Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2019 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we feature our NHL Draft Grades.
The big day has come and gone, and now we look back to see how each team did in the NHL Draft. Look, we know that it is way too soon to evaluate a draft and that the true evaluation will be seen four or five years from now. However, we don’t want to wait, instead, we follow our yearly tradition and do our NHL Draft Grades now.
To be clear, our NHL Draft Grades are based on the quality and quantity of total talent added in the draft. It is not based on getting value for where you pick. For example, due to a lack of total picks the Columbus Blue Jackets are likely to be given a very poor grade for this year’s draft regardless of how they use them.
LWOH 2019 NHL Draft Grades
Note: VALUE PICK does NOT mean the best player drafted. It means the best value. For example, Jack Hughes was the first player taken in this draft. However, he is not our best value pick for the Devils. Why? Because anyone can take the best player with the first overall pick, we are looking for value here, what steal did the team get in the draft that went later than we thought he would? If it was merely an exercise in naming the best player drafted, might as well just name the team’s first pick, as that is who their own scouts felt was their best player.
A second note: The links lead back to our scouting reports.
Part One of Our NHL Draft Grades Is Here.
The Avalanche get top marks in our NHL Draft Grades. Joe Sakic had a great weekend in Vancouver. Byram is the top defender in the draft. He is an excellent skater in both directions and this becomes the basis of a strong two-way game. He is able to join the rush, or pinch in at the blue line and still get back to his defensive position. Alex Newhook combines his sublime skating with the hands to make plays at top speed. He has the ability to beat defenders with his finesse, and the power game to play in the dirty areas of the ice.
Helleson uses his strong skating ability to play a good defensive game forcing attackers to the outside. Beaucage has a knack for finding openings in the defence and taking advantage with an excellent shot and quick release. Mutala has soft hands and creates passing lanes through quick changes in his stick angle. Burzan has good size and marries it with strong skating and good work ethic to play a strong two-way game. He has a strong wrist shot and a quick release. Miner tracks the puck extremely well and is almost always square to the shooter and in the right position to make the save. His lateral movement and puck tracking are near elite.
Picks: Eric Hjorth, Dmitri Voronkov, Tyler Angle
The Blue Jackets suffer from a lack of picks in getting the worst mark in the eight-year history of our NHL Draft Grades. The three picks they did make all have major question marks. Hjorth played just 10 games this season due to a knee injury. He has shown good skating ability and size but really has never shown consistency due to the lost time. Voronkov was undrafted one year ago. His skating stride is choppy and robs him of speed. He is a decent stick handler who can beat defenders in one-on-one situations. Angle at just 5’9″ is an undersized skater, who shows decent offensive skill with Windsor in the OHL. However, he is not exactly the type of dynamic junior player that one would look for when drafting an undersized player.
Picks: Thomas Harley, Samuel Sjolund, Nicholas Porco, Benjamin Brinkman
A lack of picks also hurts the Stars in our NHL Draft Grades. In Harley, the Stars get a defender with high-end offensive potential. Harley is a creative player. He has good vision and sees plays developing in the offensive zone. He can make passes through tight areas and sets up teammates for good scoring opportunities. Sjolund is another skilled offensive defenceman. He skates well and can move the puck through the neutral zone. Porco is a good skater who gets in quick on the forecheck and creates turnovers. Brinkman has good size and is known for his work in the defensive end of the ice. He maintains good gap control and is tough to beat in one-on-one situations.
Picks: Moritz Seider, Antti Tuomisto, Robert Mastrosimone, Albert Johansson, Albin Grewe, Ethan Phillips, Cooper Moore, Elmer Soderblom, Gustav Berglund, Kirill Tyutyayev, Carter Gylander
Steve Yzerman‘s first two picks were a bit off the board, taking players considerably higher than they were ranked. Despite that, the sheer quantity of picks and number of top 100 prospects he was able to acquire gives the Wings an A- grade. Seider’s combination of size, offensive skills, physicality, and mobility mean that the sky is the limit. He could become a franchise defender. However, his game is unpolished and getting him to reach that level is no guarantee. Tuomisto could become a top-four defender in the NHL capable of playing in all situations. He has good size and skating but his positioning and use of leverage must improve for him to be effective in his own end.
