Montreal Canadiens

Montréal Canadiens: Don’t Judge A Player On Height

At the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, the Montréal Canadiens selected Cole Caufield with the 15th overall pick.

Caufield was projected to go much higher than 15th, but there were many teams that weren’t keen on drafting players that are deemed under-sized. In fact, Minnesota Wild general manager Paul Fenton made comments at the draft explaining that he was quite intrigued by players that were taller than him.

Height

Unfortunately, height seems to be a way of avoiding talent and could come back to burn teams. There are several current and former hockey players in the NHL that are under-sized, but are great hockey players. Back in January of 2010, Liz Brownstein wrote a post for The Bleacher Report, in which she named several hockey players that are under six feet, who are stellar and top producing players. She brought up players such as Doug Weight, Mark Recchi, Jeff Skinner, Claude Giroux, Martin St. Louis, Sidney Crosby and Patrick Kane.

While Caufield is one of the smallest players to be drafted (5’7″), he can still have a great career. Plus, the Montréal Canadiens have proven again and again that height doesn’t matter. The Habs have several roster players under 6 feet including Paul Byron, Max Domi, Brendan Gallagher and Tomas Tatar. Last season, Gallagher, Domi and Tatar showed Montréal that hockey was officially back in Quebec. Okay, there was always hockey in Montréal, but the Habs for the first time in a few years showed that they were close to making a substantial playoff run. Unfortunately, their special teams play was a bit flat, but Gallagher, Domi and Tatar played excellent hockey and it was hard to shut down those forwards. In fact, earlier this year, I wrote a post about Gallagher being one of the best 5v5 forwards across the NHL last season. So, height doesn’t really matter. 

Caufield

But, going back to Caufield. The Canadiens were able to capitalize on the draft night. They stole Caufield from the hands of several teams. There are several draft analysts that have been comparing Caufield to Alex DeBrincat of the Chicago Blackhawks. If Caufield is anything like DeBrincat, fans across Montréal will be thanking Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin on a nightly basis. 

If you take a look at the video below from ProHockeyUpdate (@PHUpdateNHL), you’ll see just how special the American forward is. Caufield reminds me a lot of Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews. They seem to always find open ice and shift towards the net when their team has control in the offensive zone. Then they catch the defense off-guard once their teammate throws a cross-ice pass to them. Plus, Caufield has exceptional speed and does a stellar job picking his corners even when he’s at full speed. 

As you can see, Caufield is a gifted sniper. He’ll be dominant in the NHL one day down the road. But, he shouldn’t be criticized for his height. If his future teammates, Brendan Gallagher and Max Domi can steal show at the NHL, why can’t Caufield? 

stats form hockey-reference.com

featured image photo credit – Nikos Michals

NHL Draft Profile: Cole Caufield

If goals are what you want, goals are what Caufield will give you. The diminutive winger is one of, if not the top, premier goal scorers in the Draft. Riding shotgun on Hughes wing all season, can the undersized sniper translate his game to the next level? Rising up rankings all year, putting questions of his size to rest along the way.

http://gty.im/1037320228

Name: Cole Caufield

Date of Birth: January 2, 2001

Nationality (Place of Birth): American (Stevens Point, WI, USA)

Hieght: 5’7″

Weight: 168lbs

Shoots: Right

Position: RW

Rankings

Ranked #18 by TSN/McKenzie

Scouting Report

The above spider graph, courtesy of Kyle Pereira of Puck77, displays the available data from Will Scouch. As shown, Caufield excels exact where you’d expect him to. Goals. He tends to be a bit of a one trick pony, but the trick is pretty great. Scoring goals is an elite talent and if a player is to excel in one area so strongly, the goal scoring department in the right place to be.

You want goals? Cole Caufield is the best there is in this draft. Caufield scores in a variety of ways, not letting his size affect his play. The diminutive sniper is generously listed at 5’7″ but he plays bigger than that. Unafraid of getting bumped around in front of the net, he bounces off defenders into open ice allowing for a pass to him in a dangerous position. The American goal-scorer does a good job at converting on a variety of scoring chances. Caufield can score on the rush or set up in the zone.

Tweet courtesy of @StevenEllisTHN

He scores on a wide array of shots. His most elite skill is finding some space on the power play and opening up in the left circle for a one-timer. His tendency for finding rebounds and putting them in the back of the net is uncanny. His shot is heavy and accurate. He has the unique ability to change the puck position with a variety of subtle stick moves. Similar to the way that Maple Leafs phenom Austin Matthews does, Caufield is skilled at pulling the puck in or reaching out and firing the puck from a variety of angles. In the video below, you can see Caufield score in a variety of ways. The first goal is on the rush with the excellent stick work to change the angle at the last second. The second goal is scored on a scramble in front of the net, he cleans up the garbage while fighting through traffic. The final goal is a one-timer. Caufield sets up at the left of the net while Alex Turcotte collects the rebound and finds Caufield for the easy goal.

Tweet Courtesy of @USAHockey

Caufield isn’t an elite skater in any sense. A bit of a red flag as its preferred that a player of Caufield‘s size has blazing speed whereas his speed is just slightly above average. Where Caufield does excel in terms of his skating is his edge work and agility. He uses his small frame to dart in and out of traffic to find the open space. He’s shown the ability to keep up with the likes of Jack Hughes, Alex Turcotte and Trevor Zegras depending on the line he’s played in the last two years. This is mostly due to an exceptional offensive awareness, having a keen knack at getting out of the defensive zone as soon as his team gains position.

In the defensive zone, Caufield is a hard worker. He may not have the defensive awareness to match his IQ offensively, but he never seems out of the play because of his high-motor in his end. He doesn’t win board battles with any sort of regularity as he can be pushed around in board play. This leads to the undersized winger often being the second man into the scrum, using his stick to try and pull the puck out rather than engaging physically.

