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Draft Guide

Western Conference Prospects

by Mitch Goldenberg
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

 

Central Division 


Chicago Blackhawks:  Grade A- 

  1. Teuvo Teravainen (C) – The Hawks are going to take their time developing this offensively gifted Finn, who they hope will succeed Brad Richards as the team’s second line center. Teravainen may lack size, but his jaw-dropping playmaking abilities and exceptional hockey sense make him Chicago’s best prospect. 

  1. Adam Clendening (D) – An offensive minded defenseman with outstanding puck skills and a power play specialist. Clendening’s defensive zone play improved last season, but training camp will determine whether he is NHL ready, The 5-foot-11, 21 year old notched a whopping 59 points in just 74 games with Rockford last season.  

  1. Phillip Danault (C) – An all-around leader who is a terrific skater with a ferocious work-ethicDanault is being groomed as a bottom-six forward. He had an impressive scoring touch in junior, but the Hawks wish to utilize his stingy defense in a depth, shutdown center role 

  1. Stephen Johns (D) – The 6’4, 240 pound stay-at-home defenseman is not afraid to punish opponents physically, and can shoot and pass well too. The Hawks took their time developing the 22-year old, and after maturing for four years at Notre Dame, he could be ready to make the jump. 

  1. Mark McNeill (RW) – A big, versatile forward who does a lot of the little things well. McNeill’s stats don’t dazzle, and he doesn’t always play to his physical, bulky potential. But the 21 year-old has enough all-around proficiency to impress the big club at training camp.  


Colorado Avalanche: Grade B- 

  1. Chris Bigras (D) – The 2013 second round pick impressed the Avs at training camp last year, sticking around until the final round cuts as an 18 year-old. But the 6’1, 189 pound defenseman played on one leg last year in the OHL, and his stats suffered as a result. His plus/minus dropped from +36 the year before to -11 in 2013-14, so the poised puckhandler will need to turn heads at training camp. 

  1. Joey Hishon (C) – A fierce and energetic offensive fuse who can skate, score and make his linemates better. Hishon is a productive center who has been plagued by significant injuries (especially concussions)  through each of the last four seasons. If the 5’10, 175 pound winger stays healthy and continues his strong play, a call up to the big club will be inevitable.    

  1. Duncan Siemens (D) – The former 11th overall pick is a work in progress. Siemens is still a versatile, workhorse defenseman with a nasty, physical edge, but he has not lived up to his high draft stock in the three seasons since the Avs took him in 2011.  At this pace, it looks like he’ll need another year of seasoning in the farm. 

  1. Calvin Pickard (G) – The 22 year-old goaltender enters this season third on the depth chart, but can play his way into a backup role if the incumbent Reto Berra falters.  Tends to allow more soft goals more than he should, and might even be leapfrogged by up-and-coming Finnish prospect Sami Aittokallio if his play doesn’t improve. Put up a 2.85 GAA and .906 save percentage with Lake Erie last year. 

  1. Michael Sgarbossa (C) – Limited to just 20 points in 49 games in the AHL last season due to an injury, but the undrafted free-agent showed in 2012-13 why he could blossom into a top-six NHL forward. He scored 19 goals and 44 points in 59 games with Lake Erie and earned a six-game NHL call up. Will take some time to break through the extremely deep depth the Avs have at center.   

 

Dallas Stars Grade B 

  1. Jack Campbell (G) – The American’s track to living up to his billing as the “Stars goalie of the future” was hampered by an injury that limited him to just 16 games in the AHL last season. Prior to that he was excellent, posting a 12-2 record, 1.49 GAA and .942 save percentage with Texas. But with Anders Lindback and Jussi Rynas signed on to back up Kari Lehtonen, GM Jim Nill will not rush his prized prospect into the NHL.  

  1. Jamie Oleksiak (D) – At 6’7 and 241 pounds, this monster defender has drawn comparisons to Stars’ legend Darian Hatcher and Norris recipient Zdeno CharaOleksiak has incredible size, great athleticism and sturdy puck skills, but has appeared shaky and has lacked physicality in his first two pro seasons. The Stars’ 14th overall pick from 2011 will battle for the final blueline spot with a few older prospects. 

