Welcome to the 2019 Top Shelf NHL Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2019 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top NHL prospects. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2019 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the Top 100 NHL Prospects.
What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at NHL prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2019-20 roster of the NHL team in question. The cut-off for what is or isn’t considered one of our NHL prospects is 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.
Top NHL Prospects
After going through each team’s top 10 NHL prospects, and then ranking every organization in the NHL, we now bring you our top 100 NHL Prospects. This was a very difficult list to compile, and there are a number of players who barely missed the cut. There is so much talent coming into the league, hockey fans have a lot to look forward too. With that said, let the debates begin.
One Note, Clicking the Player Name will take you to the team’s NHL prospects page, or his individual draft scouting report.
Kaprizov is extremely creative. He has very quick and has very soft hands. He can stick handle in a phone booth and has a wide variety of moves. When this is combined with his quick skating, he is very tough to handle one-on-one. Kaprizov has the ability to make these moves and handle the puck while moving at top speed. He also has excellent vision and passing skills. He makes tape-to-tape passes, hitting teammates through tight spaces. As good as his playmaking skills are, Kaprizov is a goal scorer. He has a strong wrist shot and excellent release. He also has an outstanding one-timer. Kaprizov has a knack for finding soft spots in the defence and getting that shot off.
Vesalainen has excellent size and uses it to protect the puck along the boards and extend plays in the cycle. Gifted with a large wing-span, Vesalainen takes advantage of it and uses his excellent stickhandling ability to play keep-away with defenders. He also has the passing skill to move the puck to teammates in good areas once he creates that time and space. A budding power forward, Vesalainen wins battles along the boards. He is also not afraid to fight through checks to get to the front of the net. Vesalainen also has an excellent array of shots. His wrist shot and snapshot both feature great power and a quick release.
York’s biggest asset is his hockey sense. He usually makes smart decisions both with and without the puck. York joins the rush and pinches at the right times. He also makes the right breakout pass and can skate the puck out of danger when necessary. This allows him to create offence while still maintaining his defensive responsibilities. York has excellent vision and the passing skills to quarterback the power play. He can put the puck through tight spaces and can set up teammates on both his forehand and backhand. He sees and anticipates the movements his teammates will make. York also has a hard shot but needs to get better at getting it through shooting lanes and on the net.
Sandin is an extremely intelligent player. He is poised with the puck on his stick and makes smart plays. Sandin has great vision and the ability to thread the needle to the open man with good passing skills. He can make the long stretch pass to create a breakaway or odd-man rush when it is available. When the home-run type play is not there, he does not try to force it, instead, finding a quicker, shorter pass to start the transition game. Sandin also has the vision and skills to set up plays on the power play. He also has a good arsenal of shots, which he has a knack for getting on the net. Sandin is much more likely to use a wrist shot or snapshot than he is to load up for a slap shot
Sorokin is an extremely athletic, butterfly style goaltender. He gets side-to-side quickly and makes a number of saves that will leave make jaws drop. Sorokin never fully gives up on a play and can show very quick recoveries. He has outstanding reflexes and his quick legs take away the bottom of the net. Shooters can try to go high but his blocker and glove are very quick too. He doesn’t fully take advantage of his height as Sorokin could come out further to cut down angles and give shooters less to look at. Sorokin likes to play deep in his crease. He has worked to improve his rebound control over the years and it is now very good.
Big and strong, Brown can be a dominant player below the hash-marks. He has a powerful stride, protects the puck and takes it to the front of the net. Brown has the soft hands to finish plays in close to the net, and also has a powerful shot from further out. He does not seem to use that shot enough though, preferring to play the role of playmaker. Brown needs to continue to shoot in order to keep defenders off-balance. He is still mainly a playmaker though. Brown uses his size and strength to protect the puck in the cycle game, extending plays and waiting for teammates to get open. His long reach is a real asset in protecting the puck and keeping possession.
