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Craig Button

TSN Director of Scouting

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Auston Matthews sits atop the latest edition of Craig’s List, just as he has every time since the beginning of the season. Wouldn’t it be something if the Arizona kid who took up hockey because of the Winnipeg Jets’ move to south finds himself being selected first overall by the second iteration of the Jets? Talk about coming full circle!

With all seven Canadian teams unlikely to qualify for the playoffs, it seems the next big win for a franchise north of the 49th parallel could be the first pick in the annual draft lottery. While there’s a chance the ping pong balls might not bounce the way of one of our seven teams, it should be noted that there are elite players available who are not named Auston.

Fantastic Finns Patrick Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi remain in the next two spots on the list, even though I’m not sure if Laine or Puljujarvi is the better player. I am confident in saying that a team can’t go wrong with either one of them. Elite offensive wingers with size and skill are not commonplace, and the two Finns will bring excitement for the teams drafting them.

Pierre-Luc Dubois of the QMJHL’s Cape Breton Screaming Eagles is a player who has pushed himself into the conversation with Laine and Puljujarvi, jumping from tenth spot on the January list to fourth here. He has elite skill, with power and intelligence. Dubois has the ability to play a multi-faceted game balancing all of the essential elements, and is equally adept finishing a play or setting one up. There is so much in his game that reminds me of Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn, including the versatility to play centre. All of these elements put him in the discussion with the Finnish players. 

It doesn’t stop there with respect to high-end talent in this draft class. Matthew Tkachuk (No. 5) and Alex Nylander (No. 6) also fit the bill. They are different types of players - Tkachuk more of a physical bent to his game, while Nylander has an ease to his skill - but make no mistake about it, they are both excellent prospects. They have the unique ability to adapt seamlessly to the changing circumstances in the game and insert their skills to the greater benefit of the team. They find ways to be dangerous and productive and they don’t get pushed out of the critical areas under any circumstance.

Clayton Keller (No. 8) is an excellent player who has the skills, brain, competitiveness and confidence to not only impact the game, but to also dictate significant portions of offensive play. The U.S. NTDP centre has panorama vision - there is no play he doesn’t see and he is always dangerous even when it may appear that he isn’t. Keller controls the game and brings out the best abilities of those he plays with.

If a team is looking for quality defencemen, there are plenty of those available too. Olli Juolevi (#7) of the London Knights is an incredibly competent player who makes the game look easy in all areas. He makes the essential and key plays at every turn. He shows mastery of his position under the most challenging of circumstances, and his poise, calm and assuredness are the stuff of pillar-type defencemen.

Jakob Chychrun (No. 9) is an outstanding skater who uses his feet to his advantage defensively and offensively. The Sarnia Sting blueliner has really settled into being a very confident player who plays to his strengths and exhibits the on-ice poise required to excel. Windsor Spitfires defenceman Mikhail Sergachyov (No. 10) can do it all. He’s an excellent skater with the quickness to jump into the attack and the requisite footwork to operate in tight areas and beat pressure. He has a very good shot and the smarts to get into offensive spots where he can make a contribution. He also can deliver body checks that make life unpleasant for opponents.

Calgary Hitmen blueliner Jake Bean (No. 11) is an exceptional skater with an outstanding mind and he uses both to impact the game in a significant manner. He’s quick to recognize where there is opportunity and his body can carry out what his mind commands. Dante Fabbro (#12) will never pull you out of your seat, but when you measure high-end efficiency in the game, he stands out. The Penticton Vees defender always makes the right play, is always in the right position and doesn’t break down under the challenges, which makes it very difficult to play versus him. I see so many similarities to Brent Seabrook of the Chicago Blackhawks. Like Seabrook, Fabbro’s contributions lead to winning. 

There’s no reason for Canadian hockey fans to fret if the lottery doesn’t produce the first-overall pick for their team because there are plenty of top-end players available in the upcoming draft. This year’s crop includes the type of players who can help a team move toward success, be in the playoffs, and eventually challenge for a Stanley Cup.

