FanPost

Be My Valentine: 5-round Mock Draft!

DBTB –

Welcome back, my DBTB friends! For those of you who love a good Mock Draft (and who doesn’t?!?), I thought I’d post this link for your enjoyment: FC Hockey (nhlentrydraft.com). This is the Future Considerations Mock Draft generator, so you can create your own Mocks whenever its convenient. They do a pretty good job with it, so check it out. Additionally, the Athletic’s Scott Wheeler recently ranked the Sabres as the #1 Prospect Pool in the League. And that’s before three 1st round picks in this upcoming Draft. Wheeler has his detractors, but it’s an interesting study of the teams around the NHL.

The good news is that Omnicron and its cousins (uncles, aunts, siblings?) have seemed to recede of late, and we haven’t had any major stoppages in the major junior leagues. Neither in Europe nor North America. So, unlike last year, the kids are getting a chance to show off their wares on a regular basis, and in front of scouts who are now attending games on a regular basis! So, some semblance of normalcy is returning, at least to the hockey prospects world. And that’s a start.

The bad news is that the Draft, once scheduled to take place in Montreal this summer, might wind up being moved somewhere else due to the stringent restrictions on gathering put in place by the Province of Quebec. Or, even, (Gasp!) done virtually. If those restrictions will lift in the coming months, who can say? And while I’m all for any kind of besmirching the Habs franchise in any way, there’s no doubt Montreal is draped in hockey history and is one of the Meccas of the sport. It would be too bad for a lot of kids to go to, say, Dallas for the Draft instead of being in Montreal when they are selected…simply for the significance of being drafted at the Bell Centre, whether it be historical or geographical (how many kids might get drafted that are originally from the region?). Hopefully things will work itself out and we’ll see a Draft hosted by Les Habitants.

Now an observation and a bit of news.

The USA held its Top Prospects game, the Biosteel All-American game, a couple weeks back. It was a fun, high-speed, intense affair with Rutger McGroarty winning MVP on the back of his 1-1-2 showing. Lots of open-ice hitting, dogged puck pursuit, some sharp goaltending and a few scrums for good measure. It even went into Overtime! All the things you love about hockey. Players like Logan Cooley, Cutter Gauthier, Jimmy Snuggerud and Dylan Silverstein stood out to me; but a few surprises flashed as well, like over-agers Luke Mittelstadt (yes, that’s Casey’s brother) and Connor Kurth (a McGee favorite last year), as well as Tyler Muszelik between the pipes, Charlie Leddy, Cameron Lund and Jack Harvey.

The CHL Top Prospects game, once scheduled for February, has been moved to late March (3/23) and will take place in scenic Kitchener, so get your tickets now! That should be a fun one.

Now, an observation. I’ve been watching a bit more OHL action of late, and I think there is some real value in the middle rounds if you’re going to be drafting out of the OHL. There are a LOT of players who – after last year’s season getting canceled before it started – took a while to get back into form. A while, like 2-3 months. But as the calendar turned over to 2022, the cream is starting to rise to the top. There are players who are coming on and I think will continue to trend upwards to the end of the season…but will be drafted lower due to their prolonged lackluster showings early in the season affecting their production numbers. So kids like David Goyette, Owen Beck, Luca Del Bel Belluz (a real name!), Rodwin Dionicio (another real name!), and Gavin Hayes might wind up looking like brilliant picks in 3 years but, due primarily to COVID and cancellations, didn’t get their due in their Draft year. So be on the lookout for OHL players in the 3-4-5 rounds. Might be getting some real steals there. I drafted a couple here in this Mock Draft.

Lastly, my Top 15 or so remains unsettled. We’ve seen an explosion by Swede Jonathan Lekkerimaki of late, which has vaulted him into the Top 10 (for now). To my earlier point, former unanimous #1 Shane Wright is playing very well of late, as he tries to regain the chokehold on the #1 overall spot. Meanwhile, I’m starting to think anyone of the guys in the Top 6-7 could go in any order.

Next time, we’ll see a Big Board. Maybe Top 125? The Sabres will have at least 5 picks in the Top 125, so that should be entertaining to do.

Leave your thoughts, as I know you will. And now…enjoy!

ROUND ONE:

1. NEW JERSEY: Simon Nemec, RHD, SVK

2. SEATTLE: Logan Cooley, C, US NTDP

3. MONTREAL: Shane Wright, C, OHL

4. ARIZONA: Danila Yurov, W, RUS

5. PHILADELPHIA: Matthew Savoie, C/W, WHL

6. BUFFALO: Juraj Slafkvowsky, LW, FIN

7. COLUMBUS (CHICAGO): Jonathan Lekkerimaki, C/W, SWE

8. OTTAWA: Cutter Gauthier, RW, US NTDP

9. NY ISLANDERS: Pavel Mintyukov, LHD, OHL

10. COLUMBUS: David Jiricek, RHD, CZE *

11. DETROIT: Ivan Miroshnichenko, W, RUS

12. VANCOUVER: Brad Lambert, RW, FIN

13. SAN JOSE: Connor Geekie, C, WHL

14. WINNIPEG: Joakim Kemell, RW, FIN

15. DALLAS: Marco Kasper, C, SWE

16. EDMONTON: Alexander Perevalov, RW, RUS

17. ANAHEIM: Jani Nyman, LW, FIN

18. LOS ANGELES: Filip Mesar, W, SVK

19. WASHINGTON: Frank Nazar, RW, US NTDP

20. MONTREAL (CALGARY): Victor Neuchev, W, RUS

21. BOSTON: Ryan Chesley, RHD, US NTDP *

22. ST LOUIS: Artyom Duda, LHD, RUS

23. NASHVILLE: Jack Hughes, C/W, NCAA

24. PITTSBURGH: Jimmy Snuggerud, C/W, US NTDP

25. NY RANGERS: Mats Lindgren, LHD, WHL

26. MINNESOTA: Owen Pickering, LHD, WHL

27. TAMPA BAY: Tristan Luneau, RHD, QMJHL

28. TORONTO: Denton Mateychuk, LHD, WHL

29. BUFFALO (LAS VEGAS): Owen Beck, C, OHL

30. BUFFALO (FLORIDA): Maveric Lameroux, RHD, QMJHL

31. ARIZONA (COLORADO): Luca Del Bel Belluz, C, OHL

32. ARIZONA (MONTREAL/CAROLINA): Seamus Casey, RHD, US NTDP

ROUND TWO:

1. MONTREAL: Matyas Sapovaliv, LW, OHL

2. ARIZONA: Kevin Korchinski, LHD, WHL

3. SEATTLE: Calle Odelius, LHD, SWE

4. NEW JERSEY: Rutger McGroarty, C/LW, US NTDP *

5. ARIZONA (PHILADELPHIA): Adam Ingram, C, USHL

6. BUFFALO: Sam Rinzel, RHD, US HS

7. CHICAGO: Noah Ostlund, C, SWE

8. OTTAWA: Nathan Gaucher, C, QMJHL

9. ARIZONA (NY ISLANDERS): Ty Nelson, RHD, OHL

10. COLUMBUS: Jiri Kulich, C/W, CZE

11. DETROIT: Lian Bischel, LHD, SWISS

12. ARIZONA (VANCOUVER): Elias Salmonsson, RHD, SWE

13. ARIZONA (SAN JOSE): Ike Howard, RW, US NTDP

14. WASHINGTON (WINNIPEG): Regier Lorenz, C, AJHL

15. DALLAS: Gleb Trikozov, C/W, RUS

16. EDMONTON: Aleksanteri Kaskimaki, C, FIN

17. ANAHEIM: Lane Hutson, LHD, US NTDP

18. LOS ANGELES: Filip Bystedt, C, SWE

19. DETROIT (WASHINGTON): Jagger Firkus, W, WHL

20. CALGARY: Topias Leinonen, G, FIN

21. BOSTON: Devin Kaplan, RW, US NTDP

22. NY RANGERS (ST LOUIS): Danny Zhilkin, C, OHL

23. NASHVILLE: Simon Forsmark, LHD, SWE

24. PITTSBURGH: Alexander Pelevin, LHD, RUS

25. NY RANGERS: Cameron Lund, C, USHL

26. MINNESOTA: Liam Ohgren, C/W, SWE

27. OTTAWA (TAMPA BAY): Noah Warren, RHD, QMJHL

28. TORONTO: Jordan Gustafson, C, WHL

29. LAS VEGAS: David Goyette, C, OHL

30. CALGARY (FLORIDA): Mattias Havelid, RHD, SWE

31. NY ISLANDERS (COLORADO): Topi Ronni, C, FIN

32. CAROLINA: Matthew Poitras, C, OHL

ROUND THREE:

1. MONTREAL: Filip Nordberg, LHD, SWE

2. ARIZONA: Ruslan Gazizov, W, OHL

3. SEATTLE: Jace Weir, RHD, WHL

4. NEW JERSEY: Josh Niedermeyer, LHD, BCHL

5. PHILADELPHIA: Servac Petrovsky, C, OHL

6. BUFFALO: Fabian Wagner, RW, SWE

7. CAROLINA (CHICAGO): Kasper Kulonummi, RHD, FIN

8. OTTAWA: Vincenze Rohrer, C/RW, OHL

9. NY ISLANDERS: Ryan Greene, C, USHL

10. COLUMBUS: Alexander Suzdalev, RW, SWE

11. DETROIT: Paul Ludwinski, C, OHL

12. OTTAWA (VANCOUVER): Tyler Dunbar, LHD, USHL

13. SAN JOSE: Charlie Leddy, RHD, US NTDP

14. VANCOUVER (WINNIPEG): Kasper Lundell, C/W, FIN

15. DALLAS: Miko Mattikaa, RW, FIN

16. EDMONTON: Otto Salin, RHD, FIN

17. MONTREAL (ANAHEIM): Bryce McConnell-Barker, C, OHL

18. NASHVILLE (LOS ANGELES): Cole Spicer, W, US NTDP

19. WASHINGTON: Tomas Hamara, LHD, FIN

20. BOSTON (CALGARY): Julian Lutz, RW, GER

21. OTTAWA (BOSTON): Otto Hokkanen, C, FIN

22. ST LOUIS: Fraser Minten, RW, WHL

23. NASHVILLE: Garrett Brown, RHD, USHL

24. LOS ANGELES (PITTSBURGH): Jake Livanavage, LHD, USHL

25. LAS VEGAS (NY RANGERS): Spencer Sova, LHD, OHL

26. MINNESOTA: Jordan Dumais, RW, QMJHL

27. COLUMBUS (TAMPA BAY): Slava Sapunov, RHD, RUS

28. CHICAGO (TORONTO): Isaiah George, LHD, OHL

29. CHICAGO (LAS VEGAS): Rastislav Elias, G, SVK

30. FLORIDA: Dominik Rymon, C, CZE

31. COLORADO: Ryan Healey, RHD, US HS

32. MONTREAL (CAROLINA): Adam Sykora, C/W, SVK

ROUND FOUR:

1. MONTREAL: Josh Filmon, LW, WHL

2. ARIZONA: Niklas Kokko, G, FIN

3. SEATTLE: Quinn Finley, C, USHL

4. NEW JERSEY: Maddox Fleming, RW, USHL

5. PHILADELPHIA: Mike Buchinger, LHD, OHL

6. BUFFALO: Kocha Delic, C/W, OHL

7. CHICAGO: Cruz Lucius, RW, US NTDP

8. OTTAWA: Parker Bell, RW, WHL

9. NEW JERSEY (NY ISLANDERS): Tyler Brennan, G, WHL

10. COLUMBUS: Gavin Hayes, RW, OHL

11. DETROIT: Jozef Kmec, RHD, WHL

12. VANCOUVER: Danill Ivanov, LHD, RUS

13. SAN JOSE: Arseni Koromyslov, LHD, RUS

14. NY RANGERS (WINNIPEG): Mike Mastrodomenico, RHD, USHL

15. DALLAS: Vladimir Grudinen, LHD, RUS

16. NEW JERSEY (EDMONTON): Cole Knuble, RW, USHL

17. ANAHEIM: Nicolas Moldenhauer, C/RW, USHL

18. LOS ANGELES: Matthew Seminoff, RW, WHL

19. WASHINGTON: Niks Fenenko, LHD, QMJHL

20. SEATTLE (CALGARY): Kiril Dolzhenkov, W, RUS

21. BOSTON: Jack Devine, RW, NCAA

22. ST LOUIS: Hannes Hellberg, W, SWE

23. NASHVILLE: Brandon Lisowsky, LW, WHL

24. PITTSBURGH: Jorian Donovan, LHD, OHL

25. NY RANGERS: Tim Almgren, C/RW, SWE

26. MINNESOTA: Pamo Fimis, C, OHL

27. MONTREAL (TAMPA BAY): Sergei Murashov, G, RUS

28. COLUMBUS (TORONTO): Gustav Karlsson, C, SWE

29. DETROIT (VEGAS): Ludwig Persson, C/W, SWE

30. FLORIDA: Jake Furlong, LHD, QMJHL

31. DETROIT (COLORADO): Rasmus Ruusanen, LW, FIN

32. CAROLINA: Hunter Height, C, OHL

ROUND FIVE:

1. MONTREAL: Vsevolod Komarov, RHD, QMJHL

2. ARIZONA: Joel Jonsson, RW, SWE

3. SEATTLE: Mason Beaupit, G, WHL

4. BUFFALO (NEW JERSEY): Tyson Jugnauth, LHD, BCHL

5. PHILADELPHIA: Ludvig Jansson, RHD, SWE

6. SAN JOSE (VEGAS/BUFFALO): Brennan Ali, C, US HS

7. LAS VEGAS (CHICAGO): Hudson Thornton, LHD, WHL

8. OTTAWA: Jan Spunar, G, CZE

9. NY ISLANDERS: Santeri Sulku, C/LW, FIN

10. NEW JERSEY (COLUMBUS): Rodwin Dionicio, LHD, OHL

11. DETROIT: Kirill Kundryatsev, LHD, OHL

12. VANCOUVER: Dylan Silverstein, G, US NTDP

13. MINNESOTA (SAN JOSE): Tyler Duke, LHD, US NTDP

14. WINNIPEG: Liam Arnsby, C, OHL

15. DALLAS: Eli Barnett, RHD, BCHL

16. EDMONTON: Cameron Korpi, G, NAHL

17. ANAHEIM: Ryan Hopkins, RHD, BCHL

18. LOS ANGELES: Ilya Kvochko, C, RUS

19. WASHINGTON: Georges Fegaras, RHD, OJHL

20. CALGARY: Luka Hauf, C, GER

21. BOSTON: Jackson Dorrington, LHD, USHL

22. ST LOUIS: Christian Kyrou, RHD, OHL

23. NASHVILLE: Tristan Sarsland, RHD, US HS

24. PITTSBURGH: Michael Del Starza, W, USHL

25. NY RANGERS: Antoine Verreault, LW, QMJHL

26. MINNESOTA: Liam Steele, RHD, CCHL

27. TAMPA BAY: Yoan Loshing, RW, QMJHL

28. ANAHEIM (TORONTO): Colton Smith, RW, OHL

29. LAS VEGAS: Beau Jelsma, RW, OHL

30. FLORIDA: Grayson Badger, RW, US HS

31. COLORADO: Angus Booth, LHD, QMJHL

32. CAROLINA: Andrei Malyavin, LHD, OHL

Sabres’ Haul:

1#7: Juraj Slafkvowsky, LW, FIN: Mammoth (6’4 220#) Slovakian wing who has every tool in the toolkit. The only thing missing from his report card is production: in 21 games in Liiga, he’s only managed to notch 4P. Yet he’s dominated the Finnish junior league (the highest PPG for any draft-eligible in the league) and destroyed the Hlinka last Spring (9P in 5 games) for the Slovaks. He’ll play for his home country in the Olympic Games as a 17-year-old. As with many forwards of his size, questions immediately come up about his skating. Do not fear. Juraj is not a burner by any means, and at times his linear quickness, especially in short areas, is sub-par. He’s not going to win a lot of puck races. That said, he does have excellent lateral movement for a player his size. Extremely nimble, like a dancing bear, with great balance. Combines his edges with his strength to shield the puck from defenders, forcing them to overcommit before using his dynamic stickhandling and balance to make them look silly. Can use powerful strides to come off the wing and drive the net and doesn’t need to work hard to put a defender on his hip. And when he gets a head of steam going, look out. Looks like a freight train coming up ice. Where he really excels are his hands. For a big kid still growing into his frame, he owns a pair of really soft, and really quick, hands. Not overly reliant on his size, he can dangle you into next week if you’re not careful as a defender. A dual-threat, he has the quick hands to get off a variety of shots, including a nasty backhand in tight, or he can sauce the puck through traffic and his short-area passing is excellent. This is where his size really comes into play. He can hold off a defender with smart body positioning below the dots but has the awareness and vision to find or create space and get the puck to a free stick at the top of the crease. Has an inherent understanding of getting the puck to the net and can do it in a variety of ways. Will shoot the puck from anywhere if there’s nothing open; control the puck on the walls or in the corners if contested; carry it to the net if a lane opens up; or use his hands and vision to find an open teammate with a better look at the net. People will tend to fixate on his size, and that’s fair. He’s a huge kid. But he is still learning how to use it to enhance the rest of his game. Juraj will hit you, and when he does, it’s punishing, but he rarely lets himself get out of position…and even then, usually only in a forechecking role. He tends to play it safe when defending, and invites contact when he has the puck. I wouldn’t call him a big hitter by any means. His reach can also be very disruptive, making him an effective defensive forward in the NZ and on the forecheck, although he’s not accomplished enough in that area to be useful on the penalty kill or as a ‘stopper’. His primary focus is offense, as it should be with all his tools. That’s also where his size is most effectively employed. A puck possession monster, he can dominate entire shifts simply through controlling the puck along the walls or in the corners. Thanks to his balance and edges, it’s a tall task trying to get the puck off this guy. But he’s good off the puck as well, getting to the netfront, causing all kinds of havoc in the blue paint. Knows how to get position and leverage, and strong enough to keep it once he has it. Doesn’t stop working. Hands and hand-eye plenty good enough to tip point shots or deflect slap-passes past goalies. Lastly, and perhaps bestly, he’s a hustler. He doesn’t take shifts off, and he rarely loses focus when he’s out there. Wear and tear can sometimes lead to him underperforming at the ends of games, when the effort of dragging around a defender or two for twenty minutes starts to tire the kid out, but it doesn’t matter if he’s got the puck or not, or what zone he’s in, his work rate is high and consistent. Unfortunately, that’s the one thing that is constant with Slavkowsky. He’s got all the tools except high-end explosion in his skating. He doesn’t bring all his tools to the table simultaneously. You can see flashes of different skills throughout a game, but rarely together on the same shift. Can he use all of those pieces together enough of the time to approach his enormous potential? Hard to say. If he doesn’t, he’s probably a bottom 6 forechecking guy with flashes of offense…if he does, however…he reminds me of vintage Blake Wheeler, who had a pretty long run putting up 65-80 points every season. I do think, however, that’s he’s a project in the same way Wheeler was when Arizona selected him. Probably at least 2 years away before he makes a real run at a full-time NHL gig in Year 3. That said, given Adams’ drafting the last couple of years, the organization’s willingness to be patient, and a mentor with a lot of the same measurements in Alex Tuch, I’m starting to think Juraj is a very legitimate, maybe even likely, possibility for the Sabres if they finish in that 5-8 range. Of course, he may be off the Board by then.

