FanPost

Brassmaster: Final Top 120 for the 2020 NHL Draft

Have a lot of time and are bored during this Memorial Day weekend? Well do I have a post for you!

I have a gut feeling that in the next week or two we're going to get an official announcement from the NHL about the 24 team tournament and the draft and every draft expert is going to drop their final rankings for the 2020 NHL Draft soon after. Alas, here is mine.

This is a LONG post, meant to give you a quick snapshot of the prospect and then after the top 5 prospects usually one other piece of information whether it is a tweet/highlight, link to a scouting report I thought was good, or a video from Draft Dynasty or Scouching where they break down the players on film (which will be in the players name after the top 10)

If you're not looking to read an entire article of this length, here is the link for the rankings: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/e/2PACX-1vRDcT9ui4fmMDyrt7nbcdsGYyO6zRcXBA88h1A7TeYfCEqtkTCEMCmFAbTUB-tvH6e7JvPYyYmwCq2r/pubhtml?gid=743346169&single=true

Previously I ordered it by preference for the Sabres, but this Ranking is my own rankings in a vacuum. I'm sure if we took Emil Andrae at 38 people would riot on this message board as we took yet another LHD...but if you're asking me to draft BPA I'd be hard pressed to pass on him.

Before we get into the picks I have two quick statements:

Quality of the 2020 draft vs. 2019

There will be a lot of talk about this and here's my two cents: The top 12 I ranked this year are much better than the top 12 last year. However, from Zary-Bourque is about the same level of talent as the midround last year. Where I love this draft is that I felt good about 48 prospects last year...I feel good about 79 this year. Not saying they're guaranteed NHL players...but rather I like their upside a lot. The depth through the late 3rd round is going to be unreal. Trading back in the second round (assuming no one falls that shouldn't) and getting a 3rd would be ideal. The defensemen in this draft are pretty weak in comparison to 2019, but there are some interesting players out there.

What Has changed in my process from last year to this year

I'm still strapped for time having a full time job but this year I did a lot more in Tableau in bringing over data that I usually just relied on other draft people to input. I always go back to Slovic's horse gambling study with my prospect evaluation: if the data is significant keep it otherwise ignore all the outside noise. We all know prospect evaluation is about contextualizing the player. Where they play, when they were born, the role they filled on the team, the quality of their teammates, ect. Every player listed below has faults both qualitatively and quantitatively. Things I tracked this year outside of total points and NHLe:

1.) Primary Points

2.) Even Strength points

3.) Involvement rate (total points divided by team total goals)...split into total and primary

Let's get this thing started:

Tier I: The #1 pick

1.) Alexis Lafreniere, LW, QMJHL. Born: 10/11/01.

6'1. 191lbs

52gp. 35g. 112 points.

Detailed scouting reports: https://twitter.com/Dylan_Griffing/status/1241781540180410379?s=20

I feel like this kid has been in my life for 10 years. His playmaking ability is the top in this class. He has made the CHL and u20s look like kids play to him this year. He's not the fastest skater, but he's strong on his skates and his edge-work is sublime. Even for the Sabres who are desperate for a 2C...I'd still take Lafreniere at #1 if we won the lottery.

Tier II: The #2 pick that won't change

2.) Quinton Byfield, C, OHL. Born: 8/19/02.

6'4. 214lbs

45g, 32g, 82pts.

Detailed scouting reports: video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShlawnEJjMU&feature=youtu.be

https://twitter.com/DraftLook/status/1234192443119034368?s=20

https://dobberprospects.com/player/quinton-byfield/

He's 6'4, he's so fast he's a blur sometimes when he comes onto the screen He's stride is powerful, silky smooth hands, and a great finisher at that. He's also 10 months younger than Lafreniere, plays a premium position, and is a much, much faster skater. Whoever takes Byfield will be set down the middle for a long time to come. There is an argument to be made that 10 years from now Byfield is the best player to come out of this draft. His ceiling is that high.

Some of my favorite highlights:

Tier III: Who I hope the Sabres select at #7

3.) Marco Rossi, C, OHL. Born: 9/23/01

5'9, 179lbs.

56gp, 39g, 120pts.

Outside draft reports: video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_x28te_hPA

https://thehockeywriters.com/marco-rossi-2020-nhl-draft-prospect-profile/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+TheHockeyWriters+%28The+Hockey+Writers%29

https://dobberprospects.com/player/marco-rossi/

Rossi has been my favorite draft prospect since I started digging into this class last July. He's undersized at 5'9, but he has every trait you'd want out of a center. Plays in all situations including the PK, great skater, probably the best hands in the class, and makes plays that make your jaw drop. He's dogged in his own zone and have said for a long time that I think he's going to stick at center in the NHL level. I love who I have at #4...but Rossi has forced his way into being the 3rd best prospect in this class.

Why #3: At the end of the day Rossi doesn't have a single fault in his game, is a true center, and his production rate is damn impressive. I think Raymond does the little things better, and I think Stutzle has the wheels, but at the end of the day give me a player who is dogged in his approach in the defensive zone and is one of the most dynamic offensive players in this draft.

Highlights:

4.) Lucas Raymond, W, SHL: Born: 3/28/02

5'10, 165lbs.

33gm, 4g, 10pts.

Video Scouting reports: Scouching: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RwUfrCNmAGM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=glnp2CK1FBM

Other scouting reports: https://dobberprospects.com/player/lucas-raymond/

https://twitter.com/DraftLook/status/1234192447409754112?s=20

https://twitter.com/ManUtdTobbe/status/1231240097145794567?s=20

Usage be damned. Raymond has the BEST hockey sense in this entire draft class and I will not relent on that opinion. Combine that with his elite hands and the only prospect that I'd rate higher in hockey sense, and it's only slightly higher, is Lafreniere. He's a bit undersized and is skating is good albeit not great...certainly average at worst and I'd say it's slightly above average. He's buried as a 13th forward in the SHL this year and thus hasn't gotten the attention he should going into this year. He's going to make whatever line you put him on better, and the u18s should be his coming out party in the 2019-20 season.

Why #4: I don't think anyone's draft stock in the top 10 could have used the u18s more than Raymond. We're a year removed from him scoring a hat trick in the gold medal game to beat the, up to that point in the tournament, brick wall that was Askarov. Did I also mention he was in his D-1 year? If this kid played in the CHL he'd be the #2 or #3 pick in this draft. He is eons beyond most players in the CHL in terms of hockey smarts. Very quick first step and agility, not great top end speed, but he's going to be a huge reason why any team wins with him on the ice.

Highlights:

5.) Tim Stutzle, C/W, DEL. Born: 1/15/02

6'0. 187lbs.

41gp, 7g, 34pts.

Outside scouting reports: https://puckprose.com/2020/01/27/2020-nhl-draft-prospect-profile-tim-stutzle-scouting-report/

https://theprospectnetwork.ca/2019/11/06/2020-nhl-draft-profile-tim-stutzle/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OMdGCtpMr4

There's a lot to like in Stutzle's game. A fantastic skater, and makes plays at that pace. He plays top line minutes and plays on the power play in the top men's league in Germany. He has also shown well internationally, and has produced at all levels the past year. He projects at either center or wing, but has played winger the past year in the DEL.

Why #5: This year's Alex Turcotte award goes to Tim Stutzle. I say that because all the secondary reading and data analysis makes me want to put him ahead of Raymond, but I just can't do it. Stutzle is electrifying on the ice, and is going to be special in the NHL. I think it's a toss up between him and Raymond after digging deeper into the other data points the last few weeks, but I'll stick to my guns for now.

6.) Jamie Drysdale, RHD, OHL. Born: 4/8/02

5'11. 170lbs

49gp, 9g, 47pts

He's one of the best offensive defensemen I've watched in juniors outside of Makar and Dahlin. His four-way skating is suburb and his ability to jump up in a rush and man the PP are elite. He was brought on for the u20s as a 7th defender and I thought he played really well and not out of place even though hes a bit on the smaller side. If we land in the top 10 and took Drysdale I know we'd all be upset about not taking a forward...but Drysdale is legit.

If we take a defensemen in the first two rounds I pray it's Drysdale. I love him as a player, but our gluttony of NHL RHD plus our lack of forward depth in the pipeline make him a long shot in reality for the Sabres to draft him. He is so smooth with the puck, and coupled with Dahlin, would give us a back-end that would be fun to watch in the coming years.

Tier IV: High upside, minor concerns

7.) Alexander Holtz, W, SHL. Born: 1/23/02

6'0. 183lbs

35gp, 9g, 16pts

Holtz has often been the benefactor of Raymond's wizardry during international tournaments in the past, but this year he's really shown that he's more than a sniper. He has above average wheels and I'm impressed with his ability to generate chances for his teammates. His ability to shoot would put him within the top 15 prospects, but his hockey sense and his developed playmaking ability has him firmly in the top end of this class.

