Another year, another ranking. Your favorite bald draft analyst is back with his year-end ranking!
I want to start by thanking the Winged Wheel Podcast guys for hosting my rankings this year! If for some reason you are new here, give the podcast a listen. They are Detroit Red Wings-centric but are one of the most entertaining podcasts around and they do a great job covering the league as a whole, with some of the best draft coverage around (and I’m not just saying that because they have me on from time to time). Ryan, Brad, and the mystery that is Evan are some of the best in the game!
The 2022 NHL Draft scouting process has been an interesting one, to say the least. In my personal opinion, this is the draft class that has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic more than any other year in a developmental sense. Obviously, last year was difficult because the OHLers didn’t play for the most part and many seasons were shortened or interrupted. With that said, the D-1 ("draft minus one [year]") season that was lost by so many prospects (including this year’s top prospects), along with their D-2 season being abruptly halted with no development in the offseason, seems to have stagnated development as a whole for many of the players. My personal hope is that the players in this class are just a step behind and they can get their game back on track in most cases as they work through their development towards having long and fruitful NHL careers.
Now that we have the depressing stuff out of the way, this year’s draft features such a wide array of talent and skillsets. The variance in rankings this year has been wider than in recent years with some players such as Gleb Trikozov landing anywhere from 8-69 (nice) on various public boards. This year has done a very good job of showcasing what certain draft analysts value - and it will do the same to showcase what traits NHL teams value on draft day.
For me, that is intelligence, mobility, skill, and the ability to make players around them better. I find physicality valuable but often overrated in the sense that hitting everything that moves is often a bad decision. Functional physicality is the name of the game. You can hit another player all you want but if it’s two seconds after a pass is made or you are just hitting a guy with no intention of recovering the puck yourself, it’s useless and often takes you out of the play. Admittedly, size is less of an issue for me than others if the player can show tendencies that would lead me to believe they can get past it (think Brayden Point).
I hope you enjoy these rankings and a bit of analysis, they are truly a labor of love for me. If you find any value in these rankings, I ask that you make a small donation to the Jamie Daniels Foundation, a Children’s Foundation initiative that provides education, resources, guidance, and support to people battling Substance Use Disorder so that lives can be saved, and healing can be created within families. Any small amount helps and I would appreciate it greatly!
Enjoy players 50-100 of the Ferrari Cut of the Final 2022 NHL Draft Ranking, the top-50 will be out tomorrow!
51 | RHD | Tristan Luneau, Gatineau (QMJHL)
Luneau has a high probability of playing and for that reason alone, I very much understand those who have him higher on their boards. If he is drafted in the first round, I get it. Luneau is a smooth skater who can make a good first pass. The QMJHL defender started the year hurt and worked his way back faster than expected to ensure that he could get some quality tape of his game out there for the draft. He is physical and plays a safe defensive game. His play in the offensive zone is perfectly fine at the junior level but there is a lack of dynamism and precision that lead me to believe that there will be much in the way of production or chance generation, outside of maybe some long point shots that aren’t particularly dangerous.
52 | LHD | Mats Lindgren, Kamloops (WHL)
He’s young for the draft class with a late-August birthday and he is one of the most fluid and deceptive skaters in the 2022 class. He has one of the highest upsides as a transitional defenseman with an elusivity to him that is hard to match. He will bait an opponent into thinking one thing, open his hips and fly by the checker. Lindgren has shown on a number of occasions that he has the manipulative ability to alter the opposing defender's decision-making process when Lindgren is attacking through the neutral zone by simply showing his hand and immediately changing his plan. His defensive game needs some work but he is a 6-foot blueliner with upper tier skating and deception to his game. With some patience, development, and coaching, Lindgren could be an incredible value outside of round one.
53 | RW | Jimmy Snuggerud, USNTDP (USHL)
Snuggerud is one of the most improved players from his draft minus-1 season from my viewpoint. While I still view him as a potential ‘elite passenger’, the tools and skills that he has have come quite a ways from last year. He has gone from a very basic and rudimentary offensive game that was built on the fact that he had a good shot and would take it from just about anywhere to a player who is working to get on the puck more often and using his teammates more effectively. He still has the finishing ability but he has diversified how he uses it. Attacking the middle of the ice, working off the walls to the inside, and not getting tunnel vision on the net, Snuggerud is much more willing to draw in defenders and find a teammate at the back door or cross ice to create space for them. He has some work to do away from the puck but Snuggs is a player who could be a very good offensive asset at the next level.
