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Craig Button

TSN Director of Scouting

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Brandon Wheat Kings’ centre Nolan Patrick remains in the top spot on the January edition of Craig’s List, despite not playing a game since Oct. 11 and only suiting up for six games so far in the 2016-17 season.

I've seen enough from Patrick, who missed a chance to make Team Canada for the world junior championship because of a groin injury, over the last three years to consider him the best overall prospect available in the 2017 NHL draft. His package of skill, smarts and size — in addition to his accomplishments in his first two years of junior and at the international level — separates him from the field. He is expected to return to the Wheat Kings’ lineup this coming weekend.

While he’s not in the same class as previous first-overall picks Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, Patrick does project as a very good two-way number-one centre in the mould of Eric Staal.

Second on the list is Nico Hischier, who has been a dominant player in the QMJHL for the Halifax Mooseheads (26 goals and 54 points in 33 games) this season. He recently played for Switzerland at the world juniors as a 17-year-old, where he was the best skater at that age and one of the very best players in the entire tournament.

Hischier has a subtle excellence to his game that reminds me a lot of Buffalo Sabres’ forward Sam Reinhart. He has excellent sense, quick hands and the ability to manoeuvre in tight spaces and beat defenders one-on-one. He competes hard and finds a way to produce when he has to deliver.

Swedish defenceman Timothy Liljegren is third on the list, despite struggling to get his legs underneath him this season. A bout of mononucleosis hampered his play early, but he remains the best defenceman available in this draft. After starting the season with Rogle in Sweden’s top league, he will now play a level below in Timra to find his game and gain confidence. His ability to skate, contribute offensively and be a very good player defensively leaves no doubt in my mind about his NHL potential.

Dynamic Czech centre Martin Necas is fourth on the list. Necas, who plays centre for HC Kometa Brno of the Czech Extra League (six goals, seven assists in 30 games), has the competitive fire to make things happen. He refuses to be denied when he’s faced with challenges and his game will only become that much better as he matures physically.

Fifth-ranked Gabe Vilardi of the Windsor Spitfires has missed games because of injury and an appendectomy this season, but he is a very good playmaking centre (14 goals, 17 assists in 22 games) with size. Right winger Owen Tippett of the Mississauga Steelheads is sixth on the list and looks to be the best pure goal scorer in this class (33 goals in 39 games). He has a shot that can overpower goalies, but also possesses a quick release that can surprise. It’s a multi-dimensional weapon and combined with excellent skating ability and power in his game, he is a very difficult player to keep in check.

Cale Makar of the Brooks Bandits in the Alberta Junior Hockey League is one to watch in the months ahead. The dynamic offensive defenceman (43 points in 32 games) jumped 16 spots from our November rankings to land at 13. His style of play and approach to the game reminds me of Ottawa Senators captain Erik Karlsson. Like Karlsson at the same age, he is still growing, but his skill set is unique. Makar is a player many NHL teams may be hoping slides in the draft, but he’s too good to end up very far down the board.

 

