him far earlier than necessary.
His rookie pro season was disjointed and hampered by Kurt Kleinendorst’s coaching (his usage was bizarre). His excellent puckmoving was often hampered by incompetent partners and with limits to his TOI it wasn’t easy for him to truly get into the flow of the game. It wasn’t a wasted season entirely, but it skewed his numbers. How much opportunity he’ll get to play in an overstuffed BSen lineup I don’t know, but hopefully it will be more.

Marginal Pros/AHLers
6. Julius Bergman 2-46/14 SJ
2016-17 AHL 64-3-27-30 (0.46)
2017-18 AHL 65-10-10-20 (0.30)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: ISS thought he could be a top-four player, but needed to work on his shot and physicality; FC saw his potential as a top-six blueliner with a pretty generic description of his abilities; RLR didn’t rank him; HP didn’t rank him because they thought he was too soft for the next level.
Three years in the San Jose system have shown he has solid AHL-talent, but not enough to move beyond that. Last season the Sharks’ AHL-team saw a 20% drop in total offence, meaning his drop in production (30%) has some context. While it’s not impossible for Bergman to show NHL talent at this stage, it’s getting very late in the game for that to happen and it’s certainly not what I expect.

7. Andreas Englund 2-40/14
2016-17 AHL 69-3-7-10 (0.14)
2017-18 AHL 69-1-9-10 (0.14)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: RLR liked his mean, physical play and compared him to Alexei Emelin; ISS questioned his skills with the puck, but projected him as a top-four shutdown blueliner; FC saw him as a top-six shutdown blueliner and liked his outlet passing; HP questioned his hockey sense (as do I).
Needless to say most of these estimations are overly optimistic as Englund struggles to be an effective AHL defensemen, much less an NHL blueliner. The org still likes him, but that’s purely because of his physicality. His zone exists are either lobbing grenades up the ice or pounding the puck off the boards–in both cases forwards are forced to adjust to prevent turnovers because he can’t make a pass; his supposed defensive acumen is overblown (this was most apparent on the penalty kill), so other than his physical play he doesn’t excel at anything. He’s shown no sign of improvement since turning pro and the org would do well to shuffle him along at the first opportunity.

8. Macoy Erkamps CHL FA 16
2016-17 AHL/ECHL 11-0-2-2 (0.18)/58-6-19-25 (0.43)
2017-18 AHL/ECHL 46-1-3-4 (0.08)/2-0-0-0 (0.00)
2018-19 ECHL/AHL
Draft: FC said he was an efficient puck-mover who isn’t consistent; HP liked his physicality, but questioned his vision and hockey IQ; RLR thought he was underrated; ISS and McKeen’s didn’t rank him.
When the Sens signed him I pointed out that a lot of his production was likely due to his partner (Flyer first-round pick Ivan Provorov), who would make any partner look good. This thought proved entirely accurate as Erkamps is at best an adequate ECHL defenseman and his lengthy tour with Belleville last season was comically bad; he doesn’t do anything well at the AHL-level. The org needs to move on from him.

Because I removed Chabot from the equation this list doesn’t jump out with elite talent; what it has is a lot of useful potential, but all capped at a relatively low ceiling. The org is going to need a couple of guys to push beyond expectations to truly flesh out their future blueline.

Forwards (21)

Top-Six [None are projected as first-line players]
1. Logan Brown 1-11/16
2016-17 OHL 35-14-26-40 (1.14)
2017-18 OHL/NHL 32-22-26-48 (1.50)/4-0-1-1 (0.25)
2018-19 NHL/AHL
Draft: RLR had him as a second-line playmaker, wanting him to be more assertive; ISS/FC also saw him as a top-six player who needed to shoot more; HP puts him in the top-six.
CP questions his conditioning and ability to keep up with the pro pace.
One thing the Sens do routinely is shove top picks into the NHL and use them as part of their marketing (Curtis Lazar, Jared Cowen, Mika Zibanejad, Cody Ceci, etc), so I think regardless of whether Brown is ready or not he’ll be on the roster. He was a very good junior player (with improving metrics) and would produce in the AHL, but how well will he do in prime time? The concern here is the long haul and at least thus far fears over ‘assertiveness’ and physicality haven’t mattered, just his overall durability. If he actually has a conditioning issue that can absolutely hurt his ability to perform, but otherwise even if his skating is average as a puck distributor there’s no reason to doubt his ability to achieve his potential.

2. Brady Tkachuk 1-4/18
2017-18 NCAA 40-8-23-31 (0.77)
2018-19 NCAA/NHL/OHL
Draft: RLR has him as a top-six, physical winger; ISS has him as a second-liner with questions about his quickness and consistency; FC also wonders about his speed, defensive play, and him overhandling the puck; HP brings up his skating, but likes his defensive play; CP bends over backwards to make his own caveats come across as acceptable: “His skill isn’t dynamic … I saw the occasional [my emphasis] high-end flash of vision … he’s never going to wow you with his speed”–this is all okay because of his physicality.
One of the painfully obvious things about the scouting reports is how enamored they are by his physical play, something we’ve long known has little impact on the game, but this appreciation clearly colours their view of him. What I need to see is him dominant offensively in whatever league he’s playing in–he’s a top-five pick and there shouldn’t be these kinds of questionmarks about his ability. There’s a very real fear that Tkachuk won’t live up to expectations and if he doesn’t no guarantee the Sens will get the chance to roll the dice on another top-five pick for quite some time. There’s also the question: why use the #4 pick for someone who tops out as a second-liner? It’s a rare opportunity to truly swing for the fences and the Sens decided to bunt instead–as fans we can only hope it all works out.

Middle-Six (second or third line)
3. Filip Chlapik 2-48/15
2016-17 QMJHL 57-34-57-91 (1.59)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 52-11-21-32 (0.62)/20-1-3-4 (0.25)
2018-19 AHL/NHL
Draft: FC had his potential as a top-nine, two-way forward, liking his hockey sense, playmaking, and defensive ability; RLR saw him as a dynamic third-line forward whose only concern was his skating; ISS saw him as a third-liner who can do spot-duty on the second (their only issues were his physicality); HP was concerned with his skating. CP continues to be concerned about his skating and his defensive play.
I don’t share the latter concern, but certainly some of his AHL tendencies offensively will have change at the NHL-level (he tends to hang on to the puck longer than you can get away with at that level). With that said, his AHL-achievements are remarkable when you move beyond the raw numbers–no one was jerked around the lineup more than he was and despite spending nearly half the season in the bottom six he was second on the team in production (points-per-game). I really like Chlapik’s game and I hope he can translate his skills at the next level.

4. Drake Batherson 4-121/17
2016-17 QMJHL 61-22-36-58 (0.95)
2017-18 QMJHL 51-29-48-77 (1.51)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: HP praised him and called him a legit prospect, liking his hockey IQ and offensive instincts; FC/ISS/RLR didn’t rank him.
Batherson eluded most scouts because he’d sailed through one draft already and it was a strong second half that put him on the radar (there’s only so many times he’s going to be seen by scouts–HP seems to get more reps than most, which is why they almost always have scouting feedback on prospects who are drafted or otherwise).
Needless to say his final junior year was a monster one where he dominated (fourth highest points-per-game in the league, which dropped somewhat when he was traded mid-season). How do we project him? His background puts him in Tanner Pearson-territory–maybe a poor man’s Pearson (Pearson was another player skipped over in his initial draft year who put up monster numbers subsequently and enjoyed a strong WJC). I expect him to be a productive AHL-player and the question is simply how far beyond that he can go.

5. Gabriel Gagne 2-36/15
2016-17 AHL/ECHL 41-2-4-6 (0.14)/19-6-5-11 (0.58)
2017-18 AHL 68-20-5-25 (0.36)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: FC put his potential as a top-six scoring winger, with their major concern being him filling out his lanky frame; ISS saw his potential as a scoring third or fourth-line winger, questioning his desire/competitiveness; HP said he needed more consistency and ‘jam’ in his game, but that the tools were all there; RLR didn’t like his character or work ethic, making him highly overrated (the character issues seem tied him being benched by his coach (Bruce Richardson) for a January, 2015 game). CP’s comments (“He gets a lot of goals hanging around the net”) are another indication he simply wasn’t able to see him play much, as Gagne is not a crash & bang rebound guy–he generally just beats goaltenders with his shot.
It was a strange sophomore campaign for Gagne, but one thing he established is that he can score at the AHL-level. He’s young, still hasn’t filled out, and the BSens were awful offensively, which makes judging his performance difficult (he spent much of the season playing with other shooters, meaning the usual formula of pairing a playmaker with a shooter wasn’t happening). He was horrifically bad his rookie season, but made a big jump from that last year, so it’s within reason that he could take another big step forward this year–it’s all very much in flux (he is a great example of a boom or bust prospect).

Top-Nine
6. Colin White 1-21/15
2016-17 NCAA 35-16-17-33 (0.94)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 47-11-16-27 (0.57)/21-2-4-6 (0.28)
2018-19 NHL/AHL
Draft: FC projected him as a top-nine, two-way forward, whose only weakness was his offensive upside; RLR saw him as a third-line character center with concerns about his size; ISS was effusive, but noted a lack of offensive consistency; HP’s sentiments are very similar (third liner with offensive limitations). CP offers “his puck skills for me are very average. I’ve come down a bit on his offensive expectations as he seems to project out now as more of a good third-line forward.”
I agree wholeheartedly about White’s offensive potential, which is echoed by B_T‘s breakdown of his NHL numbers. White was better in the AHL, but his production is still lower than it should be (and, unlike Chlapik, he wasn’t jerked around as much in terms of TOI/usage). Don’t take his ranking here as me being down on White, he’s a very good player, but until we see otherwise it doesn’t appear he has the offensive chops to contribute any better than at a third-line level.

7. Alex Formenton 2-47/17
2016-17 OHL 65-16-18-34 (0.52)
2017-18 OHL 48-29-19-48 (1.00)
2018-19 OHL
Draft: RLR didn’t think he could score, projecting him as a third-line checker; ISS saw him as a bottom-six energy forward with upside whose weakness was puck skills; FC saw him as a third-line winger with questions about his shot and creativity; HP had him within the third/second line category. CP’s analysis also slots him as a third-line checker.
So why hasn’t Formenton’s jump in scoring impressed the inestimable Pronman? For the draft guides he was buried on a talented London team, but not last year. Certainly older players in the CHL see their numbers boosted (he finished fourth on his team in points-per-game), but the knock is his creativity. We won’t know how well that will translate until he turns pro, but his post-draft season was excellent and everything remains on track for him to at least meet projections (I haven’t linked his brief AHL foray last year because he was hurt early in his second game, so there just wasn’t enough to glean from it).

8. Andrew Sturtz NCAA FA 18
2017-18 NCAA 37-22-15-37 (1.00)
2017-18 NCAA 37-14-26-40 (1.08)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: He was never ranked or discussed while draft-eligible (playing in the GOJHL and CCHL at the time). He attended Pittsburgh’s development camp in 2017 and there’s a profile of him as a free agent from Ben Kerr that describes him as aggressive and having discipline problems–otherwise there’s not much material on him.
The org, after years of drafting NCAA free agents (Bryan Murray’s notion I’d wager), has started to shy away from them as they’ve had virtually no success (one good year out of Andrew Hammond being the exception). This makes Sturtz signing somewhat unusual (as does his size for the org–he’s listed at 5’8). Good numbers in college (far and away the leader his final year at Penn State) tend to translate to good numbers at the AHL-level, but what about beyond that? As a smaller player it’s possible he was overlooked based on size and that has to be what the org hopes for–his offensive production has always been good, so there’s no question about where his talent lies. I didn’t see enough of him last year to make much of an assessment. Usually what keeps high scoring players out of the NHL (besides size) is speed, so that’s something to keep an eye on, but like Luchuk below his potential has to be as a scoring player (he earns the nod over the OHL star because of his more consistent production over his career and because I didn’t find the same level of criticism about his skating).

9. Aaron Luchuk CHL FA 18
2017-18 OHL 68-50-65-115 (1.69)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: While never ranked, HP profiled him in 2015 along with a vague game report in 2016–in the former they felt like his offensive potential was being stymied by the bodies ahead of him.
As a smaller player prejudice against size still exists (despite undrafted examples like Tyler Johnson and Jonathan Marchessault). With that said, big numbers in the CHL don’t always equate to success (Tyler Donati is a favourite example of this). CP indicates his issue is a lack of speed (echoed here, although I suspect CP is the source of that comment) and that indeed can kill a smaller player’s chances (since they can’t make up for slowness with strong board work or overpowering checkers). His production didn’t slip when traded mid-season, but the offensive explosion was in his final year of junior which rings the Tyler Donati warning bell. I’m not sure what to expect from him, but he wasn’t signed to check so the expectation is that he projects as someone who can chip in.