54 | LW | Alexander Perevalov, Yaroslavl (MHL)
Perevalov is a very offensive-minded winger. He has a tendency to fly the defensive zone the second he thinks his team has the puck on their sticks or he thinks that his teammates are going to win a battle. He wants to attack up ice quickly and he seems to know what he wants to do before he even attempts it. There are a ton of red flags in his own zone because of his unwillingness to even faint interest defensively at times. The young Russian’s finishing ability and ability and willingness to create offense from nowhere are what make him special.
55 | F | Brandon Lisowsky, Saskatoon (WHL)
Lisowsky is a very interesting player in that you can already kind of see what his role will be at the next level. The Saskatoon Blades forward plays with speed and he shoots the lights out. He needs to work on his ability to use his teammates a bit more effectively and his defensive game is lackluster, to say the least, but his offensive abilities, both on the rush and zipping around the offensive zone make for a very fun player. He isn’t going to drive a line but pair him with a high-end playmaker and Lisowsky could be a sneaky good depth scorer at the NHL who plays with quickness and pace.
56 | C | Luca Del Bel Belluz, Mississauga (OHL)
A member of the draft’s all-name team, Del Bel Belluz is an offensive-minded forward who gets a lot of flak for his skating and it’s certainly not as bad as some in the media have harped on him for. It needs a bit of work and with some fine-tuning, he can go from being a decent skater with a good work rate to a more technically sound and efficient skater. LDBB has a very good shot and blends power and skill quite nicely. He will lower a shoulder and then flick a shot with ease while a player is on his back. He has flaws such as his lack of vigor outside of the offensive zone at times but with some work, he could be a very nice middle-six winger or third-line center depending on where a team chooses to develop him.
57 | LW | Adam Ingram, Youngstown (USHL)
A winger who does a lot of the little things well, Ingram has been a topic of discussion quite a bit this year. Some feel he has first-round value and to that I say, sure, I see it I guess. A big concern of mine is that he produces a lot on the powerplay and his five-on-five play is largely just fine. He makes short, quick passes under pressure which is a great NHL trait. Ingram is effective at chaining little things together like a board battle win and a few strides before deferring to a teammate but he isn’t really a guy who drives play himself. He works well on the perimeter and shows some willingness to get inside. He does a lot well but nothing at a truly high level. There’s a player here, I’m just not sure what kind of player. A common sentiment in the discussions on Ingram’s future.
58 | RW | Cole Knuble, Fargo (USHL)
A hard-working, intelligent forward, Cole Knuble is a player who screams NHL player. He doesn’t really have the refined offensive game but he shows an incredible work ethic and gets to the dirty areas to generate chances. Knuble reads play and reacts at a very high level, identifying the next step quickly. He plays a detail-oriented game that allows him to play with skilled players. He has the potential to fill a Zach Hyman-type of role in the top-six or be an effective player who chips in with depth scoring on a third line. He understands the importance of playing at both ends of the ice and does so efficiently.
59 | LHD | Tomas Hamara, Tappara (Liiga)
Hamara is an offensive-leaning blueliner who does an excellent job of facilitating at the blueline. The young Czech defender is an effortless passer in the offensive zone, seemingly able to thread the needle whenever he wants to. His transition ability is also quite impressive as he takes unique paths through the neutral zone, adapting to what's given and using his puck skill to bob and weave through traffic. He understands what his opponents are trying to do and rarely lets them accomplish it. He was one of the best defensemen at the World U18s and even showed some active defensive play, which has been an issue at times for the 6-foot defender.
60 | F | Jordan Gustafson, Seattle (WHL)
Gustafson is a really good catch and release shooter who has been quite an effective player with the man advantage. His shot is dangerous and he loves to fire it off from all over the offensive zone. His defensive game is a bit underwhelming but when his motor is on, he can be quite the effective play disruptor. Gustafson’s playmaking often leaves a lot to be desired but he can make the simple passes around the offensive zone and win some puck races. He lacks play driving ability but could be a perfectly serviceable passenger if given the room to do what he does best.
61 | C | Owen Beck, Mississauga (OHL)
An intelligent center who plays with some very intriguing quickness and agility, Beck has had quite the season at the OHL level. He is a nice dual-threat forward who can shoot off either foot and generates quality results in transition. There are quite a few good parts to his game but nothing is a truly standout quality. He often gets by just by the skin of his teeth and that little bit of space he’s able to exploit at the junior level likely won’t be there for him at the NHL level. His tools will all likely need to take a step to play the game he currently does or he will have to adapt as he moves up.
