By #jontent (@yakovmironov)
First and foremost I want to note that these are my personal draft rankings, not The Bloggers Tribune Consolidated Rankings which will come out later this month. This is what Tom and I kicked off the site with back in May, essentially just sharing our takes a couple of jerks who watch a fair bit of junior of hockey and love the draft.
Tom’s rankings will probably find their way up onto the site shortly, but once again I have the luxury of leading off so his takes look sane by comparison.
Rather than just focus on the Top 30 like I did in May, I went through my top 120, which was getting pretty close to the point where I couldn’t fathom to have a take on anyone else and called it there. I assume I went to this length because the deeper you go into the draft the better represented the WHL becomes.
In my final rankings I tried my best to remove the bias I’ve developed from reading a lot of other rankings and just focused on who I thought should go where and that’s lead to a number of changes from my May rankings.
- Jakob Chychrun has fallen 3 spots to number 7 in the draft from 4. While I still believe that Chychrun is the best defenseman available this year because of his superior skating and all around toolkit, grabbing a talented center would be my priority as I have little doubt the team that takes Keller or Dubois will be getting a better player.
- Tkachuk moved up 2 spots to number 8 after I was kicking him around the low teens largely because of my preference for defensemen and centers ahead of taking wingers in the higher part of the draft. At eight, there is no arguing that Tkachuk would be the best player available and he’s clearly not just a product of Marner and Dvorak.
- Michael McLeod slide down to 9 in my standings, and it’s because while I am completely in love with his skating I would still have to give the edge to superior offensive talents at this stage.
- Sliding Sergachev down to 18 might be my hottest take in the top 30. I simply don’t think I’m seeing what everyone else does when I watch him and would prefer Jake Bean or Charlie McAvoy.
- Moving Bellows up to 19 was the result of finally doing a little research on him and gaining an appreciate for how difficult it is to find an elite finisher this late into the first round.
- Dahlen and Grundstrom both climb up into my top 30, as I had the opportunity to gain a bit more appreciation for international players via the U-18 Tournament. Dahlen in particular seems like he could be a steal.
Beyond the First
Since there are a lot of names on that list I figure I should touch on a few that really stand out to me as exciting options.
- Victor Mete was a player I’ve loved all year and the Memorial Cup finally blew his cover. He had such a strong tournament I could see him creeping into the late first round. I wouldn’t particularly want to draft him there, but his speed and all around strong play at both ends of the ice should make it worth overlooking his size.
- David Quenneville has been a prospect sitting under my nose in Medicine Hat all season that I largely ignored. I feel bad that it took until the Under 18 tournament for me to see that if he was on a better team he’d be getting significant second round consideration. While size is still somewhat of a factor with defensemen the fact that Quenneville will probably fall to middle rounds makes him a low risk acquisition with significant upside.
- Hudson Elyniuk is one of the later round gems I really hope finds his way onto the Leafs. He’s a fairly raw talent, but with a 6’4 frame he’s got the size you want down the middle and if his offensive game doesn’t develop, he’ll likely still have value in the bottom six of a lineup.
- Sebastian Aho is entering the draft for the third and final time and it would be a shame to see everyone pass on this talented Swedish defenseman. At this point he’s a bit further a long that a lot of the other players in the draft having spent the past three seasons playing in the SHL and the knock against him is still really just his size.
- There might still be some blind loyalty to his Dad for how awesome he was in NHL 93, but I really like Ty Ronning. The theme of my later round picks are probably that I like undersized swing for the fences prospects, but I’m fine with that. You can always find cheap bottom six forwards later on. Ronning to me is the West Coast Connor Brown, a hard working, undersized forward who plays a style that can fit anywhere in the lineup. The difference between Ronning and Brown is that Ronning has the speed that Brown lacks and will likely make him even more useful at the NHL level.
What About Goaltenders?
I happen to believe that this is an incredible year for goaltenders and think that smart teams will take advantage of stocking their bare cupboards with worthwhile talent to develop. Guys like Carter Hart, and Filip Gustavsson look like they have legitimate chances to go in the first couple of rounds, but the depth beyond that is equally encouraging.
- Zach Sawchenko was the goaltender in the WHL I had pegged at the beginning of the year as the standout goaltender to come out of the west. He’s certainly had a great season, and has finished his second year of handling most of the workload for the Warriors and that says something about a 16 and 17 year old that junior goaltending stats don’t reflect well. Bringing a workhorse into your system is something that most NHL teams should be excited for as there’s a greater chance that if everything else develops well, he’ll be a capable starter.
- Given the success that Matt Murray is experiencing in Pittsburgh and the success that Brandon Halverson is having as the starter in the Soo, it makes sense to consider Joseph Raaymakers a worthwhile selection from the Greyhounds. I’m inclined to lean towards drafting goaltenders out of a program that regularly produces worthwhile goaltenders and the Soo definitely seem to have that.
- As much as I am not overly concerned about the stats of draft eligible goaltenders, I can’t help be smitten with Mikhail Berdin’s numbers on the Russian U-18 Team. A .928 save percentage is nothing to sneeze at and in the younger leagues it’s often unheard of, so I’m going to say he’s a potential late round steal.
I halted the list at 120 players since I didn’t think I could reach 150 without starting to grasp at straws and would have been relying on picking names at random instead of going with players I had actually put in some time on. I also have to admit that if a player didn’t play in an international tournament that likely means my knowledge of European or USHL players would be limited to stats, youtube, or the occasional internet stream , which is largely why I want to state I entirely build this list as a fan, not as a wannabe scout.
Draft Rankings are incredibly fun and I’ll have even more fun at the end of June when I look back at my list and see how radically different it is from what actually happened.
Check out Tom’s final draft list here
Stay Tuned for The Bloggers Tribune Final Consolidated Draft Rankings