Name: Tommy Novak
2014-2015 team: Waterloo Blackhawks(USHL)
2014-2015 stats: 46 games 14 goals 34 assists 48 points
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 28th among North American skaters
What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Novak is an incredible stick-handler and passer. He possesses great hands and elite playmaking skills. He might be among the best in the Draft when it comes to creating scoring opportunities.
The negative on Novak is that he can be too much of a one-way player. He's not very effective outside of the offensive zone, and there are questions about his size and strength. Also, he's not as strong of a finisher as he is as a set-up man.
Is he trending up or down heading into the Draft?
Novak started the year ranked at the tail-end of the first round alongside teammate Brock Boeser, both of whom made the transition from dominating the Minnesota high school ranks to the USHL's Waterloo Blackhawks. He had a decent season, averaging a point-per-game, but with only 14 goals. While he kept his top 30 spot in Central Scouting's rankings throughout the year, the rest of the scouting community wasn't as impressed. Novak came in closer to the range of a third round draft pick in Bob McKenzie's annual poll of scouts.
Where is he projected to go in the Draft?
It's really tough to say because opinions seem to be all over the board on Novak. One camp seems to view him as a top-flight offensive prospect worthy of going in the first round of the Draft, while the other camp seems scared off by some of the other missing elements of his game and feels there is high bust potential, ranking him solidly in the third round. To be safe, we'll split the difference and predict he gets taken somewhere in the second round. Not quite safe enough to be a top-30 selection, but skills too good to pass up twice.
How does he project as a pro?
If Novak makes it as an NHLer, he's going to have to make it as a top six skill player that consistently produces offense. His ceiling is as a set-up man for a big-time scorer and a player that excels in man-advantage situations. He's definitely a boom-or-bust type prospect.
Where will he go next?
Novak will play for the University of Minnesota next season. Minnesota lost their top three, and five of top eight scorers from last season and Novak is one of the players they're counting on to come in and play an offensive role very quickly. He'll likely be more of a power play specialist to start with the hopes that as he gets stronger and more mature, he can become more effective at even strength and a more well-rounded player. He'll likely need a minimum of two to three years at Minnesota before he's ready to sign his first pro contract.