For the Sabres my main concern about Holtz is an underlying concern about where he likes to shoot from. He has relied on his shot beating goalies from distances that NHL goalies don't typically get beat from. . However...he is a more complete player than this time last year and his willingness to go to dirty areas for goals this year plus his skating and vision upside make him a quality candidate for #7 slot.

8.) Cole Perfetti, C/LW, OHL. Born: 1/1/02

5'10. 185lbs

61gp, 37g, 111pts

Cole Perfetti started the first 20 odd games shooting the puck at about an 8% clip...well below his >20% he had been averaging. It led him to have something like 6 goals in the first 20 games. He's since caught fire and sits on a 40 goal pace and is already over 100 points. I love Perfetti and would have no reservations taking him, however being 5'10 and with average at best skating ability I do see the comparisons with Reinhart. However, I do think Cole has a great shot (unlike Reinhart in his draft year) and his brain in the zone is top end.

Perfetti rounds out my favorite three prospects going into this year (Rossi, Drysdale, and him) that I felt like I would be more infatuated with than the mainstream. All 3 have had production that have moved them into the 3-10 range and solidified them there. Perfetti remains the enigma though. His two step quickness is going to be questioned for the next 3 months leading up to the draft. He's not a quick paced player...however his brain and skillset allow for such an upside that I'd bet on the player to be a more lethal Reinhart.

9.) Anton Lundell, C, Liiga. Born: 10/3/01

6'1. 183 lbs.

44gp, 10g, 28pts

Lundell doesn't have a game-breaking trait to his game that the first eight prospects have. However, Lundell does nothing but put up numbers in a competitive league while playing a big role as a centerman during his draft eligible season. He controls the puck with his body, his shot is good, and he makes the right play almost every time. It's not flashy, but it's certainly effective. For me, he projects as a 2C who can put up 55-60 points a year while also being the best defensive center on the team.

He is the quintessential 'safe' prospect. A center who will, at worst, slot into your bottom six as a defensive forward. He was top 3 in the entire Liiga in CF% and his positioning and off the puck defensive ability is already NHL ready. You're betting on offensive upside with Lundell...and that is the point of debate about where he slots on people's draft rankings. He's not flashy, he's not a great skater, and his points seem to come out of positioning and hockey sense rather than raw skill. I'm an eye test prospect evaluator at heart, but for two years straight he's been one of the best 5 prospects EVER in point production for his age in the Liiga. It's not a sexy pick, but it'd be a smart pick if the #s 1-6 aren't available to take Lundell.

10.) Noel Gunler, W, SHL. Born: 10/7/01

6'2. 174lbs

45gp, 4g, 13pts

A divisive prospect to say the least. His naysayers will talk about that he is one dimensional and that he isn't engaged off the puck. However, I see the upside of Gunler. He is an above average skater with great hands and has shown he can be a playmaker in the SHL. His shot is just as good as Holtz/Quinn's and he will go to the dirty areas of the ice to get a goal. He's definitely the one player I wanted to see play in the u18s as he has been kept away from international play so far.

If there's one thing you should know about me as a prospect person: I bet on upside. I introduce you to this year's Kaliyev. His offensive upside is on par or better than everyone after Byfield...but he's not a consistent player. He's very engaged in puck battles in the offensive end but gives up the blue line when the puck is coming back at him way too much. Scouching's video does a wonderful break down of his game. I agree with Scouch on Gunler: I bet on the offensive talent and that the rest can be coached.

11.) Yaroslav Askarov, G, VHL. Born: 6/16/02

6'3. 176lbs.

18gp, .920 SVS%

Playing in the second highest league in Russia as an 18 year old and with a .920 SV%? Put Russia on his back for the u18s last year and the Hlinka this summer? He checks off 99/100 boxes for the next elite goaltending prospect. Perhaps the only blemish on his record is his u20 WJC performance.

Tier V: Where the draft rankings are going to be all over the place

12.) Connor Zary, C, WHL. Born: 9/25/01

6'0. 181lbs

57gp, 38g, 86pts

He's a strong two centerman who has looked good since my first real viewing of him in the u18s last year for Canada when he was the best player on Canada's most consistent line of Rees-Zary-Tracey. He plays a solid two way game, above average hockey sense and pro ready playmaking ability. However, his skating isn't above average so he doesn't play with much pace.

My biggest concern with Zary is that he hasn't had the giant leap in production despite being one of the oldest draft eligible prospects in the draft (for reference: Nic Robertson and Zary are two weeks apart in age). Still...his production metrics are really good. He's a two way player, and though he lacks top end speed I do think he has very good 2-3 step agility to beat defenders.

13.) Jan Mysak, LW, OHL. Born: 6/24/02

6'0, 176lbs

22gp, 15g, 25pts

He's on a 50 goal pace since coming over from the Czech. In the Czech he had similar production and underlying numbers as Martin Necas. He's a big body, north-south skater who has a tremendous ability to put the puck in the back of the net. While he gets criticism for not having a game breaking trait and that his assists numbers have never materialized...I love the player and think that hes one of the best bets outside of the top 11 to be a gamebreaker for a team.

14.) Rodion Amirov, LW, KHL. Born: 10/2/01

6'0, 168lbs.

21gp, 0g, 2pts

Plays a great North-South game with great space, also has great hands and a good wrist shot. It's been hard to judge him recently as he's playing minimal minutes in the KHL, but he is a top player in the MHL and showed well in the VHL as well.

15.) Seth Jarvis, RW, WHL. Born: 2/1/02

5'10, 172lbs.

58gp, 42g, 98pts

Let's first start with what I saw in my eye test early in the season and recently: he's a great skater but I wouldn't say he's got elite speed, but he's certainly in the top 15-20% of skaters in this draft. Really nice hands and can stick-handle really well. His vision is good, but I wouldn't say he's an elite playmaker. He does much better on the rush with his playmaking than in the cycle. His wrist shot is very good. He was around the mid-30s to start the year and I jumped him up 10 spots to 25 in December. He's currently 2nd in the WHL in scoring. He doesn't have a teammate that is close to him in points, and he is among the top producers even strength and in NHLe as well. This is arguable the lowest I'll have him the rest of the way...and depending on how the rest of the year plays out I could see him at the #10 spot when it's all said and done. Last thing I'll say:

First 22GP: 10g, 24pts, 68 SOG

Last 33GP: 30g, 67pts, 138 SOG

I at least feel better that I caught him in the beginning of the season when he looked like a Bordeleau, and while I believe the back half of this season isn't 100% indicative of the player Jarvis will be production model wise...I do believe that he should at least be in the conversation with Zary, Amirov, and Mysak for the next tier of player.

16.) Jacob Perreault, C, OHL. Born: 4/15/02

5'11, 198lbs

57gp, 39g, 70pts

In terms of both slap shot and wrist shot; Perreault has one of the best shots in this class. He is going to be a force to be reckon with on the powerplay in the next level. He's progressed considerably as a passer and has shown a willingness to enter the zone through a pass rather than trying to bring it in himself every time. I think he projects more as a RW than a center at the NHL level, but his offensive potential cannot be denied and if his skating can improve just a tad he'll be a dynamic force in the NHL.

17.) Dylan Holloway, F, NCAA. Born: 9/23/01

6'0, 192lbs

35gp, 8g, 17pts

I came into the year seeing William Nylander. He has great speed and I really like his playmaking ability. He's big bodied and can play a bit of a physical game now and as he grows into this body he'll be able to throw his weight around. He's played mostly third line minutes on a stacked Wisconsin team and sees little PP time at the moment, however I do believe that if you bet on the talent and the fact he was a bit overmatched playing in the NCAA during his draft eligible year then I see a second line forward.

18.) Dawson Mercer, RW, QMJHL. Born: 10/27/01

6'0, 179lbs

42gp, 24g, 60pts

Great motor, good size, and very good skill. Always competes for the puck and is very good off the puck as well. His skating and lack of elite skillset have me a bit down on him compared to other ranking sites, and his production post-trade has been a bit down. Hopefully his wrist injury doesn't hinder the rest of his season as he has had a great draft season.

His 2-3 step agility has vastly improved over my initial viewings of him earlier this year. Still not great...but definitely at a level that will allow him to play his current game at the NHL level.

19.) Hendrix Lapierre, C, QMJHL. Born: 2/9/02

6'0, 181lbs

19gp, 2g, 17pts

It's sad to say but concussions and vertebrae issues have really derailed Lapierre's season. After an electric start to the season in the Hlinka he was in a serious scoring drought but still putting up numbers until he suffered (what I believe) his third concussion in 18th months. He has excellent vision, is a bit of a perimeter player though, and is a good skater. His health exams and if he comes back to play at all will be the talk of the draft when it comes to Lapierre. When he was healthy I thought he reminded me a lot of Zegras last year: a PP puck-dominant centerman who you wish looked for himself more but made his linemates better.