62 | C/W | Matyáš Šapovaliv, Saginaw (OHL)
Šapovaliv stands at 6-foot-3 and 185lbs so there is certainly room to add strength to his frame but the two-way center thrives in a defensive role. He understands where to be and when to be there at a high level, rarely giving up much in the defensive zone. He uses his reach effectively and can be physical at times. His offensive game is fairly simple and doesn’t have a ton of flair to it but he does have quite nice mitts around the net. The big Czech forward needs to work on his skating and his upside is more of a middle-six winger or bottom-six center but there are a lot of tendencies in his game that NHL teams love.
63 | C/LW | Ludwig Persson, Frölunda (J20 Nationell)
Persson is a guy who has games where he is clearly on and others when he is less than interested. When he is on, he plays with speed and pace, has some excellent finishing ability, and can be an annoying forechecker at times. Persson will be active in the offensive zone, with and without the puck. When he is off, he kind of just exists. The upside is there but there is certainly some maturing that he will need to do.
64 | RHD | Noah Warren, Gatineau (QMJHL)
A stout defender who feels like a bit of a throwback. Noah Warren will absolutely lay the body and punish players whether it’s Shane Wright at the Top Prospects Game or an unfortunate QMJHL forward expecting the typical lackadaisical defense that is standard in the Q. Warren moves well and makes good defensive reads. The 6-foot-5 bully of a blueliner isn’t going to bring much offense but he is a capable puck mover and allows his teammates to do their thing while he punishes opponents in his own end.
65 | RW | Jack Devine, University of Denver (NCAA)
Playing in college can often make a player feel a bit like a forgotten commodity if he isn’t absolutely lighting it up and I feel as if that is the case with Devine this year. The Illinois native is a very good skater who isn’t afraid to use his teammates to advance play. He plays a smart and unselfish brand of hockey that has allowed him to steadily improve all year with the University of Denver. Working on his shot and overall strength will be important so that he doesn’t become a one-dimensional player but he plays a game that should translate to the pro level. How high in the lineup is another question.
66 | C/W | Cameron Lund, Green Bay (USHL)
Cameron Lund has a nice combination of size and speed with some interesting flashes of skill. The 6-foot-2 forward looked much better on the wing this year so my expectation is that is where his long-term future lies. His biggest asset right now is his shot, both from distance and in tight. Lund needs to keep his feet moving and the motor going a bit more consistently but there's a solid base to work with.
67 | C/LW | Ilya Kvochko, Magnitogorsk (MHL)
He’s an undersized forward and that, along with the fact that he comes from Russia, likely means he will get drafted much later than he should. The 5-foot-9 Kvochko plays bigger than he is in a lot of ways. He attacks the net, battles through pressure, and gets himself into high-danger areas consistently. His passing ability is creative and cheeky at times, bringing a unique playmaking ability to round out his offensive game. He protects the puck better than a player his size would be expected to as well. There’s a lot to like and he could very well be a late-round steal.
68 | RW | Gavin Hayes, Flint (OHL)
Coming into the year, Hayes was one of the players I was really hoping would put all of his skills together, take a step as a skater and really turn it on and earn first-round love. While he hasn’t quite done that, he is still an impressive player who flashes some really elusive hands and some creative playmaking ability. Hayes, like many OHLers, was affected by the year off and could absolutely pop off next year because of the tools he possesses. His skating steadily improved throughout the year but it’s still a step away from him being a dynamic offensive force. He is one of my favorite sleepers of the draft.
69 | LHD | Isaiah George, London (OHL)
A raw blueliner who has the mobility and tools to become quite the two-way defenseman. Playing on a London team that perenially underplays their young players in an effort to load up and go for a championship every year, George got some pretty decent chances throughout the season to show what he can do. NHL teams seem to love the kid for the potential he holds but it will take patience, refinement, and some development. If he winds up in a good situation, he could very well be a player we look back on and wonder how he went outside of round one.
