As the 2017 NHL Entry Draft draws near we take a look at the current rankings of the top five Canadian, US, and Europe born skaters who are going to be up for grabs in Chicago on June 23rd. This years draft will be Chicago’s first time hosting this special event in 53 years.
First will analyze this year’s talent coming from Canada and who is leading the cream of the crop.
According to the scouting experts the top prospect that is currently head of the class in Canada is centerman Patrick Nolan.
Patrick Nolan is 6′ 2” in height and weights in at 198 pounds. Nolan born on September 19, 1998 hails from Winnipeg, MB, CA. This season his playing from the Brandon Wheat Kings in the WHL. He is known for having a great hockey sense and is a dangerous shooter.
The Wheat Kings Captain in 22 games this season has tallied 15 goals and recorded 20 assists.
Even though he missed 35 games in 2016-2017 campaign with a groin injury the scouts rated him as the best available player to select at this year NHL Entry Draft.
Next on our list the experts have slotted in is Gabriel Vilardi.
Gabriel Vilardi his slight taller than Nalon who rated at 6’3” and comes in at 203 pounds. Vilardi is from Kingston, ON, CA and was born on August 16, 1999. He currently plays for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL.
The Spitfires forward has 37 games to his credit for 2016-2017 campaign and has registered 23 goals and collected 25 assists.
The scouts have identified Vilardi as a player who has good hockey intelligence, uses his size, has deceptive speed, and has improved his overall skating that allows to get to loose pucks much quicker.
Coming in at third position is Owen Tippett.
Owen Tippett has some size on him at 6’0” 200 pounds. Tippett comes from Peterborough, ON, CA and born on February 16, 1999. Owen is playing for the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads.
The right winger in 52 games this season with Mississauga has an impressive 39 goals and 29 assists.
Experts rate his level of play similar to that of current Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel with the ability to receive the puck and fire it on net in a mere second. Another asset that the scouts have identified is he can overwhelm opposing goaltenders.
An important skill to have while your team is on the power play.
Slotted at fourth on the list of available talent from Canada is Michael Rasmussen.
Michael Rasmussen is towering player at 6’6” with size at 215 pounds. Rasmussen hails from Vancouver, BC, CA is born on April 17, 1999. In the WHL Michael plays for the Tri City Americans.
This season the Tri City centerman has scored 32 goals and tallied 23 assists in 50 games.
According to the scouts he is a responsible two-way player and uses bodied size as an advantage. His 6’6” frame allows him to earn precious space on the ice. Rasmussen has good hands and a smooth skating ability.
He is known for making things difficult for the opposition.
Anchoring in at the fifth and final spot on our list is Cody Glass.
Cody Glass size wise is the smallest at 178 pounds that surrounded by a 6’2” frame. Glass comes from Winnipeg, MB, CA and was born on April 1, 1999.
Dressing for the Portland Winterhawks this season Glass has recorded in 59 games 26 goals and an impressive 55 assists.
The subject matter experts have given fair warning for the next ten years in the sport and that is don’t underestimate his ability because you will unfortunately pay the price.
His impressive skill level comes from the bench mark that was set previously by Clayton Keller (Boston University), Auston Matthews (TOR) and Jack Eichel (BUF).
Next will segway and analze the talent pool of US born hockey players and who those top five skaters are.
First on our list is a player by the name of Casey Mittelstadt.
Casey Mittelstadt is from the United States hockey hotbed of Minnesota in a small town of Edina. Mittelstadt was born on November 22, 1998 and is listed at 6’1” and weights in at 201.
Mittelstadt is playing for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League. In 16 games on the 2017-2018 campaign has 21 points (8 goals and 13 assists).
Scouts have highlighted that he has great awareness on the ice which allows his teammates to not get caught in a pickle situation.
His primary assets that he brings to the table are speed, skill with the puck, creative, and intelligence. He competes, works hard, and doesn’t take any shift off.
Coming in at second place on the US rankings is Callan Foote son of former Colorado Avalanche defenseman and two-time Stanley Cup Champion and Olympic Gold Medalist Adam Foote.
Callan Foote comes from the mile high city of Denver, CO and was born December 13, 1998. He is currently listed at 6’4” and weights in at 215 pounds.
The right-handed shot defenseman plays for the Kelowna Rockets. In his current campaign with Kelowna Foote has registered 40 assists which is a great number coming from a d-man and has scored 8 goals.
His game can be credited with the assistance and guidance of current Avalanche forward Matt Duchene. Foote’s hockey intelligence highlights his assets that he brings with him along with his 5/5 game and offensive zone play.
An important side-note is that Foote could be a steal at this years NHL Draft.
Third on the list is Ryan Poehling. Ryan like Callan is also following in the footsteps of a family member and his joining his twin brothers Jack and Nick who are freshman’s playing for St. Cloude State University.