20.) Zion Nybeck, RW, SuperElit. Born: 5/12/02

5'8, 176lbs

42gp, 27g, 66pts

God I love this kid. He's just 5'8 but he plays with tremendous speed, was the leading scorer in the SuperElit before being called up to the SHL. Plays in all areas of the ice, can both distribute and finish. Will play bigger than he is and will battle in the corners and get his butt back on the backcheck.

He is the player I think gets undervalued the most in the national media, but I think will be one of the most impactful players in the NHL that comes out of the later half of the first round or second round.

21.) Jack Quinn, RW, OHL. Born: 9/19/01

5'11, 176lbs

62gp, 52g, 89pts

I really wanted to give all of the credit for his season to Rossi, but alas, Jack has earned his way into the top 21 of this draft. His shot is borderline elite, but he also plays a very cerebral game and has slightly above average skating ability.

22.) Mavrik Bourque, C, QMJHL. Born: 1/8/02

5'10, 165lbs

49gp, 29g, 71pts

Skating is where Bourque is going to get nicked in the draft process, because otherwise I think it's one of the best packages when it comes to his skillset. He's one of the handful of prospects that have a 'wow' factor in his game, and he makes plays that few others can make in this draft. I have him here because as a center he isn't defensively responsible enough for it to translate to the next level combined with his average/slightly above average skating probably projects him to the wing. He has a deadly wrist shot as well. He's someone who could move up the draft board.

23.) Emil Andrae, LHD, SuperElit. Born: 2/23/02

5'10, 183lbs

40gp, 11g, 38pts

To me he should be the second defensemen taken off the board at the draft despite being 5'9. However he doesn't play like his height and will play a very aggressive, physical game that reminds me of Boston's Torrey Krug when it comes to his Krug Missles. He's an offensive stalwart and his ability to make plays should lend him to the PP unit in the NHL. He's extremely shifty in the offensive zone, and would be in the contention with Sanderson and Schneider for the 2nd best defensive prospect in this class if he had a bit more gap closing speed.

24.) Jake Sanderson, LHD, USNTDP. Born: 7/8/02

6'1, 185 lbs.

36gp, 4g, 17pts

When he started the year he was touted as a late first round pick and was in the conversation as the one of the best value draft picks in 2020. Following an offensive surge during 5 Nations and the American Prospect game his name has been touted as a player slotted to go into the 7-15 range. He's a very good skater and defender whose limitations have always been whether or not he was going to be an offensive threat. I'd gamble on it in the late first round with his late birthday and second half offensive game really shining through, but I'm not convinced that his production uptick was caused by an improvement in skills or situation.

Tier VI: Late First round-Early 2nd round picks

25.) Marat Khusnutdinov, C, MHL. Born: 7/17/02

5'9, 165lbs

44gp, 13g, 38pts

Last year I didn't put Nic Robertson where I thought he should be because I would've been such an outlier. I'm going to put my money where my mouth is with Marat. He's super quick, one of the best playmakers in the MHL, and his production would be eons higher if he wasn't on a stacked team and playing 3rd line minutes. He plays all situations. I really don't see any faults in his game besides his size, and honestly he's so quick footed and quick-minded that he's going to be super slippery in the North American game. Give me all of the stock on Marat at #38 if Zion isn't available.

26.) Lukas Reichel, W, DEL. Born: 5/17/02

6'0, 172lbs

42gp, 12g, 24pts

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9P8hNsU9qbM

Shifty, good speed, and great sitckhandling is how I'd describe Reichel. He plays a more creative game than the next DEL prospect on the list. My biggest concern is that he isn't asked to be a line driver on any team he's played on in the DEL or in International play. If he can prove that he's not just a good cog in the machine and can drive a line then I think he'd move up considerably in these rankings.

Watch Scouching's video of him above. He knows where he needs to be to score and knows where the puck needs to go to generate scoring chances. Put that with his ability to create and I see a player with a lot of upside who could be available in the second round.


27.) JJ Peterka, W, DEL. Born: 1/14/02

5'11, 192lbs

42gp, 7g, 11pts

If he were the same size as Amirov and Mysak I think I'd feel more comfortable putting him up in the rankings but he's a bit undersized for the type of game he plays. He showed well when given the opportunity to play up in the lineup int he u20s and is playing a bottom 6 role for the best team in the DEL this season.

28.) Thomas Bordeleau, C, USNTDP. Born: 1/3/02

5'9, 179lbs.

47gp, 16g, 46pts

Super skilled forward for the USNTDP player this year who has the ability to make things happen for himself and for others. He's only 5'9 and isn't super fast but he's still a good skater. He hasn't blown the roof off production wise which is a bit concerning, however he was the line driver in the 5 nations tournament for the US on their most productive forward line.

29.) Martin Chromiak, LW, OHL. Born: 8/20/02

6'0, 181lbs

28gp, 11g, 33pts

When the season started I was startled to learn that Chromiak was not a first round candidate but rather one that was being considered in the 3rd or 4th round. As I discussed in a previous post...I believe a lot of that is due to him developing in an obscure Slovakian league and thus being subjected to just international viewings. Since coming over to NA and playing alongside 2022 phenom Shane Write...Chromiak has become a lot more mainstream. He has an insane hockey IQ, is a fantastic playmaker, and is an above average skater. He is somewone who will make his linemates better while also being able to play a two way game. He's, again, one of the youngest players in the draft class and thus his development curve should be given a bit more longevity in terms of what he'll be able to accomplish next year in the OHL. A fantastic pick for #38 for the Sabres, and also a prospect who will be able to develop right next to one of the next great NHL players in Shane Wright.

30.) Roni Hirvonen, C, Liiga. Born: 1/10/02

5'9, 163lbs

52gp, 5g, 16pts

People are sleeping on Hirvonen and that's perfectly fine...the better the chance for us to scoop him up! Similar to Raymond: usage be damned. When he's given the chance to play up in the lineup like in mid-February he looks fantastic for Assat. When he's asked to play in the lower 6 he can be buried with the lack of linemates to help. However, he's spent the majority of the season bouncing around the lineup. He was one of the top scorers in the u18 5 nations tournament, he's a very good skater with excellent vision. Could play center but will most likely be a LW in the NHL. He's short and thin at 5'9, 160ish pounds but I'm a big fan

31.) Lukas Cormier, LHD, QMJHL. Born: 3/27/02

5'10, 170lbs

44gp, 6g, 36pts

This is the guy I'd bet on falling to us in the second round from this tier. I love the player. He's such a fluid skater and his ability to run a PP is mesmerizing. He walks the blueline better than any prospect in this class outside of Drysdale. He moves into high danger areas which allows him to get better angles on his passes and decreases the distances of most of his shots (improving xGF% from a previous post I shared...). He transitions very well. The biggest knock on him will be what he measures at the combine. If he is 5'10 like EliteProspects says then he'll stay here. If he's shorter than 5'10 I'm going to drop him right above Emil Andrae...and if he's 5'8 or shorter he'll fall into the second round as there hasn't been any track record of a 5'8 defender having success in the NHL.

32.) Ryan O'Rourke, LHD, OHL. Born: 5/16/02

6'2, 181 lbs.

54gp, 7g, 37pts

If you're looking to draft a Jake Sanderson archetype but don't want to spend the draft capital of a lottery pick, then might i introduce you to Mr. O'Rourke. Watching him play he's good at about all facets of the game and he is exceptional in his decision making. He isn't blazing fast, nor does he have PP upside in his game at the moment, but he does play a minutes-eating role and is very sound in his own zone. I don't usually bring in qualitative aspects of a player since I am not privy to interviews with his coaches or with his teammates, but I would say that the media spotlights on him have him as a very high character leader.

Tony and I share a lot of the same thoughts about him through his player profile of O'Rourke you can find here.

33.) Tyson Foerster, C, OHL. Born: 1/18/02

6'1, 194lbs

62gp, 36g, 80pts

Has a shot that rivals the best in the class, has great hockey sense, and can make fantastic plays with his hands as well. But he is not a good skater. He plays at a slower pace than anyone in the top 35 and when the skating is only going to pick up it's going to be tough to project him to keep his same production. However, he is by far and away the leading scorer on Barrie and does pop off the screen when you watch them play. He's probably going to slip in the draft due to the skating concern, but if it ever improves you've just won the lottery.

34.) Roby Jarventie, LW, Mestis. Born: 8/8/02

6'2, 185lbs

36gp, 23g, 38pts

He's one of the most productive draft eligible prospects to ever come out of the Mestis. He's super young for this draft class, has above average wheels and is a player that makes his living in front of the net and capitalizing off his linemates. There are two concerns with his game: 1.) He benefited from playing with one of the best playmakers in the Mestis this past year and 2.) His ability to create on his own and for others was not a strength in neither the Mestis nor International play.

