Columnist image
Craig Button

TSN Director of Scouting

|Archive

Auston Matthews remains the top prospect in the New Year’s edition of Craig’s List. While it can be argued that Finnish wingers Jesse Puljujarvi and Patrik Laine were not only Finland’s best players at the World Junior Hockey Championships but also the best players of the entire tourney, Matthews is a dominant centre and that position will always get the edge from me when it’s close.

Matthews, currently playing for the ZSC Lions of the Swiss National League, is hard to shut down because he can beat you in so many ways with his skill and intelligence. Combined with an indomitable will, I see a player who has a Peter Forsberg-like approach to playing the game.

As for Puljujarvi and Laine, both currently skating in the Finnish Liiga, it’s a coin flip for me. Puljujarvi may have a more well-rounded game, whereas Laine may have more flair. I don’t know who is the better prospect at this time and may never know with any real confidence, but it’s safe to say you can’t go wrong with either one of them.

Matthew Tkachuk of the Ontario Hockey League’s London Knights has a “whatever it takes” quality to his play that manifests itself in the skill areas or the hard and gritty areas. He makes a team and everybody around him better when he steps on the ice.

Alexander Nylander of the OHL’s Mississauga Steelheads is a silky-smooth, skilled player who has a quiet determination to his play and can beat you with his head, hands or feet. Suffice to say, the top five players have the ability and potential to be top-line, point-producing players.

After that, the real work begins for me. Olli Juolevi may have an edge over the next three defencemen, but it’s a razor-thin margin at this time, based on what I see as an edge in offensive zone creativity and imagination with the puck. There is much work for me to really assess Jakob Chychrun, Dante Fabbro and Mikhail Sergachyov because I see them as pillar-type defencemen who have the potential to play a significant part on an NHL blueline. It remains a work in progress and will remain so over the course of the next four or five months.

In what has been a dry spell for Minnesota state high school hockey with respect to producing high-end prospects, two players find their way into the top 30 of these rankings. Mitchell Mattson and Riley Tufte are big and skilled and continue to show they could be the first players selected in the first round from the Minnesota high school system since Nick Bjugstad and Brock Nelson in 2010.

 