10. Francis Perron 7-190/14
2016-17 68-6-20-26 (0.38)
2017-18 44-4-11-15 (0.34)
2018-19 AHL
Draft: RLR projected him as a third-line winger with a good head for the game; ISS didn’t like his compete-level and saw him as a top-six or bust; HP liked his skill set but questioned his strength; FC had his potential as a top-nine forward, but shared the concerns about his strength.
The clock is definitely ticking for Perron who struggled last season (above and beyond Kleinendorst’s erratic coaching). He’s still very young and in neither season given the kind of opportunity he needs, so hope remains he can translate his talent to meet projections. He’s a smart player, but (judging from this past season) can’t translate that into PK-acumen–he needs to start putting up points this year or his time with the org will be over (how he’ll do that in an overcrowded lineup I have no idea).

11. Todd Burgess 4-103/16
2016-17 Injured
2017-18 NCAA 34-1-11-12 (0.35)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: HP didn’t think his scoring would translate at the NHL-level, but that his playmaking could; they also thought his skating and defensive consistency needed work; RLR listed him as a sleeper; ISS/FC didn’t rank him.
He’s hard to assess because injury lost him an entire season (when the Sens drafted him he was the NAHL’s top scorer and put up a ton of penalty minutes). When he returned he put up solid numbers (only one player younger than him had better points-per-game, Jacob Hayhurst). His totals aren’t earth shattering, but for a team that didn’t score much they are fine for a guy who missed an entire year. It will be interesting to see what he’s able to do this upcoming season. Since no one projected him out I’d say that he tops out as a scoring third-liner (he certainly wasn’t drafted to check).

Bottom-Six
12. Markus Nurmi 6-163/16
2016-17 Finn Jr/Mestis 27-12-16-28 (1.03)/11-0-2-2 (0.18)
2017-18 Liiga 51-10-11-21 (0.41)
2018-19 Liiga
Draft: FC saw him as a top-nine two-way player; HP thought he topped out as a checker; RLR didn’t like his skating; he wasn’t ranked high enough for ISS to profile him.
He finished tenth in scoring for players 20 and under this past season, which is impressive given that he spent more than half the season on the bottom six. Projected as a checker (almost a default for bigger players who don’t put up monster numbers), it’ll be interesting to see how he does as he gets more opportunities to score in Finland. As it stands he continues to progress and remains on target to achieve his potential (he showed soft hands at the development camp, but that’s a poor place to judge anything).

13. Parker Kelly CHL FA 17
2016-17 WHL 72-21-22-43 (0.59)
2017-18 WHL/AHL 69-29-30-59 (0.85)/5-1-0-1 (0.20)
2018-19 WHL
Draft: HP liked his all-around game and while they weren’t sure his offensive skills would translate they thought he had enough intangibles to make him worth drafting; ISS/RLR/FC didn’t rank him.
He has good speed, but the question about his hands remain. His numbers don’t blow you away so he seems to slot into the bottom-six as a checker (barring some change). If he puts up even bigger numbers this season it could mean revising expectations for him.

14. Jakov Novak 7-188/18
2017-18 NAHL 56-32-41-73 (1.30)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: No one ranked him, but HP does have a profile, calling him a power forward with good offensive tools who struggles with discipline.
There are a lot of similarities between the Novak pick and Burgess above–both are from the little regarded/scouted NAHL, both led the league in scoring and put up a ton of penalty minutes. He’s the epitome of a boom or bust player, even if we’re unsure of his range. He was drafted for his offense so that’s what he needs to produce.

Marginal Pro/AHLer
15. Nick Paul 4-101/13 Dal
2016-17 AHL 72-15-22-37 (0.51)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 54-14-13-27 (0.50)/11-1-0-1 (0.09)
2017-18 AHL
Draft: HP said he was physical with good hands, but a poor skater; ISS called him a shutdown forward with poor skating; RLR liked his skating; FC thought he was an inconsistent producer; McKeen’s didn’t rank him.
There’s little evidence to support those early ideas of him being a shutdown forward (often a default option for bigger players), but offensively he isn’t as the org hyped him to be either. Despite a wealth of opportunity he remains a very average producer at the AHL level who doesn’t particularly effect his team one way or another. He has decent hands, but every season he’s had enormous slumps and at this stage that lack of consistency seems systemic. I think we’ve hit the point where he’s simply a marginal pro, although he’s still young enough to have faint hope for more (at this stage he needs a monster season to shake off doubts).

16. Adam Tambellini 3-65/13 NYR
2016-17 AHL 68-13-22-35 0.51
2017-18 AHL 69-16-16-32 0.46
2018-19 AHL
Draft: HP great speed, not physical, questionable work ethic; ISS liked his overall game; RLR projected him as a second-line forward, but didn’t like his work ethic defensively; McKeen’s echoes these sentiments; FC noted he needs the puck distributed to him to be effective and that has been the case in his pro career.
Going through his numbers he’s reliant on teammates to produce and his usage doesn’t impact production much regardless (I compared him to Jim O’Brien in that respect and it continues to seem apt). This is not someone who is NHL-bound and is simply a regular, if unspectacular, AHLer.

17. Johnny Gruden 4-95/18
2017-18 USHL 61-28-32-60 (0.98)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: ISS projects him as a third/fourth-liner with concerns over his defensive play; FC is effusive with their only concern being that he overhandles the puck sometimes; RLR calls him an intelligent, complimentary player; HP’s concern is whether his game translates at the next level; CP says his skill level isn’t that high.
That’s a lot of conflicting scouting opinion, something not uncommon with obscure players, but Gruden actually had a great deal of exposure because he played for the US development team, so it suggests true uncertainty. How he projects out isn’t that exciting, but Colin Cudmore slightly mollified my fears by citing positive underlying offensive numbers (although no one can say how dependent he was on talented teammates). My question is: do you need to roll the dice on a guy who projects this low?

18. Angus Crookshank 5-126/18
2017-18 BCHL 42-22-23-45 (1.07)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: RLR calls him a great skating energy winger; FC is effusive, but questions his strength and defensive play; ISS ranks him, but doesn’t offer a profile; HP didn’t rank him or profile him, but have a few game logs that simply echo similar sentiments.
His BCHL totals were good for his team (2nd), and I like his speed, but we’re at a deficit of information so we’ll have to wait and see what he is. It’s a little unfair to him to place him so low, but with so little to work with it’s a safe estimation.

19. Filip Ahl 4-109/15
2016-17 WHL 54-28-20-48 (0.88)
2017-18 Allsvenskan/SHL 29-11-4-15 (0.51)/15-0-1-1 (0.06)
2018-19 Allsvenskan/SHL
Draft: FC put his potential as a top-nine power winger, but questioned his consistency; RLR questioned his character and work-ethic, despite liking his tools; ISS put his potential as a top-six power forward with concerns about his defensive play and agility; HP had worries about his conditioning and agility.
While he had an adequate season in the WHL after being drafted (7th in scoring), things came back to earth in Sweden where he was unable to stick in the SHL and wasn’t that great in the Allsvenskan (tier-2) either. Despite the tools he possesses you really have to wonder if he can put it altogether at the pro level (the upcoming season is his last chance for Ottawa and he’ll need strong numbers to intrigue them).

20. Jack Rodewald AHL FA 17
2016-17 AHL 66-18-9-27 (0.41)
2017-18 AHL/NHL 62-14-11-25 (0.40)/4-0-0-0 (0.00)
2017-18 AHL
Draft: While never ranked for the draft HP had a profile on him in 2012 where they praised his hustle and aggression, but didn’t think his offensive skills would translate at any level.
The Leafs signed him to an AHL-deal and then lumped him into the Dion Phaneuf trade. He pushed his way onto a very bad Binghamton team and that earned him another AHL-deal. A hot start this last season excited Randy Lee and he was signed to an ELC which resulted in absolutely no change in his performance. Despite being given every opportunity (with favourable usage) he produced at the exact same rate as the year before. He’s an incredibly inconsistent producer, which is something I suspect the org has finally realized (given the myriad of free agent forwards they’ve signed). At this stage whatever faint NHL hopes the org are gone–he’s just an okay AHLer (big, fast, but not much else).

21. Luke Loheit 7-194/18
2017-18 USHS 40-15-22-37 (0.92)
2018-19 NCAA
Draft: Only HP ranked him, calling him a two-way player, but one of the scouts they quote didn’t care for his hockey sense. There’s very little written about him and what I have seen bends over backwards to try to find something that suggests pro potential. He’s going to have to show a lot more for me to think he’s anything other than yet another Vincent Dunn/Shane Eiserman (a modestly productive pest who is useless at the pro level).

This is a large group of forwards, but none of them project as first-liners and that’s very concerning. The org has struggled immensely to draft elite forwards with top picks and the best they’ve produced have been traded away (Jakob Silfverberg and Mika Zibanejad). What the Sens do consistently is target character players–hard-nosed guys you need to win (not that any actually help them win)–the Curtis Lazar’s of the world. While the team stills struggles to draft skill they’ve started signing skill, as most of their free agents are players known for scoring rather than punching. Despite that I’ve had to slot guys like Sturtz/Luchuk in the top-nine category due to lack of information that suggests otherwise.

What the org has had is good luck with is late picks–skilled guys who fell through the cracks (Mike Hoffman, Ryan Dzingel, etc). There’s not much of that represented here, although Perron is a similar sort of hail mary. Despite that, there is talent–guys who might push beyond expectations–but the team needs a good success rate (both hitting targets and exceeding them) to fill out the org’s future in the years ahead.

Summary

What should our reasonable expectations be in terms of how many players turn out to be NHL regulars? My research (which needs updating) has an average of 1.5 players per draft playing at least 200 games, so between 6 and 9 should make it (I’m smooshing the 2013-14 drafts together since only a few prospects from those years remain). As for free agents, the Sens have never had much success on that end (with apologies to Jesse Winchester and Andrew Hammond), so if even one turns out that’s fantastic.

Clearly some of the players above (regardless of rank) are greater certainties than others. I have no doubt that Colin White will be a regular NHLer regardless of his numbers, but he’s a complimentary player not a dominant one–he is, in many ways, the defining characteristic of the prospect pool–a lot of solid pieces missing the high end parts they are meant to compliment.

There are many interesting storylines to watch for this season–how do Gustavsson and Hogberg perform in Belleville? What’s a full season of Wolanin like? Do we see growth from Jaros/Lajoie? Is Logan Brown the real deal? What’s Batherson like as a pro? Where does Chlapik wind up? Does Gagne take another step forward? How do the FA’s perform in the AHL? There’s a lot to watch for and without a doubt some of the estimations above (pro or con) will turn out to be incorrect. What I think this exercise accomplishes is placing each prospect in their proper context with the best comparable information available (avoiding, as much as possible, personal bias).

List Format

Goaltenders
1. Filip Gustavsson
2. Marcus Hogberg
3. Kevin Mandolese
4. Jordan Hollett
5. Joel Daccord

Defense
1. Jonny Tychonick
2. Christian Wolanin
3. Christian Jaros
4. Jacob Bernard-Docker
5. Maxime Lajoie
6. Julius Bergman
7. Andreas Englund
8. Macoy Erkamps

Forwards
1. Logan Brown
2. Brady Tkachuk
3. Filip Chlapik
4. Drake Batherson
5. Gabriel Gagne
6. Colin White
7. Alex Formenton
8. Andrew Sturtz
9. Aaron Luchuk
10. Francis Perron
11. Todd Burgess
12. Markus Nurmi
13. Parker Kelly
14. Jakov Novak
15. Nick Paul
16. Adam Tambellini
17. Johnny Gruden
18. Angus Crookshank
19. Filip Ahl
20. Jack Rodewald
21. Luke Loheit

All mistakes and errors are mine (please let me know and I will correct them) and if anyone out there has additional scouting information or data to share that will help revise these opinions I will happily incorporate them.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens

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Reviewing the 2018 NHL Draft

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Another draft is in the books so it’s time to look at the prognostication and see how I (and the sources I use) did this year–you can read last year’s recap here. General Numbers: 92 Europeans, 73 Canadians, and 52 Americans were picked, which is on the low side for Canucks and high for Euro’s. As for the predictions, first let’s look at the numbers by round (not player X at position X, simply the correct player by round–I go into the why of this assessment here).
Acronyms: EOTS (Eye on the Sens), FC (Future Considerations), HP (Hockey Prospects), RLR (Red Line Report), ISS (International Scouting Service), and CS (Central Scouting).