Bet on upside and that the fact he was playing in essentially the Liiga AHL caused him to adapt a role to suit himself.

35.) William Wallinder, LHD, SuperElit. Born: 7/28/02

6'4, 192lbs

37gp, 5g, 24pts

There are times the 6'4 LHD looks like he could be a top 15 pick. There are times where I think he shouldn't be considered until the late second round. For me, the hockey sense of Wallinder is the biggest question going into the draft. He has all the physical tools you'd want to see out of a draft prospect. He can make the laziest of all lazy plays in the defensive zone and then shut down the top line of a team all by himself in the next game. He's got good offensive skillset, can skate at an above average rate, and when he's on is a very good defender in the zone. The inconsistency is going to drive people bonkers on where to put him though.

36.) Topi Niemela, RHD, Liiga. Born: 3/25/02

6'0, 163lbs

43gp, 1g, 7pts

Fantastic skater and a very physical defender. He's shown a bit more in the offensive zone this year as well and is playing top 6 minutes in the Liiga all year. The reason why he gets the bump up is that he's a great transition player both passing and skating the puck out of the zone...which to me makes him like a smaller but more effective Risto. If he gets to play in the u18s he's one to certainly watch as we'll get to see how much of an impact he can make against other draft eligibles.

37.) Daniil Guschin, RW, USHL. Born: 2/6/02

5'8, 161lbs

42gp, 22g, 47pts

Talk about excitement when a player has the puck on his stick. He is a blazer and is one of the few players whose speed makes up for his height. A dynamic playmaker he's very good at creating for his teammates and his point production in the USHL represents this fact. However, his hockey sense...especially in the defensive zone...needs a lot of work. He reminds me of the player who has the RAPM chart which looks great in xGF but bleeds just as much in xGA. If he can be coached to be a better defensive player (and as a winger I believe it is much MUCH easier to do than a center) than he's worth the pick for #38.

38.) Brandan Brisson, C, USHL. Born: 10/22/01

5'11, 179lbs

45gp, 24g, 59pts

Dynamic skater, amazing playmaker, and excels in the transition game...Brisson emerged this year with a dynamic season both in point production and in international play. He was a standout in the WJAC A challenge and I agree with Cam below...I have a hard time not moving up in the rankings every time I go back and watch him play. Put him on the left circle of the powerplay and watch him create havoc.

39.) Brett Berard, F, USNTDP. Born: 9/9/02

5'9, 152lbs

41gp, 16g, 34pts.

If he wasn't SO undersized I'd have him much higher on this board. He's arguably the second best forward prospect coming out of the USNTDP this year. However, he has a ton of skill, is a very elusive skater, and is just days away from being eligible for the 2021 draft.

40.) Kasper Simontaival, W, JR-Liiga. Born: 1/11/02

5'9, 172lbs

48gp, 25g, 57pts

I would say he's my biggest boom/bust pick in the first 35 players I've ranked. If he hits then I think he can be a 60+ point winger in the NHL...but there is also a really low floor. To me he has a complete offensive game in which he can both be the guy who makes a play happen and also the guy who finishes the play off the rush or one-timer. He doesn't have the explosive speed for his size (5'9) but he's super creative in how he creates space for himself. I don't think he ends up being a first round pick in the 2020 draft, but as I said above I'm all about taking big swings after the first round and he fits the bill of a player worth taking a swing on

41.) Helge Grans, RHD, SuperElit. Born: 5/10/02

6'3, 192lbs

27gp, 4g, 27pts.

6'3 who is at a point per game in the SuperElit who has the size and offensive talent to be a first round pick. However, his hockey sense and decision making in transition and in his own zone are always going to downgrade a defensive prospect. I like the upside of the player and think he's worth the gamble, but reigning in some of his more bonehead plays will be a must for him to succeed in the NHL.

42.) Theodor Niederbach, C, SuperElit: Born: 2/25/02

5'11, 172 lbs

40gp, 15g, 48pts

Plays center in the SuperElit but was moved to wing in the 5 nations tournament...a dynamic playmaker who is always in the middle of what's going on in the offensive zone and is a staple on the PP for his SuperElit team. He's a player that could be interesting if we acquired a second 2nd round pick in this year's draft as I like where his development is going.

43.) William Villeneuve, RHD. QMJHL. Born: 3/20/02

6'1, 163lbs

64gp, 9g, 58pts

At the beginning of the year I'd have called Villeneuve a Ryan Johnson-esque prospect: good size, great skater, and not much to his offensive game. However, he came out and took the Q by storm by almost averaging a point per game. A lot of that was due to TOI...he was on a bad team and was playing A LOT on the PP to generate secondary points. However, he reminds me a lot of a RHD version of Zac Jones now...a player that in a vacuum I'd slot into my top 40 and wouldn't mind taking at 38.

44.) Sam Colangelo, RW, USHL. Born: 12/26/01

6'2, 205lbs

44gp, 28g, 58pts

I love Sam Colangelo. If you asked me in the beginning of the year I'd have said he'd be what I call a "safe" pick: has some tools to play top 6 but already possesses the game to play in a bottom 6 role. As the year has progressed Sam's speed, skill, and playmaking ability really began to shine. He's not a finished product, and if we were drafting where a prospect is at this moment at time I'd say he's about 20 spots too high on my own list. However, I see the rare player that plays a power forward game with speed, finesse, and a very good shot that could be an absolute steal in the making. He is playing on one of the best USHL teams out there...but he's a much, much better version of Will Cuylle.

Tier VII: Mid 2nd Round picks

45.) Emil Heineman, LW, SuperElit. Born: 11/16/01

6'1, 186lbs

29gp, 26g, 41pts

Different skill-set but same draft conundrum I had last year with Shane Pinto: a guy who comes out of nowhere to start making waves in a league where you thought you knew who was going to rise to the top by the end of the season. Last year I went conservative with Pinto but acknowledged that I really didn't know what his ceiling could be. This year...I'm betting on Heineman's ceiling. He's got good size, a quick release, and passes to high danger areas. He's a very good skater and uses his edges very well when he has the puck to create space. He passes the eye test with flying colors, has a production rate that looks sustainable for growth, but came out of nowhere and is a bit on the older side of the draft. I am in the camp that there is still more to come from Heineman and that he has top 6 potential.

46.) Justin Barron, RHD, QMJHL. Born: 11/15/01

6'2, 187lbs

34gp, 4g, 19pts

Going into the year I would've had Barron as the frontrunner for the defensemen who would jump into the top 10. An offensive minded RHD who looked like he was a in a tier below Drysdale last year...a blood clot injury and a sluggish return from injury has really marred his draft eligible season. In a vacuum he'd be in contention with Cormier and Andrae for our second round pick but as of now I wouldn't take the risk unless we acquired another second round pick.

47.) Veeti Miettinen, RW, JR-Liiga. Born: 9/20/01

5'9, 159lbs.

52gp, 42g, 73pts

He broke the record for a draft eligible player in goals for the JR-Liiga...was top 10 in points...and can play both ends of the ice as well. Though undersized he skates an above average clip, has fantastic hockey sense, and creates opportunities just as much as he finishes them. I would say the only downside to Veeti is that he's one of the 3 oldest players to be in the draft this year and thus his production in the JR Liiga has to be taken at least with some grain of salt. Off to the NCAA next year I see a player that can physically mature over the course of 2-3 years and has top 6 upside.

48.) Kaiden Guhle, LHD, WHL. Born: 1/18/02

6'3, 187 lbs

64gp, 11g, 40 pts

I'm going to keep Kaiden's profile short: fantastic skater (just like his brother) who has more offensive upside than his brother. However, I don't see a dynamic offensive upside and while his defensive zone play is very good...I'm not sure I see the upside that I do with Wallinder/Andre/O'Rourke when it comes to playing in all situations. Very safe pick. Check out Draft Dynasty's scouting report here.

49.) Michael Benning, RHD, AJHL. Born: 1/5/02

5'10, 174lbs

54gp, 12g, 75pts

In a vacuum Benning is higher than Savoie in my book. Aggressive, quality skater who is an exceptional offensive talent in the AJHL...I would really like to take a swing on Benning as a potential RHD to put in the pipeline given our lack of depth in the position. He fits the mold of: gap controlling/quality skater, great offensive potential, and shoots/passes to high danger areas in the offensive zone. His only weakness, to me, is that he was very iffy in international play in his transitional game. When the game ramped up and he was put under pressure he missed easy reads and wasn't very good at controlling the zone with possession. Over time in the NCAA I hope to see that developed and I wouldn't be THAT upset to see his named called at 38.

