This will be my last post specific to the Sabres and the 2020 Draft leading up to the draft. The purpose of this is to give a wide array of options that I think could happen for the Sabres draft picks. If you're looking for a quick synapsis scouting report on these players check out my Top 120. If you're looking for a Draft Board specific to the Sabres then check out my final rankings for the Sabres.
For each pick I'm going to lay out 5 options for the Sabres that I think have a very good chance to be on the board. However, we all know that players fall into our laps that I don't think would've been available going through this process throughout the year. Next to each selection I'll have a "Run to the Podium" list of players that I think have a slim chance to be available and that we should sprint to the podium to take. Last year for the #30 pick that would've included: Kaliyev, Robertson, and Lavoie.
The 5 picks will be divided as such: Two picks will be my dream scenario, two picks will be realistic picks I could see the Sabres making, and one pick will be a Wild Card.
Dream Scenario: If the "Run to the Podium" players are taken these will be who I am screaming at us to take from my couch.
Realistic Picks: Based off of recent draft trends and team building...these are picks that have historical relevance to how teams draft. For instance, if we take an undersized player in the first round the chances of us taking another undersized player in the second are slim. It's rare to draft two of the same position in the first two rounds outside of centers. The back-end of the draft is usually used for team need and role specific.
Wild Card: No one has really talked about this player going to the Sabres, but based off team need or their draft ranking range is so wide that they may reach for them.
My own draft philosophy:
Round 1: BPA. Always.
Round 2: Skill sets that I see top 6 potential as a ceiling in them.
Rounds 3+: Mixture of energy players to play down in the lineup and long term potential projects
Round 1: Must have some PP potential for me to consider
Round 2: Quality 2 way players and high-end defensive defensemen who are also good in transition
Round 3+: Mixture of modern defensemen (good gap control, very good in transition, lacking in another trait) and offensive machines that are severely flawed in their own zone.
Never in round 1 or 2
Round 3+: tracking medium/high danger shots/saves+ save percentage relative to peers in same league.
The #8 Pick (Run To The Podium: Quinton Byfield)
Dream Scenario #1: Marco Rossi, C, OHL
56gp, 39g, 120pts
It's no secret here at DBTB where I stand on Marco Rossi as he ranks #3 on my board. The 5'9 pivot ripped apart the OHL this year with 120 points in 56 games leading the OHL in scoring and was also the engine on the most dominant CHL team this past year. His strength is the ability to dictate the pace of the game and is a mastermind facilitating the play in the offensive zone. He sports strong defensive and transition metrics, has really good hands, and excels at hitting teammates in scoring positions as well as shooting from high danger areas.
Quantitatively he is over 4 points P1/e60 and is well over 40% involvement rate in the OHL which have been strong indicators of super-star status based on historical data of the past 11 drafts. He doesn't sport the "Size-to-speed" combo many scouts look for with prospects less than 5'10. He's a very good skater but doesn't have an elite top gear. However, he is physical on the brink of dirty with how he plays. I project him as a center based on how good he is defensively and his ability to facilitate play through the center of the ice both with the puck on his stick and through his passing ability. A dream-come-true for the Sabres to be able to lock Eichel-Rossi-Cozens (possibly Mitts) down the middle long term. Hasn't signed a European contract as of 9/22 so he's anticipating competing for a roster spot in the NHL.
Top OHL draft-eligible seasons (per-game) over the last 10 years:— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) June 22, 2020
• Connor McDavid 2.55
• Marco Rossi 2.14
• Mitch Marner 2.00
• Dylan Strome 1.90
• Matthew Tkachuk 1.88
• Taylor Hall 1.86
• Quinton Byfield 1.82
• Cole Perfetti 1.82 pic.twitter.com/bZrS7ew2cE
Dream Scenario #2:Lucas Raymond, W, SHL
33gp, 4g, 10pts
He gets my vote for biggest riser in the top 10 whose stock has risen the most with the delayed draft date. I'd be surprised with what he's been able to do the last month that he lasts until #8 anymore. Raymond played as the 13th forward on a stacked SHL team last year and saw no PP time either which saw what many people thought was a sure-fire top 5 pick slip down to the 8-10 range in a lot of media mock drafts/ranks. Context is king with Raymond, because digging into his game it's hard to not fall in love with him as a player.
His most attractive trait is his ability to drive play. Even as a DY player playing in the SHL he drove possession for his line with his fantastic defensive play alongside his elite brain. He is in the running for best hockey IQ in this draft. Put that together with his elite short-bust speed and agility, fantastic hands, and improved shot since adding muscle this offseason and you have the making of a top 6 winger who has the rare ability to accomplish the holy trinity: score, create, and drive possession. He may never put up the point totals of a Stutzle/Rossi, but his elite two-way ability are what Stanley Cup teams are made of.