First Round
HP: 26
EOTS: 24
FC: 23
RLR: 22
ISS: 21

This is similar to 2016‘s results. In terms of my misses: Noel, Wilde, Thomas, McLeod,  McIsaac, Samuelsson, and Woo (all picked the next round). In terms of surprises Filip Johansson’s pick stands out as no one had him pegged that early (I had him in the second). Every other player had at least one advocate for a first round selection.

Second Round
HP: 18
EOTS: 15
FC: 11
RLR: 10
ISS: 9

These are good numbers for HP and typical for me (a bit low for everyone else). The biggest surprise pick was Perunovich, who I excluded from my list because of his size (clearly not an issue for the Blues); while he was the biggest high riser (picked by just two sources, one of which had him as a seventh-rounder), other surprise picks include Romanov (#133), Lindbom (whom I also excluded due to size–also via two sources who had him in the fourth and fifth), and Iskhakov (#106). I had my first two complete misses, as both goaltender Rodrigue (#55) and big defenseman Kotkov (#61) fell out of the draft.

Third Round
EOTS: 12
HP: 8
FC/RLR: 7
ISS: 6

My number is on the high side for the round while the rest are average. This is where teams started swinging for the fences, as three players not on anyone’s radar were picked: Karlberg (not even CS ranked him), Eliasson (#11 CS), and Semykin (#25 CS). High risers included Dewar (I excluded him as he was a one-source overager), Karlsson (#193), Hutsko (#148), and Der-Arguchintsev (#146).

Fourth Round
HP: 8
EOTS/RLR: 7
ISS: 6
FC: 3

Numbers are in the normal range. Surprisingly there was just one off-the-board selection with overager Weatherby (#198 CS). High risers were Gibson (I left him out as he had just a sixth and seventh round nod), Hollowell (I excluded him because of size; two sources picked him), Gorniak (#210), Koumontzis (#164), Perbix (#161), and O’Reilly (#154).

Fifth Round
FC: 7
EOTS/HP/RLR: 4
ISS: 3

Again the normal range of numbers. Lot’s of off-the-wall picks: Kukkonen (picked by no one), Pajuniemi (overager that no one had), Kruse (ibid), McGing (ibid), Hakkarainen (#179 CS), Durny (#9 CS), S. Johansson (#88 CS), and Chrona (no one had him). Along with the unexpected, the high risers were: Ersson (#214), Saigeon (received one seventh-round pick), Houde (ibid), and Busby (I excluded him due to size and injury; picked by two sources who had him in the fifth and seventh).

Sixth Round
HP/FC/ISS: 2
EOTS/RLR: 0

Predictions crashed and burned here. Off-the-board: Holmberg (McKeen‘s had the overager, but no one else), Brattstrom (no one had the 21-year old), Kannok-Leipert (ibid), Kjellberg (ibid; son of former NHLer), Vehvilainen (highly touted by CS two drafts ago), Gorman (no one), Drew (ibid), Leonard (ibid), and Manukyan (ibid). High risers: Koepke (one seventh-round nod), , Boudrias (ibid), McFaul (ibid), Schutz (ibid), and Diliberatore (two seventh-round nods).

Seventh Round
HP: 6
FC/RLR: 4
EOTS/ISS: 1

Good numbers in general for the round. Swings for the fences: Kreu (no one had the huge blueliner), Novak (#214 CS), Kivenmaki (#102 CS), Slavin (no one had him), Siikanen (#70 CS), Shmakov (no one had the big ‘tender), Pakkila (#123 CS), Kinnunen (no one), Hentges (ibid), Kloucek (ibid), and Taylor (#25 CS). High risers: Kooy (two seventh-round nods), Wong (a sixth and seventh), Kucharski (ibid), Loheit (a seventh), Loewen (I excluded him because his numbers prior to this season were negligible; a fifth and seventh), Shen (also a fifth and seventh; he was highly touted by CS last year and was still #32 CS this time around), the Krygiers (#168 and #169), and Salda (#170).

Sum of Rounds (changes from last year noted)
HP: 72 (33.1%) (+6)
EOTS: 63 (29%) (-1)
FC: 57 (26.2%) (+7)
RLR: 54 (24.8%) (n/c)
ISS: 48 (22.1%) (-5)

As fun as the above is, the following is what I take seriously as the best assessment of who has their finger on the pulse of the draft.

Total Picks Taken in the Draft
HP: 162 (74.6%) (+3.7%)
EOTS: 155 (71.4%) (+3.2%)*
FC: 142 (65.4%) (+4.1%)
RLR: 139 (64.0%) (+0.9%)
ISS: 130 (59.9%) (-6.6%)**
* My “raw” list was at 150 (69.1%)
** 7 of their 10 goaltenders were picked, but as they weren’t included in their draft rankings I’ve excluded them

This is the third straight year HP finished ahead of me (the last time I had better numbers was 2015). Over the same period ISS has been the basement dweller and FC and RLR have alternated at third. The primary change, at least in terms of my performance, is ISS didn’t used to be this bad and using them is starting to hurt more than help. RLR has also experienced a significant drop and this is the second year FC has struggled. Why the change? It seems like HP has done a better job keeping up with NHL drafting trends while the others have not; it’s also possible HP simply has better scouts–until I really dig into their individual trends though I’m making educated guesses. That my own numbers haven’t drifted down further is due to my own efforts to keep up with what the NHL is actually doing at the draft (the last two drafts in particular I’ve done much better than the “raw” list). I was more skeptical about team’s taking smaller players than HP and that’s at least one reason for the differences (I excluded Lindbom, Perunovich, Vehvilainen, Hollowell, and Busby for that reason, for instance).

This draft represents the high water mark for HP in terms of total number of correct picks (but not their best percentage–this is their second best behind 2015–I still have the overall high with 78% from that year). In terms of my own picks moving forward clearly I need a weighted system to give HP’s selections more umph–I may also comb through McKeen’s numbers to see if adding them again is useful (I last used them in 2013).

The Biggest Surprises

So who was left high and dry at the end of the draft? Olivier Rodrigue (#55), the highest ranked goaltender going into the draft, was left on the board (the best for ISS and CS, a second-rounder for two others, and a fourth for the other)–given how many goaltenders were taken I’m not sure why he fell so hard. Also of note are monster blueliner Vladislav Kotkov (#61, who received two second-round picks), Danila Galenyuk (#76, another Russian who got a second), Luka Burzan (#80, also a second), Chase Wouters (#81, ibid), Nando Eggenberger (#91, Swiss was a first-round pick for one), and Egor Sokolov (#96, with a third-round selection). Of note is that most of these players were in North America, meaning there were plenty of scouting opportunities (Galenyuk and Eggenberger are the exceptions and the guide highest on the Swiss forward mentioned that few had seen him play outside of international tournaments).

Central Scouting Misses

As is typical for as long as I’ve covered this a number of CS-touted Europeans were ignored by NHL teams. The only notable change is that most had at least one guide along for the ride (albeit not ranked as high): Mikhail Bitsadze (#26, solitary sixth), Ivan Muranov (#34, solitary third), tiny Kristian Tanus (#35, fifth and a seventh), Michal Kvasnica (#40, solitary fourth), Ondrej Buchtela (#43), Bogdan Zhilyakov (#45, two sixths), and Fredrik Granberg (#49). As for goaltenders, Alexei Melnichuk (#8), Daniil Isayev (#9), and Daniel Dvorak (#10, solitary fifth) were left on the outside looking in.

As is the norm this CS-variation is not the case with the NA rankings, as it’s only later that players start falling off. From the top-100 only Linus Nyman (#89) and Maxim Golod (#97, solitary fifth) were not selected–both of whom are European, ironically enough. NA goaltending is similar as the first not selected was Christian Propp at #11.

A few highly ranked players from previous drafts who weren’t picked at the time did get picked this draft:
2016: Veini Vehvilainen (#3 CS at the time)
2017: Pavel Shen (#21 CS at the time) and Shawn Boudrias (#139 on my list at the time)

Trends via Unlisted Players

I thought I’d take a look at the various unlisted players to see if we can spot any trends beyond the usual eccentricities of 31 different organizations picking.

Marcus Karlberg (3-80/Clb; NR)
5’8 with good numbers in Swedish junior
Jesper Eliasson (3-84/Det; #11 CSEG)
6’3 ‘tender had limited international exposure while playing in Swedish junior
Dmitri Semykin (3-90/TB; #25 CSE)
6’3 righthanded blueliner with okay numbers in the MHL
Jasper Weatherby (4-102/SJ; #198 CSNA)
20-year old, 6’4 center headed to the NCAA after a big year in the BCHL
Miska Kukkonen (5-125/Buf; NR)
6’0 righthanded d-man who didn’t play much in Finnish junior (injuries at a guess)
Lauri Pajuniemi (5-132/NYR; NR)
6’0 winger passed through last year’s draft–spent most of the year playing in the men’s league as an 18-year old
Brandon Kruse (5-135/LVK; NR)
5’9 winger had a good year in the NCAA
Hugh McGing (5-138/STL; NR)
5’8 center has had two solid seasons in the NCAA
Michael Hakkarainen (5-139/Chi; #179 CSNA)
20-year old, 6’1 center had a career year in the USHL (et tu Nargo Nagtzaam?)
Roman Durny (5-147/Ana; #9 CSEG)
20-year old, 6’1 Slovak ‘tender had a solid year in the USHL
Simon Johansson (5-148/Min; #88 CSE)
6’2 righthanded blueliner had a good year in Swedish junior with some international exposure
Magnus Chrona (5-152/TB; NR)
6’4 Swede had good numbers in Swedish junior (no international exposure)
Pontus Holmberg (6-156/Tor; #154 McKeen’s)
5’10 Swede spent most of his time in Division I; drawing attention, presumably, through limited international action
Victor Brattstrom (6-160/Det; NR)
21-year old, 6’5 Swedish ‘tender had good numbers in the Allsvenskan
Alex Kannok-Leipert (6-161/Wsh; NR)
5’11 righthanded d-man had unremarkable number in the WHL
Simon Kjellberg (6-163/NYR; NR)
6’3 blueliner had unremarkable numbers in Swedish junior; son of the former NHLer who is a scout for the Rangers (seems like a Brad Peltz situation, ie, the team doing someone, in this case his dad, a favour)
Veini Vehvilainen (6-173/Clb; NR)
21-year old, 6’0 Finnish ‘tender is coming off a good year in the Liiga
Liam Gorman (6-177/Pit; NR)
6’3 center with decent numbers in US Prep
Hunter Drew (6-178/Ana; NR)
6’1 righthanded D put up a lot of PIMs in the Q
John Leonard (6-182/SJ; NR)
5’11 forward had good numbers in the NCAA
Artyom Manukyan (6-186/Van; NR)
20-year old 5’7 winger spent about half a season in the KHL with plenty of international exposure
William Worge Kreu (7-187/Buf; NR)
6’6 blueliner
Jakov Novak (7-188/Ott; #214 CSNA)
6’3 forward in the NAHL (which is not a great US junior league)
Otto Kivenmaki (7-191/Det; #102 CSE)
5’8 center had good junior numbers with some international exposure
Josiah Slavin (7-193/Chi; NR)
6’0 winger had middling USHL numbers
Patrik Siikanen (7-195/Edm; #70 CSE)
6’1 winger had okay numbers in Finnish junior
Shamil Shmakov (7-202/Col; NR)
6’6 goaltender had good numbers in the MHL
Eetu Pakkila (7-203/NJ; #123 CSE)
6’0 winger had solid numbers in Finnish junior with some international exposure
Santuu Kinnunen (7-207/Flo; NR)
6’2 righthanded blueliner had solid numbers in Finnish junior with limited international exposure
Sam Hentges (7-210/Min; NR)
6’0 center had decent numbers in an abbreviated USHL season
Milan Kloucek (7-213/Nsh; NR)
20-year old, 6’3 ‘tender had mostly good numbers in various Czech leagues
Ty Taylor (7-214/TB; #25 CSNAG)
6’3 ‘tender had good numbers in the BCHL

We have 16 forwards, 8 defensemen, and 8 goaltenders, so a high emphasis on position. Six of the eight defensemen are righthanded–a clear preference. Six of the sixteen forwards are smaller (versus one blueliner and one goaltender). Eighteen of the thirty-two players are overage, and twenty of them are in European leagues and I think it’s the latter factor that’s the larger one keeping them off lists. As for teams, Detroit and Tampa had the most of these picks (three each), with ten teams not taking any. On the undersized front, Columbus had the most (both of their players being smaller).

