Welcome to the 2019 Top Shelf NHL Prospects series. As we go through the Summer of 2019 LWOH will be featuring a team-by-team look at the top NHL prospects. We will be following the order of the first round of the NHL draft (as if there were no traded draft picks) and you can find all the articles here. Since we had an extensive NHL Draft preview, we will not be reviewing the players who were drafted in the 2019 draft, as there have been no games since then, and our reports on them will not have changed. Today, we look at the Top 100 NHL Prospects.
What we will be doing is linking you to those articles, as well as taking a look at NHL prospects that were acquired before this year’s draft; their progress, and their chances of making the 2019-20 roster of the NHL team in question. The cut-off for what is or isn’t considered one of our NHL prospects is 50 NHL games played (including playoff games) or 25 years old. These are not hard or fast rules though, and we may make some exceptions depending on the circumstances.
Top NHL Prospects
After going through each team’s top 10 NHL prospects, and then ranking every organization in the NHL, we now bring you our top 100 NHL Prospects. This was a very difficult list to compile, and there are a number of players who barely missed the cut. There is so much talent coming into the league, hockey fans have a lot to look forward too. With that said, let the debates begin.
One Note, Clicking the Player Name will take you to the team’s NHL prospects page, or his individual draft scouting report.
In his three years in the OHL Hague scored 14, 18 and finally 35 goals. As an AHL Rookie, he put up 13 goals. Hague has an absolute howitzer from the point on the power play. His one-timer was nearly unstoppable by junior goalies and is now giving AHL goalies fits. He also can sneak down to the face-off circles and fire a deadly wrist shot with a quick release. Hague is able to move well laterally and walk the line to open up shooting lanes to get his shot through. The shot has good accuracy and he gets off his one-timer quickly. Hague has improved his passing skills as well. He makes a good breakout pass from his own end and looks to make the smart play at the opposition’s blue line.
Demko is 6-foot-4 and he has the ideal size that NHL teams are looking for in goalie prospects. This size, combined with his ability to cut down angles gives shooters very little to look at. Demko skates well, meaning he recovers quickly and stays with shooters if they try to deke. He also has a strong push giving him very good lateral movement and his puck tracking ability is solid. He understands where the play is going, anticipates well, and gets across the crease quickly. Demko plays a butterfly style and is extremely hard to beat down low due to his long and quick legs. Even when he does go down he can still take up a lot of the upper portion of the net. Demko has really improved his rebound control.
Suzuki sees the ice very well and processes the game quickly. He understands where teammates are headed and can make a tape-to-tape pass through tight areas. His playmaking ability is highlighted by his skill running the power play from the half boards. Suzuki uses strong stickhandling ability and quick changes in direction or speed to open up a passing lane against the defence. He can create offensive chances off the rush or in working the cycle game. Suzuki is able to slow down the play or speed it up as necessary. His ability to move the puck through the neutral zone and generate clean zone entries is particularly good.
Vaakanainen has an excellent hockey IQ. He reads the play very well in both the offensive and defensive ends of the ice. Vaakainen chooses to make the smart plays both with and without the puck. He also can skate the puck out of danger in his own zone, and start the transition game with a good first pass. Vaakainen has decent power and accuracy on his shot, and the vision to make plays at the line. He will likely never be a huge offensive contributor but may develop a bit of scoring ability. Defensively, he has great gap control and positioning. Vaakanainen takes the body in the corners and in front of the net. He is not afraid to get his nose dirty in puck battles or clearing the crease but also does not get himself out of position looking for the big hit.
Dellandrea is an excellent skater. He has the top end speed necessary to pull away from defenders and create odd-man rushes. His quick feet give him excellent acceleration, and he reaches that top speed in just a few strides. Dellandrea has the agility and edgework to make quick cuts and changes in direction. Dellandrea scores goals with an excellent wrist and snapshot. He has the hockey IQ to find soft spots in the opposing defence and gets his shot off from the high slot. His shots are powerful and accurate. He also has a good backhand.
