I've always been fascinated by the NHL draft, and this year I've decided to embark on a rather ambitious project: to look at every player ranked by Central Scouting, and a few others too if at all possible. This article is the second part of an examination of Central's Domestic Skaters list.
As always, I'm working with the available data here: primarily statistical data, as well as scouting reports, whenever possible. This is not meant to be a definitive look at every player, but rather a snapshot based on publicly available data.
191. Colin Miller, Defense, 6'0", 175lbs. OHL: 64GP, 2G, 17A, 19P, +3. After an awful January, Miller has improved, with two goals, nine points and a plus-10 rating over his last 19 games. He has no power play goals (although interestingly one of his two goals came short-handed). My call: Miller's size isn't a plus, and there are certainly more interesting offensive options out there. However, he seems to be coming on strong of late and his plus-minus number is quite strong given his team. An interesting option for a late pick.
192. Jessey Astles, Right Wing, 6'1", 192lbs. WHL: 56GP, 3G, 3A, 6P, -2. The bruiser hasn't recorded a point in 16 games, but then again, his offense really doesn't matter. My call: These guys are always wild cards. Spending picks on a fighter has never made sense to me, but many teams do it every year.
193. Alexx Privitera, Defense, 5'9", 186lbs. USHL: 49GP, 10G, 21A, 31P, -11. Skating and puck skills are the two big points that always get highlighted on Privitera's scouting reports, but his head coach, Kevin Patrick, sees more to his game than that:
Alexx has done a really good job, not just in the scoresheet, but in his defensive game. He's willing to block shots, compete, and do the hard things defensively.
Privitera's minus-11 rating is the second-worst number on his team, though that may be the result of playing heavy minutes. Privitera's bound for Boston University. My call: I'd take him in the draft. The odds are that his size means he won't ever be an NHL defenseman, but his talent is undeniable. He's got lots of time to mature thanks to taking the college route, and he's one of those rare late picks that has the potential to be something special.
194. Dylan Busenius, Defense, 6'0", 179lbs. WHL: 61GP, 7G, 14A, 21P, +14. Busenius is playing on a stacked team, which works both in his favor and against him. On the one hand, he's generally playing in favorable situations; on the other hand, ice-time can be hard to come by. Injuries on the Medicine Hat blue-line have led to increased minutes for Busenius, and he has responded: in his last 20 games, he has three goals, 11 points, and a plus-8 rating. Just one of his seven goals has come with the man advantage. My call: I like this player, just because I think that he might be a bit of a hidden gem thanks to his limited ice-time. If he were available late, I'd look hard at him.
195. Alex Filiatrault, Defense, 6'2", 192lbs. QMJHL: 54GP, 3G, 6A, 9P, -4. Scouting reports indicate that mobility is a bit of an issue, and obviously any team drafting Filiatrault isn't looking for offense. My call: Filiatrault's plus-minus is one of the best marks on his team, but it's hard to get past skating concerns for a player who doesn't seem dominant in other areas.
196. Tommy Davis, Defense, 6'1", 172lbs. H.S. (numbers unavailable). It's pretty tough to get information on Tommy Davis, given that he's a fringe prospect playing high school hockey. Shawn Reznik describes him as a "gritty defender with some decent offensive upside" but then relates how raw Davis looked defensively in high school. My call: Only the most special players in the high school system are worth spending a draft pick on; it doesn't take much of a leap here to assume Davis isn't one of those.
197. Derek Mathers, Right Wing, 6'3", 226lbs. OHL: 53GP, 1G, 4A, 5P. Mathers is flat-out tough, one of the clear enforcers in this draft class. That's his role, and if he makes it to the NHL, it will be as a fighter. My call: Again, I don't like drafting fighters simply because they're generally available cheaply as unrestricted free agents.
198. Josiah Didier, Defense, 6'2", 199lbs. USHL: 46GP, 3G, 14A, 17P, +7. Didier is yet another USHL defender committed to the college route, with Denver University. He's playing for a strong team in Cedar Rapids, and his numbers, both offensive and defensive, don't really stand out from the crowd there. He views himself as a shutdown defenseman, which is realistically where his professional upside probably lies, as both the numbers and The Scouting Report question his offensive ability. My call: A "draft and follow" type defender.
199. Dylan Demelo, Defense, 6'0", 196lbs. OHL: 65GP, 3G, 24A, 27P, +30. That plus-30 rating looks really good, until one looks at the other defensemen in Mississauga and sees the plus-58 rating of Brett Flemming or the plus-44 rating of Marc Cantin. He's also just the fourth-highest scoring defenseman on his team, with most of that offense (and all of his goals) coming with the man advantage. Josh Lieberman had some nice things to say about him, but he seems like a guy whose numbers need to be taken with a huge grain of salt. My call: Power play specialists do have value, and it would be wrong to write Demelo off just because he plays for a strong team. Demelo's skill-set makes him valuable, but I'm just less bullish on him than I am on others with similar numbers.
Domestic Skaters, Part 1
Jonathan Willis is an author of Hockey Prospectus.
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