On the whole I was pretty happy with how things went. The goal remains to get ahead of HP (as I was in 2012 and 2015–we were tied 2013-14). A bit more research time would help so if I’m able to do that I will next year–while understanding the old school ‘character’ picks is a difficult exercise, the GMs who favour them are a dying breed so I think that’s less important than understanding the other elements.

My upcoming article will be Sens specific–we’ll go through who was picked and what scouts think of them (along with recent team trends)–I’ll also take a look at the Development Camp invitees (the roster was just announced). If you enjoy this content consider donating or supporting me on patreon–it all makes a big difference in me being able to invest the time in creating it.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Ottawa Senators Mock Draft

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We start with a face we won’t be seeing at the draft, although there’s no doubt Randy Lee’s impute will have an effect regardless. With my massive draft article posted and with reference to my look at Ottawa’s draft tendencies last year, it’s time to make predictions for who the Sens will pick in the 2018 draft (you can see last year’s mock draft here). This is a difficult exercise because it’s impossible to know who will be available when the Sens pick, but it’s fun to speculate on the possibilities based on who we might expect to be available. As a quick refresher, here’s the basics of Sens tendencies:
-they only draft out of Sweden, the CHL, and the US leagues (Finnish forward Nurmi, from 2016, is the exception that proves the rule)
-size size size (the Sens have only picked one player under 6’0 since 2011–Dahlen, who was subsequently traded–their goaltenders are always at least 6’2)
-pick goaltenders late (since Lehner (09) no ‘tender has been picked earlier than the third round)
-at least 1 player from Sweden and the US systems (last year was an exception, in part due to only having 4 picks); there has also been at least 1 French-Canadian or QMJHL player picked since 2008

With that established, let’s take a look at who they might land.  I’ve listed sixish players around the pick based on my list and we’ll tackle them for probability (with the most likely in green).

First Round (1-4)
3. Filip Zadina (QMJHL) – I doubt he’ll be available, but he’s from the Q and there’s little reason to doubt the Sens would take him if available
4. Brady Tkachuk (NCAA) – Bob McKenzie says scouts like “that certain something” about him and nebulous qualities have a magical appeal to the org
5. Oliver Wahlstrom (USDP) – I think if they aren’t taking Tkachuk it’s more likely that they’ll pick one of the defensemen
6. Evan Bouchard (D) (OHL) – more typical NHL-size and a righthand shot; fits the org’s model better than Hughes and considered more talented than Dobson, so he’s the blueliner I’d guess if they take one
7. Noah Dobson (D) (QMJHL)
8. Quintin Hughes (D) (NCAA) – undersized (5’10)  with questions about his defensive capabilities–these are big red flags for the org so I’m not with the Silver Sevens’ pick here

First Round (1-22; from Pittsburgh)
20. Isac Lundestrom (SHL) – if he’s available he’s likely (if the org picked a defensemen with their first pick)
21. Bode Wilde (D) (USDP) – if he’s available and the Sens took a forward with their first pick, the righthand shot is likely
22. Alexander Alexeyev (D) (WHL) – he’s Russian and the org doesn’t pick them
23. Akil Thomas (OHL) – under 6’0 so it’s very unlikely the org would consider him
24. Rasmus Sandin (D) (OHL) – see above
25. Ty Dellandrea (OHL) – what I said about Lundestrom applies to him

Fourth Round (4-95)
93. Justus Annunen (Finn Jr) – he’s Finnish so I don’t think so
94. Nico Gross (D) (OHL) – this iteration of the org has never drafted a Swiss-player, although playing in the CHL may give him the camouflage necessary to be considered (ala the Czech players picked from the Q or the Slovak picked from Sweden)
95. Tyler Madden (USHL) – 5’11 so not in the org’s wheelhouse
96. Egor Sokolov (QMJHL) – he’s Russian, so no
97. Kevin Mandolese (G) (QMJHL) – I don’t think the org is picking a ‘tender this year
98. Danila Zhuravlyov (D) (MHL) – he’s Russian, so no
99. Ty Emberson (D) (USDP) – righthand shot, comes from the right place–he’s in the wheelhouse

Fifth Round (5-126)
124. Lenni Killinen (Finn Jr) – he’s Finnish, so no
126. Seth Barton (D) (BCHL) – righthand blueliner; if the Sens haven’t picked one yet, this would be the time
127. Ryan Chyzowski (WHL) – has NHL bloodlines and seems to fit the kind of players the org is likes
128. Connor Roberts (OHL) – he’s big which always appeals to the org
129. Riley Damiani (OHL) – 5’9 so no

Sixth Round (6-157)
155. Kristian Reichel (WHL) – has NHL bloodlines going for him, but the only Czech’s they’ve ever drafted have been from the Q so it’s a pass
156. Damien Giroux (OHL) – he’s 5’9 so no
157. Merrick Rippon (D) (OHL) – has ‘local boy’ going for him and the org loves that
158. Jack Randl (USHL) – under 6’0 so no
159. William Moskal (OHL) – nothing really stands out about him either way
160. Caleb Everett (D) (OHL) – if no blueliners have been taken yet, he’s another righthand shot

Seventh Round (7-188)
185. Ivan Prosvetov (G) (USHL) – Russian so no
187. David Lilja (Allsvenskan) – under 6’0 so no
188. Tim Berni (D) (NLB) – under 6’0 so no
189. Nikolai Kovalenko (MHL) – Russian so no
190. Alex Green (D) (NCAA) – yet another righthand shot; definitely the kind of player the org likes to take chances on (reminds me a little of Bryce Aneloski–not in terms of potential, but just who & what he is coming into the draft)
191. Yegor Sharangovich (KHL) – Russian so no (I know he’s Belarussian, but the org doesn’t know the difference)
192. Erik Portillo (G) (Swe Jr) – I mentioned I don’t think the org will pick a ‘tender because of how many they currently have in the system, but if they do a 6’6 one seems palatable
193. Linus Karlsson (Swe Jr) – offensive righthand center fits in the wheelhouse

Seventh Round (7-194; from NYR)
194. Akira Schmid (G) (Swi Jr) – he’s Swiss so no
195. Johan Sodergran (SHL/Swe Jr) – has great speed
196. Mike Callahan (D) (USHL) – gritty, but with a couple of blueliners taken I don’t think they’d take another
197. Isaac Johnson (WHL) – also in the team’s wheelhouse if Sodergran is gone

My List
1-4 Brady Tkachuk
1-22 Ty Dellandrea
4-95 Ty Emberson (D)
5-126 Ryan Chyzowski
6-157 Merrick Rippon (D)
7-188 Linus Karlsson
7-194 Johan Sodergran

In most draft years a third to half the players considered are actually already gone before the pick. There’s no one from the Q or who is French Canadian in my list, which is an issue, but otherwise this represents the kind of players the org will take.

My friends Ary M and Colin have posted many draft articles (check them out: first pick, second pick, top forwards, top defensemen, more forwards, even more forwards, and defensemen [and goalies]). The links include excellent data as well as scouting profiles, although they are more slanted to who is actually the best as opposed to reading the minds of the org. Like them I believe talent is what’s most important, but we know the Sens don’t operate that way.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

 

Analysis and Predictions for the 2018 NHL Entry Draft

The 2018 NHL draft is almost here so it’s time to put on my prediction hat and take a look at who will be selected. What follows is a long preamble, so for those simply interested in the list just scroll down. It’s worth noting that I am not a scout, simply someone who enjoys the draft.

Before we get into my list I’ll explain my methodology. With the advent of the salary cap in the NHL (2005) it became paramount for all organisations to invest in their scouting operations and draft well.Teams could no longer simply buy their way out of trouble or plug holes with expensive free agents.That change has helped drive the cottage industry that is draft prediction. Sources covering the draft are not created equal, however, and few of those who provide their opinions will reflect on their subsequent accuracy. My purpose is to collate the best sources and provide insight into who will be selected (this is not unlike Bob McKenzie’s list, but my focus is the entire draft).

This is my ninth year predicting the draft (beginning with the now defunct Hockey Herald back in 2010). That year I picked 72% of the entire class which, as it happens, is very good. When I talk about successful predictions, I don’t mean player X was picked in X round at X position (ie, John Smith was #43 as predicted)–that kind of precision simply isn’t practical (it’s never much higher than 25% and when you subtract the first round it bottoms out completely). These numbers and percentages reflect which players were selected in the draft, period. Here are the numbers from 2011 onwards (in brackets are the total number of players; until 2017 ISS listed 220 players as being selected in the draft, then only listed 200 that year, and gone back to 220 this year, so they are divided by that number or the total draft number, whichever is higher)):
Eye on the Sens (EOTS): 70.9 (149), 75.8 (160), 69.2 (146), 70.9 (149), 78.5 (165), 72.5 (153), 68.2 (148)=72.9 (153)
Hockey Prospects (HP): 74.2 (156), 72 (152), 69.2 (146), 70.9 (149), 75.8 (160), 74.8 (154), 70.9 (154)=72.5 (153)
Future Considerations (FC): 73.8 (155), 71.1 (150), 68.7 (145), 69 (145), 69.2 (146), 70.1 (148), 61.3 (133)=69.0 (146)
Red Line Report (RLR): 73.8 (155), 73.9 (156), 67.7 (143), 64.7 (136), 73 (154), 66.8 (141), 63.1 (137)=69.0 (146)
International Scouting Service (ISS): 68.1 (150), 66.3 (146), 62.7 (138), 60 (132), 68.6 (151), 63.6 (140), 66.5 (131)=65.1 (141)

The differences aren’t particularly large (except for ISS), but they exist and remain consistent so there are meaningful differences between them. My ranking methodology goes as follows: I take the sum of the sources and produce an aggregate number (for example, player X is ranked 15, 24, and 32, those numbers are then averaged to create the aggregate number, eg 23.66). This gives me something I can use for comparison and that creates my initial list. I then engage in comparative analysis—for instance, if player X has a higher aggregate score, but player Y wins the head-to-head comparison, the latter is given the higher position (a head-to-head comparison works this way: 11, 30, 31, 38 loses to 12, 13, 16, 69, because the latter’s number is sunk by one bad score). I also put preference on those players picked by more sources (so a player picked by all or three guides is given preference over one picked by just one or two).

I don’t have the raw list vs the draft for every year, but I’m ahead in those I have (+9 currently; the list had 148 (2011), 157 (12), 150 (14), 162 (15), 153 (16). and 145 (17)–my 2013 file has, alas, vanished into the aether). It’s worth noting that there is a big difference between trying to assess who is the best player versus who will be drafted–my interest here is in figuring out who will be taken given the available data–the percentages above aren’t critiques of the guides (that’s a separate proposition), instead it simply shows how accurately they reflect the choices made by NHL teams.

Determining my Sources of Data

A wide variety of media and bloggers produce draft predictions (especially for the first round), but not all are created equal. My preference is for guides covering the entire draft (as that’s my purpose here), but otherwise it’s simply based on results. For that purpose I use the International Scouting ServiceRed Line ReportFuture Considerations, and Hockey Prospect‘s, with Central Scouting (CS) as a reference point (keeping in mind historically NHL teams ignore CS’ European and goaltending rankings). In the past I’ve also used Corey Pronman, McKeen’sThe Hockey WritersThe Hockey News, and so on, but due to their various limitations I no longer do so. The area most guides struggle with is European scouting (presumably due to cost) and they are overly dependent on international tournament performances for their assessment (a limitation worth keeping in mind).  I’ll give one specific example to make the point: ISS actually lists how many times their scouts filed a report on a player and they saw Czech leaguer Martin Kaut 14 times; the two CHL players he’s sandwiched between were seen 33 and 43 times respectively–that’s a significant difference.

Both ISS and CS have inherent comparative problems. Central Scouting does not create a master list—players are divided into North American and European regions and then further subdivided into skaters and goaltenders. As such it’s impossible to truly integrate CS into the aggregate number. ISS, on the other hand, separates only their goaltenders into a separate ranking, albeit this latter ranking no longer includes any reference to what round (if any) they expect the player to be taken in (it’s simply numbered 1 to 10), making it impossible to include their goaltenders in the aggregate score (so they become a CS-like reference point).