A pure sniper, Mastrosimone has an extremely heavy wrist shot and excellent release. His shot is already close to NHL ready, while the rest of his game develops. Johansson’s skating and skills allow him to play a strong two-way game but he must bulk up. Grewe plays a power forward style. He absolutely loves to throw his weight around on the forecheck. Phillips is a smaller skater who makes up for that lack of size with excellent skating ability. He is a real threat on the rush.
Ken Holland was brought in to turn around the Oilers, and his first two picks are a great start. Broberg is an outstanding skater and this defines his game. He could grow to become a top-pairing player at the NHL level, with the ability to play big minutes and on both the power play and penalty killing unit. Lavoie was a steal in the second round. The sniper scored 20 goals in 23 QMJHL Playoff games. He could help the Oilers build up some winger depth to play with their three top centres. Konovalov was passed over in two drafts. He is a smaller (6’0″), athletic Russian goaltender. Blumel is another draft re-entry. The Czech winger has an excellent shot and release. Mazura is a centre known for his vision and passing ability.
In Knight, the Panthers get their goalie of the future. The top goalie in the draft has excellent size and technique. He also has the coolness and composure to face any situation. Excellent skating, good size, strong work ethic and high hockey IQ all suggest that Kolyachonok could develop into a top-4 defender with proper coaching. Ludvig was an off-the-board pick in the third round. He is a physical defender but needs work on his positioning in his own end. There is no offence to speak of.
Schwindt is a tall centre who generates offence by setting up linemates. He needs to improve his shot. Undrafted a year ago, Berger had a big season as a puck-moving defender in the BCHL, he will face better competition at UConn next year. Rybinski is an off-the-board selection who has good passing skills off the wing. Lindmark is a defensive forward with elite skating ability. He needs to improve his stickhandling and shot to become an offensive threat.
A solid draft helps to jumpstart the Kings rebuild. Turcotte’s non-stop motor and offensive skills make him a prospect who can play in any situation and fill any role. He could become the team’s number one centre in time. Bjornfot is strong defensively. His offensive game is inconsistent but if he can unlock it, he could be a gem. Kaliyev is a pure sniper. He has one of the best shots in the class. His effort level and consistency has been questioned.
Fagemo has shown strong development in the past year, going from draft afterthought to legitimate prospect. His improved skating is the biggest difference in his game. He could always shoot the puck but now gets in positions to take advantage. Parik (6’4″) has good size for a goalie and shows strong lateral movement, getting post-to-post quickly. Spence’s skating and passing ability are plus tools and give him the opportunity to develop into a top-four defenceman. However, the lack of size and strength could hold him back.
Boldy has the potential to be a top line winger in the NHL. He will also be a key asset on the power play. There is time for Boldy to continue to add muscle to his frame and become a modern power forward. Firstov has an excellent shooting arsenal. His wrist shot and snapshot both feature lightning-quick releases. He has the ability to change the angle on his release point which makes things difficult for goaltenders. Jones is an aggressive goalie who comes well out of his net in order to cut down angles and give a shooter even less open space to look at.
A sniper at the WHL level, Beckman put up 32 goals for Spokane last season. He has a hard and accurate wrist shot with an excellent release. He also has a very good one-timer. Guskov is a hard-nosed player who plays a gritty game. He loves to get in on the forecheck and create havoc for opposing defencemen. He is a good stick handler and protects the puck well and set up a teammate. Warren handles the puck very well. This allows him to skate the puck out of dangerous areas in his own end, as well as to lead the rush through the neutral zone.