1#29: Owen Beck, C, OHL: Speed and grind are the two words that define Owen Beck (6’0 185#), who’s been a riser throughout this season as a top centerman for Mississauga. Beck has some callbacks to JJ Peterka when he was selected by the Sabres. High effort level, high work rate, can shoot the puck and plays with a ton of intensity. While they play different positions, those are noticeable similarities. Beck has put up nearly a PPG as the Steelheads’ #2 center behind another draftable phenom, Luca Del Bel Belluz. While the latter is playing with OHL leading goal scorer James Hardie, the former has been used at times this year as their shut-down center. And Beck can certainly play that role. First off, he’s a tremendous skater. Great burst, excellent top-end speed, and very good lateral movement makes for a high-end skater…which is always a good asset to have, as you can win puck races, beat your opponent to loose pucks, and stick like glue to the opposition, whether on the forecheck or in your own end. Beck can do all those things. But he’s not just a pure speed guy. Very detailed in his approach, especially on the defensive side of the puck. His on-puck pressure is really strong, with an active stick and tight gap he’s tough to get away from, another area where his high-end skating helps out. Deflects or intercepts any number of passes in his area thanks to really sharp awareness of his surroundings on any given play. Despite being a rookie, he’s already on the Steelheads’ top PK group. A terror on the forecheck, he gets on top of defenders with that speed, and happily grinds in the corners and behind the net, allowing for his teammates to come in and turn over pucks. Good positionally, although could still use some work as he can get caught leaving his check to jump players to try to create a rush the other way…this leads to more than a couple odd-man situations against down low. Needs to get better at picking his spots. While Beck is an accomplished defender that will only get better with more experience, he’s not without some serious offensive tools. Here, again, his speed helps him out. A constant threat for a breakaway chance, Beck has the wheels and the mind to be dangerous at top speed, able to make plays flying down the ice that leave defensemen shaking their heads. This makes him a formidable dual-threat, as he can cut to the net with his excellent edges and get a prime scoring chance, or he can draw a defender and has the hands and the smarts to dish some sauce to a teammate for a great look. A major transition weapon. Has more in his bag than pure speed though. As I said, he’s a grinder, and can cycle it pretty well. Absorbs hits, and dishes them out in equal amount, and his footwork plus balance is so good he can protect the puck against much bigger defenders without giving it up. Also owns a nasty shot. A pure goal scorer in Midgets, that has not yet translated over to Mississauga yet, although he does have 15 goals (13 at even strength). But that shot is hard and accurate, able to pick corners or go bar down, and while his release is not Jack Quinn-quality, it’s solid and should only improve. He can employ it coming off the cycle, leading the rush, or trailing in an odd-man rush where he can get the puck in space in the middle of the ice and pick a target. Not only does he bring all of that in his bag of tricks, but he’s also a Top 5 face-off man in the entire OHL, winning over 60% of his draws. He’s leading all OHL rookies with 36P in 42 games, despite not playing on the top PP unit or 1st line for the majority of his time. I see Beck as a great "glue-guy", someone who can play up the middle as a 2, 3, or 4C…or could play up the line-up as a wing. Wherever you need him. And you’re going to need those kinds of players to win in the NHL. Think of an Anthony Cirelli in Tampa, or Chandler Stephenson in Vegas.

1#30: Maveric Lameroux, RHD, QMJHL: If Slavkowsky was Mammoth, I don’t know what you call Lameroux (6’7 200#). Titanic? This kid is a tower of power, an absolute beast defensively. Is there more there? That’s the Big Question. What does he bring to the table? First off, his size makes him stand out in a crowd. Hal Gill sized, but with Chara’s physicality and snarl, Lameroux is near seven foot tall on skates. But does the size do anything other than intimidate? Yes. This kid’s potential as a shut-down defender is based primarily in his skating. For someone with his awesome size and reach, he’s actually pretty mobile in terms of his skating. A smooth strider, with exceptional burst and really good top speed. At his size, with his stride, the simple fact he can really move allows him to cover a ton of ice in his own end and the Neutral Zone in a short time. His four-way mobility allows him to get on top of opponents before they expect it, eliminating their time and space and reducing their options before they’re ready to make a decision. This leads to turnovers caused exclusively by Lameroux’s skating – size combination. Now his lateral movement and his turn radius are sub-optimal, and he can be beat surprisingly easily by a forward coming with speed. A big component he must improve on to become a legitimate NHL defender. This means if you can take him wide outside and protect the puck from that reach, you’re going to get to the net and leave this kid behind you. Likewise, if you can change direction and go inside-outside or vice versa, you can tangle him up and leave him behind. So not perfect, but still, a lot to like there. Fortunately, he doesn’t defend with just his feet and his stick. He’s a mean SOB. If he gets the chance, he eliminates the puck carrier with extreme prejudice. Goes out of his way to initiate contact, and his balance is strong enough that when you run into him, you’re stopped cold. Like hitting a wall. He might occasionally target guys with their heads down, as you can see in THIS VIDEO (he was suspended as a result) but that can be a draw for a lot of teams. In the corners, or along the walls, he absolutely removes you from the play. Just engulfs guys, completely closes you out. I’ve seen him pin-and-hold a forward in place with one arm and recover the puck with only one hand on his stick then turn it the other way. Very effective defending down low and has a good feel for when the defense structure is breaking down – shoulder checks regularly to find opponents who’ve gotten loose in the slot or around the net and takes those passing lanes away. If he can improve his footwork and side-to-side movement, he could be a terrific defensive D-Man. And he's got time to develop. What about offense? In transition, when he gets going, he can fill the lanes and keep up with the majority of forwards. So that makes him dangerous. Has uneven hands; sometimes he flashes crazy-soft hands, dangling guys or receiving tough passes with ease. Other times, he fumbles the puck play after play, missing passes badly or turning pucks over to forecheckers. Also has a low panic-threshold; when pressured by forecheckers, he will give the puck away too often for my tastes. I do think a large part of that comes from his inexperience playing with the puck on his stick in those situations; more familiarity in handling the puck will help him improve in those areas. His shot is compact, which is great when you have a frame like his, but hard. Instinctively changes the angle, recognizes how important it is to get pucks through from the blue-line on in. Not a great passer, he frequently gets caught with his head down and misses open teammates, either seeing them too late or not at all, particularly out of sets in the O-zone. But every so often, he flashes brilliant playmaking ability in transition, which makes you think there might be more untapped there. That shows through in his pedestrian production, with only 11P in 32 games for a mediocre Drummondville team. Even with that, he’s still their #2 D-Man scorer. There’s a ton of raw material here. I think Lameroux is a longer-term project, and BFLO will have to be patient with him, but there are glimmers of a Mark Tinordi when I watch him.

