January is just about over, but there’s still enough time to sneak in some NHL Draft content. I’ve put together another of the ever popular consolidated rankings, as there has been plenty of change in the past month. January is one of the big ones for draft watchers, with the World Junior Championships and the CHL Top Prospects games, and most services can’t wait to get their new rankings out after big events like these.
Before we get into the list itself, I have some housekeeping to take care of, including a disclaimer and a bit of advice.
First, as with all consolidated rankings since last year’s “incident”, I’ll remind everyone that consolidated rankings are here simply to gauge the general industry impression of the year’s top prospects. The list that follows below is a useful way of seeing where players sit in the eyes of those who do this for a living. It does not, however, reflect or influence our own rankings or opinions at this site, nor mine personally. You can find my most recent rankings here. Interestingly, the consolidated top six now aligns with my own – that wasn’t the case a few weeks ago, but Filip Zadina’s performance at the WJC and Top Prospects game has cause some to bump him up their lists.
Next, I’d like to give Jackson McDonald’s article on scouting the WJC a little plug, as I think it’s relevant here. Jackson laid out some do’s and don’t’s for scouting big tournaments like the World Juniors, and I think his advice fits the CHL Top Prospects game appropriately as well. Some of the do’s include using the tournament to compare players in different leagues, or assessing base attributes, while some of the don’t’s include putting too much stock into boxcar statistics, or valuing the events over regular season play. Some of the biggest jumpers since December are players that performed well at the World Juniors or the TPG, so the future will tell us if those adjustments were appropriate or ill-advised.
With that out of the way, let’s check out which services and analysts have been included in this month’s consolidated list.
|SERVICE||FUTURE CONSIDERATIONS||HOCKEY PROSPECT||ISS HOCKEY||MCKEEN’S||TSN INDUSTRY||TSN CRAIG’S LIST||SPORTSNET||THE ATHLETIC||THE HOCKEY NEWS||ESPN||DOBBER PROSPECTS|
|AUTHOR||STAFF||STAFF||STAFF||STAFF||BOB MCKENZIE||CRAIG BUTTON||JEFF MAREK||CORY PRONMAN||RYAN KENNEDY||CHRIS PETERS||CAM ROBINSON|
|DATE||JAN 15TH||DEC 22ND||JAN 10TH||DEC 8TH||JAN 26TH||JAN 8TH||JAN 10TH||JAN 29TH||JAN 22ND||OCT 31ST||JAN 9TH|
Eight out of the ten services used in December have since updated their rankings (only McKeen’s and ESPN remain the same), and Ryan Kennedy’s list for The Hockey News has been added to bring the total number of lists used to 11. As with last time, some lists are either partially (HockeyProspect.com) or fully (The Athletic) behind pay walls. Explicit details of their lists are not given here.
Finally, here we have the top 31 prospects available this June, according to the industry consensus.
This first round list has three players that moved up at least eight spots, including defenceman Evan Bouchard (23rd to 13th), defenceman Noah Dobson (20th to 11th), and Dominik Bokk (27th to 29th), a teammate of Elias Pettersson in Vaxjo in the Swedish Hockey League.
At 60 points this year, Bouchard is the single most productive player in this draft class, and his scoring rate is the second best among all first time eligible defencemen, trailing on Rasmus Dahlin. The former protege of Olli Juolevi has grown into a dynamic but extreme calm presence on the blueline. I had Bouchard 10th on my list, and that certainly seems to be the direction that he’s headed.
Joe Veleno and Jared McIsaac are two of this month’s biggest fallers, but no one is tumbling quite as quick as Jack McBain, a centre currently plying his trade in the OJHL. Junior A players are notoriously divisive for scouts and prognosticators. Some swear he’s a first round talent, while others are far from convinced. Personally, I haven’t had a chance to see him yet, so it’s difficult to know which way I’d lean.
On to the draft tiers, which is always one of my favourite charts. Rasmus Dahlin is pulling away from the pack, and any discussion that Svechnikov could challenge him for first overall has faded away. At this point, Svechnikov should be more concerned about the players chasing him. Filip Zadina, Adam Boqvist and Brady Tkachuk have each appeared at second on some lists, and Quinn Hughes isn’t far behind.
Oliver Wahlstrom is hanging on the the end of that tier, and there’s a precipitous drop off after that. Every player between eighth and 21st on this consolidated list appears in the top ten at least once, and most also appear in the 20’s and 30’s as well. That is to say, there’s very little consensus about who belongs in the middle of the first round at this point. That can often be an indication that the draft isn’t particularly well regarded.
I have one more chart of interest (for those of you who are interested in charts), and it’s one that I don’t think Don Cherry will like very much. Less than half of the top 31 players here are Canadian born, which continues the trend from the last few of seasons (12 Canadians were selected in the first round in each of 2017, 2016 and 2015, down from 14 in 2014). That in and of itself is not that surprising, given the international depths of prospects these days.
However, just one of the the top ten players is Canadian – Ty Smith at eighth – and he’s hardly a lock to stay there. My Winter Rankings had three Canadians in the top ten (Ryan Merkley, Joseph Veleno, and Evan Bouchard), but they were eighth through tenth, and none of them are locks either. It seems downright likely that no Canadian will be taken in the top five this year, which hasn’t happened since 1999, and it’s conceivable that there could be no Canadians drafted in the top ten this year, which hasn’t happened ever.
Is this an indictment on Canadian hockey, or a testament to the international spread of the sport we love? Either way, you can bet that there’s going to be some serious discussion about it as we get closer to draft day.