70 | C | Matthew Poitras, Guelph (OHL)
Poitras is an interesting prospect because he is fun to watch at times thanks to a high motor and hands that don’t quit but he also seems to be figuring out how to play the game of hockey at a level that will work beyond junior. He has the tools to be a solid player with middle-six upside and the transition game to help move play up ice but he still needs to learn how to use those tools at times. He needs to work on making the proper reads and staying within his position at both ends of the ice but the creativity and raw ability are certainly fun and worth a pick.
71 | RHD | Otto Salin, HIFK (Liiga)
Over the last two years, Salin has played 19 and 16 total games for HIFK outside of the nine games internationally. This was partly due to the pandemic and partly due to injuries. With that said, Salin is a smooth skater who excels with the puck on his stick. He finds teammates in stride on the breakout and distributes the puck quite well in the offensive zone. His defensive play was hit and miss this year as he got comfortable playing again, seeing time at the U20 and men’s levels in Finland. If not for his limited sample, he could very well be a top-of-the-second-round type player.
72 | RW | Matthew Seminoff, Kamloops (WHL)
Seminoff is a hard-working forward that outworks some of his issues at times. His skating isn’t the cleanest in a technical sense but the effort he puts in covers that up to a degree, especially at the junior level. His offensive profile is predicated on getting to the inside and making havoc despite not possessing a massive frame. He can chip in as a goal scorer or make simple passes to set up his teammates. Seminoff is willing to try some higher-skilled moves at times but lacks the top-end puck skill to pull it all off. The Blazers forward is one of the most interesting try-hard guys in the class.
73 | C | Rieger Lorenz, Okotoks (AJHL)
Lorenz is a bit of a divisive player in this year’s draft class, largely due to the different values that analysts and scouts put on playing in the AJHL. To be upfront, I am not really a fan of the league as it doesn’t provide a ton of opportunity to deal with quality defensive pressure and the league can get bogged down in penalties and ‘extracurriculars’. With that said, Lorenz is a forward who possesses a unique size and speed combination. He plays with vigor when the puck is in the offensive zone that you love to see. Lorenz has quite a few plus tools that he needs to figure out how to use a bit more effectively but he was Okotoks’ best player on almost every night this season, driving the bus offensively and showcasing the fact that he was too good for the league in a lot of ways. Going to the University of Denver will be great for his development next season and round out his game a bit more.
74 | LHD | Jake Livanavage, Chicago (UHSL)
The scoring totals may fool you a bit with Livanavage as he put up 45 points in 63 games with the Steel. The Arizona native is a two-way defender who may wind up leaning towards the defensive side a bit more at the pro level. He activates at the blueline, makes good passes up ice on the breakout, and facilitates well offensively. He is a bit simplistic and passive on the offensive end though and the Chicago Steel system is always going to boost point totals just based on their aggressive style of play and allowing their defenders to push up the boards and into the slot. Livanavage defends quite well though as a whole. Using his length and closing quickly once he makes that decision to cut the gap. He waits a bit too long to do so at times but he is very effective and makes up for the delay with precision. He is a smart defender who needs to refine some things but there’s some promise there at both ends of the ice.
75 | C | Alexis Gendron, Blainville-Boisbriand (QMJHL)
Gendron is a high-danger machine. I criticized the QMJHL, rightfully, about its lack of defensive play and a tendency to cater to perimeter defense but Gendron bucks that trend despite not bringing a massive frame to the table. Gendron is a finisher who has nice hands in tight to quickly alter the angle and get the shot off, elevating the puck from the top of the crease if need be. His playmaking needs work and he needs to diversify his offensive mindset beyond getting to the inside and attack but that’s an excellent base to start with. He didn’t have a ton of talent around him most of the time which likely also played into his inability to create for others as well.
76 | C | Ryan Greene, Green Bay (USHL)
A two-way center with size and playmaking ability, Greene has quietly had a very nice season in the USHL this year. His shot likely never becomes a true weapon as it lacks pop and his release isn’t quite quick enough to pick corners and beat a goalie with regularity, even from high danger. The Green Bay center does show some very nice vision and can thread a pass throughout the offensive zone. His quickness is something that should be a strength at the next level as well. He utilizes his skating quite well in the defensive zone, cutting off passes and getting tight on puck carriers. At 6-foot-2 and lacking a truly dynamic offensive game, he projects as a defensive third-line center that when given a scoring winger, can help create offensive chances for his team in a depth role.