Preseason Outlook

Coming off an excellent U17 season, Caufield was set to continue his goal scoring tear. After potting 44 goals in 49 games on the U17 USNTDP team he got a chance to play with the U18 team as an underager, he added 10 goals in 19 games. This all as an undersized, underaged player on a good team. Knowing that he was coming into the year likely on the right wing of top ranked prospect Jack Hughes, Caufield was poised to have a breakout season, slowly silencing the critics who fixated on his stature.

Exceptional play with USNTDP

72 goals. 5’7″ Cole Caufield scores 72 goals in 64 games this year for the USNTDP U18s. This smashed the NTDP goal scoring record. Riding shotgun with one of, if not, the best playmakers in the draft, Jack Hughes, Caufield took advantage of the attention that Hughes drew. Shifting into soft zones in the defensive zone coverage with ease, he opened himself up to receive passes and consistently worked to stay open in dangerous areas.

Tweet courtesy of @CoreyPronman

Just breaking the record for goals in a USNTDP season would have been an accomplishment. What Caufield did was borderline abusive. Scoring 72 goals total in 64 games, he demolished Auston Matthews record of 55 goals. While often scoring goals utilizing his elite one-timer, he displayed scoring touch in many ways. Rush shots, one-timers, collecting rebounds, coming out front from behind the net or looping behind the net for a wrap around, Caufield was lethal from every area of the ice with the puck on his stick, even if it is their for less than a second.

Tweet courtesy of @StarsStripesHKY

Putting Himself on the Map

Coming into the World U18 Championships, Caufield was consistently spoken of as one of the first prospects outside of a really strong top-10 draft eligible prospects. This tournament changed that. Stepping into the tournament as a player looking to prove he was a top prospect, Caufield forced the hands of many. Now more likely to be chosen fifth than 15th, the American with a small stature provided big goal totals. He tied Alexander Ovechkin’s tournament record for goals with 14 and finished just three points back of Nikita Kucherov’s tournament record for points.

The US team dominated the round robin play, seemingly scoring at will. However, the stacked American team fell victim to a hot goalie in Russia’s 16-year-old sensation Yaroslav Askarov in the semi-finals. This lead to a bronze medal matchup with the rival Canadians. Despite Caufield being held off the score sheet, the Americans succeeded with a 5-2 win. Even with a bronze medal in hand, Caufield and Hughes setting tournament and team records respectively, the third place finish was a disappointment for the Americans.

What the Detractors Say

If you’re going to have one dominant trait, goal scoring is a good one to have. However, because of this there are some questions with Caufield’s game. One of the most obvious faults is that he isn’t the fastest skater. As a smaller forward, barn-burning speed is often desired and Caufield certainly doesn’t have that. While he isn’t a slow skater and he isn’t a poor skater in a technical sense, the lack of elite top speed is a concern.

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The other major concern is the effectiveness of his defensive game. While the effort is certainly there, saying that Caufield will be a strong defensive player is a bit of a stretch. Unless he puts on an unexpected amount of strength or he developed a skill-based defensive game similar to former Red Wing Pavel Datsyuk, Caufield will likely be at best an average player in his own end. As a winger the defensive side of the game isn’t as integral so he could very well be covered up by playing with a center who has good defensive coverage while still being a good playmaker.

Cole Caufield will be taken…

After the top-four, before the top-10 is finished. A goal scoring threat this good can’t be overlooked. Regardless of his diminutive stature, the American sniper is too highly productive to pass up. Caufield will likely play at least one, probably two, seasons at the University of Wisconsin before making the jump to the NHL. Teams that could have heavy interest in Caufield could include Detroit, Edmonton and Vancouver. All three teams have a center that could be an excellent fit with the legitimate 40-goal potential that Caufield possesses. Whether it be a two-way, do-it-all center like Dylan Larkin or high-skilled elite play makers like Connor McDavid or Elias Pettersson, Caufield has plenty of great landing spots as a prospect, not limited to the teams above. If you want goals, draft Cole Caufield. He will likely give you more than you think.

For more on the NHL, prospects and the NHL Draft, follow me here at @TheTonyFerrari on twitter!

All stats and information provided by Hockey Reference, Elite ProspectsDobber Prospects and NHL.com

 

Puck77

NHL Mock Draft Part Two: Selections 6-10

Part one is done, which looked at my prediction of the top-five National Hockey League entry draft selections, which means we are going through picks 6-10 for part two!

 

In this part I predict a trade, but other than that it is a straightforward prediction. For a quick refresher, Kappo Kakko went first, Jack Hughes went second, Cole Caufield at third, Alex Turcotte went fourth and Bowen Byram went fifth. 

 

Sixth Overall Pick: Detroit Red Wings trade back!

A trade kicks off part two, and it is a small one, but with a big impact. The Red Wings, I believe, are eyeing a prospect that should be available at 10th overall, owned by the Vancouver Canucks, and so they swap places, with Vancouver also eating Danny DeKeyser’s contract. Canucks fans have always complained about getting screwed over by the draft lottery, and so the team decides it’s time to move up, at the cost of DeKeyser’s hefty contract. Trade is Detroit’s 2019 sixth overall pick to Vancouver in exchange for the 10th overall pick, and Danny DeKeyser. So, here’s the pick:

 

Sixth Overall Pick: Vancouver Canucks select Trevor Zegras, Center/Both Wings, USNTDP

Zegras is like Alex Turcotte and Bowen Byram (who were selected in part one) in which he could arguably be the third overall pick. But with the Caufield selection at three, and Turcotte and Byram ultimately falling, Zegras is left available for the taking. (Why Detroit wouldn’t take him here will be explained when pick 10 rolls around).