  1. Brett Ritchie (RW) – A big, bulky winger with real offensive skill, Richie somewhat overcame the label as an inconsistent player last year by notching 48 points in 68 games during his first pro-season in the AHL. Richie can be dominating with his size, physicality and puck skills but can use another year of development 

  1. Jason Dickinson (LW) – The Stars’ first round pick from 2013 excelled last season as part of the Guelph Storm’s torrid offense with 78 points in 68 games. The 19 year-old is also a hard worker and reliable backchecker to go along with his smooth scoring touch. Dickinson should shine even brighter in his final year of OHL eligibility.  

  1. Devin Shore (C) – Nicely built 6’1, 205 pound centerman who blends great skating, size, playmaking skills and intelligence into his game. Shore has improved drastically since the Stars selected him 61st overall in 2012, and had a terrific season notching 43 points in 35 games for the University of Maine last year. Looked like one of the best forwards at Stars development camp this summer. 


Minnesota Wild Grade B- 

  1. Mathew Dumba – An electrifying defenseman whose physical play and offensive prowess can be game breaking. Dumba couldn’t get enough playing time last year to stick around, so he played for Canada at the World Juniors and then tore it up for Portland in the WHL. Dumba posted 42 points in 47 games including playoffs for the Winterhawks, helping them go 25-1-0 down the stretch and within one win of a championship.  

  1. Jason Zucker (LW) – The speedy American is likely gunning for a bottom-six role with the big club after signing two-way deal for this season and a one-way deal for next. An all-around forward with a great shot and solid work ethic, Zucker has 10 points in 41 NHL games and will look to prove this is where he belongs.   

  1. Zack Phillips (C ) – With 175 points in 127 QMJHL games, the Wild loved what they selected in Phillips with the 28th pick of the 2011 draft. But after two years of subpar development to kick off his pro hockey career, the time is now or never for this 21 year-old playmaker, who has managed just 60 points in 147 AHL games. 

  1. Gustav Olofsson (D) – The lanky but mobile defenseman has rewarded the Wild since they reached for him in the second round of the 2013 draftThe intelligent, 6’4 Swede played very well at the World Juniors last season, held his own during a brief AHL stint and has a shot at making the big club due to several openings on the blueline. 

  1. Christian Folin (D)  The 6’3, 214 pound Swede plays a fairly simple game that emphasizes responsible defense and physical pressure. He can shoot and provide offense when required, and has developed his game for two years in the NCAA. If Folin has a solid training camp he could crack the big roster, but will only stick around if he earns regular playing time. 


Nashville Predators Grade: B 

  1. Filip Forsberg (LW) – The 19 year old Swede has a strong all-around game, good size, a lethal shot and excellent, creative decision making abilitiesForsberg is dangerous in the attacking zone and should benefit from new offensive-minded coach Peter Laviolette as he tries to make the jump into the NHL. 

  1. Calle Jamrock (C ) – This prized addition from the David Legwand deadline deal has made GM David Poile look like a genius just 12 games into his Preds’ tenure. Notched nine points in his 12 game NHL call-up last year, looking mature, poised, smart and effective at both ends of the rink. Should catch on full-time this year with the big club.  

  1. Taylor Beck  (RW) – After three productive seasons with AHL Milwaukee and a couple stints in the big show, the 23 year-old power forward is again on the bubble heading into training camp. The Predators like the fearlessness and scoring touch of the 6’2, 209 pounder, but are unsure if he’s ready to contribute consistently in Nashville.  

  1. Pontus Aberg (LW) – En route to North America after notching 31 points in 52 games in the Swedish Elite League, the Preds hope Aberg’s gifted offensive abilities translates well over here. A speedy 20 year old who plays a two-way game, the 5’11, 192 pound winger needs to get stronger during his likely development stint in the AHL.  

  1. Juuse Saros (G) – The best goaltender and gold medalist from the 2014 World Juniors has a long way to climb before taking over the Nashville crease, but keep your eye on this 19 year old Finnish puckstopperSaros is technically sound with outstanding athleticism, not to mention his impressive composure. Don’t be surprised to hear his name again in positive light come the New Year. 


St. Louis Blues Grade B+ 

  1. Jake Allen (G) – Most 24 year old goaltenders would have to blow away team officials at training camp in order to warrant an NHL roster spot. Jake Allen has already secured his spot with the Blues by posting a 2.03 GAA and .928 save percentage in the AHL last year and being named the league’s top goaltender.  With lightening quick movement, strong positioning and a high compete level, Allen hopes to emerge as a 1b option to Brian Elliott this season and help the Blues chase the Cup. 