2#6: Sam Rinzel, RHD, US HS: Monstrous 6’4 190# high-schooler (!), a highly mobile 2-way defender who sees the ice well on both ends and has flashed high-end offense now and again. Ton of upside. In his limited time playing in the USHL (before the Minnesota high school season started), Rinzel was a PPG player on a pretty good Waterloo team. At Chaska High, he’s put up 28P in 20 games...fairly pedestrian, sure, although he’s leading his team in scoring as a Defenseman. Setting aside his immense size, Rinzel is remarkably mobile and confident. Has an almost Dahlin-esque willingness to lure defenders in tight, then beat them with stickhandling and some nifty footwork before leaving them behind as he heads up ice. Rinzel – at a much lower level – has that same escapability and fearlessness…almost recklessness. High panic threshold. Will dangle guys, sidestep forecheckers, fake passes or shuffle to get opponents out of position before he shoots up the ice or puts a stretch pass on the tape. Exceedingly calm with the puck in his own end when his head is up. Powerful stride allows him to burst up ice, pull away from forecheckers in the Neutral Zone, and take advantage of open lanes when they present themselves in the O-zone. Sometimes he’ll get too far up ice and leave his partner to fend for himself against odd-man rushes, which can be a problem. Wicked shot, not heavy but hard and can get most shots through from the point. Takes any and all open ice if it’s given to him, pressuring his opponents and getting better looks for himself. For a player his size, his feet are very light, and his mobility in all directions makes him formidable with and without the puck. Capable shut-down defender, he can close out rushes with his reach and footwork, although he’ll get on the wrong side of the slot a bit too frequently for my liking. That has to get cleaned up. Active stick, again coupled with his skating, makes him an excellent penalty killer as he takes away the cross-ice pass, but can still retrieve the puck in the corner or challenge players on the wall. Gaps are hit-and-miss…sometimes he’s a python and just squeezes the life out of a transition play, other times he takes big risks – trying to steal a pass or pick a pocket – and loses. Which results in a Grade A scoring chance. Want him to play smarter when defending transition. Likewise, he can be a risk-taker on offense. Has excellent puck skills, hands are soft and shows really good puck control on the PP. Will use sidesteps and shifty shoulder fakes to get defenders leaning, then dart through the gap and create chances. But he doesn’t always allow for teammates to cover the openings he leaves behind. Uses that same aggressive style that Dahlin employs, not afraid to carry it end-to-end, or go 1-on-2, although against this level of competition, he often succeeds in getting a good chance. As he moves up, can his game change and can he learn to pick his spots more judiciously? Hard to know. With how good his tools are, this is more than a worthy selection. And he’s a pretty late birthday in this class, so that suggests he could have even more development time than many of his peers. BFLO can afford to be patient with him. Off to the U of Minnesota next season, he could be Sabre prospect Ryan Johnson’s replacement on the back-end.