77 | RW | Vinzenz Rohrer, Ottawa (OHL)
An Austrian playing in the OHL, Rohrer plays a simple and fairly translatable north-south game. He has some really nice hands, particularly around the net. Cleaning up messes around the crease and elevating his shot from in tight, Rohrer is a capable player in the dirty areas. He has some decent skill along the boards and shows some craftiness at times. He needs to get a bit quicker on his feet as he currently lacks the dynamic element as a skater that makes translating to the pro game a bit easier for players that play off the wall and into the net-front areas, particularly at 5-foot-11. An improvement as a skater and a bit more development outside of the meat-and-potatoes offensive game that he possesses would go a long way towards making his pro aspirations more attainable.
78 | RW | Josh Filmon, Swift Current (WHL)
A 6-foot-2 winger who has a ton of room to fill out his frame but brings flashes of flair and skill that tantalize at times. The 159lbs forward is lanky and skilled but lacks any semblance of consistency. A great deal of his scoring came from the man advantage which is obviously a concern but he has it in him to combine his skill with his large frame and incorporate the odd power move to work inside and protect the puck or fend off the stick of an opponent. Filmon is raw but there is real ability there. Filmon showcases some good shooting ability and crafty passing which should be enough to build off of offensively. He needs to get a bit quicker on his feet but he’s still filling out his frame and growing.
79 | RHD | Kasper Kulonummi, Jokerit (U20 SM-sarja)
Kulonummi is a calm, smart defender who moves the puck well from his own end. He can head up a breakout with good passing ability and patience while also having the mobility to skate up through the neutral zone if necessary. His game relies on his ability to time gap closures and reads on a given play thanks to his hockey IQ. The young Finn may likely never quarterback a powerplay or be a dominant player on the ice that dictates a game, but he is a reliable cog in the machine that can be a very effective five-man unit.
80 | RW | Jordan Dumais, Halifax (QMJHL)
Dumais scored a butt load of points this year. There is no doubt that he is one of the premier junior scorers in all of North America. The issue is the fact that so much of it comes from plays that are just simply not translatable at the pro level. He is an elite perimeter player who can stay to the outside and thread passes through the weak defensive structures of the QMJHL but once the structure tightens up, many of the passes that Dumais is able to make become much more difficult. He is the ultimate boom-or-bust in this range of the draft. He’s undersized and plays like it but he has some of the best passing ability in the class and some really fun and exciting puck skill. If he ever learns to attack the middle of the, he could be an absolute killer.
81 | RW | Fabian Wagner, Linköping (J20 Nationell)
Wagner is a steady two-way winger who shows a good work ethic. His offensive game looks quite good at the J20 level in Sweden but it didn’t translate in the handful of games at the SHL level. He plays with energy and can look good in a depth role even when he isn’t scoring. Wagner is a solid passer and can make some very nice plays from time to time but he doesn’t have a dynamic quality to his game on a consistent basis. A good skater who puts in an honest effort in whatever role he’s placed in.
82 | LHD | Alexander Pelevin, Novgorod (MHL)
Pelevin is an extremely mobile defenseman and that’s what sells you right away on the young Russian. His offensive output hasn't quite been as high as one would expect but he certainly looks the part of an offensive defenseman. His defensive numbers have been fairly good this season, even if his tendency to be a bit overly aggressive when closing gaps and defending in transition can get him burned at times. Pelevin can be caught at the blueline trying to be too aggressive in search of generating offense as well. Reign it in and there could be a really intriguing two-way blueliner here.
83 | LHD | Jiri Tichacek*, Kladno (Czech)
My boy Jiri was absolutely disrespected last year. I understand teams not wanting to take the risk of drafting a sub-6-foot defender that doesn’t bring the physical element of the game to the table but the transitional ability and complete four-way mobility that few others do. Tichacek is an absolutely gifted skater who can manipulate space and time with the best of them. He can cut down play in the neutral zone by seemingly sneaking up and popping up in an attacker's face. With the puck on his stick, the Czech overager is a gifted passer who can hit a teammate in stride and start the breakout quickly. I see no reason for Tichacek not to be drafted aside from teams not doing their due diligence to, at a minimum, get a gifted hockey player in their system.