  1. Dmitrij Jaskin (RW) – A big,, mean, physical and skilled power forward who is tough to stop when he has the puck. Jaskin did not make much of an impression during his 18 game call-up last season, but will likely make the roster off the bat this year to play a depth role with the potential to develop into a productive top-six winger. 

  1. Ty Rattie (RW) – Scored 31 goals in his rookie AHL season last year and this offensive wizard will get a fair shot to join the big club during training camp. Rattie is fast, crafty and successful when it comes to generating offense, but might spend some time back in the minors due to the Blues’ strong depth despite his NHL-ready skillset. 

  1. Jordan Binnington (G) – Look for the highly touted goaltending prospect to take the starting role with AHL Chicago after Jake Allen’s promotion to the big club. With World Juniors starting experience and two consecutive standout seasons in the OHL and ECHL, the lanky 21 year old might be an appealing trade token for the Blues considering their goaltending depth. 

  1. Jordan Schmaltz (D) – An offensive-minded defenseman who took giant strides this past season to elevate his defensive game to a formidable NHL level. Potential power-play quarterback, but will stay another year in college hockey playing for the University of North Dakota where he had six goals and 24 points in 41 games last season. 


Winnipeg Jets Grade B 

  1. Josh Morrisey (D) – Put up jaw-dropping stats in his final WHL season in 2013-14 (73 points in 59 games) and is ready to take his game to the pro levelA small blueliner with elite offensive instincts, abilities and great confidence rushing the puck. Will need to work on his defensive zone work and bulking up before becoming an NHL regular. 

  1. Nikolaj Elhers (LW) With electrifying speed, lethal hands and loads of offensive talent, Elhers is nearly a lock to put up 115 points in the QMJHL this season. Is likely too small and too raw for the Jets to keep him in the NHL this season, but this Danish flash should have a bright future. 

  1. Adam Lowry (C ) – The 6’5, 201 pound giant is a strong two-way  player who put up a solid 33 points in his 64 game rookie AHL season in St. Johns. Can kill penalties and add size down the middle to a needy Jets squad, and should play with the big club for at least a stint this year.  

  1. Nic Petan (C) – Slick skating, soft hands and 233 points over the past two WHL seasons have the Jets excited about their second round pick from 2013. But at just 5’9 and 173 pounds, the 19 year old will likely need another year to grow and excel in the WHL before he makes the giant leap to pro hockey.  

  1. Connor Helleybuyck (G) – The Jets could not be more excited to feed the NCAA standout goaltender into their farm system for the upcoming seasonHelleybuyck posted an impressive 38-12-2 record with a 1.60 GAA and .946 save percentage during his two years with UMass-Lowell. The 21 year old Michigan native is an imposing presence at 6’5, 200 pounds 

 


Pacific Division 


Anaheim Ducks Grade A 

  1. John Gibson (G) – At just 21 years old, the Ducks’ rookie will try to build off his fantastic playoff relief role from last season and beat out another young star, Frederik Andersen, for the starting job. As we all saw in the post-season, the Philadelphia native is mature, athletic, and does not have a major weakness in his game. 

  1. Rickard Rakell (RW) –The six foot, 199 pound Swede plays a reliable, two-way game and has a strong hockey sense with gifted offensive instincts. With World Junior experience under his belt, Rakell was impressive in his rookie AHL season, putting up 37 points in 46 games. Barring a setback, the 21 year-old should be promoted to a bottom six role in the NHL this season. 

  1. Shea Theodore  (D) - A strong-skating offensive defenseman who boasts a great shot with pinpoint passing accuracy. He had a tremendous season in the WHL last season with 22 goals and 79 points in 70 games. The Ducks will allow Theodore as much time as he needs in the minors to build more strength and work on his defensive game.  

  1. Nick Ritchie (LW) – The Ducks nabbed one of the best power forwards in the draft by selecting this 6’2, 226 pound giant with the 10th overall pick in June. Ritchie notched 39 goals and 74 points in just 61 games last year in the OHL, and will likely play in Peterborough again this season to work on his consistency. 

  1. Nicolas Kerdiles (C ) – A mature, two-way forward who uses his body well and does great things with the puck. Kerdiles is not armed with flashy talent, but relies on his intelligence, his strength and a nice shot to contribute on the ice. Will engage in a steep uphill battle to make the Ducks this fall, but will most likely receive top-six minutes as an AHL rookie.  