3#6: Fabian Wagner, C/RW, SWE: It’s apparent to me that when Granato gets the roster for it, the Sabres will be a high-pace, quick-counter, attacking North-South team. You can already see it with Tuch’s line, and at times with Cozens’ as well. Wagner fits this profile to a Tee. An electric skater, the 6’0, 175# Wagner is a later birthday, two-way wing with some similarities to former Sabres’ pick Marcus Davidsson. But McGee, you may say, the Sabres refused to sign that bust Davidsson…why would they draft another one of him? Wagner’s impressive skating allows him to do more than Davidsson ever could and do it more efficiently. First off, let’s dig into his skating a bit. I think he’s one of the best skaters in the Draft class. Tremendous burst, but very elusive and razor-sharp edgework make him a real terror in transition. He can be a zone entry machine thanks to his straight-line speed forcing defenders to back off, and his agility lets him get leverage on those same defenders. No hesitation on the back-check either. Wagner can enter the zone, take the puck deep, make a play and then get all the way back to stick-lift a puck carrier and kill a transition chance going the other way, all in the same shift. Where the similarities are more apparent with Davidsson, and other Swedish wings like Asplund, is his focus on details. Always seems to be on the right side of the puck, keeps opponents outside when defending, doesn’t take a lot of risks. Then controls the puck on offense and always seems to put it in the right place. Stick positioning typically in the right place, stick is active and on the ice most of the time which helps his defensive effectiveness. Can be extremely disruptive defending against rushes or up top on the PK (when they let him). His passes are on time and accurate and plays a very smart short-area game on both ends. Wagner does need to get stronger, and work on his shot. Right now, he scores a lot of his goals thanks to his hands and his skating; his shot is a bit of a pillow and as he moves up, it certainly won’t threaten any pro goalie from beyond the dots. Not unlike Isak Rosen, his lack of strength doesn’t help him defensively in the corners and along the wall, where he can get run over or physically manhandled without a lot of trouble from bigger opponents. Positionally, he remains sound, so he’s very rarely becomes a liability in his end, but there are areas where he can improve dramatically. Which can be detrimental offensively as well, as Wagner is smart in how he handles situations like the cycle, he rarely comes out of a scrum with the puck, which can make him tentative in puck battles. As mentioned, a very good passer, pucks are hard and on the tape, and often the smart place to go with the puck. However, not very creative, either with his passing or his routes to the net, which likely limits his offensive production at the next level. Don’t get me wrong, Wagner’s ceiling is probably could a very effective middle line winger who is a ferocious forechecker and the defensive conscience of a line. Having that kind of value in the 3rd round is pretty solid. Wagner has 31P in 34 games at the U-20 level in Sweden, but has recently "played" (i.e. gotten limited ice time) at the senior Men’s League level, the SHL. Was also one of the top scorers (4P in 5 games) for Team Sweden’s medal-winning group at the Hlinka last Spring.

4#6: Kocha Delic, C/W, OHL: As I mentioned in my intro, I think there’s some real value from the OHL in the middle rounds as guys who hadn’t played for more than a year took some time to get going again. This kid is one of those value picks. Delic (pronounced like ‘psychedelic’) was a kid I was high on coming into the year, but started out really slow…so much so I thought he might be undraftable…but has really come on since the turn of the calendar, putting up 12P in his last 10 games for a hot Sudbury team and now has 33P in 42 games this season and I’m betting will wind up as a PPG guy by the end of it all, assuming everything remains the same. A little bit like a Josh Bloom without the size, Delic (5’11 185#) has a lot of really good tools, but none of them are truly elite. That said, he plays with a high level of intensity and has a fantastic work ethic. Predominantly an offensive player coming in to junior, Delic has a bunch of assets on that end. Instincts for finding open space, getting to scoring areas, and knowing where the puck is going before it gets there are top-notch. Has a great feel for the game. And excellent hands make him dangerous when the puck does find him – his deadly release is quick and efficient, and his plus shot can beat goaltenders from the high slot on in. It’s hard, and accurate, which makes his ability to get open a huge asset if he can skate with a legitimate playmaker. I don’t think he’s going to do a lot of creating his own shot as he moves up to the pro ranks. A shooter first, Delic does a great job making himself available for passes in the slot and in transition. Stick on the ice, head up, always opening up to the puck carrier. Not a poor passer by any means, but that is almost always secondary for Delic when considering his options in the O-zone. One of those players when you watch the entire game, aren’t really that wowed by, then you look up and are surprised when you realize he had 3 points. Not a lot of flash and dash, the puck just seems to follow him when he’s on his game. That carries over to his entire game. Originally a pure shooter type, Delic has developed into an effective two-way player as the year has gone on. Excellent motor keeps him running hot all over the ice, especially in puck pursuit. An absolute hound on the puck, he’s a ferocious forechecker and never quits on a backcheck. Smart, savvy player as well, who reads the play in space and can disrupt zone entries, exits and intercept a lot of pucks in the Neutral Zone where he can lead quick counters thanks to his heads-up, instinctive defensive play. His skating is good – he’s not a burner, nor can he carve up the ice with his edges and make people look bad all night. Just always in motion, feet always moving, he has solid acceleration and is slippery enough to make enough people miss when he’s coming down the ice with the puck. He’s not going to be winning the Fastest Skater competition, but Delic’s skating is plenty good enough. Also has some grit to his game. Not afraid to jam in the crease against bigger defenders, muck it up along the walls or even employ a little stick work when the opportunity arises. Will absolutely battle and doesn’t back down from anyone. Was suspended for two games earlier this year for a slewfoot, so he’s no angel. Delic may not pan out, but I think the upside here is significant and his ability to be a bit of a chameleon and play whatever role you give him will be an asset. There’s some Connor Brown to his game, just a glue guy who can score 20+ on the top line, or grind and bang on the 4th line, whatever you need him to do.