For Vancouver, they have been dying to select a versatile, sure-fire future elite forward on draft day for a while. I know what you’re thinking, what about Elias Pettersson, Brock Boeser and Bo Horvat? Pettersson was selected back in 2016, and needed a season before making the jump and, ultimately, becoming their best player. Boeser was everything but a sure-fire deal, being taken at 23rd overall in 2015. Horvat was drafted in 2013, at the tail end of the top 10 (ninth overall) and also wasn’t exactly a sure thing.

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So, it’s been a few years and the Canucks want more, and Zegras is probably the best forward (aside from Pettersson) that they have selected in the draft, and whether he ends up more vital to the team than Horvat and Boeser will be found out within a few years.

Zegras piled up 14 goals and 26 assists (40 points) in 27 games with the USNTDP juniors. The fact that he didn’t play up with Turcotte and Jack Hughes tells me he has about 1-2 years before making the jump to the NHL, but his playmaking ability is outstanding. He proved that when he played for the US National U-18 team for 60 games, where he put up 26 goals and 61 assists (87 points).

Next season, like with Caufield and Turcotte, he is committed to joining an NCAA club, and for him it’s Boston University. BU is well known in the hockey community thanks to Jack Eichel, Charlie McAvoy and Charlie Coyle, just to name a few, so I feel that this is a big step in the right direction for Zegras.

Next Year’s Role: NCAA minutes, likely won’t join the NHL club at any point next season, unless he dominates with BU.

 

Seventh Overall Pick: Buffalo Sabres select Dylan Cozens, Center/Right Wing, Lethbridge Hurricanes, WHL

This is an excellent selection for the Sabres. But then again, if any of the aforementioned players were available here, and the Sabres picked them, it would be excellent. That’s just how strong the top-10 prospects are in this class.

Playing in the WHL last season with Lethbridge, Cozens put up 34 goals and 50 assists (84 points) in 68 games, along with four goals and four assists (eight points) in seven playoff games. Cozens is leading the next wave of power forwards, that is currently led by Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights.

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Cozens is well balanced, with a good shot and good vision. But his defensive abilities, paired with his well-balanced scoring touch, prompted LastWordOnHockey’s Ben Kerr to believe he could be a first line center with a chance at winning the Selke Trophy. That’s big praise from a guy who does several scouting reports on all different players every year. Cozens could make the jump to the NHL off of a strong camp, but the chances are he needs another year or so to advance to the next level. 

Next Year’s Role: WHL time with Lethbridge, likely won’t join the club late in the season, but it is possible.

 

Eighth Overall Pick: Edmonton Oilers select Matthew Boldy, Left Wing, USNTDP


Why Matthew Boldy here? I know it’s a little off the board, and he is not the best player available. But that by no means says that he is not a good player. Boldy has good size (6’2”, 192 pounds), and he had a very good season with the USNTDP Juniors club. He racked up 17 goals and 26 assists (43 points) in 28 games, adding another 33 goals and 48 assists (81 points) in 64 games with the US National U-18 team. He might not be the best skater in the draft by any means, but as fellow Puck77 contributor Tony Ferrari points out, with some adjustment in his stride as well as a better first step and in general acceleration, he could wind up being one of the best players in the draft.

Now, when we head on over to Edmonton’s roster, we see they have a strong center core, both young and experienced (Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jujhar Khaira in the NHL, Ryan McLeod, Cooper Marody in their pool) as well as a solid bunch of right wingers with promise (Leon Draisaitl, Jesse Puljujarvi in NHL, Kailer Yamamoto, Kirill Maksimov, Ostap Mafin in pool), as well as defenseman (Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse in NHL, Evan Bouchard, Dmitri Samorukov, Ethan Bear in pool).

As for left wings, they have Milan Lucic and Tobias Rieder on the NHL club, and Tyler Benson in their pool. That is a very weak core, relative to their other positions (outside of goaltending), and while some players may go and new players will come in within the time that Boldy will be in the juniors/minors developing, they should still get a headstart in building up that very weak left wing.

Boldy is a safer pick than some guys who may have higher upside, but regardless, he fills a pretty large need the Oilers have. This is not that much of a reach either, it’s just that he was in the shadows of the earlier USNTDP picks and is, in my opinion, overlooked by the general fan. I believe this would be a great selection for Edmonton. He has committed to Boston College (NCAA) next season, where he will not be in anyone’s shadow.

Next Year’s Role: NCAA minutes, no chance he joins the Oilers late in season barring major injuries and/or he dominates in Boston College.

 

9th Overall Pick: Anaheim selects Kirby Dach, Center, Saskatoon Blades, WHL

Dach going to the Ducks is a match made in heaven. We all know the frustrating in-your-face, kind of dirty style of play that the Ducks utilize. While Dach isn’t necessarily dirty, he is a big guy, standing at 6’4, 198 pounds, and can very easily use that frame to fit the bill of a Duck.

The Ducks core is aging, and their prospect pool is very weak. They go best player available at this selection, and it really couldn’t be better for Anaheim. His size isn’t the only thing that is enticing.

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Dach had 25 goals and 48 assists (73 points) in 62 games played with Saskatoon, as well as five goals and three assists (eight points) in 10 postseason games played. He did not play any international games this past season with Canada, which is why he “dropped” to ninth (he ranges anywhere from third to 13th in this class) but he is still an intriguing prospect.

The knock on Dach is three things: 1) His acceleration is not good enough to translate to the NHL at this moment and he needs to really improve in that area to be a successful player at the next level. 2) He tends to keep his head down when skating with the puck, and despite his size, has gotten destroyed by hits on several occasions. 3) Finally, a lot of experts and fellow contributors on the site say that he does not have a very high ceiling (potential), but does have a very good skill set, or in other words, a high floor.

Next Year’s Role: Sticks with Saskatoon in the WHL all season, does not join NHL club at the end of Juniors.

 

10th Overall Pick: Detroit Red Wings (via Vancouver) selects Victor Soderstrom, Right-Handed Defenseman, Brynas IF, SHL

First off, right handed defenseman are a rare breed, and whenever you have a chance to grab one through the draft in the first round (especially at tenth overall), you take that guy.

