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May 23, 2011
Top 100 NHL Draft Prospects
71-80

by Corey Pronman

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For a description of the methodology in these rankings, including the Projected Peak and Statistical Comparables (courtesy of Iain Fyffe), please see the Introduction. We'll be revealing more of the Top 100 every few days leading up to the 2011 NHL Entry Draft.

Full list of Top 100 NHL Draft Prospects

71. Nick Shore, Center, Denver-WCHA

Those familiar with the prospect world will recognize Nick Shore's last name as he is the brother of top Florida Panthers' prospect Drew Shore. Nick is a solid distributor with the puck, exerting a very calm and calculating manner when he has the puck as well as in how he moves around off the puck. Shore shows decent puck protection abilities and will flash a solid deke move here and there. He's not much of a scorer, displaying a pass-first mentality and even when he gets his attempts the shot tool isn't much. His frame is ok, but he does exert a notable work ethic in the physical department and he really is an asset for his defenseman when the puck gets down low in his zone. Shore gets by on his smarts and that aspect of his game grades out as above-average in both ends of the rink. The skating tool though is pretty bad—below fringe level—and there's not much to write home about in regards to how he moves on the ice with poor results and mechanics.

Projected Peak GVT: 3.7

Statistical Comparable: Ryan Bayda

72. Reece Scarlett, Defense, Swift Current-WHL

Reece Scarlett didn't have a great year from a counting statistics standpoint, but he was on one of the lowest scoring teams in the entire WHL. He's a pro-level skater who moves well laterally and in a straight line, although I have at times been underwhelmed with his backwards skating. Scarlett's puck skills are solid and while he doesn't flash good stick-handling ability, he is an above-average distributor with quick, with crisp passes and a high panic threshold. The shot is average with notable technique and he will be able to rip it like any pro defenseman. His physical game gets mixed reviews. While some scouts haven't been impressed with his thin frame or lack of ability to play physical, one scout I talked to raved about how hard he plays and his great battle work ethic. Personally, I have not sold been sold on his work ethic—he often seems to be going through the motions, at times making his skating tool which is an easy 50 grade look more in the 40 range just because he doesn't bring it every shift and sometimes just glides around. The hockey sense is still coming for Scarlett and he's been able to be an okay defensive player with decent stick work and positioning. While he's able to win the odd battle here and there, major physical improvements are needed for his pro prospects to ever become legit and for his defensive game to round out, as he's physically inept at the moment.

Projected Peak GVT: 2.4

Statistical Comparable: Mark Wotton

73. Reid Boucher, Left Wing, USA Under-18-USHL

Reid Boucher was one of the top scorers on the Under-18 team this season, and while he doesn't have the skill sets that fellow USNTDP teammates do, he is still on the draft radar. Boucher is a sniper, pure and simple, and he lives and dies by his plus shot, which looks beyond plus at times. It's a very well-rounded tool, as he can get his shots off quickly, requires only a short wind-up on one-timers , and can pick corners from well beyond the slot area and with a notable amount of zip. On the USA power play, Boucher's role was basically to hover around the slot area and wait for a chance to develop so someone could feed him the puck. He has solid-average puck skills, and it's most evident when he needs to rely on his hand-eye coordination to corral the puck or when the puck is loose in front of a lot of legs. He can make a quick move or decent pass, but you don't see it that often. His physical game is below fringe level, despite the fact he does show notable work ethic along the boards and does go hard to the net; he's going to be man-handled at the next level. Boucher's skating is fringe, and for a small guy that hurts his stock big time as he isn't going to be able to elude checkers. His hockey sense is decent—I haven't noticed anything notably good or bad in that regard. The defensive game needs a little fine-tuning though—while he's shown the ability to be decent on the PK, at even-strength his positioning is a little off and he flies out of his defensive zone a little too quickly.