Craig's List - January

 
RK Player Team POS HT WT GP G P
1 Nolan Patrick Brandon (WHL) C 6'2 ¾ 198 6 4 9
2 Nico Hischier Halifax (QMJHL) C 6'0 ¾ 176 33 26 54
3 Timothy Liljegren Timrå (SWE-Als) D 6'0 191 2 0 1
4 Martin Necas Brno (Czech) C 6'0 ½ 167 30 6 13
5 Gabe Vilardi Windsor (OHL) C 6'3 201 22 14 31
6 Owen Tippett Mississuaga (OHL) RW 6'1½ 202 39 33 52
7 Ryan Poehling St. Cloud St. (NCAA) C 6'2 ½ 202 19 4 7
8 Eeli Tolvanen Sioux City (USHL) RW 5'10 ¼ 170 23 16 27
9 Lias Andersson HV71 (SHL) LW/RW/C 5'11 ¼ 198 24 5 9
10 Casey Mittelstadt Eden Prarie (USHS) C 6'0 ¼ 194 13 10 25
11 Michael Rasmussen Tri-City (WHL) C/LW 6'5 ¾ 215 44 29 48
12 Kailer Yamamoto Spokane (WHL) RW 5'7 ½ 153 35 25 54
13 Cale Makar Brooks (AJHL) D 5'10 ¼ 171 32 12 43
14 Miro Heiskanen HIFK (SM Liiga) D 6'0 170 25 3 7
15 Elias Pettersson Timrå (SWE-Als) LW 6'1 ¼ 156 27 12 27
16 Cody Glass Portland (WHL) C/RW 6'1 ¾ 180 40 20 53
17 Nick Suzuki Owen Sound (OHL) RW 5'10 ¾ 187 40 22 52
18 Shane Bowers Waterloo (USHL) C 6'1 ¼ 178 30 10 22
19 Alexei Lipanov Balashikha (MHL) C 6'0 165 17 3 7
20 Matthew Strome Hamilton (OHL) LW 6'3 ½ 206 39 20 35
21 Jusso Välimäki Tri-City (WHL) D 6'1 ½ 204 34 12 36
22 U-P Luukkonen HPK U20 (SM Jr Liiga) G 6'0 ¼ 170 25    
23 Cal Foote Kelowna (WHL) D 6'3 ½ 213 42 3 30
24 Nikita A. Popugaev Prince George (WHL) LW 6'5 ½ 204 42 23 53
25 Klim Kostin Moscow (KHL) RW 6'3 196 9 1 1
26 Noel Hoefenmayer Ottawa (OHL) D 6'0 ¼ 191 34 7 21
27 Grant Mismash USA NTDP (USHL) LW/C 6'0 ¼ 186 35 12 24
28 Kristian Vesalainen HPK (SM Liiga) LW 6'3 ¼ 207 9 1 1
29 Maxime Comtois Victoriaville (QMJHL) LW 6'2 ¼ 199 41 13 30
30 Marcus Davidsson Djurgårdens (SHL) C 6'0 191 29 5 8
31 Nicholas Hague Mississuaga (OHL) D 6'5 ½ 206 38 14 31
32 Pierre-Olivier Joseph Charlottetown (QMJHL) D 6'2 160 38 4 27
33 Conor Timmins S.S. Marie (OHL) D 6'1 ¼ 185 40 6 34
34 Joni Ikonen Frolunda (SWE J20) C 5'10 169 24 17 28
35 Michael Dipietro Windsor (OHL) G 6'0 196 29 2.26 .918
36 Kole Lind Kelowna (WHL) RW 6'1 176 41 20 49
37 Morgan Geekie Tri-City (WHL) C 6'2 ¼ 178 44 22 48
38 Morgan Frost S.S. Marie (OHL) C 5'10 ¾ 170 40 13 38
39 Nate Schnarr Guelph (OHL) C 6'2 ¾ 180 27 11 17
40 Mason Shaw Medicine Hat (WHL) C/LW 5'8 ½ 180 41 13 61
41 Isaac Ratcliffe Guelph (OHL) LW 6'5 ½ 196 40 18 35
42 Jaret Anderson-Dolan Spokane (WHL) C 5'10 ¾ 180 41 20 38
43 Aleksei Heponiemi Swift Current (WHL) C 5'9 ¾ 147 42 12 45
44 Josh Norris USA NTDP (USHL) C 6'1 ¼ 192 32 11 24
45 Henri Jokiharju Portland (WHL) D 5'11 ¾ 176 40 6 24
46 Tyler Inamoto USA NTDP (USHL) D 6'1 ½ 194 28 2 6
47 Jake Oettinger Boston U (NCAA) G 6'4 203 16 1.94 .930
48 Antoine Crête-Belzile B-Boisbriand (QMJHL) D 6'0 186 16 0 2
49 Jake Leschyshyn Regina (WHL) C/LW 5'10 ¾ 184 38 15 34
50 Cayden Primeau Lincoln (USHL) G 6'2 ¾ 177 18 3.12 .894
51 David Farrance USA NTDP (USHL) D 5'10 ¾ 189 35 5 20