Samorukov took his game to another level with the Guelph Storm this season, becoming one of the best defencemen in the OHL. He scored 10 goals and 45 points in 59 games. In the playoffs, he was even better putting up 10 goals and 28 points in 24 games in helping Guelph to the OHL title. Samorukov has a rocket of a slap shot. However, he must work on being more accurate, as he has some issues with getting it on the net. His vision and passing skills are also good. Improvements in his lateral agility give him the ability to open up passing and shooting lanes in the offensive zone, and in skating the puck out of his own end.
Dube is an undersized centre who plays bigger than his listed height, getting involved in the forecheck and battling for space in front of the net. He is not afraid to take on bigger opponents and plays with a non-stop motor. After the whistle, he can be found in the middle of scrums, working to agitate opponents and get them off their game. Dube isn’t afraid to go to the net, and to battle in the dirty areas of the ice; fighting for pucks in the corners or battling in the front of the net. He is also willing to drive the net both with and without the puck. Dube has the instincts, vision, and passing skills necessary to be a playmaker. Dube sees the ice very well and can thread a tape-to-tape pass through the smallest of openings. He also has a heavy shot.
Lundestrom has high-end hockey IQ and always seems to make the right play. While he is not outstanding in any one area, his skills are good in almost all areas. Lundestrom has good vision and passing skills. He also has the soft hands, and the agility to beat defenders in one-on-one situations, as well as to make a quick move to open up a passing or shooting lane. Lundestrom is also willing to play a gritty game, battling hard on the forecheck, forcing turnovers and creating scoring chances. Lundestrom can also play the role of finisher. He has an accurate wrist shot with a quick release. His snapshot is also powerful. Lundestrom is a pass-first player though.
Jokiharju is a solid puck handler. He can lead the rush or join in as a trailer. He also has the poise to quarterback the play from the blue line. Jokiharju keeps his head up and makes smart passes. Jokiharju has very good positioning and gap control. He keeps his man to the outside and away from the dangerous areas of the ice. His good lateral agility makes him very hard to beat in one-on-one situations. An active stick helps him to cut down passing and shooting lanes. Jokiharju is aggressive physically despite his small frame. He battles hard in the corners and in front of the net and is also willing to throw big hits.
The first thing you notice about Andersson is his tenacity. He plays the game with a non-stop motor, digging for loose pucks and trying to make plays in all three zones. He gets to the front of the net and plays in the dirty areas of the ice. Andersson is strong on the puck and has a low centre of gravity. He is able to fight off checks and drive to the front of the net, both on the rush and in the cycle game. Andersson has the soft hands to finish plays in close to the net, to get tip-ins and deflections and to pounce on rebounds. When he gains control of the puck in the corner, he moves the puck quickly to open teammates. He has decent vision and passing skills.
Liljegren has shown the poise and smarts to quarterback a power play over his time in Sweden. He has shown flashes of this ability in the AHL but needs to be more consistent at producing offensive opportunities. At his best, Liljegren has very good vision and makes good passes to set things up from the line. Liljegren finds the open man and makes tape-to-tape passes through tight areas. He can also make the long breakout pass to hit a teammate streaking through the neutral zone.
Joseph is a smart player, who can quarterback the play from the point. He has very good vision, and the passing skills to be a playmaker. Joseph can make a good pass, both to start the transition game, or to set things up at the blue line. He is poised with the puck on his stick, taking the time to survey the ice and make the right play. Joseph keeps his shot low and gets it on the net. This gives his teammates the opportunity at rebounds and tip-ins. He has increased his power which has naturally led to an increase in goals. The release on his wrist shot is also improved. Joseph can sneak down from the point and let his wrist shot go from the top of the faceoff circles.
Barre-Boulet is a very smart and creative player. He combines his strong skating ability with excellent stickhandling. He can control the puck and extend possession, waiting for teammates to get open. His quick changes in direction can also create space for him to get a shot off or to make a pass to a teammate. He is especially effective on the power play where he can quarterback the play from the half boards. He has very good vision and can pass the puck through tight passing lanes to set up a scoring chance. Barre-Boulet is also a goal scorer. He has an excellent array of shots. His wrist shot and snapshot both feature deceptively quick releases. He has quick hands and is able to change the angle on that release, further fooling goalies.
