By #jontent (@yakovmironov)
Prospect Reports from Tom Hunter (@puckdontlie)
Over the course of the past six months you may have seen Consolidated Rankings from Tom and I over at TheLeafsNation.com. In case you were wondering if we still planned on doing this in our new locale, you now have your answer.
The rankings are simple, we use nine different ranking services and combine their top 30 into one easy to debate list. The impact from the hottest takes are minimized by doing this and as we inch closer to the draft, we’re seeing greater alignment from the rankers.
Generally, there is consensus on the top 20, but after that it’s anyone’s guess as there are presently 48 players in total who have received at least one top 30 ranking from these services.
How Current Are These Rankings?
At their best, following the World Juniors, we had fresh rankings for all nine services. As we’ve moved further away from that, some of the rankings have become outdated and do not reflect important events like the NCAA Frozen Four, CHL Playoffs, and U-18 Tournament. In many cases we are now seeing places hold out to release their final rankings for their draft publications.
A few things of note here. The previous rankings were completed on April 12th over at TLN. The NR’s that appear in the Low column are the number of times those players were not ranked in the top 30 at all, which means we have only 6 players that every agrees go in the top 10, 13 players that everyone agree will go in the top 20, and only 19 players who there is agreement on being definite first rounders.
The new column that I’ve just added this month is the average column, and that’s the average ranking of those who did rank the player in the top 30. It starts becoming interesting with Dante Fabbro at 15 who has a significantly higher average ranking than a number of players who were unanimously top 30 guys. You can also see that those who like Samuel Girard, Logan Stanley, and Vitali Abramov really like them a lot and that helped them out over prospects who appeared on more lists.
Reasons for the Changes
Corey Pronman’s list has been updated for the first time since February, and with his rankings being quite popular that was the reason for rolling out the new consolidated list today. Pronman’s rankings are behind a paywall, so I won’t share his full list, but play over the past few months resulted in very significant impact to the ratings for Logan Brown, Michael McLeod, Max Jones, Rasmus Asplund and Julien Gauthier. As you can see from the Consolidated Rankings above, Brown, Gauthier, and McLeod all had significant movement.
A new top 15 from Bob McKenzie is also something worth noting, and this list came out just prior to the Draft Lottery. Like Pronman there is a big spike for Logan Brown, and big drop off for Michael McLeod. Jakob Chychrun’s drop off has become common place, as has Dubois moving into what looks like a firm hold on the number five spot in the draft. Both Keller and Jost benefited from the U-18 tournament as well, and hot Juolevi takes seem to have been replaced with hot Sergachev takes which really seem to signify that you are better taking a forward in the top 10 this year.
The most interesting story with the ISS rankings that came out on May 2nd is Dante Fabbro. In March Fabbro was ranked 24th. In April he disappeared from the top 30 all together. In May he may his triumphant return at the 19 spot. This has had a huge impact on Fabbro’s month to month consolidated score, but the hope is we’ve returned to normal and if McKeen’s includes Fabbro in their top 30, he could be in the conversation for being one of the top 12 prospects in the draft. The fact that Fabbro is right handed defenseman probably helps his stock with teams drafting for need any way.
Beyond Fabbro, the inclusion of Logan Stanley is always an interesting one (as Tom will explain later), and it’s clear that ISS (like a lot of people) were really excited to see how Tyson Jost did against tougher competition than the BCHL when he attended the U-18s last month.
Draftbuzz is our other recently refreshed ranking, and the trends are similar to what others have been doing. Brown, Jost, Fabbro are trending up. Chychrun and McLeod are trending downward.
The one player of note that we haven’t touched on with their downward trend is Pascal Laberge. Laberge was the darling of the Top Prospects game and that helped put him on the map for a lot of people. A few months later it’s safe to say that some of that hype is wearing off, and he’s taking a more reasonable place in the 25th-45th overall bubble of the draft.
The raw scores associated with the consolidated rankings are give some insight into the different tiers of the draft and what value is essentially associated with those picks.
- It is becoming more blurred that Matthews is the definite 1st overall pick, so we’re really looking a three player first step
- Tkachuk, Dubois, and Nylander have become increasing bunched together at the 4-6 spot, with Dubois recently over taking Nylander. Juolevi has overtaken Chychrun as the top defenseman and they have been included in this 4-8 group as there are bound to be teams that prefer blueliners
- 9-12 is also has Sergachev narrowly ahead of Keller with Jost and McLeod close behind. With Brown coming up fast, it’s likely that lottery teams will be going on a run of either defenseman or centers based on their bigger organizational need.
- In the 13-21 spots you see Brown and Bean as a step above the rest, and Fabbro is really there as well (but McKeen’s excluded him from their top 30). Those three players make sense to close out the lottery picks and kick off what looks like anyone’s guess who for who goes next until 21.
- After that, we’ve entered the picking names from a hat part of the draft that should continue well into the second round. Of the scouting services used in the consolidated rankings 48 individuals received at least one top 30 ranking. While DeBrincat, Tufte, others might look like safe bets to go in the first, nothing should be a surprise at this point.
Thoughts on Prospects
Here’s where I like to turn things over to Tom Hunter to talk about some of the players who we see in the top 30. I’ve asked him to take a look a guy we like in the top 30 (Max Jones) and a guy that confuses the hell out of us why he’s being considered here (Logan Stanley.)