In Detroit’s case, they had the sixth overall pick, but I would consider it a reach if they took Soderstrom there, because of all the talented forwards. You’re probably thinking, why would Detroit, a rebuilding team, trade back when they had talented forwards to choose from? Because they have young NHL centers in Dylan Larkin and Michael Rasmussen, as well as young NHL wingers in Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, and Tyler Bertuzzi. Not to mention, forward prospects in Taro Hirose, Filip Zadina, and Joseph Veleno.

How about young NHL defenseman, that are right handed? Madison Bowey in the NHL, and Filip Hronek as a prospect. Most of their defensive prospects are left handed, including their top D prospects in Jared McIsaac and Dennis Cholowski. So Detroit does not necessarily need forwards, and they do need a right handed defenseman, who happens to be (arguably) the second best D-man in the draft class, while also off-loading a bad contract.

Soderstrom started the season with Brynas IF’s junior team in the U-20 division, where he played 14 games, with one goal and seven assists (eight points). When he made the jump to the SHL, which is Sweden’s version of the NHL, he produced just four goals and three assists (seven points) in 44 games, with a not-so-good -11 +/-. But, the fact that he was constantly relied on and kept at the highest level as an 18-year-old against men says something.

Playing for Sweden at the World Junior Championships, he recorded one assist in four games, which was also underwhelming production. But what makes him arguably the best defenseman available after Byram is taken, is his well-rounded skill set. He is a very good skater, and has an ability to get shots on net through traffic consistently. He is good transitionally, with the IQ to know when to join the rush and attack, and when to stick back.

Despite being 5’11, 182 pounds, he does a good job using his body to win battles in front of the net or in the corners. His floor, offensively, is really low at the moment, but he is playing against men and not kids in his age group, so that sets him back a step. But he has the skating and shooting ability to give him a base in which NHL coaches can build upon once he makes the jump.

As he bulks up, and gets stronger, the more battles he will win along the boards and in front of the net defensively, and playing against men actually boosts his ceiling for his defensive game. If he’s finding success this early with his size in the SHL (and he bulks up), he could be a very reliable defenseman in his own end.

Next Year’s Role: Likely stays in Sweden. I don’t see him coming to North America to play AHL hockey, or CHL hockey. It’s best he stays in Europe one more year against tough competition to build up on his defensive game.

 

All stats via Elite Prospects

Rankings inspired by other contributors on Puck77

Featured Image Photo Credit: Nikos Michals

Puck77

National Hockey League Mock Draft Part One: Picks 1-5

With the National Hockey League entry draft right around the corner, and several other Puck77 contributors coming together to put out monthly rankings, I decided to follow up my prospect deep dive from over a week ago.

 

I have studied the National Hockey League prospects more and more, I have looked deeper into team needs, and I did my own individual mock draft, using team needs and their current situations to determine picks. I’ve also read into the few rumors swirling around the draft, which I will touch on within the first three picks. I even included one trade, which I will get to here in part one.

 

First Overall Pick, New Jersey Devils select Kappo Kaako, RW, TPS, Liiga

Ah, yes. Already I have gone against what many of you readers likely would have guessed. But I have said Kakko was going to go first overall ever since I watched the New Jersey Devils win the draft lottery.

Two years ago, when the Devils had to choose between the consensus number one pick at the time, Nolan Patrick, or the guy closing the gap for the first pick, Nico Hischier, they went with Hischier.

Hischier played in the QMJHL in his draft year and dominated, while Nolan Patrick played in the WHL and had injury concerns, so it’s a much different scenario. Jack Hughes does not have injury concerns like Patrick did, but Kakko played in a much more competitive league, against men in Liiga, unlike Hischier.

Kakko broke a record previously held by Aleksander Barkov for goals with 22 for an under-18 player in Liiga history while playing in eight less games. He has not only found success against grown men in Liiga, but he has dominated against the highest skilled players in the world, winning not one, not two, but three international gold medals with Finland, putting up a combined 37 points in 63 games. Most recently, he won gold with Finland at the IIHF World Championships, recording six goals and one assist in 10 games.

Kakko has a track record of winning, and his success against men at the club level in Finland and the international levels with Finland, it’s a no-brainer he would go number one overall in any other draft class.

But Hughes is an unreal prospect and has been highly regarded for over a year now for the first overall selection. But I think Kakko will have a higher impact immediately at the NHL level, on a line featuring Taylor Hall, Nico Hischier, and himself. That is just daunting. Not to mention, he is four inches taller and 20 pounds heavier than Hughes.

This is what Devils general manager Ray Shero had to say about the type of player they were going for in the upcoming draft, per SportsNet’s Rory Boylen. “You gotta be a self starter, competitive. You have to have grit. You have to be a team-first player.” While Hughes is a team-first player, Kakko has the size advantage by a drastic amount, and while that is not entirely important anymore, Shero did point it out, and that has to count for something.

 

Next Year’s Role: 1st/2nd line RW with power play time with the Devils

 

Second Overall Pick, New York Rangers select Jack Hughes, Center, USNTDP

Hughes at two is a steal, and Kakko at two would also be a steal. Think about it, if these two guys were in separate draft classes, chances are, they both go first overall. Hughes is the best skater in the draft, and also arguably has the highest upside as well, though there are a couple others that challenge him.

But what separates Hughes, and same goes with Kakko, is his NHL readiness. He is not going to make as big of an impact as Kakko within the first season or two, but he will certainly be in the NHL next season, barring an injury.

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He absolutely dominated with the USNTDP teams, totalling 160 points in 74 games. He had an unreal Under-18 World Junior Championship with team USA with 20 points in seven games. He played really well at the U-20 World Juniors, with four assists in as many games, but obviously not as dominant. Then, at the IIHF World Championships, Hughes only put up three assists in seven games.

