NHL Central Scouting is set to release their mid-term rankings for this summer's NHL Draft sometime next week. In the meantime, I thought I would post my personal list that I've been keeping throughout the season for the upcoming draft.
As per usual. I'm only ranking players that I've seen and felt comfortable ranking. To give some idea of where I think these guys would go in the actual Draft, it breaks down like this:
1-26: First Round
27-41: Second Round
42-50: Third Round
50-70: Late Rounds
Without further ado, here is what my NHL Draft list looks like at the midway point of the season
|9||Clayton Keller||F||US NTDP||USHL|
|11||Julien Gauthier||F||Val D'Or||QMJHL|
|12||Kieffer Bellows||F||US NTDP||USHL|
|15||Pierre-Luc Dubois||F||Cape Breton||QMJHL|
|16||Chad Krys||D||US NTDP||USHL|
|19||German Rubtcov||F||Vityaz Podolsk||RUS|
|23||Riley Tufte||F||Blaine HS/Fargo||USHS/USHL|
|25||Charlie McAvoy||D||Boston University||Hockey East|
|32||Luke Kunin||F||Wisconsin||Big Ten|
|35||Ryan Lindgren||D||US NTDP||USHL|
|37||Joey Anderson||F||US NTDP||USHL|
|38||Trent Frederic||F||US NTDP||USHL|
|39||Tim Gettinger||F||Sault Ste Marie||OHL|
|40||Brett Howden||F||Moose Jaw||WHL|
|41||Adam Fox||D||US NTDP||USHL|
|42||Vojtech Budik||D||Prince Albert||WHL|
|43||Dmitri Alexseyev||D||Tractor Chelyabinsk||RUS|
|45||Griffin Luce||D||US NTDP||USHL|
|46||Tage Thompson||F||Connecticut||Hockey East|
|47||Graham McPhee||F||US NTDP||USHL|
|49||Nick Pastujov||F||US NTDP||USHL|
|51||Will Lockwood||F||US NTDP||USHL|
|53||Michael Graham||F||Eden Prairie HS/Fargo||USHS/USHL|
|54||James Sanchez||F||US NTDP||USHL|
|55||Keenan Suthers||F||US NTDP||USHL|
|56||Mitchell Mattson||F||Grand Rapids HS/Bloomington||USHS/USHL|
|57||JD Greenway||D||US NTDP||USHL|
|64||Zach Walker||F||US NTDP||USHL|
|67||Jordan Klehr||D||Nebraska Omaha||NCHC|
|68||Zach Osburn||D||Michigan State||Big Ten|
|70||Vincent de Mey||F||Shattuck-St. Mary's||USHS|
-Boy those Finnish kids were impressive at the World Juniors. But I still think it's Auston Matthews at the top and then everybody else. Matthews didn't have a lot of highlight reel plays that ended with goals, nor did he have big production when the US really needed it, but I thought he did a lot of little things that were quietly impressive.
I did move Puljujarvi and Laine up into the second and third spots, and I think there's a bit of a gap between them and Chychrun at four.
-I've been steadfast that Max Jones is a top five pick all season, though that wasn't consensus opinion. He probably had the best World Juniors of anyone that didn't go to the World Juniors. With London's big guns in Finland, Jones started to show the offensive production one would hope from a top pick with the increased ice time. He also did this. That's a top-5 guy.
-It was a tough decision ranking the top defensemen in the draft. Chychrun is still at the top for me, but it's becoming more of a discussion, and I don't think he'll be the top D on every team's list. A lot of people are high on Juolevi after a really great World Juniors, but I really like what Sergachev and Fabbro bring to the table.
-I'm a bit higher on Clayton Keller than most. The way he has been scoring this year is at Kane/Eichel/Matthews level. I think he'll be a special player despite his size. If he was putting up 2+ points per game in the CHL--and if he's scoring 2/game against NCAA competition, he would doing that or more in the CHL--he'd be talked about as a top-five guy.
-I was one of the last people to hop on the Riley Tufte bandwagon. In fact, prior to Christmas, I was telling people I wouldn't take him in the first two rounds of the Draft. But here he is in my first round. What changed? First, there's been a progression in his play. The stats are always going to be there for him at the high school level, but in recent viewings, it seems like he's made a more concerted effort to use his size and drive the net aggressively, and my biggest concern was always his tendency to only play on the perimeter. The other thing was that after seeing a little more of what else was out there for this year's Draft, there just weren't that many players I'd take over Tufte head-to-head. Of course, all that positive momentum could vanish if he goes back to the USHL after the high school season and doesn't produce again. I'd love to see him get a chance to play with the US at the World U18s this spring.
-On the flip side, the other two Minnesota high school players that came back from the USHL--Michael Graham and Mitchell Mattson-- have fallen considerably. Graham hasn't looked nearly as impressive this year when playing on a different line as Casey Mittelstadt.
Mattson had a couple very underwhelming performances when Grand Rapids came down to the Twin Cities in December. Some people still seem willing to gamble on his long-term potential, but he's going to have to develop something that isn't there yet to play at the next level.