5#4: Tyson Jugnauth, LHD, BCHL: Another great name – this Draft is killing it with the names – you may say, but McGee, another leftie on D? Do they really need that? The answer is…you never know. Injuries, contract issues, chemistry problems, not meeting expectations…who knows what’s to come? That’s why I’m grabbing him here in the 5th round. Jugnauth is a 5’11, 160# blue-liner committed to Tony Granato – Donnie’s brother – at U of Wisconsin. He’s an offense-first kid and is shredding the BCHL with 18P in his last 10 games, 36P in 37 games for the year. He’s the league’s 2nd highest scorer among Defensemen. A gunslinger, Jugnauth is leading the rush as much as he’s triggering it from deeper in his own zone. And he’s got the wheels to do it. A dynamic skater, the kid’s pivots and transitions are high-end, and his lateral mobility and agility and exceptional. Extremely good linear speed, loves to lug the puck up ice, in fact although he’s a remarkable passer, it seems he would rather carry the puck than move it with the pass. Very light feet, he’ll dance around puck pressure, then flick a cross-ice pass to an open forward. The high-level skating, combined with his offensive smarts, makes for a highly dangerous attacker from the back-end. The reads he makes, the understanding he has of manipulating space and defenders in the O-zone, create all sorts of trouble for the opposition and can break down structure. Superb passer with a flair for the dramatic. Head is always up, sees the ice very well, and has the confidence to attempt passes that most others wouldn’t. More of a playmaker than a shooter, his shot is OK, especially from distance, but his superior hands allow him to deke goalies and score on breakaways or odd-man looks. But he does not shoot the puck nearly as much as he could. Has the hands (and mind) of a forward in transition, cutting to the middle, leaving drop passes for trailers, or stickhandling through defenders to create space and cause odd-man situations and structural breakdowns. And that skating helps in his own end. He’s a breakout machine, snatching up loose pucks and bursting out of the zone before the opposing forwards can catch up to him. Like Cale Makar before him in the BCHL, he’s dominating a lesser junior league so it is a challenge to truly know how good he is. But even in that league, two areas of concern stand out. First, he’s reckless in terms of how he attacks up ice and when he chooses to do so. There seems to never be a bad time to attack up the ice. He will get caught way up ice, will make any number of poor decisions on pinching, and can be so loose with the puck that he can kill good opportunities, create an odd-man rush for the other team, or leave his team short a guy in his own end due to some mistakes either with the puck or via poor decisions. Secondly, he’s very slight. I believe he’s grown two-three inches in the past 18 months or so and still growing. As a result, he can be easily pushed around, and if a bigger player bodies him up, that player almost always wins the resulting battle. It’s tough for him to win around the net front, either tying up sticks or clearing the crease. That said, I think this is a longer-term pick. He probably needs three years with the Badgers before the Sabres take a closer look at him (remember, Makar went #4 overall and still took 2 years in NCAA before moving to the pros). The Sabres are already deep. They can afford to take a chance on a high-upside player or three. This is one!

6#6: Daniil Davydov, C, RUS: What would a Sabres’ draft be without a Russian, am I right? Hard to go to Russia these days and not run into a Sabres’ prospect. But seriously folks. This kid adds more skill to the pipeline, especially on the offensive end. What makes Davydov appealing is his processing speed – he sees the flows of the game and makes plays without any hesitation. A clever player, very cerebral in his approach, Davydov dissects defenses and gets the puck in a hurry to the right spot to create chances. He’s a very good passer, less so as a shooter, but carries the play and will hold onto the puck for as long as it takes to get teammates into high-danger areas where he can set them up. Will lure defenders to him and put some sauce into the slot, manipulate the opposition to open up passing lanes, and will typically look to the middle of the ice as his first option. Has that Krebs-style of game where all of his passing options have to be taken away before he looks to shoot the puck, unless its in transition. And did I mention it’s not easy to take the puck of this kid? Feet always moving, he’s evasive and slippery, and will possess the puck for long stretches if he has to. Strong on the details, always positionally sound on both ends, manages the puck well. Excellent face-off man – not on the same level as Owen Beck (above), but one of the strengths of his game. Has a sixth sense for knowing when to press up on an opponent, and when to play it conservative…nearly always making the right choice. A two-way player. Defends well in space, and even when he’s not checking the puck carrier, seems to find his way to the right spot in the zone to cut off dangerous plays before they happen. Don’t even try a cross-ice pass when he’s in the neighborhood. His development on this front is very advanced for a player his age and highlights his hockey smarts and feel. At 5’11 170#, he’s not small, but he doesn’t actively make his way into the middle of the ice in the O-zone, although Davydov clearly recognizes the value of putting the puck into that area. Contact is not something he seeks out and will play a perimeter game if given the opportunity. Needs to get tougher attacking the middle with the puck, or defenses will simply play off him and take away the passing lanes, rendering him ineffective, particularly in sets or at even strength. That said, he’s got an edge to him, and his 60+ PIM this year shows there’s some snarl there when challenged. Also, he needs to develop a more potent shot, if only to present as a legitimate option to opponents so they can’t sit on his passing. Hands are remarkable, and he can be very dangerous with the puck on odd-man rushes, turning defenders inside-out with a variety of stickhandling moves and dekes. Some of these are things that will come with time and coaching, as he gains strength and more resolve to get to the slot area or work harder along the walls. But it will take time. Putting up a respectable 24P in 43 games in Russian juniors playing on one of their best teams in St. Petersburg. Snakebit at the Hlinka, even in a minor role on their gold-medal winning team, he didn’t notch a point. He’s a bit a flier here, but I think it’s a good gamble on a high-upside player who’s just coming into his own.

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.