The concern I have is, he is less dominant against tougher competition. He dominated in the USNTDP, which is his age group, he dominated at the U-18’s and was a point per game player at the U-20’s, which is basically still in his age group. But at the IIHF World’s he struggled, while Kakko rose to the occasion and led the underdog Finn’s to the Gold medal. That’s why I have him dropping to two.

 

Next Year’s Role: 2nd/3rd line with 2nd Unit PP time with Rangers

 

Third Overall Pick: Chicago Blackhawks select Cole Caufield, Center/Right Wing, USNTDP

When I was initially planning out this mock draft, this was not my pick for Chicago. But then the rumors happened, and it seemingly appears as though the Blackhawks will select the 5’7”, Wisconsin native Caufield.

While Caufield is not a bad selection, the rumors suggest a Jesperi Kotkaniemi-esque selection, where the player has an intriguing skillset and great upside, but ranked either at the end of the top 10, or just outside. That selection has turned out to be less of a reach, and more of a great selection, in hindsight.

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For the Blackhawks, they have a player by the name of Alex DeBrincat, who is also undersized, but very talented, and coming off a 41-goal campaign. Caufield brings that goal scoring touch, as he is the best pure sniper in the draft, scoring 29 goals, along with 12 assists (41 points) in 28 games. He added another 72 goals and 28 assists (100 points) in 64 games with US National U-18 team, which is absolutely insane. But he played with the USNTDP Juniors, rather than the USNTDP club with Hughes, and that tells me he still has a few years before being in the NHL.

He also played internationally, but for only the U-18 World Juniors, where he put up 14 goals and four assists (18 points) in seven games played. It’s very clear to see he is a goal scorer, as in total (counting international games) he scored 115 goals in just 99 games. He has committed to the University of Wisconsin for the following season, where he will look to add to his resumé of being the third overall selection.

If he can score at a goal per game pace in the NCAA, he will prove exactly why the Hawks took him so early. If he even comes close, it will be super impressive, because the NCAA is a tough league to score in at the pace he has, so next season will be very telling.

 

Next Year’s Role: NCAA time with Wisconsin, maybe joins NHL late in season, like Charlie McAvoy for Boston in 2016.

 

Fourth Overall Pick: Colorado Avalanche select Alex Turcotte, Center, USNTDP

Turcotte was my initial third overall pick, but again, rumors changed that. Turcotte is my favorite prospect, and I think he has the most upside in the entire draft.

Split between the USNTDP juniors and the USNTDP club, Turcotte combined for 96 points in 53 games, with 39 of the 96 points being goals. He added another four goals and five assists (nine points) in seven international games in the U-18 World Junior Championships.

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He is a well-balanced, 200-foot player, with the skill-set to put up big numbers at all levels of hockey. He immediately helps the Avalanche’s lack of scoring depth, but unfortunately he has already committed to the University of Wisconsin to join Caufield for next season. To me, he could absolutely step into the NHL on a third line role, but he will not be there, as noted.

 

Next Year’s Role: NCAA time with Wisconsin, high chance he joins the Avalanche late in the season.

 

Fifth Overall Pick: Los Angeles Kings select Bowen Byram, Defenseman, Vancouver Giants, WHL

Something that could potentially hurt the 6’0″, 194-pound, left-shot defenseman is the fact that he did not play any level of international hockey with Team Canada. But, he is still far and away the best defenseman in this draft.

He has great size, and is also incredible offensively. He put up 26 goals and 45 assists (71 points) in 67 games played. For a defenseman, that is great. He is a complete defenseman, excelling in the transitional game with his elite skating and puck-handling abilities.

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Anticipated to be the fourth overall pick (and maybe even third overall by some draft analysts), he falls to fifth thanks to the Blackhawks taking Caufield.

The Kings could absolutely use Byram, as they have Drew Doughty, Dion Phaneuf and Alec Martinez all 29 years of age and up, and top end defensive prospect Sean Durzi, who is right handed. The defensive prospect in general is bare, but seeing that Byram does fill a need, this pick is a no-brainer. It’s also entirely possible he makes the team out of camp, but he’d need a strong camp to get a good look, and beat out Durzi, who has a higher chance due to being older, as well as Derek Forbort and Paul LaDue, both seasoned veterans. Odds are certainly stacked against him, but the talent is there, and it would not surprise me that much.

 

Next Year’s Role: Potential bottom pair minutes with power play time in Los Angeles, but likely will stay with Vancouver in the WHL until that season ends, and then join the Kings late in the season if needed. Most likely will get time with the Ontario Reign of the AHL after the WHL season concludes.

 

All stats via eliteprospects

Rankings inspired by the Puck77 crew

Puck77’s First Mock NHL Entry Draft – Results & Notes

We had our first Puck77 Mock NHL Entry Draft.

In our draft, we did the first three rounds of the upcoming NHL Draft and we had some outside help. CJ Turtoro of All About The Jersey (New Jersey Devils blog), Ryan Quigley  of Knights On Ice (Vegas Golden Knights blog), Tom Hunter of Mile High Hockey (Colorado Avalanche blog), Steven Ellis of The Hockey News, Jesse Marshall of The Athletic, James Reeve of SenShot (Ottawa Senators blog) and Tip Of The Tower, Josh Walfish of Daily Hampshire Gazette, Jeff Chapman of Copper and Blue (Edmonton Oilers blog) and Drew Stevenson (Puck Prose) joined us as “GMs”.

Below are the picks! Take a look at who your team selected.