50.) Joni Jurmo, LHD, JR-Liiga. Born: 4/19/02

6'4, 190 lbs

43gp, 5g, 28pts

During secondary reading I saw Jokke compare him Philip Broberg and I haven't been able to shake the comparison out of my head. Let's start with the positives: Like Broberg, Jurmo is a big bodied defensemen who is a great skater and showed offensive ability to carry the puck end-to-end. He led the JR-Liiga in PPG for draft eligible defensemen this year. His size, skating ability, and production rate are probably going to cause a team to jump and grab him as early as the late first round and definitely in the top 62.

Now for the negatives: his hockey IQ is what I would call below average, and finds himself out of position way too much for my liking. I can live with turnovers from offensive minded defensemen but he makes plays that leave you wondering what he was even thinking.

51.) Carter Savoie, LW, AJHL. Born: 1/23/02

5'10, 181lbs

54gp, 53g, 99pts

He's a good skater and produced almost at a goal per game in the AJHL this past year. He was shutdown in the only international action he was given this year, and the questioned of "how does he get others involved?" that I had watching him in the AJHL was compounded in those viewings. He's a player that has above average wheels and a wicked shot...but whether or not he's going to develop the playmaking ability or hockey sense to make one touch passes to his teammates is a big concern for me to draft him at #38. Going to the University of Denver (hey Bobby Brink!) I think he has a lot of time to mature and perhaps develop into a really high ceiling player. I would've loved a second chance for him at he u18s to show me more...but at this time I'm going to be cautious in touting him as a potential 2nd round pick to the Sabres unless we acquired another one to take a chance.

52.) Vasili Ponomaryov, C, QMJHL. Born: 3/13/02

6'0, 176 lbs

57gp, 18g, 49pts

Has the ability to make plays that would put him the top 40 in this class, but his inconsistency, average skating, and sometimes poor decision making really make it hard for me to bet on him this past a middle to late round pick.

53.) Jean-Luc Foudy, C, OHL. Born: 5/13/02

5'11, 168lbs

59gp, 15g, 43pts

The definition of a 'safe' pick. Just as good as a skater as his brother but a tad behind in the defensive ability...you watch him play and often wonder how he's not scoring more than his stat line suggests. Needs to become more of a playmaker and acquire more hockey sense in the offensive zone but if we get to the late 2nd and beyond I'd be swinging on him to project towards a 3rd line energy role where I think he could excel.

Tier VIII: The 4th round hopefuls: Late 2nd-3rd round graded players

54.) Alexander Pashin, F, MHL. Born: 7/28/02

5'7, 154lbs

37gp, 17g, 39pts

Pashin finished with the 6th highest PPG average in the MHL's history this past season. Couple that with his one man heroic performance in the Hlinka and he has definitely turned heads this past year. He's exceptional in the zone. His vision and stick handling in tight situations is on par with the best with the class, and his skating is above average despite his height. He has always played a PP and offensive game...he doesn't project under the model of a 'safe' player to draft. Either he develops enough to earn a scoring role on your team or he's going to bounce between the AHL and KHL for his career. I'm betting on the skillset of the player. He's also a July birthday so has a big curve in development going forward.

55.) Eamon Powell, RHD, USNTDP. Born: 5/10/02

5'11, 165 lbs

52gp, 11g, 25pts

The right handed version of Ryan Johnson. Fluid skater who transitions the puck so well. Is very undersized at the moment and is going to be a 3 year project. However, has great gap control and transitions so I see NHL upside with him. He is excellent in transition, very creative with his zone exits and entries, and while he may not have the PP upside that other players have...he's definitely got more offensive game than the stats suggest.

56.) Dmitri Ovchinnikov, F, MHL. Born: 8/19/02

5'10, 161lbs

54gp, 24g, 55pts

Do you know who's 7th in PPG in MHL history for draft eligible players? This guy. He's SUPER fast, can play the center position, and has the hockey sense to play an excellent two way game. He goes overlooked because he played in a weaker conference in the MHL as well as he doesn't have the international acclaim that Pashin does. I WANT OVCHINNIKOV DRAFTED BY THE SABRES. He screams the type of high upside player that can be had in the 3rd round.

57.) Ozzy Wiesblatt, RW, WHL. Born: 3/9/02

5'10, 183lbs

64gp, 25g, 70pts

Speed is the name of the game for Ozzy. He's a very quick and fearless attacker in the zone who prefers to be a playmaker as opposed to looking for his own shot. He possesses an above average hockey IQ, is super quick with both agility and top end speed, and has enough playmaking ability to say he has the ceiling to possibly play minutes on the PP. I think he's a ceiling of a PP2 RW, but is dogged enough that drafting him and having him be a bottom 6 player he's able to generate offensive production while also holding his own in the defensive end. He is one of my favorites to watch, and could easily go in the late first round-early second.

58.) Sean Farrell, F, USHL. Born: 11/2/01

5'9, 179lbs

44gp, 15g, 56pts

After coming off the USNTDP team where he was used sparingly in a depth role; he's had a breakout year in the USHL. He is among one of the best PPG players for draft eligible prospects in the league and that is also complimented by his outstanding showing in the World Juniors A Challenge. Undersized but with enough speed and skill to compliment his lack of size; he joins what will be a pretty loaded Harvard team next year. He's a player that you could make the argument for being right alongside Brisson in terms of his ranking, but will want to see if his playmaking ability will translate to the NCAA before I would give him that type of hype.

59.) Jake Neighbours, LW, WHL. Born: 3/29/02

5'11, 201lbs

64gp, 23g, 70pts

Fans of a more gritty type of prospect will be a big fan of Neigbours. He is a player that throws his weight around, plays at 100% on every shift, and exhibits enough finishing ability that he has the upside to potentially play up and down the lineup. His playmaking ability is definitely lacking and will need linemates to help facilitate offensive play...but with some development could prove to be a useful middle six ceiling commodity for the Sabres.

60.) Anton Johannesson, LHD, SuperElit. Born: 3/26/02

5'9, 154lbs

20gp, 8g, 24pts

First, I don't care at all about what you have to say about his size. This kid is LEGIT. Has better PPG in the SuperElit than Erik Karlsson and Adam Boqvist in their draft year. He's an outstanding skater, his hockey IQ is top notch, and his puck skills would be the best on our team as a defensemen (yes that includes Dahlin). How a kid that small defends against NHL sized bodies is the only question mark , but assuming he fills out (and hell if he grew even an inch) he's a long-term project that would be worth the pick. I think a smart drafting team like Colorado, Vegas, Toronto, or Carolina will probably snatch him, Connor McClennon, Alexander Pashin, and Dmitri Ovchinikov up in the third round. But of all of those players...Anton's height and weight will probably cross him off a lot of teams' boards and he could be available.

61.) Connor McClennon, RW, WHL. Born: 6/25/02

5'8, 157lbs

42gp, 21g, 49pts

His vision, finishing ability, and (above all) his hockey sense scream a player who should be drafted in the first two rounds. However his size and the fact his skating ability is NHL average at best coupled with his season ending with a broken collarbone...I feel like he's going to slip down boards. He can play in all situations, has a late birthday which can mean an uptick in production models going forward next year in the WHL, and has more than enough skill to be a high upside dart throw in the 4th round (I'd swing as early as the third round) for him.

62.) Tristen Robins, C, WHL. Born: 11/15/01

5'10, 174 lbs

62gp, 33g, 73pts

High hockey IQ, and creative in the offensive zone....Robins has forced himself in to the draft discussion with is production and his ability to find the back fo the net. He's not a burner nor does he have an elite playmaking skillset, but he is good at both and his ability find space and create space for his teammates make him a solid middle rounds selection by the Sabres.

63.) Ryan Francis, RW, QMJHL. Born: 12/2/01

5'9, 168 lbs

61gp, 24g, 72pts

Undersized but a really good playmaker and someone who has that jaw-dropping ability to dangle through a defense. His production skyrocketed compared to last year and burst on the scene as a bit of an unknown. I see him as a 3rd-4th round pick who has the upside to play in the middle six and on a PP2.

64.) Daniel Torgersson, W, SuperElit. Born: 1/26/02

6'3, 205lbs

39gp, 26g, 44pts

While Raymond has been up and down the SHL lineup, Torgersson's skill set has seen him play up with the second lineat times with Frolunda in the SHL in his brief call-up. He's a above average skater who has both a quick first few steps and very good top end speed. He's a relentless worker on both ends of the ice and will use his size to win board battles as well as plant himself in front of the net. He possesses a very good shot and scored regularly in the SuperElit. His offensive upside is dependent on where you slot him in the lineup as he's not a stickhandler and doesn't possess the vision to carry the puck and distribute. If that part of his game develops he'll be right with Colangelo in terms of where I'd rank him, but for now I see a possible net presence top 6 player but most likely will be slotted up and down a lineup as his ceiling.

65.) Tyler Tullio, C, OHL. Born: 4/5/02

5'9, 161 lbs.