Max Jones- F London Knights (OHL)
Max Jones is a guy who has seen his draft stock take a bit of a tumble over the last little while. Viewed as an eventual top-5 NHL pick when he was drafted into the OHL in 2014, the London Knights forward is now expected to fall to the later part of the first round. The London Knights forward has spent the season playing behind what is possibly the best line in the history of the OHL, and has been overshadowed a bit as a result. When Dvorak, Marner and Tkachuk were away at the World Juniors, Jones took over as the offensive leader of the team playing his best hockey of the season when he was given the bigger role.
Jones, did find himself in the spotlight at the end of the season but not for the right reason. He was suspended for 12 playoff games after a vicious hit to the head of Erie’s Justin Brack during the last weekend of the season. Since returning to the lineup in the Western Conference Finals, Jones has been tasked with shutting down the opposition’s top talent. Playing in a checking role, Jones has only a goal and an assist in six games but he is a huge reason why London was able to completely shut down the Niagara Ice Dogs in the OHL Final.
Jones is a big a big power winger that plays the game at a speed that is needed to be successful in the NHL. He’s a rough player (sometimes too rough) that is able to cause chaos for the opposition with his strong checking and heavy forecheck. As strong as his defensive game is, it’s the second most impressive part of his game. While his point total might not suggest it, Jones possess the type of high end offensive talent teams want to see from a first round pick. Jones has great finishing ability. He is able to score the grinding, dirty goals while on the next shift create a highlight reel scoring chance. He’s quick and strong on his skates and looks to create space for himself when he possess the puck. Sometimes he’s guilty of some pretty ugly turnovers that are the byproduct of trying too much with the puck on his stick.
Jones is a very high-end talent and if his draft stock keeps dropping he will be a steal around the 20th pick. That said, something tells me he’s the kind of player that will put on a bit of a show at the Memorial Cup and an NHL GM will make sure he doesn’t wait too long to hear his name called on the Friday night of the draft.
Logan Stanley- D Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
When people talk about the middle to late first round of this year’s NHL Entry Draft, the one thing that is often brought up is the intriguing defensive prospects that could be available. Bean, Fabbro, McAvoy and Girard are all defensemen that will likely be drafted somewhere in the 15-30 range. When looking at most draft lists, there is another blue liner who has his name pop up rather frequently, but the thing is, Logan Stanley probably shouldn’t be included in that group.
Stanley is being ranked anywhere from 20th to not rated in the first round at all, but the Windsor Spitfire blueliner really doesn’t have the talent that would warrant a team using a first round pick on him. What’s Stanley’s biggest strength? He’s big, and you can’t teach that. At 6’6 and 215lbs, Stanley has the physical presence that old school scouts love. He’s big, strong and nasty but when you see him being ranked in the top-30 you can’t help but wonder if Don Cherry is putting the list together.
Don’t get me wrong, Stanley did look good for a lot of the season in Windsor, he uses his size well and is able to physically dominate the smaller competition in the OHL. He’s got an active stick and is able to use his reach to break up plays many of his peers can’t. His play with the puck and contribution to his team’s offense improves as the season went on but that is still not an aspect of his game that you’d expect much out of. Stanley is the prototypical old-school stay at home defenseman that many NHL coaches will still use in situations they probably shouldn’t.
Draft picks have become gold in the NHL and using a first rounder on a player that has a scouting report heavy on words like ‘physical presence’ and ‘nastiness’ probably isn’t a good idea. Logan Stanley probably tops out in the NHL as a bottom-pair minute eating defender but scouts love his size and physicality so I wouldn’t be surprised if someone took a flier on him near the bottom for the first round. After all we can’t forget Don Sweeney and the Bruins will be drafting in the 25-30 range.
The Draft Order
We are inching closer to a final draft order everyday. After Wednesday night’s game comes to a close we’ll know if it is Nashville or San Jose that is locked into the 18th overall pick (In San Jose’s case that would be Boston picking there.) Beyond that we are then left with four teams establishing the final four draft spots, including what happens with Toronto’s second first overall.
The Dallas Stars crushed the dreams of Flames fans hoping to get a first overall for Kris Russell, and until the compensation picks are established for unsigned first rounders, it looks like the Capitals have handed the Leafs the 56th overall pick thanks to their lose to Pittsburgh.
What’s to Come?
At this point you’d hope that most people have had a good enough look to establish their lists, but we’ve still got plenty of things left to wreak havoc on draft lists.
The Memorial Cup is usually good for some big game player takes and will give players like Jones, Tkachuk, Juolevi, Mete and Clague a chance to show off their skills in front of a larger audience.
The World Hockey Championships are certainly sparking more of a debate of Matthews vs. Laine than their really should be.
The Draft Combine is unfortunately a thing that will influence some as well. As will the scuttlebutt of how interviews are going.
Beyond the recent climb of Pierre-Luc Dubois there has been very little change in how scouting services view the top of their lists, it will be interesting to see what happens with the rest of them. With a few older lists still being used in the Consolidated Rankings, it’s entirely possible that change is coming, and with team scout lists like Bob McKenzie and Damien Cox put together, movement can be expected there as well as draft lists finalize over the next month and a half.