Fabbro is a two-way defender who does everything well. He moves the puck effectively, with a crisp first pass and good stickhandling ability. Fabbro starts the transition game with a smart first pass. He can also avoid oncoming forecheckers and start the play by skating out of his own end of the rink. He is willing to lead the rush or jump in to provide offensive support as a trailer. Fabbro is poised with the puck and quarterbacks things from the point on the power play. With his good vision and high hockey IQ, he can play the role of the playmaker from the back end. Fabbro also has a hard and accurate slap shot and has an excellent release on his wrist and snapshots. He is a goal-scoring threat at the point or on the rush.
Krebs is best known for his playmaking ability. He can thread the puck through extremely tight spaces, as well as make strong saucer passes. He is also good at passing the puck on his backhand. His strong hockey sense allows him to read the play and anticipate the movements of teammates and opponents. Krebs has excellent vision and finds the open man. His stickhandling is very good and he can make moves at top speed. When you couple this with his skating, he can create passing lanes with quick movements. If defenders back off to respect his speed, Krebs can take advantage of the added room by letting go a powerful and accurate wrist shot, with a quick release.
Farabee has good hands and stick skills allowing him to control the puck while moving at top speed. Defenders must respect his speed, and back off him on the rush, creating shooting and passing lanes. Farabee has good vision and is an outstanding playmaker. He anticipates extremely well and seems to be a step ahead of the play. Farabee finds open ice without the puck and makes smart plays with it. He could stand to add some power to his shot. This may come as he adds muscle. He is able to score goals due to a quick release and being extremely accurate. It could be even better with more power though. Farabee is a bit on the smallish side. He works hard to get in on the forecheck, and get to the front of the net but needs to add muscle to be more effective.
Kupari is most dangerous with the puck on his stick. He is a tremendous stick handler and can beat defensemen one-on-one. Pairing this with his skating skills, and he is difficult to defend. Kupari also has very good passing skills and excellent vision. Once he opens up a passing lane, he quickly makes a tape-to-tape pass to a teammate. Kupari anticipates plays well and knows where his teammates are going before they make their move. He almost always makes the smart play with the puck. Kupari wrist shot has a good release, but he needs to work on both the accuracy and power of the shot. He needs to add mass to his frame, as he can have issues being pushed off the puck.
Hayton is not afraid to get to the front of the net. Once he gets there, he battles hard for position and has the soft hands to finish plays in tight. Hayton scores on tip-ins, quick one-timers and by quickly pouncing on rebounds. He can even score on his backhand. Hayton plays a straightforward game. He protects the puck well on the cycle and has some soft hands. However, he is not the type of forward to dangle a defenceman and get past him in a one-on-one situation. Instead, Hayton looks to keep the puck moving, find the open man, and then get it to the net. He is a smart player, who makes smart plays with the puck on his stick. He is also good on the forecheck.
Newhook combines sublime skating with the hands to make plays at top speed. He also makes smart plays with the puck. He has the ability to beat defenders with finesse and the power game to play in the dirty areas. Newhook sees the ice well and finds teammates to create scoring chances. He has the passing skills through tight areas on both his forehand and backhand. Newhook is a playmaker both working the cycle game and off the rush. A multi-faceted offensive threat, Newhook also has a great shot and a quick release. His one-timer is a real weapon in the faceoff circles. He is not afraid to battle on the boards and to fight for position in front of the net.
Boldy has a powerful skating stride. He can fight through checks and get to the front of the net. Boldy has very good balance and is tough to knock off the puck. Boldy is a pure sniper. He has an excellent wrist shot and release. It is close to being NHL calibre already. He also has a very good snapshot, slap shot and one-timer. Boldy has very good hands. He can make moves in tight to beat a goaltender. Excellent hand-eye coordination also allows him to tip-in pucks and bang in rebounds. He even has a good backhand. Boldy is a smart player. He finds soft spots in the opposing defence when he does not have the puck, finding the space that allows teammates to set him up to get his shots off.