84 | RHD | Charlie Leddy, USNTDP (USHL)
Leddy often plays his off-side on the blueline for the NTDP and is generally relegated to third pair duty but those who have really honed in on the right-shot blueliner have been fairly impressed when compared to the lack of fanfare that he receives. He doesn’t have a massive frame, standing just 6-foot-1, but he uses it to its full extent. Leddy steps up and throws a hit and he will use his stick to break up the play. His understanding of the games and the reads he makes are his biggest strengths. He has leaned a bit more defensively on a strong U.S. U18 squad but there are signs that he can move the puck and contribute a bit more offensively if given the chance. Heading to Boston College next year, he will be in a great place to develop and grow his game. Some NHL team is going to look at Leddy in the later rounds and make what could be one of the safer later-round picks.
85 | F | Julian Lutz, München (DEL)
Lutz has been limited due to injuries this year but thankfully he put up a solid performance at the Under-18 World Championship with the German squad, oftentimes being their offensive catalyst. There aren’t really any truly elite tools in his game but there is quite a bit to like. When engaged, Lutz can be a nuisance on the forecheck and he can bring an element of creativity to the game that I appreciate. His shot is solid and he can make most passes in the offensive zone. With so much time lost to injury this year and the fact that he played in the DEL when he was playing, some teams will be a bit hesitant to select the young German but on paper, he has back end of the second-round talent. How much has a lack of activity over the last three years in general due to COVID and the injuries affected his development? That’s the question that’s bumped him, down a bit on my board.
86 | C | Bryce McConnell-Barker, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
Bryce McConnell-Barker has some really nice offensive tools but nothing that stands out as truly game-breaking. The Soo center has a decent shot and he is good at finding space off the puck. BMB has some nice passing tendencies at times but is fairly inconsistent. He could be a halfway decent shooter at the next level who provides depth scoring in a third-line role. He is a good skater although he lacks real explosion in his stride. When BMB gets to speed, he can be a handful at times though. He can use his thick frame to throw the body a bit and he works hard at both ends of the ice most of the time.
87 | RW | Alexander Ponomaryov, Togliatti (MHL)
Let’s start with this. Ladia Togliatti sucks and they seem to hate allowing their players to play up to their potential. Ponomaryov is the latest case of that. He is supremely skilled and has the “fun” element in spades which is not common for this draft class. He is a dangerous offensive player who can create something from nothing at times. He struggled to put it all together in the MHL this year, in large part due to the system (or lack thereof) and the team he played on. He likely goes much later considering his size (5-foot-9) and the global political climate, if he is drafted at all but he certainly has enough talent to warrant a look.
88 | RHD | Jake Martin*, University of Wisconsin (NCAA)
Martin was underrepresented last year on draft boards and the same thing is happening this year. His year was a bit underwhelming with Wisconsin because as a freshman he wasn’t give much of an opportunity to showcase the game that made him the U.S. NTDP’s most underrated player last year. Martin is a defense-first transitional defender who isn’t massive and doesn’t lay the big hit so he doesn’t get the recognition that he deserves. Instead, he plays an intelligent and quiet game that thwarts offensive chances before they really gets a chance to develop. The Minnesota native reads transition at a high level and leads with his stick as he closes the gap, displacing teh puck and then jumping onto it himself. His first pass is precise, moving it up to the forwards who have the skill to make a play. He isn’t going to wow anyone on a shift-to-shift basis but he has the mobility and intelligence to play the game and wind up an analytics darling.
89 | LHD | Oscar Pantzare, Frölunda (J18 Nationell)
Pantzare is a name I have seldom seen on lists and the credit for his discovery goes to Mikael Holm and Will Scouch (follow their work). He is raw and has played very little at the J20 level and not at all at the pro level in Sweden but he has been a very interesting two-way defender for Frölunda’s J18 team. His skating is a real plus to his game and he utilizes it when defending the rush quite well. He times his gap closures quite well and forces the attacker into decisions that they aren’t ready or planning for. Offensively, he shows flashes of puck skill and distributing ability but there are still moments of puck bobbling and rushed decisions. His mindset seems to be in the right place though as he throws pucks to teammates down the wall or into the net front. With some development and patience, Pantzare could be a sneaky good late-round gem.
90 | LD | Finn Loftus, Blaine HS (USHS-MN)
*Owen Wilson Voice* WOW. Yes, I am ranking a second high school player. This is new ground for me. The USHS ranks are, in general, a good development ground but the talent is often a bit too raw and unrefined. I am more comfortable seeing the player play a year of NCAA hockey before taking a serious look. The game that Loftus plays though is very intriguing. The Minnesota native is a fluid skater who looks to push the pace and attack from the offensive blueline. That’s not to say that he doesn’t come with the usual concerns about refinement to his game that other high school players come with but he has the skill and upside that makes him worth a pick in rounds two to four.