Realistic Option #1: Alexander Holtz, W, SHL
35gp, 9g, 16pts
Analytics Sabres Twitter has started the campaign to fade Holtz and hype Lundell. My stance on the subject is that there has to be a qualitative and quantitative marriage when evaluating prospects. For Holtz, his qualitative assessment is much better than Lundell's. Mostly because Holtz sports one of the best shots to come out of a draft in recent memory. He's not dependent on a elite playmaker to generate scoring opportunities as his most deadly weapon in his arsenal is his wrist shot especially coming down the wing on the rush. Since his DY-1 where he almost put up a goal a game in the J20 league, he's continued to put up insane goal scoring benchmarks in his DY. He is 3rd in the past 30 years in goals per game in the SHL for a draft eligible player sitting just behind Peter Forsberg and Markus Naslund. He has a decent top speed and his agile on his edges, similar to Caufield last year he can do a lot with creating plays on his own stick as well but his role favors his shot, and can engage on the forecheck to create turnovers.
The main concerns for Holtz stem from his flat-footed approach in the defensive zone where he will stand still near the point while the other team cycles, as well as his propensity to shoot outside of high/medium danger areas. These two things have many data-based scouts are questioning regarding his true impact in the NHL as these metrics show a poor transition winger and that his goal scoring may not translate to the level the numbers indicate with his high low danger shot metrics.
I downplay the transition criticism because he's shown he's engaged in my viewings in transition and in the forecheck, and with some maturation and coaching I think he will develop into a competent winger in the defensive zone. The shot quality criticism doesn't bother me because he can place pucks better than anyone in recent drafts (on the same level or higher than Caufield but with size). I do worry a little bit about his lack of rush patterns to take his shot as he's sort of a one trick pony on the rush. Some variation in his rush patterns both with and without the puck and he has the potential to have multiple 30+ goal seasons and compete for a Rocket Richard.
Whoever drafts Alexander Holtz better plug snd play him on PP1.— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) September 6, 2020
He’s going to be nightmare fuel from that spot. https://t.co/LAcpZKrpjL
Realistic Option #2: Anton Lundell, C, Liiga
44gp, 10g, 28pts
Lundell has seen a bump in his stock since play has resumed in Finland. He has reportedly improved his skating stride and it doesn't look as hunched over/clunky, has been named an Assistant Captain for his Liiga team at 18 years old, and has put up great numbers in the pre-season so far. Lundell has always had the quantitative numbers that say he should be a top 10 pick. He was top 5 in the Liiga in Corsi, he scored at a rate in DY that projected him to a top 6 center role, and more than 70% of his points were primary points.
However, qualitatively he had some concerns. His skating was NHL average and he depended on controlling the pace of play to stay involved offensively. He makes very good quick passes, but they aren't flashy and he isn't going to beat a defender with his playmaking ability and then make a pass. He uses his size and brain to position him in areas of the ice to score and uses quick decision making to hit his teammates in scoring areas of the ice.
The two criticisms that an NHL team has to answer when drafting Lundell over a Holtz/Perfetti/Raymond/Rossi would be:
1.) Can his pace of play and effectiveness in the defensive zone translate to the NHL?
2.) Can he offensively be depended upon for getting on the score sheet? Is he Mikko Koivu in his prime (55+ points and a shutdown center) or is he Mikko Koivu now (fantastic defensively but gives you nothing in the offensive zone)?
Anton Lundell's skating looks much smoother than last season. Positive progress over the summer. I'm even less concerned about it now.— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) August 28, 2020
Wild Card: Jake Sanderson, LHD, USNTDP
47gp, 7g, 29pts
With the recent Miro Heiskanen performance in the NHL playoffs and his legit shot at the Conn Smythe trophy there will be buzz surrounding Jake Sanderson and him going in the 5-9 range in the draft. Often drawing comparisons to Heiskanen and Ryan McDonagh, Jake Sanderson is an extremely agile and physical LHD from the USNTDP who showcased a late surge in offensive ability starting around the 5 Nations tournament where he went from a fringe first rounder in a lot of people's minds to now a lock to go in the top 10. While counting stats will look pedestrian for Sanderson's case to be an offensive threat in the NHL; it is important to put into context that the USNTDP's development model gives players equal ice time and opportunity on special teams. When he was featured as the quarterback on the PP1 he showed out well, and his ability to police the blue lines and his outstanding gap control in transition has warranted a conversation over who will go first between him and Drysdale for the first defender off the board.