52 Robert Thomas London (OHL) C 5'11 ½ 185 38 12 36
53 Jonas Rondbjerg Växjö (SWE J20) RW 6'0 176 26 7 23
54 Cale Fleury Kootenay (WHL) D 6'1 ¼ 212 42 7 25
55 Maxim Zhukov Green Bay (USHL) G 6'2 ½ 188 18 2.19 .911
56 Alex Formenton London (OHL) LW 6'1 162 38 11 23
57 Evan Barratt USA NTDP (USHL) C 5'11 ½ 188 33 9 28
58 Dylan Samberg Hermantown (USHSW) D 6'3 190 12 6 13
59 Nick Henry Regina (WHL) RW 5'10 ¾ 191 38 20 42
60 Markus Phillips Owen Sound (OHL) D 5'11 ¾ 202 40 5 13
61 Jason Robertson Kingston (OHL) LW 6'1 ¾ 192 39 18 38
62 Joel Teasdale B-Boisbriand (QMJHL) C/LW 5'11 ¼ 190 33 11 23
63 Ivan Kosorenkov Victoriaville (QMJHL) RW 6'1 189      
64 Urho Vaakanainen Jyvaskala (SM Liiga) D 6'0 ½ 185      
65 Ian Scott Prince Albert (WHL) G 6'3 ¼ 174      
66 Scott Reedy USA NTDP (USHL) C/RW 6'1 ½ 204      
67 Antoine Morand A-Bathurst (QMJHL) C 5'10 178      
68 Maxime Fortier Halifax (QMJHL) RW 5'10 182      
69 Jarrett Tyszka Seattle (WHL) D 6'2 ¼ 190      
70 Luke Martin Michigan (NCAA) D 6'3 ¾ 216      
71 Stuart Skinner Lethbridge (WHL) G 6'3 ½ 209      
72 Samuel Bucek Shawinigan (QMJHL) LW 6'1 ½ 215      
73 Ivan Lodnia Erie (OHL) LW/C 5'10 182      
74 Mackenzie Entwistle Hamilton (OHL) C/RW 6'2 ¾ 180      
75 Tyler Steenbergen Swift Current (WHL) LW 5'10 188      
76 Artyom Minulin Swift Current (WHL) D 6'2 ¼ 202      
77 Clayton Phillips Fargo (USHL) D 5'10 ½ 170      
78 Pavel Koltygin Drummondville (QMJHL) LW 5'11 ½ 195      
79 Michael Anderson Waterloo (USHL) D 5'11 ½ 196      
80 Ostap Safin Sparta (CZE-Jr.) RW 6'4 ½ 191      
81 Eemeli Rasanen Kingston (OHL) D 6'6 ¼ 216      
82 Paul Washe Tri-City (WHL) C 6'1 191      
83 Ian Mitchell Spruce Grove (AJHL) D 5'11  171      
84 Jacob Paquette Kingston (OHL) D 6'2 ¾ 207      
85 Skyler McKenzie Portland (WHL) C 5'7 ½ 154      
86 Tim Söderlund Skellefteå (SHL) RW/LW 5'9 163      
87 Nikita Anokhovsky Yaroslavl Jr. (MHL) C 6'0 187      
88 Austen Keating Ottawa (OHL) LW 5'11 ½ 170      
89 Finn Evans St. Michaels (OJHL) RW 6'2 177      
90 Ivan Chekhovich Baie Comeau (QMJHL) LW 5'10 177      
91 Ben Mirageas Bloomington (USHL) D 6'1 ¾ 180      
92 Zach Gallant Peterborough (OHL) C 6'2 188      
93 Jocktan Chainey Halifax (QMJHL) D 6'0 198      
94 Walter Flower Halifax (QMJHL) D 6'1 178      
95 Brayden Burke Moose Jaw (WHL) LW 5'9 ¾ 160      
96 Greg Meireles Kitchener (OHL) C/RW 5'9 ¾ 172      
97 Stelio Mattheos Brandon (WHL) C 6'0 ¾ 190      
98 Maksim Sushko Owen Sound (OHL) RW 5'11 ¾ 181      
99 Sebastian Walfridsson MODO (SWE J20) D 6'0 ½ 194      
100 Rickard Hugg Leksand (SWE J20) C 5'10 ½ 179      
101 Filip Chytil Zlin (Cze-Jr.) LW 6'0 ½ 178      
102 Simon Stransky Prince Albert (WHL) LW 5'11 185      
103 Robin Salo Vassan (SM Liiga) D 6'0 ¾ 187      
104 Sasha Chmelevski Ottawa (OHL) C 5'11 ¼ 191      
105 Adam Ruzicka Sarnia (OHL) C 6'3 ½ 202