91 | RW | Joel Jonsson, Mora (J20 Nationell)
Credit to my pal Mikeal Holm, for turning me onto Joel Jonsson. The Swedish winger is an undersized forward who has a ton of skill and brings flair to the game of hockey. He has some sneaky goal scoring ability when he attacks the middle of the ice, using his hands and feet to evade defenders and open himself up to create offense. His playmaking and passing ability allows him to be an offensive catalyst. He has some areas of his game, particularly in his own end, that will need to be cleaned up but he showed his prowess as an offensive creator at the J20 level this year and dominated at times in the J18. He looked more than capable in the Allvenskan as well in a limited sample there. There is so much to like about Joel Jonsson’s game. Due to the fact that he is 5-foot-9 and lacks defensively, NHL teams will take Jonsson late, if at all, but the upside is certainly worth a selection.
92 | G | Topias Leinonen, JYP (U20 SM-sarja)
One of two goalies that truly asserted themselves this year as being worth drafting in my mind, Leinonen displays the athleticism that is necessary for the position in today’s game as well as the technical ability. The Finn comes in at 6-foot-5, with his size alone being attractive to NHL scouts. He integrates with his posts fairly well and can explode off of them at times, although he needs to get strong in his lower half to continue developing in that area. His core strength is among the best in the goalie class, rarely finds himself hunched over or sinking in his frame. Lateral movement isn’t the biggest strength in Leinonen’s game but he certainly doesn’t lack the element as a whole as many goalies in this year’s crop do. If I were betting money on which goalie from this class was going to wind up a starter, it would be on the young Finn.
93 | LHD | Spencer Sova, Erie (OHL)
Sova is a mobile defender who has yet to unlock his full potential in Erie, partially due to scheme decisions. Sova can accelerate and change speeds with efficiency and has some shiftiness of his feet. The Windsor, Ontario native has some good offensive instincts and an element of physicality that isn’t expected from a player that generally leans towards the offensive side a bit more. Defensively, he will use his mobility and a touch of a mean streak to impact the game in his own end, although he can get chasing a bit at times. Sova was a pivotal member of Canada’s U18 squad, wearing an ‘A’ on his sweater and playing a bit in all situations. It is very clear that there is a player with legitimate pro potential here, the goal over the next couple of seasons is to continue developing in all areas of the game and figure out exactly what he is going to be at the next level.
94 | LW | Beau Jelsma, Barrie (OHL)
The Barrie Colts forward improved as the year went on and rode a solid two-way game while he figured out the offensive side of things. He isn’t going to overcomplicate things or dazzle on a game-to-game basis but he gets to the low slot and net-front area to provide a passing option for teammates and had good enough hands in-tight to beat a goalie. Jelsma can chip in offensively but his calling card is doing a lot of the little things well that fans often overlook. Whether it being in the right spot to provide an outlet passing option or being the second man into a board battle to aid a teammate. He projects as a bottom-six energy player who can come up big when you need a dirty goal in a pivotal moment.
95 | LW | Dylan James, Sioux City (USHL)
The USHL’s rookie of the year was just about a point-per-game player with the Sioux City Muskateers, recording 61 points in 62 games this year as he helped them capture the Clark Cup. James plays a power game and scores from all around the crease for the most part. He isn’t a line driver but he is a quality passenger. Defensively, James’ instincts are sound and he generally doesn’t look out of place in his own end of the ice. The Calgary native is committed to the University of North Dakota and the NCAA route will give him ample time to develop his game as a playmaker and continue to get stronger to play the game he does at the next level. There’s some real intrigue here and I won’t be shocked if he outperforms this ranking or his draft slot if he’s taken outside of round two.
96 | C | Ryan Abraham, Windsor (OHL)
An undersized forward who can impose his will on the game at times. He lacks consistency but there are times when Abraham has the ability to take over a shift. On a number of occasions, the 5-foot-8 forward has had a fire lit under his ass. Abraham will aggressively tap his stick for a pass, receive the puck exiting his own zone and absolutely walk two or three defenders en route to a goal or wicked pass that leads to a goal or scoring chance. The flashes of legitimate brilliance are there but being undersized and the consistency being a bit lacking at times, Abraham will likely be drafted later than his true talent would indicate but it will be fair because of the size and inconsistency concerns.