He fell to the mid-20s for me on my draft board due to our LHD prospect pool and having Dahlin already cemented as the PP1 quarterback in the 1-3-1. He feels more like a luxury pick for the Sabres that desperately need to address the scoring woes of the middle-6 forward group in terms of both quality players as well with cheap ELCs in the coming years with a cap freeze and expansion draft on the horizon. However, there is optimism in picking Sanderson as a player...and he should show out well as his strengths will only be maximized in North Dakota's aggressive deployment of their blue line in the NCAA. I'm less convinced compared to most scouts about the certainty of his offensive upside and I'll be monitoring his passing under pressure in the NCAA as he was able to escape pressure in the USNTDP with his feet more often than a controlled first pass.
There's so much smoke surrounding Cole Perfetti and the Detroit Red Wings that I didn't include him in this. I think it's a coin flip if Holtz/Perfetti were the two players left on the board for the Sabres...Seth Jarvis will get some buzz in the coming weeks (and deservedly so) but that's a risky pick for a 1st time GM to make in his first draft....Rodion Amirov is another player that would be interesting as well but I imagine the timeline of getting him over with the pressure to win now will factor into whether he's a realistic option for the Sabres or not.
Second Round #37 (RTTP: Noel Gunler, Jacob Perrault, Marat Khusnutidinov, Jan Mysak, Hendrix Lapierre, Lukas Reichel, JJ Peterka)
Dream Scenario #1: Daniil Guschin, RW, USHL
5'8, 161 lbs
42gp, 22g, 47 pts
Death, Taxes, Brassmaster falling in love with undersized skilled wingers. The second round, IMO if we're taking a forward, should be used to take a very high upside player that has slipped out of the first round. For Guschin, he has everything you'd want from a talent perspective in a first round pick. He's super quick and agile, a tenacious two-way player, leaves opponents' jock straps all over the ice with his skill, and can rip it as well.
His glaring negative is his size, however he is one of the few undersized players in this draft who will be able to make up with his size with his speed. In my viewings he can also try to do way too much with the puck and turnover the puck in unnecessary and sometimes catastrophic ways. This last point was mitigated going back over his tape during the pandemic and seeing just how pedestrian his linemates were in helping him. My limited viewings were backed by Scouch's data tracking of just how many shots were generated by Guschin compared to his teammates. He DRIVES play. He has the ability to transition with the puck on his own stick (something only Eichel and Dahlin can do on the current team), and he can create opportunities with his ridiculous stick-handling and passing skills. If he hits his potential he can run the offense on a second line...something this team desperately needs as we look to separate Skinner and/or Reinhart from Eichel to balance the scoring.
He moves to the OHL this upcoming year, and gets my vote for player to do the DY+1 imitation of Nic Robertson: undersized, boatloads of skill, shot generators, and puts up over 1.8 pts/game. Outside of the podium people...I'll be screaming at my computer at work for us to take him at 37.
#2020NHLDraft - Daniil Gushchin is maybe one of my favorite skaters to watch this year. His ability to control the puck and then immediately switch gears and fly down the ice is great. In the games I've viewed of him, though, an issue I've seen is somewhat frequent turnovers... pic.twitter.com/RNc7SFio2c— Dylan Griffing (@Dylan_Griffing) March 24, 2020
Dream Scenario #2: Ozzy Wiesblatt, RW/C, WHL
5'10, 183 lbs
64gm, 25g, 70 pts
I thought about just writing: His name is Ozzy, and his story growing up with a deaf single mother with 5 brothers should be enough for me to convince you. Alas, let me sell you on the hockey player. He's oft listed as a RW but I actually loved what I saw from him at center this past year, and in a draft devoid of high impact centers in the first round he could sneak higher than the Sabres draft pick. His motor is one of the tops of the class, and he is physical and borderline wreckless given his frame with amount of hits he gives on the forecheck. His speed is insanely good as well, he transitions the puck very well, and his has an above average grade from me with his shot and playmaking ability. His best weapons are his speed, physicality, and his ability to move the puck up the ice. I think his shot is dangerous with his release and his passing is very good as well.
Ozzy is the classic example of an undersized, highly skilled player falling to the second round because of size and position. However, if you take the sample size at center and let him develop there could be a really interesting prospect as well. He's the perfect player to draft after taking a player like Rossi in the first.
Ozzy Wiesblatt - #2020NHLdraft @PARaidersHockey— Joel Henderson (@dathockeydoe) August 3, 2020
He's showing his version of "fool me once, fool me twice".