62gp, 27g, 66pts

I really, really like Tullio. I just don't know if I see an elite level trait out of him to play in a top 6 role in the NHL. In the OHL he's a good passer, has a very good shot, and is a good skater and plays in the high danger areas of the ice. He's the type of player that is going to have to hit production marks at each level of his development to be given the opportunity to have top 6 roles because his skillset is right on the border of being a top 6 ceiling player.

66.) Mitchell Miller, LHD, USHL. Born: 12/20/01

5'11, 194 lbs

44gp, 8g, 33pts

I really dug into Miller the past month because he was one of the few prospects in the USHL I didn't track throughout the season. I saw one game of his and while he looked quick and had puck skills; he didn't really pop off the screen in the viewing. Going back I'm beginning to fall more and more in love with him as a prospect. He has PP upside, is very good with the puck on his stick, has both speed and mobility as a defensemen. He can get too aggressive and get out of position but it's a trait I love in defensemen...I can live with high risk offensive defensemen so long as they are making more plays than they are allowing. I'm hoping that Powell/Miller end up being our 4th round pick if we're going to take a RHD in that range.

67.) Justin Sourdif, C, WHL. Born: 3/24/02

5'11, 165 lbs

57gp, 26g, 54pts

If Sourdif was able to be consistent this year he'd have been a sure-fire top 20 pick. Alas, he wasn't ever able to string together a run of games where he was dominant. He has the hockey IQ I want in a player, has enough speed and is above average with the skillset I desire in a draft pick. He's either going to be much higher than this on some teams draft boards or much lower. His production wasn't as abysmal as some of the other players lower on my board and I like the skillset enough to swing on him.

68.) Ty Smilanic, F, USNTDP. Born: 1/20/02

6'1, 170lbs

46gp, 10g, 31pts

Smilanic is the definition of "shooters shoot". I don't think Ty has met a shot he doesn't like yet. His production totals for a guy so determined to score are worrisome, but he is a very good skater and makes very quick passes that impress me whenever I see him play. I really like the player, but his lack of production is very worrisome with someone with his skillset. Bet on the skills, hope it was bad puck luck this year, and he'd have had similar production to the top notch USNTDP players.

69.) Pavel Novak, F, WHL. Born: 4/16/02

5'10, 170 lbs

55gp, 25g, 58pts

Amazing playmaker who adjusted very well to his first year of North American hockey. He's got okay agility but really needs another gear for his top end speed to be considered as a top 2 round prospect. I see him as a 3-5th round player who needs to develop for a few years in hopes that the skating and the physical maturity will push him to play in more high danger areas.

70.) Jeremie Poirier, LHD, QMJHL. Born: 6/2/02

6'0, 192lbs

64gp, 20g, 53pts

He's so good at the transition and offensive game that I'm willing to overlook the fact he's been sort of average in his own end. I watch him play and think of a poor man's Erik Karlsson. If he improves on the backend he's got the making of the steal of the draft as a defenseman.

Outside of Gunler I'd call Poirier the other Most Divisive Prospect in this class. His offensive potential is what draws me to him, but if he can't fix his defensive lapses he's going to be a PP1 in the NHL upside.

71.) Evan Vierling, C, OHL. Born: 6/20/02

6'0, 168 lbs

43gp, 14g, 44pts

Came back from injury to score at a production rate that intrigues me. Good playmaker but needs to see the ice a tad better, good wheels but not great, but a very late birthday and came back from injury so I would spend a later round pick on the upside.

72.) Juuso Maenpaa, C, JR-Liiga. Born: 4/29/02

5'7, 141lbs

52gp, 12g, 49pts

He was much higher on my board to start the year when he was the leading scorer in the JR Liiga through the quarter way make. His production slowed down considerably but not enough for him to still be named Best Rookie in the JR Liiga. Great skater and his vision is among some of the best in the class. He's just so small that I don't see how a puck dominant player like himself will transition to the wing in the NHL. Bet on the skill, hope for the muscle to build over the next 3 years, and hope in year 3-4 he's able to make the transition to NA hockey. If he bulks up considerably he could be a steal...but at 141 pounds we're looking at realistically 3 years before he's at a playing weight where he won't be thrown around.

73.) James Hardie, LW, OHL. Born: 1/18/02

5'11, 161 lbs

59gp, 34g, 63pts

Another prospect that wasn't on the radar to begin the year...he's been on a torid pace since the new year began with 20 of his 34 goals coming in the last 2.5 months of the season. A sniper who has a very, very good wrist and slap shot..Hardie has to improve his skating in order to be a truly impact player at the next level. He's not going to carry the puck into the zone for possession, but he's going to be a menace if he's able to get his shot off.

74.) Oskar Magnusson, C/RW, SuperElit. DOB: 1/31/02

5'10, 165 lbs

38gp, 22g, 48pts

Playing for a very bad team this year Magnusson was the driver of everything. He is an above average skater and has very good playmaking skills. While he wasn't a big factor and almost invisible in the Hlinka...he did show out very well at the 5 Nations tournament later in the year. A bit undersized and a production rate that you would like to see but he is has very little talent surrounding him on the team...he possesses the all around skill that is worth a pick in the mid-third-4th round.

75.) Alex Cotton*, RHD, WHL. Born: 5/12/01

6'2, 183 lbs

63gp, 20g, 67pts

His production rate is going to see him drafted much earlier than I would, but I still think he's a great prospect. He's above average in just about everything, however he's an overage prospect who has benefited from playing on the PP with Ty Smith and our very own Dylan Cozens this year. I'd project him as a capable RHD who has PP2 upside, but he was still overshadowed on his own team despite the gaudy point totals.

76.) Eemil Viro, LHD, Liiga. DOB: 4/3/02

6'0, 168 lbs.

29gp, 0g, 3pts

A relatively unknown prospect coming into the season he began to make buzz after the Hlinka where he showed off his transition and defensive ability. He played the majority season in the Liiga where he was utilized more as a transition type of defensemen. His skating and transition passing are probably his two best traits, but when I saw him play he was rarely out of position and had good gap control. Losing out on the u18s hurt his evaluation for me because I wanted to see how he progressed from the Hlinka to the u18s as he spent much of his season playing in a men's league.

77.) Brandon Coe, RW, OHL. DOB: 12/1/01

6'3, 185 lbs

60gp, 25g, 57pts

Brandon Coe is a big winger who played for the worst team in the OHL this past year. He's a good skater, has good hands, and really was versatile in the way he could play. He could fall into the same trap in the evaluation process as Ethan Keppen did last year for me. Since he has such a high involvement rate, but on a bad team, using production metrics or involvement rates could inflate his production model score. I thought he looked like a similar archetype of Colangelo in that he's bigger and has skill, but I am worrisome after I ranked Keppen a lot higher due to similar factors last year.

78.) Jaromir Pytlik, C, OHL. Born: 9/25/01

6'3, 196 lbs

56gp, 22g, 50pts

Projects to the wing as a pro, he doesn't possess playmaking ability or the ability to create for others at an average clip, however has a bit of a physicalness to him and has a good shot. I see him with a ceiling of a net presence middle six player or could slot to the wing on a checking line.

Tier IV: 4th-5th round graded players

79.) Artur Akhtyamov, G, MHL DOB: 10/31/01

6'2, 170 lbs

46gp, .931 SV%

I haven't tracked too many goalies as this is an off year for the Sabres to take a goalie in my own draft philosophy. I would take Akhtyamov here for a couple reasons:

1.) Russian prospects have no transfer agreement so he would only come over when he's ready to compete for an NHL level job, or for the starting goalie in the AHL at a minimum. So we're looking at realistically a 4-6 year development and getting to see Portillo/UPL with a healthy sample size.

2.) He's in a tier that's slotted for the 5th round and beyond. For skaters it's rare to hit on players in these rounds.

3.) Two plus years of very good goalie metrics with high GP. In my goalie model that is ideal. With above a .930 in the MHL that puts him on a very positive track.

The cons against him are really that the MHL is notoriously a low danger shot league, and save percentage is often inflated because of this. Using data tracked in the MHL I established a baseline of .930 with >35 games played as my starting point. But I get that rationale if you're not for drafting an MHL goalie.

80.) Jack Finley, C, WHL. DOB: 9/2/02

6'5, 207 lbs

61gp, 19g, 57pts

He's a big, natural center who has good skating ability (mobility may be a concern in terms of edgework), good hands for a kid his size, and a very good hockey IQ. He has two things that really intrigue me as well: his birthday and his point production is almost all even strength. So while his point production doesn't sit in the top 50 in the WHL...it jumps up to the top 25 for even strength points and he's among the top 10 in even strength assists.

But with that context comes a negative connotation: he did play center to the WHL's leading scorer in Adam Beckman. I don't think his point total gets that high without Beckman. For me the very late birthday and the skill set you see watching him play makes him a mid round draft pick, but I wouldn't hype up too much the size/DOB/EVS point total enough to bump him up ino the tier above.