First Round

  1. New Jersey Devils – Jack Hughes, Centre, USNTDP (CJ Turtoro)
  2. New York Rangers – Kaapo Kakko, Right Wing, TPS (Connor Criscuola)
  3. Chicago Blackhawks – Alex Turcotte, Centre, USNTDP (Matthew Spagnuolo)
  4. Colorado Avalanche (from Ottawa Senators) – Kirby Dach, Centre, Saskatoon (Tom Hunter)
  5. Los Angeles Kings – Bowen Byram, Defense, Vancouver (WallMaz)
  6. Detroit Red Wings – Trevor Zegras, Centre, USNTDP (Tony Ferrari)
  7. Buffalo Sabres – Cole Caufield, Right Wing, USNTDP (Jan Brentjens)
  8. Edmonton Oilers – Dylan Cozens, Right Wing, Lethbridge (Ryan Boonstra)
  9. Anaheim Ducks – Matthew Boldy, Left Wing, USNTDP (Jacob Lariviére)
  10. Vancouver Canucks – Thomas Harley, Defense, Mississauga (Cody Rusan)
  11. Philadelphia Flyers – Arthur Kaliyev, Left Wing, Hamilton (Spencer Teixeira)
  12. Minnesota Wild – Vasili Podkolzin, Right Wing, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (Olli Huotari)
  13. Florida Panthers – Victor Söderström, Defense, Brynas IF (Jacob Langsam)
  14. Arizona Coyotes – Alex Newhook, Centre, Victoria (James Reeve)
  15. Montreal Canadiens – Cam York, Defense, USNTDP (Gabriel Béland)
  16. Colorado Avalanche – Peyton Krebs, Centre/Left Wing, Kootenay (Tom Hunter)
  17. Vegas Golden Knights – Spencer Knight, Goaltender, USNTDP (Ryan Quigley)
  18. Dallas Stars – Bobby Brink, Right Wing, USNTDP (Josh Tessler)
  19. Ottawa Senators (from Columbus Blue Jackets) – Philip Broberg, Defense, AIK (Daniel Gagnon)
  20. New York Rangers (from Winnipeg Jets) – Pavel Dorofeyev, Left Wing/Right Wing, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk (Connor Criscuola)
  21. Pittsburgh Penguins – Ryan Suzuki, Centre, Barrie (Jesse Marshall)
  22. Los Angeles Kings (from Toronto Maple Leafs) – Nils Höglander, Left Wing, Rogle BK (WallMaz)
  23. New York Islanders – Brett Leason, Centre, Prince Albert (Jeff Chapman)
  24. Nashville Predators – Jakob Pelletier, Left Wing, Moncton (Steven Ellis)
  25. Washington Capitals – Philip Tomasino, Centre, Niagara (Drew Stevenson)
  26. Calgary Flames – Lassi Thomson, Defense, Kelowna (Alex Hobson)
  27. Tampa Bay Lightning – Raphaël Lavoie, Centre, Halifax (Kyle Pereira)
  28. Carolina Hurricanes – Samuel Poulin, Left Wing, Sherbrooke (Chris Bradley)
  29. St. Lous Blues – Moritz Seider, Defense, Adler Mannheim (Tony Ferrari)
  30. San Jose Sharks – Connor McMichael, Centre, London (Josh Walfish)
  31. Boston Bruins – Ville Heinola, Defense, Lukko (Josh Tessler)

Second Round

  1. Ottawa Senators – John Beecher, Centre, USNTDP (Daniel Gagnon)
  2. Los Angeles Kings – Brayden Tracey, Left Wing, Moose Jaw (WallMaz)
  3. New Jersey Devils – Matthew Robertson, Defense, Edmonton (CJ Turtoro)
  4. Detroit Red Wings – Albin Grewe, Right Wing/Left Wing, Djurgardens IF J20 (Tony Ferrari)
  5. Carolina Hurricanes (from Buffalo Sabres) – Nicholas Robertson, Left Wing, North Central Predators Mdgt AAA (Chris Bradley)
  6. Carolina Hurricanes (from New York Rangers) – Anttoni Honka, Defense, Jukurit (Chris Bradley)
  7. Edmonton Oilers – Egor Afanasyev, Left Wing, Muskegon (Ryan Boonstra)
  8. Anaheim Ducks – Nolan Foote, Left Wing, Kelowna (Jacob Lariviére)
  9. Vancouver Canucks – Ludvig Hedstrom, Defense, Djurgardens IF J20 (Cody Rusan)
  10. Philadelphia Flyers – Jackson LaCombe, Defense, Shattuck – St. Mary’s Prepatory – Minnesota (Spencer Teixeira)
  11. Minnesota Wild – Marshall Warren, Defense, USNTDP (Olli Huotari)
  12. Chicago Blackhawks – Mikko Kokkinen, Defense, Jukurit (Matthew Spagnuolo)
  13. Ottawa Senators – Kaeden Korczak, Defense, Kelowna (Daniel Gagnon)
  14. Arizona Coyotes – Jamieson Rees, Centre, Sarnia (James Reeve)
  15. Montreal Canadiens – Ilya Nikolayev, Centre, Loko-Yunior Yaroslavl (Gabriel Béland)
  16. Colorado Avalanche – Tobias Björnfot, Defense, Djurgardens IF J20 (Tom Hunter)
  17. Vegas Golden Knights – Jordan Spence, Defense, Moncton (Ryan Quigley)
  18. New York Rangers (from Dallas Stars) – Antti Tuomisto, Defense, Assat Jr. (Connor Criscuola)
  19. Montreal Canadiens (from Columbus Blue Jackets via Vegas Golden Knights) – Patrik Puistola, Right Wing, Tappara Jr. (Gabriel Béland)
  20. Winnipeg Jets – Henry Thrun, Defense, USNTDP (Justin Miner)
  21. Florida Panthers (from Pittsburgh Penguins) – Vladislav Firstov, Left Wing, Waterloo (Jacob Langsam)
  22. Toronto Maple Leafs – Vladislav Kolyachonok, Defense, Flint (Tyler Kuehl)
  23. Detroit Red Wings (from New York Islanders via Vegas Golden Knights) – Samuel Fagemo, Left Wing, Frolunda HC (Tony Ferrari)
  24. New Jersey Devils (from Nashville Predators) – Alex Beaucage, Right Wing, Rouyn-Noranda (Steven Ellis)
  25. Washington Capitals – Nathan Légaré, Right Wing, Baie-Comeau (Drew Stevenson)
  26. New York Islanders (from Calgary Flames) – William Constantinou, Defense, Kingston (Jeff Chapman)
  27. New York Rangers (from Tampa Bay Lightning) – Daniil Misyul, Defense, Lokomotiv Yaroslavl (Connor Criscuola)
  28. Carolina Hurricanes – Simon Holmström, Right Wing, HV71 (Chris Bradley)
  29. St. Louis Blues – Yegor Spiridonov, Center, Magnitogorsk 2 (Tony Ferrari)
  30. Detroit Red Wings (from San Jose Sharks) – Alex Vlasic, Defense, USNTDP (Tony Ferrari)
  31. New Jersey Devils (from Boston Bruins) – Ryan Johnson, Defense, Sioux Falls (CJ Turtoro)