Notes

There are mixed feelings about this year’s draft class–a sense that elite talent falls off fairly quickly, but that there’s depth behind that (Bob McKenzie says there’s little difference between picks 20-65). Goaltending is considered particularly weak, which might mean unexpected selections or just fewer of them. The guides have 121 players (55.7%) in common (including 17 first-round picks), with 170 shared by three (78.34%), both of which are slightly higher than last year. This is, incidentally, the Year of the Small–I’ve never seen so many undersized players (particularly on defense) expected to be picked.
-Acronyms: ISS (International Scouting Service), CS (Central Scouting), RLR (Red Line Report), HP (Hockey Prospect), and FC (Future Considerations)
-For convenience I’ve identified goaltenders (G) and defensemen (D)
-I’ve noted size where I feel it’s important (the NHL preference for size remains a factor); in general I’ve used HP’s sizes, as Mark Edwards’ waits until after the NHL combine to finalize those numbers

Draft Rankings

First Round

1. Rasmus Dahlin (D) (1.0) – the consensus pick (including Bob McKenzie)
2. Andrei Svechnikov (2.0) – the consensus #2 pick (for Bob as well)
3. Filip Zadina (3.25) – HP breaks the consensus by not having him third
4. Brady Tkachuk (3.75) – as above (Bob mentions scouts liking “that certain something” about him–nebulous qualities that lead to things like trading Adam Hall for Adam Larsson, no doubt)
5. Oliver Wahlstrom (5.75) – this is where divergence amongst sources truly begins, but no one has him later than 7th so he’s the next highest on the list
6. Evan Bouchard (D) (7.25) – everyone has him in the top-ten
7. Noah Dobson (D) (7.5)
8. Quinn Hughes (D) (7.75) – undersized (5’10) blueliners are difficult to place in the draft, but everyone still has him in the top-ten (with plenty of talk about him being the second best defenseman in the draft)
9. Adam Boqvist (D) (8.75) – a touch under 6’0 which puts him in the undersized category for blueliners; he’s the first name here with a pick outside the top-ten, but it’s only one
10. Jesperi Kotkaniemi (12.25) – Finn is a top-ten pick for one (Bob has him #5 and notes he’s the top-ranked center)
11. Barrett Hayton (13.5) – neck and neck with Smith below
12. Ty Smith (D) (13.75) – undersized for a defenseman (5’11), both FC and RLR are high on him, but he’s nudged out by score and head-to-head against Hayton
13. Joel Farabee (14.25)
14. Rasmus Kupari (16.5)
15. Martin Kaut (19.25) – it’s historically rare to have a tie-score this high in the draft, but Kaut’s pick-ceiling is higher, has NHL-size, and isn’t playing in Russia, so he comes first
16. Grigori Denisenko (19.25) – at 5’11 his size and the Russian factor puts him behind Kaut
17. Serron Noel (20.25) – this tie is almost exactly the same as the above, albeit Kravtsov is far from small, but Noel’s huge 6’5 frame is something else entirely
18. Vitali Kravtsov (20.25) – HP thinks he’s a top-ten pick, but he trails off quickly otherwise and him playing in the Russia makes him less appealing for some
19. Joseph Veleno (23.75) – sharply different opinions of him, with a top-ten and top-fifteen pick on the one side and two early second-round picks on the other
20. Isac Lundestrom (24.5) – yet another tie, but the Swede wins this one easily head-to-head
21. Bode Wilde (D) (24.5) – score propped up from a high FC ranking
22. Alexander Alexeyev (D) (26.75) – his score takes a dive from one source, as he otherwise ranks higher than Thomas
23. Akil Thomas (25.25) – a touch under 6’0 making him marginally undersized; outside the first round for one source
24. Rasmus Sandin (D) (28.25) – at 5’11 he’s undersized for a blueliner
25. Ty Dellandrea (29.0) – very close between he and Sandin
26. K’Andre Miller (D) (30.25) – gets the nod over Bokk because opinions on him are genuinely split
27. Dominik Bokk (30.0) – HP has him in their top-fifteen, which is well above anyone else
28. Ryan McLeod (31.5) – the last player with three first-round selections
29. Jared McIsaac (D) (32.75) – gets the nod over Samuelsson because one source’s ranking throws off his score
30. Mattias Samuelsson (D) (32.75) – son of former NHLer Kjell, the consensus puts him as a late first/early second rounder
31. Jett Woo (D) (38.75) – his score is wrecked by an arbitrary third-round pick; otherwise he has two firsts and an early second; at 6’0 he’s undersized for a D-man (Bob has him in the second round)

This round is comprised of 19 forward and 12 defensemen. Sixteen other players received first-round selections, including four with two (Breggren, Groulx, Marchenko, and Merkley). The overall number is higher than usual, with the number of double selections one lower than last year (which is still high). In terms of Bob’s list, only Foudy isn’t listed for me (making this our most similar selection ever).

Second Round

32. Benoit-Olivier Groulx (39.0) – another double first-rounder with a third thrown in
33. Kirill Marchenko (39.0) – big Russian winger is the only double first-round selection who doesn’t have a pick outside the second
34. Ryan Merkley (D) (41.5) – undersized at a smidge under 6’0, he’s the second last double first-round pick (McKeen’s also has him in the first round); Bob mentions he has well-known attitude problems
35. Jonatan Berggren (46.5) – his score is wrecked by a solitary and seemingly absurd third-round pick; otherwise he has two firsts (plus McKeen’s) and an early second; at 5’10 he’s undersized
36. Jonathan Tychonick (D) (34.5) – a touch under 6’0, he fits inside a very narrow band of early second-round picks
37. Jacob Olofsson (35.5) – gets a late first-round slot from FC
38. Jacob Bernard-Docker (D) (35.75) – a first-round pick for one; at 6’0 he’s under ideal size for a blueliner
39. Nils Lundkvist (D) (39.75) – a second-rounder for most, HP is very high on him; at 5’11 he’s undersized for a defenseman
40. Calen Addison (D) (40.0) – undersized at 5’10; one source is very high on him (McKeen’s also has him in the first round)
41. Liam Foudy (41.0) – gets one first-round selection (plus McKeen’s and Bob)
42. Jay O’Brien (41.75) – one first-round pick
43. Kevin Bahl (D) (43.5) – 6’6 defender gets a first-round pick
44. Jakub Lauko (43.75) – beats Ginning head-to-head, with both having wildly different rankings
45. Adam Ginning (D) (43.75)
46. Filip Hallander (48.25) – Swede is a second-rounder across the board
47. Jesse Ylonen (50.25) – the same goes for the Finn
48. Sean Durzi (D) (51.0) – the first player who doesn’t appear on a list (due, from what I can tell, to insufficient viewings because of injuries); undersized (5’11), but consistently in the second-round for everyone else
49. Jack McBain (52.75)
50. Nicolas Beaudin (D) (55.5) – undersized blueliner gets a first-round nod along with a third-round pick; beats Morozov on both the Russian factor and pure scouting exposure
51. Ivan Morozov (54.5)
52. Jake Wise (58.5) – opinions on the undersized (5’10) center are split between the second and third round
53. Filip Johansson (D) (63.75) – similar swing in opinions on the Swede
54. Allan McShane (64.5) – another undersized (5’11) forward
55. Olivier Rodrigue (G) (64.66) – the top goaltender for ISS (whatever that means), he gets a couple of second-round picks (second for Bob too), with a fourth for the other
56. Niklas Nordgren (66.75) – at 5’9 the Finn might fall out of the draft (ala Nyman and Moilanen last year), but he gets three second-round selections along with a fourth
57. Stanislav Demin (D) (67.25) – very mixed opinions on him, including a third and fourth-round selection
58. David Gustafsson (67.5) – strongly varied picks, from early second to third or fourth
59. Alec Regula (D) (68.0) – narrow band of picks in the late second/early third
60. Jack Drury (68.25) – slightly undersized (5’11)
61. Vladislav Kotkov (73.75) – big blueliner with hands has his number sunk by one ranking; despite issues with skating and (according to some) motivation, there’s little reason to doubt teams will want to take a chance on him
62. Kody Clark (83.25) – like Kotkov his number is tanked by a single bad ranking

This round consists of 18 forwards, 12 defensemen, and 1 goaltender. Just two other players (Ranta and Fonstad) received two second-round selections (which is below the norm).

Third Round

63. Sampo Ranta (72.25) – mixed opinions, with a couple of seconds, a third, and fourth-round pick
64. Cole Fonstad (75.75) – undersized (5’10) forward has the same mixed opinions as Ranta above
65. Albin Eriksson (82.75) – number gets sewered by one source, but he’s a first-round selection for another
66. Martin Fehervary (D) (86.75) – like Eriksson above one pick wrecks his total; gets a late second and a couple of thirds otherwise
67. Philipp Kurashev (71.0) – gets one second-round nod, but is otherwise solidly in the third
68. Jan Jenik (71.33) – the second player not ranked by one source (in this case not one of the better predictors); he slots all over the map (second, third, and fourth)
69. Jakub Skarek (G) (73.33) – big Czech goaltender is also ranked all over the place (ala Jenik)
70. Blake McLaughlin (75.25) – gets one second-round pick
71. Riley Sutter (91.0) – score wrecked by one pick, otherwise second to fourth
72. Oskar Back (94.25) – as above
73. Aidan Dudas (98.75) – as above
74. Riley Stotts (79.00) – has a second and fourth-round nod
75. Milos Roman (79.75) – universally placed in the third-round
76. Danila Galenyuk (D) (100.5) – score wrecked by one pick, otherwise second to fourth
77. Gabriel Fortier (83.0) – 5’10 forward is also universally slotted in the third (I wonder if he’ll suffer the fate of his brother Maxime who, at similar size and also from the Q, passed through two drafts despite predictions)
78. Cameron Hillis (84.0) – another undersized forward (5’10) gets a second and a fifth-round pick
79. Alexander Khovanov (84.25) – 5’11 forward also has a second and fifth
80. Luka Burzan (84.25) – second and a couple of fourths; a nose under 6’0
81. Chase Wouters (84.25) – just under 6’0; second and a fourth
82. Matej Pekar (85.75) – two early thirds and two fourths
83. Blade Jenkins (91.75) – number tanked by one ranking; otherwise a second and two-thirds
84. Jordan Harris (93.25) – as above
85. Bulat Shafigullin (88.66) – not picked by one source, he’s a second-rounder for another
86. Lukas Dostal (G) (92.0) – beats Ingham by being ranked by everyone (including a second-round nod)
87. Jacob Ingham (G) (87.5) – not ranked by one source and ISS’ number is about as relevant as peanut butter
88. Jachym Kondelik (90.33) – huge center (6’6) is evenly split between the third and fourth round
89. Jonathan Gruden (90.75) – just slightly under 6’0; three thirds and a fourth
90. Eric Florchuk (92.25) – number thrown off by a fifth; has two third-round picks
91. Nando Eggenberger (97.5) – tally thrown off by one pick; the final player with a first-round selection (this wild variation seems to be a product of most scouting viewings being limited to his intentional tournament play)
92. Curtis Hall (94.75) – evenly split between thirds and fourths
93. Justus Annunen (G) (95.33) – wild variance (second, third, and fifth)

This round consists of 25 forwards, 2 defensemen, and 4 goaltenders. Seven players remain with a (single) second-round selection; two with three third-round picks and another four with two.

Fourth Round

94. Nico Gross (D) (100.0) – blueliner beats Madden head-to-head (he’s in the same situation with one pick throwing off the consensus)
95. Tyler Madden (98.5) – undersized (5’11) forward has his number thrown off by one ranking; otherwise it’s all thirds
96. Egor Sokolov (90.33) – unranked by one source, he gets a third and two fourths otherwise
97. Kevin Mandolese (G) (99.33) – gets a second-rounder along with a pair of fourths and a teddy-bear from ISS
98. Danila Zhuravlyov (D) (99.75) – at 6’0 he’s a bit undersized for a blueliner; picks evenly split between the third and fifth rounds
99. Ty Emberson (D) (102.0) – gets a second-round selection
100. Axel Andersson (D) (103.25) – undersized at just under 6’0; gets a second-round pick
101. Xavier Bouchard (D) (103.75) – actually beats Andersson head-to-head, but I prefer the Swede’s draft-upside (Bouchard peaks as a mid-third-rounder)
102. Giovanni Vallati (D) (103.75) – like the other two defenseman above his number he’s hurt by a solitary fifth-round pick
103. Xavier Bernard (D) (104.75) – wins head-to-head; has a second-round selection
104. Amir Miftakhov (G) (104.66) – undersized (6’0), Russian, and unlisted by one source so could fall completely out of the draft
105. Filip Kral (D) (108.0) – evenly split between third and fifth-round picks
106. Ruslan Iskhakov (114.5) – only 5’8, the Russian is ranked from the second to the sixth-round, but could fall out completely
107. Anderson MacDonald (125.75) – sewered by one pick, he beats everyone who follows head-to-head
108. Curtis Douglas (116.75) – 6’8 (!)
109. Kyle Topping (116.75) – 5’11 forward is next head-to-head
110. Dmitri Zavgorodniy (130.75) – at 5’8 he could fall right out of the draft; gets a pair of third-round picks regardless
111. Declan Chisholm (D) (128.0) – evenly split between the fourth and fifth round
112. Mitchell Hoelscher (112.33) – not ranked by one source
113. Pavel Gogolev (119.0) – ranges from the third to the sixth
114. Paul Cotter (126.25) – number hurt by a sixth-round selection
115. Nathan Dunkley (123.75) – at 5’11 he’s undersized
116. Jacob Pivonka (113.66) – son of former NHLer Michal; not listed by one source
117. Krystof Hrabik (113.0) – not listed by one source
118. Adam Mascherin (142.5) – undersized (5’10) forward is re-entering the draft; his number is off because one source calls him a top-50 pick without putting him in their top-50; he’s unlisted by another (likely in error)
119. Egor Zamula (D) (135.75) – has his number sewered by one ranking
120. Dawson Barteaux (D) (141.0) – two fourths, a fifth, and a sixth
121. Justin Almeida (121.33) – at 5’9 he could fall through; not listed by one source
122. Marcus Westfalt (123.0) – two fourths and a fifth
123. Toni Utunen (D) (130.0) – undersized (5’10) blueliner ranges from fourth to sixth
124. Lenni Killinen (132.0) – the same range as Utunen

The round is comprised of 17 forwards, 12 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders. One second-round pick remains along with five who have two fourths.