74. Miikka Salomaki, Center, Karpat-SM-Liiga

Miikka Salomaki played at the U-18 and U-20 levels for Finland this year and while he didn't really impress in a significant way, he does look at the least like an average prospect. His skating grades as a 45 tool, although there are times it looks just slightly better than that. His top speed definitely is not pro average though. His puck skills are decent to solid-average and will on occasion flash a notable move with the puck or show good protection skills, but most of the time this area is pretty average. His value comes in his versatility, defensive and physical game. Salomaki thinks the game at a solid level and regularly makes good decisions. His work in his own zone is impressive, with good stick work blocking lanes and forcing bad plays. He engages well along the wall and has an impressive work ethic towards the physical game, although he likely has a ceiling of fringe-average with the tool and his frame still has a good ways to fill out. He has played both wing and center and can be effective in both roles, and as a winger if he becomes the first man up he does a fine job on the forecheck.

Projected Peak GVT: 2.6

Statistical Comparable: Marco Tuokko

75. Adam Lowry, Left Wing, Swift Current-WHL

Adam Lowry barely improved on last season's counting numbers, but he projects as a long-term project whose physical tools and intelligence may make him attractive to some. His puck skills are decent at best as a whole with his stick-handling grading as fringe to below-average. Lowry does though show average distribution skills and can make some solid, quick passes. He is a good physical winger who at the moment projects to possibly be even plus in that aspect once he's done filling out. Lowry is consistently involved in the physical aspect of the game, be it when he's throwing his body at puckhandlers and/or pressuring them on the forecheck, or with his notably good play in front of the net. While he has room to put onto his 6'4" frame, he already is quite strong and has a decent amount of muscle on him. Lowry's true value though is derived from his hockey sense as he's an above-average thinker which lets him take an overall fringe offensive skill set and be able to churn out some, albeit not a ton of offense. His positional play is refined, and he's shown a solid defensive game at even-strength. His skating tool is his major weakness—he's got heavy feet and the tool grades as fringe. Lowry could at the least project as a checker at the next level, but only if that aspect of his game takes a step forward.

Projected Peak GVT: 3.0

Statistical Comparable: Brian Sutherby

76. Anton Burdasov, Right Wing, Chelyabinsk-MHL

It's rare to see a player entering his third year of draft eligibility go in the Top 100, but what Anton Burdasov has shown this year justifies it. He's a solid to above-average skater with a desirable top speed. Burdasov's mechanics aren't that great and he can sometimes look awkward and his balance isn't all that great, but when he gets going in full stride he looks good. He has above-average puck skills and at times makes a great skill play. His physical game projects as solid to above-average, although his frame is still a little slight, and he can be pretty good on the forecheck with his speed, putting a lot of pressure on defenders with the puck. Despite this impressive skill set, I'm not sure Burdasov can be a scorer at the highest level just due to a lack of hockey sense. His puck skills are limited to individual plays, as opposed to being able to move the puck around. Burdasov also isn't that refined in regards to his positional and defensive game. His raw skills justify taking a shot on him, but know that he has several areas for improvement and is a ways away.

Projected Peak GVT: 2.4

Statistical Comparable: Roman Lyashenko

77. Max Friberg, Left Wing, Skovde- Sweden Division I

Max Friberg had his second straight quality season in Sweden's third-level professional league and did all right when he had the chance to play at the International U-20 level. His skating grades as fringe to below-average with a decent first few steps, but doesn't really threaten with his speed or with any form of his mobility. His puck skills are solid to above-average, as despite the fact that he looks a little rigid when he's handling the puck, he protects it moderately well and shows good hand-eye coordination on loose pucks. Friberg is a solid shooter who is quite accurate with his wrist shots and displays decent mechanics on his release. His physical game will max out as fringe, but his strength is good for a player his size and defensively he sticks to his assignments well. His solid defensive value and more so his PK value is driven more by his intangibles than his awareness on the ice which isn't that good, and overall his hockey sense grades as below-average.