Third Round

  1. Colorado Avalanche (from Ottawa Senators) – Adam Beckman, Center, Spokane (Tom Hunter)
  2. Los Angeles Kings – Robert Mastrosimone – Left Wing, Chicago (WallMaz)
  3. Philadelphia Flyers (from New Jersey Devils via Edmonton Oilers) – Alexander Campbell, Left Wing, Victoria (Spencer Teixeira)
  4. Detroit Red Wings – Tuukka Tieksola, Right Wing, Karpat Jr. (Tony Ferrari)
  5. Buffalo Sabres – Artemi Kniazev, Defense, Chicoutimi (Jan Brentjens)
  6. New York Rangers – Shane Pinto, Centre, Tri-City (Connor Criscuola)
  7. Florida Panthers (from Edmonton Oilers) – David Levin, Left Wing/Right Wing, Sudbury (Jacob Langsam)
  8. New Jersey Devils (from Anaheim Ducks) – Karl Henriksson, Center, Frolunda Jr. (CJ Turtoro)
  9. Vancouver Canucks – Albert Johansson, Defense, Farjestad Jr. (Cody Rusan)
  10. Philadelphia Flyers – Dustin Wolf, Goaltender, Everett (Spencer Teixeira)
  11. Minnesota Wild – Hunter Jones, Goaltender, Peterborough (Olli Huotari)
  12. Arizona Coyotes (from Chicago Blackhawks) – Nikita Alexandrov, Centre, Charlottetown (James Reeve)
  13. Nashville Predators (from Florida Panthers) – Colten Ellis, Goaltender, Rimouski (Steven Ellis)
  14. Arizona Coyotes – Blake Murray, Centre, Sudbury (James Reeve)
  15. Montreal Canadiens – John Farinacci, Centre, Dexter School – High School – Massachusetts (Gabriel Béland)
  16. Colorado Avalanche – Trent Miner, Goaltender, Vancouver Canucks (Tom Hunter)
  17. Vegas Golden Knights – Cole Mackay, Right Wing, Sault Ste. Marie (Ryan Quigley)
  18. New Jersey Devils (from Dallas Stars) – Mads Søgaard, Goaltender, Medicine Hat (CJ Turtoro)
  19. Columbus Blue Jackets – Kirill Slepets, Right Wing, Yaroslavl 2 (Macalem Henley)
  20. Vegas Golden Knights (from Winnipeg Jets) – Drew Helleson, Defense, USNTDP (Ryan Quigley)
  21. Ottawa Senators (from Pittsburgh Penguins via Vegas Golden Knights) – Graeme Clarke, Right Wing, Ottawa (Daniel Gagnon)
  22. Toronto Maple Leafs – Martin Has, Defense, Tappara Jr. (Tyler Kuehl)
  23. Edmonton Oilers (from New York Islanders) – Hugo Alnefelt, Goaltender, HV 71 Jr. (Ryan Boonstra)
  24. Vegas Golden Knights (from Nashville Predators) – Leevi Aaltonen, Right Wing, Kalpa Jr. (Ryan Quigley)
  25. Los Angeles Kings (from Washington Capitals) – Michal Teply, Left Wing, Benatky N.J. (WallMaz)
  26. Calgary Flames – Nikita Okhotyuk, Defense, Ottawa (Alex Hobson)
  27. Tampa Bay Lightning – Maxim Cajkovic, Right Wing, Saint John (Kyle Pereira)
  28. Carolina Hurricanes – Pyotr Kochetkov, Goaltender, Ryazan (Chris Bradley)
  29. St. Louis Blues – Domenik Fensore, Defense, USNTDP (Tony Ferrari)
  30. San Jose Sharks – Zachary Jones, Defense, Tri-City (Josh Walfish)
  31. Boston Bruins – Bryce Brodzinski, Right Wing, Blaine High School – Minnesota (Josh Tessler)

Notes From Several Of The GMs

In addition, several of the GMs submitted notes/commentary about their draft selections. Check out their notes.

Detroit Red Wings – Tony Ferrari

Detroit’s draft class from the first three round is a high upside masterpiece. With top selection Trevor Zegras being the premier playmaker in the draft, at least on par with Jack Hughes in that department, the Wings add a player that has a different element than anyone else in the system. Zegras is an elite playmaker unlike anyone else is their system. With Grewe and Fagemo, Detroit adds two wingers with good 200-foot games and high offensive upside. Both forwards have been projected as high as the first round so getting them where they went was a steal. Grewe is a bit undersized but doesn’t play like it. He attacks the puck carrier and drives to the net when he has it. A bit of a bulldog mentality. Fagemo is a speed machine and the fact that he’s an overager shouldn’t matter, he should have been drafted last year. His speed will carry him and his good hands will allow his offensive ability to show. Detroit finally gets some help on defence with the selection of Alex Vlasic out of the USNTDP. He’s an intriguing prospect with the size scouts covet and decent skating ability. He isn’t overly offensive but he’s not a black hole offensively. He has a lot to improve by the raw skills are there. Tuukka Tieksola is a player that many see as a player who could tune into something special down the line. He is a playmaker who is highly skilled. A third round selection that could be reminiscent mid-late round picks of Red Wings selections of years gone by.