Fifth Round

125. Alexis Gravel (G) (124.66) – the final player with a second-round selection, otherwise he’s slotted in the sixth-round (ISS gives him a jellybean)
126. Seth Barton (D) (127.0) – beats Chyzowksi head-to-head; not picked by one source
127. Ryan Chyzowski (127.0) – not listed by one source
128. Connor Roberts (129.66) – not listed by one source, otherwise all put him in the fifth
129. Riley Damiani (145.75) – the 5’9 forward has his total thrown off by one seventh-round selection; he also has a third and two fifth’s
130. Patrick Giles (145.25) – of the players picked by all sources, he’s next best head-to-head
131. Adam Samuelsson (D) (141.75) – 6’6 d-man is next among all sources head-to-head
132. Carson Focht (145.0) – wins the comparison
133. Alexander Romanov (D) (132.66) – undersized (5’11) isn’t picked by one source, but gets a third-round nod
134. Tristen Nielsen (137.66) – the last player with both a third and fourth-round pick; not included by one source
135. Wyatte Wylie (D) (138.66) – among players remaining with two fourth-round picks he scores the highest
136. Gavin Hain (136.66) – undersized (5’11) forward is next highest head-to-head amongst those with two fourth-round picks
137. Matthew Struthers (144.0) – next among double-fourths; not picked by one source
138. Riley Hughes (146.33) – the final double fourth-round pick
139. Lukas Wernblom (134.0) – 5’9 forward could fall out of the draft
140. Vladislav Yerymenko (D) (136.33) – undersized (smidge under 6’0) blueliner isn’t ranked by one source
141. Oliver Okuliar (134.66) – despite playing in a Slovak junior system no one is watching, performed well internationally and three sources included him (a third and two sixth’s)
142. Tyler Weiss (145.0) – undersized (5’10) forward isn’t ranked by one, but gets a third-round selection
143. Daniel Kurovsky (143.66) – beats Jensen head-to-head
144. Jack Jensen (142.33) – unranked by one source
145. Jackson Leppard (146.66) – not listed by one source
146. Semyon Der-Arguchintsev (149.66) – three fifth-round selections, but at 5’10 he could slide out of the draft (he’s the second youngest player in the draft, incidentally)
147. Connor Corcoran (D) (149.75) – a fourth and two fifths and everyone has him in the draft
148. Logan Hutsko (148.0) – 5’9 forward goes from fourth to out of the draft
149. Liam Kirk (152.75) – all have him selected, ranging from fourth to sixth
150. Jack St. Ivany (D) (152.66) – mixed opinions on the blueliner
151. Alexander Steeves (153.66) – undersized (5’11), but beats Pettersen head-to-head
152. Mathias Emilo Pettersen (153.33) – even smaller (5’9) which could drop him out of the draft
153. Jared Moe (G) (153.0) – wild range of picks (highest is fourth)
154. Ryan O’Reilly (162.25) – picked by all to be taken, ranging from fourth to seventh
155. Kristian Reichel (162.75) – as above; son of NHLer Robert

The round consists of 22 forwards, 7 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders. Three players remain with third-round selections (all picked by just one source); eight players remain with fourth-round selections.

Sixth Round

156. Damien Giroux (155.0) – at 5’9 he’s another sink or swim pick; not selected by one source, but another has him in the fourth round
157. Merrick Rippon (D) (159.0) – from fourth to out of the draft
158. Jack Randl (160.0) – undersized (5’11); picked fifth to out of the draft
159. William Moskal (161.66) – fifth to out
160. Caleb Everett (D) (163.66) – beats Perbix on head-to head; a fourth-rounder for one source
161. Jackson Perbix (163.33) – gets a fourth-round nod
162. Adam Gajarsky (165.0) – undersized (5’10) he’s the last player with two fifth-round selections
163. Angus Crookshank (164.66) – undersized (5’11) he’s a fifth-rounder for one
164. Demetrios Koumontzis (165.0) – undersized (5’10) he ranges from the fourth to out altogether
165. Tyler Tucker (D) (172.25) – no one seems particularly enthused about him, but everyone puts him in the sixth round
166. Carl Jakobsson (174.33) – the last player picked by three that includes a fourth; the other two are sevenths so the enthusiasm is limited
167. Peetro Seppala (D) (176.0) – from fifth to out of the draft
168. Cole Krygier (D) (183.0) – beats his brother by being picked for the draft by all sources; son of former NHLer Todd
169. Christian Krygier (D) (177.66) – one source leaves him out of the draft, otherwise he and his brother are nearly identical in their pick-range (there isn’t much enthusiasm for either)
170. Radim Salda (D) (179.33) – on the smaller side of acceptable for D-men; gets a fifth
171. Sean Comrie (D) (179.66) – as Salda in terms of size, but less enthusiasm (sixth is as high as he goes)
172. Libor Zabransky (D) (180.33) – essentially the same profile as Comrie; the last player picked by three sources
173. Anton Malyshev (101.5) – the top-rated two-sourcer
174. Semyon Kizimov (108.0) – couple of fourth-round picks
175. Vladislav Syomin (D) (114.0)
176. Michal Ivan (D) (115.5)
177. Luke Henman (123.5) – under 6’0; gets a third-round pick
178. Joel Hofer (G) (124.5)
179. Joey Keane (D) (125.0)
180. Nathan Smith (128.5) – gets a third-round selection
181. Karel Plasek (131.0) – undersized (5’10), he gets a fourth-round nod
182. Santeri Salmela (D) (132.5)
183. Martin Pospisil (132.5) – gets a fourth-round selection
184. Brodi Stuart (134.0) – undersized (5’10)
185. Ivan Prosvetov (G) (135.5) – gets a third-round nod

The round is comprised of 16 forwards, 13 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders. Three players remain with selections that are fifth-round or earlier; no players remain with anything higher than a third-round selection.

Seventh Round

186. Zachary Bouthillier (G) (135.0) – a couple of fifths
187. David Lilja (146.0) – a little under 6’0; his scouting reports are more impressive than Berni’s
188. Tim Berni (D) (139.0) – undersized (5’11) he may not have done enough in Switzerland to tempt a team to take him; he’s the final player with two fifths
189. Nikolai Kovalenko (66.0) – undersized (5’10) Russian who didn’t play in any intentional tournaments, meaning most of the scouts for guides have never seen him–the question is: has anyone from the NHL?
190. Alex Green (D) (74.0) – college D-man is a righthand shot who can move the puck, but this is his third time through the draft and there’s just one source picking him (who is very confident he’ll be taken, however)
191. Yegor Sharangovich (102.0) – an overage Russian who played in the KHL; a power forward with some hands, so he might engender some interest
192. Erik Portillo (G) (133.0) – enormous (6’6) ‘tender has a chance to go despite limited exposure
193. Linus Karlsson (134.0) – a glowing scouting report means despite the solitary selection there’s a chance he’ll go
194. Akira Schmid (G) (150.0) – good size along with some good results internationally mean there’s a chance the Swiss ‘tender will be taken
195. Johan Sodergran (152.0) – plenty of potential in the Swedish forward as great speed means he’s the kind of player GM’s can take a chance on
196. Mike Callahan (D) (153.5) – has that mix of grit and potential that will entice some GM’s
197. Isaac Johnson (158.5) – seems to have the general toolset required to tempt a team
198. David Hrenak (G) (118.0) – taking a flyer on a goaltender who has never been a starter is unlikely, but the scouting information on him is very positive and it is a weak year for goaltenders
199. Daniel Dvorak (G) (141.0) – reading between the lines it seems like one poor international tournament has the other guides down on him (again, the limitations of a small European scouting staff); while he has weaknesses, there’s certainly raw potential
200. Carl Berglund (161.0) – has pretty good numbers, but no international exposure seems to have kept him off other lists (I couldn’t find a decent scouting report for him)
201. Einar Emanuelsson (NR) – 5’10 overager is coming off a career year in the SHL
202. Martin Bodak (D) (136.0) – picked by two sources; much like Khodorenko below the issue seems to be whether his skills can translate at the next level
203. Patrick Khodorenko (158.0) – scouts aren’t sure his skill set will translate at the next level (despite good numbers)
204. Aiden McDonough (89.0) – raw power forward that scouts will have seen while watching O’Brien
205. Jeremi Gerber (105.0) – Swiss winger has good numbers and at least one source is excited about him
206. Matej Blumel (94.0) – 5’11 bombed out in the USHL, but was good internationally–what will matter more?
207. Arttu Nevasaari (163.0) – picked by two sources; the issue seems to be that the undersized (5’11) Finn can score, but scouts wonder if he can do anything else–that said, scoring is a rare commodity so I’m including him
208. Zach Solow (126.0) – mighty midget (5’9) is going through the draft yet again, but only one guide is picking him despite good production in the NCAA (he could easily slide out of the draft); he, like Nyman below, is a litmus test for how much the NHL has changed
209. Dennis Cesana (D) (161.0) – undersized (5’10) defensemen had great numbers in the AJHL; size could be a concern along with the level of play (do his skills translate?), but there are things to like (there’s just not a lot of material to work with in assessing him)
210. Jack Gorniak (167.0) – pretty mixed opinions on the undersized (5’10) player, but he has great speed which might be enough to tip the scales
211. Michael Kesselring (D) (167.0) – big and has some offensive upside; that potential outweighs other concerns
212. Ben Copeland (169.0) – undersized (5’10) overager had a career year, but his great speed is likely what will attract teams to him
213. Mason Snell (D) (171.0) – doesn’t have great size for a blueliner (6’0), but apparently has intriguing tools (“intangibles”)
214. Samuel Ersson (G) (171.5) – bit of a sleeper pick, but with a soft goaltending pool it’s possible
215. Vojtech Kropacek (181.0) – great speed with hands could make him a worthwhile risk
216. Adam Klapka (NR) – the 6’7, righthanded Czech forward had good numbers in that junior system, but with no international exposure no one outside CS was looking at him; at his size there’s a good chance someone will take a flyer on him
217. Linus Nyman (NR) – I had him in last year’s draft, but the 5’9 Finn wasn’t picked–he had big numbers in the OHL (third-highest among draft-eligible players), so if small-is-in he could very well be picked (his issues are apparently strength and skating, but there’s room for both to improve)

The final round consists of 19 forwards, 7 defensemen, and 5 goaltenders (for a total of 136 forwards, 65 defensemen, and 16 goaltenders). It was tough filling out the bottom end of this round as most of the multi-picked players have low rankings and the high ranked Central Scouting players who were not included don’t have remarkable numbers. The guides pushed hard on smaller players and NHL GM’s can still push back (Tampa can only pick so many times after all)–I expect some of them to fall through the cracks, but this draft is a true litmus test on whether the NHL is finally embracing smaller players or not. I feel a lot of trepidation in picking as many smaller players as I did and the goaltending pool is so uncertain there could be a lot of misses above.

