Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical draft profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Sports is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Prospects”! For a Complete Listing of all our 2018-19 Articles Click here. We will be sure to bring you our comprehensive coverage of the 2019 NHL Draft.
February Rankings and Reports: 2019 NHL Draft
With the Junior seasons not just in Canada but throughout the world gearing up for the stretch drive and a number of international tournaments (Ivan Hlinka, Five Nations, Four Nations, Subway Super Series, World Juniors) in the books, we have gotten a decent overview of what some of the biggest prospects for the draft are doing this year. This is an up-to-date look and ranking of these prospects. That said, there is still plenty of work to be done and many important games to be played including the junior league playoffs, European playoffs, and of course the Under-18 World Championships. While the rankings still have some fluidity, a pecking order is also starting to define itself. For now, this is what we have, we hope you enjoy the early preview and be sure to be ready in late March as we roll out our full player-by-player draft preview.
16.) Arthur Kaliyev, Left Wing, Hamilton Bulldogs, 6’2″ 190 lbs
A second-round pick in the 2017 OHL Draft, Kaliyev made an immediate impact for the Hamilton Bulldogs and helped the team to the OHL Championship. He put up 31 goals and 48 points in 68 games last season. Kaliyev also had 11 points in 21 playoff games. This season he has been even better on the rebuilding Bulldogs. Kaliyev has scored 44 goals and 85 points in 54 games. The Staten Island native has a tremendous shot. He picks corners with ease, and his quick release often fools goaltenders. Kaliyev is solid on his skates and not afraid to get to the dirty areas of the ice. He establishes a position in front of the net and is tough to move out.
Kaliyev is also a skilled stick handler who can beat defenders in one-on-one situations. He could stand to work on his skating, as Kaliyev could improve his first few steps. Kaliyev has made some strides since his rookie season though, and his agility and edgework are above average. His top-end speed is good but not great, as Kaliyev is able to keep up with the play. One area he has improved this season is his playmaking. He has shown patience with the puck to make plays and set up teammates. Kaliyev has the vision and passing skill to find an open teammate with a pass through a tight area. He also needs to show more commitment in his own end of the ice. With a couple of small improvements, he could climb even higher on draft boards.
17.) Victor Soderstrom, Right Defence, Brynas, 5’11” 176 lbs
Soderstrom has already started playing games against men, with three goals and three assists in 33 games for the Brynas main club in the SHL. He also put up eight points in 14 games with the Under-20 squad. He is an elite skater which allows Soderstrom to play an effective two-way game. His speed is exceptional, in both directions. He also has very good edgework and agility, allowing him to quickly change directions. With good pivots, he transitions from offence to defence and vice-versa quickly.
Soderstrom has good vision and passing skills, whether it is starting the rush or quarterbacking the play at the point. He can also make the long breakaway pass in transition. His wrist shot is hard and features a quick release. However, he could use some work on his slap shot. Soderstrom can handle the puck, skating it out of danger or rushing through the neutral zone. He is also very good defensively, with a quick stick. He is tough to beat in one-on-one situations and forces opponents to the outside. Soderstrom is strong on his skates and willing to play physical.
18.) Cole Caufield, Right Wing, U.S. NTDP, 5’7″ 157 lbs
A diminutive but talented winger, Caufield has put up 36 goals and 55 points in 42 games this year. He was another one of the members of last season’s under-17 gold medalists before being called up to the under-18 squad for the stretch run and the IIHF U-18 World Championship. Caufield has an excellent arsenal of shots. His wrist shot and snapshot are both deadly accurate and have good power. They also have very quick releases which fool goaltenders. Caufield also has a very good one-timer. He has a knack for finding soft spots in the defence and getting his shot off.
He is a very good skater. While he has very good top end speed, his best attributes are his acceleration and agility. Caufield can dart in and out of open space and can beat defenders in one-on-one situations. He also shows the ability to make passes through tight spaces and the vision to find teammates but is better known for his goal scoring. Overall, he has all the offensive tools one looks for in a player, with the exception of his lack of height.
19.) Alex Newhook, Centre, Victoria Grizzlies, 5’11” 183 lbs
The St. John’s, Newfoundland native opted to go west, playing for Victoria in the BCHL rather than joining the Halifax Mooseheads after being drafted in the 2017 QMJHL Draft. Newhook is looking to maintain his NCAA eligibility as he is committed to Boston College. So far this season, he has 34 goals and 90 points in 50 games. Newhook has game-breaking talent. His speed is amongst the best in the class, and he has the acceleration and edgework to go with it. Newhook makes skating look effortless, almost as if he’s gliding above the ice. He combines this with the hands to make plays at top speed, and the smarts to seemingly always make a smart play with the puck.
A multi-faceted offensive threat, Newhook has a great shot, strong vision and passing skills, the ability to beat defenders with his finesse, and the power game to play in the dirty areas of the ice. His one-timer is a real weapon in the faceoff circles. Newhook has everything that a scout could want in a top centre. Newhook has also shown the effort and instincts to be strong in his own end of the ice. The biggest question at this point is the quality of competition he faces in the BCHL, as this can make him difficult to rank.
20.) Thomas Harley, Left Defense, Mississauga Steelheads, 6’3″ 183 lbs
Harley has had a really strong season with 10 goals and 46 points in 51 games. He is a strong two-way defender with good size and skating ability. He has very good speed and acceleration in both directions. Combine this with his good agility, edgework, and pivots and his skating allows Harley to play a strong game in both ends of the ice. Harley makes a good first pass out of the zone and can start the transition game. He is also able to make smart plays with the puck in the offensive zone. Harley has improved his shot this year and the goals are starting to go in as a result. He will need to continue to add power in order to be a threat at the next level.
Harley is an excellent defensive defenceman. He keeps good gap control and forces defenders to the outside. Harley forces attackers into bad shooting positions and uses his long reach to cut down passing lanes. He also has good positioning and reads the play well, helping him to be especially strong in his own end for a 17-year-old. As he continues to fill out his frame he should be an effective physical force at the pro level.
Main Photo: REGINA, SK – MAY 25: Arthur Kaliyev #34 of Hamilton Bulldogs warms up with a shot on net against the Regina Pats at Brandt Centre – Evraz Place on May 25, 2018 in Regina, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)