Tier D – Potential NHL Defender
18. Antti Tuomisto / R / JAN 01 / Assat / Jr. A
Eats up space and pucks. Huge hands and blade, and competitive appetite. Moves around the ice well for his size. Not Gudbranson physical but he lay hits and the lumber. Rough around the edges but if you can get the package together he could be a difference maker in one of the zones. I like him mid rounds for the long-term potential and the right shot. He’s in this tier since I don’t think he will have much versatility in the NHL.
19. Ryan Johnson / L / JUL 01 / Sioux Falls / USHL
A Minnesota commit but my knock is it is for the ’20-’21 season. His positioning is good for his level and his skating is his strength. It’s a quiet game because he mutes a lot of chances early on but he can get risky pushing up ice. The skills are there but hard to judge against competition and knowing that Johnson is staying in the USHL another year.
20. Artemi Knyaze / L / JAN 01 / Chicoutimi / QMJHL
Helped by the move to Q. Smaller ice allows his transition defense and 1-on-1 defense to shine. It also gives Knyaze more chances to get assists out of those board battle wins he is so good at. Finds tape with his passes, average puck handler. Would like to see a higher gear when needed. Getting more offensive instincts in Q also helps and should set up for a better draft + 1 year.
21. Simon Lundmark / R / OCT 00 / Linkoping / SHL
Underrated, and overlooked by myself through most of the year. Stuck behind so many defenders for national team duty and didn’t get the offensive role in SHL games. However, he has a good heavy shot, right-handed, and the calm that Swedes are known for. Ohlund-like in his posture and style. Too much side to side in his backward skating – doesn’t hold straight line defending rushes and can quickly lose a gap or get turned but is sometimes rescued by his stick.
22. Hugo Has / R / FEB 01 /Tappara / Jr. A
Has’ skating reminds me of a lanky horse’s galloping stride. Development will be key. Good defensive instincts but positioning is raw. Little too loose on O but does fulfill his role on D mostly. Possibly a little too patient on the defensive side, but the reach makes up for it. Has is a good passer when he takes his time and is aggressive on the puck but once he gets it, he can throw it away.
23. Jordan Spence / R / FEB 01 / Moncton / QMJHL
Evolved into a minutes eater for the Wildcats as a rookie. Good vision on the breakout and transition, putting pucks into good spots. His skating is above average but he doesn’t have the quickest first step or have an extra burst side to side. When on his game, he’s a rover. PP and 4v4 he plays a set midfield position. He stares at the puck when he’s without it. That said, he closes gaps well and breaks up plays frequently with his stick.
24. Vladislav Kolyachonok / L / MAY 01 / Flint / OHL
Skates well enough, engages in the defensive zone and wants to be engaged in every play. Nice to see a defender want the puck so much but Kolyachonok holds onto it a lot with questionable decision-making. Scouts think there is more to the package than I see, and I finally started seeing some of that at the u18s, but I am definitely still lower than most on the Flint player.
25. Jackson LaCombe / L / JAN 01 / Shattuck / US-Prep
A long term project and a flier to finish out the defenders. LaCombe’s skating at the Prep school/18uAAA level guarantees him points and zone exits. His play without the puck is rough right now but he breaks up the majority of carry-ins and plays going through him. He just needs more discipline to position and role. I’ve seen enough to take him in the draft, just probably not until the final rounds and only if you aren’t hurting for picks.