 

Craig's List - March Ranking

 
RK PLAYER TEAM POS HT WT GP G P
1  Auston Matthews Zurich (Suisse A) C 6'1½ 194 36 24 46
2 Jesse Puljujärvi Karpat (SM-Liiga) RW 6'3 ½ 203 50 13 28
2  Patrik Laine Tappara (SM-Liiga) RW 6'4 206 46 17 33
4  Pierre-Luc Dubois C. Breton (QMJHL) LW 6'2 ½ 202 62 42 99
5  Matthew Tkachuk London (OHL) LW 6'1 195 57 30 107
6  Alexander Nylander Mississuaga (OHL) LW/RW 6'0 ½ 179 57 28 85
7  Olli Juolevi London (OHL) D 6'2 ½ 179 57 9 42
8  Clayton Keller USA NTDP (USHL) C 5'9 ½ 168 51 29 85
9  Jakob Chychrun Sarnia (OHL) D 6'2 215 62 11 49
10  Mikhail Sergachyov Windsor (OHL) D 6'2 ½ 206 67 17 57
11  Jake Bean Calgary (WHL) D 6'0 173 68 24 64
12  Dante Fabbro Penticton (BCHL) D 6'0 189 45 14 67
13  Tyson Jost Penticton (BCHL) C 5'11 191 48 42 104
14  German Rubtsov Russia U-18 (MHL) C 6'2 176 28 12 26
15  Michael McLeod Mississuaga (OHL) C 6'2 188 57 21 61
16  Kieffer Bellows USA NTDP (USHL) LW 6'0 196 51 40 68
17  Dillon Dube Kelowna (WHL) LW 5'10 180 65 26 66
18  Samuel Girard Shawinigan (QMJHL) D 5'9 ½ 160 67 10 74
19  Vitali Abramov Gatineau (QMJHL) LW/RW 5'9 172 63 38 93
20  Alex DeBrincat Erie (OHL) C/RW 5'7 163 60 51 101
21 Luke Kunin Wisconsin (NCAA) C/RW 6'0 193 34 19 32
22  Charlie McAvoy Boston U (NCAA) D 6'0 208 36 3 24
23 Pascal Laberge Victoriaville (QMJHL) C/RW 6'1 162 56 23 68
24  Mitchell Mattson G. Rapids (USHSW) C 6'4 186 25 17 46
25  Taylor Raddysh Erie (OHL) RW 6'2 203 67 24 73
26  Julien Gauthier Val d'Or (QMJHL) RW 6'3 ½ 225 54 41 57
27  Logan Brown Windsor (OHL) C 6'6 222 59 21 74
28  Riley Tufte Blaine (USHSW) LW 6'5 205 25 47 78
29  Will Bitten Flint (OHL) C/RW 5'10  167 67 30 65
30 Cam Dineen North Bay (OHL) D 5'11 183 68 13 59
31  Tage Thompson Connecticut (NCAA) C 6'5 185 36 14 32
32  Carter Hart Everett (WHL) G 6'0 ½ 177 63 2.14 .918
33  Kale Clague Brandon (WHL) D 6'0 177 71 6 43
34 Adam Mascherin Kitchener (OHL) LW 5'9 ½ 206 65 35 81
35  Max Jones London (OHL) LW 6'3 205 63 28 52
36  Markus Niemeläinen Saginaw (OHL) D 6'5 189 65 1 27
37 Jordan Kyrou Sarnia (OHL) C/RW 6'0  178 65 17 51
38  Tyler Benson Vancouver (WHL) LW 6'0 201 30 9 28
39 Dennis Cholowski Chilliwack (BCHL) D 6'0 170 50 12 40
40 Cameron Morrison Youngstown (USHL) LW 6'2 205 55 27 54
41  Janne Kuokkanen Kärpät (FIN-Jr) LW 6'1 175 47 22 53
42 Logan Stanley Windsor (OHL) D 6'7 220 65 5 17
43  Rasmus Asplund Farjestad (SHL) C 5'11 176 46 4 12
44  Noah Gregor Moose Jaw (WHL) C 5'10 180 72 28 73
45  Brett Howden Moose Jaw (WHL) C 6'2 193 68 24 64
46 Givani Smith Guelph (OHL) RW 6'1 194 65 23 42
47 Boris Katchouk S.S. Marie (OHL) LW 6'1 181 63 24 51
48 Brayden Burke Lethbridge (WHL) LW 5'10 160 72 27 109
