With that said, let’s get started!
This is part 2 of my 2019 NHL Entry Draft Rankings. If you are looking to arch up on 1-15, they can be found using the link attached here.
16.) Victor Söderström (RD, Brynäs IF)
Söderström is a graceful, new age two-way defensemen. His 67% controlled exit percentage is second among all of the defensemen I have tracked. This is no surprise considering his exceptional distribution skills.
Söderström is also defensively conscious, keeping an incredibly tight gap and communicating well with his teammates. Söderström is already playing big minutes against men in the SHL and all signs point to him continuing to do so.
17.) Pavel Dorofeyev (LW/RW, Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk)
Dorofeyev has gone under the radar this year for Stalnye Lisy Magnitogorsk in the MHL. The Russian born winger has produced 24 points in 15 games. Dorofeyev’s points per game (1.6) is a higher points per game in the MHL then Nikita Kucherov (1.4) and Artemi Panarin (1.2) while Dorofeyev’s play even earned some time in the KHL despite how unfavourable he looked there. And although he has yet to transition well to the next level, I’m sure Dorofeyev’s soft hands and relentless play will help to ease that transition.
18.) Tobias Bjonfot (LD, Djurgårdens IF)
One of my favourite draft eligible players this year, Björnfot, like most dynamic defensemen, game is founded upon his elite skating abilities. Björnfot also distributes the puck to his teammates extremely well and generates substantial zone exit totals as a result. Björnfot, much like Honka, has shown some difficulty in the defensive zone, however, he does demonstrate the defensive fundamentals that will allow for further development.
19.) Moritz Seider (RD, Alder Mannheim)
As one of the more intriguing players in this year’s draft, I believe Seider deserves a spot in everyone’s first round. The hyper mobile 6’4 defensemen has played big minutes for Mannheim in the DEL. Seider has also been a monster on the breakout achieving a 4.2% failed exit percentage which is the lowest of any defenseman I have tracked this year. Lastly, Seider has also been steadily improving game by game, which is an excellent indicator of development potential. That is always a good sign.
20.) Thomas Harley (LD, Mississauga Steelheads)
Thomas Harley’s incredibly deep skill set is what makes the Syracuse native so interesting. His game is founded upon his smooth skating and ability to process plays as they develop at a very quick pace. Although his defensive game is already pretty sound for the Steelheads, his offensive talents are still pretty raw.
That is not to say he is contributing no offence at all, chipping in 33 points in 39 games for Mississauga this season, which are great numbers for a defensemen, but Harley’s elite skating ability and vision should allow him to achieve much greater offensive totals in the near future.
21.) Ville Heinola (LD, Lukko)
Heinola is a smooth, consistent two-way defender. His mature decisions and confidence has made him a mainstay in Liiga this year for Lukko, and although his tournament ended early, Heinola showed very well at the World Juniors, playing some serious minutes for the championship squad. His 47.2 controlled exit percentage isn’t the best but shows he can exit the zone with reasonable efficiency.
22.) Connor McMichael (C, London Knights)
Another big riser on my rankings, McMichael has been an offensive juggernaut for the second place London Knights, demonstrated by his 1.3 PPG and his insane betweenness score. McMichael is a good skater with very good top-end speed along with solid pivots and edge-work as well. His offensive positioning can use some work, but his skill set usually makes that obsolete.
23.) Nathan Légaré (RW, Baie-Comeau Drakkar)
A natural goal scorer, Légaré has displayed considerable improvement throughout the year for Baie-Comeau. His 64 points is good enough for seventh league wide in the QMJHL. Playing with Ivan Chekhovich has definitely helped the Quebec native, but his scoring touch is undeniable.
His competitiveness and offensive instincts are some of the best in the draft class. Much like McMichael, don’t be shocked to see Nathan Légaré rise in the rankings.
24.) Ryan Suzuki (C, Barrie Colts)
Brother of Habs prospect Nick Suzuki, Ryan Suzuki has started to make a name for himself in the OHL. Suzuki is a creative and silky distributor with an innate ability to read the play. With all that being said, his underlying numbers aren’t as positive as one would hope for.
Suzuki has poor shot attempts/60 and scoring chances/60 which demonstrates that Suzuki relies too much on his playmaking ability and therefore has no real serious scoring threat.
25.) Mikko Kokkonen (LD, Jukurit)
One of the better junior-age defenders in Finland, Kokkonen is a poised, mobile defensemen with a high hockey IQ. Kokkenen has already cemented himself as a top end defender for Jukurit in Liiga which is definitely no easy task. However, much like Suzuki, Kokkenen’s underlying numbers just don’t match up.
His 46% controlled zone exit percentage isn’t the best, however, his team worst 39% Corsi for percentage isn’t a positive sign considering Kokkenen those are some of the worst numbers in the entire league. It is my belief that Kokkenen could use some more development time in the Mestis.
26.) Vasili Podkolzin (RW, SKA St. Petersburg)
Podkolzin‘s game is built upon his quick hands and blazing speed. He is a natural goal scorer with an amazing touch displayed at the Hlinka-Gretzky tournament. That being said, his league play for SKA St. Petersburg in the MHL has been underwhelming to say the least.
His 8 points in 11 games is behind of fellow draft eligibles in the MHL including Pavel Dorofeyev and Maxim Shabanov. His international play has been outstanding this year and I will continue to keep an eye on Podkolzin but for now, I just can’t buy all the hype.
27.) Cole Caulfield (C/RW, USNTDP)
A tiny goal scoring winger, Caulfield possess one of the top shots in the draft class. His 31 goals in 35 USNTDP games is very impressive but less impressive is that 35% (11/31) of those goals were primarily assisted by Jack Hughes with many more coming from Trevor Zegras. Nevertheless, Caulfield is a pure goal scorer who will terrorize NHL goalies for years to come.
28.) Matthew Boldy (LW, USNTDP)
From the outside, Boldy looks like a grade A prospect with great skating ability, a scoring touch and size, however his production would speak otherwise. His 1.1 PPG and 0.099 betweenness may seem good but hail in comparison to his USHL teammates like Trevor Zegras and Cole Caufield. His intriguing mix of assets should definitely be taken into intense consideration and I believe Matthew will turn into a good NHL player but, not a top end forward.
29.) Phillip Tomasino (C, Niagara Ice Dogs)
Following a strong Hlinka camp, Tomasino has been off to a blazing start for Niagara in the OHL. His speed and pace of play is exceptional, and his offensive skill set is incredibly deep. It should be noted however, that Tomasino has benefited by playing with Akil Thomas and Robertson throughout the year. That being said Tomasino’s competitiveness and tenacity should translate very easily to the next level.
30.) Henry Thrun (LD, USDP)
After a very unheralded D-1 year, Thrun has gotten off to a relatively slow start to his draft season with just 23 points in 35 games. This might be because Thrun wants to be more physical and defensively sound saying, “Right now, I’ve been working a lot on my physicality, especially in the D-zone. Just trying to close guys out after the line rush.” This choice seems like the one most favourable to the Harvard commits long-term development.
31.) Nils Höglander (LW, Rogle BK)
To play in the SHL consistently as an 18 year old you have to be pretty good and that exactly what Nils has done for Rogle this year. The 5 foot 9 winger has not been sent down once yet after making the team out of camp and has even caught fire of light. Höglander isn’t big, but he is fearless, playing very aggressively and using his blazing speed and quick hands to his advantage.
Honourable Mentions: Egor Afanasyev, Cam York, Maxim Shabanov.