This isn't something he tries all the time but he has the hands to pull it off and make it look easy. pic.twitter.com/IMtE9J3p4w
Realistic Option #1: Topi Niemela, RHD, Liiga
6'0, 163 lbs
43gms, 1g, 7 pts
I think the two realistic options for the Sabres if they go defense at 37 will be between Niemela and Grans to fill that massive void in the RHD prospect pool. While Grans has the size; I think Niemela would be my preference. I think he is extremely smart in his approach to the game, his stick is very active, his gap control is very good even if he lacks top-end closing speed, and he is very active in the transition game which I think gives him the nod over Grans for who I'd pick. Playing against men and doing so rather well as DY player impressed me for a defender. He doesn't end up in a tier of player that I personally would take here mainly because of the depth of the forward position at this point at the draft. I do think there is some offensive upside to him as he wasn't afraid to cycle down deep into the offensive zone and operate below the dots as a defenseman. His shot was wild last year...often times he'd get into good scoring positions but his shot limited him from being a more productive two-way defender on the scoring sheet.
Niemela is the modern day defenseman: good gap control, very good at transition, and is more than willing to engage to create a 4 man rush up the ice.
Solid hit from Topi Niemela.. Hugo Styf was not styf enough.— Yannick St-Pierre (@DraftDynasty1) February 8, 2020
*I still like Hugo Styf. He had a few very solid games when I was watching Wallinder. One of the youngest player in the draft too. Could be a decent late 3rd, 4th round pick. pic.twitter.com/jHxEBpH6gp
Realistic Option #2: Roby Jarventie, LW, Mestis
6'2, 185 lbs
36gms, 23g, 38pts
Speed and a deadly shot would be the simple way to describe Jarventie. A very late birthday in this class, he was able to put up insane numbers in the Mestis league in Finland this past year. With wonky rules (changing for the 2020-21 season) that really limits DY players to playing Juniors or Liiga in Finland, Jarventie got the opportunity to play against men albeit not Liiga and capitalized in a big way. While he's got a nice sized frame, he doesn't use it in a traditional power forward type of way. Instead staying out on the perimeter to look for opportunities to launch his rocket of a shot on goalies. There are some warts to his game: he is very dependent on linemates to get him into scoring opportunities as he's not very good at creating his own shot, and his lack of physicality with his size would be something you'd want to see him embrace more as he gains muscle over the course of the next few seasons. But with his speed, shot, and ability to find space he could be a very good complimentary winger for the Sabres.
Roby Jarventie is another player I'm a big fan of.— Ben Misfeldt (@BBMHockey) September 11, 2020
Has excellent tools including his shot, which was good enough to crack my top 10 list of best shooters in the draft.
Jarventie is a raw, high upside player who will be a great pick in the 2nd round.#2020NHLDraft https://t.co/xlBuDLMkJk
Wild Card: Theodor Niederbach, C, SuperElit
5'11, 172 lbs
40gms, 15g, 48 pts
My Wild Card comes with a few reasons. First, he missed the entire DY-1 year and jumped from u16 hockey to playing against 20 year olds when he came back. Missing a year of development, seeing a dramatic increase in competition, and then having the production numbers he had is very impressive. Second, he is one of the few natural centers that are available after Marat goes off the board that I'd be interested in taking a swing on if I'm the Sabres.
Niederbach's playmaking ability alone makes him 1st round consideration. There aren't many players in the draft that have the ability to create opportunities for their line-mates better than Niederbach. He sees the ice exceptionally well and is creative enough with his stickhandling to be able to weave and dart and hit players all over the ice. If I were creating 2 power play lines out of this draft it would be really hard to leave him off my forward list and put him on the half-wall to run it. His shot is a secondary consideration when he has the puck, but with some more muscle I think he will be fine. He may never be a consistent 20 goal scorer in the NHL, but I do think he has the threat of shooting and scoring to keep goalies honest.
There are some legitimate concerns outside of health for Niederbach though. His skating isn't that explosive and his pace of play is relatively slow compared to his counterparts. He was not that active as a defensive center which has a lot of people talking about him being a wing if he ever makes the NHL. Lastly, his production was heavily skewed towards the powerplay. He scored just 19 points 5v5 compared to his 29 power play points. He's going to have to pick up his scoring production 5v5 if he's ever going to justify a second round pick.