Nearly Made It

Olof Lindbom (G) – one of two players excluded who were picked by three sources (and Bob in this case); at 6’0 it’s much less likely an NHL team will take a chance on him (DiPietro fell from a first-rounder to a third in 2017 because of size, just as highly ranked Veini Vehvilainen hasn’t been drafted yet, so it’s the kind of thing GM’s might not want to take a chance on)–keeping him out was by far the hardest decision I made
David Tendeck (G) – the other three-sourcer; he’s 6’1 and on the fringes for most–in a weak goaltending field I think he’ll slide out
Jermaine Loewen – picked by two sources; big, overage power forward coming off a career year, but as one of the oldest players in the draft puts questions marks around that output
Veini Vehvilainen (G) – 6’0 ‘tender mentioned above: if NHL teams are willing to take smaller goaltenders he’s near the top of the list, as he’s had good numbers in the Liiga this year and two years ago

On the Outside

A look at some players who are not included above and why:
Two-sources
Bogdan Zhilyakov (D) – thought to have taken a step back
Mac Hollowell (D) – at 5’9 there seems no chance he’ll be taken
Nikita Rtishchev – a Russian with some exposure, but like Muranov below he’s a checker and as there’s never a shortage of checkers who aren’t Russian so there’s no real pressure to pick him
Spencer Stastney (D) – despite NHL attitudes towards size starting to change, the 5’10 D-man is going to have to blow scouts away to be picked and that doesn’t seem to have happened
Scott Perunovich (D) – another 5’9 blueliner (Bob has him on his list, but I just don’t see it)
Carter Robinson (D) – nothing stands out about the blueliner
Samuel Bitten – a defense-first player who lacks speed isn’t that appealing
Ryan Savage – 5’11 forward who can’t skate and has limited talent; other than an NHL father and “intangibles” there’s no real appeal
Pavel Shen – Russian overager lacked much international exposure and if good numbers last year didn’t tempt a team I’m not sure what will have changed this year
Kristian Tanus – at 5’6 I just don’t think anyone will draft him
Dennis Busby (D) – undersized (5’10) blueliner who was hurt most of the season
One-source
Ivan Muranov – another Russian with no exposure; unlike Kovalenko (who made the list) he’s a plugger and there’s little reason for an NHL team to go abroad for that kind of player (one caveat: one source does think he has top-fifty talent, so keep that in mind)
Zachary Emond (G) – in a year of weak goalies he could be taken, but there’s no pressing reason to assume that he will be
Michal Kvasnica – another plugger–I don’t see the appeal
William Ennis (D) – defensive defenseman who may have already peaked
Jesper Sellgren (D) – no scouting report, so I have no idea why the undersized blueliner was picked
Roman Kalinchenko (D) – played in the WHL so not an unknown quantity and his numbers are pedestrian
Keegan Karki (G) – off-ice issues and mental make-up explain his solitary selection
Brett Stapley – good numbers for the overager in the BCHL, but with just the one scouting report to work with there wasn’t enough for me to include him
Juuso Ketola (D) – undersized Finn’s scouting report is filled with red flags
Jacob Ragnarsson (D) – no offensive upside and a smaller defensive d-man isn’t going to appeal to NHL GM’s (unless they have nostalgia for his father)
Linus Kronholm (D) – no exposure and being very raw mean it’s unlikely anyone will take a flier on him
Linus Nassen – a smaller (5’11) player with good smarts but an average skill-set; international exposure could help, but being picked seems unlikely
Hugo Leufvenius – conditioning and skill-ceiling concerns
Maxim Golod – the Russian import is a known quantity (along with smaller, 5’11) with red flags to join his potential, so he seems unlikely to be taken
Ethan Manderville – no offence and poor skating is not very appealing; does have the NHL dad, however
Connor Dewar – undersized (5’10) overager’s numbers improved a lot, but not enough to impress more than one guide
Owen Lalonde (D) – defensive defenseman with limited tools
Maxim Sorkin – defensive forward with limited offensive upside
Mikhail Bitsadze (26 CSE) – at 5’10 and with no numbers I don’t see it
Central Scouting
Dmitri Semykin (D) (25 CSE) – has a lot of raw potential, but with limited international exposure no one seems keen to pull the trigger on the big defenseman
Ondrej Buchtela (D) (43 CSE) – no exposure and unremarkable numbers
Fredrik Granberg
(D) (49 CSE) – defensive defenseman with limitations moving the puck
Danil Gizatullin (52 CSE) – 5’11, no exposure, but decent numbers
Danila Dyadenkin (54 CSE) – no exposure with brutal numbers
Jerry Turkulainen (61 CSE) – good numbers in the Liiga along with international exposure, but at 5’6 no one is biting

So that’s the list. I’d like to beat HP this year, but we shall see. It’s hard for someone interested in analytics to factor in the old school, eye-test NHL GM’s and figure out just how many of those remain and where their heads are at. I firmly believe skill is what wins so when I read about a player with that limitation it’s hard to accept that there are still GM’s out there who still buy into the “good-in-the-corners/room” mantra.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing NHL Draft Guides

It’s time for my annual review of NHL draft guides. Last year Future Considerations remained on top for casual fans, with Hockey Prospects keeping its crown for the hardcore draft folk. Have my conclusions changed? Let’s find out. Needless to say this isn’t intended as a comprehensive review of all draft guides–my focus is on those that cover the entire draft and that I’ve personally found most useful. Publications like McKeen’s are available ($15 with 124 profiles), but are not discussed below.

In my descriptions below I’ve ignored mock draft/future watch sections because for me they have no value–it’s pointless fluff–but they may be of interest to you so keep that in mind.  In brackets I’ve noted changes from last year. Let’s break it down:

International Scouting Service $10.00 (unchanged)
Scouts listed: 48 (41 NA, 7 EU) (-4)
Prospects listed: 210 (+10)
Prospect profiles: 110 (unchanged)
Miscellaneous: historical draft analysis

While ISS intelligently reduced its cost last year they still have frustrating eccentricities that lack any justification: why stop 7 players short of listing the entire draft? Why separate goaltenders from other players (they aren’t drafted separately)? The miscellaneous information they include is trivial because it’s all easily available online–that’s space that could be used to add profiles. You can applaud the change in cost, but other than that there’s not much value here (particularly as their predictions have been consistently among the worst over the years–see below).

Future Considerations $19.99 (unchanged)
Scouts listed: 29 (15 NA, 14 EU) (-7)
Prospects listed: 300 (+50)
Prospect profiles: 220 (+1)
Miscellaneous: none

This is the best value for casual fans, even with FC trimming its scouts substantially from the previous season (they have the biggest EU scouting staff, oddly enough). It wouldn’t hurt for them to add in some extra content (as they have in years past), but given the price point there’s no obligation for them to do so.

Hockey Prospects $49.99 (+$10.00)
Scouts listed: 28 (25 NA, 3 EU) (+8)
Prospects listed: 217 (unchanged)
Prospect profiles: 345 (-44)
Miscellaneous: game reports

The Mack Daddy of draft guides, this massive tome includes about 400 pages of material no one is ever going to need (game reports and future reports), but the remaining tonnage is well worth it. One quote from their website to keep in mind:

Don’t be fooled by the ‘scouts’ from some services who pretend to be in the rinks. In our travels to games throughout a season, there are approximately 30 NHL team scouts we see a minimum of 20 times per year. So we find it interesting that we haven’t run into some of these ‘scouts’ from other services for stretches of time ranging from four to nine years. In fact, we’ve never seen several of them ever.

I’m not sure who they are targeting here, but I will say they’ve been the most accurate draft predictor among the guides for quite some time (if not always by a large margin, see below). From a personal point of view I see the game reports as frivolous and think something more useful could be done with all that space. With that said, this is a great product.

Red Line Report $50.00 (unchanged)
Scouts listed: 12 (unchanged)
Prospects listed: 326 (+1)
Prospect profiles: 116 (plus 68 one-line notes) (unchanged)
Miscellaneous: potential older European picks

It looks like a kid made it in his parent’s basement, but RLR proudly trumpets its independent nature without providing any reasons why its opinion should be valued. In fairness I’m not sure what else RLR can do to sell itself beyond some eccentric views–championing lesser known or liked players (safely outside the first round). Overpriced and with limited content in a format that hasn’t changed in at least a decade, there’s really nothing to sell it save the few chuckles via its prospect “awards” (although repeating the same one-liners year after year starts to seem lazy). If it was priced between the ISS and the FC guide it would be worth picking up, but with such limited content and the high cost (along with middling predictive success), it’s a pass.

Pick Variation

There’s general agreement among scouts over who is or isn’t an NHL-prospect; the arguments tend to be over the odds of that happening and the relative ceiling. This year they agree on 121 players (up 2 from last year, or 55.7% of the entire draft). What about unique selections (as in, no one else picked the player to be drafted)? By round:
First: none
Second: none
Third: 5 (1 RLR, 4 HP)
Fourth: 12 (2 FC, 2 ISS, 3 RLR, 5 HP)
Fifth: 17 (3 FC, 3 ISS, 5 RLR, 6 HP)
Sixth: 25 (8 FC, 10 ISS, 4 RLR, 3 HP)
Seventh: 34 (11 FC, 5 ISS, 11 RLR, 7 HP)
Total: 93 (24 FC, 20 ISS, 24 RLR, 25 HP)

This is slightly down from last year (by 5 players), with both FC and RLR radically cutting their eccentricity. The unique picks remain heavily European, American, and tier-2 leagues (so, presumably, players seen less frequently).

Predictive success

I’ve been reading and tracking these particular sources for a long time.  While I’m not that interested in how accurate they are in predicting player X taken at position X, I am interested in what percentage of the players included are taken in the draft.  Going back to 2011, here’s how they’ve done by percentage (best to worst):
HP: 74.2, 72.0, 69.2, 70.9, 75.8, 74.8, 70.9 (avg 72.5)
FC: 73.8, 71.1, 68.7, 69.0, 69.2, 70.1, 61.3 (avg 69.0)
RLR: 73.8, 73.9, 67.7, 64.7, 73.0, 66.8, 63.1 (avg 69.0)
ISS: 68.1, 66.3, 62.7, 60.0, 68.6, 63.6, 66.5 (avg 65.1)
Keep in mind these numbers don’t reflect who was right about how good prospects were, rather they reflect how closely their selections follow what NHL GMs do on draft day. This latter element is, for me, the most interesting.

So what’s the best value?  My opinion remains unchanged: for casual fans Future Considerations is the way to go, but for those with a deeper interest in the draft (or deeper pockets) you’re better off with Hockey Prospects.  Either way, both are excellent products and I highly recommend them.  As for ISS and RLR, both guides have their own unique frustrations which remain unchanged this year–the latter is more entertaining to read, but much more expensive, and neither offer the kind of value their competitors do (by limiting their prospect profiles to the first few rounds they’re competing with free resources online which seems like a very poor business decision).

A friendly reminder about both my patreon and support via donations: the work for this site involves many hours of labour (along with certain set costs) and any and all support makes a big difference.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing Ottawa’s 2017 Draft

dorion's reward

This was not an inspiring draft for Ottawa, as Trent Mann’s first time running the board seemed timid and uninspired (reminding me most of 2014, but even that draft class had more skill). As for the Sens usual trends, we saw both the CHL and US systems involved as per usual, a continued commitment to avoiding smaller players, along with using later rounds for goalies. Variations included not drafting out of Sweden for the first time since 2007, as well as taking a USHL player in the first round. In terms of my mock draft the org had different ideas in the first round and all my first-selections after that were gone long before Ottawa made their pick (two of my options, however, were selected). Pierre Dorion was looking for credit for trying (and failing) to make a trade (!), which is more than a little embarrassing. Let’s dig into the players added to the system.

1-28/17 Shane Bowers C-L USHL (Waterloo) 60-22-29-51 t-1st pts (4th points-per-game)
A late first to second round round pick (26-41) with red flags attached. Nichols quotes his Lord and Saviour Corey Pronman:

[He] play[s] on both sides of the ice. The ultimate question with Bowers is his offensive ceiling. Some scouts I talk to swear by him as a potential frontline NHL player; other scouts, including myself, question whether he’ll be able to score much as an NHLer.

Grant McCagg (also via Nichols):

not a high-end talent but he’s a hard working, smart two-way guy

Red Line Report (RLR; also via Nichols):

Has the look of a solid third line, two-way NHL center one day, but we just don’t see any one exceptional carrying tool that leads us to believe he’ll be a difference-maker

International Scouting Report (ISS):

He competes hard. He skates through checks, goes to the net and not afraid to go into traffic. He is aware of his defensive responsibilities. He can play all forward positions and excels on the powerplay and penalty killing effectively. … mid-range NHL player with an upside.

Future Considerations (FC):

Bowers is a bit vanilla when it comes to his offensive game as he lacks flash or creativity and takes only what is available in front of him

Hockey Prospect (HP):

Shane plays a very detail oriented game in all three zones; rarely will he miss an assignment defensively or try to cheat up ice. Bowers isn’t going to make a lot of plays that jump out at you but he uses his elite skating and hockey sense to be in the right places at the right times and will take advantage of the chances he gets.