Philadelphia Flyers – Spencer Teixeira

Arthur Kaliyev

Comparison – Zach Parise
Strong scoring presence, provides dynamic offensive tendencies (ie he’s not afraid to go anywhere in the offensive zone)

Jackson LaCombe

Comparison – Brent Burns
Speedy Dman with great offensive skills. Is a little inconsistent and playing at a high school
Level may have boosted his stats. All around great offensive player. (Boom/Bust pick, think Ryan Merkley or PK Subban)

Alexander Campbell

Comparison – Johnny Gaudreau
Extremely speedy centre with great hands, played with Alex Newhook in the BCHL. Defense is lacking

Dustin Wolf

Comparison – Frederik Andersen
One of the youngest players in the draft, Wolf has been a big contributor to Everett’s recent success. A goalie of fair size, Wolf is very calm in the net and isn’t shaken very often (from my understanding). (Warning: could be like Jack Campbell and take longer than expected to reach his potential)

Tampa Bay Lightning – Kyle Pereira

Raphaël Lavoie adds size to a relatively small forward core. With the likes of Alex Barre Boulet among other forward prospects likely to make the jump due to several depth forwards likely on their way out in free agency, they must add into their forward prospect pool.

Lavoie is also versatile, something that many teams covet, as he can play all three forward positions. It’s also a good thing that he has improved so quickly in his defensive zone work, making him a near complete player

Of the remaining players I looked into, Cajkovic had the most upside and was one of the more well rounded players. Once my pick rolled around, he was the BPA, and I could not pass up that kind of pick.

Arizona Coyotes – James Reeve

The Arizona Coyotes need to stock up on goalscoring forwards in this year’s draft. Rick Tocchet‘s team is build around one of the strongest defensive corps in the league and there are still a number of intriguing D prospects in the system. The offensive side of the ice, however, is somewhat lacking – particularly in front of the net. Newhook is a slam-dunk future NHLer that will continue his development in college – something the Yotes will have no issues with. Jamieson Rees is an underrated forward that fits the mould of the Coyotes, with GM John Chayka often taking a gamble on players he believes will develop further down the line. Blake Murray is arguably the biggest dark horse of the entire draft this year, with a penchant for goalscoring (30 in 50 games for Sudbury) but somewhat inconsistent play. If he can play consistently, something that will come with coaching, then he could easily be a steal in the third round.

Washington Capitals – Drew Stevenson

Caps draft selection thing: After several of restocking the blue-line cupboard, the Capitals now need to get game changers at forward. Philip Tomasino is not only one of the most prolific goal scorers in the draft, he’s also one of the youngest.

New York Rangers – Connor Criscuola

Kaapo Kakko was the consensus number two for the past year, and with his play at World Championship has brought himself into the discussion for #1. He’s only 18, but has dominated amongst men in the Liiga and now at the worlds.

San Jose Sharks – Josh Walfish

As the core of the Sharks gets older, no position group has more NHL experience than the centers. Looking to fortify that position for the future, San Jose was hopeful to use the depth at center in this draft to its advantage, and did so with Connor McMichael pick in the first round.

Two rounds later, the Sharks go back to a well that has been kind to it in the past and secures the rights to UMass commit Zac Jones. The Sharks had two prospects on last year’s team and watched how the Minutemen let their top-four defensemen bloom this season in their own way. They commit to the long-term project with the USHL’s Rookie of the Year and how much he can grow under Greg Carvel and Ben Barr in Amherst, Mass.

Carolina Hurricanes – Chris Bradley

Samuel Poulin, LW
Good size and physically ready for the pro game. Excellent bloodlines, son of ex-NHLer Patrick Poulin.
Excellent leadership abilities and a future power play specialist.
NHL comparison: Vladimir Tarasenko

Nicholas Robertson C/LW
Though still very early in the learning curve, has tremondous upside as a top-six NHL forward.
Small in stature, will need to add mass to his 5’9″ frame.
Very quick and agile, not many possess his first-step break. Patience is a must when developing Robertson.
NHL comparison: Yanni Gourde

Antonni Honka, D
Super-skilled with the puck. Wonderful skater and puck handler.
Future power play quarterback. Doesnt let his lack of size keep him from standing up opponents at the blueline.
NHL comparison: Jake Gardiner

Simon Holmstrom, LW
Sneaky-fast skater and very shifty. Injuries have held him back, but no denying his top-six line potential.
Has high-end offensive mindset, can improvise on the fly with the best of them.
NHL comparison: Jonathan Huberdeau

Pyotr Kochetkov, G
Surprisingly nimble given his stature (6’3″ 208lbs.).
Cool and poised under pressure, really found his game this year after being passed over the previous two NHL drafts
NHL comparison: Frederik Andersen

Dallas Stars – Josh Tessler

Even though the Stars only had one pick in the first three rounds, Bobby Brink is a great addition to their farm system. Great two-way forward and he’s great goal scorer. He’s a University of Denver commit and we’ll likely see some time on the USNTDP squad next season.

Boston Bruins – Josh Tessler

The Boston Bruins love drafting European defensemen, so I had to give them another. Ville Heinola is great puck-moving defenseman and will be a great fit for the Bruins down the road. 

In addition, Bryce Brodzinski is a solid late third round selection. He’s a big body forward, who can play at centre and right wing. Brodzinski had an excellent season for Blaine High School and is a University of Minnesota commit.