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June 3, 2011
Top 100 NHL Draft Prospects
21-30

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

21. Ty Rattie, Right Wing, Portland-WHL

Ty Rattie exploded out of the gates this season for Portland and while he didn't maintain that pace down the stretch, he established a high draft stock for himself with his performance throughout the year. He's a solid skater who moves pretty fluidly and is very agile and elusive. Rattie can touch an above-average top speed, but you don't see that consistently from him. His puck skills are great and grade as a plus tool. He's tremendous in open space and unless you knock him off the puck, it's very hard to separate it from Rattie. His passing game is above-average and he shows a moderately advanced and calm demeanor to his distribution game as he makes quick plays under tight pressure, but can also set up along the left sideboards on the power play and really control the action. Rattie's shot tool is solid and could flash above-average. He doesn't need much to lean into his shot to get it off with accuracy and velocity. Rattie's physical game will likely top out as fringe and is below that now, but he does work hard when defenders engage him along the wall and he will go hard to the net for chances. His hockey sense is decent—there are times when his vision and awareness will impress and other times where he simply tries to force the cross-ice pass too much or doesn't cover his defensive assignment well.

Projected Peak GVT: 8.3

Statistical Comparable: Dean McAmmond

22. Brandon Saad, Left Wing, Saginaw-OHL

Brandon Saad is a very projectable big body winger who made his mark last year with the USA U-18 team but not as much in the OHL this season. His most appealing tool is his skating ability, as he can reach above-average straight-line speeds and when combined with his physical assets makes it very easy to see him in an NHL uniform. His puck skills are decent, with his contributions in that area coming from good puck protection along the sideboards in the cycle game and having moderate passing ability, be it from pushing the puck up or operating from the perimeter on the power play. He leans into his shots well and has the ability to score goals from mid-distances although I'm not sure if I ever see the tool being better than above-average if that. Saad has a good frame and doesn't shy from going to the physical areas of the ice and his battle effort is notable. Saad's hockey sense is decent and I'm not swung either way by it. He can excel defensively due to his natural tools such as on the penalty kill where his skating, aggressiveness and frame help him pressure puck-carriers and fill lanes effectively. I'm not sure if he has the upside to project as anything past a second liner and while he has some development left it's not that hard to see him in that slot within a handful of years.

Projected Peak GVT: 2.4

Statistical Comparable: Turner Stevenson

23. Vladislav Namestnikov, Center, London-OHL

Vladislav Namestnikov came over from Russia this season and enjoyed a moderately successful debut in the OHL. He's an above-average skater, with a very notable first step that catches defenders off guard and his speed was able to make the opposition back up regularly. His puck skills are a definite above average tool in regards to his stick-handling ability and distribution skills and he is a threat when he has the puck. Namestnikov has at times fallen victim to overdeking when there is no man open, but that should not be mistaken for selfishness and he does hit his targets when they are there. Despite the 30 goals in the OHL, his shot does not look like it will grade as an above-average tool, but it is decent enough to work in the pros. Vladislav's physical game is fringe to below-average at the moment, but there's no major concerns here other than like most prospects his age in regards to hitting the gym. His defensive game is fine, and he can play the center position at the next level and he's shown he can think the game well enough in that aspect to be an effective penalty killer.

Projected Peak GVT: 2.6

Statistical Comparable: Todd Robinson

24. Zach Phillips, Center, Saint John-QMJHL

After playing alongside top draft eligible prospect Jonathan Huberdeau for most of the season, Zach Phillips put up impressive counting numbers. If you want a player with flash, Phillips is anything but that, however the late '92 birthdate does have a couple of notable tools that have made scouts notice him. His hockey sense is above-average which is evident in how he consistently anticipates the flow of the play. Once he senses his team is about to gain possession of the play, he jettisons into an open lane to receive a pass and get the puck up the ice, yet is responsible defensively, works hard in that aspect and in viewings of Phillips he showed very effective penalty killing. That work ethic is apparent in the offensive size too as despite his frame that significantly lacks muscle he goes to the physical areas consistently. He's a solid distributor and on the power play will occasionally flash above-average in that regard. Zach's a solid to above-average finisher with good accuracy on his wrist shot. The major issues with Philips which is going to really hamper his pro potential are his fringe skating and his body. He has heavy feet and despite a decent first step, the tool really lacks pro-level qualities. While Phillips did succeed at going to the net at the Junior level, he has a ton of gym work ahead of him before he'll be ready to do it at the NHL level. While he frequently lined up at center in the QMJHL this year, he projects as a winger and I've seen him be effective as a left wing.