The same Alma Matar that produced 2006 Stanley Champion Bret Hedican of the Carolina Hurricanes.
Ryan is currently playing in the USA Hockey’s Under 18 development program of the Ivan Hlinka Memorial League. In his short five game season with Hlinka Memorial Poehling has recorded 7 points (4 goals and 3 assists).
Craig Button of TSN highlighted Ryan as being a well rounded player that is smart can be involved in any situation on the ice on both sides of the puck. His foot speed is also an attribute of his game.
Sliding in at number 4 on our the list is Grant Mismash.
Mismash like Casey Mittelstadt is another United States hotbed talent and hails from Brooklyn Park, MN, USA.
Born on February 19, 1999 comes in at 6’0” and weights in at 186 pounds.
Mismash currently splits his playing time in the USHL and for USA Hockey’s Under 18 Development Program. His combined stats with both teams are 9 goals and 10 assists.
His best assets that he brings with him is the ability to play a physical style game as well as the use of the puck in traffic areas and he has a heavy shot.
Finally completing the list at number 5 is Jake Leschyshyn.
Jake Leschyshyn is from Raliegh, NC home to the NHL’s Eastern Conference Carolina Hurricanes. Born on March 10, 1999 Jake is listed with a medium size frame at 5’11” and 185 pounds.
Currently with the WHL’s Regina Pats, Leschyshyn has tallied 40 points with 17 goals and 23 assists with 47 games played on the season.
Leschyshyn is a player who plays with passion and skilled with great hands. He is responsible with the puck and understands where he needs to be at in the offensive zone.
Across the pond we take a look at the best available talent pool the Europeans powerhouses.
Leading the European pack and coming in first on the list is Klim Kostin.
Klim Kostin is from Penza, RUS and born on May 5, 1999. The Russian forward is 6’3” and weights in at 196 pounds.
Playing for Dynamo Moscow and Balashikha Klim has recorded a combined 1 point in 17 games this season.
He is known to be more of a playmaker rather than a shooter something that current San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton is. His frame though is an asset which makes him a power forward.
Other attributes to his game is his foot speed and quickness to get to the puck.
Runner up on our list is Elias Pettersson.
Elias Pettersson is from Sundsvall, SWE the same Swedish town that produced former Tampa Bay Lightning forward and 2004 Stanley Cup Winner Fredrik Modin. Born on November 12, 1998 Pettersson weights in at 156 pounds and is listed at 6’1”.
In his combined 12 games this season Pettersson has tallied 9 points.
Arguably his best asset is that he lean, he distributes the puck very well and the 200 foot game applies with Pettersson. Something to watch for is that he comes from the lethal Swedish scoring faction so be careful when he goes streaking.
Ranked third is Lias Andersson.
Lias Andersson is part of hockey family himself like Callan Foote back home in Sweden. His father Niklas Andersson was the 68th overall pick in 1986 NHL Draft by Quebec.
Born on October 13, 1998 hails from Smogen, SWE. He comes at 5’11” and 198 pounds.
An excellent two way player Andersson that can play everywhere on the rink and attacks well up the ice. He is also quick and has the skill to play all three forward positions.
Another skill that his brings into the fold is the ability to adaptive on the ice which he gets praised by his coaches.
In the slot position at number 4 is Kristian Vesalainen.
Kristian Vesalainen comes from Helsinki, FIN in which produced retired Anaheim Ducks forward Teemu “The Finnish Flash” Selänne and 2007 Stanley Cup Champion as well as 5-time Cup Winner Jari Kurri of Edmonton.
Born on June 1, 1999 is listed at 6’3” and 207 pounds.
Playing for Forlunda Sweden Indians Hockey Club this season Vesalainen has recorded 3 points (1 goal and 2 assists).
What Kristian brings with his arsenal of tricks is that he is deceptive on his speed game and his ability with handling the puck very well. Another trait is included with his game is that he will make life for opposing teams defenseman very uncomfortable.
The scouts call him a cheaper version to that of Oilers forward Jesse Puljujarvi.
Finishing off the talent pool at number 5 is Martin Necas.
Martin Necas hails from Nove Mesto na Morave, CZE and born on January 15, 1999. He is currently listed at 6’0” and 167 pounds.
Necas spent 2017-2018 season with CZE U18 and U20 programs in a combined 17 games with 5 goals and 10 assists to his credit.
Scouts have him being an agile and elusive player with the skill of handling the puck. Much like Thornton with the Sharks he has opts with the pass first mindset. He has good with the puck and has top 6 forward potential.
In situations where things are on the line he wants to provide an impact and make everything count.
Next story will analyze the best available college free agents as we draw another month closer to the 2017 offseason.