97 | C | Topi Rönni, Tappara (U20 SM-sarja)
Rönni is a responsible two-way center who has played a good portion of his season at the Liiga level. He has some impressive puck handling ability through the neutral zone, Rönni can create space for himself in the offensive zone with his quickness and hands. He can stick-handle himself into a sticky situation from time to time but he finds a way to get a shot off or make a pass anyways. Rönni has pro experience against men which is always an asset and perennially undervalued amongst NHL clubs. Rönni would look really good as an NHL 3C who can make a few plays offensively to help out a good squad.
98 | C | Tim Almgren, Örebro J20 (J20 Nationell)
A bit undersized at 5-foot10, Almgen plays the game with slick puck skills and a sneaky good shot for an undersized forward. He has plenty of room to put on muscle and he is also one of the younger players in the draft with a late-July birthday. He is a shooter first and will rarely opt to not take a shot but he has shown some flashiness as a passer as well. He is a shifty and agile skater and although his top-end speed isn’t quite elite, he should improve that with added strength. Almgren can be very slippery at times and elusive in the offensive zone. His long-term projection is going to rely on how much he grows and matures physically because at 5-foot-10 and just 152lbs, he will need to add quite a bit.
99 | C | Jere Lassila, JYP (U20 SM-sarja)
The captain of Finland’s bronze medal-winning U18 squad, Lassila has been hit with injuries this year. Primarily playing at the U20 SM-sarja level, he was limited to 20 club team games but played almost as much internationally in various events representing his home country. Lassila is a well-rounded center who can adapt to his linemates quite well. Whether he is asked to be the distributor or finisher, Lassila is able to do a bit of both. He personifies the Finnish game internationally, with no stand-out trait necessarily but he is effective and the sum of his parts often outweighs expectations.
100 | G | Tyler Brennan, Prince George (WHL)
The top North American goalie in the class this year, Tyler Brennan played for a Prince George team that wasn’t really all that great and there were a number of nights where he was the reason they were in the game. His playoff run, albeit just a four-game stint, was very impressive as he posted a .954 save percentage and was the last reason they were swept in their opening-round series. Brennan has the size and athleticism that NHL teams covet and he has shown a solid base of technical skill. There is room to become a bit more fluid in his crease and utilize his frame a bit better but if you’re taking a North American goalie in this year’s draft, Brennan should be your target.
HM | F | Marek Hejduk, USNTDP (USHL)
HM | C | Aleksanteri Kaskimäki, HIFK (U20 SM-sarja)
HM | LHD | Charlie Wright, Saskatoon (WHL)
HM | LHD | Elias Pettersson, Örebro (SHL)
HM | F | Simon Slavicek, Flint (OHL)
HM | RW | Miko Matikka, Jokerit (U20 SM-sarja)
HM | RW | Vadim Fattakhov, Spartak Moscow (MHL)
HM | F | Nick Pierre, Sioux City (USHL)
HM | F | Kasper Lundell, HIFK (U20 SM-sarja)
HM | C | Hunter Haight, Barrie (OHL)
HM | F | Cruz Lucius, USNTDP (USHL)
HM | G | Reid Dyck, Swift Current (WHL)
HM | G | Simon Wolf, RB Hockey Academy (AlpsHL)
HM | F | Dmitri Katelevsky*, Kazan (VHL)
HM | C | Justin Côté, Drummondville (QMJHL)
HM | LHD | Kirill Kudryavtsev, Sault Ste. Marie (OHL)
HM | C | Sam Oliver, Drummondville (QMJHL)
HM | F | Brady Berard, USNTDP (USHL)
HM | RHD | Jace Weir, Red Deer (WHL)
HM | G | Sergei Ivanov, SKA St. Petersburg (MHL)
HM | F | Matthew Ward, Swift Current (WHL)
HM | LHD | Seamus Powell, USNTDP (USHL)
HM | W | Adam Bareš, Pelicans (U20 SM-sarja)
HM | RHD | Grayden Siepmann, Calgary (WHL)
HM | C | Pano Fimis, Niagara (OHL)
HM | LW | Kirill Dolzhenkov, CSKA Moscow (MHL)
HM | C | Jake Karabela, Guelph (OHL)
HM | LHD | Jérémy Langlois, Cape Breton (QMJHL)
HM | C | Jeremy Wilmer, Tri-City (USHL)
HM | RHD | Maveric Lamoureux, Drummondville (QMJHL)