Calgary Flames Grade A- 

  1. Johnny Gaudreau (LW) – Please refer to Martin St. Louis’ scouting report from the late 1990’s. Packing explosive speed and extraordinary offensive flair into a 5’9, 170 pound frame, Gaudreau capped off his highly successful college career (175 points in 118 games for Boston College) with a goal in his NHL debut last April. Can the little man skate, dangle and score his way into the big show this autumn? Many believe he can. 

  1. Sam Bennett (C ) – Not many teams are lucky enough to snag such an elite playmaker and ferocious competitor outside of the top three selections in the entry draft. The question isn’t if this quick, creative and versatile center will be a gamebreaker, but rather when the Flames will deploy his talents into the NHL. Might benefit from another year in junior. 

  1. Max Reinhart (C) – Sam Bennett may have all the hype, but Reinhart is a similar, slightly less talented player with the benefit of two great professional seasons under his belt. Reinhart, 22, is a solid two-way, playmaking center with the intelligence, vision and all-around skill to be a top-six forward for years to come.  

  1. Tyler Wotherspoon (D) – A solid, safe, efficient defensive prospect who looks to be a foundation piece of the Flames’ blueline for 10-12 years. The team wants Wotherspoon to play good minutesso he’ll need to build off a terrific rookie season in the AHL and prove that he can make the jump in order to stick around this season 

  1. Markus Granlund (C) – Another fast, dynamic center who transitioned very well from Finland to the AHL last year with 25 goals and 46 points in 51 games. But his solid year won’t propel him to the big club if he can’t outshine fellow prospects Bennett, Reinhart, Bill Arnold and Corban Knight at training camp. Great hockey sense and vision but still needs to get stronger. 


Edmonton Oilers Grade B+ 

  1. Darnell Nurse (D) – Tall, tenacious and tough to beat, Nurse is the shutdown savior the Oilers have dreamt about. But despite the young team’s desperation for this menacing, aggressive and skilled defender, Nurse faces an uphill battle transferring his game from the OHL to the NHL in time for October. Staying patient for another year in the minors to aid his development is painful but likely the right decision for the Oilers.  

  1. Leon Draisaitl (C) The 6’1, 208 pound center combines power and playmaking to torment opponents. He notched 105 points in just 64 games with Prince Albert of the WHL last season. The hulking German looks to be a top-six forward in the NHL sooner rather than later, and will battle for a depth role in training camp fresh off his 3rd overall selection in June. 

  1. Oscar Klefbom (D) –A top-end defensive prospect due to his excellent size, speed and skill, but Klefbom still might need more time to develop in Oklahoma City. During 17 games in the NHL last season he was serviceable, but nowhere near comfortable, as his raw talent has not quite formulated into pro success yet. 

  1. David Musil (D) – A giant stay-at-home defenseman with good puck skills and an AHL season under his beltMusil projects to be a solid piece on the Oilers’ future blueline and will battle for the right to make his first appearance with the big club this season. 

  1. Mitchell Moroz (LW) A 6’3, 214 pound power forward who can inflict physical damage on his opponents and put up respectable offensive numbers. Moroz will be an energetic, depth boost to the Barons in the AHL this season and will need to work on his skating.  


Los Angeles Kings Grade B- 

  1. Valentin Zykov (RW) – A power forward with a nice scoring touch who uses his size to be effective in the dirty areas. Zykov had 189 points in 151 QMJHL regular season and playoff games over the past two years and appears ready to make an impact in his rookie season with the AHL Monarchs. 

  1. Derek Forbort (D) – The Kings’ top defensive prospect has a game that focuses on strong play in his own zone and excellent decision-makingHad an impressive rookie season with Manchester last year and will continue to dwell there until a spot opens up on L.A.’s rock solid defensive corps. 

  1. Nikolai Prokhorkin (LW) – Great puck mover with gifted vision and impressive creativity. The 6’1 Russian has been a difficult one for the Kings to negotiate with, as the 20 year-old chose to sign a lucrative one-year contract to play in the KHL this season rather than sign with the Kings and play in the AHL under their watch.    

  1. Jordan Weal (C ) – The ferocious forechecker rediscovered his scoring touch in his sophomore AHL season, notching 70 points in 76 games. The 22 year old is a tad undersized but plays a hard working style that creates plenty of turnovers and could warrant a call-up this season if his strong play continues. 