Projected Peak GVT: 4.6

Statistical Comparable: Kim Staal

78. Tyler Biggs, Right Wing, USA Under-18-USHL

Tyler Biggs is a decent skater who is a tick above average for a forward his size. His balance is notable, as he has a wide stance with the puck and is very hard to dislodge either when protecting the puck or when he's standing in front of the net. He's average in regards to his puck skills and can make decent, quick passes and will on occasion flash a notable stick-handling move, but then at other times he will look completely fringe when attacking a player one-on-one with the puck. His shot is solid to above-average which he locates well and puts a fair amount of torque into; his technique on his one-timers is notable as well. Biggs' best tool is his physical game, which projects as above-average to plus at the highest level. He abuses opponents along the boards with heavy hits, and regularly pressures defenders on the forecheck into making poor decisions. He's already developed a notable amount of muscle mass, and when engaged along the boards in a battle, he easily rubs out the opposition and comes away with the puck. Biggs' hockey sense however is fringe and sometimes even looks below that. He frequently makes random, horrid decisions with the puck, his positioning isn't good, and at times will even just chuck the puck blindly into no man's land amongst other decisions that leave people scratching their heads. The work ethic wavers too, and regularly I've regularly gotten reports from scouts that mention how he disappears for long stretches at a time.

Ranking Explanation: I don't like Tyler Biggs as a prospect, and like with the Russian prospects I should state again that this is not based on the recent Under-18's, but rather based on my long-term evaluation of Biggs. He skates fine, and well for a big guy, projects very well in the physical game, can shoot the puck and flashes offensive skill here and there. However he just doesn't do enough good things over a substantial sample size to warrant consideration into a higher ranking in my opinion. Overall, he's all right with the puck, but there are moments where he'll be decent, and moments where he looks like his hands are made of rock. His hockey IQ is fringe, and doesn't have the right combination of skills to project as a scorer. Biggs will be a player you throw out there to jet around, bang bodies, score a few here and there and maybe plant in front of the net on a power play, but there's simply too much wrong in key areas and not enough right in others to supplement that to think he's anything but a lower-tier prospect.

79. Maxim Shalunov, Right Wing, Chelyabinsk-MHL

Maxim Shalunov's performance last year in International competition left thoughts that he could possibly be a high pick this summer, but with an inconsistent MHL campaign and a lackluster Under-18, that likely will not be the case. He's a solid skater, who accelerates at an above-average level and moves very fluidly, although I'd say his top speed sits consistently at average level. Shalunov's puck skills are his best tool and get an above-average grade. He has a moderately long stick and when he gets open space can really make life hectic on opposing checkers. Shalunov is also a player who likes to carry the puck in and set up high rather than start the offensive possession down low. He isn't much of a playmaker though in regards to his vision. His shot tool flashes above-average, as he really transitions his weight well, has the ability to pick the corners from mid-distances and has a hard one-timer which explodes off his stick. Shalunov has the frame to potentially be an above-average physical player, and when he does exert himself physically he does quite well. However those moments are somewhat sporadic and he has a real tendency to fade into the distance for significant periods of time. His hockey sense grades as fringe to below-average as well, with it being a 45 in the offensive zone, and grading below that from outside the offensive blue line.

Projected Peak GVT: 3.4

Statistical Comparable: Yuri Butsayev

80. Tyler Wotherspoon, Defense, Portland-WHL

Tyler Wotherspoon's name could get buried on a talented team like Portland, and while he's a bland prospect in terms of any kind of flash to his game, he has a decent amount of average qualities. He's a 45 grade skater touching fringe-average who doesn't really possess any sort of threatening top gear, but is moderately mobile. He moves the puck at an average level. While I haven't really seen an above-average pass from Wotherspoon, he makes decent distributions, and when he gets power play time, he can do all right in that role. Wotherspoon doesn't have much skill in regards to stick-handling though. He projects as an average physical player at the highest level, but could get to solid-average as he wins a good share of battles and makes life hectic for forwards when he engages them. His hockey sense is decent and he's pretty sound defensively, but in regards to his offense he doesn't show much in regards to creativity or vision. He's a pretty bland prospect, whose ceiling is a third pairing defender and he's moderately projectable to that role.

Projected Peak GVT: 1.5

Statistical Comparable: Rory Fitzpatrick

Corey Pronman is an author of Hockey Prospectus. You can contact Corey by clicking here or click here to see Corey's other articles.

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