I'm a big fan of drafting Thomas Bordeleau, Brendan Brisson, or Zion Nybeck at 37 as well. Give me players who, if they hit, will be gamechanging additions!...If we wanted to go big and physical with the 2nd round pick I can see players like Sam Colangelo, Emil Heineman, Daniel Torgersson, or even Dylan Peterson being picked. I'm a fan of Colangelo and Heineman with the latter preferring to take in the 3rd+ rounds...I'd gasp and be disappointed for taking a LHD for what seems like the 5th year in a row, but if it HAD to happen I'd live with taking Emil Andrae at 37. Big fan of his game.
Fourth Round #99 (RTTP: Brett Berard, Alexander Pashin, Tristen Robins, Veeti Miettinen, Brandon Coe, Emil Heineman, Eamon Powell, Anton Johannesson, Brock Faber)
Dream Scenario #1: Sean Farrell, F, USHL
5'9, 179 lbs
44gp, 15g, 56pts
The reality is that in this draft there is a razor thin margin between the late 20s-low 80s in my rankings. There is such a wide range of outcomes that a player like Brett Berard could fall here or Sean Farrell could be a pick in mid-second round. I tend to believe that Sean Farrell will be a mid-late third round-4th round pick so I will list him here, but that doesn't mean he won't go higher.
If you watched any of the amazing u18 USNTDP team last year you may remember the Zegras', Hughes', and Caufield's of the tournament, but Sean Farrell was on that team as well as a late 2001 birthday. Buried behind so much firepower he went to the Chicago Steel this past year and really caught my eye in my viewings of him.
He's an explosive skater and, hopefully you're seeing a trend with my picks, has a very high motor in all three zones. He is a facilitator on the ice, moving pucks up the ice and gaining the zone with ease in transition. While he has a very low shot attempt rate (just over 2 shots a game) when he does decide to put it on net he does connect with power and accuracy. I don't see top 6 potential in him which is why he grades outside my top 62, but in terms of finding a high energy, defensively responsible forward who can create opportunities and bury them away...he's an excellent pick with a ceiling of a impact 3rd line winger.
I love Brett Berard as a value pick, love his offensive game. Sean Farrell’s playmaking is so silky when he’s at his best. There are some good USHL players who have been a bit under the radar.— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) June 22, 2020
Dream Scenario #2: Yevgeni Oksentyuk*, W, OHL
5'7, 157 lbs
58gp, 33g, 78pts
Size and age. Take those two things away from Oksentyuk and I think we're talking about a back-end first round pick in this year's draft. He is a great skater whose biggest limitations are due to his slight frame and small stature. He broke out this year turning a really bad Flint team in the OHL into a respectable team. His production rates all point to a somewhat successful rate. OHL players that have his production, involvement rate, and P1/e60 rates in the OHL as an overage have hit at about 45% in the past (getting more than 100 NHL games played). In the 4th round that's a great swing to make. With 4 picks in the last 130 picks getting one impact player would be a God-send. He's as good of a bet to swing on that might be available.
Yevgeni Oksentyuk was a buzzsaw this season!— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) May 16, 2020
Whether he was scoring a goal, making a creative play to set up a teammate, or getting in a scrum, he was a blast to watch with the @FlintFirebirds! #2020NHLDraft
His updated @DobberProspects profile here:https://t.co/jFfCByrjl4
Realistic Option #1: Mitchell Miller, RHD, USHL
5'11, 194 lbs
44gp, 8g, 33pts
He had an incident in high school where he bullied a student with mental differences that ended up going to court and was in the local paper. There's rumors that he's off some team's draft boards due to character concerns. However, on the ice he is a very smooth skating modern defensemen who transitions the puck extremely well both with a first pass and especially with it on his stick. He closes gaps well and has an active stick, however with his size at 194 lbs he did get out-muscled for pucks too much for my liking given that he's not exactly giving that much on his frame. His positioning will have to be fined tuned in the defensive zone, but this is about the area of the draft to try to hit on those bottom four defensemen and he's a good player on the ice.
RHD Mitchell Miller (@TriCityStorm) is one of the #2020NHLDraft eligible players that have grown on me this year.— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) May 26, 2020
Watch as he attacks the middle here and then when he loses the puck, he opens up on the backside to tap it home. He plays a smart game and picks his spots well. pic.twitter.com/tsUKfdw4Q4
Realistic Option #2: Rory Kerins, C, OHL
5'11, 172 lbs
64gp, 30g, 59pts
Rory hit my rankings over the summer when I went back and was watching more of Ryan O'Rourke. He's not a flashy player and didn't catch my eyes in the two viewings of Sault-Ste. Marie that I had earlier in the year. But watching those games again it's hard not to like the kid as a bottom six center. He's fearless on the ice, with a motor that keeps going, and is as defensively responsible of a center that you're going to find in the OHL. While his effort is always at 100%, his skating is perhaps what keeps him from vaulting up rankings list at the moment. He is by no means a poor skater, but his short burst agility and top-gear aren't anywhere near high-end.