Kylington shows good passing skills and excellent vision. He has an outstanding first pass. Kylington is capable of making the long seam pass to spring forwards for breakaways. He has the puck handling skill and shows the poise to skate the puck out of danger in his own zone; to lead the rush and to quarterback plays from the point on the power play. His stickhandling also helps Kylington to make a quick move with his wrists to change his angle and opening up passing lanes. He has added muscle in recent years and this has really helped to improve his shot.
Poehling plays a gritty game, battling in the corners and in front of the net; as well as being effective on the forecheck. He also has a decent wrist shot and release. Poehling can use that shot more and this would lead to more consistent goal-scoring production. He still has a tendency to pass up shooting opportunities in order to make an extra pass to a teammate. Poehling plays a very straightforward north-south style of game and isn’t the type to take on defenders in one-on-one situations. Instead, he looks to move the puck to an open teammate and then try to find an open area on the ice. He loves to run the give-and-go style plays with his teammates.
Miller’s skating ability is combined with good puck handling skills. He can skate the puck out of danger, and start the transition game by leading the rush. He also makes a good first pass. Miller plays a game that is almost too conservative at this point. He picks his spots for when to get involved in the offence but seems to wait for a near-perfect opportunity. However, this is an area that has really improved. Miller’s passing skills translate to playing at the point in the offensive zone. He has the vision and playmaking ability to set up teammates. Miller creates passing and shooting lanes with his quick feet and good agility.
Terry is an excellent stick-handler. He protects the puck well on the rush, and in the cycle game. He can beat defenders one-on-one and has the quick hands to finish in close to the net. Terry has poise and can slow the play down in the offensive zone. Using his quick hands he can extend the play on the cycle game. When a teammate gets open, he can fire a tape-to-tape pass through a tight area to set up a scoring chance. Terry can also score goals with a good wrist shot as well as a quick release from further out. He is a smart player who finds the holes in the defence and gets open without the puck. His good one-timer is able to take advantage of this.
Cal Foote made an excellent transition from junior to pro hockey. He put up 10 goals and 21 assists for 31 points in 76 AHL games for the Syracuse Crunch. Foote was one of the top rookie defencemen in the AHL. Foote has good poise with the puck on his stick and the vision to quarterback things from the point on the power play. He reads the play well at both ends of the ice and has extremely good positioning. Foote understands when to sneak down from the point to take a pass, or to pinch in at the line to keep the puck in. His strong skating ability allows him to take chances and get back quickly.
Fox is an undersized defenseman but an elite offensive producer. He moves around the ice with very good speed and acceleration. He can lead or join the rush or pinch at the blue line and still get back to defend his own zone. Fox weaves in and out of traffic while rushing the puck up the ice and uses quick cuts to avoid opponents. He has extremely good stickhandling ability. Fox shows poise with the puck, being patient, and willing to use his agility to walk the line and open up shooting and passing lanes. Fox has outstanding vision and the ability to feather a pass through tight openings. He can use this ability while quarterbacking the power play, carrying the puck on the rush, or in making a strong first pass to start the rush. He is especially adept at making long breakaway passes.
Brook had an outstanding season in Moose Jaw. He put up 16 goals and 75 points in just 59 games for the Warriors. Used in all situations, Brook played huge minutes against the opponent’s top lines. If the Warriors were trailing late in a game, his offensive abilities saw the coaches put Brook on the ice as a winger. He truly did it all. Brook led the league in points by a defenceman and was named to the Conference 1st All-Star Team. Brook has a very good first step and strong acceleration. He transitions the puck from defence to offence quickly. He can stickhandle and skate the puck out of danger. Brook also has good skills in making the first pass or controlling things at the blue line. He tends to be a bit of a risk-taker.
Top NHL Prospects Main Photo:
BUFFALO, NY – DECEMBER 31: Adam Fox #8 of United States celebrates after scoring the winning goal against Finland in the third period during the IIHF World Junior Championship at KeyBank Center on December 31, 2017, in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Kevin Hoffman/Getty Images)