Tier C – First Round Skilled Forwards, Top 6 Potential
10. Nils Hoglander / LW / L / DEC 00 / Rogle / SHL
Size will drop Hoglander back on most lists but he proved he could produce at the professional level. He’s one of the most creative forwards in the draft. Long stick helps him avoid physical play unless necessary, also allows him to make up on the defensive end when cheating for offense. Pro level shot, passes hard, and has good vision but not always clean passes.
11. Patrik Puistola / LW / L / JAN 01 / LeKi / Mestis
Puistola is a Tappara player (a favorite drafting spot for me) on loan to a second league Finnish pro team. The winger has slick hands and edges and an NHL level shot. The tools are high-end but his loan was warranted, as he’s still a bit raw. I see a lot of positive Jussi Jokinen traits in Puistola. Good down low, and in tight, you can see him winning a lot of 1-on-1s and battles.
12. Pavel Dorofeyev / W / L / OCT 00 / Metallurg / KHL
Dorofeyev is a winger who likes to control the pace and slow down plays with changes of direction. He can get a bit tunnel-ed vision when in goal scorer mode, but he looks to involve his teammates mostly. His shot is good but needs a quicker release. Good mechanics but more pace in most of his game would help.
13. Cole Caufield / RW / R / JAN 01 / USDP / USHL
One of the best shots in the draft and 72 goals through all play this season (though USDP effect). Caufield’s shot is like Pablo Sanchez in BackyardBaseball with the power up bats.
Despite his size, despite no defensive potential, despite having shockingly low assist totals considering who his linemates were, I’d take him in the middle of the first round if I needed a goal scorer. I have more concerns about his passing and skating than most, but I am willing to buy some of the hype (maybe because of Debrincat).
14. Philip Tomasino / C / R / JUL 01 / Niagara / OHL
The secret is out on one of the youngest centers in the draft who excelled producing 5v5 in the OHL. Tomasino is the typical F3 center (playing as the third forward high in the zone) who has good hands, vision, and can finish plays with hard shots from mid-range. His skating is above average and while he isn’t big, he isn’t afraid to be in either crease digging.
15. Raphael Lavoie / RW,C / R / SEP 00 / Halifax / QMJHL
Moosehead forwards typically are electric, push the pace, and producers. Lavoie finished the season on an absolute tear having the best draft-eligible postseason (even over Byram). Lavoie is on the older end of the class, and physically mature, so he may be closer to NHL ready than those in front of him (especially if he plays on the wing). At times I wonder if it’s more heart than brains but Lavoie is one of the last forwards on this list who have game breaking upside.
16. Ryan Suzuki / C / L / MAY 01 / Barrie / OHL
Strong skating, hands, and vision. Suzuki’s game isn’t much different from his older brother’s game. That means he could probably score more than he does and could use some more urgency, but the playmaking and game processing is high-end and the OHL production is bankable.
17. Trevor Zegras / C / L / MAR 01 / USDP / USHL
Even inside of a tier, there is sometimes a gap. When moving prospects up and down on the list, the gap was consistently between Suzuki and Zegras. Boiling it down, after Suzuki, my confidence in the prospects reaching their potential through the rest of this tier takes a hit.
‘Zippy’ is how I often refer to Zegras in my head, and it fits his play.
Zegras is usually anticipating and jumping plays without the puck and then quickly zipping the puck to his teammates. He is a quick and accurate passer. I don’t see NHL goal scoring potential others do, with how much perimeter play he sticks to. If Zegras adds more defensive elements of his game, or more play through the middle of the ice, his value would increase.
18. Albin Grewe / RW / L / MAR 01 / Djurgardens / SuperElit, SHL
Described as a T-Rex once — he believes every puck is his and every opponent beneath him. Grewe likes to roll back and go east-west off rushes, and he can play the F3 role. He likes to survey a lot of the ice to make the most of his playmaking but I think his natural competitiveness will get his goal numbers up.
19. Maxim Cajkovic / W / R / JAN 01 / St. John / QMJHL
#1 pick in the CHL Import Draft. Cajkovic played in a similar situation as Krebs. His team relied on him for everything, and he still produced admirably. Cajkovic isn’t nearly as NHL ready, and may not drive a line but his goal-scoring skills are pretty untapped. He tended to look off teammates by year’s end, but that probably changes in a better situation.
20. Ilya Nikolayev / C / L / JUN 01 / Loko Yaroslavl / MHL
Nikolayev has been ranked anywhere from mid first to the early third round. Nikolayev is a strong center who plays through the middle of the ice, wins draws, and ended the year well. He takes care of his end first, and let’s his wingers carry the puck. He makes simple plays mainly but flashes dekes and can play with skill. Scouts do worry about the offensive ceiling with Nikolayev.
21. Matvei Guskov / C / L / JAN 01 / London / OHL
Guskov reminds me of the recent late first-round picks who outperformed expectations the following year once they were promoted up the lineup. Josh Norris and Colin White are examples. Guskov is a smooth skater who gets around the ice effortlessly but can drift and get a little aimless. He anticipates play and finds lanes well, and is in a good development program with the Knights.
22. Simon Holmstrom / RW / L / MAY 01 / HV71 / SHL
Holmstrom has good playmaking skills. He is creative with good hands and works well around and behind the net. He may not drive a top line but he should compliment them. He has a deceptive and heavy shot, that sometimes dips.