The commonalities are that Bowers is responsible defensively; most agree he has a limited offensive upside and that he’s very fast. One salient comment I read from an NHL scout was “high floor, low ceiling,” which sounds the Curtis Lazar alarm bells. For an organisation short on skill, using a pick on someone projected as a third-liner checker is a little depressing, although clearly the Sens believe his ceiling is higher than that. He’s slated to attend Boston University in the upcoming season.

2-47 Alex Formenton LW OHL (London) 65-16-18-34 11th pts (13th ppg)
Slotted evenly between the second and third round (32-66), he’s similar to Bowers above (as you’ll see below). Nichols quotes Pronman:

He has average creativity though, I wouldn’t expect him to become a big assists guy. … upon repeated viewings it became apparent that he had trouble finishing plays or paying the ultimate price to get to the scoring areas, perhaps because of his youth.

Red Line Report (via Nichols):

If he’s ever able to get his hands and brain to catch up with his feet, has the tools to be a fine two-way winger.

Hockey Prospect:

Offensively he has good tools. He gets his shot off quickly, and he has fairly good passing ability. His play below the hashmarks in the offensive zone improved as the season progressed.

Future Considerations:

he didn’t show much creativity with the puck when set up in the offensive zone and stuck to more of a cycle game. He’s very engaged defensively, hustling to cover the trailing player on the backcheck and was often the first forward back in his own end in tonight’s game.

ISS:

Plays a 200-foot game. Strong backcheck and back pressure. Plays with a bit of an edge. Project as possible 3rd line forward in NHL with possible upside.

All agree he’s fast (although there’s disagreement on his lateral movement and overall agility); most see limited creativity at this stage, with some seeing hope for more in the future. Just like Bowers though, his ceiling is not high and he projects as a responsible energy player at best. If any pick this year demonstrates organisational fear of failure this is the one.

4-121 Drake Batherson C-R QMJHL (Cape Breton) 61-22-36-58 3rd pts (3rd ppg)
Overage center was only listed by half the draft guides (122/213) and as such there’s very little scouting material on him. Only HP has a report in what I have on hand:

[H]as the ability to change speeds, which makes him tough to handle for opposing defensemen. He has great hockey IQ and puck skills. He has the ability to make defenders miss him one-on-one with his slick hands. … He sees the ice really well, and he’s as good a scorer as he is a playmaker. He has really good patience with the puck…. … he’s way more effective in one-on-one battles along the boards and in front of the net [than in the past].

This all sounds good in the skill department, but it’s worth noting prospects who put up big numbers only as overagers are less likely to replicate those as pros–you also have to ask the question: how much of that production is due to his teammates who lead the team in scoring (Giovanni Fiore, who was signed as an FA by Anaheim, and Massimo Carozza)? On the plus side, at least the Sens picked a player whose principal element is skill (as they generally do out of the Q).

6-183 Jordan Hollett G-L WHL (Regina) 2.83 .901
Serving as the backup goaltender on the high flying Pats (behind the undrafted Tyler Brown), the 6’5/6’4 prospect improved slightly on his numbers in the last season (.887). Only slotted in the draft by half the guides, there are two scouting profiles to look at.

Future Considerations:

[S]ize and athleticism immediately jump out at you. … Hollett’s natural gifts make him an intriguing option but one who will need some time.

RLR:

Huge upside long-term project or bust.

Both agree he has the raw tools, but it’ll either come together or not and the sample size isn’t large enough for a firm indication either way. It’s clear the Sens are impressed by his girth–that raw physicality–because this version of the org has never drafted a back-up goaltender before (the fact he was playing on prospect Filip Ahl‘s team likely gave him more exposure to the org). He, along with Batherson above, is a shot in the dark, but of all the players here he has the most potential upside (with the flipside of busting equally present). He’ll play for Medicine Hat this upcoming season.

Other than Batherson none of these players is coming to a pro arena any time soon. Goaltenders need more development time anyway, but both Bowers and Formenton can be expected to spend a couple of years developing before going anywhere.  Batherson, as an overage player, should be in Belleville sooner than later.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)

Reviewing the 2017 NHL Draft

What a wild ride this year’s draft was. With the dust settled it’s time to take stock and assess both prognostication and notable trends. This was perceived as a weak draft class and that always creates interesting variation. Without further ado, here are the prediction numbers (this isn’t about Player X at position X–I’ll demonstrate why below–it’s simply the correct player by round).  Acronyms: EOTS (Eye on the Sens), FC (Future Considerations), HP (Hockey Prospects), RLR (Red Line Report), and ISS (International Scouting Service).

First Round
EOTS/HP: 27/31
ISS: 26/31
FC: 25/31
RLR: 24/31
Just to show how pointless the player X at position X is, here’s the same lineup using that type of assessment: HP 9/31, ISS/FC 2/31, EOTS/RLR 1/31. As I’ve said in past years, this is the easiest round to predict and it shows in the broader totals. In terms of my misses, Ratcliffe (universally slotted in this round), Robertson (3 first-round picks), Hague (3 picks), and Lind (2 picks) were mine. The biggest surprise selection was Frost, whom no one had slotted so early (RLR came closest). It was interesting to see two big men (Ratcliffe and Hague) be left out.  Other first-round selections: DiPetroComtois, Anderson-DolanBoqvist, Timmins, StromePopugaev, and Davidsson. Incidentally, Bob McKenzie was also 27/31.

Second Round
EOTS/HP: 16/31
FC: 13/31
RLR: 12/31
ISS: 11/31
These are slightly lower numbers than last year. The biggest surprise pick was Luostarinen, as only HP listed him in the draft (and as a late pick)–he’s the first player not on my list. Lauzon also went much earlier than expected (fifth was as high as he was listed). This round was the beginning of the freefall for Strome and Elvenes (neither listed later than the third).

Third Round
EOTS/HP/ISS: 9/31
RLR: 8/31
FC: 7/31
Prediction totals are on par for other years. Goaltender DiPietro was finally selected. This round had the first truly off-the-wall pick, with unranked Oskari Laaksonen getting taken (not sure what the pressure was to get him early, but clearly Buffalo felt it–all I can give you is that he’s a righthanded defenseman). We also got our first player that Central Scouting liked that no one else listed (undersized and overage Russian Altybarmakyan). Quite a few other players went earlier than expected.

Fourth Round
RLR: 7/31
HP: 6/31
EOTS: 5/31
ISS: 3/31
FC: 0/31
These numbers are roughly the norm (except for FC’s abysmal total). Strome finally landed here, but this is the round where NHL GMs started swinging for the fences: three unranked players were picked (KvacaLaavainen, and Kara), along with Crawley, Swayman and Makiniemi whom only CS had listed (four of the six are overage). Single-listings BrysonSoderlund and Setkov were also nabbed.

Fifth Round
HP/EOTS: 3/31
ISS/FC: 2/31
RLR: 1/31
Predictions bottom out here and for the rest of the draft (all slightly lower than normal). Elvenes was finally taken along with a lot more fence-swinging: SennFraser (CS), Hults, GunnarssonAho (a favourite of mine), Drozg, and Olund (CS). There were also single-selections FischerHowarthPetersonGalvas, ShvyryovGawankeFoo, and Dugan. Many of these are overage players.

Sixth Round
HP: 3/31
EOTS/RLR/FC/ISS: 2/31
Chmelevski and Koltygin were finally taken. Unranked: WebbHolmLycksell, Guttman, Repo, and Palojarvi; CS-only selections McGregorBourque, J. Davidsson, Lakatos and Svetlakov; single-selections MeyerPateraPalmuAdams, Perbix, Maass, McGrewCampoli, and Brind’Amour.

Seventh Round
EOTS/HP: 2/31
FC: 1/31
RLR/ISS: 0/31
Chekhovich and Primeau were finally picked. Unranked: KalnyukV. Rasanen, Zaitsev, A. AnderssonVirtaMarthinsenHellicksonEss, Stucker, and Reilly; CS-only selections BrassardWalterholm, BerglundSveningsson, and Swaney; single-selections WeissbachEvingsonGilmourWalker, and Leivermann.

Totals (changes from last year noted)
HP: 66/217 (30.4%) (-2)
EOTS: 64/217 (29.4%) (+2)
RLR: 54/217 (24.8%) (+7)
FC: 50/217 (23.0%) (-14)
ISS: 53/200* (26.5%) (+3)
* ISS has a list of 20 goaltenders with no rankings attached to them and only 180 skaters listed, meaning they took far fewer risks than the other publications and can’t truly be compared

For the fourth year in a row HP was the most accurate by round, although it’s worth noting that if you eliminate the first round it’s just over 20%–it is, indeed, futile to try to completely emulate the league even round-by-round. The more important number is how many players selected were actually taken in the draft, and here’s how we all did (with variance from last year noted):

HP: 154/217 (70.9%) (-3.9%)
EOTS: 148/217 (68.2%) (-4.3%)*
RLR: 137/217 (63.1%) (-3.7%)
FC: 133/217 (61.3%) (-8.8%)
ISS: 131/200 (66.5%)** (-9 players)
* My “raw” list (as in, simply placing aggregate numbers consecutively) finishes with 145 picks, so the human factor made me a little more accurate
** Given that ISS choose not to predict the whole draft they get placed at the bottom (as, indeed, they picked the fewest correct players regardless)

This is on the low end for me, a slight record low for RLR, significantly low for FC, with ISS continuing to fumble at the bottom (despite the largest scouting staff).  HP finished on the lower end of their spectrum, but did impressively nonetheless.

The highest ranked player left hanging was Russian WHL-defenseman Artyom Minulin  (#83); you’d have to think the Russian-factor is the main reason he was left out as no one had him lower than a fourth-round pick.  Next up is another (this time undersized) Russian, Kirill Slepets (#91). Following him is the first North American player not selected, OHLer MacAuley Carson (#97), although unlike the two previous players he wasn’t universally picked. Twelve players picked by all sources were left hanging: Joel Teasdale, blueliner Tommy Miller, undersized Greg Meireles, defenseman Brady Lyle, blueliner Nate Knoepke, defender Adam Thilander, Russian blueliner Mark RubinchikA. J. Pratt, Finnish defender Otto LatvalaAusten KeatingShawn Boudrias, and undersized defender Will Warm–this is more than usual, albeit not hugely so (11 such players were left hanging in 2015).

Unlike last year, highly ranked players from the previous season were not taken. While some came in ranked (Fortier the highest), none were selected.

In past reviews I’ve talked about how much Central Scouting’s European and goaltending rankings are ignored, and it’s much the same this year.  North American skater rankings also didn’t hold up that well, as Minulin (#58) and Lewis (#59) were ignored (among others); NA goaltenders was the usual mixed bagged (Rasmussen was the highest ignored at #6); undersized EU ‘tender Ahman (#3) was left out, among the usual selective plucking; EU forwards Shen (#21) was the highest left out (followed by #22-#23 Slepets and Hugg). What is interesting is that 11 of the 16 players who only appeared on CS’ list were European–perhaps orgs paid a bit more attention to those rankings, or else simply shared CS’ opinion.

In addition to the CS-only players, there were 24 players that appeared on no one’s list, 17 of whom were from Europe. This means 28 of the 40 players not listed by my primary sources come from European countries which is an affirmation of the struggles to scout there thoroughly (while EU players tend to lead this category, it’s not typically by such a massive proportion, 70%).

The other thing that’s apparent in the off-the-wall picks was the emphasis on position players (something I’ve noted previously).  Of the aforementioned 40 there were 20 defensemen and 5 goalies (so 25 of 40, or 62.5%).

I’d suspected smaller players would fall out of the draft and indeed many did–some I anticipated (like AhcanKvasnicka, Tortura, Garreffa, and Solow) and others I left in (like Nyman and Moilanen).  Several smaller players did get drafted (like McKenzie and Cockerill, both of whom I cut out, or Shaw and Brannstrom).  On the flip side, a few bigger men were left out (MalmstromBrazeau, and Ganske), but admittedly fewer than the former category.  The NHL still firmly believes in size.

This draft, in terms of prognostication, is closest to 2014 in overall performance, although since I’ve been doing this (2011 with all four of these publications) I haven’t had three with sub-140 players before.  I’m not sure there’s a conclusion to draw from this given the weak draft class, but it’s certainly something to watch going forward. Is it time to add a fifth publication? It’s possible, but I don’t know that any other actually predicts the entire draft–still, something I’ll think about for 2018.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)