Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2018 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here.
The big day has come and gone, and now we look back to see how each team did in the NHL draft. Look, we know that it is way too soon to evaluate a draft and that the true evaluation will be seen four or five years from now. However, we don’t want to wait, instead, we follow our yearly tradition and do our draft grades now.
LWOH 2018 NHL Draft Grades Part 4
Note: VALUE PICK does NOT mean best player drafted. It means the best value. For Example, Rasmus Dahlin was the first player taken in this draft. However, he is not our best value pick for the Sabres. Why? Because anyone can take the best player with the first overall pick, we are looking for value here, what steal did the team get in the draft that went later than we thought he would? If it was merely an exercise in naming the best player drafted, might as well just name the team’s first pick, as that is who their own scouts felt was their best player.
A second note: The links lead back to our scouting reports.
Picks: Ryan Merkley, Linus Karlsson, Jasper Weatherby, Zachary Emond, John Leonard
Merkley is one of the most intriguing prospects in this draft. He is one of the top offensive defencemen in the draft but has real maturity issues. Merkley does not seem committed at the defensive end of the ice. Karlsson has good size and a strong wrist shot. Weatherby is another big centre. He needs to work on his skating. Emond is a lanky goaltender who has good reflexes. Leonard had a great freshman season for U-Mass. He is a smart winger with good passing skills and an accurate shot.
St. Louis Blues: C+
Bokk has outstanding stickhandling ability. He has incredible hands and can make plays in a phone booth. Bock pairs this with very good vision and passing skill. He is a goal scorer with an excellent shot. Perunovich was undrafted last year but had a huge season leading Minnesota-Duluth to the national title. The undersized defenceman is an offensive dynamo. Hofer was the backup goalie for a strong Swift Current team. He is a big goalie who impressed with his calm and cool when he got the chance to play.
McGing is an undersized centre who was undrafted twice. There are questions if he has enough skill to overcome his lack of size. Tucker is a very good defensive player. His offence could develop. Laferriere came into the QMJHL with a lot of hype, but his offensive game has not reached the levels hoped, yet.
Picks: Gabriel Fortier, Dmitri Semykin, Alex Green, Magnus Chrona, Cole Koepke, Radim Salda, Ty Taylor
Fortier is an outstanding skater. He has excellent top-end speed and he reaches his top speed in just a few strides. He works hard in his own end and is an excellent penalty killer. Semykin is a big defender who plays physical. He does not have much offence. Green was undrafted two straight years. He is another defensive defender. Chrona is a big goalie with excellent stats in Swedish junior leagues. Koepke is another third-time draft eligible. He has a good shot but lacks an all-around game. Salda is a second-time draft eligible. He moves the puck well but needs defensive work. Taylor had a solid season for the Vernon Vipers. He’s headed to New Hampshire. Overall this draft just has too many reaches.
In Sandin, the Leafs get a very intelligent defenseman who plays a strong two-way game. Durzi was undrafted in 2017 but had a huge season for Owen Sound. He generates offence from the back end. Der-Argutchintsev is an excellent stick handler who opens up passing lanes with quick feints and changes in direction. Stotts is a hard-working forward with a strong defensive game. After being traded to the Calgary Hitmen, his offensive game took off. Hollowell was also passed over last year. The undersized defender is a good skater who has strong puck-moving ability.
Kral is an excellent skater who loves to rush the puck up the ice. He is a good passer with excellent vision. Holmberg is another 19-year-old. He has great agility and edgework. Bouthillier face a lot of shots playing behind a weak Chicoutimi team. Kizimov is a good skater who has decent hands.
Hughes is the best skater in this draft class. He was the second best defenceman (and third overall prospect) on our board. He is dynamic offensively. Woo is an excellent defender and could develop into a perfect compliment to Hughes. Madden is a very good skater who gets involved on the forecheck and on the backcheck. He plays a straightforward, north-south style of game. Utunen is another excellent skater. He uses this to his advantage at both ends of the ice.
Manukyan is a very small forward who has been passed over in two previous drafts. He has outstanding skill though. Thiessen is a technically strong goalie who played in the MJHL. He’s headed to the University of Maine.
Morozov is another player with strong work-ethic at both ends of the ice. He is a good skater, who can take a defenceman wide and accelerate to the net on the rush. Demin’s strong two-way game is based around his solid skating. He is one of the best defenders in the Junior A ranks, and there is also some offensive game here. Cotter is fast winger, with outstanding agility. Kruse is an undersized 19-year-old winger who has excellent vision and passing ability.
Corcoran is a solid defensive defenceman. He is a good skater who will look to add more offence next year. Diliberatore is another good skater. His skill comes in the offensive zone though, with a good point shot and passing skill. He needs to work on his defensive game. Bouchard is another offensive defender. He is very poised with the puck on his stick, avoiding forecheckers and skating the puck out of danger. He is also able to take off and lead the rush. Kooy is an athletic goaltender who needs to refine his technique.
Alexeyev is a very good skater. He projects as a potential second pairing defender, who can play in all situations. Fehervary is a very good skater. He uses this to play a strong defensive game, with good positioning and the ability to keep his man in front of him. The son of former NHLer Wendel Clark, Kody works extremely well down low. He is strong on the puck and controls it below the face-off dots.
Sutter plays a north-south style of game. He is quick to get in on the forecheck and punishes opposing defencemen if he gets the chance. Gibson is a quick reflex goalie. He’s headed to Harvard. Kannok-Leipert is a stocky defender who likes to play a physical game. Florchuk is an excellent stick handler and good passer, who needs to add muscle and improve his shot.
Gustafsson is a goal scorer. He gets to the front of the net and uses his size to screen goalies and create havoc in front of the net. He is also strong defensively. Smith is a physical forward with a great shot. He can work on skating. Chisholm is a strong-skating two-way defender who has excellent gap control.
Vallati’s biggest skill is seen at the defensive end of the ice. He is very strong positionally as he boxes out his man and keeps his body between his opponent and the front of the net. He is very physical. Moe is an athletic goaltender who relies on his reflexes. His technique can be refined. Wong is an agressive, agitating forward who is not afraid to mix things up.
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