81.) Thimo Nickl, RHD, QMJHL. DOB: 12/4/01

6'2, 162 lbs

58gp, 10g, 39pts

The tall Austrian had himself a very nice rookie campaign in the QMJHL. There isn't a trait about him that I'd categorize as outstanding, but he's a mobile defender who plays a very smart game who is very good at the outlet pass and who always seemed to get his shot on net. If we're waiting to round 5 to take our RHD I think we need to draft in this draft Nickl is a good swing for the mid-late rounds.

82.) Antonio Stranges, C/LW, OHL. Born: 2/5/02

5'10, 170 lbs

61gp, 19g, 40pts

This one hurts. I was a huge Stranges fan coming into the year. His creativity, stick handling, and his ability to generate speed off the unorthodox 10-2 skating stride had me betting on him being a top 20 pick this year. He looked like he lost confidence as the season wore on and he also was getting outplayed by Evangelista. However, the skillset is intriguing, and I'd be willing to draft him outside the first 3 rounds.

83.) Dylan Peterson, C, USNTDP. Born: 1/8/02

6'4, 192 lbs

64gp, 12g, 36pts

His production rate is abysmal and should cost him in draft equity this year. However, he's a big bodied forward who I think has more skill than the production indicates. Played as the net presence on his line this year, has a really good shot, and showed more skill than a lot of other power forwards I tracked this year.

84.) Blake Biondi, F, HS-Minnesota (University of Minnesota-Duluth commit). Born: 4/24/02

6'0, 181 lbs

25gp, 37g, 76pts

Good toolkit, but didn't produce in his small sample size in the USHL. Will probably go much higher than this in the draft as I don't watch Minnesota HS hockey, but watched a few of his games and he looked like he could play.

85.) Jacob Dion, LHD, QMJHL. Born: 11/1/01

5'9, 181 lbs

63gp, 17g, 51pts

He's doesn't possess the shiftiness as the other undersized defensemen in this class, and he is probably going to depend upon his transition ability to make up for his size as he moves on to different pro leagues..however there isn't a player who is able to get he puck to medium and higher danger areas like him in the QMJHL. He is consistently looking to get up in the zone to create great chances, and I love his vision in the offensive zone.

86.) Yegor Chinakhov*, C, MHL. Born: 2/1/01

5'11, 179 lbs

56gp, 27g, 69pts

Great speed, great shot, and really improved his playmaking ability. One of the top u20 point producers in the MHL. Has enough size and speed that I would roll the dice on him.

87.) Samuel Knazko, LHD, JR-Liiga. Born: 8/7/02

6'0, 185 lbs

48gp, 7g, 28pts

Shifty offensive defensemen who has a lot of holes in his game in his own end. Is a longer term project to clean up some of the glaring positioning and hockey IQ mistakes, but has enough offensive upside that I wouldn't be upset if the Sabres took a swing at him with our lack of depth of offensive stalwarts in the prospect pool.

88.) Adam Wilby*, LHD, Allsvenskan DOB: 8/7/00

6'0, 183 lbs

41gp, 3g, 30pts

As a late-birthday, double overager...Wilsby has had quite the production curve. In his draft year he played in the SuperElit as an August birthday and registered just 7 points in 39 games. As an overager he had 29 points in 38 games in the SuperElit. This year he was over a point per game player in the SuperElit before going to the second tier of the SHL and putting up the stats listed. He is an offensive defensemen who definitely has some flaws in his own zone, and whose production metrics in my own model don't line up with PP1 upside...but as a LHD who can add offense from the backend he's about a year away from bringing over to the AHL if he is able to prove himself in the men's league this year. Grading him out as a 4th round+ prospect it's good value here to take a swing on the very smooth skating Swedish defensemen.

89.) Luke Evangelista, RW, OHL. Born: 2/21/02

5'11, 165 lbs

62gp, 23g, 61 pts

Relentless worker and a fixture in the Knights PK unit. Possesses more playmaking ability than I think he's given credit for. Has the offensive upside to slot into the middle six but also is a high floor player as he's proved he can slot in any role on the ice.

90.) Will Cuylle, LW, OHL. Born: 2/5/02

6'2, 201 lbs

62gp, 22g, 42pts

Prototypical power forward that didn't flash any real upside for playmaking ability but does throw his weight around. Production rate dipped as the season wore on, but has upside.

91.) Cross Hanas, LW, USHL. Born: 1/5/02

6'1, 165 lbs

60gp, 22g, 49pts

Outside scouting report: https://www.futurescopehockey.com/post/prospect-report-cross-hanas

Cross is an excellent skater with great size, an even better motor, and is a very good stickhandler. I think he has to develop a bit more of his vision and produce at a more consistent clip, but in terms of projecting his skillset he's got all the tools I'd want a prospect to have.

92.) Tomas Chlubna, RW, Czech2. DOB: 7/6/02

6'2, 183 lbs

41gp, 6g, 16pts

The leading scorer for draft eligbles in the Czech2 league, captain of the Czech team, and biggest point producer in International games....Chlubna has some good wheels and a decent skill set. His 5 nations performance was poor, but his confidence looked to grow after the tournament and he had moments of looking like a high-end prospect. For me, he sports two big things with a >4th round pick that I love: late birthday, and a very good point producer in an under-scouted league

Tier X: 5th round+ graded players

93.) Yevgeni Oksentyuk*, W, OHL. Born: 2/27/01

5'7, 157 lbs

58gp, 33g, 78pts

Great playmaker, super creative, and great speed. His size is what holds him back but if he can keep up his point production rate into the AHL he could be a gem in the later rounds of this draft.

94.) Xavier Simoneau*, C, QMJHL. Born: 5/19/01

5'7, 176 lbs

61gp, 28g, 89pts

I thought he had a chance to be drafted last year, but his skating plus his size had him go underafted. I think his production rate speaks for itself and that he has looked like a more complete player this past year. His skating isn't going to wow you, but he's able to make plays and deserves to be in our prospect system to see if he could produce in the AHL and earn a spot in the NHL.

95.) Pavel Tyutnev, C, MHL. DOB: 7/25/02

5'9, 185 lbs

36gp, 13g, 22pts

His skating is suburb, his skill set is amazing, and he is always a danger when he has the puck. His production numbers aren't impressive but all of his points are primary points and he saw very little power play time. He's undersized and he lacks any real defensive game that makes me think he may be a winger in the future. Check out his highlights on youtube....they're fun.

96.) Maksim Beryozkin, W, MHL. DOB: 10/12/01

6'2, 201 lbs

51gp, 25g, 54pts

He's got really good skills in tight situations, a good shot, and good anticipation in the offensive end. His passing is very, very good for a bigger player. He's not as quick as some of the other bigger guys in this draft, despite his size he's not very physical, and he's on the older side of the draft as well. However, given his production metrics, playmaking ability and very quick wrist shot I'm interested in Beryozskin for the Sabres.

97.) William DuFour, RW, QMJHL. DOB: 1/28/02

6'2, 194 lbs

59gp, 28g, 55pts

Simoneau's RW in the QMJHL...he doesn't have the playmaking ability to really set up his own goals nor is he a playmaker but he has good hockey IQ and is very good off the puck in finding the soft areas in the high danger areas for Simoneau and others.

98.) Eliot Ekmark, C, SuperElit. DOB: 1/29/02

5'9, 159 lbs

31gp, 12g, 26pts

I would describe him as the Swedish version of Ozzy Weisblatt. Plays a physical brand of hockey even though he's slight and small, above average speed and great mobility. Has above average playmaking ability but an average shot.

99.) Dmitri Sheshin*, LW, MHL. Born: 5/31/01

5'8, 152 lbs

61gp, 31g, 71pts

Nothing I said last year isn't true this year...except he gained 10 pounds: Dude is 142 pounds (go look it up...it’s hysterical) but damn can the kid play. He’s a LONG term project but there is no reason he shouldn’t be a second round pick outside of his size and we can get him to 175 in 2-3 years. Great scorer and playmaker with above average speed.

100.) Maxim Groshev, W, KHL: Born: 12/14/01

6'2, 194 lbs

36gp, 1g, 7pts

Power foward who has developed considerably the past year and saw a promotion to the KHL mid-year. Good speed, good shot, and is already producing at a respectable rate in one of the better men's leagues in the world.

101.) Brady Burns, C, QMJHL. DOB: 5/27/02

5'10, 161 lbs

64gp, 27g, 57pts

Going with the offensive tools with this one. One of the btter puckhandlers in the draft and when he's in the offensive zone he is very dangerous with the puck on his stick and has an above average shot. However, he is not defensively responsible and he is not good in transition especially in the defensive zone. He has to make quicker decisions coming out of the zone, has to develop more of a hockey IQ in his own zone as well. However...production metrics, DOB and putting a round 5+ on him makes it a fun swing to make.