He drives the net and crashes the net hard. He looks to the dangerous areas of the ice when he's in the offensive zone, and he can play the penalty kill at a very high level. In the 4th round he's an ideal candidate to fill in as a 3/4th line center/wing. If his skating ever improves he could be a nice steal.
Rory Kerins led the OHL in even-strength shooting percentage (min. 15 GP) with 28.26%. He finished the season with 30 goals (T-30) and averaged 2.06 S/GP and 1.43 EV S/GP. 28.26 is the highest EV SH% in the past 5 seasons. pic.twitter.com/G9fHQDS6WI— Dylan Griffing (@Dylan_Griffing) April 17, 2020
Wild Card: Samuel Knazko, LHD, Jr-Liiga
6'0, 185 lbs
48gp, 7g, 28pts
There are certain players that I watch that I can attribute to a specific media scout who I know will love the way they play. From the first game I saw of Knazko I knew this would be a Will Scouch stan (Scouch's video is attached in his name). The reason being is that he is SUPER aggressive defending the blue lines which has helped him mitigate any transitions that were happening against him due to his ability to stop transitions before they have the opportunity to even get to the blue line. He loves to jump in the offensive zone and pinch down to pressure the forward from being able to complete the exit pass.
He's a good transition defender as well. He was tied for the JR-Liiga's lead in point totals for a DY defensemen with Joni Jurmo who is likely to go in the early second round. There's some refinement in his defensive zone positioning and I'd like to see another leap in his offensive game as well, but for a guy projected to go in the 4-5th round he has a lot of positive traits to work with this late in the draft.
Ryan Francis trailed off at the end of the year and the buzz surrounding him has faded, but he has boatloads of skill with the puck on his stick and if you want to try to get a Guschin archetype without the draft capital of taking an undersized winger in the early second round he's a good swing to make...Connor McClennon was having himself a fine year before he broke his collarbone. You don't see too much hype about him going in the first 3 rounds as he's another undersized winger without top-end speed, but there's enough skill to take a swing....LHD Ethan Edwards is the only non-hyped second tier Canadian Junior league player that's worth a swing in my opinion. He's an amazing skater and really popped in the AJHL All-Star game. Even more so than Benning....Big fan of Justin Sourdif in the 3rd-4th round as a NHL caliber energy player who has the skill to be even more.
Fifth Round #130 (RTTP: Oskar Magnusson)
Dream Scenario #1: Dmitri Ovchinnikov, F, MHL
5'10, 161 lbs
54gp, 24g, 55pts
Super-fast and skilled forward who was left off of the NHL Central Scouting International Rankings is nearly impossible to predict what his actual draft range will be. He played in a weaker conference in the MHL during his MHL stint but still put up impressive numbers including being 7th all-time in points per game in the MHL by a DY eligible player. He transitions the puck well on his stick and through a pass, although his defensive game as a center will need an overhaul given the structure of his MHL team. He plays a very North American game in the offensive zone where he looks to go and pass to medium/high danger areas of the ice to create his offense.
Currently playing up in the KHL to start the 20-21 season. He hasn't scored in his first three games is playing limited minutes in a bottom line role.
*Dmitri Ovchinnikov, RW, Sibir Novosibirsk:— Dylan Griffing (@Dylan_Griffing) September 5, 2020
+ Skating speed and agility has translated very well
+ Bigger and stronger than last season
+ Showing more maturity
+ Fitting into the bottom-six role with ease
*will likely be sent back to the MHL when Sibir is at full health
Dream Scenario #2: Pavel Tyutnev, C, MHL
5'9, 185 lbs
36gp, 13g, 22pts
This may seem like a reach but watching him play the first 7 games of the MHL season this year I'm anticipating a call-up for him relatively soon to the VHL/KHL. He's an extremely creative player who is fantastic at distributing the puck as well creating opportunities within the zone to find teammates in the dangerous parts of the ice. His highlight reel is absurd. He was stuck on the 4th line last year on Loko's MHL team but still managed 22 points....and not to mention ALL of his points were primary points as well.
His motor is a little concerning especially away from the puck, and I'd like to see him get another gear especially in the small areas of the ice. But in terms of fun players to take in the 5th+ round there isn't one that was more fun to watch than Tyutnev last year.
