As we get closer and closer to the upcoming NHL Draft, it can sometimes be difficult to separate the signal from all the noise surrounding it. There are a lot of opinions out there, and it can be difficult to tell which ones to trust. That is part of the reason I like Bob McKenzie's list so much. It may not be perfect. I may not agree with everything on the list. But there's no doubt that it is the absolute best list in terms of gauging the general opinion of the people that will be making the important decisions on draft day.
With that said, here are four things that stood out to me on the list.
Noah Hanifin is still #3
This was the one I was most anticipated when this list came out. In McKenzie's mid-season rankings, Hanifin was ranked third and there was almost no discussion about it. Since then, the general amateur opinion seems to be that Mitch Marner and Dylan Strome have passed Hanifin. I've got a couple theories on why that is:
1. Marner and Strome scored a bucket of points in the second half, while Hanifin didn't. Most people just aren't watching these players closely on a night-in/night-out basis so things like points sway them a little more. I think people that just look at Hanifin's point totals from this past season have more concerns about his offensive potential than people that watch him closely.
2. Prospect fatigue is a very real phenomenon. It's always harder for the guy already in a spot to hold his position over the new, exciting guy. This year was also very unique in that there was simply zero discussion about who the first overall pick should be. Even in years the top overall pick was fairly obvious, there was at least a moment where there was some discussion. Connor McDavid shut the door on any such discussion at every single opportunity. So that discussion got moved down to the third overall pick.
3. Arizona got the third overall pick, and the Coyotes could likely use a slick, high-scoring forward more than a defenseman. I don't know that any team is in position to turn down a potential franchise defenseman like Hanifin, but even with Hanifin ranked as the third overall player in the draft, it wouldn't be a surprise if Arizona and Toronto both opted for forwards.
Scouts Don't Like Jeremy Bracco
The diminutive Jeremy Bracco has been a very polarizing player in this year's Draft. He put up incredible offensive numbers with the NTDP, but his size and style of play appears to really scare some teams. I've seen a lot of people pushing Bracco into the top 30 of their draft lists, but if McKenzie's list is any indication, he'll fall much farther on draft day. That doesn't mean Bracco can't or won't be successful. But if we operate under the theory that NHL scouts watching these guys every single game know what they doing(and I do, for the most part), it's not a promising sign.
There's a Big Difference Between Brock Boeser and Tom Novak
Many ranking services, including NHL Central Scouting had the Waterloo duo extremely close to each other all season. But McKenzie's final rankings don't reflect that. It was a disappointing season for Waterloo, but Boeser seemed to establish himself as a top round pick while Novak has slipped considerably despite relatively similar points-per-game production.
Will Borgen Continues to Be a Big Sleeper
This past November, I mentioned Will Borgen, who was ignored by NHL Central Scouting's preliminary list, as a player that could draw more attention as the year goes on. That has certainly been the case, thanks to a strong finish to the USHL season. After coming in at a conservative 194 in the Mid-Term rankings, he jumped to 114 in the final CSB rankings, and McKenzie even one-ups that by giving him Honourable Mention just outside the top 75. Teams look at which way a player's development curve is trending, and Borgen's keeps going up. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him go in the third, or even second round.