49 Matthew Phillips Victoria (WHL) C/RW 5'6 ½ 140 72 37 76
50 Lucas Johansen Kelowna (WHL) D 6'1 174 69 10 49
51 Simon Stransky Prince Albert (WHL) LW 5'11 ½ 171 62 19 62
52 Jonathan Dahlén Timrå IK (SWE-AIs) C 5'11 176 51 15 29
53  James Greenway USA NTDP (USHL) D 6'5 213 53 4 16
54 Maxime Fortier Halifax (QMJHL) RW 5'10 177 68 31 77
55  Filip Gustavsson Luleå (SWE-J20) G 6'1 ½ 184 20 3.22 .893
56  Libor Hájek Saskatoon (WHL) D 6'2 185 69 3 26
57  Luke Green Saint John (QMJHL) D 6'0 189 61 10 35
58  Sam Steel Regina (WHL) C 5'11 177 72 23 70
59  Dylan Wells Peterborough (OHL) G 6'1 ½ 187 27 4.59 .871
60  Otto Mäkinen Tappara (FIN-Jr) C 6'0 178 47 11 30
61 Henrik Borgström  HIFK (SM-Liiga Jr) C 6'3 ½ 176      
62 Jacob Moverare HV 71 (SWE-J20) D 6'2 ½ 198      
63 Josh Anderson Prince George (WHL) D 6'2 221      
64  Tarmo Reunanen TPS (SM-Liiga Jr) D 6'0 178      
65  Linus Weissbach Frolunda (SWE-J20) LW 5'9 156      
66 Adam Brooks Regina (WHL) C 5'10 174      
67 Linus Lindström Skelleftea (SWE-J20) C 5'11 164      
68 Aapeli Räsänen  Tappara (FIN-Jr) C 6'0 196      
69 Nathan Bastian Mississauga (OHL) RW 6'4 208      
70  Carl Grundström Modo (SHL) RW 6'0 194      
71  Jesper Bratt AIK (SWE-AIs) RW 5'10 171      
72  Dmitri Sokolov Sudbury (OHL) C 5'11 220      
73 Brandon Gignac Shawinigan (QMJHL) C 5'10 ½ 173      
74 David Quenneville Medicine Hat (WHL) D 5'8 182      
75 Kyle Maksimovich Erie (OHL) LW 5'8 ½ 172      
76  Victor Mete London (OHL) D 5'9 ½ 174      
77  Joshua Mahura Red Deer (WHL) D 6'0 178      
78 Tyler Parsons London (OHL) G 6'1 184      
79 Jack Walker Victoria (WHL) LW 5'11 179      
80 Yegor Korshkov Yaroslavl (KHL) RW 6'3 ½ 178      
81  Cliff Pu London (OHL) C/RW 6'1 ½ 192      
82 Ty Ronning Vancouver (WHL) RW 5'9 165      
83 Rem Pitlick Muskegon (USHL) C/LW 5'9 196      
84  Frédéric Allard Chicoutimi (QMJHL) D 6'1 179      
85 Vojtěch Budík  Prince Albert (WHL) D 6'1 189      
86  Chad Krys USA NTDP (USHL) D 5'11 185      
87  Max Lajoie Swift Current (WHL) D 6'1 183      
88 Otto Somppi Halifax (QMJHL) C 6'1 179      
89  Ryan Lindgren USA NTDP (USHL) D 5'11 ½ 198      
90 Stepan Falkovsky Ottawa (OHL) D 6'7 224      
91 Riley Stillman Oshawa (OHL) D 6'0 ½ 180      
92  Keaton Middleton Saginaw (OHL) D 6'5 ½ 233      
93  Jacob Cederholm HV 71 (SHL) D 6'3 ½ 187      
94 Vladimir Kuznetsov A-Bathurst (QMJHL) LW 6'2 210      
95  Jonathan Ang Peterborough (OHL) C/RW 5'11 165      
96  Andrew Peeke Green Bay (USHL) D 6'3 209      
97 Jordan Sambrook Erie (OHL) D 6'1 ½ 187      
98 Adam Fox USA NTDP (USHL) D 5'10 185      
99  Tanner Kaspick Brandon (WHL) LW 6'0 200      
100  Trent Frederic USA NTDP (USHL) C 6'2 203