Broberg is an outstanding skater and this defines his game. He has excellent speed, moving effectively in both directions. His first step quickness and acceleration are also top-notch as he reaches that top-end speed in just a few strides. His agility and pivots are also very good but could still use some work to reach the same level as his speed and acceleration. The strong-skating allows Broberg to play an effective two-way game. Broberg’s long stride generates a lot of power and he is able to fight through checks. His excellent balance and solid base allow him to win battles against his opponents, especially when he has been playing against those his age. There is room to get stronger and more powerful when facing men.
Steel is an outstanding skater. Once he gets a step on a defender, he is gone. Steel takes advantage of this on the rush where he can take defenders wide and cut to the front of the net. He can also make a quick cut and take the inside route. Steel has a powerful stride, with good balance and the ability to fight through checks. Steel has outstanding stickhandling ability and very soft hands. He combines this with the skating to weave through traffic and create plays off the rush. Steel also has a good wrist shot and a quick release, allowing him to use defenders as a screen. Add in excellent vision and passing skills and Steel excels as a playmaker. In fact, his playmaking ability is probably the biggest strength of his game.
Hronek projects as a puck-moving defenseman as he has a number of good offensive skills. He sees the ice extremely well and has very good instincts and passing skills. He can utilize these with a good first pass out of the zone to start the transition game, or to quarterback the power play. Hronek has poise with the puck on his stick, and the patience to wait for shooting or passing lanes to open up. His agility and lateral movement allows him to create those lanes as well. He also has the stickhandling ability to get away from forecheckers and to maneuver with the puck through the neutral zone. When it does, he can thread a pass through a small opening. Hronek has a decent slapshot, which he gets through traffic and on the net.
Brannstrom is an excellent playmaker. He has outstanding puck handling ability and the poise to control the puck and make plays in all situations. He can use his skating and stickhandling to break the puck out of his own zone and get the transition game started. Brannstrom can create offence both through leading the rush and as a trailer. He also is able to walk the line at the blue line, making smart plays when quarterbacking things from the point. His passing skill and vision are also high-end and gives the impression that he can be a power-play quarterback at the next level. He is smart with the puck, making smart plays with it on his stick.
Samsonov has the ideal size that teams are looking for in goaltenders and makes the most of that size, coming out to challenge on plays. He reduces the amount of the net that forwards have to shoot at. He is very athletic and never gives up on a play. Samsonov has strong legs and gets side-to-side across the crease quickly and efficiently. He plays a tight butterfly and his legs kick out quickly to take away the bottom of the net. He has a fast glove hand and blocker as well. Samsonov skates backwards very well, and this makes him hard to beat on dekes. He comes out to cut down those angles but backs up quickly if the shooter instead tries to go around him. His positioning is very good. He remains square to the puck even when moving around the crease.
Frost uses his speed, quickness, and agility to really challenge defenders in one-on-one situations. He is extremely hard to contain off the rush. He can use his skating to create openings. Frost recognizes that if a defender is playing a little bit too far off of him; he can slow up. This creates passing and shooting lanes. He sees the ice extremely well and anticipates the movements of his linemates. As such, he makes smart plays and sets up scoring chances. He can also create in the offensive zone, especially on the power play where he quarterbacks from the point. While Frost is more of a playmaker than a goal scorer, he has the soft hands and quick reflexes to finish plays in tight. He also has good accuracy as well as a quick release and can score from the slot.
Batherson is a pure sniper. He has a very heavy wrist shot and quick release. Batherson also has the quick hands to beat a goaltender in tight and the hand-eye coordination to get tip-ins, pounce on rebounds, and bang in one-timers in close. Able to score in a number of ways, Batherson also has a good backhand. Added size and strength have helped Batherson battle in front of the net and in the corners. While he can still fill out his frame, he’s already made some big strides. Batherson is also a talented stick-handler. He controls the puck on an offensive zone entry, speeding up or slowing down the game while he waits for his linemates to get open.
Main NHL Prospects Photo:
CALGARY, AB – MARCH 21: Ottawa Senators Defenceman Erik Brannstrom (26) warms up before an NHL game where the Calgary Flames hosted the Ottawa Senators on March 21, 2019, at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, AB. (Photo by Brett Holmes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)