Projected Peak GVT: 6.6

Statistical Comparable: Michael Ryder

25. Nicklas Jensen, Left Wing, Oshawa-OHL

Nicklas Jensen impressed me throughout the year in his performances with very refined technique and an above-average skill set. While he has solid agility, his speed may touch average but the stride is so good and the way he pushes through every step makes it easy to see him being above-average once that area of his game develops. He loves to carry the puck and shows solid to above-average puck skills when he does with excellent coordination. Jensen's shot is above-average now but I can see it being plus down the road as his mechanics are near perfect and the shot can be dangerous from mid-distance. While he has a good frame, he isn't exactly the best in regards to physical play. The frame has a ways to fill out though and it will be a key area to work on before he leaves the CHL. While some scouts have expressed concern about his work ethic and while I would like to see more in the high percentage areas from Jensen, in several viewings of him I've been more than impressed with his forecheck and backchecking and his hustle on the penalty kill. He also does well when defenders attempt to engage him, showing good balance and strength on the puck, but in terms of separating others off the puck in the corners, he isn't the most successful.

Projected Peak GVT: 5.5

Statistical Comparable: Tomas Kurka

26. Michael St. Croix, Center, Edmonton-WHL

Michael St. Croix came into the season expecting to dominate offensively, and while he did well, he didn't show the complete upside he's capable of. He's a solid skater, with a very fluid and effective stride who has the agility and edge control to be extremely elusive. St. Croix has plus puck skills and can make defenders miss left and right, but also can make very good distributions if they back off him. He's a well above-average power play weapon and can make a ton of things happen from the left side of the offensive zone. He has a solid shot and is able to score his mid-distances. His physical game is well below-average right now, and it likely will top out at most as a fringe tool. St. Croix does go into the physical areas and drives to the net, but he is relatively ineffective and physically overwhelmed easily to the point it makes more sense for him to stay on the perimeter. His hockey sense is solid to above-average, and offensively his awareness is impressive. He makes lightning-quick decisions—sometimes it even looks like he's rushing it by how quickly he moves the puck. St. Croix's defensive game was bad in the first half, but made some progression in the second half, although I'm not 100% he can stay at the center position.

Projected Peak GVT: 5.9

Statistical Comparable: Kyle Calder

27. Jamieson Oleksiak, Defense, Northeastern-Hockey East

Jamieson Oleksiak has seen his stock rise as the very physically-gifted defender showed several desirable tools this year in college. It's hard to start a write-up without mentioning his height and weight which comes in at an impressive 6'7" and 240 pounds. He's a fringe to below-average skater and for a guy that size, that's a compliment. The stride is decent, could still use some improvement as he doesn't get the most power out of his strides as possible pushing a little too much to the side rather than extending out, but most guys his size at his age would be more uncoordinated and he still extends through well. His puck skills are below-average, although I'd say his passing skills are notable as he's able to the basic things well and isn't a liability distributing the puck. Oleksiak was used as a power play guy for Northeastern and was relied to be a trigger-guy and lean his giant frame into shots on net. His windup can be a little long, but overall nitpicks in his mechanics are coachable. His physical game projects as a 65-70 tool, but will take some time for him to get there as his frame is a little thin. Oleksiak has a great wingspan that he uses well to close gaps on attackers and his long reach makes him a great stick-checker. He doesn't shy from using his body but doesn't get overly physical. His hockey sense has come a ways since last season and he definitely thinks the game at a decent to solid-average level, but while I've been impressed by his decision-making and calmness in viewings he does try to go beyond his means at times, and with his low offensive ceiling he'll need to curl that in.