  1. Kevin Gravel (D) – A towering 6’4 defenseman with exceptional skating mobility for his size. Gravel is dependable in his own zone and has strong puck and shooting skills. After improving in each of his four years with St. Cloud State, will begin his pro career in Manchester. 


Arizona Coyotes A- 

  1. Brandon Gormley (D) – The highly talented two-way defenseman appears ready to stick on in Arizona after playing two full seasons in the AHL He boasts a terrific shot, gifted ability to distribute the puck and a complete set of skillsWill battle for regular playing time this fall and should blossom into a top-four NHL defenseman. 

  1. Max Domi (C) –Unlike his father, Domi has an abundance of skill and explosiveness that sometimes result in jaw-dropping plays, other times turnoversThe whiz kid improved his passing game last season, utilizing his teammates a little more and showing encouraging signs of maturity. He’ll get a shot at sticking around in the big show this season. 

  1. Henrik Samuelsson (C) – A big, powerful forward with great leadership skills and fresh off leading the Edmonton Oil Kings to a Memorial Cup title. The 6’3, 208 pound Swede has posted incredible offensive numbers throughout his WHL career and has the potential to be a special NHL player with great character. 

  1. Lucas Lessio (LW) – The quick and athletic 21 year old has gifted offensive abilities and made a smooth transition in his rookie year with AHL Portland, notching 54 points in 69 games. Has a shot at making the team this season, but will face fierce competition. 

  1. Brendan Perlini (LW) – An enticing blend of size, speed and skill that produced a breakout 71 point campaign in the OHL last season. The 6’2, 205 pound power winger needs to improve his physicality, but should grow into an offensively capable forward who loves to have the puck. 


San Jose Sharks Grade B 

  1. Chris Tierney (C ) – A high end playmaker renowned for his defensive skills and penalty kill work. Tierney is a leader with a knack for scoring big goals and is a fierce competitor. He has the composure of a veteran and will soon force the Sharks to give him a chance at playing in San Jose.   

  1. Mirco Mueller (D) – A tremendously smart and quick defenseman with all the fundamentals you like to see in a prospect. Mueller, at 6’3 and 195 pounds, is known for his defensive reliability. Although the Sharks have pledged to get younger, Mueller’s mere nine games of pro-hockey experience would suggest he needs more time to develop. 

  1. Matt Tennyson (D) – A puck moving defenseman with great vision and terrific hockey sense. The 24 year old has fine tuned his game for two years in Worcester, improved his defensive skills and is ready to seriously challenge for a roster spot out of training camp. 

  1. Freddie Hamilton (C) – A strong year with AHL Worchester warranted an 11 game call up last year for the fifth round pick from 2010. Hamilton is a versatile forward with outstanding leadership abilities who specializes in shutdown hockey. Capable of securing a bottom-six role with the big club as early as this season. 

  1. Nikolay Goldobin (RW) – A high-end offensive prospect who scored 38 goals and accumulated 67 points for the Sarnia Sting last season, causing the Sharks to scoop him up with the 27th pick in June. Needs to improve his play away from the puck, but has an excellent hockey IQ and potential to be a top-six forward.  


Vancouver Canucks Grade B 

  1. Bo Horvat (C) – A gritty two-way center with excellent defensive capabilities that consistently stymie gifted offenses. A hard worker and good leader who gained leadership experience on a successful London Knights team. Could be ready to play a role on the Canucks as soon as this season. 

  1. Nicklas Jensen (RW) – Quick, creative and lethal with the puck, Vancouver’s first round pick from 2011 has not adjusted to pro hockey in North America as smoothly as hopedHe possesses an ideal combination of size, speed and skill, but lacks in his defensive play and does not seem ready to seriously challenge for a roster spot.  

  1. Brendan Gaunce (C) – Has the size, faceoff skills and strength to play in the NHL now, but still needs to work on his skating Put up impressive offensive numbers in the OHL the past three seasons, but barring a dazzling training camp will likely need some time in the AHL.  

  1. Hunter Shinkaruk (C) – The forechecking winger has put up elite numbers through his WHL career, but is in tough trying to make the Canucks this season coming off hip surgery. Needs to bulk up more, but the injury has not appeared to affect his strong skating. 

  1. Linden Vey (C) –A gritty leader who fit the championship mold of the Kings’ roster before being dealt to Vancouver on draft day. Not overly skilled, but effective in all three zones and able to play any role the Canucks require. Should have the upper hand amongst the rest of Vancouver’s prospects to make the team with 18 games of NHL experience last year.