Currently he has 8 points in the first 7 games playing in the MHL this season.
Yeremei Shumilin (2021) picked up a shorthanded assist today. Pavel Tyutnev (2020) created the rush and finished off the final pass. Tyutnev now has 4 goals in 5 games.#2021NHLDraft | #MHL pic.twitter.com/g2hQeBhTFL— Dylan Griffing (@Dylan_Griffing) September 14, 2020
Realistic Option #1: Zayde Wisdom, C/RW, OHL
5'10, 201 lbs
62gp, 29g, 59pts
Zayde was the glue guy on the dynamic line of Chromiak/Wright/Wisdom this past year. He was the muscle in front of the net, he was a grinder in puck battles, and showed a motor that went up and down the ice and was very defensively responsible. While sometimes I think his hands need to catch up to his speed; his skill level is still very good. He projects as an energy bottom 6 player who can play on the PK. His story of getting to where he is now by Scott Wheeler of The Athletic is a must read.
This is a really great zone entry and setup by Zayde Wisdom (2020). Really nice sleeper for the draft this year, super strong along the boards and quite a bit of skill on the puck. pic.twitter.com/iOlvhMiVLq— Sam (@DraftLook) April 8, 2020
Realistic Option #2: Victor Mancini, RHD, SuperElit
6'3, 201 lbs
38gp, 9g, 14pts
Another modern defensemen who uses his gap control to limit transitions and is very good with his first pass; Mancini bucked popular trends and went to play his DY season away from the USHL/CHL and instead went to the J20s in Sweden. He has some defensive awareness issues, but in terms of limiting transitions and getting the puck up the ice he has all the tools and measurables that say he could be an NHL Player. I have him ranked in the 6/7th round but since we're without a 6th round pick it could make sense for the Sabres to take one of the last remaining quality RHD prospects in the draft in the 5th.
Wild Card: Artem Shlaine, C, USHS-PREP (Shattuck-St. Mary's)
6'1, 174 lbs
46gp, 26g, 78 pts
A power forward with skill; he lead the way for the prestigious Shattuck-St. Mary's program this past year. I could see the Sabres taking a swing on the HS product given his NCAA trajectory and his combination of size and skill.
I'm a fan of Cross Hanas and think he'd be a decent swing in the 5th round with his combination of size and skill....Alex Cotton* at this point in the draft is another one who might be worth the swing despite his glaring defensive weaknesses...Antonio Stranges probably won't drop this far but it's where I'd RTTP to take him.
Seventh Round #192 (RTTP: Artur Akhytamov)
Dream Scenario #1: Benjamin Baumgartner**, C, NLA
5'9, 165 lbs
37gp, 7g, 27pts
Double overager playing in Switzerland who was a transition king in Scouch's data set and who also is responsible and passes to...but especially shoots from.... high danger areas. Could be brought over right after this season and make an impact on the AHL team and possible compete for the 4th line center role.
I've got a decent sample of 61 forwards this year. The #1 forward at generating individual HD chances per 60 in my sample?— Will Scouch (@Scouching) August 31, 2020
Benjamin Baumgartner. In the NLA.
47% of his attempts are high danger, #3 in my tracking behind two CHLers, who both generate far less attempts/60.
Dream Scenario #2: Tomas Chlubna, RW, Czech2
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 late round pick that I love: late birthday, and a very good point producer in an under-scouted league. Currently with 1 assist in 3 games in the Czech2 league.
4-1 by Tomas Chlubna (2020). Jakub Konecny (2020) gets the assist. pic.twitter.com/qM43ewP9kh— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) February 5, 2020
Realistic Option #1: Karri Aho, RHD, Jr A SM-Liiga
6'1, 179 lbs
47gp, 2g, 14 pts
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. When he moved up to the Mestis for a small sample sized of games he was over .5 points a game and looked even better than when he was in the junior league. Currently is almost a point per game player as an overager in the U20 Liiga league.
There are 5 players of 77 who complete 80%+ of their passes and are over a 70% OCZT%, with their DSAT% (high+medium danger attempt percentage) in brackets:— Will Scouch (@Scouching) July 17, 2020
Rodion Amirov (63.5% lol)
Anton Johannesson (56.7%)
Karri Aho (43.8%)
Oliver Tärnström (57.1%)
Hendrix LaPierre (35.7%)
Realistic Option #2: Theo Nordlund, LHD, SuperElit
6'0, 179 lbs
43gp, 3g, 11 pts
I really liked his transition defense and his first pass. His defensive awareness was very good and was a positive influence on the ice with almost a 68% GF rate. He had limited upside offensively and didn't play any PP time that I saw. Currently sitting at 3 points in 4 games playin the J20s in Sweden this year
Yesterday, Frölunda #J20 had Simon Edvinsson (2021) as the only defenseman on their top PP unit.— Jokke Nevalainen (@JokkeNevalainen) September 13, 2020
Today, they've given both Eric Hjorth (CBJ) and Theo Nordlund (2020) a chance to play there instead.