102.) Stanislav Rangayev, W, MHL. Born: 1/23/02

6'2, 165 lbs

48gp, 22g, 32pts

Very skilled with a high hockey IQ. Has to get better at his top end speed but his 3 step agility is good.

103.) Colby Ambrosio, C, USHL. Born: 8/7/02

5'9, 165 lbs

48gp, 26g, 50pts

Undersized, but has the playmaking ability to make things happen on the ice. Will be a long term project to see if his offensive production continues into the NCAA.

104.) Ethan Cardwell, C, OHL. Born: 8/30/02

5'10, 157 lbs

53gp, 23g, 47pts

Shifty, good speed, but very undersized. Will need to physically develop before we know where his true potential lies One of the youngest players in a draft dominated by '01 birthdates....his production rate next year could vault him into a top 30 pick in a redraft when it's all said and done.

105.) Zayde Wisdom, C/RW, OHL. Born: 5/20/02

5'10, 201 lbs

62gp, 29g, 59pts

Fantastic skater and a great motor. Read the Wheeler article on The Athletic and tell me you're not rooting for the kid. His playmaking and scoring touch have come a long ways, but he's a dogged worker in both ends of the ice and is a high floor player who if his hands ever catch up to his skating is going to be a steal.

106.) Karri Aho, LHD, JR-Liiga. DOB: 9/6/02

6'1, 179 lbs

47gp, 2g, 14pts

Very good skater and fantastic in transition. Has some defensive lapses in the zone, but overall I'm very impressed with him in terms of gap control, his ability to exit the zone and he has enough offensive instincts that I'm really interested in taking this very late birthday player.

107.) Jacob Truscott, LHD, USNTDP. DOB: 4/12/02

6'0, 172 lbs

47gp, 5g, 21pts

Truscott is a very good defender who transitions well. I'm excited to see him go to a Michigan program that is just stacking talent for the next 3 years (Portillo included!).

108.) Theo Nordlund, LHD, SuperElit. DOB: 7/20/02

6'0, 179 lbs

43gp, 3g, 11pts

See: Truscott but Swedish. Transitions, can skate, and has above average hockey IQ.

109.) Brock Faber, RHD, USNTDP. 8/22/02

6'1, 194 lbs

46gp, 3g, 9pts

Another mobile transitional defender who is also one of the youngest players in the draft. He didn't really do much offensively this year for the USNTDP which was a bit of a letdown as he looked like he could be more of a two-way threat with his skill set and skating.

110.) Trevor Kuntar*, C, USHL. DOB: 6/20/01

6'0, 203 lbs

44gp, 28g, 53pts

Williamsville's own Trevor Kuntar! An overager with a late birthday....he really blossomed this year in the USHL after a mediocre draft year campaign. He was one of the more dangerous scorers in the league this year and his skating hit another level as well. Plays both ends very well and is off to Harvard next year.

111.) Victor Mancini, RHD, SuperElit. DOB: 5/26/02

6'3, 201 lbs

38gp, 9g, 14pts

Jumping from the USHL to the Swedish Junior league was a surprise, but he did look pretty good throughout the year and jumped from the J-18 to the SuperElit rather quickly. Has a bit of an offensive flare to his game, but plays a strong defensive game. Coming back over to play for Nebraska-Omaha in 2021-22 he's a long term project.

112.) Cameron Berg, C, USHL. DOB: 1/29/02

5'11, 183 lbs

46gp, 20g, 34pts

He was on the cusp in the beginning of the year because I liked the skill set but didn't like the production model score. THen he got traded and all of a sudden a change of scenery saw Berg really blossom in an almost point per game player. Very good skater and has very good puck skills. I don't know if his offensive hockey IQ is going to be NHL caliber, but there's a lot there to work with. Similar to Mancini he's a long term project as he's not going to play in the NCAA until 21-22 with Nebraska-Omaha.

113.) Kasper Puutio, RHD, WHL. 6/3/02

6'0, 185 lbs

56gp, 4g, 28pts

Selected first in the CHL import draft, Puutio had a great start to the year with 3 points in the Hlinka before hitting some roadblocks in his first full season in the WHL. He's a mobile, offensively gifted d-man who is a good skater and has some lapses in the defensive zone. He's not physical and sometimes can struggle to separate the puck from an opponent with his stick. He's not going to walk the blue line right now...his mobility isn't high end but his straight line and backwards skating are good. Checks my box of a late birthday with room to develop, as well as a RHD that could be available in the mid rounds.

114.) Max Glotzl, LHD, DEL U20. DOB: 3/16/02

6'2, 198 lbs

31gp, 4g, 28pts

I was REALLY looking forward to the u18s to see this guy play. He is, by far, the one player I think that will get hurt the most by not having that tournament. He's a physical defensemen who has a cannon of a shot and a good transition game albeit it was in a pretty weak league. He's by no means in the same category as Seider, but similar to Seider I think had the u18s happened Glotzl enters the mainstream conversations for a mid-round pick instead of in the conversation of late round/undrafted players.

115.) Noah Ellis, RHD, USHL. DOB: 2/1/02

6'2, 192 lbs

47gp, 5g, 11pts

Poor man's RHD version of Ryan Johnson without any offensive upside.

116.) RIley Duran, C, USHS-MA. DOB: 1/25/02

6'2, 179 lbs

27gp, 22g, 44pts

I haven't seen him play, but he's here because talking with someone who follows the HS hockey in Mass. he won't shut up about this kid. I'll leave it to him to describe him: "He's the fastest kid in Mass and it's not even close. He's got sick hands, good shot, and should be a 3rd round pick but will most likely be a 4-5th round pick". I'll take a flyer off the source.

117.) Billy Constantinou*, RHD, OHL. Born: 3/25/01

6'0, 185 lbs

52gp, 8g, 47pts

Last year he just cratered after he was traded. This year he looks like his stride isn't as wonky, he's improved in his own end, and is still the very creative offensive defenseman he was last year.

118.) Joe Miller, W, USHS-MN. DOB: 9/15/02

5'9, 146 lbs

25gp, 25g, 59pts

I saw one game of Joe Miller's in the Minnesota state hockey tournament and I fell in love. Just absolutely a menace with the puck, super fast, and was so much fun to watch. Once I dug into him a little more and found out he was born on the cut off date I was in. He gets my Trey Fix-Wolansky award this year going to the prospect I saw once and instantly fell in love with.

119.) Lleyton Moore, LHD, OHL. Born: 2/27/02

5'9, 165 lbs

57gp, 6g, 28pts

Great transition player that's team was decimated with injuries that he had to play forward towards the end of the year. I think he's worth a swing as watching him I thought he'd be a much more proficient scorer than the stats say.

`120.) Oliver Tarnstrom, C, SuperElit DOB: 8/20/02

6'1, 163 lbs

41gp, 11g, 34pts

Super Late birthday, had a very good 5 Nations tournament...more of a facilitator on the ice than someone who's dangerous to score and playmake. Very good skater. Severely underrated in my book.

Honorable Mentions:

I didn't seen them play because they played in high schools I couldn't watch:

Wyatt Kaiser, LHD

Ian Moore, RHD

...both are getting good reviews but I don't see enough in highlights to know where exactly to put them. Right now they'd probably be in tier IV (3rd-5th round) based off secondary reading and limited highlights...but I honestly could use some more insight if anyone has watched them.

If I extended it to 135:

121.) Hugo Styf, LHD, SuperElit

122.) Tyler Kleven, LHD, USNTDP

123.) Carson Bantle, LW, USHL

124.) Daemon Hunt, LHD, WHL

125.) Karel Klikorka, LHD, DHL Cup

126.) Donovan Sebrango, LHD, OHL

127.) Ronan Seeley, LHD, WHL

128.) Ethan Edwards, LHD, AJHL

129.) Wyatt Schingoethe, C, USHL

130.) Yegor Sokolov, W, QMJHL

131.) Zach Uens, LHD, NCAA

132.) Landon Slaggert, C, USNTDP

133.) Lucas Ramberg, LHD, SuperElit

134.) Maxim Krovyakov, F, MHL

135.) Matteo Costantini, C, OJHL (Buffalo Jr. Sabres!)

Last but not least...My Dream Draft for the Sabres (realistic):

7.) Marco Rossi/Lucas Raymond/Alexander Holtz

38.) Hendrix Lapierre/Zion Nybeck/Marat Khusnutdinov/Lukas Reichel

100.) Eamon Powell/Dmitri Ovchinnikov/Tristen Robins/Connor McClennon

5th round: Juuso Maenpaa/Yegor Chinakhov/Samuel Knazko/Adam Wilsby

7th round: Yevgeni Oksentyuk/Xavier Simoneau/Pavel Tyutnev/Karri Aho/Trevor Kuntar/Brock Faber/Joe Miller

This is a FanPost written by a member of the community. It does not necessarily express the views or opinions of Die By The Blade.