Projected Peak GVT: 3.1

Statistical Comparable: Scott Lachance

Ranking Explanation: While I'm not keen on big defensemen who can't move the puck, that's not completely the case for Oleksiak. He's actually decent at the puck possession aspect of the game, and combined with an elite physical package it makes him a desirable prospect, but the lack of top-end or even above-average puck-moving skills and/or hockey sense combined with heavy feet keep him from providing top-tier value in opinion. His projection is likely a slightly above-average defender, but it's hard to see him doing anything beyond that barring a developmental jump in a key area.

28. Phillip Danault, Left Wing, Victoriaville-QMJHL

My first time viewing Phillip Danault this season was during the Subway Super Series game where he had to leave to the dressing room because he got injured bursting towards the net and running into it with force. This describes Danault's game in a nutshell. He's an above-average skater with a good first few steps and a top speed that will make pro defenders respect him. Danault has solid vision and while I don't think his puck skills grade as above-average, he does make notable quick moves with the puck and is able to move the dish at a decent level. Danault got his goals this season by going to the net, and while he's exhibited a modest finishing ability, it's nothing really notable. His best asset is his intangibles as he's an absolute horse skating up and down the ice and whenever the puck enters an area that requires physical play he's getting his nose dirty. The physical game from an output standpoint though still has a ways to go, as his frame really lacks muscle and the tool is fringe at best. Danault has been used a lot on the penalty kill due to his work ethic and his notable hockey sense and defensive awareness.

Projected Peak GVT: 5.4

Statistical Comparable: Steve Begin

29. Mark Scheifele, Center, Barrie-OHL

Mark Scheifele had a good year from a counting statistics standpoint on a poor Barrie team and with a good Under-18 tournament—his stock has come a ways in the course of a season. Scheifele is a low-ceiling but highly projectable player without a true standout tool. His skating grades as below-average, and while his mechanics are fine, his feet are just somewhat heavy and he doesn't have an NHL-level top speed. Scheifele's puck skills are decent, and while he doesn't bring any form of flashy stick handling or stretch passes to the table, he can handle the puck at a moderate level and make the right distributions bringing the puck up the ice and on the power play. He also shows good puck protection skills along the side boards. Scheifele projects as a solid-average to above-average physical player as while he has room to fill out, and he's already notably strong and works well along the walls. His hockey sense is above-average and it's what will drive his value towards the highest level, as he anticipates the flow of the game well, rarely turns the puck over, and plays well in his own zone.

Projected Peak GVT: 6.5

Statistical Comparable: Jeff Schantz

30. David Musil, Defense, Vancouver-WHL

David Musil came into the season with high hopes, and while he didn't meet expectations, the defender's stock has still held at a notable position. Musil is one of the best defensemen in this class in regards to his defensive zone play. He is smart, safe but yet will engage onto the puck and/or the opponent when he senses an opportunity for a takeaway. His physical game is still below-average despite being a 6'3" defender and he needs to put on good amount of strength before he goes to the pro level. His reads are above-average in all situations but has a tendency to play overconservative at times which affects his offensive production. Musil's puck skills grade as solid to above-average with a notable ability to slow the game down and move the puck with impressive passes when being pressured. He's not much of a rusher as opposed to a one or two move and dish player, which is mainly due to his skating ability which grades as 35-40. He has a very awkward stride which he doesn't extend well on and lacks both jump and speed. Musil does flash decent agility for a big man, but that's about the only positive I've seen in his skating ability. If he's one of those prospects who figure out a way to solve his skating mechanics, he could easily be a top four if not better defender at the next level, but right now that's a big if.

Projected Peak GVT: 6.8

Statistical Comparable: Chris Phillips

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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Premium Article From Daigle To Datsyuk (06/02)
<< Previous Column
Top 100 NHL Draft Pros... (06/02)
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Top 100 NHL Draft Pros... (06/04)
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Premium Article Angles and Caroms (06/03)

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