CRAIG'S LIST - January Ranking

 
RK PLAYER TEAM POS HT WT GP G P
1  Auston Matthews Zurich (Suisse A) C 6'1½ 194 28 20 33
2 Jesse Puljujärvi Karpat (SM-Liiga) RW 6'3 ½ 203 32 5 13
2  Patrik Laine Tappara (SM-Liiga) RW 6'4 206 24 8 16
4  Matthew Tkachuk London (OHL) LW 6'1 195 30 15 61
5  Alexander Nylander Mississuaga (OHL) LW/RW 6'0 ½ 179 34 22 50
6  Olli Juolevi London (OHL) D 6'2 ½ 179 28 4 23
7  Jakob Chychrun Sarnia (OHL) D 6'2 215 36 5 24
8  Dante Fabbro Penticton (BCHL) D 6'0 189 28 9 44
9  Mikhail Sergachyov Windsor (OHL) D 6'2 ½ 206 41 12 28
10  Pierre-Luc Dubois C. Breton (QMJHL) LW 6'2 ½ 202 41 26 61
11  Clayton Keller USA NTDP (USHL) C 5'9 ½ 168 32 21 63
12  Tyson Jost Penticton (BCHL) C 5'11 191 34 26 67
13  German Rubtsov Russia U-18 (MHL) C 6'2 176 18 9 20
14  Kieffer Bellows USA NTDP (USHL) LW 6'0 196 33 26 44
15  Julien Gauthier Val d'Or (QMJHL) RW 6'3 ½ 225 30 29 37
16  Samuel Girard Shawinigan (QMJHL) D 5'9 ½ 160 41 6 48
17  Michael McLeod Mississuaga (OHL) C 6'2 188 39 17 45
18  Dillon Dube Kelowna (WHL) LW 5'10  180 35 18 41
19  Jake Bean Calgary (WHL) D 6'0 173 42 15 39
20  Vitali Abramov Gatineau (QMJHL) LW/RW 5'9 172 42 26 62
21  Alex DeBrincat Erie (OHL) C/RW 5'7 163 33 34 60
22  Charlie McAvoy Boston U (NCAA) D 6'0  208 19 1 11
23  Mitchell Mattson Grand Rapids C 6'4 186 16 13 32
24 Logan Stanley Windsor (OHL) D 6'7 220 39 3 12
25  Riley Tufte Blaine (USHSW) LW 6'5 205 14 25 44
26  Tyler Benson Vancouver (WHL) LW 6'0 201 28 8 26
27  Will Bitten  Flint (OHL) C/RW 5'10 167 39 20 43
28  Max Jones London (OHL) LW 6'3 205 34 17 34
29  Taylor Raddysh Erie (OHL) RW 6'2 203 40 15 49
30  Brett Howden Moose Jaw (WHL) C 6'2 193 38 17 36
31 Luke Kunin Wisconsin (NCAA) C/RW 6'0 193 18 7 15
32  Carter Hart Everett (WHL) G 6'0 ½ 177 37 1.97 0.925
33  Markus Niemeläinen Saginaw (OHL) D 6'5 189 10 3 7
34  Rasmus Asplund Farjestad (SHL) C 5'11 176 27 3 5
35  Logan Brown Windsor (OHL) C 6'6 222 33 6 35
36 Cam Dineen North Bay (OHL) D 5'11 183 39 7 31
37  Sam Steel Regina (WHL) C 5'11 177 42 15 42
38  Luke Green Saint John (QMJHL) D 6'0  189 37 8 22
39  Libor Hájek Saskatoon (WHL) D 6'2 185 41 3 17
40 Nathan Bastian Mississauga (OHL) RW 6'4 208 38 12 40
41 Brayden Burke Lethbridge (WHL) LW 5'10 160 42 13 62
42 Cameron Morrison Youngstown LW 6'3 205 32 17 34
43  Kale Clague Brandon (WHL) D 6'0 177 42 2 16
44  Janne Kuokkanen Kärpät (FIN-Jr) LW 6'1 175 30 13 33
45 Vojtěch Budík  Prince Albert (WHL) D 6'1 189 41 2 9
46  Filip Gustavsson Luleå (SWE-J20) G 6'1 ½ 184 10 3.3 0.883
47 Simon Stransky Prince Albert (WHL) LW 5'11 ½ 171 32 11 33
48  Chad Krys USA NTDP (USHL) D 5'11 185 24 1 17
49  James Greenway USA NTDP (USHL) D 6'5 213 34 2 12
50  Noah Gregor Moose Jaw (WHL) C 5'11  180 42 17 38
51  Dylan Wells Peterborough (OHL) G 6'1 ½ 187 18 4.36 0.882
52 Adam Mascherin Kitchener (OHL) LW 5'9 ½ 206 35 20 49
53  Tage Thompson Connecticut (NCAA) C 6'5 185 21 9 17
54 Maxime Fortier Halifax (QMJHL) RW 5'10 177 42 22 50
55 Jonathan Dahlén Timrå IK  (SWE-AIs) C 5'11  176 37 11 18
56 Boris Katchouk S.S. Marie (OHL) LW 6'1 181 38 13 31
57 Pascal Laberge Victoriaville (QMJHL) C/RW 6'1 162 33 13 37
58  Carl Grundström Modo (QMJHL) RW 6'0 194 29 2 7
59  Otto Mäkinen Tappara (FIN-Jr) C 6'1 178 27 6 16
60  Cliff Pu London (OHL) C/RW 6'1 ½ 192 34 9 19
61 Henrik Borgström  HIFK (SM-Liiga Jr) C 6'3 ½ 176      
62 Vladimir Kuznetsov A-Bathurst (QMJHL)  LW 6'2 210      
63  Jesper Bratt AIK (SWE-AIs) RW 5'10 171      
64 Jacob Moverare HV 71 (SWE-J20) D 6'2 ½ 198      
65  Tarmo Reunanen TPS (SM-Liiga Jr) D 6'0 178      
66  Jonathan Ang Peterborough (OHL) C/RW 5'11  165      
67  Joey Anderson USA NTDP (USHL) RW 5'11 192      
68  Dmitri Sokolov Sudbury (OHL) C 5'11  220      
69 Otto Somppi Halifax (QMJHL) C 6'1 179      
70  Victor Mete London (OHL) D 5'10 174      
71 Dennis Cholowski Chilliwack (BCHL) D 6'0  170      
72 Aapeli Räsänen  Tappara (FIN-Jr) C 6'0 196      
73 Jordan Kyrou Sarnia (OHL) C/RW 6'0  178      
74 Yegor Korshkov Yaroslavl (KHL) RW 6'3 ½ 178      
75 Lucas Johansen Kelowna (WHL) D 6'1 174      
76  Keaton Middleton Saginaw (OHL) D 6'5 ½ 233      
77  Jacob Cederholm HV71 (SHL) D 6'3 ½ 187      
78  Andrew Peeke Green Bay (USHL) D 6'3 209      
79  Ryan Lindgren USA NTDP (USHL) D 5'11 ½ 198      
80 Givani Smith Guelph (OHL) RW 6'1  194      
81 David Quenneville Medicine Hat (WHL) D 5'8 182      
82  Linus Weissbach Frolunda (SWE-J20) LW 5'9 156      
83 Linus Lindström Skelleftea (SWE-J20) C 5'11  164      
84  Tanner Kaspick Brandon (WHL) LW 6'0  200      
85 Oliver Felixson Saint John (QMJHL) D 6'6 220      
86  Trent Frederic USA NTDP (USHL) C 6'2 203      
87  Joshua Mahura Red Deer (WHL) D 6'0  178      
88  Max Lajoie Swift Current (WHL) D 6'1 183      
89 Brandon Gignac Shawinigan (QMJHL) C 5'10 ½ 173      
90 Ty Ronning Vancouver (WHL) RW 5'9 165      
91 Stepan Falkovsky Ottawa (OHL) D 6'7 224      
92 Matthew Cairns Georgetown (OJHL) D 6'2 202      
93 Matt Filipe Cedar Rapids (USHL) C 6'1 ½ 201      
94 Max Zimmer Chicago (USHL) LW 6'0 185      
95  Connor Bunnaman Kitchener (OHL) C 6'1 207      
96  Keenan Suthers USA NTDP (USHL) LW 6'7 ½ 223      
97  Sam Rossini Waterloo (USHL) D 6'2 197      
98  Frédéric Allard Chicoutimi (QMJHL) D 6'1 179      
99 William Knierim Dubuque (USHL) RW 6'2 ½ 207      
100 Trent Fox Hamilton (OHL) C 6'3 200