Wild Card: Ian Moore, RHD, USHS-Prep
6'3, 165 lbs
28gp, 12g, 46pts.
The RHD version of Jeremie Poirier in HS hockey this year. Offensively he's one of the more fun players outside the major leagues I saw with the puck on his stick. Defensively he was a sh*t show in HIGH SCHOOL hockey. I have no idea what to make of him. I think it could've been coaching, but some of the plays he made were things my 11 year old knows better than to do. Bet on the upside and that coaching can fix some of his defensive play as he transitions to college. Love that he's going to the Chicago Steel.
I was able to catch Ian Moore in person for his one game with the @USAHockeyNTDP this season and he definitely has the tool to make the @ChicagoSteel better on the backend. He's not flashy but he's a good skater who moves pucks effectively.— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) May 6, 2020
Another nice pickup by @ryanphardy! https://t.co/AXmpPrlux9
Seventh Round #209
Dream Scenario #1: Oscar Tellstrom, RW, Division 1 (Sweden)
5'10, 187 lbs
19gp, 13g, 24 pts
He came on my radar through Smaht hockey (smahthockey.com check them out!) and found some clips of him to look at. He came from nowhere and produced at a rate as a DY player the league hasn't seen in 20 years. He skates very well and is extremely creative on his edges. Quoting Josh Tessler "He can hesitate to make a play at times and end up either shooting or passing later than he should. Additionally, while he works hard defensively he can be overwhelmed physically and sometimes get behind a play."
Currently has played 2 games in the J20 league with 1 assist.
tired: where did emil heineman come from— Will Scouch (@Scouching) January 5, 2020
wired: who is oscar tellstrom
am i doing this right
Dream Scenario #2: Maxim Beryozkin, W, MHL
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.
Currently playing up in the KHL and has played 3 games with no points.
This month's #2020NHLDraft Report is all about sleepers!— Tony Ferrari (@theTonyFerrari) June 8, 2020
From mid-round sleepers including Isaak Phillips and Maxim Beryozkin among others to some intriguing summer birthdays!
I also profile a Jacob Perreault, the most underrated player in the 1st round! https://t.co/fWxvZXpV53
Realistic Option #1: Riley Duran, C, USHS-MA
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.
Going to play in the USHL this upcoming year.
Memory Road Reading— NHL Draft Analysis (@nhl_nz) April 12, 2020
Riley Duran, Lucas Mercuri, Devin Kaplan, Alex Servagno, Ryan Kirwan, Jacob Quillan, Zach Filak, Cater Mazur, David Sacco, Tanner Kelley, Jaden Grant, Kienan Draper, Aden Bruich
How do they look 12 months later? ⬇️https://t.co/MQPm5bsoUe
Realistic Option #2: Trevor Kuntar*, C, USHL
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 Boston College this year to play with Boldy and Newhook.
Wild Card: Joe Miller, W, USHS-MN
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. Off to play with my favorite GM outside the NHL Ryan Hardy and the Chicago Steel in the USHL this year
No one has heard of Joe Miller:
— eh_brahs (@BrassMaster418) July 8, 2020
- Absolutely filthy hands and was my favorite player to watch in the Minnesota HS tournament by far
- Born on the cutoff date
- He's a Chicago Steel draft pick (and go look how well they're doing developing talent)
- Minnesota commit for 2021-22
No one has heard of Joe Miller:
- Absolutely filthy hands and was my favorite player to watch in the Minnesota HS tournament by far
- Born on the cutoff date
- He's a Chicago Steel draft pick (and go look how well they're doing developing talent)
- Minnesota commit for 2021-22
My "I can't believe they fell to us" dream draft
1st round: Marco Rossi
2nd round: Marat Khusnutidinov
4th round: Mitchell Miller
5th round: Samuel Knazko
7th round: Dmitri Ovchinnikov
7th round: Pavel Tyutnev
Realistic Dream Draft
1st round: Rossi/Raymond
2nd round: Daniil Guschin/Ozzy Wiesblatt
4th round: Brandon Coe
5th round: Pavel Tyutnev
7th round: Benjamin Baumgartner**
7th round: Victor Mancini